Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Rozelle Street finds a new home, and a layout update

I am currently sitting at home with the flu. 

The actual flu. 

It's truly horrible, but it does give me time to update the blog for the first time in a while.

Some big news in March was that I sold Rozelle Street. It's since been collected by it's new owner and now lives in southern NSW. I believe he's going to extend it a little and add some more details, but it's nice to see it go to a good home. My wife was telling me that I'll regret selling it but to be honest, I hadn't been running it at all since Mount Wilson has been up and running, and I'd rather the layout went to a new home while everything is in good working order and the quality of the scenery is still contemporary. No regrets so far!

The CH hoppers I'd sent off to Rob Arsenault in Canada to weather also returned in March. This is a weathering job I wasn't going to get to myself anytime soon and I wanted to enjoy using these hoppers on the layout this year before we have to pack up the house again for the next move. 

I had originally sent the 8 hoppers to an Australian modeller who weathers mainly modern era stuff, and while he produces great effects on modern Hunter coalfields gear and locos, I just wasn't happy with the overall result. No real fault of his, and I probably could have been a lot more specific too. Lesson learned. 

So I sold all 8 of the hoppers, bought 8 more to replace them and got in touch with Rob, whose work I've been following ever since he weathered some NSW stuff for another modeller. If you haven't seen his website it's worth checking out. The service was some of the best I've experienced in 20+ years in the hobby and while the postage cost from here to Canada is eye-watering, the end result was worth it. 

I also took the opportunity to get out the 73 after a long hiatus and do some trip train running from the new mine off stage to the right-hand side to the 'old loader' at Mount Wilson.

At the Rosehill exhibition I picked up a VW T2 Kombi van that I've been looking for for a while to act as the fettler's van. I've seen photos of a VW T2 Kombi in PTC service at Dubbo in my era, which was all of the justification I needed. The fettlers are AndIan models figures, painted by Jurgen Engels. 

Anyway, aside from that, I've just been enjoying running trains of late.

I'm taking some leave soon to finally finish installing the overhead wiring. Along with the fuel depot and some more detail in the co-op siding, I think that'll be in on Mount Wilson for a while. Who knows, when it comes to move again, I may up selling it too. More to ponder on that one.


Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Where does the time go?

So this year has taken off like a rocket. I haven't had any time to do modelling beyond removing new stuff from it's packaging - like a pack of NCX and BDX wagons for a potential future project, and some WTY's from Auscision's latest run - and running trains. I made some reliability improvements to two turnouts that were giving me grief at low speed, but otherwise it's been mostly plonking and running trains while I work up the courage and time to properly install my overhead catenary and build the terminating structure that will go at the far end of the platform. It's nice to just properly relax by watching a train run around.

In the meantime, here's some general shots of running over the last few months:

I'm heading to the Forestville exhibition this weekend, which I'm really looking forward to. According to my calendar the last exhibition I saw was Homebush in October 2019!

If you're on the east coast, stay safe and out of the floods!


Friday, 24 December 2021

End of year wrap-up

What. A. Year. 

I don't know about you dear reader, but I'm thoroughly tired. Unprecedented times aside, it's normal to get to this time of the year and reflect on what we've achieved in our hobby. Particularly when we're building a layout. 

So I thought it would be interesting to try and compile a slide show of photos taken from the same angle to highlight how far I've come from December 2020 to now. Unfortunately, I've only taken photos until late September, but this will set things up well for some progress photos in January after a couple of days I'm looking forward to spending in the train room.

December 2020:

Late January 2021:

April 2021:

Late September, 2021:

To go from bare boards to almost completing the scenery in around 10 months, with a full-time job and minimal spare time is pretty good I reckon.

Apart from layout building, this year I achieved a life goal of getting a layout published in the AMRM, didn't get Covid, and received a bunch of new trains, mostly from Auscision. It hasn't all been slow! 

From some last-minute announcements from the major manufacturers this month, next year is shaping up to be a good one in terms of rollingstock and loco deliveries as well. I've said it before, but that SDS  models 81 class will have landing lights and a marshaller greeting the postie as he glides down the driveway with it when it arrives. I've also bit the bullet and sent my 46's off to get DCC sound installed, which, although expensive, is going to very nicely complete my loco roster for Mount Wilson. 

Wherever you're reading this from, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a much better 2022. Thanks for the comments and suggestions here throughout the year, it's always nice to hear from other modellers out there. Here's hoping we all actually get to a model railway exhibition next year!


Sunday, 14 November 2021

Layout update and the arrival of overhead catenary

A few things have arrived since the last update, namely the Aucision CDY wagons and the CTS coal hoppers, as well as a Casula Hobbies ABV, and CW (there were still some on the books in 1979!) and a BCH to throw into the CH rake to mix things up.

I'm not going to do an update on every wagon as it arrives, but the CTS coal hoppers were one of the key factors in designing the Mount Wilson layout. The length of the coal loader siding for example was determined by whether I could fit four CTS hoppers and a guards' van without fouling the main. Happily, the calculations have worked!

The the detail on the hoppers is quite impressive and they have run well so far. I'm looking forward to running a longer operations session with these later in the year prior to Christmas. They will weather up nicely with some panel liner and a couple of coats of black pastels to get a more prototypical look.

They also fit on the traverser with the guards' van, however not with a loco. Each road on the traverser is 1 metre long. I should really get around to laying some loco tracks on the traverser wings as I intended to about 6 years ago...

The big news is that my Peco catenary has finally arrived from Hattons in the UK and I've almost finished building the overhead stanchions required for the layout. 

They still need painting, but they're coming along nicely.

The top bar of the stanchions currently sit 95mm off the head of the rails. I'm going to lower that another 5mm, but I don't plan on the pantographs touching the wire, just to limit the damage it might do if snagged. The Peco catenary is the thinnest I've been able to find and to my eyes does a much better job of representing catenary wire than some of the other stuff available, especially for the 95% of time where no trains are running beneath it.

I've had some interest in how to make the stanchions, and I've been significantly helped in building them by Matt Joiner, who has provided me with measurements and working out the best materials to use. As it's quite popular, we're putting together an article for the AMRM to thoroughly detail how to build these. It will likely come out in one of the editions next year, so keep an eye out!

Lastly, I've been slowly working on some wagons loads. Below is a BDY with some telephone poles for delivery to the local council via the co-op siding. I really want to have a day of building and painting some tarps for the other BDY and one of the CDYs before the end of the year, but as always, time is a precious commodity at the moment.

That's all for now - cheers!


Friday, 24 September 2021

Layout update

Finally - some actual modelling. But first, some more plonking.

Like most modellers, I was really impressed with the new IDR models BBWs. Ian has done a fantastic job bringing them together and they'll look great with a new SJM BBP when I can get my hands on one - they sold out within an hour of being listed on the website! Thankfully I'm on a waiting list with SJM for one, so I'm looking forward to being able to add a ballast train to operations every so often.

As I've been alluding to for about a year or so, I don't get much time to build kits or do decalling or any other jobs where you just need to be able to sit at the workbench until it's done at the moment. So to get some of those models that I really want to see running but which are stuck in the kit box completed, I've commissioned some other modellers. Josh Beveridge has built and painted these two InFront Models ICXs for me, which I've topped with some models I've actually built and weathered! Josh has done a fantastic job on both. He also assembled and painted an OSF for me which is running around with a refridgerated RACE container as well.

A good 15-minute project I learned from Aaron Denning a few years ago is to paint the bogies of SDS models' BP hoppers with Tamiya TS-43 Racing Green. It's a great, quick job now that the weather is warming up and looks a lot more realistic than the fluro-green on the as-new models. 

My grandfather, who got me into trains as a toddler, was a fitter for BP for most of his working life and finished up working on their rail tank wagons (among other things) at the former Auburn depot, so these wagons hold a special place for me. It's nice to make them that little bit more accurate.

I've also tackled the conveyor belt to finish off the coal loading tower. It's kitbashed from a Walthers conveyor belt kit and goes together very easily, as with all of the cornerstone stuff. This was one of those jobs that I needed a good few hours to just do until finished.

The conveyor belt is attached on legs which I've sunk into the plaster/foam rock to help integrate it into the scenery. It comes apart from the coal loader easily for when we inevitably move in a few years.

Earlier this year I was looking at the signals Ray Pilgrim has been producing through his SignalsBranch page and decided I needed one after seeing the linear micro servos he's incorporated into them. Many months later the completed signal with servos has arrived and will shortly be fixed to the layout and wired up. The arms are at odd angle because I'm waiting on the servo control buttons and motherboard to arrive from the US. 

As an aside, Tam Valley Depot, whose products I've been using to get reliable DCC operation through the frogs and operate the turnouts, are significantly downsizing and only producing frog juicers and dcc boosters from now on apparently. This is due to the main proprietor having an incurable disease and retiring to build his layout before the inevitable. Can't say I blame him either. I was lucky to be able to get the last few bits I need to install and operate the signal from Streamlined Backshop in the US before it sells out globally. Damned if I know what I'm going to do for turnout control on future layouts, but I'm sure there will be some new innovation or another manufacturer will step into the void. 

I've also weathered the coal loader. The little details are all coming together to make a really enjoyable scene to operate through.

The next priority is finishing off the point rodding and any other small jobs that will be "under the wires" before I can install the catenary.

Cheerio for now,



Saturday, 18 September 2021

Rozelle Street is famous!

Just a short post today - in case you missed it, Rozelle Street is the featured layout in the October 2021 issue of the AMRM!

It's one thing to have one's articles published in print, but another thing entirely to get your layout published in what has been an institution of Australian railway modelling for more than 50 years. I hear a lot of people deride magazines and even lament that the AMRM has lost it's lustre, and I don't agree with those views. Despite the adoption of more 'instant' media in the hobby such as social media, YouTube channels and podcasts, I feel like magazines like AMRM still have a place in teaching us new things either through dedicated 'how to' articles or through appreciating other people's work. For me, a magazine's strength is in areas where a modeller can pause and observe. The detail that modellers put into the layouts featured in the mag, or in the featured models displayed in the 'Gallery' pages, are truly worth taking the time to look over several times to fully appreciate. 

I don't envy the task that Scott and the team have in balancing the interests of the state and private systems, era's, and scales that comprise the modelling community in Australia. I think some of the magazine's detractors forget that at times. Overall, I think the AMRM do quite a good job in balancing interesting content with each system, era, or scale. To my eyes the quality of the publication has noticeably improved in the last year or so, especially in achieving a balance between articles about the prototype, to weathering, or scenery, or electronics. [Full disclosure - I've been humbled to have a bunch of stuff published in the last 12 months, but I'm not referring to that here.] 

Anyway, that's my thoughts. Now to get that copy of the front cover framed and into the pool room. 

I have made a fair bit of progress on the layout since the last post and I'll aim to get that up in the next few weeks.



Friday, 16 July 2021

Improving peco turnouts for DCC operation

To run through the main line on my layout a train will cross 5 of the 6 turnouts on the layout. Recently, the shorter locos (48 and 49) had been stalling on two of the turnouts and when they started stalling on a third it was time to do something about it.

If you follow many railway modelling blogs or vlogs you'll often see modellers who run DCC systems will post or comment about improving turnouts for DCC operation. With the exception of fitting a Hex frog juicer to every frog, I had only really applied the many methods I had read and seen to fix problems I'd found as I went, rather than to establish very reliable operations from the outset.

No longer. 

From today, every turnout I buy is getting the below treatment before installation. There's no value in reinventing the wheel, so watch Dave from Dean Park Railway explain how to improve peco turnouts for DCC. My focus was the advice at 3'39"

On the below turnout I found I had installed one of these jumpers on one of the turnouts prior to installation on the layout, which would have been the smart thing to do for both. After identifying where the plastic sleeper gaps were, I scraped the sand and grout away from underneath. I cut a piece of the additional wire leading off the frog from some brand new Peco turnouts I have sitting on the shelf waiting for future use. These joining pieces were then soldered in place, taking care not to damage the scenery around the turnout.

Both turnouts' performance instantly improved as the stock rails are now powering the switching blades (probably should ask that railway track senior engineer brother of mine what it's actually called...) at all times. Once covered in with sand and grout again it's going to blend in nicely.

Once I'd finished that I gave the 85 a run with the supplementary interurban set. 

The 85 is fairly long and is quite forgiving due to all wheels picking up current, so I'll need to try my shorter loco's to ensure that the turnout fixes have worked.

Looking ahead, the overhead wiring is going to be quite sensitive once installed so I'm going to leave that until after I've finished a number of items in and around the scenery, namely the coal loader and adding some further details around the track.

That's all for now! If you're reading this from Sydney and Melbourne, stay safe out there during lockdown. I hope you get some time at your respective modelling desks.