Decking

I’ve made some steady progress this past week on the planked deck for the wooden pier at Morpeth. The core of the straight length of this structure is a 1.1mX220mm piece of 4mm thick plywood that I cut to size quite a while ago. I made some slight adjustments to this piece of ply last weekend and then started the task of covering it in a layer of detailed strip wood.

This shot shows the pier deck with the basic bass wood planking and surrouding strip wood in place.

This shot shows the pier deck with the basic bass wood planking and surrounding strip wood in place.

In the planning stages of this project (at least 2 years ago) I made the decision that I couldn’t cram in a set of points onto the pier to allow the passage of locomotives and wagons onto to the two lines I planned to run on it. The prototype at Coffs Harbour had points on the deck but I just didn’t have enough length to allow this. I came to the decision that I could live with a single line running from the layout out onto the pier and the other line would essentially be a short length of straight track that would be confined to the pier itself with no direct connection to the mainland. The plan is to use this line for a scratchbuilt crane “contraption” that will shuffle back and forth along the rails with the other line running out to the pier by a curved trestle and onto an adjacent line. This is the reason this planked deck is wide enough for two lines but the trestle only carries a single line. The effect I’m after is something like this…

While the health nd safety aspects of this photo make me weak at the knees, what I'm interested in is the crowded deck of the the wooden pier, the rail lines and the pier mounted steam crane. I will represent elements of this scene on my own pier.

While the health and safety aspects of this photo make me weak at the knees, what I’m really interested in is the crowded deck of the wooden pier, the rail lines and the pier mounted steam crane. I will represent elements of this scene on my own pier.

After finishing the decking on my pier surface I turned the 4mm ply over and got to work installing the underside beams that will allow the wooden trestles to hold it above the water’s surface. I ran three longitudinal beams down the length of the pier and then glued 45 corbels to these in 9 different spots I’d pre-marked on the underside of the plywood.

This is the underside of the piers deck. You can see the corbels clearly in this shot. The length of 12

This is the underside of the pier’s deck. You can see the corbels clearly in this shot. The crossways length of 12″X12″ represents the orientation of the trestle legs will take when they have been assembled. There will be nine in all.

I couldn’t resist plonking the ship’s hull next to the pier to see what it looked like. I’d cut the bottom off this structure some time ago and it had sat forlornly in my modelling room waiting to be launched. It will be built as the final major project for this layout. Who says a layout isn’t ever finished? 🙂

It doesn't look much at the moment but I'll soon get to work on the kit to provide my pier scene with a ocean going connection.

She doesn’t look much at the moment but I’ll soon get to work on the kit to provide my pier scene with an ocean going connection.

Video Of Port Rowan

I was making a visit to a blog written by a friend of mine in Canada by the name of Trevor Marshall. I don’t get a lot of time to read other people’s blogs but Trevor’s is always worth visiting. What caught my eye this time was some beautiful HD video footage of some shunting on his S scale layout Port Rowan. It’s well worth a look.

 

The Jetty

I thought I might post a couple of quick shots of some of the pier timbers in place. These are very preliminary shots with the sleeper timbers just sitting on the piers, but it gives you the general idea. I’ve left out the 3rd 12″x12″ centre beam from these shots as I haven’t reached a stage where I can cut and stain them yet.

This is an early shot of the jetty piers in postion but not yet secured permanently in place. At the time of wrting this these have now been glued into position. I had planned to also bolt these through from underneath with brass BA bolts only to disciver that I'd run through my entire supply of nuts. That's what happens when you scratch build locomotives! :-)

This is a preliminary shot of the jetty piers in position, but not yet secured permanently in place. At the time of writing these have now been glued into position. I had planned to also bolt these through from underneath with brass BA bolts only to discover that I’d run through my entire supply of appropriately sized nuts. That’s what happens when you scratch build locomotives! 🙂

It hasn’t been all plain sailing with a couple of small problems I’ve discovered as I’ve steadily worked on the piers but overall I’m happy with progress so far. I find myself devoting far more time to this sort of stage of a project than I would if I were just constructing a kit or making a building. I find bridge and pier building to be one of my very favourite aspects of the hobby.

I have just posed these sleeper timbers on the beams for the photo. I have more timber to cut, distress and stain before I'll be ready to glue any of these timbers into position.

I’ve just posed these sleeper timbers on the beams for the photo. I have more timber to cut, distress and stain before I’ll be ready to glue any of these timbers into position.

The reason I moved onto this part of the project rather than complete the scenery you can see on the “headlands” in the foreground is that I wanted to get the rails laid across the module joins. I’m in the process of moving house and there’s a strong possibility that these two sections of layout will be 100km apart for a couple of months and I would like to lay the rails across the join between the two modules and test a loco on the pier prior to this happening.

The spots where locomotives step out from “dry land” onto bridges or piers, especially ones made from wood, are one of the demarkation points that distinguishes railways from roadways. A roadway going over a bridge is just an extension of the road but a rail line going over a bridge has integral significance because it carries within its structure the means by with the train steers itself to the other side. There’s engineering poetry within a wooden railway bridge or jetty that no other structure equals. For me such structures are one of the reasons railways are worth modelling and are part of the explanation as to why I’m in this hobby.

Jig #1

An important milestone was reached today on the construction of Morpeth. I moved offshore for the first time and started work on the jetty that heads out into the Hunter River. This event wasn’t exactly exciting but it was a big leap forward never-the-less because it’s taken something like seven years to get to this point. I know this because I started construction of Morpeth within a couple of months of purchasing a home in late 2009 and I’ve worked on and off on the layout (with breaks to build locomotives and rolling stock occasionally) for all of that time. The “point” of the whole layout was to allow me to build a pier with an associated ship model so this is significant, in a minor milestone sort of way.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I'll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wier than this one.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I’ll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wider than this one.

After a bit of careful calculating and a bit of test cutting of 12″X12″ basswood this afternoon I decided to make a start on the first of what will likely be several jigs. The base is 1.5mm thick (about .060) and the various styrene blocks that retain the timber are just a range of appropriate Evergreen sizes.

I’ve cut all the timber I need for the three piers and tomorrow night I will distress the timbers and commence staining them in an ink and alcohol wash. Over probably the following three nights I’ll glue the main assemblies together one at a time (what you can see in the photo) and when these are dry I’ll lever them out of the jig, flip them over and glue the bracing to the other side. Each pier has two sloping 12″x12″ timber braces on each side but I’ve decided to cut, distress, stain and fit these later, when the track carrying timbers that tie these pier legs together are attached. That way I have a bit of flexibility to cut an adjust them to the legs as I go. If I try to fit them now I’ll have to cut each of them to an exact size and glue them in place in the precise place they need to be. Fitting them later will be a much more forgiving process. I’ve chosen to use square timbers rather than the round timber of the prototype for the main legs mainly for convenience and ease of cutting. I have a good amount of 12″x12″ on hand and working with the precise dimensions of the basswood is far easier work than using dowel rod.