Reality Bites

In my experience all layouts are a reflection of their creators: the time, skill and resources devoted to a layout are the elements that determine what will result from anyone’s attempt to build a layout. Well one of these elements, time (or a lack of it), has finally caught up with this layout builder: venue planning requirements meant that I was required to make a final decision about how much of the layout was going to be ready in time to appear at the Aus7 ExpO in March, 2014. The alternative was to take Queens Wharf, but this never really appealed as it has been shown before and was only ever an experimental design to test out some ideas. So a decision has been made that I will be taking only the two scenically completed sections of the layout with me next March. I would have preferred to have displayed the entire layout, but the decision was taken early on that only layouts which were scenically complete would be invited to the exhibition. The third and final scenic section of the layout won’t even be close to being finished by then so the only option is to take a part of the layout and make the best of it.

Perhaps it might help to place this decision in context to explain that I happen to be the president of the group organizing the Aus7 ExpO, I’m helping to organize it and in fact holding the show was originally my idea. That original idea wouldn’t have got anywhere without John Parker, the Vice President who is doing all the actual work of organizing the event, however it annoys me that things have not progressed to the stage where I’d like them to be on the layout. I don’t tend to dwell on these sorts of set backs however, I’m basically a glass half full sort of person: I’ll have just as much fun at the show with only half the layout there and I’d wager very few pwoplw will notice the absence of half of the layout unless I point it out. I’ll use it as a taster for when the layout is ready to show in its completed form, which at my present rate of progress is unlikely to be much less that 3 or 4 more years from now.

The email from John this week asking for final commitments of layouts wasn’t the only thing that made me face the fact that I wouldn’t have the full layout ready in time. In addition to this has been the length of time it’s taken me to build the station building and recently the progress I’ve been making on the steel girder bridge I’ve been working on over the last couple of weeks. The bridge is a kit of a NSWGR standard design of a 24′ span that has been produced by the Waratah Model Railway Co. You can find a link to their website on my blog page. I’m using three of the kits to build my bridge and each kit produces one span of 24′. Together this will bridge a gap of a little under 500mm (about 20″ in old money). The kits are fairly straightforward to put together but I’ve found them to be very time-consuming because, while there are only a limited number of part types, there are a lot of them and almost all require fettling to get them ready for fitting. The final result will be wonderful but it’s taken me a great deal longer than I was anticipating, and I’m nowhere near finished yet.

I actually began this project a number of weeks ago by widening the gap that the bridge was to span because I had sufficient kits to fill more space than I’d originally allocated. I work by the age-old dictum (an age-old dictum that I’ve just made up) that you can never have too much bridge on a model railway. “Too much bridge would be barely enough” to mis-quote Roy and HG. On the photo I’ll post later I’ve marked some spots with letters and where “A” indicates approximately where I moved the support bracket to the location shown in the photo. This added approximately an extra 120mm to the length of the gap the bridge was to span.

The spot labelled “B” indicates the first really big challenge I’ll face with this model’s installation. As you can see the backdrop doesn’t come all the way down to the aluminium end beam, thus leaving a gap between what will eventually be the level of the water’s surface and the scenic backdrop. I had thought about trying to paint in a stream of some sort at this spot but I knew this would look dodgy, so I’ve decided to go ahead with my original plan and make the water exit the backdrop via two or three industrial pipe outlets leading into what will essentially be a man-made canal.This will allow me to run a shaggy, overgrown bank above this spot and that will provide real estate for some commercial/industrial structures on top, making this end of the layout “industrial” and built up in contrast to the bucolic scene at the other end near the turntable. This section will be my little tribute to George Sellios 🙂

The label “C” indicates where the track runs off layout into the fiddle yard. The hole in the sky that allow for the passage of the trains is a couple of inches to the right of this. “D” indicates the last unallocated space on the layout. What I would like to build here is a model of the Portus flour mill (it is also known as Rundle’s Mill). Having this mill structure at this location serves a couple of purposes; the first is that it will mask the exit and entrance of trains on and off the layout and the second is that this is a signature Morpeth structure that stood on the banks of the Hunter River for most of the time trains ran to Morpeth. My only regret is that it was never rail served, but you can’t have everything can you?

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