New Buildings

I’m aware that the posts on my blog have been few and far between recently, however I could never see the point in posting about nothing and progress has been such that there has been little to write about. I suppose I could write about the refugee crisis or politics but there are enough blow-hards already holding forth on topics like that. Let’s stick with something really important, trains 🙂

I’d planned on posting about my struggles with the wiring of the 2nd and 3rd modules but I was enjoying myself too much to take time out and actually write about it. I seem to be in a minority when I say I really enjoy wiring: it’s logical, neat and has a specific end point. The more artistic sides of our hobby do seem to have a certain “never-ending story” quality about them. The main aim of the re-wiring was to finish the electrical standardized connections between modules, install some block detectors to allow for some auto operation (to let a rail motor or a small loco to shuffle back and forth) and to run wiring up to the places where wires need to cross between the 3rd module and three other modules. Everything went well until I got close to finishing the job and discovered a short that only appeared when I tipped the layout section on its side. As you might expect with a modular layout, I do the wiring with the part of the layout I’m working on tipped back on its side so that I can sit in a comfortable chair and fiddle with the internals to my heart’s content. So tell me how a short-circuit isn’t apparent when the layout is down and sitting as it would be viewed in normal operation but appears when the same module is tipped on its back and being worked on? Almost as confusing as a friend of mine who discovered he had electrical continuity when he stuck two multi meter probes in some plywood. It turned out that I already knew about this short but the solution only occurred to me after I’d undone three night’s work by disconnecting all the wiring I’d laboriously installed in the earlier part of the week. It turned out that some rail spikes were coming into contact with the cross members of the brass bridge on this section of layout. I duly pulled all the pins out of the track that had any chance of coming into contact with the brass, re-connected the wiring and found the problem was solved. Obviously this problem was only apparent when pressure was applied to the track under the correct circumstances such as when it was pushed back on its side. I wasn’t likely to run trains when the layout was on its side but I had noticed that the same short appeared when I pushed down on the track on the bridge when the layout was in operational mode so it could appear later.

So onward and upward. The first thing I did after I installed a plug point for my DCC system and tested 2002 across the track was to change my mind about the church I wrote about in a recent post. There was nothing wrong with this as a building or with the kit it was going to be built from but I’d changed my mind and that was all there was to it. “It’s my party and I’ll whatsit whatsit…” if you know what I mean. What I wanted in this space was something more Morpeth and when I went looking at my old photos of the prototype I found exactly what I was after.

This photo is of a small corrugated iron shed I took about 10 years ago on a visit to Morpeth. The skillion roofed section sits above where the traisn used to run along the shefl cut into the river bank.

This photo is of a small corrugated iron shed I took about 10 years ago on a visit to Morpeth. The skillion roofed section at the back sits above where the trains used to run along the shelf cut into the river bank.

What I was after was something that looked right in the context of the river, the right-of-way and the combination of brick retaining walls and fences that sit along this part of the line. I found that this shed fitted the bill perfectly, not just because it sits within spitting distance of the line where the model would sit on the layout (in other words this is the building that sits on this part of the real line) but also because it had the right mix of roof lines I’m always after and the rusty corrugated iron is just so right for this part of the world.

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This photo shows the original Northumberland St station building. The rusty shed that forms the subject of this post can be seen through the smoke produced by the 20 class locomotive.

This photo shows the original Northumberland St station building. The rusty shed that forms the subject of this post can be seen through the smoke produced by the 20 class locomotive.

This photo was taken from the walking track which is formed by the old railway right of way. The stone steps on the left are represented on the layout by the steps that are on the front on the old Northumberland St station building that sits in the corner of the layout. I can't get a much more approariate structure than this.

This photo was taken from the walking track which is formed by the old railway right of way. The stone steps on the left are represented on the layout by the steps that are on the front on the old Northumberland St station building that sits in the corner of the layout. I can’t get a much more appropriate structure than this. The Northumberland St station building is long gone but by chance the building that stood next to it survives today (well it was still there when I last visited).

So nix to the church and work commenced on the new rusty corro shed.

This photo shows a progress shot of the rusty shed. It's basically just a styrene box. I've turned the struture 90 degrees to the way the prototype sat in relation to the right of way to make better use of the site.

This photo shows a progress shot of the rusty shed. It sits next to my model of Northumberland St station but it’s been shifted onto the other side of this structure. The shed is basically just a styrene box. I’ve turned the structure 90 degrees to the way the prototype sat in relation to the right-of-way to make better use of the site.

This is what's now in place on the layout. Nothing spectacular but then it's really only a rusty red background shape. A high level of detail isn't required with this structure.

This is what’s now in place on the layout. Nothing spectacular but then it’s really only a rusty-red background shape. A high level of detail isn’t required with this structure.

I got the building finished and installed, reinstated the wooden fencing and added a bit of ground cover and foliage to cover any gaps and to blend things in a bit. After this work was completed I had to decide what came next and settled on the building/s that were to sit on a site at the front of the module.

Originally I’d set this site aside for an oil depot scene but when I decided to install a “minimalist” oil siding on module 2 there seemed little reason to use this space up just to add tanks and other depot paraphernalia. So I decided that I wanted to industrialize the site with a suitable building or buildings. I have a couple of weaknesses when it comes to this hobby: one is human figures and the other is building kits. I have a half-dozen US sourced building kits that I have purchased over the years, all of them unbuilt and sitting in a cupboard. The most recent of these are a Mount Albert Scale Models kit “Stanley Storage” and a Stoney Creek Designs kit “Wiseman Foundry”. I have ummed and ahhed about these kits for a long while because not only are they not the correct scale, they are also very “American”. It’s quite possible US-based modellers might laugh at me for saying this because if anything these kits are actually “hyper-American” being very vernacular and even caricatures of real buildings. But they’re extremely appealing and full of character. I’ve wanted to have a crack at building a Fine Scale Miniatures kit for years but these are only produced in HO so I’ve never really got any closer than looking admiringly at photos of the kits in magazines, however I decided that with this particular spot on the layout that I’d put my partisan Aussie prototype modellers hat to one side for once and give my modellers licence a bit of a run. My excuse for this is that this corner of my layout is small tribute to Geoff Nott, George Sellios and John Allen. Three of my modelling heroes.

I began the building process by following the instructions that came with the kits and set out the components for the foundations first to check they will fit my site. As it turned out they wouldn't fit to my satisfaction so I extended the base by about 220mm and dropped this about 15mm at one end to give the flat gound a bit of variation.

I began the building process by following the instructions that came with the kits and set out the components for the foundations first to check they will fit my site. As it turned out they wouldn’t fit to my satisfaction so I extended the base by about 220mm and dropped this about 15mm at one end to give the flat ground a bit of variation.

I’m very impressed with the fit and quality of the components so far. It turns out that the Mt Albert kit was produced in conjunction with Stoney Creek so the way the instructions are presented in both kits is very similar. One major difference is that the main building components for the stone and brick sections of the buildings are resin in one kit and plaster in the other but this is no problem, I’ve worked with all of these materials before. So how am I going to get these structures to fit into an Australian scene? A lot of the roof material supplied will be replaced by rusty corrugated iron, there will be awnings added over doors and loading bays and the more obvious US features that scream Nth America (such as a large water tank on the roof of one of the buildings) will be removed or replaced. Once I’ve buried them into the bank, shrubbed up the surrounds and installed a lot of Aussie style fences and junked up the yard you’ll barely be able to tell they’re Yankee structures. Well that’s what I’m telling myself now 🙂

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