Big Changes At Queens Wharf

This is my first post for a while and part of the reason for this is that I’ve been posting the Ozone videos over the past few of months and these cover most of the developments on Morpeth, so writing about things that are going on has been less urgent. However my video editing software has developed a fault that I haven’t yet found a way to overcome so in the interim I thought I’d write a post and update those of you who follow this blog.

This is a shot of the new station building and platform that will eventually be installed on the site of the old station. You can see the original wooden platform in the distance. The new station has a standard NSWGR skillion roof A4 building and an extended platform. The building is a kit from ModelOKits as are the platform facings.

After establishing operations on Morpeth late last year, Covid-19 not withstanding, I’ve been making a lot of changes to the layout that are pretty mundane track, coupler and and wheel upgrades which don’t make terribly exciting reading or viewing. However, after the last round of such tasks were completed a few weeks ago I decided it was time to install some new scenery on the layout. I’d had the station at Queens Wharf in my sights for quite a while because the passenger platform was crying out for an extension and upgrade. The original wooden sleeper platform at QW was a pretty fair representation of what really existed at the location. However, I’d developed a operational scenario where QW had acquired a 3 track yard and had become a junction station with its own small signal box. A short wooden platform with a small wooden waiting shed on the ground next to it was woefully inadequate so I decided that I’d extend the platform and install a more appropriate building. Rather than discard the original passenger platform I decided the NSWGR would simply extend it with a wooden faced platform and build the new passenger facilities on this new work, leaving the old platform and waiting shed in place. This allowed me to retain a visual link to the old Queens Wharf station. I’m very happy with this so far and I’m about 70% through the new work. The whole station platform and surrounding scenery will be completed and  slotted into position once almost all the work is complete including ground cover, tress and shrubs.

Of course the only problem with doing new work is that what already exists along the back of the line starts to provide a visual comparison and I have to admit that what was left of the original QW at this location was looking rather run down and neglected. The two buildings that form the Morpeth Dairy were of growing concern to me as they’d taken a fair hammering over the years as both part of an exhibition layout and then being stored and shifted around several times as I moved house. One of these buildings was built for me by my friend Stephen Reynolds and the other was added by myself after Stephen handed over the main dairy building for installation sometime in 2003/04. I won’t go into great detail here of what needed to happen to these buildings to freshen them up but I decided last week that it would be crazy to install the new station building adjacent to these existing structures and leave them as they were. Also, recently one of the original turnouts at QW, the one leading into the Dairy, had developed a fault that made itself apparent during the last operating session and I was facing the prospect of trying to repair this as I leaned over something like 600mm of layout and track that sat in front of it.

I decided today that I’d head up to the layout room to evaluate the possibility of removing the dairy buildings so they could be repaired and freshened up while I sat comfortable at my workbench rather than reaching over to them in situ on the layout to carry out the work. I can reinstall them later as part of the upgrade to the scenery to this strip of layout. I also wanted to look at whether it was feasible to lift the track at this same location, remove a redundant crossover and repair or replace the turnout that had developed the fault. At the same time I can replace the 12mm MDF that forms the sub roadbed here with 12mm marine play which should provide a much more stable sub roadbed. The turnout that had developed the fault was one of the last ones on the layout that was built using copper clad sleepers on a sub-roadbed of MDF. While I can’t be absolutely sure this was the reason one of the closure rails suddenly came adrift, I’m in the same dilemma with this as I am with the buildings. I’m doing a major upgrade of the scenery on this section of the layout: I feel it would be madness to carry out this work and not fix these problems permanently while I’m at it. 

After about 10 minutes of swearing and bashing the underside of the layout with a hammer and old chisel the buildings came out in reasonable shape. They did get damaged but as the object of the exercise is to repair and freshen them up, inflicting a little more damage isn’t going to make a great deal of difference in the long term. I can’t address the problems with the scenery and track at this location without getting them removed and safely out of the way so I bashed first and asked questions later. These questions will probably be something like “why the f—– did I do this?” 🙂

So I now have two more buildings to work on and while I’m at it I also made some measurements to the line that passes beyond the dairy buildings you can see in the photo above. I was discussing the industries on Morpeth with a friend who is a member of the operating crew and he did question why I was considering another dairy on the new Hunter River Siding. After measuring the site it seems like the card building kit I have from ModelOKits of the Taree dairy will fit at this location so it’s possible I may install the whole complex along this site and move the oil siding down to the HRS. There’s more room for tanks and a model of parts of the depot there so it makes more sense operationally. This will also allow the construction of a dairy complex of a size that will justify multiple wagons moving into and out of QW on a daily basis.

Instead of being within a few days of having the new station installed adjacent to the Morpeth Dairy, I now have a long strip of empty, toxic waste free development land running along the far side of the main line. I wonder if I can get the NSW govt to buy it off me for 4 or 5 times its value? 🙂


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