Not Watching Paint Dry

I’ve been on a break from work for the past two weeks. At a social gathering with my staff on the final Friday work afternoon we were talking about what we were going to be doing over the break to which I replied “painting my train room”. They all laugh at my eccentric hobby but they were also well aware that I was dead serious. I planned on painting my newly lined train room. I had thoughts that I’d knock the job over by Friday of the first week and then I could spend some time doing some other jobs around the house and possibly even make a small start on building the layout.

HA! That plan crumbled to ashes when I came to realise just how many hectares of wall board it took to line the room, of which each and every square cm needed to be painted. So it will come as no surprise if I reveal that while the painting of the room is now complete I made the last brush stroke at 6.30pm this evening (that’s the Sunday evening before I go back to work).

This just a quick shot of the completed paint job taken on my phone. I didn’t have the strength to walk into the house and get my camera! 🙂

The electrician came on Thursday and installed the lights and power outlets and some vinyl flooring is going down next Wednesday.

So as the job of painting the room was complete and will be layout ready within the next two weeks after final fit out, I decided that it was time to get the plan out and take a hard look at what I wanted to actually build.

This is getting close to the final plan. I have some tests to carry out on the curve radii to ensure that the locos I want to operate will navigate the curves but this plan incorporates almost all the changes I feel that I needed to make.

This version of the plan (V3.7) incorporates most of the changes I’ve been thinking about during the seemingly endless hours of painting. I’ve widened the aisle between the Shell depot and the Oak Dairy benchwork, I’ve moved the 75′ TT away from the door to provide a bit more clearance on entry and better reflect the arrangement at the real Muswellbrook but most importantly I’ve lengthened the yard at Muswellbrook. The main line loop has gone from just over 2.6m to just under 4m. This had been on the cards for a while but a friend paid me a visit on Friday and when he told me that a 2.5m long loop would only allow for a train that had 10 S wagons (with loco and van) I decided to bite the bullet and make the change. In drawing these changes I was forced to rethink the arrangement of the turntable and the approach line to this. I’ve lost the double approach to the table but shifting this further back toward the yard in this switch back arrangement mimics the arrangement of the engine facility at Muswellbrook. I’ve also penciled in a Garratt turntable arrangement here which mimics the Garratt triangle located on this line. This won’t have scenery but it will serve the dual purposes of acting as a shunting neck for locos accessing the table and will also allow for the turning of a Garratt. This is all a bit speculative but it would be nice to be able to represent the way an empty train would have arrived at Muswellbrook yard headed by an AD60 and while coal was being loaded the Garratt would have been turned and coaled on the triangle ready to haul the loaded train back down the Hunter Valley.

You might also note in the info box at the bottom left hand corner that the grade is now included (at 2%, providing me with 50mm more clearance over the storage roads from the last plan) and that the min radius has gone down to 1727mm. This is to accommodate the inner radius of curved Peco points. There’s not much point in saying the minimum radius of the layout curves are 1.8m when the radius on 5 of the points is 1.727m. So my use of Peco points is having a knock on effect to the rest of the plan. Hence the need for some tests I plan to carry out in the next couple of weeks to make sure the locos I want to run on this layout will negotiate these tighter than expected curves.

Trev’s Trains

At the end of 2016 I was relocated at work which allowed me to move back home and commence some planning and preparation for my home layout: the one I’d always wanted to build but never been able to as I was required to move every five years or so. In the lead up to the end of my time at that school I must have mentioned to one of the teachers that I was going to get a sign made up for the door of my new train room and it was going to read “Trev’s Trains”. I’d climb the stairs, shut the door and only come down again when I’d had too much of running my trains. At the dinner held to farewell me one of my wonderful staff gave me a gift that now hangs on the door of the train room. It seems as if the teachers at the schools where I’ve worked sometimes do listen to what I say 🙂

I decided to install the sign quite a while prior to the room being ready for trains.

Work on lining the train room has happened in fits and starts over the past two weeks but the process is drawing to a conclusion. When complete I should have an unpainted room that finally has the leak in the roof fixed (we’re pretty sure we’ve solved the problem this time), lit by six flourescent light fixtures. I have to get some blinds measured and fitted and I’m considering whether to have vinyl flooring installed, but generally speaking the main job for me will be painting the interior. After this all I really have left to get done is to have the lights and power outlets installed by an electrician. I’d guess about four weeks should see all that complete. When the weather starts warming up I’ll see whether I need an airconditioner installed. My guess would be that it will need one but I’m prepared to wait.

The plasterboard is probably one day’s work away from completion. Once that’s done the builder will come back and install skirting and two access hatches in the low, vertical walls.

While it was sunny outside, and as the plasterer hadn’t turned up, I decided to head upstairs and take a few photos of progress on the room. It was certainly apparent to me that the volume of space available for trains was less than I’d started with, but even without paint and no lights fitted it was amazing how much brighter the room was. It was also still cool up there in spite of the fact that I could feel the heat of the sun coming off the sheet metal as I climbed the stairs.

This is a fairly crummy early photo I took of the room on my phone but it gives you an idea of the dramatic change brought about by the plasterboard.

As I was going up there to take photos anyway I also took a set of layout legs that were leaning against the wall downstairs. I’d used these legs on my aborted attempt to set Morpeth and Queens Wharf up as a home layout about three years ago in a previous home.

These legs are 1.2 (4′) tall. If the top cross beam was to be used as a datum line for the height of the benchwork you can clearly see my problem. We haven’t even started to add the thickness of the benchwork modules and track yet and I’ve already touched the sloping sky.

The photo above clearly demonstrates my problem with layout height along this part of the room and it gets worse on the other side of the room because the line for the branch has to climb above the rail height on this side as it struggles to clear the storage sidings. And this is before I start to contemplate the fact that the rear leg doesn’t even touch the wall at this point. I suppose at least I don’t have a dirty great lattice beam slicing through the scene as would have been the case if I’d allowed the builder to push the ceiling further back toward the roof. The conclusion that I’m going to have to lower the layout by about 200mm (8″) (if not more) from this height is quickly becoming a foregone one.

This is the most recent version of the Muswellbrook layout plan. I’ve had to put a lot of new work into this plan and it’s all Ray Pilgrim’s fault! 🙂

With some salutary lessons being taught as the room’s lining has progressed I’ve put some more work into the layout plan. You’ll notice that it now sports some pretty colours and the branch’s minimum radius is now 1.35m rather than the previous 1.5m. This change has occurred to allow me to squeeze in a flour mill and petroleum siding to give the branch a more diversified traffic pattern. It may not be terribly apparent but my primary interest is branch line running and this layout is really just a short length of mainline that has a branch line running off it. The plan has essentially been an exercise in attempting to get away with as little mainline as possible and shoehorn in as much branch as possible. There was no flour mill at Merriwa and certainly not one with a petroleum siding conveniently located a small distance down the line, but there is just this arrangement in the midwest town of Grenfell.

This is a snip of the track arrangement of Grenfell. I snapped a few photos of the flour mill at Grenfell many years ago as I was driving through town in the late 90s. What hadn’t been apparent to me at the time was that the siding extended beyond the mill buildings and also served a petroleum outlet. What more could I ask for?

There were a couple of oil sidings at Merriwa but I was having a bit of a struggle fitting them in. I also had on my mind that there was a lot of unused floor space in the middle of the room where I could fit a nice big industry as long as I could find one that suited the location. Merriwa is four and a half hours drive from Grenfell but both are wheat towns and including this industry allows me to achieve all the aims I had for the end of the branch in a prototypical arrangement.

This photo shows the appeal of the mill at the end of Grenfell’s rail yard and it is typical of many that were dotted around the state in NSW towns like Gunnedah and Gilgandra. The fact that all these towns start with G is purely coincidental (I think) 🙂

After much thinking and cogitating I decided I really needed to check whether Ray Pilgrim’s fear (posted in a comment on the blog) that I didn’t have enough space for the branch to clear the storage sidings was well founded or not. I was well aware that it was going to be a close run thing but I am ever the optimist. I tend to favour grades of not much more than 1 in 100 (1%) which means a 1cm rise for every meter of travel. I like this grade because it’s simple, being based on tens so even my mathematically challenged brain can handle it. I’d worked out that there needed to be a minimum of 150mm (6″) clearance at the spot where the wheat silo is located. This allows 150mm of clearance between the rail head of the storage sidings and the top of the benchwork above. This would allow 110mm for the track and trains to clear the underside of the benchwork and 40mm for the roadbed and associated benchwork. Turns out Ray was right to be skeptical: there was very little chance of the line gaining sufficient height using a 1% grade. So I tested a 1.5% grade and the line does just clear the storage roads. I could probably push things a little harder with something like a 1.7% grade on the branch and I could even give the storage sidings a slight grade to help things along but I believe there is sufficient room (just).

Right on cue a couple of PECO curved turnouts I’d ordered from the UK turned up in the mail today. I unpacked them to take a look and I have to admit to being impressed in spite of my reservations about whether they will be a blot on my NSW railway landscape. They’re well made and nowhere near as ugly as the O-gauge points of old I’ve seen. They’re not a very close match to anything being used in NSW either but think of the hundreds of layouts built in Australia using the OO/HO equivalent and I don’t remember hearing too many adverse comments from people who have actually built layouts. As opposed to those of a more pure, theoretical bent who are quick to criticise the efforts of others without ever sullying the railway scene with a layout of their own. I can make and lay my own track, I’ve done so on my last two layouts. However both of these layouts only required about 5 or 6 turnouts: Muswellbrook needs about 25 on the scenic portion of the layout. I estimate about 4-5 hours work will be required for each point if I hand build them and that’s just for the plain #6 type. When it comes to the fancy curved variety that are needed for this layout the time to build one will probably double. That means about 150 hours to make the points required, add to this the track and you start to see why I’m contemplating using PECO turnouts.

A Critical Decision

Over the past 5 years, as I’ve worked on my current layout Morpeth, I’ve had one scenic element in mind as the item I most wanted to include. This was the wooden pier that jutted into the Hunter River at Queens Wharf, about a kilometre back up the line from Morpeth. What attracted me to Morpeth as a modelling theme is a complicated topic and I’ve covered some of those reasons here, in the pages of 7th Heaven (the quarterly magazine of the Aus7 Modellers Group) and in my column In the Loop in the Australian Model Railway Magazine. While the reasons for choosing this line to model may be complicated, one very large part of it came down to the pier and the opportunity to model a ship and the land/sea interchange that once existed at Morpeth.

The wooden coal staith at Morpeth was well and truly gone by the 1940-50s period I model, but I don’t really mind this: I have a fully paid up modellers license and I can model what I like.

This is the only picture I'm aware exists of the coal staith that used to stand at Queens Wharf. You can just see the level crossing bisecting the rail line in the lower left corner. The white gate is a railway gate. It is this structure that I aim to imagineer on my layout of Morpeth.

This is the only picture I’m aware exists of the coal staith that used to stand at Queens Wharf. You can just see the level crossing bisecting the rail line in the lower left corner. The white gate is a railway gate. It is this structure that I aim to imagineer on my layout of Morpeth.

Now I’ve never been shy about shifting things about on my two layouts of the Morpeth line but I must admit to taking a great many liberties in relocating the pier I’m going to model from Queens Wharf about a kilometre up the line to within the confines of Morpeth itself.

This map scanned from the pages of Byways of Steam and having appeared in an early issue of The ARHS Bulletin magazine shows where the original coal staith existed on the prototype and where I've shifted in (approximately) on my layout. the rd box approximates the part of Morpeth I'm modelling and the curve of the pier I'll be modelling in red.

This map, scanned from the pages of Byways of Steam 14 and having appeared in an early issue of The ARHS Bulletin magazine, shows where the original coal staith existed on the prototype and where I’ve shifted it (approximately) to on my layout. The red box approximates the part of Morpeth I’m modelling and the curve of the pier I’ll be modelling in red.

Now up to this point everything has been speculation and vague plans: I’ve got the kit of the ship I want to model, some plans and photos of piers and I even have the base module I’m going to build the pier on. However what I don’t have is an exact plan of the pier and I most definitely haven’t settled on how I’m going to get the track to cross the join between the two modules without creating a large bump in the rails. What I’ve decided to do is alter the pier’s use somewhat from an a coal staith used exclusively to load coal onto river barges to a more general purpose pier, similar to those which jutted into the sea at Coffs Harbour and Byron Bay further up the coast. While sadly the pier at Byron is gone, the one at Coffs Harbour stands to this day and can be readily photographed and measured. So that’s what I did a couple of years ago on one of my infrequent trips to Sydney to attend the Oct Liverpool model railway exhibition.

I took this photo, along with a couple of dozen more, a few years ago to give myself a record of timber dimensions and general arrangements. My pier will be much shorter than this but it gives you the generla idea.

I took this photo, along with a couple of dozen more, a few years ago to give myself a record of timber dimensions and general arrangements. My pier will be much shorter than this but it gives you the general idea.

You have to imagine the pier of Coffs harbour not looking all clean and quiet and empty of activity with one lone fisherman standing on it. The way 'm going to model it is far my like this.

You have to imagine the pier at Morpeth not looking all clean and quiet and empty of activity with one lone fisherman standing on it. The way I’m going to model it is far more like this…

As I’m just about to finish J Parker and Sons I was beginning to look at the adjacent block of land that adjoins the entry to the pier and I made a critical decision about the way the tracks will cross the join between the two modules.

This is an updated plan of the layout which includes precise locations and sizes of critical elements. The previous versions have all been fairly speculative concerning this end of the layout because I hadn't yet built the models or the module. I've now done this so I thought it timely to update the plan and see if everything actually fitted.

This is an updated plan of the layout which includes precise locations and sizes of critical elements. The previous versions have all been fairly speculative concerning this end of the layout because I hadn’t yet built the models or the pier module. I’ve now built these so I thought it timely to update the plan and see if everything actually fitted.

So now we’re getting down to brass tacks. I want a pier/jetty and I want a ship but I also want trains on that pier: if I can’t have a small loco and wagon or two shuffling back and forth on the pier then I don’t want to continue with the plan. When you’re standing looking at the layout as a member of the public you’re essentially standing in the Hunter River and the pier juts into this space with the adjacent ship models on either side. The critical spot I’m going to be referring to is marked on this plan with a big red A. Why is this spot a “problem” that needs a blog post to explain what I’m doing to address it?

  1. The track at this point crosses a board join
  2. The track crosses the board join at an acute angle
  3. The track at this point crosses a board join at an acute angle that is on a curve
  4. The track at this point crosses a board join with all of the above on a spindly wooden pier.

Taken together all of these conditions add up to a “problem” and this problem has been the subject of much thinking and planning over the past few months as the work on the other projects on module 3 progressed. I essentially have two options: I can either start the pier near the word “radius” on the plan or I can cross the board join on a solid piece of ply wood and the commence the pier on the other side of the join so that the entire jetty structure is located on the one board. I’d been wondering and planning out what might be best when I was invited to take the controls of John Parker’s Valley Heights layout at the recent Liverpool exhibition. He faced the precise problem I face here, a model trestle crossing a board joint. John didn’t have much of a curve to contend with but he had the added complication of a difference in grade. Over the October long weekend I took a good look at the way he had implemented his solution to this issue and what I saw didn’t fill me with confidence. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with John’s modelling but the rails did seem to have shifted from when John laid them and he did say to me at one point “I must take a look at that” or words to that effect. Originally I’d thought to cross the board join at this critical point using modelled piers but looking at John’s timber trestle convinced me to play it safe and commence the model just the other side of the join with a nice solid track base allowing the rails to get to the pier.

Because I'd always planned to add the abutment for the pier on module 3 I needed to change tack slightly to allow me to install a sub road bed of 9mm ply to the existing track. This shot shows the ply lip installed that will allow me to butt the curved road bed up to this track.

Because I’d always planned to add the abutment for the pier on module 3, I needed to change tack slightly to allow me to install a sub road bed of 9mm ply to the existing track. This shot shows the ply lip installed that will allow me to butt the curved road bed up to this track.

Now because the join between modules was no longer going to be model trestle legs that would sit in the water, but rather a solid rock jetty or earth bank like structure that hides the ply subroad bed, I face the challenge of what to do about the stream bed that crosses this part of the layout at a right angle to the track. I’ve marked the new course of the stream bed in blue on the above layout plan. It will have to bend slightly on its journey to the river.

This photo shows the length of 9mm ply I cut to shape today. It will eventually be cut into two section with the cut following the edge of the layout fascia.

This photo shows the length of 9mm ply I cut to shape today. It will eventually be cut into two sections with the cut following the edge of the layout fascia.

This shot gives a better idea of the stram bed dilema that cropped up when i altered my plabs for the way the track will cross the board joint at this location.

This shot gives a better idea of the stream bed dilemma that cropped up when I altered my plans for the way the track will cross the board joint at this location. It will need to bend to the right as it will no longer be able to flow under the trestle. The trestle won’t be modelled until it’s well and truly over the join between the modules.  It will commence about where the end of the ply closest to the camera sits in this photo.

So faced with what was always going to be a bit of a challenge scenically I retreated and decided to go with a safer option. I have a feeling that I could have made the trestle cross the join successfully and that it would have worked ok. What I couldn’t convince myself of was that I could do this and adjust it later if things started to shift and move. This almost always happens with models but is far less likely with the solid ply roadbed I’ve decided to go for. No matter how successful I was in getting the track to line up a model trestle crossing the joint here would have always been vulnerable to damage. Remember, this is an exhibition layout that will be bumping about in a trailer on the way to and from shows. I have to travel about 900km to get to Sydney by road. The layout needs to be robust to survive that sort of travel. And I plan to take it to Melbourne some day, add another 1000km, one way. A trestle made from basswood sitting up against a module edge would be asking for trouble.

Morpeth MkIV

I’ve been referring to this version of Morpeth as Mk IV to myself through such things as labelling the folder where the photos I’ve been taking have been stored on my computer. It’s far too complicated to outline the details of Mks I to III here. I’ve made reference to the earlier layouts and iterations of these layouts on this blog but I wouldn’t bother trying to hunt these posts out, that’s all ancient history now. What is worth mentioning is that I did a lot of work on Morpeth in the lead up to the Aus7 ExpO which was held in March 2014. I worked on the layout quite intensely in the lead up to that show and once I arrived back home the layout sat essentially untouched for a time before I decided to try installing it at home as a semi-permanent layout. I made some damaging changes to Morpeth Mk III to get it to fit and then personal circumstances led me to selling the house I as living in at the time. So these half-implemented plans went from being planned changes to planned damage. As a result of moving house I packed the layout in its dedicated trailer, towed that across the range of hills that separated me from my old home about 100km away and there it sat, inside the trailer while I built my Z20 class locomotive and put some rolling stock kits together.

Now you might ask why it’s taken me so long to start working on the layout again, especially as it was approximately 75% complete in March 2014. It would only have taken a good push along for another 12 to 18 months to get it “finished”. This is a very pertinent question. Perhaps the most important thing stopping me from pushing straight on with finishing Morpeth was the June 2009 issue of the Australian Model Railway Magazine magazine which has a very nice photo of my previous layout, Queens Wharf on is cover. I’m very proud of this cover as it was the first that featured a layout built by me, so proud in fact that a framed copy of it hangs on the wall above my workbench. Now while I’m proud of having my layout on the cover of what I consider to be Australia’s premier model railway magazine there is something that grates with me and it’s that at the time the photo was taken I didn’t own a steam locomotive that could be used in the photo. As such the 32 class steamer that does appear was borrowed from a friend. Now there’s nothing wrong with the 32 class (thanks for the loan Paul) and I actually don’t have a problem with someone else’s loco appearing on my layout in a photo on my first and hopefully not my last magazine cover. However I do have a problem with the fact that I hadn’t yet built a steamer of my own that could have been used. Not because I couldn’t build one but simply because there always seemed to be other things (both modelling and life things) to be getting on with. At the time the cover appeared I made a promise that no layout of mine would ever appear in public again without at least one steam loco built by yours truly gracing its rails. I had to make an exception for the Aus7 ExpO in 2014, it was initiated and organised by the O-scale modelling group I happen to be president of. 2002 was and my 19 class loco are the result of that resolution to build some steam locomotives.

So we get to 2014-2015 and I’m implementing a plan to install Morpeth at home as a “semi-permanent” layout and just after I chop 150mm off the end of one of the modules and rearrange a couple of the buildings’ locations personal circumstances lead me to come to a full stop! In the house move I also managed to drop a desk lamp on one of my buildings doing a pretty thorough job of rendering it back to its constituent components; some paint, a large decal and of a pile of plaster chips and dust.

I have a bit of a weakness for building kits and this was the original brick building that sat on the bank at the rear of module 3. It started life as a Donetown Deco building marketed as Archie's Bar. On my layout it first of all became a billboard for Rosella tomato sauce and then it became a pile of plaster chips after I dropped a desk lamp on it!

I have a bit of a weakness for building kits and this is an “in progress” shot of the original brick building that sat on the bank at the rear of module 3. It started life as a Downtown Deco building marketed as Archie’s Bar. On my layout it first of all became a billboard for Rosella tomato sauce and then it became a pile of plaster chips after I dropped a desk lamp on it! After it was damaged I decided it couldn’t be saved and I tossed it in the bin.

This past few days I’ve reached a bit of a milestone in that I’ve managed to get back to where I’m not just fixing planned damage on Morpeth but actually starting to make some genuine progress toward finishing the layout and getting it ready for a public showing. One of the biggest changes I’ve been planning to make is to turn my train turntable from its original purpose into a 4th scenic module. This module appears on the plan I posted a couple of days ago and it consists of a 2mX600mm slab of river that will eventually hold a long wooden trestle up on which will sit a ship model I’ve had stored away for about 5 or 6 years and onto which I have been dying to get my hands!

This photo shows the train turntable in the process of being dismantled. I've already removed the table and other hardware and soon will move onto cutting down the sides and installing a solid table of 7mm plywood which will serve as the Hunter River's surface.

This photo shows the train turntable in the process of being dismantled. I’ve already removed the table and other hardware and soon will move onto cutting down the sides and installing a solid table of 7mm plywood which will serve as the Hunter River’s surface.

The change of use for the module in the photo above is not that the turntable didn’t work, in fact anything but: it was a remarkable success. However it was big, unnecessarily big in fact, and required one full parking slot in the trailer that houses Morpeth. In thinking over what I wanted to do with the layout and what possible redesign work could be carried out on the train turntable, I made the decision that I could make better use of this module as a fully scenicked entity and that a new slimline train turntable could be made and fitted into one of the 100mm high utility slots at the bottom of the trailer rack. I have convinced myself that I can make the train turntable work in a slim form, all I have to do now is make it. That will happen further down the track.

Peter and Phil, two very hard working friends of mine dropped by on Wednesday last week to give me a hand on re-purposing the turntable module I was a little worried I wouldn't get everyting done on the two days I had available for this work but with their help we got the whole job done and even had time to dawdle over a cafe lunch. Thanks guys, I never would have finished this on my own.

Peter and Phil, two very hard-working friends of mine dropped by on Wednesday last week to give me a hand on re-purposing the turntable module. I was a little worried I wouldn’t get everything done in the two days I had available for this work but, with their help, we got the whole job done and even had time to dawdle over a cafe lunch. Thanks guys, I never would have finished this on my own.

The work was carried out at my partner’s home in her double garage as I don’t have the space to carry out such work in my abode. The only problem with working in her shed is that there’s no power or lights in the shed so taking decent photos is a bit of a challenge. The work went swimmingly and by the end of the day we were able to pack the new module back in the trailer ready to be hauled back over the range.

While you have to squint and squeeze your imagination really hard to see it this module will eventually come to represent the Hunter River. Module 3 can be seen in the backgroundat right angles to the re-purposed turntable module.

While you have to squint and squeeze your imagination really hard to see it this module will eventually come to represent the Hunter River. Module 3 can be seen in the background at right angles to the re-purposed turntable module.

Over the past couple of days since arriving home I got some wiring upgrades done on the station module before I packed it back in the trailer. This is the module with the Shell Depot on it that I posted about last week. While some track needed to have wires reattached I also wanted to cut some rail gaps and install some NCE BD20 block detectors that I plan to use in conjunction with an NCE Mini-panel to allow a couple of locomotives to shuttle back and forth on the layout. The plan for this is that I would like to be able to have the option to have something moving on the layout automatically to take the pressure off the operators at exhibitions. With block detectors and a bit of basic programming I should be able to have a small tank loco shuttling back and forward on the pier and a railmotor doing the same thing from the fiddle yard to the station. Spending 3 days moving trains back and forth on a fiddle yard to terminus layout gives you a new appreciation of tail-chasing layouts.

So today I swapped module 2 for module 3 in my workroom and got to work looking at what I needed to do to complete this module before I could move on and get to work on the pier and ship models, to say nothing of the yet to be built slimline train turntable.

I have been aware for the past 3 or 4 weeks as this stage in the layout work approached that I would need to start by finding a replacement for the brick building that originally stood on the bank a the rear of module 3. I've decided that the Outback Model Co kit of the small country church would fit the bill. This photo shows a a test of the kit in the same spot after a bit of judicious scenery "remodelling".

I have been aware for the past 3 or 4 weeks, as this stage in the layout work approached that I would need to start by finding a replacement for the brick building that originally stood on the bank a the rear of module 3. I’ve decided that the Outback Model Co kit of the small country church would fit the bill. This photo shows a test of the kit in the same spot after a bit of judicious scenery “remodelling”.

I’ve lived all over the state of NSW in the past 30 years and I’ve seen at least 5 or 6 examples of the church that is represented by the Outback Model Co’s kit of St Agnes’ church. After taping together walls of the kit with low tack blue masking tape I plonked the resultant box in the space left by the previous building. It is perfectly sized for this small space: very Australian and very appropriate for this space.

This recently repainted chuch is just one example of the St Agnes' kit produced by the Outback Model Co. It fits the site perfectly when this was made vacant by the damage to the previous building.

This recently repainted church is just one example of the St Agnes’ kit produced by the Outback Model Co. It fits the site perfectly when this was made vacant by the damage to the previous building. This example is situated in Nevertire in central west of NSW.

Thinking Through A Rail Siding

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been steadily working on the refurbishment of Morpeth’s scenery. About two years ago I had made the decision to install both of my modular layouts Queens Wharf and Morpeth into my train room. As neither of them had been designed as permanent layouts and did not fit into the available space I had at the time I made some modifications to both of them to fit them in. While I was making these changes I took the opportunity to reverse some decisions I’d made early in their development. One of these was to move a scratch built engine shed on Morpeth from its position in front of the station to a far more logical place down the line in the engine servicing facility. The result of this change was to leave a hole in the scenery about 45cm long by 150mm wide across the lines from the station platforms. See my previous post for a photo of this hole.

Personal circumstances resulted in the plan to move the layouts into the train room being abandoned however I decided to move on with Morpeth’s development as an exhibition layout.

While I had made the decision to move the engine shed to a more “logical” location, the move also resulted from my dissatisfaction with how much the engine shed had screened the view of the station. I’m all in favour of strategic view blocks on layouts to make the viewer see the layout in the way the builder intended, however the engine shed was a step beyond controlling the view to almost overwhelming it. So in being presented with an opportunity to fill the new opened space for an industry siding I didn’t want to repeat this same mistake by allowing the newly installed scene distract from the overall station scene.

This plan is the most recent development of Morpeth's plan. It takes into account the changes I made to the original plan in trying to get it into the train room of my old home. The engine shed's new location is on the far left and its replacement Shell Depot is located across the rail lines in front of the station.

This plan is the most recent development of Morpeth’s plan. It takes into account the changes I made to the original plan in trying to get it into the train room of my old home. The engine shed’s new location is on the far left and its replacement Shell Depot is located across the rail lines in front of the station.

I’ve spent about 6 months thinking about what sort of industry I should install on this siding. It had to be small, low and out in the open air with minimal or no buildings if I could get away with it. I’ve considered most options but an oil siding was always likely to win out because, while there was never an oil deport at Morpeth, I have some nice yet-to-be-built kits for oil tank cars and I also knew that I could model the siding for such an industry in a minimal space with a bit of chain link fencing, a patch of sand and sign.

This photo shows the way I've filled the empty space left by moving the engine shed from this location. The fence is brass rod and  plastic fly screen wire. I Photo-shopped the sign from a Google search and printed it onto paper on a colour laser printer.

This photo shows the way I’ve filled the empty space left by moving the engine shed from this location. The fence is brass rod and plastic fly screen wire. I Photo-shopped the sign from a Google search and printed it onto paper on a colour laser printer. The oil unloading piping is some code 100 rail and 2.5mm brass rod painted sliver. The only really challenging aspect of the whole scene was turning up some small brass “valves” on my lathe. These have some ModelOKits 19 class release hand wheels soldered into their tops.  

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to gradually fill this scene in. The fencing I was planning to use had been sitting unused after it was removed from Morpeth MkI over 12 years ago. Of course when I actually came to try installing this fence in this new location only about half of it was any use so this required the manufacture of some more that was appropriate for this location. The sign and the outlet piping are made up following the lead of the articles that have appeared in AJRM over the years and from Google searches. It was far more common for small, regional oil dept sidings like this one to have the piping on the outside of the fencing but I like the enclosed look of having the pipe inside the fence. The only other addition was the installation of a sleeper over the end of the siding to prevent wayward wagons from rolling off the end.

I would have liked to pose the above photo with an oil tank wagon I built many years ago but after searching high and low I couldn’t seem to lay my hands on it. I did find lots of other missing stuff that I hadn’t seen for a while though 🙂 I visited a friend’s place yesterday and asked him if I happened to give him the wagon. He said yes. A senior’s moment? Probably but at least I had some vague memory that I’d given it to him so I’m not completely without hope! 🙂

 

A Z20 at Morpeth Station (Finally)!

I’ve been working on a Morpeth based theme for something like 16 years. The Z20 class tank locomotive was ubiquitous on this short branch line, in fact I know of only one photo that shows a different class of locomotive on the line and that was a C30, another tank locomotive of the NSWR that at a casual glance is a very similar looking locomotive. The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve been working on a series of layouts in a range of formats based on a branch line that essentially only had one class of locomotive that ran on it and for all those years I haven’t had a model of that class of loco. I do now. To put this into some sort of perspective, in that 16 years I’ve built two separate versions of the station building and platform you can see in this photo. This is number 2.

This the fist photo I've taken of my newly completed Z20 sitting at Morpeth station. The passengers have been waiting for 16 years for the train to arrive.

This the fist photo I’ve taken of my newly completed Z20 sitting at Morpeth station. The passengers have been waiting for 16 years for the train to arrive.

Now everyone brings to their modelling a different set of beliefs and principles when it comes to what they will and won’t run on their layouts: some people are happy to run just about anything that has wheels others won’t run a locomotive on a line that depicts a particular spot that never ran there on the prototype. Now I’m fairly flexible with what I’ll run on my layouts, as long as they’re the correct scale and are generally speaking of a NSWR origin (and not too ridiculously large) locomotives that never ran on the Morpeth line get a run and even those that weren’t even running till after the line was torn up might make an occasional appearance. However I do have one bug bear about prototype running that has caused me pause a few times over the years before I built 2002. Locomotives run on Morpeth that never ran to the real location however I’ve always felt less than comfortable with this without at least one example of the class that was synonymous with the line, namely the Z20 class. I consider this informed consent: I’m ok with the non-prototype locomotives running on the layout as long as I know they didn’t run there and that I also know what did and I have one example of that class running on the layout. Having 2002 is the fulfillment of a 16 year journey and having a photo of the loco in front of a station building made by myself with a station name board with the word Morpeth on it has resonance for me. This photo is my hobby.

This module has sat untouched for most of the past week as I’ve been busy with work and life but I managed to do some track laying tonight.

This photo shows the gap in the scenery where the engine shed once stood. I've installed a short length of track here to extend the siding and this is now wired up so I can move onto filling the gaps.

This photo shows the gap in the scenery where the engine shed once stood. I’ve installed a short length of track here to extend the siding and this is now wired up so I can move onto filling the gaps.

The hole in the scenery left by the relocation of the Morpeth engine shed sits on the front of the module in front of the station. I spent some time tonight wiring up the new length of track (just over 400mm long or 17″) and cleaning the track on the module and testing the loco. This is the first time in over three years that I’ve run a train on this section of the layout and the only work needed is to fill the holes in the scenery and lay down some new ground cover. After I’ve done this I’ll install a bit of fencing and some pipes and this siding will become a minimalist fuel siding. Once that work is done this module will be placed back in the trailer and out will come module 3 to take its place in my workroom. Module 3 is the scenic heart of the layout and it needs at least three new buildings, a lot more trees and shrubs added, a creek/river bed completed and a concrete culvert that leads onto a curved pier that runs onto a module that I haven’t actually built yet.

I’ve set in my mind that I’m going to offer to take this layout to an exhibition in Sydney or Brisbane in 2017 but it’s got to be finished before that happens. I’m pretty sure I can get the basic infrastructure done in time but the models take me a long while to build and the goods shed, while largely complete, needs a bit of work to get it where I want it. The new scenic module will be formed by the base freed up by recycling my train turntable module that I believe I can reproduce in a much slimmer form so it can sit in a small slot in the trailer which will allow me to build the pier as a fully completed unit with ship in situ. I plan to have the pier wired up and locomotives will run on it but at exhibitions I’ll utilize a shuttle module that will allow my Manning Wardle to shuffle back and forth on its own with a wagon or two in tow. I’ve also been thinking about how I can make the ship model rock up and down gently as it sits next to the pier and how I can light the module as it sticks out from the main layout at right angles, thus making a lighting rig that doesn’t intrude too much into the scene a real challenge. Lots to do…

This photo shows and early stage of construction on module #3. Things are much futher along than this stage but I think this gives a good overall impression of the bones of this section of the layout.

This photo shows an early stage of construction on module #3. Things are much further along than what can be seen in this photo but I think this gives a good overall impression of the bones of this section of the layout. I”ll move back to working on it when I’ve filled the hole in the scenery on module #2. Looking at this photo I’ve remembered that brick building you can see behind the loco is a Downtown Deco structure that suffered a fatal accident when I was moving house the last time. A desk lamp fell on it from the top of my work bench so I’ll need to find a replacement for it when I come back and start to work on the module in a few weeks. Make that four buildings I have to construct…

Arakoola Heading To The UK In 2016

Some good friends of mine who collectively own and operate an O-scale layout called Arakoola have decided that their lives aren’t exciting enough so they’ve decided to spice things up a bit by taking the layout to the UK in September 2016. The layout is enormous and how they plan to carry out this operation will be worth watching. I’ll certainly will be watching with interest. They made the plan public at the Aus7 Modellers Group Forum last Saturday and have prepared a media release which follows:

Some Exciting News

The Arakoola team would like to let Aus7 members be the first to hear something very special. We are taking the layout to the U.K.

For almost twelve months we have been having discussions with the executive of the Gauge O Guild about the possibility of exhibiting the layout at the annual Guildex exhibition in Telford in the U.K. and we have just been informed that their February Board meeting has invited us us to attend the sixtieth anniversary show in 2016.

Telford is regarded as the premier O scale event on the U.K. modelling calendar and attracts exhibitors and visitors from all over the U.K. and indeed the world so this will be a real opportunity to show them something quite different to the usual British, European and American prototype layouts they are familiar with.

This is a huge logistical and financial challenge for us. The shipping arrangements alone are complex and very expensive and preliminary arrangements have already been made. Each of us will be making a significant financial investment in the venture and we are grateful to the Guild also for some generous assistance. We will also be undertaking some fund raising activities starting as soon as they can be arranged. The first of these will be the raffle of a Model O Kits/DJH AD60 Garratt kit.

To let you know more about it we have set up a Blog at https://arakoola2telford2016.wordpress.com where you can see how this all came about, track our progress, leave comments, ask questions and maybe take part in some of the fund raising activities including how to go about purchasing raffle tickets. There will also be an article in the next issue of 7th Heaven.

Due to the need for some upgrade work on the layout we will be limiting our exhibition appearances this year, with Liverpool being the only possible. However we are planning an open day similar to the one we had in 2013 so keep checking the Blog for details.

Finally, we want to thank John Birch, our good friend and Aus7 member in the U.K. for his representations to the Guild on our behalf and his assistance with arrangements at that end and also Guild Overseas Representative John Drago for his encouragement when it all seemed too hard.

Paul

You can follow their adventures by clicking on the link here or via the side bar on this blog’s main page.