Short Circuits and Stupid Questions

“Where the #$&^(*@!! did I put those screw drivers!???”

This catches the flavour of one of the stupid questions I asked myself today as I continued rewiring the layout under Queens Wharf yard, but it wasn’t limited to just screw drivers. I also managed to mislay my glasses at least twice and my electrical tester, which didn’t turn up until my friend Phil dropped by and pointed out where it was after I’d told him I couldn’t find it to test a loco we were discussing.

This shot shows the turnouts I built a few months ago finally installed at one end of the QW yard. This had taken far longer than it should have but the job is finally done. The turnouts in question are the three closest to the camera.

I laid the new turnouts and track to extend the loop of Queens Wharf yard over a couple of days with 2 weeks in the middle when I don’t enter the train room. This included 5 days in Bali. When I arrived home last weekend and had recovered sufficiently from my jet setting lifestyle I put some time into finishing the track laying and two days ago I started to really come to grips with wiring the new track. I’d been putting off rewiring QW since I’d started building the Morpeth line but the time had come to bite the bullet. The entire layout is wired using red and black wire as the standard colours for the DCC bus wires. Black droppers on the front rail and red at the back. However QW again caused me some issues because it had been wired in reverse of this basic pattern when built 15 years ago. So I had the new layout wired up one way and two small segments of an old layout wired up in reverse. This wasn’t too much of an issue when I first installed the old modules in the new layout but I had been planning to install block occupancy detectors on the loop and the main lines in QW yard and these require a single rail for the section to be detected isolated from the rest of the layout. The thought of trying to distinguish which red and black droppers should be mixed and in what way was keeping me up at night. So yesterday I did what I should have done in the first place and removed all the droppers from the older sections of QW and swapped these so they conformed to the same pattern of black and red that exist on the rest of the layout. After doing this I started actually wiring QW yard. Not the new sections of track and the new turnouts mind you. I had to start about 3 meters away from the new track and start hooking up the wiring down the far end where the first section of the old QW resides.

The installation of the new track in QW yard should have been quite a quick job but deciding to install block occupancy detectors (at the same time as planning for the installation of signals and replacing a stationary decoder [Switch 8] for an upgraded model) has turned this into a major re-wire taking about 4 days so far.

There are times when you should take the easy route for a job and there are other times when it’s best to say “bugger it” and start again. To some degree I chose the second course with the QW re-wire. I couldn’t see any point in continuing to cobble together sections of layout that didn’t match, especially as little QW had been a test module I’d built 15 years ago and had never intended installing block occupancy detectors on it. Installing NCE BD20s is quite straightforward really but not when you try to mix and match the colours of the dropper wires that lead to the isolated rail that is at the heart of the process. One wrong wire and the detector wouldn’t work. So I’ve essentially replaced and upgraded 60% of the wiring in this section of the layout. One more day should see this forest of wires trimmed neatly and back in place.

This shot shows my complete collection of rolling stock and locomotives set up in the storage sidings. Doesn’t seem much after nearly 20 years working in O-scale does it?

To give myself a break from crawling around under the layout I decided to unpack my loco and rolling stock collection and place it all on the storage lines. If we’re going to be running an operating session next week I need some trains to run. I even got 1919 out of the glass cabinet she’s lived in for the past 2 years and placed her on the track to film her first run on Morpeth. She’s never actually run on the layout. I set the camera rolling but she kept stalling on one of the turnouts. The loco was running beautifully, there was just a dead spot between the frog and the end of the switch rails on one particular turnout. So my break from crawling around under QW consisted of two and a half hours of crawling around under the storage sidings sorting out a dead spot on one of my Peco points. It happened to be one of the oldest turnouts I owned which had been installed by me a few months ago after being recycled from at least 2 different layouts. The point motor and PL10 switch were already in place under the turnout when I installed it in the storage sidings. This simply confirmed for me the need to get rid of all the Peco solenoid motors on this part of the layout to be replaced with Tortoise motors. Another job on the to do list.


Stairway To Heaven

The stairs leading up to my train room probably don’t qualify as leading to Heaven as such but as my train room is up there surely it qualifies as a semi-Nirvana? 🙂

Preparations for my first operating session continue… apace would be slightly misleading, let’s say preparations continue at a steady canter or trot. The only problem with inviting guests to see your layout, or in this instance to help you operate it, is that they need to be able to actually get into the room where the trains are. I can’t be the first layout owner/builder who has a layout at the end of a set of stairs, but in most instances the builder of the house in which the layout has been built will probably have supplied the original dwelling with a handrail to the room. Not in this instance.

My layout is built on the upper floor of a two level Colourbond steel (plastic coated corrugated steel sheet material) structure that I have a feeling is intended as a small farm shed with an office space/teenage retreat upstairs. The upper floor was never envisaged as the location for a model train layout but it serves this purpose reasonably well, sloping roof not withstanding. These sheds are made to a price and while the structure itself will probably outlast the house I live in, the original owners obviously didn’t avail themselves of the minor creature comforts available to the owners of such sheds, such as having lights or a handrail on the stairs installed as it was being built.

Far be it from me to cast aspersions on the participants of our wonderful hobby but not to put too fine a point on it, none of us is getting any younger. The average age profile of the hobby is going up at a fair clip and this includes the friends I have coming on the first Wednesday in June. For this reason alone the need for a safe way to get up and down the stairs is imperative and stairs without handrails would be a challenge for a group of 20 something hipsters let alone a mob of creaky old farts like my model train friends. The other day one of them asked for a chair lift to be installed. As if??!! 🙂

This is the view that greets you when standing at the top of the stairs looking down. They aren’t the steepest stairs I’ve ever come across but they aren’t exactly shallow either.

I decided that the very first job I needed to address in getting organized for the upcoming gathering was to install a handrail on the stairs. Not something that probably qualifies as a “train related task” in most instances but I’m convinced that unless visitors feel safe and happy when the come to visit your trains the chances of them coming back for a second visit are much higher. To be honest the last bloody thing I wanted to be doing is spending a fair wad of cash and time on installing handrails, but after seeing visitors in the past wobbling on the stairs I considered this a first order priority. And visitors aren’t the only ones who have wobbled on these stairs. I too have been a little shaky on them at times so getting this job ticked off the to do list was a must for yours truly too.

Same stairs and rail, different view.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in installing these handrails is that the building itself was clearly not designed with this task foremost in the thoughts of the designers. I’m quite a fan of a Canadian reality TV show from the late 90s early 2000s called Holmes on Homes. In this show Mike Holmes goes around ripping people’s homes to pieces only to rebuild them beautifully. One of the many lessons to be learned from this show is the oft repeated statement made by the host that if you put in a railing (either on stairs or on a deck) people will naturally tend to lean on it. For this reason alone the structure of rails needs to be strong; strong enough to bear someone’s weight. I made sure as I installed my handrails that it was up to the job and solid, really solid. The term over-engineered has been applied to the things I’ve built in the past and applies to this handrail in spades. I’m happy with it even though there’s still a modicum of movement in the rail at the very bottom of the rails uprights nearest the ground floor.

This shot shows the lower rail that leads up to the turn in the stairs about 1/3 of the way up.

I won’t go into the nitty-grity of the materials and techniques I used but will limit myself to saying that the structure was made from 70×35 & 70x45mm framing timber bolted to the steel structure. Where there weren’t sufficient posts to bolt this timber to I installed more timber to act as an anchor to the sub rail. I screwed steel handrail brackets to this sub rail and installed the bread loaf Muranti railing to these. The railing itself needs a light sand and a couple of coats of finish but this can be done over the next few days. I also miscalculated on the number of brackets I would need and have to go back and get one more of these. Even with a bracket missing the railing is as solid as I want it to be.

Now onto getting trains running on the layout again. Oh did I mention I’m going to Bali for 5 days as of the 27th of May? I’m back a day or so before the gathering in my train room. Time’s a wastin! 🙂

Aisle Clearance

After a few months mostly working on models for other people and setting up my workshop I had a free morning this morning to put some time into a model. The first order of business was to drill holes in some white metal castings using a jig specifically designed to hold the parts at right angles to the 1/8″ drill bit required. The only problem was that I couldn’t find the jig! It wasn’t in the drawer labelled “jigs” and after hunting through all the nooks and crannies in my modelling workroom (twice) I went into the layout room and took a look there. I knew the jig wouldn’t be in there but I thought it was worth a try. No luck. However upon walking into the room I saw Morpeth’s recently made control panel sitting on a chair waiting to be hooked up to the layout. The thought struck me that I really needed to do something about reinstalling the panel as I had my first operating session booked for the first Wednesday in June and time was quickly running out to get the layout ready. So, as you do, I started out to work on a wagon and ended up spending a couple of hours crawling about under the layout. The best laid plans hey? 🙂

Now I hear you saying to your collective selves “operating session? He’s never mentioned operating sessions before” and you’d be right. However I was set a challenge by a friend a month or so ago and he’s a HO modeller and I’m not letting one of that species get one over on me 🙂 The turnout making sessions I’ve written about here have organically morphed into a get together between the three of us on the first Wednesday of the month. We’ve met at both my home and the home of the other O-scaler in our group and last month it was Phil’s turn. Phil does dabble in O but his primary scale is HO and his layout is built to HO scale to a NSWGR outline. Upon arriving he announced that he wanted to try running a basic operating session. Then he apologized, about 10 times, as if this was a burden for Peter and myself! A burden??? This was something I’d been working toward myself and here I was being asked to operate a train! I was actually excited but I hid this well and pretended to be put out and grumpy. Actually I’m not sure Phil could tell the difference from my normal demeanor, maybe that’s why he kept apologizing 🙂

Anyway things went swimmingly and as is usual in these cases he’s spent the last couple of weeks working on his layout altering things that cropped up as we ran our trains. Well done Phil! After getting home I started thinking it’ll be months before I can do something similar on my layout. Then I had a “bugger it” moment and sent Phil a text message that if he can do it so can I! I was running an operating session the next time we get together at my place. Our next get together was booked for May the 1st… at my place. May the 1st???!!! That was less than 4 weeks away! Luckily Phil made contact and said he couldn’t make it on that date so could we change the date? I said I’d reluctantly change the date and so we’re going to meet at my home on the first Wednesday in June. Thank Heavens for that, it gave me an extra month and Phil’s none the wiser. He apologized again 🙂

There are a lot of things that will need to happen before I can run a fully fledged, multi train operating session but Phil kept two of us busy for two hours with just two trains. I have plenty of locos but a dearth of rolling stock, hence the aim of working on that wagon this morning. However the layout has languished a bit over the last 6 months and hasn’t seen a train run right round the circuit because I haven’t yet finished the track laying for the loop extension at Queens Wharf. So this is very high on the must do list. Getting the layout up and running and reinstalling the control panel at Morpeth is one small job I thought I could do this morning instead of continuing my fruitless search for the drilling jig. I’ll get back to that!

The control panel for Morpeth was made as a separate item so it could be easily removed from the layout and stowed for transport. It hangs from a cleat at the front of the layout and is connected electrically by two cables that plug into receptacles under the layout and on the underside of the panel itself. The position I’d chosen for this panel was based on the need to get the operator away from the middle front of the layout when it was being exhibited, however this position down one end of the modules is less than ideal when the layout becomes part of the larger permanent layout.

This photo shows the area where I was working this morning as I moved the position of the control panel at Morpeth. Where I’ve labelled the photo A is the passageway at the end of the branch at Morpeth. This is a major traffic area and as you walk round the end of Morpeth, travelling from the Raworth side of the layout to the Queens Wharf side, the first thing you encounter is the control panel on your left. I decided that the panel needed to be moved up the aisle (toward the camera) to the position marked B and as far down the aisle from C as possible, as this spot is the narrowest part of the aisle where the yard at QW juts into the available aisle space.

I would’ve liked to have moved the panel to the middle of Morpeth (to the right of the camera position) so that it was completely out of the way of the aisle at its narrowest point. This is more than possible as the panel is hung by a cleat from the front of the layout and as such moving it is a very simple process of undoing some small bolts and shifting the cleat along the front of the fascia. The limiting factor is the cables that hook the panel up to the layout. These are about 800mm long and the receptacle for them under the layout is pretty much set. I could move these by doing a rewire job but I only have limited time before the first Wednesday in June so I moved things as far down the aisle as I could without doing any re-wiring. I’ll go with this for the operating session. If I feel the position of the panel is still a problem I’ll come back to it later and move the receptacle.

The main consideration in setting the position of the control panel for operations on the permanent layout is the amount of clearance between the panel and the fascia on the other side of the aisle. I’ve managed to get 700mm clearance (about 52″) at this point and this should be enough to allow someone to pass behind an operator standing at this panel, just.

While I was at it I moved the receptacle for the NCE throttles I use from the right hand side of the panel to the left to allow the panel to be placed just a little further up the aisle. I’m not totally happy with the position of this but again, it was a case of trying to achieve an acceptable result in a minimum of time. I can shift this back to the other side of the panel later if it’s something the operators complain about.

I Like Tank Wagons

While I’ve been rearranging my workshop I have managed to get a little work done on a modelling project. Many years ago I put a couple of Lloyd’s Model Railways kits for the NSWR SCA 3000 gal tanker wagon together. These were eventually sold off when I changed scales around 2000 but I have always had a soft spot for these wagons and tank wagons more generally.

You’ll have to excuse the quality of this photo. The wagon is still a little too shiny to allow for a really clear photo. It needs a bit of a squirt with some dull coat and perhaps a little weathering to bring out the detail..

Over the past couple of months I’ve been assembling an O-Aust kits, SCA 3000 Gal tank wagon (now available from ModelOKits) which I’ve had in the cupboard for quite a while. I found the wagon a middle level challenge to build, not so much due to the design of the kit but for the same reason I found the HO wagon challenging to build all those years ago: the chassis and the tank really have to be painted separately and then assembled and this needs some thought and planning prior to assembly.

As I worked my way through the assembly process I found that the materials and the wagon were very familiar and this kit bears a lot of resemblances to the HO wagon but with some significant improvements over those kits. I found the assembly of the walkways and ladders in etched brass allowed for a much more robust construction method because they allowed for a better anchor into the tank. These protrude quite significantly and are prone to damage and I feel that the O-scale version are likely to stand up to the rigors of operation far more readily. The cast detail items are all crisp and needed only minor clean up and I found the decals were a good representation of the prototype.

The final paint job was achieved with Dura Max spray cans. I decided to try a metallic silver for the tank. While this may not be terribly true to the prototype it does give the wagon some bling! 🙂 I will tone this down with Dullcote and weathering later. Overall i really enjoyed this build project and have started straight into another project, this time and S wagon.

Work Spaces

It’s been a while since my last post but there’s been only minimal progress on the layout because another project has been eating up my time. As I may have mentioned before, I spent 1978 as a 17 year old working through my first year of a four year carpenter’s apprenticeship. The path I took from 1978 to becoming a school principal is far too complicated (and lacks any connection to model railways) however I have been officially retired from the teaching service for 8 days at the time of writing and as such I’ve been doing some evaluation of what I want to do to fill up my free time.

1. Trains

2. Drink Coffee

3. Get Fit

4. Make stuff from wood

That about covers my bucket list! I was on the phone to a friend the other day and he asked me if I’d made a part I’d told him weeks before that I would make. I told him I’d been too busy. He asked “does you being too busy mean going to the gym and drinking coffee?” to which I replied “and your point is?” 🙂 I have been going to the gym, a lot, but that’s not the only reason I didn’t get around to making the part. I’ve been consumed by the job of fitting out my workshop.

I’ve been living in my current home for a little over 2 years. It has a very large, separate, steel, double-storey shed at the end of the driveway and while I love the house and it’s location overlooking the sugar cane fields around Murwillumbah in Northern NSW, I can’t pretend that the shed didn’t play a big part in my decision to buy the place. Trains upstairs, tools downstairs, bed and TV in the house! Simple. I’ve discussed in fairly minute detail the process of preparing the train room and building the benchwork upstairs for the layout but, as might be expected, I’ve written very little about the workspace downstairs. Why would I? This is a blog about Morpeth in O-scale, not a woodworking blog. However, as so much in our lives, having a clear demarcation line between trains upstairs and wood down works ok in theory but doesn’t work so well in practice because there’s no such demarcation between the tools I use to work on my trains and those used for my other projects. This has become more apparent recently as I’ve set about seriously reorganizing and improving my workshop space.

Never fear, I’ll get back to the trains eventually, however if you’re not really into workshops, tools, wood and storage solutions for workshops this may not be a blog post that is going to interest you overly.

About 4 weeks ago I made the decision to commence construction on a small, portable mixed NG/SG project layout in 7mm that will sit along one wall of my modelling room. This is a spare bedroom in the house. This will eventually form the basis of some articles on the construction process. I was happily pottering about planning this layout and running here and there buying materials and getting the basic frames built when I hit a wall of frustration with my workshop. I wanted to do one small cutting job on some of the timber I was using for the bench-work when I found myself thinking “this would be so much easier on a proper table saw”. For those of you into this type of stuff I’ve had a Triton workbench saw table for about 30 years. It’s been used to build just about every layout I’ve ever had anything to do with plus, being portable, I can stick it in the back of the ute and take it to other places and work on other people’s layouts too. I’ve built a lot of layouts with this saw. However I’m not moving again and I have a huge workshop space downstairs so I can have something better if I want it because, while the Triton has been great, some operations are a pain in the butt to carry out on it.

I made the fatal error of looking on Gumtree (equivalent to Craig’s List for my Nth American readers). These photos show what the result of that was:

The great advantage of a table saw with a cast iron top is that it’s heavy. The great disadvantage of a table saw with a cast iron top is that it’s HEAVY! Using it is ok but moving it is a pain. Luckily the guy I bought it from happened to have a fork lift in the yard. As you do 🙂 He was selling it because he’d got himself a bigger saw! Those logs you can see in the background are all furnture grade hardwoods. OMG! I was in heaven and I’m going back next week to get some timber.

Louise was kind enough to let me use her trailer to go pick the saw up. It was easy to load it, tie it in and get it home but getting it out of the trailer was beyond me on my own. I called in some friends! Note the workbench and tools hanging on the wall over on the far side of the shed.

I saw an ad on Gumtree for a second hand table saw about 25 minutes drive away and next thing I know I’m heading home with it strapped into the trailer. Then things really started to get complicated. I now had the saw I’d always wanted and the room to set it up properly however there are a couple of other tools and pieces of equipment I’ve wanted for a long while and, now that I was retired and my super scheme was throwing money at me, I decided it was time to finally do something about acquiring them. However the shed was a disorganized mess and before I could get to where I wanted to be I needed to do some work to improve matters. We arrive at today.

I call this the Armidale workbench. I made it around 2003 to go into a small space I had against a wall in the garage in my home in Armidale, squeezed in between my beer fridge and the first iteration of Morpeth in O. As you can see it’s not exactly a pristine workspace with acres of spare room. Also note that I decided I wanted to line the walls of the shed. I won’t be lining every wall but where I want to set up my workshop benches, lathes and hand tools I wanted it lined and lit well. Why plywood? Because while it’s more expensive that plaster board, having ply on the walls means I can hang anything anywhere I want. I don’t need to find studs, put up cleats or battens. Need a shelf 3′ from the corner of the room at eye height? Snap!

Rather than build new or work with the old 1.3m long Armidale bench I decided to extend it. I’ve got a couple of new legs installed on the right (70mmX70mm pine) with new, longer 4×1 beams along the top and bottom rear. The pace on the left will house an open fronted box with a shelf to hold my hand power tools.

The only real issue in getting stuck into this project was that it’s tending to divert me from modelling. But by Heaven I’m enjoying myself! I’ve been working in a make do environment for so long I’d forgotten many of the things I’d really wanted to get from a permanent workshop. This can be illustrated by my small metal sheer and rollers that was such an important tool in the building of my 20 class loco a couple of years ago. I was working on the new bench and I made the decision that I wanted to put in two new drawers for all the drill bits, router bits and other bits and pieces that I’d been cramming into some tiny drawers that sat on top of the old bench. I’d made a new bench a few years ago to use my mill and Sheline lathe on and this had a single drawer under the bench-top that I was planning to replicate. However this time I was going to have at least two drawers. They would have ply bottoms and use full extension drawer runners. Magic! As I was examining the drawer in other bench I noticed the metal sheer sitting under the drawer.

These plastic drawers have been sitting under my workbenches for years. They’re where I’ve been storing all my smaller hand tools for something like 20 years. The metal sheer is the red object on the right.

The metal sheer is a great little tool but it’s cast iron and heavy. As I tend to only use it when I’m working on a loco it tends to spend most of it’s time stuck in a dark corner and while this is ok for storage, when you want to use it having to crawl around on a concrete floor trying to see and cut your metal with it is not conducive to accurate metal cutting. This tool, even though it’s small, is way too heavy to lift up onto a bench and then back under it every time I need to use it. So in addition to new storage drawers for my hand tools on the longer workbench, the metal sheer is going to get it’s own, heavy duty stand that will be at a good height to both see the metal and hold the heavy tool in place when I have push down on it to cut metal.

I spent day 8 of my retirement assembling the drawers I’d made on the new table saw which I had managed to get off the trailer and set up last weekend. As you can see they are on full extension drawer slides that are rated to carry a weight that is well beyond what I’ll be placing in them. They have 7mm ply bottoms and will happily carry the weight of the tools that I’ll stack in them.

The next step is to secure the bench to the wall and put the ply top on, build a charging station for my battery re-chargers which will include a spot for a sound system and then I’ll move onto setting up the new band saw and dust extraction system I acquired yesterday.

Back On Track

Probably the most overused first sentence on blogs of all types is: “It’s been a while since my last post…” and then the author goes on to explain why it’s been a while since their last post. Well it has been a while since my last post but I’m going to spare you the self serving explanation of why, trying to pretend my life it so busy and full of rich experiences that I haven’t had time. The truth is that I’ve been a bit lazy, I’ve been doing other things and I’ve been enjoying summer to do a great deal of modelling and write blog posts about it. However I’ve been getting back into the modelling recently and I’ve finally reached a stage where I have something worthwhile to post.

As mentioned in my last post I’ve been getting together with a couple of friends on Wednesdays over the past few weeks to build some turnouts and we’re probably about half way through the building process of my two friend’s turnouts. In spite of my last post they didn’t get to eat any ginger nuts because I’d eaten them all before they arrived, however I made some lovely walnut and date slice with a lime icing that was a real knock out and which helped overcome their bitter disappointment at the lack of ginger nuts.

This photo shows Peter and Phil pretending to be doing some work on a turnout in between drinking coffee and scarfing down freshly baked walnut and date slice 🙂

Just after I’d completed the full circle of track round the layout room I decided the loop in QW’s yard wasn’t long enough. I only have a fairly paltry collection of rolling stock and the loop at QW couldn’t accommodate the moderately long train I’d made up to test my newly laid track. So I needed a fix and came up with a plan requiring some new turnouts. One R and one L, code 125, #6 turnouts to be precise. The last thing I wanted to be doing was building more turnouts but I’d agreed to build some for a friend who wanted to make a start on laying track on his layout so it was a good time to be making a couple of extras for myself. I happily made three new turnouts and commenced work on three more, one of which was to be a code 100 #6 when I decided it would probably be a good idea to go up and see how the ones I was building for myself would fit in their new home.

This photo shows the arrangement at one end of the yard at QW. The original cross over at the end of the loop is about 1 m to the left of this photo. I decided to leave this in place because removing it would have been far too disruptive and probably would have led to damage to the dairy you can see in the photo. The plan to lengthen the yard required the turnout in the photo to be pulled up, turned 180 degrees and have a second turnout butted up to its diverging end to allow QW yard to have a main, a loop and a goods loop.

It was at this stage that I became aware (because I’d bothered to walk out to the train room to take a look) that both of the turnouts I’d been constructing were essentially useless for their intended purpose. One was no good because it was being built on a base that would have made it impossible for it to be mated up with the pre-existing track of QW’s mainline. I built the track on QW many years ago on 3mm MDF bases and I was now make track on 5mm ply bases. Even the fairly forgiving, large-ish wheels on O-scale trains wouldn’t handle a 2mm height difference in the rails. The second turnout was useless because I’d managed to overlook the fact that the track in QW’s yard was actually code 100, not code 125. Luckily I’d been also been making a code 100 #6 turnout for the coal branch (which is also laid using code 100) and, even more luckily, it was of the correct orientation. So this turnout could be pressed into service on the loop lengthening project. However there was nothing for it but to start from scratch on a new code 125 turnout, built on a thinner base that matched the track on QW. Perhaps the most fortuitous factor was that, as I was also making the turnouts for my friend, I could foist my excess #6 turnout stock onto him and pretend I was doing him a favour by making him more turnouts and at a rate far faster than I’d originally said I could 🙂

This photo shows the original code 125 turnout turned 180 degrees and the new, partially completed turnout built on a thinner ply base in approximately their new positions. There’s still a bit of adjusting to do but I’m hoping these turnouts will be installed and trains will be running over them in the next week.

So the lesson from all this is that you can entice friends to your home with the promise of ginger nuts only to spring walnut and date slice on them and you can offer to build them turnouts and then foist your dumb mistakes on them and they’re grateful to you. Friends, what would we do without them? 🙂

That’s Not A Ginger Nut!

My friend Peter Krause asked if I’d mind bringing my fancy laser level to his place so we could level up the benchwork units for his new layout Saddlersfield in the lovely new shed he’s recently had built. I had no hesitation in jumping in the car and heading north to spend a pleasant morning helping get the benchwork leveled. It took us very little time using the laser and I have a feeling that we both surprised ourselves at how quickly the job went compared to what time it would have taken using traditional bubble levels.

So after not much more than an hour we were sitting under the awing at the back of his house drinking tea when he offered me a Ginger Nut biscuit. Now I haven’t eaten a Ginger Nut in years so I agreed with alacrity but what he offered was suspiciously thin and decidedly un-nut like. A Ginger Nut is an Arnott’s biscuit and in my memory they are fat, sweet and hard. I mean really HARD! They aren’t a Ginger Nut unless you’re in danger of chipping a tooth on them. I offered the opinion that what Peter was offering me to accompany my cuppa was a dreaded generic or something sold by that German retail mob masquerading as an Aussie classic but no, he assured me that these were, in fact Arnott’s Ginger Nuts! E-Gads!!?? What has the world come to when a Ginger Nut snaps rather than cracks? Of course Arnott’s was sold to the Americans quite a few years ago so I blame them. Any nation that would inflict Justin Beiber on the world and soften up a Ginger Nut has a lot to answer for! Have you seen an Iced Vovo recently? Pathetic 🙂 No wonder the current generation is taking the world to hell in a hand-basket via their mobile apps, they don’t have proper Ginger nuts to help toughen them up! 🙂

Anyway I chose to address this egregious culinary crime by hauling out my well thumbed Woman’s Weekly cookbook and cooked a batch of Ginger Nuts. And by Ginger Nuts I mean a biscuit, not a cookie, one that needs a mouth guard to eat!

While they didn’t come out quite as hard as I’d have liked these are my version of a real Aussie Ginger Nuts! Let’s face it, anything that has cinnamon and sugar in it is bound to taste ok. Oh and a bit of ginger too 🙂

Peter and another friend of mine are getting together on the 16th of January 2019 to to commence work on making some O-scale turnouts and possibly eat Ginger Nuts. If you happen to be in the area of the Qld Gold Coast or far northern NSW please make contact on and you might get to eat one too.

This is the recipe I used to make my Ginger Nuts. Yum! 🙂

We’ll get back to the trains next time 🙂