The Jetty

I thought I might post a couple of quick shots of some of the pier timbers in place. These are very preliminary shots with the sleeper timbers just sitting on the piers, but it gives you the general idea. I’ve left out the 3rd 12″x12″ centre beam from these shots as I haven’t reached a stage where I can cut and stain them yet.

This is an early shot of the jetty piers in postion but not yet secured permanently in place. At the time of wrting this these have now been glued into position. I had planned to also bolt these through from underneath with brass BA bolts only to disciver that I'd run through my entire supply of nuts. That's what happens when you scratch build locomotives! :-)

This is a preliminary shot of the jetty piers in position, but not yet secured permanently in place. At the time of writing these have now been glued into position. I had planned to also bolt these through from underneath with brass BA bolts only to discover that I’d run through my entire supply of appropriately sized nuts. That’s what happens when you scratch build locomotives! 🙂

It hasn’t been all plain sailing with a couple of small problems I’ve discovered as I’ve steadily worked on the piers but overall I’m happy with progress so far. I find myself devoting far more time to this sort of stage of a project than I would if I were just constructing a kit or making a building. I find bridge and pier building to be one of my very favourite aspects of the hobby.

I have just posed these sleeper timbers on the beams for the photo. I have more timber to cut, distress and stain before I'll be ready to glue any of these timbers into position.

I’ve just posed these sleeper timbers on the beams for the photo. I have more timber to cut, distress and stain before I’ll be ready to glue any of these timbers into position.

The reason I moved onto this part of the project rather than complete the scenery you can see on the “headlands” in the foreground is that I wanted to get the rails laid across the module joins. I’m in the process of moving house and there’s a strong possibility that these two sections of layout will be 100km apart for a couple of months and I would like to lay the rails across the join between the two modules and test a loco on the pier prior to this happening.

The spots where locomotives step out from “dry land” onto bridges or piers, especially ones made from wood, are one of the demarkation points that distinguishes railways from roadways. A roadway going over a bridge is just an extension of the road but a rail line going over a bridge has integral significance because it carries within its structure the means by with the train steers itself to the other side. There’s engineering poetry within a wooden railway bridge or jetty that no other structure equals. For me such structures are one of the reasons railways are worth modelling and are part of the explanation as to why I’m in this hobby.

Jig #1

An important milestone was reached today on the construction of Morpeth. I moved offshore for the first time and started work on the jetty that heads out into the Hunter River. This event wasn’t exactly exciting but it was a big leap forward never-the-less because it’s taken something like seven years to get to this point. I know this because I started construction of Morpeth within a couple of months of purchasing a home in late 2009 and I’ve worked on and off on the layout (with breaks to build locomotives and rolling stock occasionally) for all of that time. The “point” of the whole layout was to allow me to build a pier with an associated ship model so this is significant, in a minor milestone sort of way.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I'll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wier than this one.

I commenced working on this styrene jig this evening. The timbers are untreated at this stage, that comes next. I’ll make three pier assemblies using this jig and these will carry a single track out the wider double track jetty. This larger assembly will require piers that are much wider than this one.

After a bit of careful calculating and a bit of test cutting of 12″X12″ basswood this afternoon I decided to make a start on the first of what will likely be several jigs. The base is 1.5mm thick (about .060) and the various styrene blocks that retain the timber are just a range of appropriate Evergreen sizes.

I’ve cut all the timber I need for the three piers and tomorrow night I will distress the timbers and commence staining them in an ink and alcohol wash. Over probably the following three nights I’ll glue the main assemblies together one at a time (what you can see in the photo) and when these are dry I’ll lever them out of the jig, flip them over and glue the bracing to the other side. Each pier has two sloping 12″x12″ timber braces on each side but I’ve decided to cut, distress, stain and fit these later, when the track carrying timbers that tie these pier legs together are attached. That way I have a bit of flexibility to cut an adjust them to the legs as I go. If I try to fit them now I’ll have to cut each of them to an exact size and glue them in place in the precise place they need to be. Fitting them later will be a much more forgiving process. I’ve chosen to use square timbers rather than the round timber of the prototype for the main legs mainly for convenience and ease of cutting. I have a good amount of 12″x12″ on hand and working with the precise dimensions of the basswood is far easier work than using dowel rod.

Crane In The Scene

Just a quick shot of the 5-ton crane in place and glued down with a bit of greenery applied around the base. I’ll probably come back and apply more shrubbery later but for the moment I’m happy enough with progress.

The glue is still wet in this photo, so wet in fact that I'm not quite done on adding the shubbery. But I'm worried about damaging the still drying ground cover so I've decided to stop for the time being to let things firm up a bit.

The glue is still wet in this photo, so wet in fact that I’m not quite done on adding the shrubbery. But I’m worried about damaging the still drying ground cover so I’ve decided to stop for the time being to let things firm up a bit.

The Auscision 45 – First Impressions

Auscision 45 SideAuscision 45 Side 2After quite a long wait the latest Auscision offering, the NSWR 45 class, arrived at my local post office yesterday afternoon and I happily trundled down over to pick it up. I ordered and paid for this locomotive quite a while back, but I’m not sure how long ago this happened. You get a discount if you order and pay Auscision up front, which is fine except you’re then captive to the vagaries of the production process along with the manufacturer. In this case my unreliable memory tells me the 45 has taken quite a bit longer to deliver than either of the two previous Auscision offerings, the 44 and 49.

Auscision 45 FrontAuscision 45 Front 2My first impressions of the loco are extremely positive. The paint finish is excellent and the detailing of the body and chassis is of a very high standard. This is no small feat in a locomotive of this size and complexity. Items of note are the operating chain line above one of the bogies (I couldn’t photograph this as it is very dark and wouldn’t come up in the photos), the step and staff exchange lights and the fact that the vents have detailed view blocks behind them so you can’t just see through the body to daylight on the other side. Cab EndLong Hood EndThe number boxes light as do the marker lights but then this is a feature of HO locomotives these days so is not quite as noteworthy as it used to be. I suppose with the extra space in a 1:43.5 loco you expect a manufacturer to go a little further and working headlights and number boxes are just “standard”.

One of the best improvements I’ve discovered in this loco over both the 44 and 49 is the absence of the rubber tubes used in previous offerings in the drive chain. This very second-rate system has been replaced by all steel universals between the gearboxes in the drive system. Well done Auscision!

After witnessing what happened to a friend's 49 on Arakoola I'm pleased to see Auscision seem to have fixed the problem by replacing the rubber or propolene tubes with steel universals. A much needed improvement.

After witnessing what happened to a friend’s 49 on Arakoola I’m pleased to see Auscision seem to have fixed the problem by replacing the rubber or propylene tubes with steel universals. A much-needed improvement. The gearboxes in my loco were bathed in oil which I’ve wiped away so that it doesn’t get everywhere. I really can’t see the reason for this as it was the same with the 49 is in my opinion is unnecessary. When you pick the loco up you get oil on your fingers and this is bound to end up on the body.

As noted in another forum by John Parker the running qualities of the locomotive are excellent and he says the current draw is very low so the motor is likely to be of high quality and well beyond the “washing machine” motor that was supplied in the 44. Those of us who use DCC will await John’s pronouncements on what’s inside once he peeks under the hood. There is a small, removable panel on the top of the loco (mine actually fell off and will need some adjustment to make it fit securely) but this seems limited to use by those who stick with a DC loco.

HatchI’ve shot a short video of the loco and posted it on YouTube. Most of the jerkiness apparent is due to the challenging lighting conditions as my camera struggled to cope with a back-lit scene.

The Downside

While Auscision are to be congratulated on the production of this outstanding loco they don’t seem to have entirely overcome one of the problems encountered with the production of the 49. Mine arrived with some minor damage and I’m currently in the process of deciding what to do about this.

This pipe appears to be bent and while it will be a minor matter to fix, its hard not to assume this occurred at the same time as the other damage to the loco.

This pipe appears to be bent and while it will be a minor matter to fix, its hard not to assume this occurred at the same time as the other damage to the loco as it is in the same general area.

A far more bit of damage was to the coupler pad on the long hood end. This has been completely detached from the front end presumably by being dropped. As the part was soldered to the body the drop must have had considerable force.

A far more serious bit of damage was to the coupler pad on the long hood end. This has been completely detached from the front end presumably by being dropped. As the part was soldered to the body the drop must have had considerable force.

After checking the locomotive over it became apparent that there was something wrong with the coupler on the long hood end. When I turned the loco over I found that the coupler pad had been broken off the body in transit. As this part was originally secured by a fairly long bead of solder I can only imagine the force of the impact that would have been needed to achieve this result. I’ve been fairly diligent in checking to see if any other damage resulted from what must have been a fairly heavy impact but I can’t find anything aside from the bent pipe over the fan vent, although there is some minor bending of the cab mirrors, a similar problem to the damage wrought on my 49 when it arrived. While it’s great to see Auscision using genuine KD couplers in their locos this is somewhat offset when the pad they are attached to is sheered away from the body. The packing of the 49 was clearly iunadequate and the problem does not seem to have been entirely overcome in the 45. Time for a rethink Auscision?

I haven’t heard an upswelling of complaints on the Yahoo forum I moderate about damage to people’s locos so with any luck I may be in a minority. I can fix the damage to my loco myself although fixing the coupler pad without damaging the silver paint on the long hood end will be a challenge. I think I’ll let the manufacturer know about the damage even if I do decide to fix it myself.