Sunday, 3 April 2022

A long overdue update.


Yes... it has been a while. What's been happening? I've just been enjoying the layout and running trains. I've been working on some waybills and car card boxes for operations on the layout because realistically, all of the freight stuff is done. I've learnt some stuff on the way.

Most of the work in the train room has been furniture based. I've got a mould problem. I've wiped down as much of the furniture as I can with vinegar in January and even pained some old shelves. They look pretty good now. But the mould all came back too soon. 

So I replaced the furniture. That helped. As did throwing out the unpainted ply. I was ruthless. Anything that had a hint of green fuzz went out the door. This included some old wooden boxes that I have had for nearly twenty years. One of the victims of this purge was my micro layout Billabong Marina. That had some nice green and yellow fur underneath it.

It might seem extreme but my cavalier attitude to mould in the past has lead to a mould allergy. The long and short of it is that it makes me cough and that is not socially acceptable these days.

Today was spent painting and installing more shelves to replace some old Aldi MDF shelves. The new shelves are very similar but the MDF is nice and white.

But while running trains, what did I learn?

The line from the coal mine is way too short for coal trains being loaded by a flood loader. These trains will block the return loop for the mainline, even if they go the other way than I originally planned. The coal mine head shunt runs along the same line as platform one of Bega station. The line veers right and there is a short stub siding. The plan was to put a signal box in there. Now there will be a new piece of track.

I reckon the coal mine needs a siding for unloading equipment and supplies such as explosives. I could also put a small platform there for workers trains. The old layout had a space for one at the mine.

I figured that if I was putting platforms in then one at the harbour area might work. I could put the Billabong Wharf station building there.

The Fine Fish building from Billabong Marina could fit in the harbour area but some track work is needed for it to fit - and some perspex as the track will be very close to the edge.

However, I reckon that the biggest thing that I have learnt is that it's just plain fun to run trains. That's why we're here in the hobby isn't it?

With the Easter break coming up, I'm hoping to get on with the terminus level and some of it is already in place.

Until next time. 

Sunday, 24 October 2021

The Industrial Area

With most of the work around the inclines completed, (The stuff that is left requires work closer to the front of the boards to be completed first.) I can get to work filling in the loop with the industrial area.

Here's what is in so far.

The track for the brewery and manufacturing industry is in. The next two lines are the wheat sidings and then the container sidings.

I've spent some time during the past week putting together a Walther's Medusa Cement kit. I've still got a bit to go but I put it on the layout for a bit of an idea as to how it would fit. In between the cement works and the container sidings is the steel works.

I had planned to use a Peco Manyways train shed. It is a little wide. I am trying to cram in as much as I can. It may be slightly unrealistic but I am more into the operations side of model railways so more industries to shunt is more appealing to me. I can save about 3 cm by using old Hornby Tri-ang loco sheds. While these are red and yellow with big windows, a bit of brick plasticard and some paint and they should look the business.

In the meantime, they will hold a bright place before the work is done.

Behind the wheat silos I've placed an extreme low relief building. It will hide the incline but still allow some access. I'm considering placing more behind these buildings so that the line to the terminus on the upper level disappears for a while.

The plan for this week is to finish off the cement works kit and lay some track.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Mind the Gap


Oooh! What a nasty gap. I always thought that it would be a problem for future me. A bit of masking tape and some plaster, paint and some scenic material later and we have this.

While the gaps aren't gone, they are better disguised. The big one on the left is for future me to deal with.

The end result for today is this.

This is closer than people will get to the scene but I can tell that there are some patches where the ballast needs topping up.

Some of you may notice that I am using three different shades of ballast in this scene. There is a fourth shade around Bega. At the main junction of the inclines the track looks like this.

The three colours are for three different routes. I got the idea from Tony Koester, the American railroad modeller, author and legend. On his layout he uses a different colour of ballast for his mainline from his yards so that his operators know which track is the mainline.

All of my sidings that have so far received ballast all have Bombo ballast, which is the brown ballast on the right. The mainline on the lower level has a shade of grey of unknown origin. It is a lighter grey but you can still discern the mainline from the sidings.

On this level the mainline will have Ardglen ballast, which is a dark grey and on the left. This is the track that comes up the incline from the bottom level. This track runs along two and a half walls of the room before entering a return loop and coming back before heading back down to the bottom level.

The middle two tracks head up to the terminus and has Martin's Creek ballast. All of the ballast used is from Matt's Ballast and picked up from my local hobby shop or exhibitions. 

The track on the bottom level to Tathra should have Martin's Creek ballast as well but I used something that looks more like budgie grit or crushed shells. I thought it was good stuff. When I get the chance, I'm going to replace what I can with the real deal.

Operators will know that the lighter grey of Martin's Creek represents branch lines and the dirtier brown of the Bombo ballast as sidings to help them guide their trains through the layout as they change the points themselves.

This is a function of interior designed used in a lot of public spaces such as shopping centres and airports, if you remember going to them. The floor is a colour that takes you where they want you to go and can help differentiate from thoroughfares to areas such as shopfronts where they don't want people bustling past. I had to dig the clip up but I saw this years ago. 

I'm hoping that using similar principals of using colour will help operators. My layout is complicated and while I know it well, visiting operators visit once a month so it takes a while for them to learn the route. Hopefully, this will speed the process up.

Until next time.

Monday, 4 October 2021

A Scenic Start

 Last time, I was fixing up the main yard. After a bit of testing, I came up with something that I said that I wouldn't do. It works. It makes three sidings longer and the others about 5 mm shorter, so I figured that it wasn't a bad trade off. I did lose the Repair in Place (RIP) track and the storage siding. The latter was geometrically impossible.

While I was at it, I realigned the loop line that runs hidden behind the yard. This was to give the operator a better chance to stop their loco before shorting out the layout. I had accidentally run my sound 3801 through the points and shorted the layout. The chip reset itself. I have yet to reprogram it.

I have a real hankering to get the industrial yard going but I know that the best thing to do is to work from the back. In this corner, I want a bit of suburbia, a bit like this image from the last layout.

I was told by a mate in the UK when I was there in in January 2020 that the house with the porch needed a bloke with a BBQ. I went to the Ian Allan shop near Waterloo Station (it has since closed) and bought a set of Noch people having a BBQ. They didn't make it on to the layout before the flooding.

On Friday night I was pondering what to do. Could I get all of this sorted this weekend? The plan was to build the the scene on a platform of MDF on top of pine to support the foam. To try and keep the scene moving along the back wall I cut some ply to represent a hillside.

It was looking great until I realised that the clearances were terrible. I cut some 3mm MDF for the hillside and re-carved the foam. All this was after the scene was finished. Hey, if you haven't don a job at least twice have you really done it?

Here's the finished result with the tracks in front ballasted as well. The space wasn't the same size so I could only fit in one house. I was able to reuse a lot of the previous scene and I have included people having a BBQ.

The next task is to fix the gap between the two inclines.

Until next time.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Measure Once Cut Twice: That's the Right Way Isn't It?

 It's been one of those days.

Did you hear about the bloke who left the parcel shelf of his car on the roof of the car and drove out of Bunnings? That was me. So that's the caliber of the day and it's not the only thing that went wrong. Why not calm down with your favourite hobby?

The good news is that I think I now have all of the timber to finish the layout.

I wired up my turntable and tested it. It works. It's not as well aligned as I had hoped but the only line coming onto the turntable is curved, so it all works out. 

The line is curved so that my garratt can run across the turntable and into a suitably long track.

That's the plan. The reality is that the siding is at least 2cm too short. It's too short because after planning the loco depot, I put in my marshalling yard. When I did that, I altered the track plan a little bit.

Here's what it is.

The top track is an extra storage siding which can hold 10 BCH length wagons. The right hand point on the left was modified to fit a tight spot about three layouts ago. It still works. It leads to a Repair In Place (RIP) track. I though that it could be fun. The top three sidings are through roads, the bottom three are dead end sidings. The nearest siding from the ladder holds 4 bogie wagons and I am planning on this holding the guards vans. The top siding can hold the longest train from the Bega staging yard and will be the main arrival track. On the old layout we realistically used only one of the five available tracks as an arrival track.

Below is what it needs to look like. It's not what was originally planned, everything was meant to come of the first three way point.

The original idea was to have the ladder start higher but that would make the bottom three sidings shorter.  I can make the change by leaving the bottom 3 way point where it is. The top storage siding will be 1 and a half to 2 BCHs shorter. The RIP track won't really be useful but you could park the shunting engine there. Sidings one and two at the top will be longer by a 48 foot bogie van. The other sidings won't change.

If I move the the top 3 way point back even further, then sidings 1 and 2 will be two wagons longer. Siding 3 will be a little shorter. Siding 4 will be a little longer and sidings 5 and 6 will be shorter. There will also be more work involved. The current siding four effectively holds 10 CH bogie hoppers and a guards van without a loco attached. This is the same length as the two longest sidings in the Bega staging yard. Most trains moving to and from this yard will be 6-8 wagons long therefore the sidings don't need to be longer.

I also nee a little bit of straight track provided by the first point to reduced the hazards and strains of longer wagons going around the reverse curves.

Adjusting this track alignment will make my garratt problem go from this... that.

I reckon though, all that can wait until tomorrow. 

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Alterations for a Turntable


Here's the problem. I want a turntable. The best place for the track plan is directly above this station. Engineering wise, it may not be the best spot. A support for the top level will need to be cut away. It's on a triangular section which doesn't have much support any way .

The solution - and there was a lot of hope for the best - put in these two pillars and move the existing support back a bit. The first could be done. The second can't be. The support has nothing to move back to.

The hole was cut and adjusted in the not so round section. Even without the pillars on the platforms, the 12mm ply has a fair bit of strength. The existing supporting wall was altered and brick paper glued on the new work. To top it off the wires for the turntable will be able to go behind the brick wall.

Now I need to paint the turntable. It wasn't painted before and now I reckon it could do with a lick of paint.

Until next time.

Counting Chickens Before They Hatch?

 I know we've all been told not to do that but while I was waiting for glue to dry, I started mucking around with some buildings in the industrial area. I sort of had a good plan already and I thought that I could check it out. The plan changed several times this week.

First I got the warehouse out. I then thought that maybe I could put the brewery next to the warehouse but use the first of two lines for the wheat silo. That moved everything down one track. When I took the brewery out, I found the dairy from the old layout. That will take the place of the wharehouse.

Every siding, except the warehouse, was coming in off one point and with the magic of a couple three way points, fanning out to the industries. Moving one track down wasn't going to help the geometry of some of the sidings.

Track-wise, the best solution is to add another point from the head shunt. There is a bit of track to pull up and replace for that to happen.

The other thing to consider is access from the aisle. This works. There may be some uncoupling and pushing into the appropriate spot but the points are in reach.

Finally, aesthetics. It's got to look good. I wanted lower industries down the front. 

Here is what I came up with. The image is a bit messy. It's more of a record shot so that I remember what I'm doing later.

The oil loading platform fits the bill there. The tall wheat silos are up the back. I was going to buy an extension kit for this. The wheat trains are long so up the back of the area is perfect. They will need to be split into two as they will block the view of the brewery. I found the factory building that used to be next to the brewery. That's going back next to it. This pushed the wheat silos further back and there won't be any room for an extension of the silos. Each siding for the wheat silos can hold up to 6 hoppers. Perfect for my 8 wagon train.

In front of the wheat silos will be two tracks for container wagons. I need two long lines for my gantry to pretend to work on. Enough for 10 GME wagons. Perfect for my 6 wagons which will be captured with on layout traffic.

In front of the container sidings will be a steel works made from a Peco train shed. Its place is held by the brick walled brewery base. It's the same width.

Next to that with the silos and unloading shed in place will be the cement works. It is a tall structure near the front but from the operator's view that shouldn't matter. If it was closer to the wheat siding, it would create a narrow canyon.

I'm hoping that when every thing goes in for real that all my chickens hatch and I can really fit it all in.

I know that this sort of thing isn't everyones cup of tea but I just want to move wagons around and have a reason to break up and shunt trains.

Until next time.