Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Kyeamba Creek Bridge - 2

I really do not know where my time goes.   Progress on the bridge has been glacially slow on the modelling front,  partially because some indecision on my behalf on the best way to proceed,  although I have been able to continue with some rollingstock acquisitions, a brass loco repair, and more research. 

8 car RUB set hauled by 3825 leaves Wagga in 1962.  Photo taken and kindly provided by Tony McIlwain. The train is passing the upper quadrant signal, which we now believe was to protect the Edward Street level crossing.  No, this picture  has nothing to do with the Kyeamba Creek bridge, but this image and others, are some of the reasons why time ran short on the Kyeamba creek model   

Now that I had a dimensioned sketch, (see part 1) the first part was to locate a suitable piece of pine.  My desire was to include both bridges on a single section of timber plank. Whilst I did have some chipboard, and some 9mm thick ply, these materials were either too heavy, or too bendy.  Sure the ply could have been re-inforced, but a trip to Bunnings located a 1 metre or so long pine plank, with enough width to fit the bridge wing abutments.  The width is also in keeping with my future plans to minimize the width of the upper deck benchwork.

Solid pine was used for the subroadbed “causeway” between the two bridges.  This also assists with stiffening the pine plank.

The two bridge openings were marked on the plank, and the pine subroadbed was glued between the 2 bridges. 3mm MDF board (also obtained from Bunnings), was cut according to the sketch, shaped, and glued into position for the Kyeamba creek bridge.  Gaps were filled with Aldi brand filling compound 

The Kyeamba Creek bridge opening is around 50cm wide.  It didn't come out too well in the picture, but I have penciled in the location of the creek, and the timber piers.  The pine "causeway" subroadbed extends to the unnamed creek, and I have left enough space for this bridge too on the plank.  Distance between the two bridges is the compromise.  The concrete abutments are 3mm MDF.  This gives a thickness close to the 1 foot estimate of the prototype abutments.  Note too that most of the abutment will be buried in scenery

The unnamed creek will have traditional timber supports.    One thing that I assumed, was that the water level in the unnamed creek, and Kyeamba creek would be the same, as the railway is fairly level between these 2 creeks (confirmed by looking at the railway gradient diagram), however, the water level for the unnamed creek is higher than Kyeamba creek by at least a metre, which might look a bit odd on the model.  To get around this, the unnamed creek may be modelled as a dry stream
Next step was to attack the Ironbark trestle bridge that I recovered from an earlier layout.  The only thing wrong with the trestle, was that the timber piers were the wrong height, so needed to be removed.  The bridge deck though was perfect for reuse, so I didn’t want to damage it.

My original trestle bridge segments

My glue of choice back when I constructed the trestle, was white glue.  White glue is normally not waterproof, and I hoped that this was the type I had used.  Carefully, I applied water to the joint, and waited, applying some more water as soon as the first lot disappeared into the wood.  After around 5 minutes, the glue started to “go white” at the join, and with some careful pressure, the piers separated from the bridge deck. 

2 timber piers removed.  The plastic squeeze tube was ideal to get the water exactly where it was needed

All timber piers separated from the bridge deck.  Now the construction can start

Ironbark Models suggested and provided plans for a jig to make up your own timber trestle piers. 

Nest stage is to complete modelling the concrete abutments, and this will also set the rail height.  The subroadbed will then be built up to this height, prior to fitting the unnamed stream timber abutments.  Once the first one is in, then I will know the positioning for the other timber abutment.
Hopefully my next post will show a lot more progress.   Happy modelling.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Kyeamba Creek Bridge

The Kyeamba creek flows from the hills near the Hume Hwy south-west of Tarcutta, (near the Tumbarumba road intersection) for a distance of 66km before ending up in the Murrumbidgee River.  The Tumbarumba railway branchline crosses the creek just west of Ladysmith.

Kyeamba creek is but a muddy puddle in March 2017.  Whilst I was not able to actually measure the rail height above the water, I have estimated it at 21 feet.
Another shot of Kyeamba creek, photographed from the bridge, showing a typical creek bank, and vegetation

The Kyeamba Creek bridge is a 6 x 24’ span NSW timber trestle, with concrete abutments.  A small tributary of Kyeamba creek is crossed by a 3 x 24’ span trestle close by the main bridge.   

The last trains passed over the bridge in the late 1980s.  The bridge fell into disuse, although there was a later failed proposal from Tumba Rail to reopen this section for Trike rides.    It was last year, before I actually got to inspect these bridges.   My visit to the main bridge was unfortunately cut short, as I had disturbed a wasp nest, and they were not too pleased with the intruder, forcing me to make a tactical retreat.
Looking towards Ladysmith.  Checkrails are prominent., and also are spiked directly onto the sleepers, rather than on sleeper plates - similar to the Murrumbidgee River bridge.   The shed on the righthand side is part of the automatic water flow measuring system on Kyeamba Creek, used by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The first pier of the bridge holds the rail approximately 8 feet above the ground.  The ladder is part of the automatic water flow measuring system.  The wasp nest is hidden under the sleepers close to the ladder.  

The concrete abutment

The small tributary trestle was in far worse condition then the main bridge.  One of the embankments had been washed out in the big storms of 2016, and the rails had been left dangling in mid air.  But there was enough left to see what once was  present. 

The small 3 span trestle around 200 metres to the west of the main trestle.  This unnamed stream had caused a significant wash-a-way in the storms of 2016 

Closeup of the damage.  The main railway support piers survived but the embankment, and its supports had been washed away, leaving only the stumps.  The rail, and a few of the sleepers have been left suspended in mid air

The pair of intermediate piers are resting on concrete plinths, and these look in good condition

The timber abutment at the other end of the trestle is also collapsing, but 30 years since the last train, and probably over 40 years of no maintenance, this is understandable

Many years ago, I bought the Ironbark models NSW trestle kit and extension, and started construction of an eight span trestle bridge for a former layout.  I never finished this model, before a relocation forced me to tear the layout down.   However, I kept the part built kit.
My intention when designing the layout,  was to reuse, and complete the kit without modifications, as I like big spectacular bridges,  but the further I am heading up the prototypical accuracy modelling route, I realise that the bridge kit needs to be rebuilt.

2 spans and an abutment of the Ironbark models NSW Trestle kit that I built over 20 years ago.  I am hoping that I can use this section for the small tributary trestle, as the abutments look similar, and are the approximately the same height.  The longer pier will need to be replaced, rather than just cut down to size.  The reason for this is that the angled beams have been rebated into the round piers.  The other pier is really close to being right, but I will have to make a determination later

The Ironbark models kit has great diagrams to help with the construction of the trestle, but the Data Sheets (Sheet P4) is the reference for  the  24’ span NSWGR trestle bridge.  These plans contain all the bridge details I need, except the concrete abutments, and the height of the piers on the Kyeamba Creek bridge.  However, the end abutment drawing seems to be close to style found on the washed out tributary bridge. 
The first step was to draw up a diagram showing the concrete abutments, and pier heights. 

Sketch of the Kyeamba Creek trestle - showing details of the concrete abutments.  These sizes have been guestimated from photographs.

My next challenge will be to try and remove the trestle piers from the already constructed bridge deck, without doing too much damage to the deck, and construct the concrete abutments.
Until next time, happy modelling

Sunday, 19 August 2018


Since my last Blog post, I have been travelling.  A trip to Europe so Tracy could attend the World Dog show in Amsterdam on August 9-12, has meant an enforced break away from doing any actual modelling.  But, the trip was good, to recharge the batteries, as well as allowing me some great times exploring railway, and tramway systems on the other side of the planet. Now to get over the jet lag, and a cold

Griffith bound train leaves Junee, and onto the Narrandera branch, just prior to the XPTs arriving (Saturday 29th July 2018)
Getting to Sydney was the first stage, and we travelled there via XPT from Junee on Saturday July 28th.  This was my first XPT trip since the NSW government replaced the Canberra XPT service in the 1980s.  
The first thing I noticed on Saturday, was the Griffith explorer train pulled into Junee just prior to the arrival of the Melbourne bound XPT service.  A number of passengers alighted at Junee, and then the Explorer trundled off onto the Narranderra branch towards Griffith.  The Melbourne bound XPT arrived on time, and then departed.  The Sydney XPT then arrived 30 minutes later (again on time), and we left Junee.  But I have an observation – any of the  passengers on the XPT from Melbourne wanting to travel to Griffith by train cannot, as the Griffith train had left 40 minutes earlier.  I fail to understand the logic?   Back in the days that I am modelling, the branchline railmotor service was timed to meet the long distance trains, and then return to collect passengers after the long distance train had departed.   If you are going to run a train, surely, you would want passengers on seats (or is this an accounting trick to make the service unprofitable?)
It was not possible to alight from the XPT train, although I had a camera at the ready.  At Harden I found the livestock ramps and gates had not been demolished, and a picture may provide a good future reference.    Then at Mittagong, we got a report that a freight train had failed ahead of us, and we had 30 minutes to stretch the legs.  Whilst now dark, getting some pictures of the station master signs seemed a good use of the time.

Sheep loading ramps at Harden. In a poor state of preservation. Note the upper and lower chutes, as the sheep van's accomodation in the vans were on 2 decks. 

Cattle loading ramp at Harden. These 2 pictures taken through the XPT windows into the sun. I will have to get back to Harden and get some better shots, although these are insurance in case they are removed in the meantime

Station signs at Mittagong

Return back to Junee was on Wednesday morning.  Whilst waiting for the XPT departures, I did a bit of a wander around central.   An enjoyable wait.

Clock at Central

Intercity train approached Central.

Platforms 1 to 5 at Central, with 5 XPTs.  The Casino XPT Platform 1, Melbourne XPT Platform 2, and the 4 car Dubbo XPT on platform 5. The 2 XPTs on platform 3 and 4 had just arrived, and were not taking passengers.  

I should get back to modelling shortly.  In the meantime, some pictures from my european trip. 

Kehl Bahnhoff bound tram crosses the Rhein River into Germany. This Tram and footbridge was finished in 2017, and is part of the Strasbourg (France) tramways. 

Swiss interurban train at Weidikon station Zurich

Zurich tram 

Dutch intercity train near Amsterdam. There is certainly some similarity with the Sydney intercity trains, with their internal seating and stair arrangements, and the Dutch use of high level  platforms.  These trains were very frequent

I took an historical tram tour of Amsterdam, in this old 4 wheel Amsterdam tram.  For 5 Euro, brilliant value
Kohn tramways feature multiple unit action

Amsterdam trams are fairly modern, although this one was built 18 years ago.  An all-day fare was 7 euro, services frequent, and the trams well patronised.  The 2 cars behind the tram are taxis, as the tramway is reserved for Trams,  buses, taxis, and emergency vehicles. Car congestion is uncommon thoughout Amsterdam city, as the majority of the population either used the trams, Metros, or bicycles - the latter on wide bicycle only cycleways

An DB ICE train leaves Mannheim.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Ladysmith Station Masters Residence

I have always thought that a model kit is like a scratch build – with most of the hard work done for you. 

The residence as it appeared in 2017.  The closeness to the tracks can be seen by the ground frame lever.  

I was tempted to use the colours that the cottage is now painted in.  There are a lot of additions to the standard cottage, and note the position of the water tank, and the size of the chimneys

 The Station Masters Residence at Ladysmith is located besides the tracks, halfway between the silos, and the station.  It is (or was) a standard NSW J2 design, although it has changed over the years, with additions.   I had a choice – scratch build, or find a Stephen Johnson Models kit.  
The SJM model has been out of production for many years, and none have appeared on ebay to my knowledge.  But could any kits be left unsold?  Knowing that Andrew Ottaway was re-introducing some of his father’s kits, I sent an enquiry email to Andrew asking if there were any kits left in the inventory.  The response was encouraging, and Andrew indicated that he would be able to cast me a “new” kit.
After a  2 month wait, I received a paypal invoice, and the kit arrived shortly thereafter.

The kit consists of many resin parts, balsa for the roof, dowel for the wood stumps, corrugated metal for the roof, clear plastic and a set of etch brass for the windows.  The instructions were concise, making the assumption that the purchaser has some modelling skills.  (This kit is not suitable for beginners)

Most of the resin parts.  Note the heavy flash on the front veranda railings.  

I was planning to construct the kit straight out of the box, however, I didn’t like the way the walls fitted together, with no floor to lock the corners into a solid box.  (The kit relies on the roof to do this).  The wooden dowels are also to be cut into small cylinders to provide the stumps that the prototype uses to support the main structure.   Anyway, to cut a long story short, I re-engineered my kit for a styrene floor, and brickwork for the foundations.   I understand that this is not correct for the prototype, but it is a compromise I can live with.
The front porch is also installed low to avoid having to make those stumps.

The white styrene base is there to support the walls, and keep everything lined up whilst the balsa is prepared to fitting to the roof.  Note that the chimneys are solid.  I hope to fit a metal rain prevention cap over the top of each, to disguise this.

After assembly, I then spray painted the model with a grey undercoat, and then pale yellow walls.  Detail painting for the doors, and trim was next, followed by installation of the assembled windows.  I am afraid my painting of the doors is clumsy, and lacks finesse, so I hope people do not look too closely.
Balsa roof added, and detail painting has started.  I have not yet fitted the veranda railing, as this is prone to damage, and would just get in the way

Rear of the windows, after painting  the front with white.  Spray adhesive on this side also helps stick the clear styrene

Windows were next.  Clean up the brass, and I used a vinegar bath to add an extra key for the paint.  The I sprayed some adhesive onto cardboard, whilst adding the grey primer, and later the white.  The clear styrene was then added to the rear.   Getting the windows in square - particularly the small ones at the back was a bit of a hit-n-miss.

Now came the big experiment.  Rather than use the corrugated metal provided, I thought I would make up some individual sheets using the Brunel Models Corrugated iron sheet maker with some aluminium tray foil.  I will let the viewer make up their own mind on the effectiveness of this technique.  From my viewpoint, whilst the individual sheets look, and feel amazing, they are too thick to be layered in this fashion on the model.  Plus the individual sheets took a long time to make.  Had I used say, thick cooking foil, then they would have layered better, although they are prone to damage by handling.   In  future, I will probably stick to corrugated styrene, although maybe I should have just used the foil provided in the kit?
(Roof has been brush painted with Tamiya flat aluminium, with some rust powders for weathering)

Individual sheets being layered onto the roof

I goofed with the front corrugated iron.  I did not take into account the extra width once I added the front veranda railings.  I was able to pull off these sheets, and reshape than with the brunel tool, then replace them in the right position 
The front railings were next to be fitted.  Cleanup of these railings took considerable time to remove all the “flash”.  They are also not quite correct for Ladysmith.  I added a piece of styrene on top of the uprights to extend to the roof, as I had installed my porch slightly lower than the kit’s maker intended.

The last items to be added were the eves,  kitchen chimney, and guttering.  The chimney provided is unfortunately, too big for Ladysmith, but I was not going to build a replacement – the model is already compromised, and one more isn’t a major prolem, particularly as the ,main viewing angle will be side on where the width is not seen.  What was more of an irritation, was that one has to cut a “hole” into the corrugated iron roofing material, and try and shape the base of the chimney so it would stand vertical.   But no matter how many times you look at these things, it was a camera that spotted the lean after the glue had set.      
Until I get the model onto the layout, I will leave off the small steps, guttering, water tanks, and window awnings.  Fitting lights might be an option too if I install an interior on one of two of the rooms. 

The wonky kitchen chimney adds a characteristic that I hoped to avoid having.  I will have to extend the guttering across the rear porch, and add a safety railing for my HO people to venture to the bathroom.  The SJM kit does supply a set of steps, which I also need to fit

My brickwork foundation covers up the white styrene - and whilst the cottage should sit on wooden stumps, the brickwork adds a degree of permanency

Happy modelling.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Lineside Poles (2)

My initial effort was to try out ideas before settling on a design.   It also had an unexpected bonus, being some NSW prototype information.  Thanks to Bob Stack (SCR Blog), who not only provided me with a number of documents, he also mentioned that Ray Pilgrim (Bylong Blog) has already authored a number of Blog posts on lineside poles a few years ago.    My method differs from Ray’s, but it is good to see alternate approaches to the same topic

Down Block Signal near Shepherds Siding. 
Closeup of the lineside poles.  I am not sure how many of the wires are in use (if any)

Comparing the RIX crossarms with NSW prototype
In short, the RIX crossarms are a scale 10 feet long, vs the NSW cross-arm of 8 feet 3 inches.  Modification to get the right length is easy – take off almost 3.5 mm from both ends.  However, there are some other dimension differences that are harder to fix.  The cross-section of the timber of the RIX crossarm is about 3” x 5”, where the NSWGR cross section is 3” square.  And the spacing between  the 4 insulators on each side of the RIX cross-arm is a constant  10”, 10”, 10”;  where NSWGR has pairs staggered,  9”, 18”, and 9”.

I was then contemplating  repositioning 6 out of the 8 insulators on each crossarm to make space for the combiner strap, but the thought of this on 700 crossarms is not that pleasant, particularly as my one attempt to do this was fiddly, frustrating, and the insulators didn’t dry “square”.  But will the combiner  look OK fitted between the current RIX insulator spacing? 

There is also another measurement to consider, and that is the spacing between crossarms down the pole.  NSWGR prototype is 14”, and 28”, (scale measurement approx 4mm and 8mm), but because the RIX crossarms are beefier than scale, 4mm was visually too close.  So I chose 5 mm

The final piece of the puzzle was to find a picture of a pole with 5 crossarms.  The 1970 era Bomen had widely spaced crossarms on each post, although I haven’t a good closup to see how the bracing was done.  However  Shepherds Siding, which is just in the area being modelled still has poles with 5 cross arms, and a closer crossarm spacing.  So this is the style for the next experiment.

Construction is similar to the earlier method, although the combiner between the crossarms is finer,  now 0.010 x 0.020 thou styrene strip, and the brace at the bottom is physically not attached to the pole.

The thickness of the RIX crossarms is very obvious when one compares it with the fine lines of the prototype's 3" square arms.  And the extra 1mm spacing between arms throws out the proportions even more.   The finer 0.010 x 0.020 thou styrene combiner, and bracing is not too far off scale, although the insulator spacing makes this awkward, and prevents using a "stepped" approach.  The rail is code 70 microscale engineering:  8 posts can be cut out of each 910mm length of rail. 

Summary.  Looks OK, but doesn’t quite capture the feel of the prototype.   But short of fully scratch building each pole, I don’t think that level of effort is justified, particularly as I anticipate needing around 100 poles each with 5 crossarms for the mainline track, and the same number with only 2 crossarms for the branchline

So, it will be a compromise between prototype fidelity, and practicality.  One of the suggestions made is to glue a styrene block into the rail web, similar to the adapter NSWGR used, and so avoid having to drill holes for the crossarm bolts.  This would save a lot of construction time.  Or I could just glue the cross arms to the flatbottom of the rail, as Ray has done.    I am sure that I could continue with the experiment, but for now,  time is better spent elsewhere.  In the end, whilst not perfect, I have a reasonable representation of the NSWGR lineside poles in use around 1970

Lineside post opposite the signal picture at the front of this blog post.   There is much detail here, and wiring from the poles combined and brought down the post to a junction box.  But are any of these wires in use now?  The upper crossarm wires have been simply cut, with no upper wires seen going to the junction box below.  The other things to observe, is the way the wire bracing is attached to the post, and the arrangement of the double insulators in use for some of the wires   


I’ll get back to a real building for my next blog post.  Stay warm.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Lineside Poles (1)

Lineside poles.   Experimentation

When one thinks about a railway model, maybe one of the last things to be thought about is the lineside poles.  Whilst modern signalling systems and communications, using radio and microwave, has largely superseded the need for all the poles and wires, this was not always the case.

Lineside poles always get in the way of a good picture?  I took this one deliberately June 27, 2018, so as to give an indication of relative sizes.  It shows the Harefield shuttle train heading out of Junee with containers, each of which will get put on a truck bound for the VISY paper mill near Tumut.

In the past, NSW Government railways used the wires beside the tracks for many purposes.  This included staff working, telegraph, and telephones, automatic signals, burglar alarms,  and even clock synchronisation.    The poles and wires after 1934 were controlled by the railway’s “Signal branch”.  Previous to that year, the “electrical branch” were also partially responsible for some of the equipment.  This information comes from the book by James Dargan “Safe Signals”

But, I have been unable to find out any more information, and it appears that the aspect of building, and maintaining the lineside poles, and wires is almost forgotten. 

Finding 1970 period photographs of the mainline, showing the lineside poles has been problematic.   I am sure that the adoption of CTC on the mainline south of Junee in 1983 meant rationalisation, and reduction in the number of wires, and crossarms.    For instance, the number of crossarms on the poles north of Bomen was 5 in the 1970s – whereas today it is just 2.  

Lineside poles on the grade south of Junee. 

Lineside pole near the Junee roundhouse. Note the extra holes in the post which may have indicated positions of former crossarms.  And the three different styles of insulators.  There is also some variation in the thickness of  some of the wire

Wheat train approaching Junee.  Note the pair of lineside poles, and the different design of support brackets for the upper crossarms on the pole partially hidden

Lineside pole at Bomen

A quick check of the prototype around here shows a great variation of design, and number of crossarms seems to vary from 2 to 5 between Junee and Wagga Wagga – which might be a hangover from the CTC work in 1983.  I am unsure if the wires are in use at all, as thieves steal the copper wire, and recent roadworks north of  Bomen have removed all the poles in that area. 

In model form, lineside poles are available from Atlas,  Airfix/Dapol, and RIX  - the latter firm offers 72 crossarms in a USD $6.95 kit as a separate item – bought a quantity on the internet as I had not been able to find any kits on the websites of the local Model Railway shops.

Epping Club layout "Bethungra" has impressive lineside poles, and makes use of the RIX method of crossarm support, which is unusual on the NSW railway southern line.

Model layouts of Bethrungra used RIX brand crossarms, and 5 insulators on each side, which looks wrong, as all the pictures I have seen has only a maximum of 4 insulators on each side.  20 years ago, the Stockinbingal layout also used RIX crossarms, but reduced the crossarms size by one insulator on each side, but did not leave a gap for the upright brace (which they omitted anyway).  

Anyway, I experimented with a variation.

RIX used to sell combined poles and crossarm kits - this one I acquired from Express Station Hobbies in Seattle in 1996. Rix now sells crossarms, and poles separately - which helps as the NSW poles I am making have rail for the posts

Rix crossarm sprue in a raw state

I drilled a number of 0.5mm holes in a piece of Peco N scale rail, and soldered in some brass pins

The RIX crossarms were modified - removing the central insulator, and drilling a hole for the pin.  A number of  0.010 x 0.030 styrene strips were added for the bracing, and glued to the crossarms

Painting brings out the details.  The crossarms though were left in their raw state, although I killed the plastic sheen by painting with raw turpentine.   

The results were OK, certainly looked nice – although doing this by eye is a bit hit-n-miss.  The size  appears to be larger than scale (quite a bit larger) – so that leads me to the need of a diagram.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to measure a fallen pole, and lacking surveying gear, I will have to extrapolate on knowing one of the standard measurements
The length of rail for the pole is 40’ – but how much is in the ground?  However, the hole centers on the fishplate holes is 5” according to Greg Edwards Trackwork manual, and this is my key to draw a  dimensioned diagram.

What I hoped would be a simple fill-in project, has turned into a major exercise, and is adding to my knowledge.  The adventure continues..  Until next time, challenge yourself