Saturday, 14 September 2019

Oil Depots

Black Gold – Texaco Tea

Oil depot sidings were once quite numerous on NSW railways, and Wagga had its fair share.

The Caltex, (Former Texaco) siding at Wagga
Tank car on the Caltex siding before crossing Railway Street
From my research, I have found 6 sidings in the Wagga yard area, although I will only have space to model 4 of them – Esso and Shell were on the “Wagga Shunt”, which is off the branch line just over Lake Albert Road, Caltex (the old Texaco) on a siding across Railway Street, and BP, on the Wagga station side of the Docker Street level crossing.

Esso Siding in the early 1980s

Esso Siding from a 1971 aerial picture
Shell Siding was out of use by the time I took this photo in the 1980s. Note the locomotive "STOP" board

Inside the Shell depot (picture taken from the Lake Albert Road entrance)

An aerial picture of the Wagga Base Hospital, shows the fuel depots in the upper background. Finding specific photos of railway parts has been a challenge.  
An enlargement of the previous image.   This is the only picture I have found of the depots.  There were 2 sidings, but I will only have space for the BP siding. 
The Golden Fleece Depot was close to the Caltex depot, but I cannot find any evidence that it had its own fuel loading points. It is however, located in an area that is in my layout's proposed modeled area

No other depots existed on the Tumbarumba Branch line – which may mean 44 gallon drums in S truck delivery.
There was one more siding that I need to mention, and this was the bulk oil siding at Bomen, which was built to consolidate all the other depots in the Wagga area.  But I won’t be modelling this one, as it was established far too late for my 1970 nominal layout timescale.

Bomen bulk fuel depot was created too late for my layout timeframe, but it still is interesting

Six maps view of the Bomen Fuel Depot

Enlargement of the overview image gives a bit more detail of the pipework

The late Andy Browne took  this photo in 2003 on a rainy day at Bomen. It shows an 81 class shuffling tank cars onto the stockyard sidings, and exchanging them with tank cars in the oil depot.  

A great article on Country Oil Depots by Howard Armstrong was published in issue 10, of Australian Journal of Railway Modelling over 20 years ago.  Whilst I won’t repeat the contents, Howard also included pictures of three of the Wagga oil depots, which fills in gaps in my photographic archive

Bomen is also a bit large in scale from the smaller depots that I plan to model.  Looking a bit wider, Paul Ferguson sent me some photos of some neat depots at Yass, and Orange

Shell Depot details on the former Yass Tramway before the Tramway "closed" in 1988. The road in the background is the Hume Highway, and the Golden Fleece Restaurant billboard is a "sign of the times"

Another view of the Shell Depot.  The Yass Tramway level crossing is in the distance.
I photographed a tank car train, approaching Yass Junction in the early 1980s. Operation on the branch could not have been profitable with just a single car?  
Paul's picture of the "Total" depot at Orange - co-incidently, the same depot that Howard Armstrong used in his AJRM article

Sixmaps aerial view of the Orange depot gives the layout of tanks and sheds. The rail siding at the time of the Sixmaps image was disconnected from the mainline

Being a former resident in Queanbeyan, I took interest in the two per week oil trains servicing Canberra.   Whilst it isn’t Wagga, I suspect there were many similarities with the design of the depots, and unlike Wagga, where most of the infrastructure disappeared before Google views, the Canberra Fyshwick sidings are mostly still intact

Canberra Oil train in the 1990s

rear view of the same train shows the oil sidings on the Northern side of the line

Detail of the oil wagons on the RHS of the earlier photo

A view showing the gates.
Another siding, another view of  a different set of gates. Signs are interesting  

A view without the tank cars shows some of the pipework

And the large tanks
SixMaps aerial views

A Google 3D view almost mimicks the viewing angle on a model railway. As a planning tool, this is brilliant.  A series of flat container wagons are stored on the northern shunting line.  The mainline, and the southern shunting line are also visible
The Shell Depot was the last operational depot after all the ones off the Northern Shunt closed.  It was used for a few years until the Railways stopped shipping bulk fuel by rail in the 2000's.  Like Bomen, it was left with a fleet of stationary cars, long enough for Google to take pictures 

The Shell Oil depot at Fyshwick in a google 3D view.

Modelling the depots should be fairly straight forward.  In most cases, there was just a simple siding; a single set of discharge pipes per siding;  a shed; lots of 44 gallon barrels; plus a tank farm nearby.  Chain link fence, gate, and signs.  Pipework is definitely needed too – this is where the recent colour views of the Canberra Depots can help.  A kit that will be very useful to represent the piping, is the Walther’s HO scale Piping Kit

Peter Street in AJRM issue 11 has a great article on modelling an Esso depot, and I will refering to this article when I actually start construction

Both Eureka and SDS have produced excellent bogie oil tanker models, and Austrains have produced a 4 wheel tanker.  These have been reviewed elsewhere.  Older kits do exist, e.g. the former Lloyds range; and there are a number of articles in AJRM and AMRM on converting, and scratch building tank cars

Ampol tank car at Canberra

Another tank car at Canberra station.  

Many years ago, I remember a Bob Gallagher editorial in AMRM magazine asking people to take pictures of the things they see around them, and don’t assume that they will be there forever.  I can do no more than re-emphasise Bob’s comment.  Take pictures of things NOW, and gather information whilst the structures, and people are around.  Record it for prosperity.  When I took my pictures of Wagga oil depots in the early 1980s, I had no idea how important they are to me now.    And they disappeared very quickly.  In retrospect, I should have taken more images, although the cost then, was over 50c a slide, or print, unlike today, where 1000s of shots can be stored digitally inexpensively. 

Whilst I was doing my searches, I came across these images of a train preparing to shunt the Bomen Industrial area.  The tank cars from the oil depot , and on the stockyard sidings are also visible.  Totally unexpected, but neat, and I thought I would share. Who knows what other images can be found on Google, and indeed, how long these will stay on-line - as the road, level crossing, and sidings have all now disappeared
This is all that remains of what was once had great railway interest. The siding now just serves the concrete sleeper plant

And even online resources, such as Google, are constantly uploading new images, replacing older versions.  The new images may be poorer in resolution than the older ones, OR no longer show structures that have been replaced.

Until next time.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Wagga Wagga Signal box - details

Wagga Wagga Signal Box – details
Interior detailing is not something I have concentrated on in the past.    I had limited my efforts to models that could be seen, but in reality, I was more interested in the next project.

Automatic Staff exchange at Bomen.  A 44 class has just exchanged staffs on the "pop up" staff exchanger instrument in 1972.  Thanks to Peter Neve for supplying this great picture

But, it was time I challenged myself.  Over the years,  I have seen either first hand, or in pictures, some outstanding structure modelling.  The first was at the Pendon Museum in England – which I visited in 1985.  The models were modelled after real buildings, and the attention to detail absolutely amazing.  I now own many books on the modelling techniques used at Pendon, and these still inspire. 
More recently, with the introduction of 3D modelling via CAD, many detail possibilities are becoming reality.  One on the best modellers has been Jack Burgess, on his Yosemite Valley Railroad HO layout.  Jack’s structures were based on the real VYRR, involving much research.  Jack became very accomplished with styrene fabrication, but his modelling of interiors has bordered on the extreme – for instance, turning a HO scale Coke bottle, and half eaten sandwich on a desk.  His station at Merced has a full interior – and to get around the interior being invisible from the outside, Jack has installed a periscope which views the highly detailed interior, and any trains that happen to be passing outside the station window.  He now uses a lot of CAD in his modelling – and his view on 3D printing is that Shapeways have spent $100,000 on a 3D printer, why compromise with a hobby version.
Locally, it is hard to ignore Ross Balderson’s modelling efforts.  His Sydney Station, and Elizabeth Street N scale layout (featured in AMRM issue 288) was museum standard – and his current project of Newcastle takes that modelling standard to the next level.

My modelling has a long way to go to reach these lofty heights.  But, one has to start somewhere, and skills learnt, will hopefully make future projects easier – even if it is “what not to do”

My last blog post on the Wagga Wagga Signal box showed the levers, and the block shelf.  But I knew there were more parts to install.  The disappointment with the UK signal box interior, meant a lot had to be scratch built

I thought I would start with the desk - my Cooma signal box interior picture showed a roll-top desk, which seemed an easy one to start with.

I got the desk sizing by checking with a Carters Australian Antique guidebook that I happened to have.  This is not quite the Cooma style, but it was only the dimensions I was after

What 27 pieces of styrene, and a spare hour  can make.  The 10c coin is almost the same size as a US quarter for anyone not familiar with  Aussie currency
I also made a swivel chair, sized on my chair in the modelling room. It was only after showing it to others, was I informed that in 1970, swivel chairs would have 4 leg supports, and not the 5 that I have modeled. One is always learning  

One of the important items was the staff instruments.  But what style were they?  I didn’t have a definitive picture of the instrument in the signal box, but I suspected miniature.  I confirmed this after reading a passage in the book “Safe Signals” which stated that all the token staffs on the Junee-Albury section were replaced with miniature staffs in 1931.  Did anyone make a miniature staff instrument in HO?  Model Engineering Works does make a resin model of a large staff machine, and a purchase would have saved a lot of time.  But, I thought I would see if I could fabricate one.  My result is pictured.  The size was slightly larger than HO, but it was based on the thickness of the 10 thou styrene, and proportioned accordingly.

Scratchbuilt staff instrument, on a plinth.  The clock was one of the few parts I was able to used from the UK signal box interior kit that I had.  Very similar in style to a Seth Thomas clock, used widely on the railways.  The clock face,  hands and numbers are all pencil scratches. Don't look too closely 

The pot belly stove was another  part from the UK signal box interior kit that I could use.  Like the staff instruments, it is over scale for HO.  Was this the design used in NSW signal boxes?  Probably not, but until I have a picture, it will do.  A bucket is used to fuel the pot belly stove – which I turned to a conical shape from a large styrene sprue, painted, and filled with “coal”.  

I made 3 of those staff instruments - two for the main line north and south, and the third for the branchline out to Ladysmith.  I was advised by an ex railway signalman that the staff instruiments were most likely near the door, but their siting is a guess. Same with the desk and swivel chair.  I have put these on blu-tac in case I have to relocate them.  The pot belly stove, and bucket of coal are approximately in their final positions.
 The door for the signal box was missing.  Both Wagga, and Bomen had a window in the door, but Greg Edward’s data sheet signal box diagrams only showed a solid door.  I found a prototype window door at Stockingbingal a few weeks ago.  To make it, I tried a different technique.  I cut out a block of DVD plastic to the size of the door, and used a bow pen to draw the mullions to the window.  Then added the styrene strip to the outsides, and painted over the door.  Results are encouraging – and the painted mullions are a lot finer than the styrene ones I made for the windows.  I may have to revisit the signal box windows at some stage.

Stockinbingal in August 2019.  The station had been "restored" to a heritage scheme, although now sadly neglected.  The original signal box though had a sign saying that the signalbox was still operational.  With the alignment of the new inland rail coming through Stockinbingal in the future, who knows what is in store for this station

A railway padlock now secures the Stockinbingal signal box door

My Wagga Wagga signal box door.  I even fitted a door handle - actually the head of a pin.

Each staff instrument needs an external bell to inform the signal man of changes.  I have fitted a block shelf with 3 shelf bells on the wall behind the staff instruments

Clock, bells, stovepipe extension, and door added to the wall.

2 more block shelf instruments, and a station diagram added to the rear wall.  I am not convinced on the size of the diagram, but it does seem to fit the size of the pictures I have of the real diagram

On the outside of the signal box, I fabricated a stove pipe for the roof.  A “WAGGA WAGGA SIGNAL BOX” sign printed on paper, adhered to styrene, and dull coated to remove the paper look.  To finish, some powder weathering on the roof, and on the clapboard

Still missing is the porch light, and of course the signalman.  Something for the future when I rediscover the microLED lights I purchased last year

Stovepipe made from 2 styrene rod shapes.  The weathering on the roof, and clapboards doesn't show up that well in the direct sunlight
View of signal box from the Albury end

An old adage in modelling.  If you model something badly, it is worse than not modelling it at all.  The eye will quickly pick up an error, where an absence is not readily noticed.

Time to move onto something else.

I will leave you with some signal boxes pictures on the south that may be of interest.

Happy modelling.

Harden South in 2013.  The signals are no longer controlled through this box.  The "Bushells Tea" sign on the building in the background was also spied and later photographed   - never let a chance go by.
Interior of Harden South, photographed through the window on the door.  Most of the parts that can be removed have been.  Even this abandoned view can give clues on what was here.  The cupboard on the far wall is something I haven't modelled for Wagga, and maybe need to.  The colour scheme for the walls.  In time, images like this could be valuable for historians. I understand that the stairs leading up to this box have now been removed. 

Travelling to Stockingbingal, I stopped at Cootamundra West.  The signal box is on the platform.    Again, abandoned, with  asbestos issues, although I noted a newish looking Fujitsu split air conditioning unit installed   The telegraph pole looks like it was not rationalised before being abandoned

Inside of the West Cootamundra Signal Box.  Picture taken through a broken wall fitting.  Not much left

The telegraph pole next to the one on the Cootmundra west platform is being covered by a tree, but again, great details exist for modelling