Sunday, 14 November 2021

Farewell to Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway ?


Farewell to Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway


Last weekend, I drove to Yass, to participate in the final operating session on Stephe Jitt’s “Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway”.  After this session, the layout is being dismantled, and faces an uncertain future, as Stephe’s property, “Old Linton” has been sold

Old Linton homestead was originally built in 1857. It has had a long, and chequered life, with expansion, and improvements - just like KVHR

My involvement with the layout dates from the 1990s.  Stephe approached the ACT Model Railway Society, with an offer of an exhibition layout for the upcoming Malkara Model Railway exhibition.

At that stage, I was on the Malkara exhibition committee, and took it upon myself to inspect the layout.  I liked what I saw, and the layout was duly exhibited.  Stephe later joined the ACTMRS, and regularly offered Kangaroo Valley as the stand-in club layout for other exhibitions, which allowed the members of the society to run Australian trains, in an Australian setting.

Those who know me understand that I tend to look at possibilities, and possible improvements of any model.  Kangaroo Valley as originally built, had some awkward crossover trackwork, and operation of the mine branch, seriously impeded the running of the main line.  Maybe I was a bit too convincing, as Stephe took on some of  my suggestions, and the 3 way point, and double slip were installed, and the platform 3 dead-end track was extended to the holding yard.

The town of Kangaroo - on the original two modules. 

Stephe later added a meatworks and leather tanning industry to the front on a new section, whilst vastly increasing the “fiddleyard” at the rear. 

Meatworks, and ice plant.  The backscene was painted by the same artist who painted the original backscene behind the Kangaroo town modules

My last enhancement to the layout, was to add 4 buildings to the Kangaroo township, to give the town more of a Bundanoon feel.  Well that was my excuse to contribute something of my own to the layout


For those with copies of Australian Model Railway magazine, Stephe wrote an article on Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway,  which appeared in Issue 292, Feb 2012.

AMRM No. 292 February 2012

Kangaroo Valley
Volume 25, issue 292, page 16.
Type: Model Railway Layout
Author: Stephe Jitts
Published: 01/02/2012



After the article was written, Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway was totally transformed from an exhibition layout, into a permanent home – being the former hay loft of Old Linton.  Stephe quickly filled the space of the loft with more track, and incorporated Kangaroo Valley as just a town within a much larger east coast mainline stretching from Sydney to Eden (and beyond in staging).

Stephe liked to share his layout, and regular once a month operating sessions were firmly placed on the calendar.  Although, the Covid situation this last 2 years has not helped,  I only got to the occasional session – I was often tied up with dog-show duties, the 2 hrs there, and 2 hrs back, plus the expense of fuel were not conducive to a more frequent attendance.  Probably my loss.  But it does give me a lesson, that I may not get operators for my future Wagga layout.  ‘Build it and they will come’  is a not always a good recipe for success For the last session on KV, too many operators was the problem, and the sessions were split into 4 x 90 minute blocks, with some operators able to leave, and be replaced with newly arrived operators.

“Old Linton” homestead was recently sold, after being on the market for many years.  It was the subject of a feature “Selling Homes Australia” television program a few years back.  I don’t think Stephe thought it would sell, as Kangaroo Valley Historic Railway steadily grew into it’s new home – and scenery, and electronics kept improving, and evolving.    My record of its growth has been a bit patchy, and disappointingly,  I forgot to pack my proper camera to record this last melancholy event.  But I did have my phone camera, which I hope will show some of the improvements that have occurred over the years

Tannery is another industry associated with the meatworks. I was very interested to see this, as my future Wagga layout will also have a tannery at Bomen

Engine facilities at Kangaroo Valley are small, but cover all the basics.  Stephe uses LENZ DCC, which takes some getting used to.  Many of the points(turnouts) are DCC controlled, although Kangaroo Valley has a dedicated signalbox operator, and shunter, that assists in making, and breaking up trains. 


A long aisle now separates Adamtown from KV. This picture taken a few years ago. The operators on the left are working Sydney, and Eden fiddleyard. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the yards, but there is a good picture of Stephe working the earlier incarnation of the fiddleyard in AMRM 


Looking the other way towards an industrial area, Adamstown has developed scenically, now has catenary, and Kangaroo Valley operations now has an electric commuter train that runs from Sydney Yard, to Voilet 


Gasworks at the end of the Adamstown aisle.  Picture taken before the catenary installed on the mainline

A warehouse, on the gasworks siding. This is a recycled building that I built for the ACT Model Railway society from a Heljan Bank building kit in around 1987. Stephe had no idea of the history when he obtained the building from the ACTMRS when they were clearing out their old EHO guards van.  I am glad it found a new home


After Adamstown aisle, the tracks disappear around the entrance door, and reappear in another industrial area, this one of a port scene.  This area was a future scenery project

Voilet was the end of the catenary.  It was also the junction for a small industrial branch to Limestone.  The Limestone local is awaiting the signal prior to departure to Kangaroo Valley.

Basic Scenery for Limestone in this early picture. The carriage shed is used to stable the CCA carriage

More scenery has been added in this later picture.  The 13 class appears to be the main motove power.  Stephe had fitted a very good keep-alive in this loco, and is most reliable

My phone camera picture from last weekend shows ballasting complete.  The line extends to the right of this picture to a limestone quarry - a source of revenue for the railway 

From Voilet, the line passes over a river on a 159 foot Whitton Truss bridge.  The trackwork here is gauntlet

Scenery makes the difference

After the bridge, the line runs to the Cement works.  This is the destination of the Limestone Ballast train.  Note the structure above the tunnel. This is part of the original exhibition layout - the destination of the coal branch out of Kangaroo Valley.

This is what the section from Limestone to Cement works looks like. The limestone quarry is above the mainline tunnel on the right - Voilet  and the river bridge are in the distance, and the cement works on the Left, just out of view

Another branchline connects to the mainline at Kangaroo Valley. This one disappears behind the meatworks, only to skirt the walls and emerge on a new deck on the other side of the hay loft room.  This is the station of Ethyl, on the "Alabmob" branch

Alabmob is the site of a milk factory. Always a good source of revenue

Alabmob station in the plywood central days, before scenery

With more scenery. My poor phone camera however shows the waybill pockets as part of the operation.  Eagle eyes will also notice that the station building has been replaced, and relocated across the tracks.  Changes were a feature of this layout over the years

The mainline headed south out of Kangaroo Valley, and beneath Ethyl, and the Alabmob branch, had more of an industrial feel.  These were only recent additions.

The meatworks needed a saleyards. This had a long siding small connection from the Meatworks near Kangaroo valley.  Below this area, there was hidden staging for the "melbourne" connection out of the Eden fiddleyards

What is in the future.  As Stephe said in his AMRM article, “Crystal balls are difficult to read, and if I have learnt anything in the last twelve years, it is that change is constant”.

Stephe hopes that KV will rise again in a new location, probably a larger shed, which will address some of the hay loft constraints, particularly the access, and aisle width.

Stephe's workshop, and stairway(ladder) to the layout in the hay loft

The layout upstairs made everything worthwhile - but we are not getting any younger, and entrances such as this are best avoided

A final look at Kangaroo - with a historic set of trains.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Wagga Wagga station veranda awnings - 2

 Station Awnings - running into trouble

LVR tour train leaves Wagga in the 1990s

After success with the etched brass ironwork, progress on the eastern roadside awning then moved to the decorative treatment of the veranda roof.  

The awning roof decoration is built up from styrene strips.  The little corbels are individually cut from 0.040 square strip, and cemented in position by eye.  

I wanted a design that sandwiched the etched brass in a shallow channel

The styrene is placed on top of the etch, and the small corbels provide a "key" to hold it in position

The future guttering is already in place.  I have found that it is easier to add and re-inforce the guttering during initial construction, than to try and retrofit later

Corrugated styrene was cut to size, and shaped.  Getting the roof angle was a bit of a puzzle.  After some trial and error, I then came up with a gluing jig.  The little extensions (the black tipped post) was glued to the frame, and left there whilst the corrugated styrene dried.  Later, the post would be cut off.

Checking the awning against the station showed up a problem.  The veranda floor sloped away to the LHS of the picture.  This was an error that had to be corrected.

During the recent refurbishment, the end of the station is seen. The concrete pad below the windows is flat. Note the chimneys still have the original colours. 

Trouble 1.  The last model picture showed up a problem that had developed since I started construction over 12 months ago.  The 53cm wide station had developed a slight upwards bowing at each end - around 1mm.  The solution would be to secure the station to a flat board, although this was not without concerns.  A suitable plank was obtained from Bunnings - large enough for a future diorama

Trouble 2.  I had NO half round styrene strip for the decorative columns.  I thought I did, but the 0.080 I had was too fat.  So I ordered some 0.060 - approx 1.5mm diameter - almost a match for the 1/16 tubing of the posts.  With the delays in Covid, it took 2 weeks for the postal service to deliver

Trouble 3.  How do I secure the awning roof to the station, so it can be removeable? 

Securing the awning roof with small self tapping screws seemed obvious, although the 0.040 x 0.080 styrene strip was just a bit on the small size.  Taking specific measurements, allowed drilling from the inside of the station structure.  Once the pin vice had made the pilot hole (#61 drill), the hole in the styrene was reemed out to suit the screw 

From the station side, the holes were drilled larger.  The white scribe line above the hole was the top of the corrugated styrene.

The plank.  The station is secured with 8 large self tapping screws.  It has taken out the bowing mentioned earlier.  The awning roof is finished, apart from painting, and some larger decorative corbels above the awning posts

The white columns on the corner "stonework" have yet to be painted.  The awning floor is painted, and permanently attached now.  The etched brass is removeable, held in place with the roof, which is in turn, secured with the screws 

Trouble 4.

Just over a week ago, whilst I was sitting at the workbench, Tracy deposited into my lap, a kitten.  The kitten was approx 3 weeks old, and had wandered out of the weeds (masquerading as my garden), whilst Tracy was watering.  Not sure, but suspect the kitten was dehydrated, and maybe abandoned by its mother - we had some feral cat activity in the last month.  We have named the kitten "Trouble".  Trouble is taking up a lot of my time  - and as I am writing this, Trouble wants attention

Trouble hiding in the fluffy blanket.  We are using a dog crate to keep her safe at night, and in case Tracy's collie dogs make an appearance

Contemplating what trouble she can cause, to live up to her name

Next step

Fixing the station to the plank is a two edge sword.  Gives me a solid base to protect the station, and size for a future diorama, but adds awkwardness to the construction, as the plank is unweildy and needs extra time to set up.  I can no longer use my workbench for fitting parts.  And whilst Trouble kitten could become a great companion, I am spending quite a number of hours per day with her - affecting my current progress.

Further work will be the remaining roadside awnings.  Hopefully  faster, as I am not inventing techniques

Until next time.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Wagga Wagga Station Awning – 1


An exercise in Black magic. Corel Draw

If I thought that finishing the styrene construction of the main Wagga Wagga Station was the end of the difficult part, I was kidding myself.  The station veranda, and platform awnings have added another degree of complexity.

Wagga Wagga station - east end roadside veranda in 2019. Just look at all that lacy ironwork


As I have stated earlier, I needed to improve my styrene scratchbuilding techniques before I embarked on the Wagga station model.  So, I started with less ambitious projects – the kit bash of the Tumbarumba Station, the lamproom/toilet block for Ladysmith, the Wagga Wagga signal box, and the Bomen station.  Apart from the lever frames in the signal box, everything could be made from basic styrene strips, and sheets.  And the projects were of steadily increasing complexity

The Wagga Wagga station is a continuation of this increasing complexity , although the Victorian era ironwork would be a challenge, as styrene shapes would not be able to be used

Either I build the station without the ironwork, or try and find an alternative.

A model Railway hobby is best shared

Fortunately, in my NMRA group I have access to the experience of Ross Balderson.  Ross needs no introduction from me, his modelling skills speaks for itself.  In 2018, I explained my problems over the Wagga Wagga station to Ross – asking his advice on using my copy of Corel Draw (I am a novice with this software)  My  thoughts were that one could import images into Corel, and those images could then be manipulated, and the results printed onto clear acetate, and cut to fit.

Anyway, Ross dismissed that idea, and said the best option would be to actually draw the patterns into corel, and then get them etched.  And, then he offered to not only do the drawing for me, but arrange to get them etched.

I could not believe my luck.  I readily accepted. 

Slow and steady.

There was no point in arranging the etches early.  The Wagga Wagga station was still well in the future.  I suppose, that it took another 2 years from Ross's generous offer, before I enough of the Wagga station constructed so that the basic dimensions could be measured.

Ross, true to his word, asked for detail photos, as well as dimensions of the model, and prototype.

The Eastern roadside veranda.  The pole details can be seen, as is the ironwork, and decoration on the woodwork above the ironwork

Armed with tape measure and camera, I developed this plan.

A bit confusing, as it shows measurements from my model, as well as some real dimensions of some features.

I emailed the plan, with a lot of detail pictures to Ross.  Ross then beavered away on Corel, and then emailed me back  small  etch mask for me to check dimensions 

Artwork from Ross.  He had drawn extra side ends, but that was easily corrected.  Note that Ross had added a fold line  - that not only matches the protype, adds strength, and a 3 dimensional effect.  Ross's experience shines through.


I printed the drawing, and it was extremely close.

Armed with this knowledge, Ross continued with the rest of the artwork/drawing

At the next NMRA meeting (beginning of 2021 - Covid restrictions were not that bad for an outside meeting at a home environment), I brought the Wagga station with me, and all the parts of the drawing were checked with the actual model of my station.  We picked up one error, and it was mine.  The 23.2 cm dimension on my plan was out by 2mm – should have been 23cm exactly.  That error, although small, was enough to throw out the platform awning.  Fortunately, the error was easily corrected with Corel Draw.

Ross then populated the future etch with items for his N scale Newcastle layout, and some HO detail items for me.   The price of the etching process is based on the size of the sheet, not what is on it.


Across the planet.

I am indebted to Ross’s contact, Phil Badger – BadgerBits.  Phil uses a UK based etching company.  I knew the process could not be rushed, I had more than enough to continue with in the interim.  It was late in September, when Ross informed me that he had the etch back, and was removing his items.  The postal service was quick, and I had the etch a few days later.

My picture does not do the etch justice.  It is gorgeous.  Approx A4 size.  Ross had previously snipped off the N scale items he needed, although he left me with a few bonus goodies, like a platform trolley, and multiple sets of workbench tools

Starting the construction

First step was to measure the etches against the station.  Spot on.  There is some brass material to be removed from the end of the etch to make it fit snuggly against the wall, but nothing that the Dremel could not handle.

I removed the first etch, polished/cleaned the brass  with a track rubber (the only thing track rubbers are good for),  and then folded it over

My long etch bending tool - the first time used.

The fret on the tool.  The large grey object is like a ruler, but has a very sharp knife edge to lift the etch

After folding - the etch rests on the styrene floor that I make in the next step. Note that I have filed notches for the wall blockwork. 

After folding, I lightly sweat soldered the sides together


The sloping floor for the veranda is made out of styrene.  The floor is hollow.  The floor was then trimmed to accommodate the wall blockwork.

2 halves of the floor.  The spacers are 0.080square, and 0.080x0.100 thou styrene strip.  The slope is cut from 0.040 styrene.  The top and bottom is also 0.040 sheet styrene

The poles were made from brass, with a styrene base

Some of the raw material for the poles.  I didn't buy these especially for the project - I had them "in stock".

A how-to guide flowchart on the poles.  The first one took me well over an hour to make, the third one about 20 minutes.  There are 21 poles on the Wagga station

NB The poles, or columns should be tapered, and fluted – this was a step too far.  The 1/16” diameter  of the brass tube is very close to scale at  half way up the actual pole  For completeness, the actual pole has a 40cm circumference at the top (approx. 12.5cm diameter), and 49cm (15.4cm) at the bottom of the fluted section. The octagonal base is 83cm circumference



Proof of the Pudding is in the eating

Locating the etch on the floor gave the locations for the poles.  Thus marked, I then reamed out the hole in the pole base styrene, as the floor was sloping slightly, and I didn’t need a solid fit for the poles as that would have them at angle.


I then loose assembled the etch, and poles onto the floor – then checked how things looked with a camera.  Well, my measurements were correct – the bottom of the etch brackets extended to the same height as the number of wall edge blockwork on the prototype. 

Held in place by gravity.  The post locating tab fits loosely into the 1/16" brass tube, although it is not required at the gable wall end, and will shortly be removed.

Next step was to fit the edge etch.  Folded like the main veranda etch.  This part required a lot of brass removal, with regular trial fitting so as to not remove too much material

Soldered to the original at 90 degree angle, once again, test fit.

Lastly (for this blog), I soldered the fret to the poles with 144 C degree solder.  By choosing a lower melting point solder, my original soldering would not desolder.

The fret is not quite sitting right - it should be a bit closer the middle of the gable end blockwork. This was a bit disappointing, but I believe correctable in the next stage. 

A good start.  I think the etch has really captured the feel of the prototype.  I have sent my pictures to Ross, and he is also well pleased that the etches have worked well.  Was that ever in doubt?

Next time - The veranda roof.