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. 

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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   

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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
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Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Bomen Station –construction part 4



In times of severe flooding, the NSW Railways ran a shuttle train across the Murrumbidgee River between Wagga and Bomen on a fairly intensive schedule.  This was an important service, allowing schoolkids, and workers to be able to access either side of the river for school, work, or in my case sightseeing.  The cost was $2 economy for a round trip.  4836 had lost its bicentennial writing, but not the livery.  There were 3 FS coaches if my memory hasn't failed me   With the opening of the Olympic Highway high level bridge in the mid 1990s, there was no longer a need for the  flood train.  Although it will still form part of my future operation, just too good an opportunity to have a commuter special to liven up the session.

As I had previously made a cardboard mockup for the roof, I felt confident that I could cut out the  corrugated styrene using the same measurements.  The styrene I used was only recently acquired from “All Aboard” at Mittagong, as it came in a fairly large sheet, 30cm x 80 cm – the width of 30cm is just wide enough to cover the full width of the station roof, without needing to join.  Fairly expensive, so I didn’t want to muck it up.


The triangle sections cut from the main roof, make up the parts for the end roof sections 

I also cut some roof trusses from 0.040 thou styrene.   To cut a long story short, there were some adjustments and chamfering to get the roof assembled to it would fit the roof without falling over the edges, or leaving too much of a gap.  All of the trusses have been reinforced.





Checking the roof for size.  Thankfully, it fitted

An evergreen strip 0.010 x 0.100 for the fascia board was painted, and fitted to the edge of the eves.  The guttering was next.

Chimneys.  I studied my photographs, and drew up a rough diagram showing the size and height – based on counting bricks.  Using the discarded brick styrene from the window and door cutout, I fabricated  a set of chimneys.  Each chimney has 24 pieces of plastic, each piece cut and shaped to size – not a task for the impatient.
Waiting room chimney, with sketch.  Note the stretcher bond brick pattern - don't look too closely, as my chimney model used the wall offcuts, which were not stretcher bond.  The thickness of the Slaters brick styrene sheet is very close to the half brick difference in the prototype's stepped design - and I think I have captured this look nicely.


Holes were carefully cut into the roof, and the chimneys dry fitted. 




Once completed, the chimneys were then brush painted in the brick colour.  I also painted the roof corrugated iron "tamiya aluminium"  

The doors and window openings on the station were all cut and shaped by hand, and unfortunately, variations happened with things that should have been identical.  This meant some bespoke work – particularly on the doors with the crownlights. 

I cut all the "woodwork" from paper, which I painted then fitted to a thick piece of CD case clear plastic with PVA white glue.  This will then be attached to the inside of the station, and only the slightest hit of the brown around the crownlights will show.  Whilst this is a cheat, from a distance hard to tell it is not a high quality plastic part.   
The first one took around 2 hours, but I had settled on a technique, and the others were faster.  By the time I got to the simple windows, I had the time down to  around 10 minutes each


Some weathering on the roof, and chimneys, dry fit the roof to the building, and time to beat the weather, to catch some last minute sunlight for picture taking. 







Well that is it for now.  The guttering, plumbing, and lead flashing will have to wait.  And I have not yet given up on fitting an interior, or lighting.  The next structure for the station should be the Lamp room/gents toilet – followed by the signal box that disappeared after 1983. 

I hope you managed to get to the Rosehill Gardens exhibition last weekend - it was a good one.  I was lucky enough to share a car on Monday for the long day trip from Junee.  The bonus was that I also acquired some more models for the layout, including the elevated water tank from Mechanical Branch Models, which I need for Borambola  And it was also good to catch up with the traders who make this great hobby great.

The layouts were most inspirational too - if you didn't get to the exhibition, do yourself a favour, and , check it out on youtube. 

Stay warm.  

Monday, 4 June 2018

Bomen Station –construction part 3


A modern view from Bomen station looking north - compare this with the picture on my last post. There have been a lot of changes with the signalling, and track arrangement.  But even this picture has some details that can be useful for the 1970s - the lineside poles for instance.



Finishing off the walls required firstly painting the concrete platform, then attaching the lower “barge board” and window sills, which you need to pre paint.  Don’t do this the other way around, as you are almost guaranteed to get the paint where you don’t want it.

Finishing the walls on the rear veranda


Front awning support posts.
Front awning support posts.  

"Tree" of diagonal bracing above each front awning support posts.  The ceiling looks worse for wear

The support post against the wall.  Only 2 of these posts (one at each end) are used.  Note the tap position, compared to the tap position at the other end.


These posts are possibly the most exacting  part of the entire station build.  Not only do they have to be the right height, they also need to be installed perfectly perpendicular, and at equal platform spacing.  Any variation is going to be very obvious to the eye.  And to make matters more awkward, the posts have decoration that needs to be applied before installation.    I thought about all this for some time, and decided on construction as a sub-assembly, and finish it prior to adding to the station building

The real posts are 6” square in cross section.  The closest size in the evergreen strip is 0.080 x 0.080 square, which is slightly bigger than scale.
8 awning support posts were cut in the chopper to the same length, and 2 posts for attachment to the wall slightly smaller, as these will not extend through the platform .  Then I made a jig to assist in the next stages

The first bit of decoration is the collar, just below the angle beams.  I attached a collar made of small styrene strips, cut on a chopper.  To get a bevelled edge, I then used a sanding disk in my cordless dremel, running at the slowest speed as possible.   Clean up with a knife

My jig made from wood scrap.  Note that the ends of the post have been whittled away to a circular cross section shape. This was to allow me to drill holes in the platform, to hold the posts firmly at this vulnerable area.

The cross braces are cut from a 0.060 thou square styrene strip, as these are smaller on the prototype than the main support post.  Each of these was made with 45 degree cuts with the NWSL chopper. 


Holes drilled in the platform from below, where the marking out will not show   Place the posts into the holes, but don’t glue yet.  A top piece of square styrene was cut to length, and  glued  to the top of the 2 end posts, then braced with 0.060 thou square styrene and allowed to dry.  Then continue with the intermediate posts, one at a time, ensuring all posts are  perpendicular, and square.
After carefully removing the posts, apply additional 45 degree braces to all the intermediate posts, and then fit the rear connection beam so the front is perpendicular to the platform

Painting is a lot easier when not attached to the model

I fitted the ceiling to the posts, before finally permanently attaching the awning to the front of the station building.  The white showing on the rear edge the styrene sheet is for ease of glueing.




Finally, the whole sub- assembly can be permanently added to the station.  I glued some scrap 0.080 square styrene onto the inside walls, and the ceiling sheet for strength.

The back veranda posts followed much the same method, although the posts here lacked the decoration, and were relatively easy.

To finish this stage of the build,  I completed the eves, and then reinforced and thickened using some 0.040 x 0.188 styrene strip.  I also tried my hand at powder weathering in the areas that will not be handled further – in the hope that the powder would accumulate in the brick mortar lines.  This has only been moderately successful.

Station front

Side view. I must point out an error - the collar decoration on all the posts is slightly lower than it should have been, which meant all the angle brackets extend further away from the post than they really should. Whilst this is too late to fix, the angle bracket in this view is not 45 degrees, as a 45 degree bracket would take up too much of the beam, and thus look wrong.  See my prototype picture earlier to see what is should look like 

Station rear


Next stage is the roof, chimneys, guttering, and the windows and doors. 


Hope this is inspiring others to have a go at building that unique model.  Happy modelling