Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Tumbarumba Turntable - pt 1

The Tumbarumba Turntable.

Turning locomotives at the end of the Tumbarumba branchline was performed with a 60' turntable, large enough to take standard goods 2-8-0, C30T 4-6-0, and any C32 4-6-0 that happened to venture that way on tour trains.  It is also turned 48 class diesel electrics, although I just do not know if the CPH railmotors were turned for their favoured #1 end leading.

The turntable is a standard NSWGR 60' steel design, installed around 1921.  Manual operation.  Only one entry track, although the extension through the turntable was the home of the engine shed (actually a carriage shed), hopefully removed before 1970, as I have no space for it.

Tumbarumba Turntable, as I found it in December 1980. Yes, I know I have used this image before

Similar turntable at Cootamundra, photographed last year.  This supplied me with the details that my earlier picture did not

The model.

On the layout, the Tumbarumba turntable is going to be located right on the edge of the benchwork, close to the operator aisle. 
A ready to install model of the NSWGR  60 foot turntable is a made-to-order model from Anton’s Trains, and whilst I had already obtained one for Wagga, I had neglected to buy the turntable for Tumbarumba.   Antons turntable is  electrically driven, has multiple track aligning (which could suit a small roundhouse) and a full size pit.    If I was using an Antons turntable for Tumbarumba, the full size pit would have to be modified, as I am sure Tumbarumba only had abutments.

However, I like to challenge my skills, so, instead of buying, I thought I would make a turntable.  If I could emulate the prototype, and have a manual operation, then that would ease construction.

Construction starts

Over the years of not having a layout, I have been thinking about a turntable design, using a PC hard disk drive bearing for the central pivot.  And more recently, I came up with an idea of using rare-earth magnets for the alignment of the bridge with the end abutments.  So after buying a set of button magnets off the internet, I was in a position to start

Thank you should also go to AMRM, who had a plan of the steel 60’ table drawn by Alan Templeman (AMRM Issue 133 way back in August 1985).  The model railway magazine is a brilliant resource, and their on-line search function saves a lot of time.

an old harddrive bearing, after the case and metal disk platters have been removed. Note the pair of machine screws - the top of the bearing comes already drilled, and tapped

Hole saw cut hole into a piece of timber to accommodate the bearing depth


Bearing secured on timber with 3 screws


Brass turntable sides cut from scrap brass sheet, and assembled on a base of brass

View from above. Note the wooden block used to space the sides, and also maintain the joints being square

-          Brass turntable assembled on board for testing.

After securing the base to the bearing with the two screws the height at each end of the turntable bridge was tested with a makeshift pile of boards. It is vitally important that these align.  The harddrive bearing has ZERO slop.  I have added one of the two angled bases so you can tell what end is what 


extra brass added for the walkway, and an upper support brace has been added
-         Bulking up turntable pit 
Balsa framing

 Glue an MDF top with clamps. The top of the bearing pops through a hole in the MDF, and sits around 2mm higher.  Check to ensure the bearing still freely rotates.  The glue is intended to be permanent, so no more bearing adjustments are possible after this step
 Track assembly
Two 21cm (60 scale feet) of rail were cut, and assembled on PCB sleepers. Don't forget the electrical gap

-          Ring and Abutments.
 There are probably a lot of ways to construct these, but I chose a method that works for me with the tools, and material I had

I drew a circle using the end of the turntable as a guide, and then proceeded to glue on scrap blocks of balsa to act as the base for the future ring rail.  The balsa thickness was chosen so as to allow an assembled ring rail to fit under each end of the turntable bridge with not much spare space.
The gaps between the balsa blocks were filled with Aldi brand filler, and once dry, quickly sanded.  Painted concrete, with a ring rail above, any imperfections will look natural.  The bearing is only just visible, but looks OK.  The pit will also need to be filled with a slope matching the bottom of the turntable bridge.  Note the track now added to the top of the turntable - this is not yet secured.  The abutment timberwork is also missing, but I do have the track baseboard extensions down.

 Well, I think the turntable is about half done.  The magnetic alignment/locking is still to be fitted, and when I am happy with that, I will finish the track laying.  The pair of abutments will need to be completed,  the turntable will need finishing with a top cover, handrails, and some additional details.  Then painted.  The pit will also need its ring, and I have to arrange the electrical wiring to each turntable rail.  Of course, the pit has to be filled, and detailed too.  

Stay out of the sun.  Build a model, or read a model railway magazine.   Until next time.

Detail from Cootamundra  turntable.  A sign like this would add some spice to the fascia on the layout

Friday, 4 January 2019

Kyeamba Creek Bridge – track installation

Adding the track.

Welcome to 2019.  To celebrate, it was time to get the track down across the Kyeamba Creek Bridges.

42102 heads south approaching the Wagga station platforms, with a train of VR cement hoppers in around 1981.  The double slip connection to the main line had recently been disconnected.  Supplied picture - photographer unknown, used with thanks ( If it is your picture, please contact me)

After adding more foam scenery, I repositioned the bridges, and made some minor adjustments to get them sitting right.  This was not helped by the 6 span trestle getting a minor longitudinal twist.  I removed the rails from the plastic sleepers on 2 sections of flextrack, and painted the rail sides with  roof brown.  After drying, the sleeper base was added, leaving gaps where the bridges were.
I had 2 options for attaching the rail to the bridge.  The first was spiking, the second was glueing.  Call me lazy, but glueing was selected.  The main running rails were glued to the paper sleeper or tie plates with 6 minute 2 part epoxy.  This glue was smeared to the underside of each rail, and then positioned on the bridge.  Note that it important to get the rail straight, and to have the rails at the correct gauge.  Please note the picture which shows peco plastic sleepers being used to hold the rail gauge.  Yes, the head of the rail can be clicked into the plastic sleepers gap, and holds on nicely.  Had I been using a finer rail, then I am not sure that this method would work.  Code 100 is very forgiving, and my experience with exhibition layouts, says that reliability starts with good trackwork

Rail being added to the unnamed creek bridge.  Note the Peco track sleeper base, being used upside down, to hold the correct track gauge,  To ease installation, the rail was added to each bridge separately

Once the glue had set, the plastic sleeper base was secured to the diorama with pins.  The railhead was then cleaned of any surplus paint using a masonite pad.  I try and avoid using abrasive track cleaners, like peco or bright-boy,  if other less destructive methods work.

Check rails also painted prior to installation.  I am not sure if using tacky glue will hold these in position, but because they are not installed on the tie plates, their rail head is lower, allowing future cleaning of the running rails to not also clean the check rails.   I didn’t add check rails to the unnamed creek bridge, as I had no photographic evidence that they were on the prototype.

Ballasting followed.  Secured with white-glue/water/alcohol mixture, and allowed to dry.  Securing track pins then removed.

Checkrails added to the Kyeamba Creek trestle. The creek "water" has been covered with a layer of gloss medium, and this gives good reflections.  I am not sure if I will do a 2 part epoxy clear water mix to give more depth.

No checkrails for the unnamed creek trestle.

Well, this finishes the bridge diorama until installation on the layout.  The idea of fitting trees, and bushes, whilst the diorama is stored on edge is a recipe for a mess.  I am sure there will be additional tweaks to cover gaps, and touch-ups to raw “plaster” showing.   Thank you all my readers, and followers for your comments, and encouragement, on what has been a long project.
Time to start something new.  Until then, happy modelling.

A teaser to what a typical branchline train might look like on the layout.  The blue backdrop was previously painted 30 years ago for a now scrapped module, and propped behind the diorama.  The train is a Wombat Models C30T, a pair of SDS BCW, and a Trainorama PHG. 

An empty stock train heads over Kyeamba Creek towards Ladysmith

I will be hiding the distortion in the creek bank with a blackberry bush,

The best of this group of images.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Kyeamba Bridge diorama fascia

A short update this time – the holiday season makes a mockery of my time management, and coupled with a week of unseasonal 40+  degree temperatures, and biting “stable” flies,
has limited the time I have been able to spend in the garage.    So, I have about an hour, prior to 9am about every other day.

3801, doing a run-around move, approaches the Best Street road overbridge

The Wagga station footbridge is a keen location for train spotting.  3801 has left part of her train of what remained of the Wagga sidings after CTC was introduced.  These pictures were taken in the 1990s.  A steam tour train is rare in Wagga, but a special event will add much interest to my future operation sessions, as well as giving me an excuse to run models that do not fit the 1970 timetable running period 

The Kyeamba Creek diorama will eventually be located on the layout’s upper deck, immediately coming off the helix.  As I have mentioned before, my intention is to limit the width of the upper deck to the area essentially within the railway boundary fences.  Coupled with the increased viewing height, the lack of layout width will be less evident.  But I couldn’t avoid the need of a fascia board.
Besides covering up all the white foam, the fascia needed to be deep enough to hide the layout supports, any underneath wiring, and a series of lights, which will hopefully eliminate the shadows on the lower deck
The first step was to make a cardboard template of the topology on the layout edge.  I did this with some thin cardboard, and a graphite pencil.  Cutting the template out with scissors, and transferring the resultant shape to my 3mm MDF.    A jig saw makes short work of the MDF. 

Cardboard template after cutting

Fitting the MDF to the timber base showed up areas of protruding white foam, which was removed with saw, and sander.  The MDF was then attached to the diorama with wood screws.  A further check showed areas where the fascia top needed some fine tuning with the jig saw.

As my MDF sheet was 600 mm long, I needed two sections of fascia.  Yes, poor woodworking has also introduced a gap between both sections – filler, and paint will fix this once the diorama is installed.   Note, I have NOT done a fascia board for the rear – this side won’t be seen, and the backdrop will go there.

Fascia board screwed onto the diorama.  It extends lower down so the workbench woodwork is covered

Whilst Junee is quite a dry climate, I need to paint the fascia before too long to stop it warping over the 20 year anticipated life of the layout.  I probably should have done this before cutting it to shape, but I am a bit impatient.  But what colour should I paint it?  I have seen some nice green facias, but I think a buff colour might be more suited.  The research continues.

Some extra scenery work has been performed on the unnamed creek bed.  Some 10mm long static grass has been applied (poorly – I am a beginner with this technique), and a quantity of sand added.  Plus a few branches littering the creek bed  from an earlier storm event   Soaked down with PVA glue/water/isopropanol .    It isn’t quite the effect I was hoping for,  but a good base for more tinkering. 
The unnamed creek bed no longer looks like a road, but there is a bit too much grass showing through, and I didn't get the sand drift colour that I hoped I would.  May be only a matter of another dusting of sand over the creekbed?  A bit more ground foam has been added to the banks too.   I am really close to permanently installing the bridge. 

All the best for the new year.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Kyeamba Creek - Scenery 1

Kyeamba Creek Bridge – Scenery

Trying something new could be the title of this post.  Finally made a start on the scenery.

Unnamed creek bridge on its new piers

Unnamed creek bridge floats above the baseboard between its pair of timber abutments  

Timber blocks added to support the bridge piers

Polystyrene fitted to the unnamed creek bridge area.  Note the abundance of foam for the embankments
First layer of foam for the main creek trestle.  The embankment foam has been cut, and roughly shaped in this view.

I used white polystyrene, primarily because I had it on hand.  It is not the most pleasant of material to work with.  Hot wire cutters could be used to cut and shape the foam, but a knife, saw,  rasp, and sandpaper works too.  Ensure a  vacuum cleaner close at hand to collect the white beads

Unnamed creek bed after sanding.  My intention is to model this  as a dry sandy creek. 

Sculpt-it modelling “plaster” obtained from Office Works.  I had to order this product in, as Wagga’s Office Works does not stock it.  The “plaster” is mostly very fine plant fibre, mixed with dry glue, and possibly some clay.  If I had to say what the plant fibre was, I would guess it is powdered newspaper – anyone who pulped newspaper for the old K-Tel brickette press would have a fair idea of the feel of Sculpt-it once water is applied.  Water is added, and mixed to form either a thick porridge consistency, or with more water for a thick soup. 

Sculpt-it has a grey colour, is workable for around 30 minutes, and has the advantage of little mess (compared with plaster).  

 Once the sculpt-it has dried, I painted the surface with "raw sienna" artist tube paint.  The effect might be effective in a desert, but it is just the first pass.  The sandy creek bottom has been “zip textured” with is a sand coloured plaster sold 30 years ago, sold under the“Tuft” label.  The ZIP texture  technique has been superceded with ground foam, and more recently static grass, but it still has its uses

 Kyeamba Creek also received the "raw sienna" paint I also used some "burnt umber" for the banks of the creek, and black to represent the water.   What I didn’t show in this picture was that I goofed with the width of the creek, and my first attempt to reinstate the trestle bridge failed, as the banks were preventing the bridge pier to go down.  Another nice aspect of the sculpt-it, was once dampened, it is easy to carve – unlike plaster

Both bridges.  This is the side that won't be seen when they are installed in the layout

I have been a fan of Luke Towan’s scenery you-tube videos, and Luke likes to texture the ground surface with a combination of dry dirt, and tan grout.  I followed his recipe with the red decomposed granite that I had left over from the outdoor landscaping, and I ended up with a pleasant “topsoil” colour.  This was applied over diluted white glue that had been painted over the “raw sienna” painted surface.

The sifted dirt adds another layer of texture - the original paint is just peeking through

Finally some greenery – courtesy of some Faller ground foam.  Even just one colour brings things to life.  The foam was dusted onto diluted white glue that had been painted over the surface.  In my enthusiasm to take a picture, the glue had not quite dried.

Next steps are to fill the dry creek bed with some sand drifts to take away the roadway look, continue filling out the ground, and creek banks with more green, clean up and disguise any white bits showing, add an MDF side to hide the exposed foam, think about the water, plant lots of trees and bushes, and get the track down, and ballasted. 

I wish all a happy, and safe Christmas.  May all your surprises be pleasant

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Scooter's Bridge

A few months ago, I was contacted by “Scooter”.  Scooter informed me that he once lived in the Wagga area, and had constructed a HO scale model of a small bridge on the line just east of the Wagga RAAF base.  Scooter has now moved to Western Australia, and no longer modelling NSW HO.  He offered me his model, as he thought  it would be better on my layout, than languishing in a drawer.

Worse for wear, the rail bridge is visible from the Sturt Highway just east of Forest Hill
This small bridge is located in a field, and visible from the Sturt Highway.   I searched my slides taken in the 1980s, and 90s, and disappointingly, I could not find any of the bridge.  Fortunately, the bridge still exists.
So armed with a high zoom camera, I traveled along the Sturt Highway.  The bridge is located on private land, and trespassing to get closer would not be appreciated by the farmer.

The camera was at x 36  zoom, and I used a fence post to stabilise the picture, but there are some optical distortions that make the bridge look even worse than it currently is. . The wing abutments had eroded in the 30 years since the last train.

View from O'Hehirs Road.  Note the 2 piers - one is 3 posts, the other is 5. As the height of each pier is the same, I really don't know why there is a difference
Another picture from O'Hehirs Road.  The telephoto effect makes the 42' of bridge look like a small culvert. What is obvious is that the line dips down to the bridge, and there are no checkrails

The bridge has 2 piers, and three 14’ openings.  What I did find unusual, was that the two piers have a different construction – one having 3 piles, and the other 5.   I don’t see any photographic evidence of bolt holes on the angled bracing to indicate that the missing 2 piles were ever there.  The abutments have heavily eroded.    My picture taken from O’Hehirs road also show no checkrails

Scooters bridge model arrived in the mail, and I was extremely pleased.  The detail work is brilliant, and it is great to see an alternate approach to building a trestle bridge.   Scooter has modelled both piers with 5 piles,  and this just adds to the mystery.    I suspect that I will be locating Scooters Bridge on the layout’s lower level, just before the helix.  And the Scooter’s name will be retained – a lot better than “unnamed trestle bridge in a field”

Scooter's model is in far better condition than the prototype. Scooter has added all the sleeper bolts, which makes me think I need to add these to my kyeamba creek trestles

Scooter's models of the wingwalls show what the prototype bridge has lost

Parts loosely assembled.  Compare this shot with my prototype bridge picture taken side-on at the start of this blog post.

Thanks Scooter.