Sunday, 25 July 2021

Timber station platforms


Timber station platforms.

  Some prototype pictures, and a modelling experiment


Brian Wooley captured CPH7 at Tumbarumba in 1973. Whilst the platform is the focus of this blogpost, the details on the platform add much interest

Anyone modelling a NSW rural branchline, will probably need a timber platform.

For something so common, I have found very little in the modelling press.  James McInnerney did a fine review, almost a mini article of the Rail Central brand (supplied by Casula Hobbies) way back in Issue 276 AMRM (June 2009). The other resource, the Greg Edwards Data sheet B11 is quite informative.  But I do not know of any prototype article, like when they were first used.

In any case, the branchline to Tumbarumba had many of them

 Pictures of platforms

In 1980, my picture of the abandoned station, shows the length of the platform
CPH #7, at Humula in 1973. The platform is significantly longer than Tumbarumba

My 1980s picture of Borambola shows the loading bank timber platform. It is slightly higher than a station platform, but the basic design is similar.  The  G2 goods shed, and the A1 station building are in the distance.

Coreinbob station platform in 2020 has almost disappeared. Coreinbob is one of the intermediate stations that I unfortunately will not have space to model
Forest Hill platform, after the station building was removed.

Rod Smith, and his son accompanied me in August 2020 to visit a number of the remaining relics of the Tumbarumba line. Here are the remains of Umbango, which is north of Humula. Note the use of rail as the bracing support for the platform post. Another station I will be unable to model, although Umbango's station was similarly sized to Borambola

Ladysmith station after being leased by the Tumba Rail volunteers. The platform used to extend a far distance to the left hand side of this picture, truncated in the 1970s by the NSW railways, possibly to eliminate the need to repair.

This is what happens when the platform is removed, after the line was abandoned in 1984. It is Gundagai, on the Tumut branch in 1997.

Fortunately, grant money was found, and a replacement platform was built by 2000. Both these images are mine

The experiment

I was recently given an RTV rubber mould of a NSW platform.   After some advice, I thought I would try my hand at casting a platform out of plaster.

The RTV mould.
I used a disposable plastic cup to mix up the minute amount of plaster into a slurry

My casting plaster was bought when phone numbers were 7 digits long. the heavy plastic kept the contents fresh.

I pre-wet the mould with dishwasher soup, and then poored and prodded the plaster into the cavities of the mould

Before the plaster went off, I removed the excess

After allowing the casting to dry for a day, time to extract from the mould. Unfortunately, the top rail of the castings was weak, and I lost many of them. Not helped by the few air bubbles. Plus there were a number of the castings split.

White Glue will fix the broken castings (to a point).

Another batch was made - with slightly better results. 

 Of course, if you need to model a platform that is starting to decay (see Borambola above) it is OK.  There is certainly enough good bits across both castings to make a full platform, but that was not the intention.

I thought I would try to replace/repair the missing top rail, using a strip of styrene. 

To get a better comparision, constructed some platform faces with other methods

Nothing models timber better than timber?  I should have used a square when gluing the uprights, but it probably will pass muster once installed in scenery


Another platform, fully out of styrene. Yes, there is a gap. What isn't visible, but the top rail and the platform timbers have a rebate to facilitate the platform surface to be supported when added later 


The conclusion

Well, whilst the casting process is repeatable, my lack of being able to extract the casting out of the mould without damaging the casting, is frustrating.  Yes, I can add the top timber board from styrene after cleaning up the cast, and a styrene edge will take the odd knock better than straight plaster.  The plaster is also rather brittle.  Maybe a change to a resin may be superior to the plaster?

The timber model was far too fiddly to repeat.

Making the platform out of styrene has the advantage of working with just a single material.  This may be better in the long term.

And all models will need to be painted (or stained).

A bonus extra


A large scale model?  Two of Petes Hobby Railway volunteers, Phil, and Josh, constructed a platform for Pete's 2 foot gauge line, running in Junee, about 1km from where I live. It is scaled approximately 50%, to look like a NSW platform 

Pete's Hunslet loco "Torpedo" passes the under construction reduced size NSW A1 station. This is the view you will see from the public viewing area (roadside). The stationname of Loftus has a double meaning. It is where Pete lived before moving to Junee, and the original railway construction name of Junee was "Loftus".  Pete has a website. Search for "Petes Hobby Railway" with your favourite search engine 

This has been another fill-in project whilst I wait for the etches for the Wagga Wagga station.  The advantage is that I can store them flat.

Until next time.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

A pair of Model Train weekends


A pair of Model Train weekends


Over the last month or so, my hands-on modelling has taken a bit of a back seat, whilst I concentrate on other activities, many totally unrelated to model trains.  I am sure, that many of us need a break at times. 


The Steel Bridge, over the Willamette River in Oregon, is a memory of the 2015 NMRA National Convention. This bridge is unique, in that the lower deck of the lifting span can raise or lower independant of the upper deck.  Read on to find out why I am including this picture.   

This situation came to a close on the June – Queens Birthday long weekend.  The June long weekend is one that often co-incides with model train exhibitions.  Over the years I have exhibited at Morewell (Victoria) and Adelaide(South Australia), and more recently attended the Rosehill exhibition in Sydney. The Rosehill exhibition was also to coincide with the annual Australian Region NMRA convention, but Covid has managed to disrupt this idea for the last 2 years.

A Virtual Convention

Not to be defeated, an alternate virtual convention was arranged by the local NMRAx team.  This event was well publicised, and whilst I doubted I could be enticed to sit at my computer screen for 4 days, I was curious to see some of the clinics.

And, I am now a believer of the concept.  Each session was placed on a you-tube live feed – and whilst you could indeed watch it live, I found it possible to rewind to the start of the session – fast forward over the adverts, watch those sessions and layout tours that interested me, rewinding if you needed to check up on the details, and best of all if watching live, ask questions, which were answered by the presenter at the end of their session.

There were even live sessions from overseas (Britain and USA).  Particularly impressive was the operation session on Dave Abeles layout in New Jersey – where the camera was trackside, to view the parade of trains.

And I learnt things too. Some examples in no particular order

Some useful tips on fasttrack turnout assembly;

Private business cars;

Weathering Aussie locos;

3D printing;

Animation for your layout,  

And the quiz questions were a bit of competitive fun too.

All of the NMRAx clinics (not just the ones above)  have now been edited, and uploaded to you-tube forming a useful resource for all modellers, not just those in the NMRA.  Thank you to the NMRAx team

Down the coast

Last weekend, the Eurobodalla Model Railway club, a 100% affiliated club in my local Division of the NMRA (Div 2), hosted a weekend of activities in the Batemans Bay area.  It included our monthly meeting, and a selection of layout tours on both Saturday and Sunday.  As I had only seen pictures of some of the layouts, and wanting to say farewell to the Batemans Bay road bridge, I booked 2 nights accommodation, and made the 350km journey from Junee.

It was a great weekend.

Two views of the Eurobodalla Model Railway clubs sectional layout, being built by the members

Peter R's Z scale layout was also on display for the meeting. The Eurobodalla club regularly attends events, and fairs down the South Coast, and small displays such as this, promote the hobby.

Ian B is building a prototype freelance NSWGR layout on 2 decks in a purpose built building. I visited his layout on Saturday night.  Very nice trackwork,  good scenery, and great presentation. Ian tells me that he has taken around 2 years to construct so far, although he did start with parts of former layouts. His layout "footprint" is bigger than my Wagga layout, and I got some great ideas.

Bill C's layout was built into a one car garage space - consisting of an oval of track, large station, with a pair of branchlines.  He has named the stations and golf course after his grandkids. Bill had his layout open on Sunday morning.

Whilst not on the official layout tour, I wrangled a quick visit to David V's place on Sunday morning. David is building a small portable layout.  His expertise in in 3D printing, but I really wanted to view his backscenes, which have been made from David's photos using OfficeWorks poster prints. This may be the process I will use on the Wagga layout.  Great to see.

Matt S's layout is based in the wilds of British Columbia, and scenically spectacular. He encouraged us to participate in a running session on Sunday, but I was very happy to allow others that honour, and I simply just watched the trains running. The layout had taken over his 2 car garage fully. Again, like Ian's layout earlier, the presentation was excellent.

Thanks to the Eurobodalla club for organizing.


Batemans Bay bridge

As part of the upgrade of the Princess Highway, the Batemans Bay lift span bridge was recently bypassed with a modern 4 lane concrete bridge.

The new bridge opened on March 27, 2021, seen beside the old lift span bridge.  The new bridge was designed, and built by John Holland Construction group, which is a 100% Chinese owned company. John Holland also have the contract to demolish the old bridge. There is a little bit of simularity with the Portland Steel Bridge - being the high towers, the control cabin on the lifting span, and the steel girders.  This picture was sent to me

Whilst I understand that maintenance costs on an old steel structure were high, the bridge being just 2 lanes was a bottleneck, particularly when the lifting span was in operation. But the old bridge had character, and a lot in common with railway bridges of that era.  It has nothing to do with my Wagga layout, apart from it making a big impression  the first time I saw it as a kid in the 1960s

2 years ago, knowing that the bridge was to be replaced, I took some detail pictures

And more recently June 19/20th 2021

I do not know if anything of the old bridge is to be retained as a reminder of its importance in the development of the Batemans Bay area


A closing thought. Record what you can now -Take pictures, listen to the old timers, and write down notes. You never will know where your modelling journey will take you.