Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Gatekeeper cottages

Gatekeeper Cottages around Wagga

On the previous blog post, I showed a picture of the Intercapital Daylight train crossing the Sturt Highway (Edward Street) on a bridge, and I mentioned in the comments that the bridge replaced a nasty level crossing.  Well the crossing was replaced in 1979, and as I am planning a 1970 timeframe, I have to include the crossing.

Southern Aurora crossing the Edward Street railway crossing in the early 1960s.  The gatekeepers cottage is visible on the LHS of this picture.  Photo provided by Tony McIlwain

1971 Aerial view of the Edward Street gatekeepers cottage

This level crossing was not the only level crossing that I am modelling.  But as this post is on gatekeepers cottages, I will limit this discussion to those with gatekeeper cottages

Docker Street level crossing.  It is 2 tracks, although the rear track is purely a headshunt.  The gatekeepers cottage is no longer needed for the Automatic boom gates.  Picture taken in the 1980s.
Docker Street gatekeepers cottage - 1971 aerial view
Another angle of the Docker Street cottage

 Docker Street.  The manual gates were replaced by automatic lights, bells, and booms prior to 1959.  The cottage still exists, although it was “modernised” almost 20 years ago

-          Bomen.  Unfortunately, this cottage was demolished in 1962

-          Edward Street.  The manual gates were replaced by automatic lights, and bells in October 1959, but the gatekeepers cottage remained until sometime after 1971 before being demolished

Best Street gatekeepers cottage - around 2004. Cottage unoccupied, but in quite good condition. Picture taken from the Best Street bridge

By 2018, the trees had grown, and the cottage is in a sorry state of disrepair.  Vandals had lit a fire inside, partially gutting it, and the most likely outcome is that the cottage will be demolished
The rear of the cottage is not inviting any visitors


  Best Street.  This crossing was replaced by the Best street bridge in 1925.  The gatekeepers cottage still exists – although it is currently heavily vandalised

3829 heads towards Albury in the early 1960s.  The Urana Street gatekeepers cottage is on the right of the picture. Note  the gate on the LHS, and the post-and rail fencing. Thanks to Tony McIwain for the photo

1971 Aerial view of Urana Street cottage.  The gates had been replaced by Bells, and lights

   Urana Street.  This level crossing was modernised with lights, and bells prior to 1970, and remained until Wagga City Council reworked Urana Street with a new overbridge in the 1970s, and the cottage was demolished.

Finding pictures of the missing cottages has been a challenge.  Last year,  I won on ebay a number of cattle wagon kits from Tony McIwain.  After I mentioned that I am looking at modelling Wagga’s stockyards, Tony informed me that he had been a student at Wagga’s Teacher’s college in the early 1960s, and had a few pictures that I might find interesting.  These images have proven of great interest, and I am indebted to Tony for the images, and the insights on NSW Railways in general

A year ago, I purchased a gatekeepers cottage kit from the Stuart Walker’s range of laser cut buildings.  I was hoping that this kit would be a close facsimile to the gatekeeper cottages at Wagga.  Well, as to prove Sod’s law, none of the cottages are close to the kit.  Tony’s pictures of the Edward Street cottage seems to show a weatherboard building.  Whilst Tony's image of the Urana Street is also indistinct, access to the 1971 aerial view (courtesy of Wagga Council Intramaps) shows the  cottage at Urana Street, and Docker street look essentially the same.    As I do have some images of  Docker Street, Urana street will be built to the same design.    Wagga Council Intramaps also show the shape and size of the Edward Street cottage.   I don’t have plans for any of these, so I will be checking out a lot of books for photos of similar cottages.  Best Street’s cottage offers the best (pun intended) opportunity for an accurate model.  Peter, from the Wagga Railway Historical group provided me with plans for the Best Street cottage, and I have more pictures than I have shown here

No discussion of the gatekeepers cottages would be complete without reference to the gates.  Well, last week, a couple of pictures were given to me by Max B, showing the Edward Street crossing with manual boom gates.  These gates were controlled by a signal box.  Whilst I do not have any interior views, the gatekeeper would receive bell codes from trains departing Wagga, and Bomen.  The gatekeeper would then work the gates, and clear the signals protecting the crossing.  

Two views of the Edward Street crossing, taken in the 1950s, possibly 1959, but I am guessing by the design of the cars.  The signal box was removed in 1959, although the relay hut visible on the LHS of the picture, lasted until the crossing was abolished in the 1979.

The manual crossing was abolished 27/10/1959, and replaced with automatic lights, and bells.  In the Wagga Wagga Daily Advertiser on the 31/10/1959, had an article describing the experience of a Train driver, John Weisback, who was driving his engine to and from Bomen on the 29th.  His comments were that the new bells and lights were dangerous.  At 9:15am, he narrowly missed a car by 3 foot, and at 4:15pm, taking the engine back, a young boy on a pushbike rode straight through, and only missed the engine by a few seconds.  He asked the question why were no booms installed – as they were at Illabo, Bethungra, and Docker Streets.  (These words were prophetic – not only were booms never installed in the subsequent 20 years of operation, the crossing was the site of many fatalities)
Now the article gives me a hint that there was a loco stabled at Wagga overnight.  I don’t know if it was heading to Junee for a light service, or was it heading to Bomen, to undertake the shunting at the Bomen abattoirs?  If it was the latter, when did this stop?  I know that the Meatworks siding was shunted by mainline trains in the 1980s.  If there was a local shunter in around 1970 time period, that would add much to an operation session.

Research is often frustrating, but ultimately rewarding.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Intercapital Daylight, and RUB sets

Intercapital Daylight

One of the regular trains that served Wagga in the 1970 time period was the Intercapital Daylight.  As the name suggests, this train ran daily between Sydney, and Melbourne during daylight hours.  This pair of trains started running in 1962, with the opening of the standard gauge from Albury to Melbourne.  The Train consisted of a loco and a RUB set – steel airconditioned carriages, generally 8 cars in length, but often longer during holiday periods.   Very occassionly, with heavy booking, the railways would run a second division, 30 minutes later than the main train.

Southbound Daylight passes under the Best Street Bridge

The train always was diesel hauled - 42, 421, 43, 44, 45, 422, 442, 80 and finally 81s
Being a joint train between NSW, and Victoria, there were occasional substitutions of carriages, and motive power – although these were uncommon in the 1970s

The Sydney bound train arrived (if on time) at Wagga at 1:52pm; and the Melbourne bound train at  3:12pm.    I travelled on the Intercapital regularly in the 1960s, and 70s between Wagga and Sydney, and occassionly down to Melbourne – taking note of the scenery, and the disappearance of steam.  Some of the treats from the buffet was the toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, and the soft serve tub ice cream one ate with a wooden “spoon”.   Things like this have made a lasting impression

Double 44s about to arrive at Wagga's platform road.

V/Line G class, and a southern Aurora car add interest to the train.  The original goods shed, and crane are visible, which would date the picture around 1988

Stealth 8167 pulls the Daylight over the river flat viaduct.  

A V/Line buffet car in the Sydney bound Intercapital Daylight 

After the introduction of Candy colours, the Intercapital looked like a disjointed collection of carriages.  Here it is crossing the Edward Street (Sturt Hwy) bridge.  This bridge replaced an earlier level crossing, where the road rose up to the level of the rails, and was the scene of quite a number of fatalities.  The bridge was installed around 1979, which is later than my modelling period, so I will be modelling the level crossing

Early 1980s, passing under one of Wagga's signal bridge. In my early days of photography, I was using a manual Voitlander camera, with no inbuilt light meter, and it was a fluke to capture a moving train side on without too much bluring.

Southbound, near the Fernleigh Road level crossing

The train was discontinued in August 1991, when two XPT sets started running between Sydney and Melbourne.  Most of the RUB carriages were sold or scrapped – I remember one carriage actually making its way to Queanbeyan High School, as the senior’s common room. 
A full history of the Daylight train service can be found in Chris Banger’s book “Daylight” published by ARHS in 2015

Some extras

Over the years, I have also acquired some interesting material.  The below images come from my personal collection

A staged NSWGR publicity picture of a down RUB set on the Bethungra spiral.  The RUB set is pulled by a 45 class, which I think is unusual.  Careful study of the goods trains though gives a good clue on what one could marshal on your models

Both NSW, and Victoria gave out handouts to passengers on the Intercapital Daylight.  These are from different years, and the wording is slightly different.  For instance , the later Victorian one is in Metric.  The handouts folded out to provide a written commentary on the places, and areas of interest as you travel along the line

2 pages from a much later handout - and possibly better for rail obsessed travellers such as me, as it shows all the connecting lines, and details of openings.    Bomen is described as "The Country Killing Center" which is a clue on the meatmorks

Modelling the Intercapital Daylight Carriages

The RUB set has been a favourite of mine.  Over the years, modellers have been blessed with some wonderful kits and models.

1     - Rails North.  Rails North offered a 6 car RUB set kit in resin in the early 1980s.   The windows were real glass, cast into the resin.  I purchased a kit, and sourced bogies, wheels, and bearings.  But my kit remains unbuilt.  I had previously constructed a similar Rails North HUB set, and the weight of the completed HUB set taxed the pulling power of my locos
My Casula Hobbies RUB set, with some extras.  The 82 class (Lloyds Kit) would have never pulled the RUB set, but the 40 class (bergs whitmetal) may have.  Green engines look great.  The carry box was made by Bruce Atrigg at Mittagong.  Bruce was also the guy behind the NSWGR turntables that Anton Trains are now selling

 -     -Casula Hobbies, under the Callipari label, produced a set of RUB set carriages in injection moulded plastic in the mid 1980s.  I acquired 6 carriage kits ( two first class, four second class), a buffet, and power van.  These kits included bogies, and wheels.  The kit did not include decals, couplers, or interior.  If one wanted flush windows, Lloyds Model railways had flushglaze packs to fit.  Whilst I was very happy with my assembled RUB set, I did not fit an interior, or superdetail.  The set was quite light, and I had much pleasure in running it at model rail exhibitions in the 1980s/90s.  These kits are still available.  A great set of modelling articles by Peter Jarvis on detailing these cars can be found in the pages of AMRM – issues 241 through 245

V&T Models - 6 car RUB set in brass

3      In 1997, Precision Scale Models announced they were doing a 6 car RUB set in brass, and asked for reservations.   John Sargent (PSM) must have received sufficient interest at $3000 a set, and  Samhongsa (Korea)  were commissioned to build the models – which they did.   The project then has a serious setback, (as I was told) John was shocked at the cost to paint the models – the amount I heard was USD$105 per car.  As the Australian exchange rate was woeful at the time, this represented a cost of about $1200 per set (and more if you also factor in the sales tax, and import duty payable when the completed models arrived in Australia – from memory, these government fees  added about 20% to the cost) .  John was not expecting this extra charge from Samhongsa, and he walked away from the project and had no further dealings with Samhongsa. He lost his sizeable deposit.  The tale does have a good ending, as V&F Models stepped up, and the RUB sets were made available at $5000 a set.  (Ref AMRM December 2001). 

4    - Auscision Models are about to introduce the RUB set, in RTR form.  The pilot models look fantastic, and I have two 8 car sets on order.

Short Review of the Brass RUB set
The Brass RUB set is a model that is extremely rare.  In my travels, I have only sighted 2 sets – the first on an exhibition layout around 2002, when the layout visited Canberra, and the second, when I was fortunate to win a set on ebay.  As there has been no review done, I thought it might be interesting to see what the state of the art brass was 20 years ago, a benchmark that the Auscision RUB set models will hopefully exceed.

The set is packaged in a large (possibly too large) sturdy light green cardboard box, with foam inserts.  There is no label on the box.  There are 6 foam openings for the 5 carriages and the power van.  There are 2 first class SBS coaches, 2 second class SFS coaches, one RH buffet, and one PHS power van. 
Initial impression of the carriages is that they are nicely painted, lining and decals placement is first class.  Mine had 140 number on the end of the PHS van, and a coach – correct number for an Intercapital Daylight RUB.  The decals for “Syd end” though are missing.  Glazing is flat, reflective, with no distortions seen.  The underframe is nicely detailed, and the bogies are quite fine.  There is an interior in the coaches, and the power van is actually powered.  Non functional, scale metal couplers are attached – fortunately, these can be replaced with Kadees if you operate the coaches.  Weight of each coach is between 270 and 293 grams, and they do not roll well – hence the need for the powered powervan.  The diaphragms on the corridor connections between carriages is solid brass, and doesn’t swivel.  The wheels to me do not look like RP25/88 – the flanges are a bit deeper, with a sharper edge than the rounded RP 25 standard.   I have no layout to run them on, so I do not know if that will cause problems later.
Unfortunately, the interior is in my opinion, poorly done.  Samhongsa have painted all the interiors in a rather bland light brown colour, which neither matches the rich timber veneered varnish walls of the real cars, or the seat colours.  The seats in second class should be a much darker, and the ones in first class should be green.  Whilst the 2+2 bench seating  across in Second class, and the 2+1 arrangement in first is modelled, none of the seats have armrests.   There is no doorway into the dog-box compartment.  The Buffet car interior is sad.  There should be a series of round swivel chairs close to the centre buffet table, allowing people movement behind the seat and the wall of the carriage.  This is not done – in fact, it looks like the seats are attached to the wall of the carriage.  Below the centre bench, there is a series of openings – where on the prototype, this was solid.  There is also no urns, sinks, or equipment on the other bench.    Whilst these things can be fixed by the determined modeller, if I had paid $5000 for the set in 2001, I would have been disappointed.  It is possible that had a pilot model been forwarded to PSM, they would have identified the correct interior paint colours, but I am guessing.

The PHS power van is actually motorised, and it needs to be, as the RUB set is quite heavy, and doesn't roll very well

Both sides of the SFS second class carriage

Both sides of the SBS first class carriage.  The lack of green seats is obvious

Both sides, and underframe of the RH buffet car.  There are some subtle differences in thi underframe, compared to the SBS, and SFS cars.

That leaves me with one big unanswered question.  How many sets were made, sold, and where are they hiding?   If any readers have the answer, or even general comments on the sets, I would be grateful if they could post a comment.

I hope to get back into modelling as soon a I clear out the dust in the modelling shed. It has managed to work its way through the smallest of openings, and leave a fine layer over the modelling bench, as well as the floor.   

Until then.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

A turntable for Tumbarumba - pt 2

At the finish of the previous blog post, I had installed a hard-disk bearing as the pivot, constructed the shell of a NSW 60 foot table out of brass, made the 60’ track section, and installed the concrete ring rail support
3026 turns on Wagga's 60 foot turntable in 1983 (easter) on an LVR tour.  Tumbarumba's turntable was the same design as Wagga's

Continuing from part 1:

Please note that Step 1, 2 and 3 were done simultaneously. 

Step 1 – add magnets
Step 2 – add track supports for the entry and stopping exit tracks
Step 3 - secure the track to the turntable, and the entry and stopping exit tracks

Rare earth button magnets off ebay.   Cost was around 25c each.  These are seriously strong

I made up a balsa block to secure the magnets in the pit.  This way I could hold them down, whilst doing the fine adjustments on the alignment.  Once the alignment was confirmed, then I screwed the balsa blocks to the pit.  

Both magnets are fitted at equadistant locations in the turntable bridge.  If this step is mucked up, then the magnet solution will not work.  Note, I marked the magnets with a felt tipped marker, as the polarity had to also match.

Track locations were marked on the wooden blocks, so the ends could be aligned

Testing the table showed up a problem.  The magnets were VERY powerful, and the turntable oscillated whilst eventually achieving, and holding  the alignment.  I thought reduction of the oscillation would be an easy fix by  simply remove one of the magnets, but that threw out the alignment by just under 1mm.  Advice on options to fix from the NMRA guys in Canberra was encouraging, but I will tackle the problem in another way – see later.

Step 4 – adding the ring rail
Track has been added to the turntable bridge, and the entry and exit tracks.  The latter is not going to be permanent, as longer rail will be installed once the turntable is positioned on the layout

There is no easy way to do this.  I painted the ring rail support ring concrete.  I then drew a scale 56’ diameter circle on the ring. I took two sections of rail, and slowly started curving them by hand, steadily reducing the radius of the curve, whilst checking the curve against the drawn 56’ circle.  Once both sides were complete. I cut out the centre curved section of the rail, discarding the harder to bend bits on the ends.  Attachment of 2 Peco insulated joiners to complete the ring.

step 5 – adding the ring rail sleepers

As I had a lot of left over Peco track base, why not use it.  The trackbase was broken down into 2 sleeper sections, and the NSWL chopper made this task easy.  The sections were simply slid back onto the ring rail

step 7 – secure the ring rail to the support

Glued with white glue - in case I need to remove it?  After taking the shot, I realised that one of the support sleepers had moved, and this was fixed.  Some more sleepers were slid under the insulated joiner "gap" after the sleepers had been reduced in width

Step 7 – add pickups
2 pickups soldered, ready to install.  Printed circuit board sleepers, and phosphor-bronze out of old cassettes - I needed a flat surface on the pickup to bridge the gap in the ring rails at the insulated joiner

Pickups glued into place with 2 part epoxy.  It was easier to do this on the underside of the turntable bridge

Step 8 – add handrails

I find it easier to solder straight bits of wire onto the edge, before bending them to shape.  The wire was precut to 17mm.

After bending them, a top handrail was fitted, cutting off any surplus brass uprights to size.  I have chosen a completely straight handrail, as I was not confident I could match the prototype's curve at the ends

Step 9 – Add weight. 

The weight is something I felt would assist in providing some inertia to the turntable, to resist the savage kick that the lightweight table did on encountering the magnets.  Whilst having a loco on top of the table will also add some inertia, more weight was desirable.  After testing I added 15 grams to each side.  Note the 2 different types of car wheel weights.  The more modern type is physically larger, and is also partially magnetic – so my guess is that they have a percentage of weight made of iron.  The older type is not magnetic, and most likely full of lead.  Whilst removing lead out of the environment is a healthy choice, I am going to quarantine my lead weights in models.  The smaller weights fitted into the hollow of the turntable bridge without modification.  Oh, yes, adding weight did help.

Step 10 – deck plates. 

The prototype steel tables have a solid deck plates.  I cut 3 lengths of styrene to fit – and on the edge plates, attached a strip of evergreen 0.060 square strip to hide the PCB sleeper ends  The side plates are glued into position, but the centre plate is secured with blu-tac, as access to the pivot screws may be necessary for maintenance tasks in the future

Step 11 – filling in the pit and Step 12 - the abutments

The Sculpt-it was still drying when I took this picture.  Although the screws I had used to secure the balsa block with the magnet had started to rust

View showing the weights, and the arrangement of the wire from the pickups.  The magnets are vitually hidden.  

I used Sculpt-it for this task.  I thought I made a small amount, but I goofed, and had to use the surplus on the outside of the ring rail.  The sloping of the sculpt-it for the pit was also rather dramatic – as I put too much in there too.  Removal of the extra was achieved whilst the sculpt-it was still drying – if I waited until it dried, much more sanding would have been necessary

The abutments were made with balsa, and backed with polystyrene.  I have added some aldi brand filler to the join, and once smoothed will give a bit of a curved surface.

Well, the turntable is now awaiting painting, painting or grassing the pit, fitting the dummy ring rail rollers, and final positioning on the layout.  I will not kid you in saying my turntable  is fully detailed – it isn’t.  But the bigger question is “Will it work?”  A multimeter shows that power gets from the ring rail to the turntable bridge, and turning a loco on the bridge works fine, although the alignment kick did make the tender rock.  That can be minimised by carefully anticipating the kick, and holding the table appropriately.  Running a loco onto the bridge from the entrance road will have to wait for now.  I already know that sound equipped DCC engines will lose their sound, as the turntable ring rail gaps are crossed.  But I don’t think this will be a big issue.  However, the “caution” sign at the end of my previous blog post sort of indicates that people will need some training in its use. 

That is enough turntables for now, it is time to move to another project.  Until then, build a model.

Driver side.  The loco is an ancient Bergs brass - upgraded with a can motor, but not yet DCCed.  It is typical of the standard goods locos that run on the Tumbarumba branch.  Yes, it does fit

Turntable pivoted 180 degrees to display the fireman side.  There is not much clearance between the turntable bridge and the pit

The lack of ring rollers is evident in this view.  The ring rollers will be cosmetic,  It is difficult to see the pickup wiper resting on the ring rail.