Thursday 29 June 2017

Up the Branch to Ladysmith

If is often stated that adding a branchline to your model railway is an ideal way of increasing the operational interest.

 The Tumbarumba branch was constructed in 2 stages - Wagga to Humula - opened in 1917, and Humula to Tumbarumba opened in 1921.  The line traverses mixed farming near Wagga Wagga, but continues into more heavily wooded and hilly terrain the further south east it runs.  Many stations were established, although some fell into disuse well before the line "closed" in 1974, officially due to flooding that washed away the Tarcutta Creek bridge, but mostly due to the NSW government desire to save money, and use any convenient excuse.  Interestingly, the line is not officiially closed, as this requires an act of parliament   Even today, much of the railway is still in place.  The line to Ladysmith lasted a bit longer, due to the wheat silo there, although with repairs on the bridges needed, the last trains ran in 1988.  The RAAF base at Forest Hill then decided to lift the track running near the runway, and the chance of services ever being restored is a pipedream.  A preservation group, Tumba Rail has taken over the lease of Ladysmith station, and used to have Trike Rides for the public, until the rules changed.

Passenger services were generally handled by CPH railmotors on a daily basis.  Goods trains though were general freight, parcels, superphosphate, timber, wheat, livestock, dairy, and fruit in season.  I cannot find any evidence of oil wagons on the branch east of Wagga, which is a shame.  I suspect that oil was transported in barrels in open wagons - and I am searching to find supporting pictures

3026 eases around the curve at the eastern end of Wagga station in the early 1980s with a tour train, and about to cross Lake Albert Road.  The siding in the foreground is the Tooheys siding - and has shiny rails

Looking east past the Boral Bitumen siding   The other siding heading off to the right services a small fuel depot (out of view).  I will cover all of these sidings in a future post

Wagga landmark signal, and Copeland Street crossing/

Tour train running on embankment in front of Rocky hill, just beyond the landmark .  Rocky Hill will be used as part of the backscene that will hide the Helix on my model

Bakers Lane level crossing between Wagga and Forest Hill  Fairly typical road crossing.  Note the cattle guards on the fences.

Forest Hill had a station building, platform, and toilets.  All were out of use in 1970, although they were not demolished until after 1975.  The Forest Hill  silos lasted into the 1980s - when they were dismantled.  Interestingly, whilst the station area is now fenced off, the point frame is still there.  I will not be modelling Forest Hill, as from an operational viewpoint, Ladysmith covers this

Kyeamba Creek bridge, close to Ladysmith, taken from the light plane before Google maps.  I recently visited the bridge on foot, and trees, wasps, and vegetation make it hard to photograph.  More on the bridge in a future post

Ladysmith silos - S008 design, with shed.

Ladysmith station track diagram - my photo was used by the Tumba Rail guys for a replacement, as the diagram had been removed after the line fell into disuse, but before Tumba Rail took over the lease.  The track diagram is fairly typical of many of the stations on the Tumbarumba branch

Tour train and Ladysmith station in the early 1980s.  The station is a typical NSW A4 design.

Goods Shed.  I just love the signs, AND the way the superphospate is stacked.

Ladysmith weighbridge building.  In a sorry state.

I hope you enjoyed this quick tour.  Apologies for the quality of the pictures - my el cheapo slide scanner is fast, but not very good.  I do have a better scanner, but it has to be attached to my desktop that runs XP, and each slide takes around 5 minutes to scan and process.  Time that would be better spent on modelling.

Thank you to all who have responded to me about my Blog.  It has been very encouraging   Happy modelling.

Monday 26 June 2017

Murrumbidgee River Bridge Model (part 1)

One of the highlights of my layout will be the bridge over the Murrumbidgee River.

The above picture shows 2 spans of the 4 span bridge.  Each span is 159 feet in length (approx 48 metres).  I would have liked to scan this picture, and other detail shots, but I got a bit lazy

The bridge was built in 1878 as part of the extension of the main southern railway from North Wagga (Bomen) to Albury.  The design was relatively common in NSW, as this was one of 18 bridges built to the John Whitton design.  The Whitton bridge over the Murray River at Albury is still in use - which is testimate to the design able to carry todays trains.

The original design featured lattice truss arches to tie the 2 lattice beams together.  However, the Wagga bridge was strengthened, and substantial support girders were added, and the arches removed

In 2001, under the Uneek range, a kit of the Whitton truss was offered.  These were very expensive kits ($330) per span, with the piers an extra $25 per pair.  I was very fortunately to buy 2 kits, as I have been reliably informed only 15 kits were ever made..  The instructions though were very poor - recommending glue for instance, and for the most part I devised my own construction sequence

First step was to solder the special brass shapes to the upper and bottom chord

After drilling out the holes for the interconnecting pin (0.55mm - not the 0.3mm that the kit instructions states), one can then solder one of the chords to the sides

Taking inspiration from the old pencil case design, I slid in the second lattice side, and soldered the other chord to the side.  The lattice sides do not line up, and 1 mm has to be removed (this is also stated on the instructions - which might be a way of saying there was a drafting error on the etches)

Solder one of the ends to the girder.  Note that there is an unetched section on the chord - this is a detail, for a strengthening plate on the real bridge - and the kit has another rivet piece to cover this.  I have chosen to not add them at this stage.

Painting of the girders is a problem that I solved AFTER I built the first pair.  After sliding the girder side out, clean the inside, and PAINT.  I happened to use a rattle can of black on hand

Once the paint had dried, slide the sides together, and solder on the other girder end.  Fit the pins, solder and cut off.

Build a second lattice.  Yes, this bridge is fairly repetitive

 Join the 2 lattice beams with the supplied "I" girders.  The first kit had only 23 "I" girders, and whilst the instructions said 23, the plans had a spacing diagram for 25.  My second kit had 25 "I" beams.  Annoying.   Fit the angle irons to the base.

Anyway, when you have struggled with the spacing, you will end up with a 159 foot span.  The kit has the lattice arches to tie the spans sides together and give strength, but this style was not for my time frame.  I used a piece of brass strip to do the same thing for now, and this will be removed later.  The area that I have used for the strip will be covered with the rivet overlay I mentioned previously,

Once you have built one span - REPEAT for the second span.  Just as well, I don't have more than 2 spans, as I would have gone crazy.  Note one of the piers is bolstered up on a plinth - yes, it was shorter than the rest - but buried in the riverbank, it will be OK.

Further progress is awaiting the external girders.  Not sure if I will use ABS (has been ordered), or brass - the latter is preferred, but I have not yet been able to locate a source for the sizes I need.

Saturday 24 June 2017

A quick view of the Mainline

One of the advantages of modelling a REAL railway, is that most of the structures you need have already been designed, and built 1:1 scale.  Unfortunately, I am starting this layout 47 years after my nominated time period, and many of the structures are gone.  Whilst I have great memories of watching trinas, I didn't obtain a camera until the late 1970s, and a car in 1980.

Wagga Wagga was too far away from  Sydney, so whilst some railway books have extensive coverage of the main south, they rarely managed as far south as Wagga.  Which is a shame.

But, fortunately, despite the expense of slide photography,, I managed to photograph a good percentage of what I am planning to model.  So, sit back and view a very truncated tour of the mainline through Wagga

The Kapooka Road bridge will be the tunnel entrance to my Albury Staging.  This bridge was bypassed in 2016, and only last week, a contract to demolish it was finalised.  A real shame, but it would not have survived double stacking as part of Inland Rail

The trackage serving  Hardys timber, gasworks, and loading ramp has all gone in this view,

Docker street was originally a double track level crossing, with one of the tracks being the headshunt for the Hardys sidings  Gatekeepers cottage with the green roof is still in existance, although much modified

Coming into Wagga, under Best Street Bridge.  The signalbox disappeared in 1983 with CTC, and the railway cottages also were removed.  The original Best Street level crossing gatekeepers cottage (larger red roof)  is still in existence, but heavily vandalized, and probably will be demolished.

A view looking east with an X200 shunter.  Wagga in 1970 had around a dozen sidings, with much activity

Turntable with 3026.  Lachlan Valley tour train.  Wagga had a water tower, and coal stage.  The Turntable was in place to turn steam locos that used the Tumbarumba branch.  I will cover this branchline in a future post

One of the fuel depots - this one on an extended siding that crossed Railway Street on a level crossing

Leaving Wagga, the trains crossed the first of 5 viaducts across the Murrumbidgee river.  I will unfortunately only be able to model a very truncated section of this.  The River was crossed with 4 spans of 159' Whitton Truss - and this will be the subject of a future post.

Bomen is a station at the northern end of the viaduct.  It has extensive stockyards, and meatworks.  Bomen today has a small intermodal yard.  It lost its large rail connected Mobil fuel depot last year, not that the NSW government ran any fuel trains since 2010.  The purple flowers are Pattersons Curse, Salvation Jane, Riverina bluebell, or Grasby Grass - depending on where you are.  This weed was a boon for Honey producers, toxic to horses, and fortunately is now biologically controlled,

Shepards Siding is the end of my line - has a large silo complex.  Before the days of Google maps, I managed to get this shot from a light plane.  The silo is still there, and in operation.  My layout will extend around the silos, and disappear behind the backdrop down to Junee staging.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Concept

 I have been thinking about constructing a HO model of Wagga for around 20 years, but until recently it has been not possible.  Well, I hope to shortly embark on what will be probably my last sizeable layout once I get the room prepared.

 The size of the room - is 9 metres, by 6 metres (less a kitchenette) - and reside in the back half of my garage.  It will consist of 2 decks, and staging. 
- The upper deck will be a representation of the Tumbarumba branchline, including Ladysmith, Borambla, Humula, and Tumbarumba stations,
- The lower deck will be the mainline - running from Shepards Siding, Bomen, Murrumbidgee River (bridge),  Wagga, and Wagga Stockyards.  The mainline will run from Junee staging, to Albury Staging - both stub ended staging years.  The mainline staging lead-in tracks can also be connected, to form a continous run.   Technically, the layout is known as a "X Factor" design - something that Tony Koester mentioned in  Model Railroad Planning (2009?)

I have not yet firmly settled on layout height - but the main deck will be approx 1 metre above the floor, and the branch 50 cm above that.  

Timeframe for operations is approx 1970, but I am not going to be too picky here,  If I like a feature, or a train, then I most likely will  incorporate it.  

Construction (once the room is finished) will be Staging yards - fully tested, and then the lower deck.  The upper deck is planned, but not needed initially.  The branch will include the sidings of the Wagga Shunt, and the rest of the branch may initially be staging. 

Keen observers may notice that I have had to mirror image a number of the stations.  Shepards Siding, Bomen, Ladysmith, and Tumbarumba.   I have tried to stagger the  positions of all stations on the upper desk to not impact the one below.  Radius of curves will be 75cm for the main, and 60cm for the branch.  Gradients on the mainline are gentle, but a bit more for the branch - I do not know if I will need more than one loop on the helix for instance,.  

Operations are utmost in the design.  The signal frame at Wagga will need a full time position, but the 56 lever frame that I have already built will get used.  Local shunting engine at Wagga serving all sidings in Wagga area,  Mainline trains are either through trains, or  dropoff goods at Wagga, and Bomen.  Railmotor passenger trains to Albury, Griffith, Tumbarumba and Kywong all terminate at Wagga.  Engine only movements (Junee to the out-depots of The Rock, and Albury). Goods train operation to Tumbarumba - fruit, timber, stock trains, general freight.  Wheat trains to Shepards Siding, and Ladysmith silos.   Mainline trains will run from staging yard to staging yard, without needing to shunt at either end.  The advantage of the X factor design, is that resetting staging for the next operating session is possible by simply reversing the trains across the hidden crossover tracks.  (There is a void in the corner behind the Murrumbidgee river bridge as a non operating position to manage this process outside an operation session.)

The model itself (pictures) is built to a 1/33.3 scale in card - and is more of a proving concept than an accurate model. Already it has shown up some pinch points in the isle between Wagga, and Shepards Siding (is 50cm - I want 75cm,) so there is still some adjustments which may reduce the isle width near the kitchenette wall.  The width of the stations( as well as the trackplan) will undergo tweaking too - and I hope to learn XDTrak Cad for the detailed design.  But, as a first step, the 3D model does what I need it to, as well as give my partner Tracy, something that she can understand. 

It may take a decade to build, and another to scenic properly, but I think it is always great to dream.