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. 

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   


I’ll get back to a real building for my next blog post.  Stay warm.