Wagga Wagga Signal Box – details
Interior detailing is not something I have concentrated on in the past. I had limited my efforts to models that could be seen, but in reality, I was more interested in the next project.
|Automatic Staff exchange at Bomen. A 44 class has just exchanged staffs on the "pop up" staff exchanger instrument in 1972. Thanks to Peter Neve for supplying this great picture
But, it was time I challenged myself. Over the years, I have seen either first hand, or in pictures, some outstanding structure modelling. The first was at the Pendon Museum in England – which I visited in 1985. The models were modelled after real buildings, and the attention to detail absolutely amazing. I now own many books on the modelling techniques used at Pendon, and these still inspire.
More recently, with the introduction of 3D modelling via CAD, many detail possibilities are becoming reality. One on the best modellers has been Jack Burgess, on his Yosemite Valley Railroad HO layout. Jack’s structures were based on the real VYRR, involving much research. Jack became very accomplished with styrene fabrication, but his modelling of interiors has bordered on the extreme – for instance, turning a HO scale Coke bottle, and half eaten sandwich on a desk. His station at Merced has a full interior – and to get around the interior being invisible from the outside, Jack has installed a periscope which views the highly detailed interior, and any trains that happen to be passing outside the station window. He now uses a lot of CAD in his modelling – and his view on 3D printing is that Shapeways have spent $100,000 on a 3D printer, why compromise with a hobby version.
Locally, it is hard to ignore Ross Balderson’s modelling efforts. His Sydney Station, and Elizabeth Street N scale layout (featured in AMRM issue 288) was museum standard – and his current project of Newcastle takes that modelling standard to the next level.
My modelling has a long way to go to reach these lofty heights. But, one has to start somewhere, and skills learnt, will hopefully make future projects easier – even if it is “what not to do”
My last blog post on the Wagga Wagga Signal box showed the levers, and the block shelf. But I knew there were more parts to install. The disappointment with the UK signal box interior, meant a lot had to be scratch built
I thought I would start with the desk - my Cooma signal box interior picture showed a roll-top desk, which seemed an easy one to start with.
|I got the desk sizing by checking with a Carters Australian Antique guidebook that I happened to have. This is not quite the Cooma style, but it was only the dimensions I was after
|What 27 pieces of styrene, and a spare hour can make. The 10c coin is almost the same size as a US quarter for anyone not familiar with Aussie currency
|I also made a swivel chair, sized on my chair in the modelling room. It was only after showing it to others, was I informed that in 1970, swivel chairs would have 4 leg supports, and not the 5 that I have modeled. One is always learning
One of the important items was the staff instruments. But what style were they? I didn’t have a definitive picture of the instrument in the signal box, but I suspected miniature. I confirmed this after reading a passage in the book “Safe Signals” which stated that all the token staffs on the Junee-Albury section were replaced with miniature staffs in 1931. Did anyone make a miniature staff instrument in HO? Model Engineering Works does make a resin model of a large staff machine, and a purchase would have saved a lot of time. But, I thought I would see if I could fabricate one. My result is pictured. The size was slightly larger than HO, but it was based on the thickness of the 10 thou styrene, and proportioned accordingly.
The pot belly stove was another part from the UK signal box interior kit that I could use. Like the staff instruments, it is over scale for HO. Was this the design used in NSW signal boxes? Probably not, but until I have a picture, it will do. A bucket is used to fuel the pot belly stove – which I turned to a conical shape from a large styrene sprue, painted, and filled with “coal”.
The door for the signal box was missing. Both Wagga, and Bomen had a window in the door, but Greg Edward’s data sheet signal box diagrams only showed a solid door. I found a prototype window door at Stockingbingal a few weeks ago. To make it, I tried a different technique. I cut out a block of DVD plastic to the size of the door, and used a bow pen to draw the mullions to the window. Then added the styrene strip to the outsides, and painted over the door. Results are encouraging – and the painted mullions are a lot finer than the styrene ones I made for the windows. I may have to revisit the signal box windows at some stage.
|A railway padlock now secures the Stockinbingal signal box door
|My Wagga Wagga signal box door. I even fitted a door handle - actually the head of a pin.
Each staff instrument needs an external bell to inform the signal man of changes. I have fitted a block shelf with 3 shelf bells on the wall behind the staff instruments
|Clock, bells, stovepipe extension, and door added to the wall.
|2 more block shelf instruments, and a station diagram added to the rear wall. I am not convinced on the size of the diagram, but it does seem to fit the size of the pictures I have of the real diagram
On the outside of the signal box, I fabricated a stove pipe for the roof. A “WAGGA WAGGA SIGNAL BOX” sign printed on paper, adhered to styrene, and dull coated to remove the paper look. To finish, some powder weathering on the roof, and on the clapboard
Still missing is the porch light, and of course the signalman. Something for the future when I rediscover the microLED lights I purchased last year
|Stovepipe made from 2 styrene rod shapes. The weathering on the roof, and clapboards doesn't show up that well in the direct sunlight
|View of signal box from the Albury end
An old adage in modelling. If you model something badly, it is worse than not modelling it at all. The eye will quickly pick up an error, where an absence is not readily noticed.
Time to move onto something else.
I will leave you with some signal boxes pictures on the south that may be of interest.
|Harden South in 2013. The signals are no longer controlled through this box. The "Bushells Tea" sign on the building in the background was also spied and later photographed - never let a chance go by.
|Inside of the West Cootamundra Signal Box. Picture taken through a broken wall fitting. Not much left
|The telegraph pole next to the one on the Cootmundra west platform is being covered by a tree, but again, great details exist for modelling