Saturday 23 November 2019

Bethungra Loop - scenery starts on the Hill

Bethungra Loop - Part 4. 

Scenery has never been my strong suit.  And this being my first attempt at anything N scale, I was not anticipating a quick build.

A picture taken from a 1997 Bevan Wall video shows LVR loco 5367 about to exit from the first tunnel of the Bethungra loop.  Bevan has made a lot of videos showing rail activity in NSW, and these never cease to inspire.
I like to get ideas for all my modelling from the prototype.  I am fortunate to live close by the loop, although I really do not have enough images to do it justice.

As before, I will let my in progress pictures do the talking

Many years ago, beer was transported by rail.  To stop the kegs moving in transit, large mattress sized polystyrene foam blocks were used.  These were discarded by the receiving depot.  The leftover remains of one of these mattresses recently came into my possession, (Thanks Steve) and I thought it appropriate to use it for this project.  But to go on record, I hate white polystyrene beaded foam.

My hotwire cutter made cutting the foam easier than a saw or knife.  Although I still had a garbage bag on standby to dispose the offcuts,

The Olympic way roadway was cut from MDF, and positioned.
4 tunnel portals constructed from MDF, and fitted.  There is not a lot of clearance for trains, and all locos, and carriages were tested.
Foam was cut, glued, and slid into position.  Some profiling is visible in this picture. The adhesive I am using is a water based Selley's "No More Gaps"
The hotwire cutter is not the easiest thing to use for fine shaping of the foam.  To complete the profiling, I use coarse sandpaper, with a vacuum cleaner to suck up all the foam particles dislodged.

Sculpt-it was my "plaster" of choice.  It is actually a paper pulp type product, a lot easier to use than traditional plasters, but used in a similar way.  I like it because it  sticks where it is put, has a longer work time, and can be added without too much mess.  Cost is at least double the cost for an equivalent quantity of plaster. 

Painted scene with 'Raw Sienna' colour water based paint , and "Zip Texturing"  (a light dusting of rock coloured plaster, from the former 'Tuft' range.).  The tunnel portal is still to be painted
Some small rocks, a hit of some greenery in the cutting, and ballasting with the Bombo N scale ballast from Chucks Range - acquired at the N scale convention last month.  The Museum had provided HO scaled ballast for ballasting, but the size was unsuitable.

You will notice that the ballast does not extend into the tunnel.  Something that I can correct, as I have made the rockwork above the tunnel removeable.  This is also an aid to cleaning the track, AND recovery of any rollingstock that happens to misadventure..  

An overview of progress with the scenery to date.  I thought it best to experiment with a small area first.  The dried grass is not that successful, although it can be disguised to some extent with trees. I will think about alternatives, as I would like a bit more green - particularly on the upper hill (see the picture on Part 1 of this series).  The rockwork, and ballasting are OK, and actually look better without the LED worklight washing out the scene

Next steps are to repeat this process on the rest of the layout. 

Until next time.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Bethungra Loop in "N scale" - part 3

Things have been a bit slower than I hoped on the Bethungra N scale layout rebuild, but progress has been steady.

Derailments are something that I want to avoid with good trackwork.  This unfortunate incident a few months ago in Junee.  A pair of 830 class locos had run through a stop signal, and derailed on the check point, Cause of the derailment is subject to an inquiry - rumour is that vandals had removed the wheel chocks, entered the cab, and disengaged the handbrake

Track laying continued, final wire jumpers installed, and I soon had a continuous run.  Then I cleaned the rail head.    I try and avoid using bright boy, peco track cleaning blocks or other abrasives.  These have their place, but only to remove visible corrosion.  For the most part, I use a wooden block, normally a pinewood offcut, and polish the rail head.  It does take extra time, but doesn’t introduce micro-scratching of the rail, which can give later dirt build up on the rail a convenient place to stick.
Testing in the semi-dark, with a headlight equipped loco will give an indication of where the cleaning needs to be redone, as the loco headlight will flicker at those spots.

Testing a train.
My test train was allowed to circulate around the layout.  After 4 successful laps, the test loco decided to partially derail on the approach to the bridge.  There was no obvious kink in the track at that point, but I did find the track on the curve had a slight negative camber (think superelevation, but instead of the lean to the inside of the curve, it was to the outside).  Problem possibly caused by reusing S/H track?  After a bit of adjustment, and packing the outside rail, the derailments at this point seems to have been solved.

Before track painting.

After painting, and rail top cleaning.  This is the location of the module join.  The silver sides of the rail are still slightly visible in the camera flash

Track painting
Once I was happy with the track, I spray painted the track with thinned ‘Floquil Roof Brown’.  This spray takes the shine off the sides of the rail, and dulls down the plastic look of the sleepers.  The track railhead is again cleaned, ideally less than 30 minutes after spraying - before the Floquil paint properly cures.

The Museum items
Before I start on the scenery, I wanted to test the trains from the museum.  Last week,  Bob from the Broadway Museum dropped off the locos,  carriages, powerpack and scenery items.  He also provided some other locos for me to test. 

The Atlas GP38, and NSW 45 class were  owned by the museum.  The atlas loco looked new, and had a 99 Euro price tag on the box.  The GM loco was recently donated by Peter Dinham, with thanks. 
The NSW rolling stock items, are I believe, constructed from  N-Trains kits

Two of the carriages.  These are Kato, and I think are Japanese prototype.  One of the Rapido couplers will need to be changed to Microtrains to enable them to run behind the loco 

Locos and rolling stock.
 The museum owned a NSW 45 class, and an American GP38.  Both had micro train couplers.  There were only 4 australian freight cars (again with micro train couplers), and a number of NSW look-a-like passenger cars with Rapido couplers.
The Atlas GP38 loco ran sweetly, and attaching the 4 freight wagons, hauled them up around the layout with no problems.  The NSW 45 also was a quiet and smooth, but tended to slow down, and stall a few times.  Recleaning the track didn’t fix the issue.
The passenger carriages were from Kato and Bachmann.  They ran well behind my original test loco which also had rapido couplers

A “new” loco joins the fleet.
At the Wagga Wagga model train exhibition last weekend, I mentioned the 45 class issue with Peter Dinham, a member of the Canberra Monaro N scale group.  Peter not only gave me some good advice, he also donated  a loco -  a Commonweath Railways GM class.  Peter was aware of the original “Bethungra Loop” layout in the Broadway museum, and this was his way to assist its rebuilding.  The GM was surplus to Peter’s requirements, not having been converted to DCC (and unlikely to be), it had not turned a wheel in a long time.

Servicing the 45 class.
On the workbench, I tested the loco.  Electrical power was not being picked up by one side of the leading bogie.  I was able to remove the resin shell from the lifelike chassis.  The cause of the electrical problem was that the phosphor bronze pickup to the leading bogie had been bent, and not making contact with the nib on the bogie.  After correction of the pickup, lubrication, and wheel cleaning, the 45 class now is performing superbly.  After over a dozen runs over the full track, not once has it derailed

The 45 class drifts downgrade under the now painted crossover bridge.  Scenery will enhance this scene

Servicing the GM class
Peter’s GM Class loco also had a problem.  It would run erratically,  with surges, and stalls.  Again, on the workbench, I discovered that it too had bogie electrical pickup problems.  Some adjustment of the phosphor bronze wipers, clean out of the old grease, replacement with Labelle oil, wheel cleaning, I am happy to report it is now running much better.  Testing will continue, but so far, so good

Management of the controller power cord is in the way of the future perspex front  It is possible to hole saw through the plywood to accommodate it, or perhaps position the power pack on a separate table, or underneath.  There is also the push button for visitors to start the train to consider.  

The power pack.
The H&M Clipper power pack was in its day, a very desirable unit.  It still performs well, a testament to its construction.  But, in a museum context, the power pack control is awkward.  More on this aspect in a future blog-post.

Next stage is the scenery.   Happy modelling