Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Bethungra loop - small details

Small details.
I was reminded last night by one of my Blog readers, that it has been a while since my previous Blog entry, and he was after an update. 

Google street view of the Olympic Hwy, looking south towards the Bethungra loop.  I have included this section of roadway on the layout, so things to note is the trees close to the roadway, the fence line, and the open paddocks either side

Bob, an amateur artist from the Broadway Museum has offered to paint my back scenes.   In the meantime, I added a second  white undercoat to the backboards, and then painted on the blue with a roller.  The shade I chose was Taulbmans “Diamond Blue”, in a 250ml sample pot from Bunnings.  This was not quite enough to cover the entire 4.4 metres of backboard, but the area that I was unable to paint is below the scenery level.  Ideally, the blue should fade out towards the horizon, but my attempts to do this on previous layouts have been less than successful

I use my retaining wall a lot, as it is the right height for doing painting, and cutting large sheets of plywood.   The "diamond blue" colour was rolled onto the white background.  You can see where I ran out of paint.  "Diamond Blue" is a rather subtle blue shade that is a close match to the pictures I took of the prototype.  These are below. What do you think?.

A selection of photos that could inspire the budding artist.  Photos taken close to the Google street view image at the front of this blog post. The railway is just hidden behind the first line of trees.  The heavily timbered hillsides beyond could be painted directly onto the backboards. 

Upper quadrant signal
One of the things that I remember from my train travel from Wagga to Sydney  in the 1960s, was seeing the signal on the upper level of the Bethungra spiral.  I wanted to reproduce this on the layout.  After seeing the upper quadrant signals on the N scale Gunning layout, I made some enquiries as to whether they were a kit.  I was advised that in the absence of a NSW kit, they made the decision to use Ratio parts, and the resultant signal was fragile.
 I didn’t think that fragile was something I wanted to build.
The alternative was to cobble something up from brass.  I ordered some brass Eckon N scale ladders from ebay UK.  Postage and GST made them rather expensive.  However, the ladders are a good length, and quite fine in profile.  They are slightly too large, being 2mm:foot -  an acceptable compromise.  The package arrived after a few weeks.  The Greg Edwards data sheet was my guide to height and profile, and my signal is as pictured.
 The semaphore arm is crudely cut from brass sheet.  The platform handrail is an extension of the ladder rungs, and simplified.  The platform is styrene.  Greg Edward’s relay hut design differed from the picture I took of the upper quadrant north of Junee, so with Greg’s dimensions for height, and end walls, I scratch built a small relay hut completely out of my styrene scrap bin.
More upper quadrant signals should be visible on the layout – maybe a task for the future.
A photo of an upper quadrant signal between Junee and Illabo (near Bethungra), before these signals were replaced in the early 1990s.  Apologies for the slide to digital conversion - I really need to invest in something better

My model.  The semaphore arm is a crude representation of the original, but once painted, should be OK from a distance. The post is solid brass, and the platform is plastic. The lens colours will be painted on

The relay hut - scribed 40 thou styrene makes up the boards, and whilst almost invisible, the door is just scribed into the flat end.  The roof capping is not yet added.  This took me less than 30 minutes to make

Location on the layout.  I had made some provision for this signal during the foam stage by leaving a gap, and have also left the ballasting of the sleeper ends until the signal is installed.  Of course, it will be painted before this happens.  I am not sure about the location of the relay hut in such a location - happy if I could be advised

Boom gates
As I also found no kits for an N scale  NSW boomgates, Greg Edwards data sheets was again consulted.  However I sized my model on some brass washers I had, as I didn’t want to try and cut the flashing light surrounds.  Both boom gates are cut from scrap brass and again, rather crude. 
Both the boom gates, and upper quadrant signal are non operational, and still need painting. 

One of the boom gates made from brass.  The taper on the boom was the most difficult thing about making this model

Google street view shows the boom gates just north of the Bethungra loop in 2017.  

My model of the same location.  Raw brass will need painting.  I may fit red LEDs inside the brass washers, but I will make no attempt to make them work.  The backscene is really too close to imply the road continues on, but maybe Bob can work some magic with the artist brush.

Roadway line marking
I had considered using paint, and a bow pen for the line markings, but a chance comment that pencils were used for line marking on the NSW HO Stockinbingal layout, had me heading to Office Works for suitable markers.  As I have backdated the layout with upper quadrants, I also backdated the road, with yellow safety lines, as opposed to the bland white that is currently used in Australia.  The line marking was done by ruler, and freehand – and the line spacings are probably no-where near scale. Unfortunately, the pencil I chose was actually a  pascal, and would rub off (like chalk on a blackboard).  Easy fix with dullcoat I thought, although I think there was a reaction, and the yellow line tended to spread.  The picture above shows this worse than it looks like in person, and I will most likely leave it.

Telegraph line
I was given a eight second-hand N scale poles and whilst these are not NSWGR, they will do for now.  I “weather” them by painting the shiny plastic poles with a dirty turpentine mixture, which kills the shine, and dulls them down.  The insulators are then painted white.   Unfortunately,  I will have to use the poles sparingly, as I don’t have enough

A pair of lineside telegraph poles - the one on the left as supplied, the one on the right after the dirty turps wash, and insulator paint.  I think these poles are Atlas brand.  Their bases will be removed during installation on the layout.  They have little resemblance to NSWGR poles, but most viewer of the Bethungra layout are not going to notice these things

Ballasting is a task best attacked in small segments.  So far, around 1.5 mtres of track have been ballasted

Trees, and bushes.
This is a work in progress.  I want to get the majority of the ballasting completed before adding the trees, and bushes that may get in the way of the out of scale hands doing the ballasting.  I am trying to make some wirewrapped gum trees, and I hope the results will be good enough for my next blog post

The small details take time.  At what point do I stop?  This is a decision that confronts all layout builders.  I think I will have to run fencing, but roadside signs, and farmhouses may be a step too far.  After all, my long-term aim is to work on my Wagga layout/models.

Happy modelling


  1. Rob, I have some telegraph poles, look similar to what you have, how many would you like ? I will post them to you.

    1. That is a most generous offer Jim. I have around 3 actual metres of railway that will need the poles, and if I space the poles at approx 20cm spacing (say scale 100 foot), a total of 15 needed. I am currently 7 short. Postal address PO box 114 Junee, 2663. Thank you.

    2. Rob, Ok will post Monday. Will add a few extras just in case. I believe they were approximately 66 feet apart.

  2. Rob Telegraph Poles are in the mail.

    1. Hello Jim, poles received today in the post with thanks. Unfortunately, they are HO scale. Whilst I can certainly use them on my future Wagga layout, I need to contact you, as I cannot use them as a donation to the Broadway Museum layout. Could you please email me. Thanks. Rob