Sunday 25 July 2021

Timber station platforms


Timber station platforms.

  Some prototype pictures, and a modelling experiment


Brian Wooley captured CPH7 at Tumbarumba in 1973. Whilst the platform is the focus of this blogpost, the details on the platform add much interest

Anyone modelling a NSW rural branchline, will probably need a timber platform.

For something so common, I have found very little in the modelling press.  James McInnerney did a fine review, almost a mini article of the Rail Central brand (supplied by Casula Hobbies) way back in Issue 276 AMRM (June 2009). The other resource, the Greg Edwards Data sheet B11 is quite informative.  But I do not know of any prototype article, like when they were first used.

In any case, the branchline to Tumbarumba had many of them

 Pictures of platforms

In 1980, my picture of the abandoned station, shows the length of the platform
CPH #7, at Humula in 1973. The platform is significantly longer than Tumbarumba

My 1980s picture of Borambola shows the loading bank timber platform. It is slightly higher than a station platform, but the basic design is similar.  The  G2 goods shed, and the A1 station building are in the distance.

Coreinbob station platform in 2020 has almost disappeared. Coreinbob is one of the intermediate stations that I unfortunately will not have space to model
Forest Hill platform, after the station building was removed.

Rod Smith, and his son accompanied me in August 2020 to visit a number of the remaining relics of the Tumbarumba line. Here are the remains of Umbango, which is north of Humula. Note the use of rail as the bracing support for the platform post. Another station I will be unable to model, although Umbango's station was similarly sized to Borambola

Ladysmith station after being leased by the Tumba Rail volunteers. The platform used to extend a far distance to the left hand side of this picture, truncated in the 1970s by the NSW railways, possibly to eliminate the need to repair.

This is what happens when the platform is removed, after the line was abandoned in 1984. It is Gundagai, on the Tumut branch in 1997.

Fortunately, grant money was found, and a replacement platform was built by 2000. Both these images are mine

The experiment

I was recently given an RTV rubber mould of a NSW platform.   After some advice, I thought I would try my hand at casting a platform out of plaster.

The RTV mould.
I used a disposable plastic cup to mix up the minute amount of plaster into a slurry

My casting plaster was bought when phone numbers were 7 digits long. the heavy plastic kept the contents fresh.

I pre-wet the mould with dishwasher soup, and then poored and prodded the plaster into the cavities of the mould

Before the plaster went off, I removed the excess

After allowing the casting to dry for a day, time to extract from the mould. Unfortunately, the top rail of the castings was weak, and I lost many of them. Not helped by the few air bubbles. Plus there were a number of the castings split.

White Glue will fix the broken castings (to a point).

Another batch was made - with slightly better results. 

 Of course, if you need to model a platform that is starting to decay (see Borambola above) it is OK.  There is certainly enough good bits across both castings to make a full platform, but that was not the intention.

I thought I would try to replace/repair the missing top rail, using a strip of styrene. 

To get a better comparision, constructed some platform faces with other methods

Nothing models timber better than timber?  I should have used a square when gluing the uprights, but it probably will pass muster once installed in scenery


Another platform, fully out of styrene. Yes, there is a gap. What isn't visible, but the top rail and the platform timbers have a rebate to facilitate the platform surface to be supported when added later 


The conclusion

Well, whilst the casting process is repeatable, my lack of being able to extract the casting out of the mould without damaging the casting, is frustrating.  Yes, I can add the top timber board from styrene after cleaning up the cast, and a styrene edge will take the odd knock better than straight plaster.  The plaster is also rather brittle.  Maybe a change to a resin may be superior to the plaster?

The timber model was far too fiddly to repeat.

Making the platform out of styrene has the advantage of working with just a single material.  This may be better in the long term.

And all models will need to be painted (or stained).

A bonus extra


A large scale model?  Two of Petes Hobby Railway volunteers, Phil, and Josh, constructed a platform for Pete's 2 foot gauge line, running in Junee, about 1km from where I live. It is scaled approximately 50%, to look like a NSW platform 

Pete's Hunslet loco "Torpedo" passes the under construction reduced size NSW A1 station. This is the view you will see from the public viewing area (roadside). The stationname of Loftus has a double meaning. It is where Pete lived before moving to Junee, and the original railway construction name of Junee was "Loftus".  Pete has a website. Search for "Petes Hobby Railway" with your favourite search engine 

This has been another fill-in project whilst I wait for the etches for the Wagga Wagga station.  The advantage is that I can store them flat.

Until next time.