Sunday 21 January 2024



Setbacks – Just throw money at the problem.

 Building a room for the model railway has been a long process.  And often frustrating.  However, since the work began to convert the back half of my 6 car brick garage at the middle of last year, progress has been positive.

This all changed last weekend.

QUBE QL010 awaits its next assignment at Junee in December.  Modern image, and subtle weathering

Disappearing along the line are the telegraph poles.  These had been pulled out, and dumped into a pile at Junee, in December.  At time of writing this blog, they are still there

Many years ago, I wrote a pair of Blogs on how to make lineside poles, and it would have been useful to have been able to measure them.  Record what you can, as tomorrow, it could be gone

Revisiting the wiring

Brett (my part time builder) plugged in his battery charger into a power point on the future layout power 240V circuit.  I had previously arranged that this circuit would have its own circuit breaker, so I could turn off the power when exiting the room.  Well, the circuit breaker was off – and I assumed I had turned it off.  Well, on re-energizing the circuit, Flash-Bang, the circuit breaker tripped.  Hmmm.  Brett advised that I should contact the electrician

I rang the electrician, Stewie on Monday.  To my surprise, he was between jobs, and had time to diagnose the problem

By following normal model railway diagnosis methods, you successively halve the circuit where you have a problem, and within 5 minutes Stewie discovered that on the extension to the last power point in the wall, all 3 wires (neutral, active and ground) were shorted out . As it is now near impossible to access behind the wall, Stewie used the broken wire as the draw wire to thread in a new wire. 


We then inspected the shorted out wire.


The cause of the shorting out.  

All the insulation, the white outer, and the colored inner had been stripped completely.  This is the work of a rat, rather than a mouse.  The damaged wire is around 2.5 metres down from the top of the wall, and for a rat to get to the wire, it would have needed to descend that distance through full wall insulation. Stewie told me a story about another job he had, where the new wiring in an old house was eaten in just a week.  Maybe I got off lucky.  I thanked Stewie for his assistance, and paid him immediately. 

Not the best picture, but the chewed wire above is visible in the bottom RHS of this picture.  It actually surprised me that this wire could be extracted, and new one run by simply pulling out the old wire and using it as a draw wire for the new wire.  I was thinking about the need to use an external conduit, which is still an option


Rats and me.

I had very little to do with rats after my first year biology classes at UNSW.  However, on moving to Junee,  rats became more than a byline.  Most of them are attracted by dog food up in the kennels, and they would even chew through the lids of wheelie bins where we store the food.  I have an adversion to baits, as dead rats killed by poison could in turn be eaten by eagles, or even the dogs, I set up capture traps. 

Bait the capture trap with peanut butter.  This rat from a few years ago, was kind of cute, but others caught were distinctly feral.

Multiple capture traps, and an infestation in the dog kennel shed, means meals for eagles, or foxes.  I am tolerating the foxes, as they target the rabbits

Besides the food, the little monsters will dig holes, and a few manage to get into the ceiling space of the house.   Up to now, I have not seen evidence of rat activity in the garage.  In contrast the garage is where mice are.  Not the end of the rodent problem either – there are also  dozens of rabbits – some making their home under my storage container.  Anyone with a ferret?.    

The joys of country living.....

Accessing the ceiling space above my train room may be easy for the rats, but it is not for me.  I have managed to “throw” some rodent bait to roughly where the walls are, and set up some rat-sack bait on the crawl space where there are some rat droppings.  Hopefully this will do the trick.  Some have suggested ultrasonic pest devices might also work, but I am fairly sure the yellow tongue walls are too think for that to be effective.

Train room build continues

A trip to Wagga during the week, and returning with 10 litres of paint colour matched, and 1 litre of primer undercoat.   Paint is not cheap -  $286.  At least Wattyl is made in Australia.  Interestingly, the 10 litres of white ceiling paint I got from Aldi a few weeks earlier (it was on mark down special) was also made by Wattyl, and that cost me $50.  Swings and round-abouts.


Brett assembled the kitchenette cabinets, whilst I quickly painted the walls area near the window where the cabinets will go to save awkwardness later.  The cabinets are below the bench.


I had thought the cabinets would be fitted direct to the floor, rather than on adjustable feet.  My concern is that the hot water heater may need additional bracing due to the weight of the water.  Basically, now awaiting the return of the plumber to fit the sink, and hook up the pipes.  Note the join in the cabinet benchtop

This can of silicon adhesive should have been thrown out three years ago, and it was only a suggestion from me to cut into the can that we discovered viable silicon for the benchtop join - applied with a spatula 

Then came the tricky part.  Cutting the benchtop for the L shape.  Success.  And then a small win.  Brett asked me if I had any silicon adhesive, and I did.  Despite being 3 years old, and leftover from a caravan roof leak repair, there was enough silicon still viable within the tube, after cutting into the tube.  And being black, the colour was perfect.

Bunnings however did not supply the correct width cabinet doors, and no drawer support hardware.  Not good enough when they charge me over $90 delivery.  This is the third delivery that has had wrong items delivered


Still, with the cabinets in place, the plumbing work can recommence

Display wall.

With the new paint, I was able to finish my display wall.   I needed no excuse to start putting my display up.  The yellow tongue wall makes adding these heavy plates quite easy

2 coats of paint on the display wall.  Junk on the floor

A porcelin "High Voltage" sign seemed appropriate next to the circuit breaker board

A start is made

More plates added.  Adding these plates (some of them are quite heavy) to the yellow tongue wall is simply just by screws.  It is one reason why I chose yellow tongue


I have been collecting these plates for close on 40 years, so it is great to finally have them on display.  The train room, whilst not finished, is starting to develop its own character.  There are more plates and other hardware to be added as time permits.  Until then, I have the task of finishing painting of the rest of the walls   

NMRA Meeting at Mal's place

Brett was unable to come on Saturday (Jan 20th) , so I took the opportunity to travel to Canberra for the monthly NMRA AR Region Div2 meeting   After the normal banter, show-n-tell and afternoon tea, we all headed downstairs to see how Mal’s new layout was progressing.

Mal's layout trackplan (not showing the staging yards).  The general size of the room is a three car garage.  N scale allows for 2 peninsulars, which will give a good length run.  Mal is basing his line on Burlington Northern through Montana. 

Staging yards are 43cm below the mainline tracks.  These staging yards extend on 3 sides of the room, and the storage tracks are extremely long.  Mal loves long trains

Bridges always add an element of drama to trains running

Site of future turntable

Yet to be built is the complex helix benchwork to allow connection to the staging yard trackage

Use of brackets supports the main line deck, and gives good access to the wide staging yard.  Mal has not yet added the tortoise motors, or the extensive electrical wizardary to the staging yards, that will allow trains to be accessed simply.  So these staging yards are not yet fixed in place. 


It is always good to see what others are doing, and gain ideas.  I like the idea that the staging yard boards can be extracted for fitting the tortoise switch motors, and electronics, and I may try something like for the staging yards below my Bomen station


A thought

Why do we use the term ‘Rats Nest’ for a jumbled up wiring mess?  And something that is ‘R S’  (short for ”Rat S**t”) is broken?   


Until next time.

Sunday 7 January 2024

Watching Paint dry

Some updates.

When I start a new project,  I have a lot of enthusiasm.  Work commences, and progress is steady for a time.  Then, either a problem arises, some unavoidable delay happens, or I get distracted.  I am sure this is not a common situation with many.   This post documents a couple of my recent experiences.

Fresh out of the paint shop, SSR's new livery on ex VR C506 and C507 is stunning in the Junee sunshine last December

 Finding a train room - progress is like watching paint dry.

On the inside of the Train room, Brett my builder mate fitted some timber mouldings to the corners, and the ceiling.  These cover up the gaps that were left after the walls, and ceiling was installed.

My main tasks

1) Paint the ceilings with the ceiling white.  Two coats of paint, and 50 square metres each coat.  and

2) fill the gaps between the yellow tongue boards with "no more gaps" and fill in the numerous nail holes

Last Saturday,  Brett was able to attend for the first time in 4 weeks, and he fitted the framing for both windows, and 2 out of the 3 doorways.  

Front entrance door framing

Front Entrance door from inside the train room.  We had to move the light switch about one cm across, to allow the framing.  This was our mistake initially, we bored the hole for the wires too close to the door.  Yes, the door will need to be painted too.  

Side door to the main garage

Window over the future kitchenette bench

Window to the north.  Both windows were earlier fitted with security mesh around 5 years ago, to keep the insects (et-al) out.  

My next step is to paint the walls.  I had some leftover wall paint from my workroom.  It is a light grey, with just a tinge of blue.  The paint was previously mixed for me by Brett's late father, Garry.  It seemed appropriate to me to also honour Garry's painting skill by using the same colour, which to my eyes appears to be ideal for the train room too.  However, there is a wrinkle.   Garry just used some tints he had lying around, and mixed these into the interior white paint.  So, I am going to have to get the paint colour matched.

Fortunately, the paint Garry mixed 6 years ago was still viable, and as an experiment, I painted some on the wall.

Masking the cornice prior to painting the wall

Brush paint for the edge of the cornice, and then roller for the rest.  I didn't paint the full wall, as I don't have enough paint

Remove the masking.  The pictures do not quite show up the grey as well as in real life, but I was happy with my small test.  

Brett has advised me which paint company in Wagga for mixing up the colour.  I need to paint 80 square metres of wall, and 2 coats preferable.   I am also needing paint for undercoating the customwood used in the framing.

The next work on the room (besides my painting) will be the assembly of the Kitchenette cabinets.  

The Xmas project.

For distraction, I decided to restore a brass NSW79 class, that I bought on ebay for $100 buy-it-now.  

The NSW 79 class is a modified GE 44 tonner, and was the first diesel loco in NSW.  Used at the St Mary's ammunition depot in the 2nd world war, and the numbers were those used by the US Army.  Google for a full history.

The model dates from the mid 1970s.  Peter Duckett, then the owner of Model Dockyard, contacted Westside Models who were producing a GE 44 tonner for the USA market.  Peter had a number made for his shop. with NSWGR features, basically the cab, and buffers were different from the standard 44.  The mechanism was the same for both models

The ebay seller showed pictures of the model, and good photos of the mechanism, which was missing quite a bit of hardware, including screws,. There was also an unidentified DCC chip.   I am a sucker for acquiring basketcase models.   Restoring them is often be a challenge, and I get a great sense of satisfaction seeing them restored. 

My own pictures of the model were better than the ebay seller's picture.  But it is obvious that the paint is poor, and will need to be removed

The mechanism, after I had removed the DCC wires.  What I hadn't picked up in the sellers pictures was that the bogies had been fitted with additional wheel pickups

The DCC installation was expertly done.  There was directional SMD leds for the headlights, and the extra pickups were excellent.  How the model ended up in bits, and badly painted is a mystery. 

Ace up my sleeve.

Many years ago, I purchased another 79 class, so I had a model to inspect and compare bits 

I painted this model over 30 years ago - not accurate colours.  I still haven't fitted glazing either

My original 79 class mechanism

The to be restored mechanism, after I had made an insulated bushing for the bogie under the motor, and located a screw  Big missing part is the universal cup on the motor

Original and fabricated universal shaft for the link between the bogies

I made up a crude "ball" for the universal by using low melt 144C solder. This stopped a lot of "chattering" when the mechanism was running.  This could be an original idea of mine. 

The link from the motor to the gear tower was a combination of NWSL cup, shaft, and neoprene tube.  

Not going to win any awards for slow speed running, but it does run as seen in this short video

A lot of the speed issues could be solved with a can motor.  Maybe an option for the future?

The body attachment screws were missing.  I found some functional modern replacements in my stash of useful parts

Once the body paint was stripped with commercial paint stripper, I resoldered the 3 broken handrail posts

Now comes the painting disaster.  My intention was to paint the body in self-etch black.  After a clean, and dry, I pickled the body in vinegar.  Washed and dried again, the model was ready for paint.

I found my self etch black tin, but the tin containing the recommeded thinners, was empty.  I am sure there was thinners there when I last used the self etch (3 years ago), but no problems, I would use lacquer thinner.  The paint mixed fine.  However, part way through the spraying process, the air brush clogged up, and try as I might, I was unable to get it to restart.  So the loco painting was not completed properly, and the coverage is rather thin and patchy.

A bit of dust has managed to get onto the model after the unsuccessful painting.  Should clean off with water OK.  The brass is showing in parts

Not sure if I will simply now overcoat the paint with a semi-gloss black (for the decals), or strip and restart the painting. 

And I still haven't identified the DCC chip, or confirmed it is working, and didn't die as being the reason the loco was in bits. 

 It is at this point where the project gets put aside......

Kitten Kapers.

Mystique, or Misty - now almost 3 months old

I have another keyboard cat.  Misty was one of the four feral kittens we located in November near our unused swimming pool.  Then about 4 weeks old.  We found homes for 3 of them before Xmas, but Misty is still with us, and has been sitting right beside my laptop whilst I am typing this. Misty is another time waster reason why things don't happen as quickly as they could.  She and Trouble (kitten from 2 years ago - found in the same place near the swimming pool) are both hassling me on the keyboard.  Sisters - same mother cat?

No, I haven't forgotten the Station Master Residence.  It also is up to the painting stage.  Perhaps it has been a victim of my being distracted.

My blog pages have now passed 100,000 views.  Who would have thought?  Thank you all

Until next time