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.


  1. Rob, bad luck but it could have been worse. The rat could have electrocuted itself and then decompose slowly in some inaccessible location. It has happened to me several times in the past. Personally, I'd consider the conduit option, a few extra mm of plastic for the 'pesky vamits' to chew through. cheers Phil

    1. I agree Phil, running the wires through conduit would have been prudent during the inital installation. The good news is that today I found a dead rat outside the garage, and the rat bait in the ceiling was well nibbled