December 14, 2014


.......Because again this year, make no mistake, if I have any skill in modelling it is only because it's a gift from Him.

Best wishes for the Christmas Season and New Year in 2015.

November 9, 2014

The yard shall not remain nameless.

Since building, I have been undecided what to call the main (primarily goods) yard on the layout. Location doesn't help as depending on the traffic passing through it it represents Melbourne Yard, outer suburban destinations, country destinations, in fact anywhere trains start or end. "The Yard" or "The Main Yard" lacked any effort, so I delved into my Melbourne time and named it Deepdene Yard. No relation at all with the prototype location other than happy days spent in the area many many years ago. The yard will have two boxes controlling each departure/approach line, and first up was Deepdene B Box. Some pictures follow as do a couple taken over recent days following near completion of the scenery in the area around this box, all except the wiring which is underway as I write.....almost. For now, a treat for the steam buffs with clear skies.

As is now tradition, details of these developments can be found on my Facebook group if you are interested further:

August 24, 2014

The second cut is actually the deepest.

Longer term readers may remember about a year ago (nothing like forward planning - I mentioned the unusual shape of the bridge foundations, and that hopefully I knew what I was doing. I had a welcome break in work recently and was able to tackle scenery across a bigger than usual section of the layout. In brief, this is a brick lined cutting recollecting that emplaced as part of the regrading on the Up side of Camberwell that, aside from its own value as a scene to run through, covers the hidden suburban stabling sidings and provides a visual barrier between the Main Yard and the running lines. As I mentioned in my last post, build details are now being discussed through my Facebook page, but here are some shots of the cutting as finished to date. The other end will be completed with scenery application at that end.

June 16, 2014

Social Media Frenzy

For 7 or 8 years I have used online capabilities to reach people in whose views I am interested, and who may be interested in my modelling, and overcome the distance from like minded modellers.  This site for example has been good for more "formal" updates however it hasn't endeared itself to 2 way discussion, with comments rather tricky to lodge. As such it has been more one-way than I would have liked - I get tired of my own voice! Similarly I have found discussions on forums sometimes a bit constrained (compared to email for example) - people seem to often treat discussion there quite carefully for reasons unknown. I have been a very late adopter of Facebook (FB) as a connection media, only starting to use it really this year for personal contact, and think it may be useful for modelling. So, I have set up a Group on FB, not to replace either this site or my participation in forums, but rather to add to it by focussing primarily on bits of the actual task of modelling (and its very many distractions....), rather than the end product as is often shown here. As importantly I hope it is a way to be able to more readily interact with other like-minded modellers. I wanted to keep the FB site as "Open" as I am no fan of the "Closed Shops" and the cliques and pretension that often seem to accompany them, not just in rail, but in any interest area. But having accidentally cc'd my non-rail friends on a day of rail chat (strangely they have other interests?), it seems making the group Closed is the best way to keep rail and non-rail matters apart unfortunately.

Here's a link to the site:

So, it does need you to join to see and contribute to it, I am sorry about that, but if you are interested further in my modelling journey whether Glenburn, Cudgewa, EBR or other etc., please just send me a request to join via FB. Your membership and inputs will be very welcome. All feedback is appreciated (unless nutty....). :^ )

June 9, 2014

A cleansing Oil.

There is no getting around it, dirty track won't enable smooth operation and can be very frustrating when rolling stock stops/starts. For Cudgewa, I didn't think about it much, lightly rubbing a track rubber (I think Faller or Fleischmann, quite a solid chunk) followed by a vacuum to pick up any rubber bits and dust afterward. I did this every month or so but found this a bit annoying as breaks in layout operation would necessitate a re-do before next running, quite a chore. Added to this was the task of replacing all the detail bits taken out by friendly fire while cleaning. When planning "Glenburn" I took the matter more seriously - the layout would be much larger and would be under wires. Cudgewa's solution wouldn't cut the mustard. So I went exploring the options and I looked at very many. Now, any modeller worth his salt will know that track cleaning prophets and solutions are like vacuum cleaner sellers, each one entirely devoted to his/her method and swearing it's better than all else. A tip - It's always a good idea to ask people who actually run trains on layouts (nb. Decent sized also, not just a couple of metre section of track), rather than the legions of online experts who perhaps last saw model railway track when they were 16 or know someone who knows someone who always did, or has a cupboard full of the latest RTR and could imagine what would work etc. etc. I looked to those who actually run model trains on good size layouts. All Aboard Modellbahn in Mittagong get the credit in my case. Dropping in one day I noted they had a several largish layouts running smoothly in regular operation. I asked and they advised nothing more complex than the Noch (one of the US brands now makes them too) axle-mounted pads with the tiniest drop of oil (I think I use Fleischmann loco lubricating oil) regularly kept things ship shape. So I bought a pack of four pads for a massive $10 that fit to the axle, and some loco oil for same amount and these are still in use 8 or so years later. There's no miracle with their use, they just take the fine layer of dust off the railhead. Regularity is the key - I run them across all track of the layout typically once a week. To access all areas, this involves shunting all stock which provides a further benefit of making sure all stock gets a test regularly. I used to just clip the pad under a heavy wagon but a couple of months ago used an old kit to make the heading photo item - functionally rich, beauty she ain't. Equipped with a weight (ex-Weico Walker roof...), Kadee at one end and three link at the other, and with nice large buffing plates to make quick shunting around a breeze, it gets pushed around by the few non-operational locos I own, heck sometimes even something blue and gold gets a turn. Takes around 20 minutes for two passes over the entire layout track acreage. Rather than a chore, this is actually Ok, not as much fun as running real operations, but very very much better than an eraser. This is pretty much all I do. Costs very little. Works. If there is a small spot causing stopping I use the eraser, I have had to do this 4-5 times in 5 years, other than that major runs over the entire layout with an eraser have been undertaken in December 2009 and March 2012 - not what one would call often. Downsides of this method? Apart from the need for regular running of the "Cleaning Train" (and it may be that a fortnightly clean would work, I've rarely had to try it), the oil on railhead does induce slightly more slipping on grade for some locomotives. With a flatish layout not such a problem, but perhaps an issue for anyone with heavy grades. But I'm not here to recommend what works for me, what I do recommend is that given how nice good running is, and how frustrating bad running is, if you are looking at a track cleaning system that works, ask someone who actually operates trains. Regularly.

May 6, 2014

Mixed Media in the Creggan

Time flies, last November I noted my start on Tay Creggan (, however shortly after I had an self-imposed break from scenic work while we sorted out whether the layout was going to move - no sense building what might be chopped in half! The decision isn't finalised yet, but it looks like it will stay put and building can continue. The time between has been well spent filling out some long wanted tasks in rolling stock but there's only so much rolling stock I can put together before I'm challenged to try something a bit broader.

To the Creggan and "Mixed Media". It's a term I couldn't help but use, particularly as it often seen in close proximity to some assemblage of feathers, a stick and perhaps a used tissue that some modern artist wants to have you believe is his/her acknowledgement of an important emotion or some such. We modellers of course pursuing a far finer art know what mixed media really is, to whit here's the compressed Tay Creggan pre-painting/finalising:

The build comprised:
- Balsa - mounting height block
- Styrene board - base
- Card - walls, porch roof and window roofing
- Paper - flashing
- Tichy Products - sectioned windows and gable detail from cut-down railing
- Etch brass - hatching at peak of gabling
- Scale wood - bargeboards
- White metal - chimneys (perhaps Kerroby?)
- PVA - gap filling
- Resin Cast - Marseilles Tiles courtesy of VMRS excellent rendition
- Styrene - gutters, detailing
- Acrylic paint - base coat
- Marker pen - base tudor lining
- Lead sinkers - weighting to retain upright

A note on the building reiterated from the earlier post, it is sited approx. 3ft away from the nearest viewing point and partially obscured, hence the coarser scale that is observable particularly in some of the detailing, as against those buildings closer to the viewing/front of the layout, and also that it has only been completed above the mid-point, below this is simply not visible. I only have so much time to model, if there is a short cut, I'm interested in it!

And here it is above following a paint/weather and adding further Media :^ )
- Woodland Scenics coarse grass
- Acrylic paint -weathering and dyeing the grass "vines"
- Dirty brown turps - weathering
- Spray paint - Dullcote

Nb. Those chimney pipes were straightened once it was in situ on the layout!

And after emplacement on the layout, per the earlier mail, the building being formed as a foil/cover for the suburban/country passenger stabling yard.

[above] As seen from typical viewing height and distance showing the look I was trying to achieve.

[above] Showing actual locational aspects.

The suburbs between Camberwell and the Yarra are not just full of small cottages/semis and houses, there are some more ritzy residences and this represents that part of the section, on the hill above the suburb of Glenburn.

April 7, 2014

Breaking the Rules, then obeying the Rules - A dose of operating reality

I marshalled the Up Suburban Goods a few days ago and it was sitting awaiting haulage back to Melbourne in the yard this afternoon. With a few minutes for some running I decided to run it back, typically a run of 9+ laps of the Glenburn circuit. Looking for motive power the Steeple had been rostered on as Yard Shunter all week, and this was typically an electric diagram. So, per prototype, I decided to assign the Parcels coach as a substitute. With a load of 11 including brake I thought this load Ok, however the Parcels coach only has a single motor so was challenged a bit on the 1 in 50 on the immediate Dn side of Glenburn station. Below it is seen coasting through the station city-bound with the Goods having surmounted this grade after some slipping.
It was this slipping that got me thinking that I had seen in the Working Timetable some specific instructions for working of suburban motors (as opposed to the Steeple and Box Cab electric locomotives). So I went to my rather small railway library and pulled out the requisite tome:
Before you say it, Yes, I know it is 10 years after my end date however it is the closest I have and is likely quite close to the same for my era, new/obsoleted rolling stock aside. And there was the requisite section:
Note 1. - 8 vehicle maximum including van. ie. This train was 3 wagons over load. So, a stop at the next yard and removal of the first three wagons (including the IG with the cast boiler load which weighs heavy). Here's a hazy shot of that, the 3 wagons stored as "Other" in the yard and will need picking up by the next appropriate goods:
And off we went, with the now correct loading of 8 wagons.
And as the now lightened consist worked around the layout I continued to flick through the rules as I was sure there was something else. Sure enough:
Two motors - 200 tons on this line, I guess one motor 100 tons (motor excluded). Oh, but that's Passenger Trains, so the 125 Ton loading for a 1 in 50 ruling grade still applies. Hmmm, wonder what my loading actually weighs in at? Time to find the requisite pages with both empty and loaded weights for calculation, for example:
So, using this, (and I am still learning how to do this so, corrections welcome if I have this wrong) my train was:
1 11 Ton U van - loaded with fruit from the foothills - 12 Tons
1 tarped "Tommy Bent" I but quite full, let's say it's wood or like under that tarp - 12 Tons
1 tarped I wagon - 11 Tons
1 loaded shandy I - 14.5 Tons
1 loaded "Tommy Bent" I full with coal (not quite sure why that's heading back to Melbourne....) - 14 Tons
1 empty O hopper - 9 Tons
1 empty IZ - 10 Tons
1 Z van - 13 Tons
Total consist weight: 95.5 Tons!

I had to stop before completing the running of this Goods but can now retake it up knowing it is right. Who would have thought? Does it matter? Why wouldn't getting loading right be any different from every other detail of the layout - scenery, rolling stock, signalling etc. etc.? For me, I have much to learn on operating matters and will not be surprised if I find out I have been making all sorts of mistakes for years - these kinds of loading considerations are a long way from being second nature for me, and frankly I need to do some more work to get better acquainted with them.

March 30, 2014

Fade to Brown

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have now completed repainting my wagon fleet. A couple of years ago (covered in, I realised I had painted my fleet in the wrong shade of red/brown. Since then all new stock has been painted in the correct shade, however this left the majority of the fleet still in the old colour. Over Christmas I worked through these wagons repainting in a variety of shades. Weathering outcomes today brings variety, and this was no different back in 1925-35 when more basic paints had a range of outcomes also.

Pictured below are the key paints and elements used:

In the above picture (from left):
1. Brushes - tape separating acrylic from enamel brushes, the twain used to meet but I have learnt they shouldn't
2. Tissue, cotton bud and toothpick - for re-decaling where this was done and the toothpick for chalk scribble
3. Humbrol Satin #166 enamel - for lightening my tarps (previously they were darker green/grey, photo evidence shows tarps in this period were generally lighter than later), diluted with turps
4. Tamiya XF19 Sky Grey acrylic - same use as above, diluted with water
5. Floquil concrete enamel - same use as above, use of three colours deliberate as tarps vary as much as paints, previous paint undercoat means even more variations
6. Tamiya XF2 Flat White - for brake squares and also chalk scribble on wagons, chalk writing of destination and like details on wagons during this period was near universal and in some cases prolific covering entire sides and ends!
7. Vallejo flat black - for buffer heads and couplings (I use it for axles also, but as this was a repaint of wagons they typically didn't need re-doing)
8. Steam Era Models Imperial decal sheet - where decals were re-applied, added or corrected (some of my early wagons had the incorrect later larger decals)
9. Testors dullcoat spray - used sometimes as a sealing coat for decals, and always as a last coat for all rolling stock
10. Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown Acrylic - see below for use
11. Humbrol Matt #160 - see below for use
12. Australian Export (SuperCheap Auto generic brand) Indian Red spraypaint - see below for use
13. Floquil Roof Brown - see below for use
The brown selection used was primarily items 10,11,12 and 13 and typically in the combinations below to bring a range of colours, with 13 (Floquil Roof Brown) always drybrushed as weathering to various degrees but typically quite heavy on the chassis. I have also included a note as to how common this paint type is in my stock to give some ides of degree of use.
1. Using (12) Australian Export (SuperCheap Auto generic brand) Indian Red spraypaint, the following results typify the outcomes:
These two wagons have the spray applied directly to Steam Era Model's dark grey plastic, bring a more weathered outcome. Variations on this are my most common outcome.
This hopper has the spray applied over the previous Floquil Zinc Chromate Red, bringing out a more freshly painted outcome. Variations on this are relatively common outcomes.
This horsebox has the spray applied over a red-brown etch primer, again bring out a less common chestnut-type of weathering for a wagon that doesn't see much dirty use and is probably a few years into its paint. This is a rarer outcome.
2. Using (10) Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown Acrylic: 
For a van that has not been repainted for many years, has been in much traffic (large percentage steam in those days remember) and is at the dark end of the outcomes. Variations on this are common outcomes.
3. Using (11) Humbrol Matt #160:
For a cattle wagon that has also not been repainted for many years, however has had less use and hence the paint has weathered to a lighter outcome. Variations on this are less common but nonetheless in some numbers for appropriate stock.
4. Using (13) Floquil Roof Brown: 
For a wagon that has not been repainted for many years and has been engaged in dirty traffic, in this case coal, hence the discoloured outcome. This is an uncommon outcome.
Three related notes:
1. There's obviously a range of weathering outcomes between these as I have tried to note, here restated for emphasis. One weathering outcome I haven't tried yet is where a wagon (eg. a W&W wagon) was parked with little use for some time where the outcome seems to have been a lighter brown-purple.
2. Cameras, screens, eyes and layout lighting make changes to colours so what is seen here may be close but is likely not exactly as these wagons actually appear
3. My choice of this colour range was based on what I view as the best evidence of colour for wagons during this era, others have different views so if embarking on a fleet during this era I recommend you look at the evidence, make a choice and (most importantly) stick to it.
All done with some relief at completion, and it has been great to get back to building new things in the months since. Trains looked different back then, and Glenburn's trains now show this:

March 23, 2014

First light

Most pictures on this site (except for some shots in the Gallery section), are taken under full layout lighting. Here's some taken early on a Sunday morning with just the natural light from outside filtering in. Basic camera means basic results, but I think most modellers with feeling in what they do will get the point.

Well away from the weekday hustle, picture a quiet Sunday morning, little breeze, somewhere distant a passing car rumbles, otherwise all is quite still.......

 Layouts are about quite a bit more than just trains.