Friday, 11 November 2011

Pretty pictures...

Was playing around with the camera recently and took these shots...
This shows my Classic brass 3324 drifting through the station after her recent 'tone up' to the weathering. Originally painted in the mid-1980s, the paint had become a little 'tired' and faded over the years (there is a 'before' picture in an earlier post) so I gave her a touch up. After a good wash (being very careful not to get the DCC chip and speaker in the tender wet!) I touched up the areas where the paint had worn off the brass with a spray of SEM self-etch black, let down with a little SEM grey. When that had dried  I reweathered the loco with Tamiya and Badger acrylics, diluted in Isocol alcohol.

Here is another shot of her, which also includes part of a recently 'backdated' On Track Models LLV. The backdating consisted of moving the outer lamp irons to the high position they occupied before the late 1970s, plus adding the end handrails removed when the lamp irons were lowered. Buffers and AR Kits 'Andrews' bogies have also been added.

Here is close up view of the LLV.
It was weathered by 'washing' a little dilute in Isocol alochol Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown into the wheel discs, the bogie springs, the door hinges and the door catches. Then a light spray of very dilute in Isocol Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth all over to give that typical 'dusty' look. 
I've also managed to finish off the 53 class, it has had the paint damage (mostly!) touched up, glass fitted to the headlight, a rolled up canvas weathershield added behind the cab and a new fireman recruited.

Well, I thought it was finished until I read Ray Pilgrim's recent post on the easy way to add a 'chuff' cam...

Last, but not least, a 'what used to be', or perhaps a 'what will be again', once I get a DCC chip fitted.
My dear old Trax brass 1248 standing at the station with a typical 1950s branchline passenger train, two 'dogboxes' and a van. This scene may soon be able to be recreated again, now that Ian Phemister has shown me the way to get a Tsunami into the 'small engines'... 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Found on Youtube...

A link was posted in one of the Facebook groups to which I belong to this fantastic 'from the cab' video of a trip from Acacia Ridge to Taree in the NSW North Coast line.
There is quite a lot of stuff on Youtube that is entertaining, but this video is also very useful to anyone attempting to model the NSW North coast line, particularly in the modern era. Thanks to 'v6hilux' for putting it up.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

To good not to share...

Mike McCormac came over a couple of days ago with an (almost ;o) completed sample of one of the variations of his HO scale NSWGR LFX 'dogbox' kits for photographing for the 'Recent Releases' section of the December issue of AMRM.

It really is a mouthwateringly good model and I could not resist posting one of the photos that didn't get used in AMRM!
This is one of the first batch of high elliptical roofed cars which were fitted with the 'old' type underframe and short wheelbase bogies. Later batches had a redesigned underframe with longer wheelbase bogies in an attempt to improve the ride. Click on the image to see a much bigger image to truely appreciate the detail, which includes compartment interiors.

Models don't come much better than this!

Monday, 17 October 2011

She's baaacckkk...

After some 15 years 'out of service' with a crook chassis, 5303 re-entered service on Lambing Flat this evening, after I finished fitting a Tsunami DCC chip. She runs like a dream, thanks to the excellent chassis constructed for me by Hollywood Foundry.

Here she is entering the loop with a wheat train.

A closer look at the Wampu tender and the cab detail.
I still have a few things to repair and refit (like employing another fireman, her old fireman appears to left the service sometime in the last 15 years!), plus a little 'touching up' to the paint and weathering. However, Lambing Flat is once more host to a 53 class Standard Goods, a very appropriate locomotive type for the setting.

Btw, you can click on the images to see it at a much larger size.

Friday, 7 October 2011

The (almost) return of 5303

Some months ago I finally got tired of having my favourite locomotive not working, (see previous post (5303, a frail favourite... ) and sent it off the Geoff Baxter at Hollywood Foundry for a new chassis. His custom mechanisms have a justifiable reputation for excellence, and though he doesn't normally do steam locomotives, he made an exception in this case!

This morning a very welcome package arrived and as soon as I finished work for the day I fitted the new chassis to 5303.

This is the magnificently designed and built chassis that arrived in the mail. It runs very smoothly and I am looking forward to having the loco back in service.
(Photo by Geoff Baxter)

She is running under DC control, but there are a few things that need attention before she will be back in service, such as fitting a DCC sound chip and speaker, repairing the cosmetic damage that has occurred during her long period out of service and painting the chassis and 'touching up' the rest of the loco.

Hopefully it won't be too long before a 53 class Standard Goods is once more treading the rails at Lambing Flat.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Progress on the Rurr Valley

Progress on the Rurr Valley continues.

Not only have I been clearing the layout and making it trafficable again, I have also revived a locomotive construction project that has sat on the workbench, untouched, since late 2005. Here is a photo of showing progress to date on RVR (new) No.2.
It is a 'near enough' model based on the three Baldwin-built 0-6-0T locomotives used by the Mt Lyell Railway for shunting and local work. A photo of the prototype loco appears below.
Mt Lyell No.5 poses at the works some time in the early years of the 20th century.

This is my second attempt at a 'near enough' model based on these locos. The earlier was the first No.2, based on a Bachmann 'Lyn' 2-4-2T.

I was quite happy with the appearance of the loco, but its chassis and motor design was not up to the rigors of running smoothly on the RVR's 'hill', it would 'hunt' alarmingly coming down the hill, due to the 'slop' in the drivetrain. I purchased the LGB 0-6-2T shown below with the idea of combining the cab and boiler of (old) No.2 with the 0-6-0 chassis of the LGB loco, which would give me closer version of the 'inspiration' loco, which would also be a much better runner with a high quality LGB chassis.
Most of the basic construction is now complete and now I just have to finish off the detailling, paint it and install the radio and sound gear recovered from the old loco and I will have another 'useful' engine for the line.

I have also completed 'stage 1' of clearing the line. Trains can now run between Possum Point and Devlins, at the top of the old zig zag. (Stage 2 will have to wait till I rebuild the flood damaged bridges.)

This photo, a quick 'snap' taken with my mobile phone back on 19 August 2011, before I started the clearing described in the previous posts, shows the results of a year's neglect (and the five years of abandonment previous to last year's revival attempt).
Compare this photo with the last image, the 'tunnel' can be just made out at bottom right and the site of Devlins is middle left.

The shot below was taken at the completion of work on the evening of 22 September and show the site of Possum Point station.

The next image shows the entire 'zig zag' area of the line cleared and trafficable on the evening of Friday 24 September. I snapped it with my mobile just at dusk and it shows No.1 shunting at Devlins, about to head down the hill to Possum Point in the background with a works train. I'll replace the rotted away culverts and reballast the entire section before I move on to 'stage 2', which is behind the photographer.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Another day workin' on the railway...

Got in an hour or so of track clearance on the garden railway this evening. The line is now open from Devlins all the way down the hill to Bottom Points. The track is in remarkably good condition, considering the neglect the railway has suffered over the last six years. Not so the timber culvert about one third of the way up the middle road, it has disappeared completely! The wood has rotted away and will need to be replaced, but it is cosmetic only, the track is strong enough to span the gap so I can still run trains. (It does serve to allow water to drain under the railway, so it is cosmetic only in the sense that it doesn't support the track!)

When it had got too dark to work I spent a couple of minutes running No.1 and a few wagons up and down the hill. No.1 is running beautifully after her 'overhaul' last week. The old battery pack had deteriorated to the extent that I was lucky to get one trip up the hill out of her, but the new one is very strong, she is still running on the charge she got last weekend!

It was too dark to photograph, so I have used a photo I took at Bottom Points last year to illustrate what the location looks like now.
No.1 and a works train at Bottom Points on 4 July 2010 during last year's attempt to get the RVR operational again.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Rurr Valley revival - take 2.

Last year I got about half the garden railway operational again after five years of neglect and three floods that damaged the two large bridges, cutting the main line to Underpool. Unfortunately, I did not do any further work between last October and a couple of days ago, for various reasons. However, the dispatch of the October issue of AMRM to the printer at the end of August (and the end of the soccer season!) gave me a little time for modelling. The first thing I did was to get No.1 running again, in order to review a MyLocoSound large scale sound chip (you can read the review in the December issue of AMRM). No.1 needed a new battery pack and speaker, and once I had done that and fitted and tested the new sound card, I decided it was about time I had some railway to run it on!

I started at the top station last week and cleared a short section, but didn't get another chance to get down in the garden till yesterday.
No.1 and the ballast wagon are standing on the section I cleared last week. The other side of the level crossing shows the results of a year's neglect. That is what the rest of the railway looks like!

Half an hour later and the line was clear through the station. There is a lot of 'scouring' of the ballast, so when I get the entire line clear there will be a lot of reballasting!

 No.1 stands at the Devlins platform.

An hour's work saw the track cleared down to through the cutting to the site where 'Top Points' were back in the days of the zig-zag, which is about a third of the way down the hill to Possum Point. Hopefully, trains will be running between Devlins and Possum point before long, but I will have to build two new bridges before trains can run to Underpool again.

Friday, 9 September 2011

The Clever Things You Find on the Internet...

Was reading the Australian_N_Scale Yahoo group when 'Mark' made a post regarding downloadable containers. Now Lambing Flat has no need of containers, and never will have, but I'm a curious sort of fellow, so I went and had a look. What I found was a German language site aimed at ship modellers, but with a page of downloadable containers in various scales (including HO and N scale) to print out on a card, cut out and assemble. Having a couple of pieces of card handy, I printed a couple out and assembled them, which took about five minutes.

They would look pretty effective as 'background' at a container depot and would be a lot cheaper than buying scores of injection moulded containers. They could even be used on wagons, if one was so inclined.

These, (and many others) can be downloaded at: (then go to the 'Download/English' page.

Amazing what is available on the net these days...

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

From the vaults-5: Fruit trains.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything, and with the October issue of AMRM rapidly approaching its print deadline, I doubt I'll be posting anything else for the next month, so here is another 'from the vaults'.
This, taken on 24 December 2005 in pre-DCC days, shows my weathered Trainorama 4429 arriving from Cowra with a Darling Harbour bound fruit train, with a couple of stock wagons, heading for Flemington, attached to build up the load. Once the fruit train has cleared, the goods, headed by 5262, will get the staff for the short section to the junction between the lines from Cowra and Demondrille and proceed towards Demondrille. On Lambing Flat the junction arrangements reflect that found at Binnaway, on the cross-country line from Werris Creek to Dubbo, rather than the 'straight through' arrangements found at Young on the prototype NSWGR. This was done to make the operation of Lambing Flat, which is quite a small layout, more interesting, as every 'through' train has to be reversed.
Back on the model, once the Standard Goods has departed, 4429 will run round its train, attach any loading originating in Lambing Flat and then proceed towards Demondrille, once 5262 has cleared the section to Wombat. Up to the late 1960s, fruit was an important traffic on the railways around Young (where I grew up and the inspiration for Lambing Flat). It was so important that the local radio station 2LF, during the fruit season, would announce the time that the fruit truck arrived at Darling Harbour as part of the morning news!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Bowen Creek at the Thornleigh exhibition.

Andrew Campbell and Ian Millard's Bowen Creek was exhibited at the Thornleigh exhibition over the June long weekend. It looks fantastic and runs very well. I photographed it on Friday evening for a future article for AMRM. Here is one of the images.

On Sunday I also took some video with my old digital camera (it is much better for video than my 'work' camera). It's up on Youtube already!

It is a wonderful layout, it captures that '1970s' look to perfection, and it is well worth a long look!

Friday, 10 June 2011

From the vaults-4: Diesel era on Lambing Flat.

I've always tried to keep a consistent era on Lambing Flat, though I haven't always succeeded! Ostensibly, the layout is set in the mid-1950s, but with my excursions into pre-WW2 models and the fabulous r-t-r early diesel era models that have come onto the market over the last couple of years, LF's timeframe has 'stretched' a little.

However, while rollingstock can be taken on and off the layout to suit a particular timeframe, the fixed infrastructure can't, and so it is the buildings and other infrastructure that really sets the timeframe of a layout, rather than the rollingstock. Luckily for my preferred eras, NSWGR branchline infrastructure didn't change all that much from the early years of the 20th century till the mid-1970s, so I can 'stretch' my timeframe a little without having to call in the Detail Police and arrest myself!

About the latest I can go with levels of traffic I prefer to run is about 1974, when the 'fuel crisis' of the time gave the Department an excuse to cut most branchline passenger services. Once the passenger services went, the rot really set in, with the beginning of wholesale demolition of buildings and progressive reduction in services till, by the late 1980s, just about everything had gone; freight, stock and all, with the only thing left on most branchlines being bulk wheat. Even that went in most places eventually, leaving very little of the former extensive NSW branchline network intact by the 2000s.

So here is another photo 'from the vaults' (this one was taken on 30 December 2005, before the layout went DCC), showing Trainorama 4429 arriving at Lambing Flat, circa 1970-72, with the remnants of the Mail. (Click through for a bigger view.)
The train, as was typical of the period, has an MLV (Rails North epoxy kit) for parcels, and FS and BS (modified Trax) for the sitting passengers, then an EHO (see EHO1473, or is it 1469? earlier in this blog) for the guard and more parcels, then an ACM (Rails North epoxy kit) for the few remaining sleeping car passengers, with a CR (Workshop 5 epoxy kit) bringing up the rear with the through passengers to Murringo (the car will be detached and added to the Murringo Mixed after the 44 class has run around. The 48 class hauled Murringo Mixed will then enter the platform once the Mail has departed for Cowra). The yard is very quiet, a few S trucks at the goods shed in No.1 siding, while a K truck is being loaded with wool in the back road. The old D truck, of no use now that there is no steam locomotive ash to distribute as ballast along the pioneer line to Murringo, will soon disappear from the scene, probably sent to Junee to be burnt.

This was the how things looked at the very end of the NSWGR era. With the advent of the PTC and then the SRA, the passenger service will be cut back severely, then replaced with a road coach, the general goods and stock traffic will be abandoned and all that will be left will be bulk wheat and the occasional enthusiast tour... 

Monday, 6 June 2011

The 'work' camera has been repaired...

The post below on the 'fun and games' that happened on the way to the Hobson's Bay exhibition came about due to my damaging my 'work' camera (the one I use to take photographs for AMRM). For the News section of the June and the Gallery and News sections of the August issue, which I am working on now, I had to revert to my 'old' camera. Luckily it was a pretty good camera and the images are still of acceptable quality (though I can tell the difference!), but with extremely good timing (the Thornleigh exhibition is next weekend), the 'work' camera arrived back from the repairer on Saturday.

Of course, I had to check it and re-set it to my preferred settings for model photography, plus the settings had to be checked. Ideally, the 'test' shots would have been of something I had recently photographed with the 'old' camera, so as to get a direct comparison. The logical model to use would have been 5303, which appears in a recent post, but 5303 is still at 'Geoff's Hospital' in Victoria, so I grabbed the next best thing...
This is my Mansfield brass model of 5184, as she appeared while allocated to Lithgow during the late 1950s - early 1960s. The locomotive has been given some extra detail (headlight glass and crew) as well as a front coupler. The tender is not the one that came with the loco (that tender is currently behind 5262), it is, in fact, a superdetailled FSM whitemetal kit, dating from the late 1970s. Older modellers may remember the FSM range of whitemetal kits, they were 'state of the art' in the late '70s and could be made up into quite a nice model, as can be seen from the tender above and 5303, further down the page. The range consisted of the 53 and 55 Standard Goods locos, 24 and 25 class Moguls and a 35 class 4-6-0. I have a 55 class kit tucked away, and had a 24 class running for a while in the early 1980s (it has been sitting in the showcase for about 20 years, about 75% of the way through an 'overhaul'). I wonder how many of them are still running...

Anyway, getting back to the subject of this post, it appears that the 'work' camera has been restored to full health!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Prototype File - NSWGR FS/BS cars

The release of the Austrains NSWGR FS/BS corridor cars has been welcomed by many modellers, but for those who would like to add a little extra detail or weathering, it’s not as easy as it once was to get suitable prototype photos to aid that endeavour.

Delving into my photo collection in response to an enquiry from Ian Phemister, I dug up the following photos I took in Sydney yard in 1985 (in those days I was an SRA guard, so getting photos like these was not much of a problem!)
A Tuscan red BS in Sydney yard in 1985. Even at this late stage this BS still had the lampirons in the high position (the railways had started lowering lampirons in the 1970s, to make it safer for staff to attach the lamps). The Austrains model has them in the lower position, correct only for some cars from the mid-1970s on, but as Ian shows in his blog, it is quite easy to reposition them. The 'candy' FS to the right has the lampirons in the lower position and, as a consequence, the end handrail moved to the side of the vehicle.

The same BS, showing various details, including the lining on the doors (missing from the Austrains model). Even at this late stage, carriage sides were faded, but not filthy, as they were regularly washed. The photo has faded a little (and was originally shot in the middle of the day) but it can be seen that the lining colour was buff, a creamy yellow, not the virulent chrome yellow one sees on far too many models! 

The interior of an FS compartment. The interior timberwork was varnished, over the light coloured timber fashionable in the 1930s when the cars were originally built. Second class seat cushions were a dark maroony colour. The floors were covered by a light brown Linoleum.

The interior of an BS first class compartment. On some cars, the lower panels below the windows had been replaced with new timber, painted cream with brown trim. The first class seat cushions were a dark green colour.

The corridor of a BS.

I trust these prototype photos will be of use to those who may wish to further detail their Austrains FS/BS cars, or even the old Trax/Powerline versions.
Ian has already done some work on his FS/BS cars, the results can be seen on his 'Muswellbrook and Merriwa Railway' blog. It still amazes me how much good weathering improves a model!
Until mine turn up, I'll just have to make do with a couple I prepared earlier...
Back in the early '90s I detailled a couple of Trax S cars for Lambing Flat. This is the FS finished in post 1954 Indian red with buff lining. The Trax/Powerline models were pretty basic, so a lot of extra detail went into them.
This is the BS first class car. They have both given many years of service to the passengers using the cross-country line through LF, and are much preferred by the HO people to the rough old 'dogbox' carriages that make up most of the trains on the line!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

5303, a frail favourite...

I think we all have locomotives that we are very fond of, but which, for various reasons, don't quite 'measure up' when it comes to running smoothly and reliably. My best example is this model of 5303...
A model of a NSWGR Standard Goods locomotive, 5303 is the only kit-built locomotive I have ever got around to finishing (my main focus is rolling stock, operation and the overall 'look' of the railway). I am quite happy to use modified and weathered r-t-r locomotives (brass, back when I 'got serious' in the 1980s and plastic r-t-r now). However, I have acquired a couple of kits along the way, but this loco, which started as an FSM whitemetal kit that I originally purchased in the 1970s, is the only one that had actually entered service on Lambing Flat. I originally constructed it in 1992/93 and it ran (sort of) till around 1995, when it finally gave up the ghost and refused to move (its last faltering steps were accidentally captured on video by Bruce Norton, who was visiting at the time!) While it looks quite nice (I had added quite a lot of extra detail, and altered it to represent one of the 'drumhead' smokebox locomotives with 'standard' boilers, as most of them appeared in the 1940s, during the transition between the original tapered boilers and the more familiar 'built up' smokeboxes of the 1950s/60s), it never ran satisfactorily, thanks to its rather 'agricultural' design of chassis and rather indifferent assembly of same by yours truly! (I've never been brilliant at mechanical things!)

It's another if my models that have languished in the showcase for the last 15 years or so, as my couple of attempts to get it running again have been abject failures. I would rather like to get it operational again, as it is the only 53 class I have completed (I missed out on the Classic brass 53, I haven't yet built my '40th Birthday' DJH 53 and the long promised Traino 53 appears to be a few years away still!) and the 53 class were the mainstay of the Blaney-Demondrille line from which Lambing Flat takes its inspiration. So, taking a leaf from the 'real railways' book when a recalcitrant locomotive proved impossible to repair locally, it has been sent away to 'workshops' for specialist repairs (Geoff's 'Hollywood Hospital'!) The current turn-around is quoted as around two months, so I will just have to wait! (I've already waited 15 years; I think I can wait a little longer!)

In the meantime, I'll just have to admire the photos I took of her before despatch and dream of once more seeing and hearing the clank of a 53 class trundling along on Lambing Flat!

Friday, 6 May 2011

From the vaults-3: Lambing Flat under construction 1985

I have gone even further back with this shot!
This photo (scanned from a print) was taken in early 1985 and shows the second module under construction. The first module (the mill section) was completed in time to be shown at the 1984 Modelling the Railways of NSW convention at the old Rockdale clubrooms of the Australian Model Railway Association (the last one to be held there). I am pleased to remember that the mill module caused quite a stir when it was shown for the first time!

By the time this photo was taken construction of the second module was well under way and I set this scene up for a bit of fun. The module itself was constructed from plywood and the scenery was pretty much finished before I started tracklaying. The handlaid code 55 points were constructed 'on the workbench' as a unit and then transferred to the layout. When the position of the points was finalised the plain track was constructed to link them. I hadn't finalised the trackplan when this photo was taken and the station arrangement subsequently constructed was slightly different to this original idea. The layout was originally located in the sunroom of my tiny two-bedroom semi in inner-suburban Burwood (Sydney). When my first child came along in 1991 it was moved upstairs into the newly converted loft space, where it resided untill we moved in 1999. Both my children could climb the loft ladder before they learnt to walk!

The train in the background was modelled on full-size construction trains seen in old photos. The MLE flat wagon conveyed rail, the S and K trucks carried sleepers and other stores, while the construction engine, Trax brass 1248, has a water gin attached, to allow it more time in the section. The van also conveyed the workers to the worksite.

Locomotive 1248 is another that has not yet been fitted with a DCC chip and so is not currently in use.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

From the vaults-2: 5184 in 1992

Had another rummage in the 'vaults' and turned up this scan of a print I took in the backyard (natural light) at Lambing Flat's original location at Burwood. In those days, before I had decent lights (and learnt how to use them) I would take sections of the layout out into the backyard and photograph various scenes in natural light.
This scene shows Standard Goods 5184 crossing a trestle bridge on the newly built 'north curve' section in late 1992. The section of the layout was constructed to connect the turntable end of the layout to the 'Cowra' fiddle yard when the layout moved upstairs to the loft at my old place in Burwood. This section is no longer part of the layout, mainly as the 2ft (600mm) curve needed to fit the layout into the loft was just a little tight for some of the rolling stock. I was quite pleased with the way the scenery turned out however, so I may incorporate it in the current version of the layout 'one of these days'.

Steam locomotive 5184 is a Mansfield brass model to which I had attached a kit-built FSM whitemetal Turret tender. It is not currently in service on Lambing Flat as it doesn't yet have a DCC chip. It may reappear soon, as I have a Tsunami 'earmarked' for it, but haven't yet got around to fitting it.

The trestle was scratchbuilt in timber to NSWGR standard drawings.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

From the vaults-1: 3610 in pre-DCC and pre-decent camera days!

Sent the June issue of AMRM to the printer today, so too exhausted to do anything other than put up these old photos of my converted Austrains 36 class! Found them while rummaging around in the old files for something else. They were taken after I got my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot A300, and were part of a series I took while experimenting with the colour balance features. I had just finished weathering my modified Austrains 3610 and was rather proud of it! These photos were taken back on 7 October 2005, before I joined AMRM and before the layout went DCC.
I quite like the composition and colour balance, even if it isn't as sharp as the photos I can take these days with the much better camera I now have at my disposal. Click on the image if you would like to see it full-size.

Here is another shot from the same session.
Somehow the 'softer' focus seems to add to the realism...

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fun and games on the way to Hobson's Bay...

I'm off to the Hobson's Bay exhibition in Melbourne over the Easter weekend. I go down every year, as it is a very good exhibition for getting content, especially new model releases, for AMRM. I usually score a Gallery as well, and occasionally a layout feature or other article, so it is AMRM money well spent!

This year's exhibition is not too well timed from my point of view though, as it is right at the end of the magazine's 'cycle' (normally we would be going to press on Friday) and we could only extend the deadline for a week, otherwise the on-time delivery of the mag would be affected. That means that I am going to be very busy next Tuesday and Wednesday (we 'assemble' on Thursday, do the final proofreading on Thursday night, then it all goes to the printer on Friday), trying to get as much content for the News section processed as possible - there is going to have to be some 'prioritisation', I'm afraid!

So, of course, with everything so tight for time, something else was bound to go wrong...

Between taking the photos of Greg Hunter's layout (see post of 5 April) and setting up to take some 'news' photos on 12 April, I somehow managed to seriously scratch the lens of my lovely Panasonic 'work' camera! It appears that it can be repaired (for a price...), but in the meantime, with Hobson's Bay coming up, what was I going to do for photographs!

Luckily my old Fuji camera, which I used for magazine photos between 2006 and 2008, was still upstairs somewhere, relegated to use as the 'family' camera. It doesn't produce pictures that are quite as good as the images produced by the more modern Panasonic, but beggars can't be choosers...

I wonder if it still works...

Luckily it did, once I had charged up the batteries, and I then had to give myself a 'refresher'. While doing so I had to take a few 'test' images, and what better to photograph than my workbench!
Here is the 'Lambing Flat' workshops in all its messy glory! There is the usual clutter of tools and other bits and pieces, but there is one thing that I find particularly useful... so useful that it hasn't been changed or replaced since I built it back in the late 1970s. I refer to my 'test track', which is simply a piece of 2" x 1" timber with a section of Peco code 100 track stuck to it and a Kadee height gauge on one end. That simple 'tool' serves many purposes, beyond the obvious of checking Kadee heights and ensuring models actually roll! It is where I keep the models I am actually working on, I can attach a 12v power supply with alligator clips to test locomotives and it is also a very useful painting stand, as can be seen from the 30 years of paint build up!

While I was doing my 'refresher' I also photographed the chest of drawers that I use for material storage on the other side of the room...
This structure has also been around for a very long time. The three drawers hold most of my supplies of building material and unbuilt kits, while the 'cover' once served as layout support for Lambing Flat back in its original location back in the Burwood days. Where the shoebox and Dremel box are now once served as the Lambing Flat fiddleyard. There were two aluminium runners running fore and aft on top of the chest of drawers, on which one of my plywood-built model boxes used to rest. It could be pulled in and out for access like a drawer. In those days the flour mill section of Lambing  Flat used to rest on top of the cover, where the buildings are now, and a train would be set up on the mainline, using models from the sliding box, run into the station, do its shunting, then run out again and be returned to the box. This arrangement was adopted because there wasn't enough space for a conventional fiddleyard where Lambing Flat was originally erected in my tiny two-bedroom semi in Burwood. Oh, and the buildings are models that I have constructed over the years, but which have not, for various reasons, found a place on the layout proper.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A new horsebox for Lambing Flat, KKG 1531

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Lambing Flat can once more transport horses in more salubrious surroundings than a cattle wagon. Lambing Flat's first horsebox was an old MRC offering that was cast in the translucent plastic material that was used for kits in those far off days. I did manage to capture it (accidentally) in a photo of something else, back in 1980 when both I and Lambing Flat were very much younger!
Thirty one years ago, Lambing Flat had code 100 track, not much scenery and very few buildings, but it was already showing signs of being a secondary line. My original MRC KKG horsebox stands in the dock as 3041, a Bergs brass 30T, stands in the loop, waiting for an opposing train in the lounge room of my rented flat in Bexley North. This was the already the third version of Lambing Flat, the current version is the sixth!

A year or so later, in 1981, there was a bit more scenery and some buildings had started to appear as green 3324 headed a passenger train that included the MRC horsebox. The 32 class was scratchbui​lt in styrene on a Tyco chassis, the HFL was an MRC kit, as was the EHO at the rear of the train. The FS and BS were kits by Australian Transport Models. When I moved from Bexley North to Burwood in 1983 the layout, after a short time 'on loan' at the old AMRA clubrooms at Rockdale, was dismantled and most of the rollingstock, including the KKG, sold off. It was to be nearly 28 years before another horsebox appeared on the line to Lambing Flat.

 The process of acquiring another horsebox for Lambing Flat actually started in the mid-1990s when LMR released a 'milky bar' kit of the KKG. There were two versions, in original condition with a clerestory roof and in rebuilt condition with an arc roof and roof ventilators. I purchased both versions, and as I was becoming interested in the 1920s/'30s period at the time, construction was commenced on the clerestory version around 1997/8. For various reasons (I acquired a computer, got connected to the net and then moved house and started work on a garden railway, then got recruited by AMRM!), work ceased on the model in late 1998 and the model sat in my showcase till early this year (2011!)

First some prototype background...
This is the only photograph I know of showing one of the NSWGR's 'small' (KKG) bogie horseboxes in original condition. It has been published in Paul Roger’s article on the BKG and KKG horseboxes that started on p20 of the March/April 1980 issue of AMRM and later, in a better quality version, on p249 of volume 1 of ‘Coaching Stock of the NSW Railways’, published by Eveleigh Press (the book publishing arm of my employer!) in 1999. The photo shows wooden underframed KKG1529, introduced into service in July 1911, posed for the official photograph​er (probably around the time it was introduced). The horseboxes were all originally fitted with clerestory roofs. From 1922 they had the clerestory removed and ventilators fitted to the now arc roof and looked like my original model above.

In the instructions to the kit it is asserted that the original versions were either varnished or Tuscan red, however, there is no evidence to support that and plenty to indicate that they were, in fact, painted in the standard passenger colour scheme of the time, either purple brown or Venetian red (the documentation is vague on what colour was being used on passenger cars from around 1905 till 1920). It is very unlikely that they were varnished, unpainted timber for a number of reasons. First, the 'modern' varnished timber colour scheme was introduced with Lucy's 1913 suburban cars (the ones with steel underframes that were rebuilt into suburban electric trailer cars in the 1920s) and the 72ft passenger cars, the first of which also entered service in 1913. The other piece of evidence (aside from the fact that there is no mention of them having varnished, unpainted timber in any official correspondence) is that they had a lot of metal strapping on the exterior and one can't varnish metal! If they were varnished, they metalwork would have been painted black and there would be a contrast between the timber and metal parts of the car in contemporary photos. As can be seen in the photo above, (allowing for the known idiosycrasies of the film in use at the time) there appears to be no difference in 'tone' between the timber and metal parts of the vehicle. Interestingly, however, the larger timber underframed versions of the BKG horseboxes, introduced between 1894 and 1911, definitely show a difference in 'tone' between the timber and metal parts of the vehicles! Perhaps they were varnished! There is no doubt though, that once the KKG horseboxes were rebuilt from 1922 on, they would have been painted overall, unlined, Venetian red (referred to as Tuscan red in NSWGR documentation, but it was a different shade to that used by the NSWGR after 1954 and called 'Tuscan red' by enthusiasts). It was more likely the brighter, oranger red used up to 1954 in the 'Tuscan and russet' scheme.

Anyway, back to the model, which had sat, forgotten and unloved, in my showcase from 1998 till early this year...
In 1998 I had proceeded as far as modifying the body to backdate it (I am constitutionally incapable of building a model to the manufacturer's instructions... ;o) to the appearance of the prototype by changing the timber planking of the groom's compartments from vertical to horizontal by filling the vertical grooves, sanding smooth and scribing new horizontal planking (the masters for the model appear to have been adapted from the more modern version of the vehicle, on which the planking is vertical). I had also filled and scribed the edges of the ends to represent the corner posts, which are missing completely from the ends of the kit. Then it was abandoned...
Earlier this year I got the yen to do some more HO modelling, so I decided it was about time to clear out the deeper recesses of the showcase... Along with the RU and SV detailled in previous posts, the KKG suddenly found itself blinking confusedly in the light of day...
The kit whitemetal buffers were discarded and replaced with more accurate Turton buffers made from the shanks of the Turton buffers included in the Silvermaz GSV kit, fitted with brass buffer heads. The AR Kits 2AA bogies were replaced with detailled Protype 2AA bogies (the AR kits 2AA bogies from the kit found themselves under my rebuilt Trainorama OHG - more on the OHG/GHG project in a future post!) The handrails, doorhandles and centre lamp irons were scratchbuilt from brass wire or flat strip, as appropriate, while the upper lamp irons came from an AM Models etch. The canvas roof was represented by gluing tissue paper to the roof. My method of doing this is to fill up the sink with water, put some PVA glue on the roof, carefully spread a piece of tissue on the water surface and then bring the model up under the tissue. If done correctly, when it has all dried one has a perfectly 'stretched' canvas roof on the model. I also made the partitions between the compartments and the seats from styrene.

The model now looked like this...
Next step was to paint it. As this is a clerestory roofed vehicle, I decided to paint it purple brown, as my conclusion was that this was the most likely colour scheme carried by the prototype. But what does purple brown actually look like? The colour scheme disappeared long before colour photography, but luckily, some colour samples, plus other information, has survived. Two shades of purple brown were released as a standard colour in a range of paints available briefly in the late 1990s (was it Bakers SRM? I can't read the brand on my bottle anymore, it is covered with paint!) I purchased a bottle of the Light Purple Brown over ten years ago and it had sat on the shelf, unused, since then. When I first opened the bottle my heart sank, as the thinner had sublimed away and there was just a sticky mess at the bottom of the bottle. However, as this paint is no longer available (as far as I know) and I had nothing to lose, I filled the bottle with universal paint thinner, stirred it thoroughly and left it for a day or two, stirring it every now and then. Imagine my sigh of relief when, a couple of days later, I had a bottle of viable paint!

As mentioned above, the purple brown colour scheme disappeared so long ago that there are no colour photos of cars in that scheme... or is there? This photo has always intrigued me...This photograph, from Ron Selems' 'Steam in the Fifties' (NSWRTM 1991), shows a Newcastle train descending Cowan Bank behind 3528, sometime after 1954. The first 'dogbox' is particular​ly interestin​g, as it is possible that the car is still painted purple brown. The roof is relatively clean, but the 'Navy Dressing' does not appear particular​ly fresh, indicating that the car may not have been in service for some time (Navy Dressing was 'sticky', so it got dirty very quickly in service). The colour of the car does not match either the two Tuscan and russet cars immediatel​y behind or the post-1954 Indian red end-platform car set. Could this be the elusive purple brown... Here is an enlargement of the car.
It certainly is an intriguing photograph...

Anyway, back to painting the model...
The model was undercoated with SEM self-etch grey and then painted with the Light Purple Brown. Once the purple brown was dry I masked off and painted the interior cream and the underframe and bogies SEM self-etch black. The black details were handpainted with Badger Engine Black and then when that was all dry, ILM KKG decals were applied and the model sealed with Badger Flat Clear. Weathering was done using my dilute acrylic paint method. First various details, such as the springs and brake blocks were picked out with a very dilute mix of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown and Isocol alcohol, then the airbrush came out and my ‘roof muck’ mix of Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown and XF-1 Flat Black and lots of Isocol alcohol sprayed over the roof, and then the underframe and lower edges of the body sprayed with a very dilute ‘mist’ of Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth. When that had dried I went over the body and solebars/bufferbeams with a very dilute ‘wash’ of Aqueous Hobby Color H343 Soot applied with a large brush. Then I hand painted ‘oil’ (semi-gloss black) around the axleboxes and flat black on the Kadee ‘tangs’ and the clear plastic windows were glued in with Aquadhere and now KKG 1831 is ready to do some useful work! I aimed for a worn, but reasonably well kept, vehicle which is only a year or two away from overhaul. Here it is from the other side...
While it is a bit out of period for the normal 1950s operating period on Lambing Flat it does look nice and serves the purpose of transporting valuable horses. During operations, it appears form time to time attached to a passenger train, in transit through the modelled section of the line. It does open up some intriguing operational prospects though, the most obvious of which would be a country race meeting, which would involve the operation of a special train of dogboxes (or even end-platform cars) with horsebox(es) attached to convey the locals citizens to the racecourse, which in the steam era, were often a couple of miles outside town. The railways department would often provide a special train for the conveyance of racegoers and racecourse staff in country areas.

Here is the KKG in service, attached to the Mail, circa 1930.