Monday, 21 March 2011

Memories of the Rurr Valley

As some may know, as well as my HO scale NSWGR Lambing Flat layout, I also have a garden railway, the Rurr Valley Railway. This railway is built to (nominally) 1:24 scale on 45mm gauge track, representing 3ft 6ins gauge, and is 'inspired' by the railways that once existed on the west coast of Tasmania (particularly the Mt Lyell railway). The locos and rollingstock are mostly modified and adapted proprietary models from the likes of LGB and Bachmann, with a few scratchbuilt items. Sadly, the line has been very neglected since I was recruited to AMRM, especially after the flood of December 2007 that demolished one major bridge and severely damaged the other. Despite two more major floods in early 2010 that did even more damage, an attempt was made in June/August last year to revive it. This was partially successful, as I managed to get about half the line cleared and operational, but then, with the heavy rain late last year, and then the heat of summer preventing the heavy outdoor work needed to maintain it, the line has slipped back into 'services suspended' mode once more. However, come the cooler months, I intend to make another attempt to revive it!

In the meantime, here are a few shots from the 'heyday' of the line.
 Back on 19 July 2005 the line was in fairly constant use and in pretty good condition. Here, RVR No.2, a conversion of an Aristocraft G scale 2-4-2 hauls a passenger train down the Bottom Road towards the terminus at Possum Point. The line originally had a zig-zag going up the side of the hill in the background and, despite the top section of the zig-zag being 'deviated' in 2002, the names 'Bottom' and 'Middle' roads have stuck. The passenger cars consist, from the front, of an LGB car modified to resemble the ex-Tasmanian Main Line Railway passenger car preserved at the Hobart Transport Museum, a purchased on eBay cut down kit of an English Lynton and Barnstaple Railway car that resembles some vehicles used on the Emu Bay Railway, a repainted and modified Bachmann American car that is reminiscent of the cars used on the North Mt Lyell Railway and a mostly scratchbuilt brakevan based on a Mt Lyell Abt railway van.

Still one of my favourite shots, on 3 May 2004 the RVR's No.1 drifts down the Bottom Road with an ore train. The loco is a heavily modified LGB 'Stainz', altered to resemble the Mt Lyell (and Burrinjuck) 2ft gauge Krauss-built locomotives. The vehicles are a modified Bachmann gondola, altered to resemble a Mt Lyell K type ore wagon and a scratchbuilt styrene model of the Emu Bay's B2 ore wagon.

This is a shot through the open doors of brakevan D6 at Possum Point on 12 June 2004. D6 was converted from a Lehmann (LGB) van to represent a 'might have been' rebuild in the style of the TGR's DB vans of early TGR four-wheel van D6.

No.1 again, coming off the Middle Road past the scratchbuilt signal box and water tank at Bottom Points on 7 October 2003. The first vehicle is a conversion of a Lehmann American style four-wheel boxcar to resemble an early Emu Bay Railway E van.

No.2, a conversion of a Bachmann Lynton and Barnstaple 2-4-2T Lyn, stands at the highest station on the line, Devlins, waiting to bring a passenger train 'down the hill', also on 7 October 2003. No.2 has, since 2006, been sitting on the workbench part way through conversion into a 'near enough' Mt Lyell Baldwin-built 0-6-0T. The station building is a cardboard mock-up that only comes out for running sessions.

 This is what the line looked like the day after the disastrous flood of 5 December 2007. The two floods, a week apart, in early 2010 completely finished this bridge off. Luckily I recovered the girder spans during the week between them, or the whole bridge would have ended up in Sydney Harbour! A new bridge will have to be built before trains can run on the southern end of the line again.

There is hope yet! This photo shows the Bottom Road looking towards Possum Point, after Possum Point had been cleared, but before work started on the Bottom Road in July 2010.
This photo shows the view, from more or less the same spot as the previous photo, after a lot of hard work on 4 July 2010. Unfortunately, the view from this spot today would be more like the top photo again! However, winter is coming...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A NSWGR SV sheep van

Back in the mid-1990s, I started to drift away from my original modelling period (the 1950s) and head in the direction of the 1920s-'30s, probably due to the 'bad' influence of the annual 'Modelling the Early Days of the NSW Railways' seminar! I had built a number of models suitable for that period and was in the process of building more when my 'hiatus' from HO modelling began. One of the models I had almost completed in 1998 was this SV sheep van.
The model was built from this copy of a NSWGR official drawing given to me by Craig Warton. (Thanks Craig!)

I haven't been able to find a photo of an SV that completely matches the drawing (not surprising, as there aren't that many photos available from that period at all) however, I have found this photo of a very similar SV in the collection of the Powerhouse museum.

This vehicle was one of the 'transition' designs between the original style of sheep van, like the one below, and the '1929' GSV design.
This basic design was used for most of the 19th century. They were double decked but had solid floors and they were very messy, labour intensive to keep clean and not at all pleasant for the stock.

A major breakthrough in sheep van design occurred at the turn of the 20th century when someone had the bright idea of putting grated floors in the vehicles, but with a 'hopper' under the top deck to shed the sheep droppings to the side, rather than onto the sheep on the bottom deck! (The bottom deck's droppings went straight onto the track.) The gap for the hopper can be seen in the photo of SV 8408 above and GSV 12368 below.

The design eventually evolved into the 1929 GSV, which except for the substitution of a standard 10ft wheelbase steel underframe under the batch of 250 built in 1948, finalised the design of NSWGR sheep vans till the type became extinct in the 1970s.

The 1929 design of GSV looked like this:
This photo is an NSWGR official photograph from the Craig Warton collection. It is standing at Flemington Markets, opposite the Flemington station platform, and was photographed sometime around 1930.

Enough of the prototype info, lets get back to the model!
The model was constructed from styrene and timber around the bar sections from a Silvermaz GSV kit. The etched brass W irons and buffer beam/buffer housings came from ILM. Construction was quite straightforward, cut out the appropriate bits of timber and styrene and glue together till it looks like an SV!

Here it is, ready for painting:
I construct sheep vans as three sub-assemblies. This makes it possible to paint the interior!

I painted it with a mix of SEM self-etch black and grey, to represent the NSWGR's 20th century wagon colour scheme, Gunmetal grey. The interior was weathered with a light spray of very dilute in Isocol alcohol Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth. When this was ok the model was glued together and the ‘canvas’ glued to the roof. To do this I spread white glue on the roof, then put some water in the sink and spread out a roughly cut to piece of tissue on top of the water. Quickly bringing the model up under the tissue results in a perfectly ‘stretched’ canvas roof once everything has dried and the tissue trimmed to size. The roof was then brush painted Badger Flat White. 
The vehicle was decaled to represent the appearance of the prototypes circa 1920, with the wagon code on the underframe and the 'Westinghouse brake fitted' symbol on the ends. In this period the number only appeared on the wagon on the number plate and the wagon codes were just starting to appear, normally painted on the solebars next to the numberplate. The ‘Westinghouse brakes fitted’ symbol appeared on the ends of sheep vans, as there was nowhere else to put them!

I wanted to model it as a fairly new wagon, so I went 'light' on the weathering. The vehicle was given a light brush of Tamiya XF-64 Red Brown over the springs and brake shoes. A very light coat of Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth was sprayed over the body, concentrating on the underframe. Then some Badger Flat White was sprayed into the hopper section between the decks, to represent the bleaching that occurred in this area from the ovine by-products. The roof was then sprayed with my ‘roof muck’ mix of Tamiya XF-10 Flat Brown and XF-1 Flat Black diluted with lots of Isocol and then my ‘road dust’ mix of Isocol and Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth sprayed from the sides, concentrating on the lower sections of the vehicle where one would expect to find road dust… As I wanted a vehicle in fairly good condition I finished off with a very light spray of dilute Aqueous Hobby Color H343 Soot. The ‘oil’ on the axleboxes was added with semi-gloss black and the coupler tangs painted matt black and it was ready to go on the layout.
Here is the SV in a train of suitable period rollingsto​ck. On the left is an old type sheep van, then the new SV, and then a timber underframed 1929 GSV. Before the late 1920s all sheep vans were coded SV, but around that time the old type vans were re-coded OSV, the modern vans built, or re-built, to the 1929 design were coded GSV, while the rest which didn't fit into either category remained coded SV.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Sawn timber traffic on Lambing Flat

Many years ago I purchased some Sydney Hobbies sawn timber loads, back when Sydney Hobbies was still owned by Geoff Kemmis (Geoff, where are you now? ;o). More recently I was given some of the newer Sydney Hobbies/Lit’le Trains timber load releases to review (coming soon!). Another link in the chain was the arrival of a Floquil Enamel Paint Markers Earth Tones three-pack (containing 81 Earth, 83 Mud and 86 Grime) also for a review (unfortunately, the review didn't get done as I couldn't find a suitable use for them - I tried them out on some wagons and was not impressed with the result.) These items all sat around independently until quite recently when I finally managed to allocate some time to the review of the timber loads. That was all very well, but how was I going to colour the loads to represent newly sawn timber? Then suddenly 'click', my subconscious brain combined the Floquil paint markers with the loads and I was away! (And I finally had a use for the paint markers!)

The Sydney Hobbies/Lit’le Trains loads are nicely cast in urethane and come in the usual Sydney Hobbies plastic bag with card header. There are two types of loads available, type one is represented by: SH 04 ‘S’ truck timber load and SH 30 ‘K’ truck timber load and are designed to be loaded according to NSWGR timber loading diagram No.1.

The second type [“K” truck load 24’ timber (N/Coast) and LT 19 “s” truck load 19’ timber (N/Coast)] is modelled on timber loaded according to NSWGR timber loading diagrams Nos 3 and 4.

However, if you aren't modelling the North Coast, they are equally useful for loading to diagram No.2.
The only difference is that the North Coast loads were secured with specially provided lashing chains while everywhere else used rope.

The type 1 loads were very quickly cleaned up and glued together with superglue, whereas the second type just needed cleaning up, then the fun began!

The second type, showing the stages from straight out of the bag (left) through the first coat of paint (centre - this is my first attempt, using a creamy yellow mixed up from Tamiya acrylics - I eventually just decided to use the Floquil Enamel Paint Marker No.83 Mud as the first coat and the 86 Grime as the finishing coat)  

The loads to diagram 1, showing the stages from 'straight out of the bag' (centre) through assembled (left) to first coat of paint (right).

Once the first coat had dried (usually about a day, as these are enamel paints) the top coat(s) were applied. I ended up applying about three layers of paint, as I wanted a smooth but subtly graduated finish as shown in the next photo.
Once all the paint was dry I added lashing ropes from brown thread pinched from my wife's sewing room (shhh, don't tell her! ;o) held in place with superglue where the knots are tied and then a coat of matt clear to secure them.

Here are both types of sawn timber lengths loaded into an S and K according to diagram 1.

I 'roped up' my North Coast loads to diagram 2, as Lambing Flat is definitely not on the North Coast! Here are a couple of them loaded into S and K trucks.
As the loads are removable, I ran the ropes down the outside of the loads and secured the ends to the undersides. Those with plenty of wagons could make permanent loads and secure the tie down ropes to the lashing rings on the sides of the vehicles as per the loading diagrams.

I'm quite pleased with them, but how to justify them at Lambing Flat? After all, the majority of timber traffic on the NSWGR in my time period travelled from the North Coast to Sydney, didn't it? Or so one could be led to believe from published photographs... While I have no memory of seeing wagons loaded with timber at Young when I was living there, logically there must have been timber traffic of some sort, as there had to be some way the local timber yards and hardware stores received supplies in those days before everything went by road... Since I was actively looking for them, I did manage to find the odd truck of timber in my collection of publications and other photographic sources, such as this image from 'Remember When', compiled by Derek Rogers and published by the ARHS (NSW) in 1994.
This photo by Noel Reed shows a load of sawn timber ready to depart Oberon in 1955.

So we have justification for timber traffic on Lambing Flat!

Here is 3610 resting in the loop with a goods train that includes trucks loaded with sawn timber...


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Part of old Lambing Flat site found!

Some may remember my old Lambing Flat site, which gradually disappeared as first Geocities and my then host ISP, Connect Infobahn Australia, closed down (in the case of Geocities) and changed their services (CIA). I wasn't so worried about the model section of the site as it was pretty obsolete anyway, but the 'info' section was apparently useful to some and was a bit of a loss. Imagine my surprise when I recently stumbled across a 'mirror' site for Geocities that still has (most) of my old Geocities pages accessible! I have added all the pages I could find to the link section of this page.