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.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Run Day at Greg Hunter's 2 April 2011

For the first time since 2005, I dusted off some Large Scale rollingstock and headed off to a run day at Greg Hunter's garden layout, the Sandstone and Termite. Greg has a website describing the layout, and an early version of his layout was featured in AMRM Issue 219 (December 1999).

I'm not an early riser, so by the time I got there, everyone else was leaving! However, Greg and I still had a bit of fun as I admired all the additions he had created since my last visit and re-familiarised myself with this huge railway that goes right around his substantial backyard.

My RVR No.12, a converted Bachmann 'Annie' 4-6-0, waits on the through line at Ti-tree with my mineral train as Greg's No.14 overtakes with a short goods train.

Greg's No.14 has a scratchbuilt body on an Aristocraft eight-couped chassis and a Bachmann 'Big-hauler' tender. The loco is inspired by the Emu Bay Railway 4-8-0s, though it appears that the NSWGR's locomotive engineer, William Thow, has had some input into the design of the cab!

Greg's No.14 has proceeded from Ti-tree and is seen here passing the South Australian Railways inspired goods shed at Sandstone. This station was the terminus of the original version of the line.

After passing through Sandstone, Greg's No.14 is seen here passing behind the township of Lilyvale, heading for Maple Jnt. Lilyvale township has grown considerably since my last visit!

Meanwhile, back at Ti-tree, Greg's No.9, a loco clearly based on the SMR 10 class tanks, featuring a scratchbuilt body on another Aristocraft eight-coupled chassis, waits for my train to clear the main so it can propel back out of the refuge siding and proceed on its way to Oleander and Maple Jnt.

My RVR mineral train stands on the main line at Sandstone. The 'smoke' coming out of the chimney is courtesy of my cheeky Production Assistant!

Despite leaving T-tree in opposite directions, my mineral train and Greg's No.9 hauled goods train have both arrived at Melaleuca, an important location on the line going 'up the hill' to Termite, the only 'indoor' station on the line! Melaleuca is another location that has expanded considerably since my last visit.

The station building at Melaleuca is a very nice model based on the NSWGR standard Pc3 precast concrete design.

When I last visited, this rather fine goods shed, obviously based on the NSWGR G1b design, served the small freight needs of Melaleuca station. It had been replaced with a sawmill at its previous location and now serves the intermediate siding at Oleander, in the Ti-tree - Maple Jnt section.

Another new location is Blackwall, a new crossing loop in the Ti-tree - Sandstone section. The reason for the name stands behind the nicely modelled timber-clad, skillion roofed station building...

Another new feature is this raised turntable, just 'north' of Melaleuca. My RVR No.3, a modified Aristocraft 2-4-2T, heads downhill with my 'Tasmanian' goods train on the main line behind.

Sometime later, my No.12 prepares to turn on the turntable as Greg's No.9 heads uphill towards Termite.

Completely new since I last visited is this diesel, scratchbuilt on USA Trains power bogies and based on the AIS diesels that ran at Port Kembla. It has a very interesting method of control; the radio system controls the (very impressive) sound system, which then controls the locomotive, the opposite of the norm. This means that the loco 'revs up' when accelerating and drops to idle when coasting! I like it and I want one!

Last shot of the day; a shaft of sunlight illuminates the rear of my 'Tasmanian' goods train as it waits permission to proceed while standing in the loop at Lilydale.

Thanks to Greg for inviting me, and I look forward to my next visit!