Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Update

That horrible thing which gets in the road of hobbies took over more than I expected last week so progress on the tree has only moved one more step from where I left it - although having washed it this evening to get rid of the surplus flux I am hoping to get the next step done this evening when it dries and then further steps tomorrow (school holidays here in Queensland and there should be a couple of hour window in the morning).

In other news, a bag arrived from the NGS Shop today with packets of transfers, N'spirations 3 and 4, their first Ready To Plonk Building and a brass etch for a ballast hopper.  Still to come is the original version of the Cartic4 so this will keep me out of mischief I am sure.

Thanks to those readers who have recently gotten touch via email about Stroudley coaches and the 48.  I know Blogger isn't the easiest thing to communicate via so please don't hesitate to email me at if you would like to offer advice or ask a question - or even to see extra photos.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NSWGR Class 48

Long time readers may not be surprised to discover something out of left field has joined the stable of locomotives - and shortly will be joined by some stock and, inevitably will need a layout to run on - as this seems to happen from time to time (a LNER liveried B1 being a recent example...).  Today the divergence came from even further afield than normal.

I was browsing eBay (as you do - never know what you might find there) and came across a NSW Class 48.  Now being Australian, any RTR Australian N Scale stuff is of interest and this was no exception as I have long harboured a dream to build a "typical" Australian layout and sit back and watch the trains go by.  My family used to drive to Melbourne (taking the train was done once but it was too long and possibly too expensive - this was the 1980s so I don't know why the hire car was always the option) and one of the highlights was racing the Intercapital Daylight Express, usually around Wagga Wagga or Junee.  Indeed other highlights of the trip would be the trip into Spencer Street Station to have a look at the Southern Aurora and Spirit of Progress trains either getting ready to depart for Sydney or arriving from there.

So there has been a little list for a while now of locos which I would like to have and the 48 Class has been on it.  Further investigation revealed that the model in question was produced by Gopher Models - owned and operated by one Phil Badger.  Now UK readers will be familiar with this name as he is one of the triumvirate running Ixion - those of the GWR Manor.  Phil's pedigree as an Australian modeller is first class and I had been speaking to him earlier in the year and he had mentioned he was getting some 48s produced in China and obviously these were now available.

Contact with the seller on eBay confirmed that I had the option of whatever number I wanted, along with livery.  The 48 is a long lived class and had 165 members which appeared in 7 liveries at least while operating in NSW.  The South Australian Railways also purchased some identical locos from Alco - their 830 class - so there were lots around and still are according to what I found via Google.

I got mine with a TCS Z2 chip already fitted and have been playing with it this evening.  Running is silky smooth - particularly after I cleaned the track!!!  The lights are a bit bright for the casing so I will have to work out how to dim them and the loco on the whole is a bit too ex-works for what I remember the class being like in Brisbane and in the Riverina of NSW.  A quick going over with the steel rule v the published dimensions of the class reveals no hassles although I had a moment when I started until I remembered to change the 148 to 160 in the spreadsheet I use for such things!

Now to work out what wagons I should be getting to put behind it... 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trees - Part I

Amity has been asking me for a while to show her how to make trees.  I suggested that we could make a tree each but she felt it would be better to watch how I did it first rather than do it in tandem.  So last night I made a start and she took photos of the process.  It isn't a particularly original process but maybe of use to some to see it in pictures, rather than merely a description.

The first thing you need to do is gather the materials...  the flavour of the chocolate is up to the builder!  The source of the copper wire is an old multi core mains flex which I acquired sometime in the 1990s.

Cut off enough wire of a suitable length to place around a nail - in this case I used three bunches to surround a 2mm nail.

I found I needed plenty of flux - fortunately I use a flux paste so it doesn't run everywhere.  I suspect with cleaner wire, less flux would be necessary but there was a lot of oxidisation as the wire had been exposed for over 10 years to the elements.

Remember that copper conducts heat very well...  I have a temperature controlled iron which I had set on 370C as this tends to work the best for me.  I probably could have gone higher at the base of the tree as the amount of copper was acting as a bit of a heat sink and the nail definitely was.

Once you have the nail in, place the tree in a block of wood with a suitable sized hole drilled in it. From here you can start forming the tree.  The 3 bunches are quite easy to see here.

Once you have got the main trunk to a suitable height (in this case 15-18 scale feet in 2mm scale) you can start forming the branches.  As you will see in Part II (hopefully Monday - work is going to get in the road this weekend) I will add some lower branches later.

The main branches are formed by dividing the bunches.  As I had three, it was easiest to have three main branches of the tree.

The main branches get divided down.  Depending on the location of the tree these sub-branches may be lop-sided.  As this one will probably be a stand alone tree, the growth is fairly even but a little bit more on the southern side (where it is nominally the sunniest - but this is England after all so sunny is arbitrary!)

So the end of a couple of hours (with distractions) sees the tree with three main limbs and 9 sub-limbs.  From here it is a case of divide and spread out - which will happen in Part II.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

LNWR Signal Box - part 3

I got inspired to do some more on the LNWR signal box this Queen's Birthday Long Weekend as I thought doing something about the interior would be a good idea. 

The first thing I did was consult the drawing below which details what each of the 25 levers in the signal box at St Alban's Abbey controlled.
So having worked out what each lever did, I then looked at the information on the web to find out what colour each lever would be.  Signals - Red, Points - Black, the Gong - Green, Locking - either Blue or Blue/Brown and the spare No 9 lever white.

Next I looked at what I had already done in relation to which levers were "off" and discovered that both the LNWR Outer home and the GNR Platform Home were "off".  Now while Superman would do it, I suspect the average signalman couldn't unless something had gone wrong with the interlocking!!!  Lever 9 was also "off" which, while this may have been possible, was very unlikely.  Therefore I spent sometime today sorting out the levers so that now, 1, 2, 11, 12 and 13 are all "off" which, I think, means a train signaled from Watford Junction down the LNWR branch and into the yard.

This is what it looks like with the first go with paint.   There is a bit more to do having taken the photo on the levers and then the floor needs sorting as does the desk.

As you can see, I have found a 1982 20p coin which I will use to give some idea of size.  If Australian readers are wondering, it is between a 5c and 10c coin.  Can't help other nationalities - those living over the dutch bro can work it out easily enough but I am afraid those living in North America, Europe or Asia are on their own.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Station Furniture

The above is some furniture which I have been doing at odd times - mostly if all I could find was 15 minutes to half an hour.  The two hand carts and long seat are destined for St Alban's Abbey as is the single seat although the latter is for the signalman to sit in between trains.  The seat comes from the LNWR signal box etch previously mentioned.  There is a second seat to do, and the table has already been put in place on the floor of the 'box otherwise it would have been in the picture too.  The other bits are from Shirescenes (I think) via the NGS Shop - LNWR seats (of which I have another 5) and GNR luggage trolleys (only the 2 in the photo).  As St Alban's Abbey was a LNWR/GNR joint station, it seemed reasonable to populate it with bits from both, although as it was principally LNWR operated and built, there will be a definite bias in the furniture - hence the seats.  I would imaging the GNR would have, at some point, brought in the luggage trolleys, just so they could put bags on to announce to the world whose train the owners were using!

They are delightful little things to do - I had a mind of putting a coin in but not having anything English, and putting an Australian one wouldn't really help the majority of the readers, it will have to wait - my parents are coming out for DD1's birthday in a couple of weeks so I will get Dad to bring me a 20p coin and re-shoot then as some reference to size I think would be handy!

Sunday, June 5, 2011


When the Farish Mk 1 Pullman's came out I, like I suspect a few did, got enough for a prototypical rake.  At the time, Farish didn't have a record of bringing out different numbers so I assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that the ones available were it.  I wasn't worried as I know the NGS had transfers which would fix this - MMT402 if you are interested - and I duly purchased same.  Now as it happens, Farish did the B numbers which had new names and numbers so had I been patient I would not have needed to do what I did last night (having finally gotten a roundtuit!).  The picture above shows the newly done side of Magpie (which was going to be Swift as this fitted a bit better but the first Swift was cracked and I lost the T before I realised - so Magpie was picked as being Australian!) and Car No 333.  Magpie was Eagle and 333 was 332 so the changes on the Second Class Car were very minimal.

I painted over the bits I didn't want with Precision Paints Pullman Umber - with a small brush and a bit of care, no damage was done to the lining around the words so this is the original printing.  As it happens, the E in Magpie seems to be missing a bit of the lower stem, but it isn't obvious on the coach and the other side is fine so I will just have to watch which way round it runs.  Good side to the Punters obviously.

This effort was about 15 mins work - and a couple of hours making sure the paint was dry!  If anyone is looking to do something similar, I have the rest of the transfers, free to a good home.  Just get in touch.  All there except for Magpie, a couple of 3s and one Swift.  One of the borders was used to fix up a worn line on the other side of 333.