Saturday, 22 March 2014

Tis The Season...


Well with Autumn now upon us and seeing the workbench requirements are easing, it is time to hit the layout with a vengeance.  I am not sure whether everyone looks forward to the cooler months...but I love the winters in the tablelands.
The often heard saying down this way is that March "hits with a bang and ends in a whimper"... while this is largely true and we tend to experience regular thunderstorms and sometimes unseasonably warm weather at the start of months end the cooler weather is upon us and by Anzac Day in April... the sub zero nights are with us.

With the layout room tending to maintain a fairly stable year round temperature, there is nothing better than locking one's self away from the world on a cold and rainy day with just the layout,  radio in the background and copious cups of tea for company.

My task this winter will be to finalise scenery on the Fish River side of the layout and to make a start on the branch line section and scenery... which is adjacent to the main layout room and separated by a dividing wall that also doubles as scenery break... The Fish River station and area basically takes in half of the main layout room and is 9 metres long x 900mm wide.

With the actual Fish River valley  area being finished some time ago it is now time to work in both directions from this point.  In the up direction this will require both the mainline and branch line tunnel mouths to be complete and scenery by way of two separate cuttings from the river to the respective tunnels. These tunnels take the lines out of the main layout room and with respect to the branchline...through a scenery break to the branchline terminus area.  In the down direction the scenery will be taken through the main station ( Fish River ) and yard to a point where the mainline disappears into another tunnel and through to the other side of the layout room.  As I have stated in previous posts, most structures required for these sections have been built and detailed "off layout" and will be placed at the appropriate times.  As the work continues I will feature the main industries and lineside infrastructures as they are positioned.

And so over the last couple of days I have been preparing the tunnel mouths and internals, finalising ballast and touch ups where required and while waiting for all of this to dry...I have also commenced static grass application and other associated works in the down direction towards the station yard.  Next weekend I will begin to form the scenery and cuttings required to "climb" the scenery from the river valley to the tunnel portals.

As much as the visible changes are not that obvious yet, I took a couple of shots this afternoon and also covered some train movements as well...

Short Freight with 4425 in charge ambling back to town along the branch

Afternoon pass returning off the branch as the driver keeps an eagle eye for favourable signals

Branch and main line crossing the river with the tunnel portals leading "off scene" in the up direction
The mainline was originally double track...but after rationalisation... the "up main" has been truncated and the "down main" is now bi-directional
(If ever I decide to "reopen" the up main and reinstate a double track main line ...the option is always there...) 

DON Smallgoods began life as a diorama well before the layout was commenced and has now been recycled as the first industry along the branch...this view looking back through the tunnel to the main layout room and Fish River station in the distance.

Boiler House adjoining the main DON Smallgoods building

Back in Fish River Yard as 4910 and train have arrived off the mainline looking in the "down direction"

Another view of 4910 awaiting entry to Fish River yard...


Sunday, 16 March 2014

A Clear Bench...Finally!


Following an up and down 12 months, I have finally cleared the bench of custom orders and the feeling could not be better....and I would suggest the customer in question will be celebrating as well!!!

The subject of this post is the G2 goods shed and while I was not responsible for the building of the shed itself, I undertook to build the decking, ramp and steps...or in essence the substructure.

I have built many goods sheds over the years but the difference with this one was my desire to construct it utilising absolute scale timber components.  While I strive to build everything on a true to scale basis...sometimes during construction and (visualising where it will be placed on the layout) certain minor deviations are necessary to ensure long term durability of the item.  Normally the decking thickness is where the compromise occurs. Slightly thicker decking makes the construction progress much quicker and the final item will withstand all but the most careless of treatment.

This item however, will end up in the hands of a friend and seasoned pushing the boundary on this project was an easy choice and I am sure he will stick it to me if it does not live up to expectations.  I have however left the weathering and ageing for him to finish to taste...

The only components where a compromise was still necessary were in the piles... and this is largely due to the lack of commercially available round dowel in either basswood or balsa, in the required sizes.  I am guessing that as more and more "ready to place" lineside items become available...any chance of manufacturers expanding these ranges of products will most likely evaporate.

Another positive outcome from this construction was that I have finally perfected a simple method for "mass production" of the piles including the rebates where the piles fit the bearers.  This has bugged me for quite a while as I have tried making jigs for the Proxxon saw table, but the results were always inconsistent.  Anyway this impediment is now a thing of the past and with the aid of some specialised jigs the laser has showed it's superiority in this department.

And so this week the substructure will head to it's new home and be "topped" with a shed and other infrastructure.  Like everything that leaves here...I do look forward to seeing some photos of the completed structure in place and earning a living. 

I wonder what will grace the bench next...


Friday, 7 March 2014

Catching Up...


With the Fish River station disaster and rebuild now completed, I turned my attention to the last two "foreign orders" that I have on the books to complete.  The first is the subject of this blog post and the other is the completion of a substructure for a G2 goods shed. The bridge is now ready to despatch to it's new owner... while the goods shed project should be completed over the weekend.  It will be nice to have a clear construction bench and no outstanding orders.

The bridge project has been a testing but enjoyable time.  The initially discussed dimensions seemed a tad formidable but after a few days of thought it did become clear that it was possible and a start was made.  For the records the project brief called for a single lane road bridge of 640mm in length with the roadway width of 50mm between kerbing.  No real issues thus far but the span and location of the bents proved to be the brain teaser in the equation.   The bent assemblies had to be 180mm high and the terrain of the existing  layout dictated that these bents were to be located 180mm in from each end leaving a 280mm main centre span. 

I must admit that the thought of creating something that has no direct link to an existing Australian prototype example did not appeal to me in the first instance... but I do relish a challenge and here was one dropped straight in my lap.

As much as we have the basic drawings and machining files available from our existing bridge range of kits, I did not envisage that I would need to modify nearly every file to achieve the outcome.  Commercially available basswood comes in 600mm long sheets and as this dimension would not allow the bridge girders to be manufactured in one piece a decision was made to fabricate them in 3 pieces with a step join located over the bridge bent locations.  The join could be hidden with handrail stanchions and structural integrity could be this method was adopted.

Even though the bridge width was a fair bit narrower than our kits, I still elected to include 5 longitudinal bridge girders which also forced my hand to construct 5 pile bridge bents with the centre 3 being vertical and the outer piles flared to look the part.  In an attempt to keep the whole thing looking as Australian as was possible, the bents were constructed with headstocks, intermediate waling and upper and lower angle bracing.

With the project now essentially complete I have included some pics of the finished structure.  Success is certainly in the eye of the beholder and even though I have deviated wildly from any known Australian prototype to fulfil the brief...I look forward to seeing some photos of it weathered and in situ on the layout. From an aesthetic viewpoint, I feel it could use some knee bracing between the bents and the underside of the main centre span to make it appear as if the span is supported more adequately...but there is the negative view that this may also take away any Aussie flavour.  Anyway this point has been discussed with the client and these can be retrofitted when installation is complete.