Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sometimes the Gods Smile on us

Over the last 5 - 10 years or so I've been keeping a lookout for details I can find out about the parts of the Mudgee line that I am modelling. Thankfully, whilst employed by my previous employer, I was fortunate enough to check out the remains of the Portland Cement site, as well as Portland being the subject of one of the Byways editions. Mudgee on the other hand has been a different kettle of fish, John Parker has been a great help with some of the Mudgee information & especially with regards to modelling the station at Portland and I've made the road trip up to Mudgee a few times but unfortunately whilst the Station & goods shed are still there, the loco depot and all it's infrastructure, except the Seller turntable, have been demolished, and while there are a few photos floating around there was not, to my knowledge, any 'decent' photos that are 'suitable' to help me with what I am hoping to achieve. That all changed a little while ago.

So lets step back in time a few weeks.
I recently attended the SCMRA conventions put on by the Epping club at their Dence Park centre (I've been to a few of these before and find them well worth attending & I hope to get to more of them), during one of the talks I heard a bit of banter about the coal stage at Mudgee between John Parker (one of the presenters) and a couple of guys in the audience & thought to myself that I need to get in touch with the guys having that discussion. About a week later I got some contact details from a mate (thanks Marcus) and then made arrangements to meetup with one of the gents who was involved with that discussion.

The contact details I was given was for a gent named Tim Stewart (who was involved with the Abeckett's Creek layout many years ago) who Marcus said is building a layout based on the areas between Capertee & Mudgee, I rang & introduced myself, explained what I was hoping to achieve and asked if he had any photos or other details of the Mudgee area, mainly the loco depot and especially the surrounding railway buildings (loco inspectors office etc), Tim said yes he did have some research material that might be useful & invited me to go to his place to see what he had. So I toddled off there one day after work, all I can say is WOW - not only did he have a good selection of research photos & plans, but also what a great layout, there was Mudgee in all it's glory (and certainly done better than I will be able to as I don't have the length to do it 'properly'), as well as a couple of other stations. After a great night discussing Mudgee, the real thing and the layout, Tim pulled out a photo album chock a block full of photos and a few plans, and said I was welcome to copy whatever I needed. Tim's photos date back to the late 1980's and a smattering of photos from the 1970's - more than what I had and a goldmine of details showing what was there.

I've included a few photos from Tim's layout (with his permission) and while they can't do it justice (I took them with an iPhone 4s) I hope they convey the atmosphere of this layout somewhat.

Capertee Station

Capertee Goods yard

Mudgee Station, Looking towards Sydney

Mudgee Station from the turntable (it's a scratchbuilt Sellers) thru to the Station area.

Level Crossing just on the down side of Mudgee station.

I'm not sure if there any plans for it but I hope that the AMRM covers this layout in the future.

So until next time, Ciao.

Monday, March 4, 2013

More Southern Aurora Models

Whilst I had my brief stay in the west I managed to progress on the Southern Aurora models a bit more, I managed to get the BCS Lounge car, the MHN Baggage car & PHN Power car reasonably assembled to the same stage, the sides are all basically complete, roofs modified and glued in place but the end have only been done as far as the Structural End, the cosmetic end still have to be made as does the floors & underframes, let alone the interior detailing.

 Side on shot of the BCS

 And a couple of photos of the MHN

And the PHN - I've ended up re-doing the porthole window in the luggage door as this version looked a bit too big when I compared it to photos I had.

I've also included a couple of photos showing the sequence of modifying the roof hatch area to make it more realistic using Ian's method, it not that hard to do and the shortened A/C hatch is certainly noticeable and in my opinion well worth the small extra effort involved.

You can see a square piece of styrene to the top right hand side of the A/C hatch (& also in the roof shots above), these are the pieces under the roof vents as mentioned in Ian's articles and they are pretty easy to do following Ian's instructions, having seen Ian's models with this detail they do make a difference & again a pretty easy thing to do.

At this stage I'm currently working on the remaining sleeping cars (LAN, DAM & NAMs) trying to get them to the same stage as the other cars so I can complete them all together, so far the sides have been assembled, but that's it, roofs etc still to go. The small windows near the ends of the LAN's have been made by 'cutting & shutting' so to speak, the window surrounds from the surplus windows in the end doors and then letting them into holes cut into the sides, Ian's originals where holes that were drilled & filed to the correct size, I mentioned to Ian I thought this might provide a better end result as it would give the small windows a surround like the rest of the windows & I'm certainly happy with the end result as all the windows now have matching surrounds and whilst I am nowhere near glazing yet whilst I was at Coffs Harbour for work back in Nov 2011 I called into the Plastics Factory that was mentioned in the Kamilaroi blog (I think)  to pick up some 20th styrene and and thinking what Ian had said about the CD covers not being the best to work with, asked them if they had any clear plastic I could experiment with, they sold me some 1mm clear poly-carbonate clear sheeting offcut  and as Ian mentions it certainly gives a good finish, it's reasonably easy to cut and finish to size.  Hopefully by the time they're all done they'll look as good as Ian Black's models.

At the moment I'm scratchbuilding some of the underbody detailing bits and pieces, so far the battery box has been made & I'm currently making the "boxes" that hold some of the underbody parts (Air Conditioning gear, Electrical items etc) I figure out it's going to be easier to make one part and then cast up the rest rather than making heaps individually. Since I started to compose this post I have cast some parts up. Some of the castings are shown in the following photos, I should be able to cast enough of these for the number of unit I need (I hope) and whilst it's a slightly messy procedure I do think that making the polyurethane castings is the way to go when one has to make more than a few of the same item.  I use a re-cycled Fridge compressor as a vacuum pump (not the best option but it does the job pretty much) which I use to de-air the rubber when making the moulds and also vacuum or pressure cast the polyurethane when making the castings - I'm pretty happy with the end results, and it's a fairly cheap process using the recycled equipment (vacuum pump etc).

Battery Box Master

Some early castings - electrical cabinet box on the left and Air Conditioning condensor box on the right

Talking about the underframes I purchased some 2BS bogies from Eureka and intend to fit them to some of the Southern Aurora carriages, should make it easy to set them up for interior lighting as they already have the lighting pickups included, now have to setup the modified Lima 2BU lookalike bogies, I think Ian mentions putting brass bearings and running wires from the bearings for electrical connections, sounds like a good idea to me and something I'll experiment with.

The layout has not progressed any further which I'm comfortable with because at this stage I intend to  finish my version of the Southern Aurora which I'm hoping to have done by the end of summer (which is getting closer & closer and I've still got no further - ahh Family commitments - Well Summer officially finished a few days back so I guess I missed that date :-)) so I can then start back on the layout in Autumn (not so hot then and I really want to get the Southern Aurora finished) at which point I hope to start to replace the remaining scratch built point motors with the Servo type of point motors using the TAM Valley decoders, I think I mentioned in a previous post that the old point motors will be pressed into service powering some semaphore signals I've made.

Well that the plan, now to see if it comes to fruition.

That's about it for now, not a lot to show for the time, but for me it's been quite a dramatic year for other reasons, but this year will hopefully be better.