Monday, December 22, 2014


Ohh what a difference a bit of painted cardboard makes.

I've been getting a bit sick & tired of the look of the layout & the extremely slow progress of anything happening on it, & whilst I have been busy doing stuff, it certainly is not reflected on the layout and thats really frustrating, so I took the plunge & decided to make the backdrops for behind the lower level of the layout and I gotta say what a difference the backdrops make. It's taken me a few weekends to paint the set below but I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

I've included a couple of before and after shots and while it's only a backdrop and nothing else, it hopefully does convey a bit of what I'll be trying to achieve.

So, what a section of the layout looked like before I installed the backdrop

I initially tried to force the 3mm MDF into a curve & whilst it does work (I used a steamer to help in bending the MDF) it unfortunately resulted in the roundhouse (or at least whats built of it so far) not fitting, but it did look fairly good to me and while it can't be made out in the photo the backdrop starts to curve from just about where the mountains are, (or are they hills:-)

I was contemplating cutting the roundhouse down from a 5 stall to a 4 stall unit, but then thought that a better option would be to cut a slot half way into the rear of the backdrop and to then crease in the backdrop to force it into a corner rather than a gentle curve, the result is as in the photo below, yep the crease is very visible, and whilst not quite a hard edge it is noticeable, but to me better than cutting down the roundhouse and I think is better than seeing the support timbers in the 'before' photo.

And the culprit in its position, sorta, at least it fits with about 10mm to spare, now I've just gotta get too & finish it.

I've also started doing a bit of modelling with a mate where we are setting aside a day a week or so to make something we both need, and our first modelling session is making some watertanks following Peter Jarvis's article in the April & June 2013 AMRM, I'm making a couple of tanks, one a standard Casula Hobbies 40,000 gal tank and the other a cutdown 20,000 gal tank. I've deviated from the article for the 20,000 gal tank by making a timber stand (I've based it on Rankin Springs as described on ghsignal's blog : link to ghsignal's water tank blog), I've used North Eastern Scale lumber to make the tank stand and it will be going on my version of Dunedoo, and I have to thank Rod's NSWGR Southern Line in a shed site (Southern Line) for the weathering tip using raven oil (I got mine from Blue Ribbon Saddlery @ St Marys, Sydney), I diluted it about 1:100 with metho as Rod recommends and I think it works like a charm, very happy with the result.
I'm hoping to have it, and it's 40,000gal counterpart, for which I have to make the steel stand,  finished early in the new year depending on how many sessions we can fit in and how much of a hassle it will be making the steel stand and it's braces and I also have to hunt down a jib for the timber stand, pretty certain I have something somewhere, just gotta find it.

Anyways that's it for now, I wish all a very Merry Christmas and  Happy & Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Not much to show

Hi All,

Well, I started writing this update just before father's day, then life got in the way, The Sydney Exhibition has come & gone and now we all know that Auscisions new model is the 421 and very nice it looks too,  and as I look back at this blog I realize it's been well over a year since my last post, and in some ways I really haven't got too much to show for it, and then again I've done a fair bit, just not a whole lot to show for it.

The majority of the last year or so has been spent working on the Southern Aurora cars in some way or another. I've experimented with making my own casting & whilst its certainly taken a fair amount of time (& money) experimenting & researching the latest on mould making & casting I am pretty pleased with the outcome, and the majority of my underbody details are from castings that I've made the masters for, most can be seen in the following photo:
Also can be seen are the straps that hold the air & water tanks in place, these are also a casting and the masters where made from fine brass angle bent to shape, for most of these castings I've inlaid a piece of wire for strength, but I did run out of wire for the last few I cast and I must say that I'm pretty impressed with the strength of the polyuerethane, the brass hand brake detail are from Keiran Ryan's 'S' truck details which look good to me.

A couple of masters I made for the Southern Aurora are in the next photo, the condensers are modified from Casula Hobbies RUB car items - WITH Permission from Joe, they have been deepened to the correct depth, the side louvers have been added and minor detailing added to the front, was it worth it, time will tell, the other item is an electrical box,

both can been in the following photo.

Most of the moulds I've made are plain open top moulds that the resin is simply poured into, but one is a 2 part mould that I then inject the resin into using a syringe - and while I did bugger up the finer bits of making the mould (I used Clay to place the master into but it was not very level & I did not notice that util after the rubber was poured) I am never the less very happy the way that one turned out & certainly I'll be using that method in the future where needed. Just as a side note with the casting, I've found that the polyurethane resin I use (Barnes Pro-cast) casts very nice if I dust the moulds with talcum powder & then place the moulds into a pressure pot & have the pressure set at around 40PSI, the castings have minimal air bubbles and appear nice and crisp.

So the Southern Aurora cars are now complete as far as the bodies go, all 10 of them. The interiors have been built & painted :
 Lounge car interior
 Dining car interior
Sleeping car interior, I've only got one central wall, it should really be a corridor with doors, but hey I'm lazy &  how much will one really see when the train is moving.

Interior for the other type of sleeping car, this side shows the two tone wall colour scheme & the painted on doors.

- bit rough, but as I've said , how much will one really see when the train is rolling past and also the four sets of Victorian 2BU bogies have been completed for their respective cars using the original Lima bogies:

Just as a side point, as per Ian's article  I glued a piece of 40th styrene as a bearing point in the bolster, I initially tried superglue/Cryo, but it , naturally, did not really take all that well, if the bogie was flexed it tended to break the bond, then whilst at my local Aldi Store I came across a 'workzone MMA' glue, this to me has worked really well, but I've only seen it there the one time I bought it, but be aware it does have a smell to it, and a shelf life of about 6 months, but I do like the way it works.

I'm currently completing the underbody detailing and also making the windows, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts I was fortunate enough to pick up some 1mm clear poly-carbonate when I was up in Coffs Harbour for my last employer a few years ago, and experimented with it & was very happy with the results, and this is the material I've been using to make the windows with, it cuts easy (using the score & snap method - same as for styrene) and sands easy, I should have the windows finished soon, then the blinds and that should just about make the cars ready for the paint shop and I'm hoping to get them painted over the coming summer. It's been a long project, but worth it. And just as a preview I've included a few of photos of some of the cars.

The Power Car, note its battery boxes are different to the battery boxes under the other cars.

The Baggage Car

The Dining Car, its handbrake is made from a combination of Keiran's spider handbrake and the Model Etch 18" 6 spoke round handbrake wheels (its what I had available at the time), I dare say one of the ModelEtch 4 spoke handbrake wheels would have been a good choice.

one of the sleeping cars

As for the layout, well it hadn't seen a train for over a year or so but as I had a meeting at my place with a group I associate with a few months ago I put the Southern Aurora aside, for a short while, so I could concentrate on the layout & at least got it running again, to a degree.

Lately I've been toying with working front & rear red & white marker lights on a Traino 32 and an Austrains 36,  but that will be for another post, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Until next time.