Sunday, April 23, 2017

Narrow Gauge convention part two

Every narrow gauge convention I go to, I try and build something for the contest room. I have a couple of reasons for doing this.The first reason being that their is nothing like a deadline to get a project finished. I often find that when I am building a model and I hit an issue, progress can stall.If I have a deadline the model will get finished and I have built quite a few of the major structures on the layout to take to conventions.

The second reason why I like contests is that it encourages me to strive to build a higher quality model and improve both my skills and my standards of modelling. For me the competition is against myself. Can I build a nicer, neater, more detailed and more realistic model than last time. Competitions are also good to compare at what level my modelling is at, something that can be difficult when I am mostly a "lone wolf" modeller.

This year I wanted to build a farm house to finish my model farm and the long valley scene. I had many options on what the house could be, but I decided I wanted to build an Edwardian weatherboard house that was similar to the original house on the farm that we live on. I took inspiration from a number of other farmhouses. The colour scheme came from the house I grew up in.  The laundry and dairy on the back was inspired by my grandparents house. The  wisteria came from my own house

The building is fully scratchbuilt, with board on board construction. I used Mt Albert 12"x 1" S scale wood for the weatherboards which works out at 9"x 3/4" in O scale. Doors and windows came from Grandt Line and I fitted them with real glass. The corrugated iron is from Model O kits and it is all weathered with oil washes from AK interactive.

I added a detail interior in the kitchen, lounge room and the main bedroom. Furniture is mostly laser cut kits from Outback modelsSDK miniatures and Karen Cary miniatures who all provide terrific service. Lighting is from some warm white LED's.

When I entered my model in the structures competition I was not expecting a prize. The quality of the modelling was excellent so I was both honored and surprised to receive second place. I am yet to install the house on the layout as it is currently on display in our living room.

Part of what makes conventions great, are the clinics. This year I gave a clinic on static grass.
Myself in full flight! Photo by Dan Pickard

I hope those who attended enjoyed the clinic as I enjoyed being able to give a little bit back to our great hobby.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Australian Narrow Gauge convention

Apologies for not updating the blog lately. Life seems to keep getting in the way of modelling and not that much exciting has been happening on the layout worth making an update. I will post an update on the layout in a blog post soon but today's post is about the Australian narrow gauge convention held over the Easter weekend in Geelong.

I always enjoy the narrow gauge conventions as a great oppurtunity to catch up with the many friends I have made in the hobby. There is always plenty of temptations to spend your money on, and the competition room is always full of beautiful models that show the incredible quality of modelling here in Australia.

The committee ably led by Dan Pickard (his blog is somewhere on the work bench) put together a fantastic weekend. They are to be congratulated for putting together a wonderful weekend.

Another highlight of the weekend was the awarding of the Rick Richardson award in recognition of making an outstanding contribution to the cause of narrow gauge in Australia to a very deserving Laurie Green (

On to some photos. I have a new camera that I am still learning to drive so the quality of some of the photos is not as good as I would like but I will still include them as I would like you to see the models.

Mark Fry's model of Tasmanian logging loco "Harlot" winner of steam locomotive competition

Bernard Snoodyk's On30 Brigadelok 3rd place steam locomotives

A feature was a display of the late Rick Richardsons O scale models. Rick was a pioneer narrow gauge modeller who was building On30 models in the 1950's

There was a range of layouts on display including Gn15, On42, On30, O16.5, HO and HOn30
I was quite taken with Allan Ogden's O16.5 layout Glyn Halt

John Hunters O scale diorama Shearing Time 

Another view of Shearing Time

The structure category of the contest room had some beautiful buildings on display

Roger Hill's model of Moe roundhouse in O scale

John hunters7mm model of Chelfham station on the Lynton & Barnstable

Rocky Point boat repairs in O scale by Laurie Green winner of the structure competition

Walhalla station by Grant McAdam in O scale, 3rd place

Stephen Postma's scratchbuilt On30 model of a Victorian railways NBH Second place in passenger rollingstock 

The diorama contest as usual, attracted some extremely good modelling

Arnold Engineering by Laurie Green 

John Hunters little slice of France

Richard Grinyer's large scale diorama that took out best in show and the Geoff Nott award

It was a great weekend that I really enjoyed and have come home inspired and motivated to work on the layout

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December update

A quick update to show progress on the layout.

The first thing you see as visitors walk in the door is this curve. I have been wanting to add a bridge for a long time and have finally gotten around to it. It is fully scratch built using Mt Albert scale lumber, dowel and numerous Grandt Line nut,bolt & washer castings. It is the first wooden trestle to go into the layout and I have learnt how not to build a trestle! I have another 10 bridges to build for the layout so it has been a good learning experience. I am happy with how it has ended up and the finished scene should be a good introduction to the layout.

I am now building scenery i the area around the bridge.

scenery work starting with some large trees on the ridge and shrub mats from modellers warehouse in the gully

I have purchased a couple packs of Haskell's NQR wagons. It is nice to see some ready to run Australian narrow gauge rolling stock. They are well done and while they aren't quite as finescale as the Ian Lindsey kits, the fact that all they need is some weathering is very helpful when I am time poor. I am planning to add some more to the roster soon
Haskell NQR left & centre, Ian Lindsey NQR on the right

the broad gauge yard has finally been laid. at this stage I have only one GY wagon and a vrcasts oil wagon to put together, so some kits from veteran models are on the wishlist.

sorry for the crappy iphone photo but it shows the yard. I am planning to add a goods shed to the left and an industry near the tree.
I hope you all have a merry Christmas and that the New year is a good one.

Cheers Murray

Saturday, September 3, 2016

I'm still here

It has been awhile since my last post and I wanted to let you all know that I am still here and that  while progress has been slow on the layout there has been some modelling done.

As I have mentioned in the past I have had some ongoing issues with my sight after an accident a couple of years ago. I had surgery on my eye last year and the recovery time has been slow but thankfully after a new pair of glasses my vision is back to a pretty good level. If there is a lesson out of my experience, it is look after your eyes. Without them it can make modelling a bit difficult.

The difficulties with my sight has meant that I haven't been doing a lot of modelling. I found I got very frustrated and for awhile I just haven't wanted to work on the layout. I did keep plugging away at a project that I have wanted to achieve for some time. I have a number of the excellent AMK kits of the Victorian narrow gauge passenger cars. They have made kits for both the NBB and the NAB and I have been slowly working away at them.

I am very pleased with how they have come together

They are an extremely detailed kit that has been well thought out, and I am pleased that the long suffering passengers of Geehi & Mt Bogong now have some comfortable transport.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fitting sound to the Garratt

I haven't been happy with the Tsunami sound decoder I had fitted to the Garratt. It just never sounded right and the whistle was totally wrong. I also had trouble with the running qualities. It seemed to short or reset almost constantly. I never did quite work out if the decoder didn't like running two motors or if I had a poor connection somewhere.

I was't sure what I was going to do about it until I stumbled across a DCC shop in the UK called YouChoos that sells Zimo sound decoders. John has a range of decoders loaded with the sounds of various  British locomotives. What caught my eye was a decoder for the OO scale LMS Garratt that Helijan released a few years back.

While the sounds are not exactly right for G42 they are pretty close as they were recorded off Bulawayo Garratts in South Africa. The decoder arrived in yesterdays mail and I installed it this morning.

I am very happy with how it sounds and to my ear it sounds far more like G42 than the Tsunami did. I can happily recommend the service from John at YouChoos.

Any way take a look and see what you think...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I have been building fences lately, both 1:1 scale and 1:48 and I thought I would share some photos of prototype fences. There is a fair bit of variation in farm fences depending on the region and era that the fence was built in. 

Timber posts with either plain wires or netting was popular in my area especially before the 1960's. While they were hard work to put up they were cheap to build. Most of the posts were cut and split from trees on the farm. My father who is in his 70's vividly remembers how much work it was to saw, split and drill the posts all by hand. The holes in the ground also were dug by hand. So much work to then have a bushfire come along and destroy the lot. There aren't many of these old wooden fences left around here. Most have been replaced with something a bit more modern

Concrete posts with steel star pickets came along in the 60's and many fences erected then are still around today. Fences have continued to evolve with netting and plain wires giving way to products like ringlock that are a preformed wire mesh. The fences we put up today have all steel posts and the ringlock comes in rolls 200 metres long so it is a very quick process to put a new fence up.
Concrete & steel post fence with ringlock probably erected in the 1970's
Wooden dropers on a plain wire fence. These are pieces of wood
 about 2' square that help keep the wires evenly spaced

traditional wooden fence post cut from timber off the farm

traditional fence with a steel picket or star post.
Note the two barb wire s on top, and the
plain wires to add strength to the netting

Wooden line strainer that seen better days
 Fences also have a strainer post at each end that takes the tension of the fence. If the post is at a corner or where the fence bends or has a gate on it, it needs a stay to keep it straight. If the post is in the middle of the fence it's called a line strainer and usually doesn't have a stay as the tension from either side keeps it straight.
Modern steel strainer post & stay
To my fence modelling, I am building a fence that has all wooden posts and plain wires. For the wires I tried a product from the sewing shop called invisible mending thread. It looked good as it was difficult to see the further you got away from the fence just like in real life.

Unfortunately I have enough temperature variation in the shed that the wires go loose so I need to change my wire. Thankfully  Dave at the Modeller's Warehouse came to my rescue with some fine charcoal EZ Line. This has some ability to stretch if you catch it. I am putting a bit of tension on it and it is staying tight despite any temperature changes.

 Unfortunately I am having some more issues with my eye again and modelling has come to a standstill which I am finding very frustrating. Hopefully it will improve enough for me to get back to my fencing ASAP.

Cheers Murray  

Thursday, January 14, 2016


For some time I have been looking for an easy option to uncouple the Kadee couplers I use. I am not a fan of the under track magnetic uncouplers as I want the operation to be a little bit laid back like the prototype narrow gauge was. I have tried using a variety of things like skewers and brass rod but have always had mixed results.

I visited my friend Gavin Hine last winter and his On3 Colorado & Southern Clear Creek layout. I took a train for a run and when it came time to uncouple Gavin handed me one of these...
I believe he got the idea from Brian Harriman and they work a treat. They are dental brushes that have a thin wire and small bristles and they separate a pair of Kadee No5's very easily. Gavin has made his with solid handles and a small led torch to make it easier to see. I am only using the little handle that comes with the brush but I am planning to do something similar. Thanks Gavin & Brian for a great idea!