Monday, February 27, 2012

The first year in the expanded shed

It is hard to believe that it is just over 12 months since the extensions to my train shed were completed. In the last year I think I have achieved quite a bit, but sometimes it has seemed like two steps forward and one step back.
The layout February 2011

The same spot in February 2012

the view looking back along Geehi

In the last year I have built about 60 feet or 20 meters of benchwork and in another week I should have all the track laid on the benchwork that has been built. My goal had been to have all the benchwork built and track laid in the first year, but reality has kicked in and it will take at least another year to reach that target. It hasn't helped that I spent some of the past year dithering about the track gauge and I have laid track twice on some of the layout.

Since the last post I have been busy laying track, wiring and installing lighting and valances. I have also made some changes to the trackplan returning to my original plan shown here. I went away from this plan because the staging yard was at the same height as the yard at Mt Bogong but under the buildings of the town. It didn't take me long to realise that this just wasn't going to work, so I moved Mt Bogong to under where Sterling is on the plan. While this worked well, I didn't like how the layout was going to operate so I spent quite some time rethinking my plans.

The saying "couldn't see the forest for the trees" applied to me here. I went back to the original plan and realised it would achieve all that I wanted if I lowered the staging under Mt Bogong by about 150mm or 6 inches. This makes Sterling the highest point on the layout but that gives me a good hill to climb out of Geehi that will require short trains or helpers.

The disadvantages are that the duckunder is now 150mm lower. That is going to mean that I have to build a liftout section instead of a permanent duck under. I am not mad on the idea but it is something I am willing to live with. The other weakness of the plan is the hidden staging. It would have been nice to have staging that was open or had better access but I don't want to give up space that I could use for scenery. The staging yard will be only for storage and not a "fiddle yard" so should be ok. Another point a friend raised with me is that most of the time an operating session will only have 1-3 operators so there won't be a huge number of trains needing to hide.

Last weekend I decided to make the changes. I removed the staging yard from the centre aisle and lifted the spline trackbed in a steady grade from the MerriMeric River bridge to the town named as Sterling on the plan above. It should be very satisfying standing at the end of the penisula watching a train climb the hill.

Finally I would like to thank all of you that have shown an interest in what I am doing. I am amazed that there would be 34 people who want to follow the blog and that there have been over 4500 visitors to the site. There have been visitors from over 20 countries from places as diverse as the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, India, Egypt, South Korea and of course Australia & NZ.



Sunday, February 5, 2012

Messing with brass

One of the issues as I see it of freelancing a narrow gauge railway set in Australia is the issue of motive power. While Australia imported loco's from all over the world most of these were Australianised so they look a little different to the same makers loco's back home.

 On my model railway it is tempting to use the Bachmann On30 engines straight out of the box as they run well and are good value for money. In my eyes though, they don't look right for Australia. I had a go converting a Bachmann 2-8-0 using styrene that was written up in Narrow Gauge Downunder

I was pleased with the look I got with this conversion but I made it too big. It looks massive beside my rolling stock. The cab also stands a bit tall and the styrene body being lighter than the original Bachmann body didn't do a lot for how well it pulled.
So I decided to have another go this time using brass. I have built a couple of brass kits before but I have never tried scratch building with metal before. I have found it surprisingly easier than I thought it would be.

Inspiration has come from South African railways NG15, Commonwealth Railways NM and various Indian 30 inch gauge locos. I still have to add running boards, air pump & plumbing, hand rails and cab details. The white metal details are not yet attached ( I know the smoke box door is crooked) but I am pleased with how it is all progressing