Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a waist of time!

As the slab for the train room was being prepared a couple weeks ago, I got the bug to look at putting some sort of track plan together for Muswellbrook and the Merriwa branch. I did not want to just scribble something down of a piece on dunny paper. I also needed this worked out for location of access doors and dividing walls for the room itself. I had obtained a copy of 3rd Planit Railroad track planning software. Not one that is real competent with CAD software, and reading the 100+ page manual about four times, I persisted with it for about four weeks. I really should have been doing other jobs instead that have built up on the workbench, but anyhow I seemed to have worked out the basics in the end.....
Before I show off the, whats looks be a model railway, I will try and explain what I am trying to achieve as I show the various levels of the proposed layout. Please keep in mind that these are drafts and will most probably change a bit or even be scrapped all together.

The room size I am going to end up with will be  8.850 x 5.770m. When looking at the drawing, the entry door is on the left side just above the horizontal dividing wall. There will be a lift up, or lower down, section of the lower level so as to eliminate the duck under. The horizontal wall will incorporate one of the posts that holds up the beam that supports the house above. The second wall runs vertically down from the second post to the back wall. The layout will essentially have three levels. The lowest level will be for the storage yard. At this stage it will be at about 850mm from the floor. The second level (which I am actually calling the lower level) will be at 1100mm from the floor, and the top level will be at 1600mm from the floor.  All of which are rail height levels.......Thereabouts. I intend on having long 200mm high steps for operators to stand on when operating yards. These being in front of the layout will also reduce operators leaning on the layout. There is always much debate on height of multi level layouts and I will most probably setup a few 'mockups' before finalising the heights.

The storage yard level is pretty basic. It will be located along the bottom wall of the room. The yard will represent both Broadmeadow and Werris Creek. Trains from Broadmeadow will head Right out of the yard and climb at 1.5% toward Muswellbrook. Trains from Werris Creek will head left from the yard climbing at 1.5% round a balloon loop and up to Ardglen. I should also mention at this stage that I will be using Fastracks NSWGR no.7 jig for the points and most probably Micro Engineering code 70 flex track for all the mainline.

Looking at the next drawing it seems to get a little more complicated. Although not prototypically correct, trains from the storage yard will emerge from a tunnel and wind its way along the right hand wall. It passes the loco 'Y' for turning 60 class garrets, this section will be folded down when not in use and is served from the loco depot tracks, then rounding the bend passing the Loco depot and into Muswellbrook Yard. I thought at first that a little cutting back of the yard would allow me to fit all the key features of the yard in but surprisingly turned out that I had to reduce it quite a bit. I have I think still retained quite a few of these key features. The first one is the loco depot. I had to bring the approach tracks round the corner of the layout, It does do this very gradually on the prototype.
Two coal collieries were located close to Muswellbrook itself. The no.1 Colliery was literally just of out town and could be seen from the loco depot. The tracks serving the loader were on the top side of the mainline which I was able to represent on my plan. No.2 colliery however was a couple kilometres east of Muswellbrook and was served by its own branch from St.Hillier's. I was unable to fit St.Hillier's in so I simply ran a branch line from the coal storage track of No.1 Colliery down along the right hand side wall to the coal loader. I have marked all branch track in Blue. All of witch will be hand laid code 55.
Both these colliery tracks lead into Muswellbrook yard and directly cross the mainline via diamond crossing just beyond the road overpass. A single slip allowing trains to select the coal storage tracks within the yard. All the normal stuff will be in the yard, Goods shed, loading bank, fuel depot, station/platform etc.
The eastern end of the yard looks bloody confusing. The mainline rolls to the right at the end of the platform while the Branch to Merriwa heads off more or less to the left crossing the Hunter River. All these tracks cross and diverge allowing trains from any direction to access the branch, main or yard. It's to hard to explain......Look at the drawing!
Both the mainline and branch line will sort of parallel each other around the east wall toward the door. The mainline will climb up and the branch will fall down allowing a 90mm cross point on the corner near the Oak factory (another non prototypical practice). The branch will then disappear and climb up a 36" radius helix to the top level. 36" radius gives me a 1.5% maximum grade with 3 inches between roadbed.
The mainline will continue around the outside of the helix and again start to climb up toward Pangella loop located on the bottom wall between the two horizontal walls. The helix will be hidden behind a backdrop. I initially wanted to include Murrarundi so western bound trains can be banked from there but I Simply was trying to have the cake and eat it as well. It was a big Cake! I will bank trains for the climb to Ardglen from Pangella, or even from Muswellbrook.
Leaving Pangella the track will swing left along the horizontal wall and again climb at a steady grade up through Ardglen tunnel to Ardglen. I have added the Ardglen Quarry, A very reduced version. This looks to be quite close to the no.2 colliery on the drwaing but I will try and separate the two with a hill of some description. Photos of the colliery and the quarry show them buried within steep rock cuttings.

Finally the top level will be for the Branch line to Merriwa. Track will exit the helix on the bottom side of the horizontal wall and wind it way to Denman passing the 'James Hilders Denman Freezing Works' Factory witch was served by a short passing loop. Denman will be on the bottom wall above Pangella. Denman had a  goods shed, Stock yards, 5 ton yard crane, weigh bridge, elevated water tank etc. Leaving Denman it will slowly climb up round through the bush following the Goulburn  River on the side of the hill. It will then arrive at Myambat. This was simply a short rough platform. At the western end of Myambat platform was another Short passing loop with a short spur leading to the Army Munitions base on the side of the hill. I nearly got locked up taking the photos!
Leaving Myambat loop it will again round a bend to the bottom wall, pass over the Large Wybong Creek bridge, Swing right again to the right hand side wall and into Sandy Hollow. Small station, trike shed, cattle/sheep yard etc. Just north of Sandy Hollow it will pass over Halls Creek, again climbing slowly until it reaches the highest point halfway round the curve at the top right corner of the room. It will then drop slightly into Merriwa Yard. I hope to get one of Kerian Ryan's Merriwa silos for the eastern end of the yard. The loco depot at the far end of the yard with 60' turntable, engine shed, Coal stage etc. The yard has a goods shed opposite the station Platform and 5 ton yard crane. All the normal stuff.

So that's about It. Maybe I am biting off more than I can chew, But this will be a long term project and being fairly young, I have plenty more modelling years left. Any suggestions would be welcome.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

More Railway Room Progress

Its been a busy week here. Last weekend Father In law Noel, Mate Graham and myself dug all the footings for the railway room slab. The Railway room being included as part of the major extension work, it too had to be put through council and the slab needed to be engineered by an engineer. The usual over engineering the outcome. The slab needed huge 400mm x 400mm footings all round. Where the room extends out from the back line of the house this part of the slab sits on what they call 'filled' land (the back yard is terraced) and as such needed 5 concrete filled piers 400mm diameter and down into natural clays (over 1 meter deep) and so the bottom of the footings bear onto the piers. These piers we done a few months back. At the same time we filled the 'outside' area with crusher dust and compacted it with a whacker packer.
Tuesday we had a mate concreter form and steel up the slab with help from Noel and Myself  and was inspected ready to pour Wednesday. Within the form work is a step down of 160mm x 180mm for the brick course. The 90mm stud wall sits on the top edge of the slab leaving the overall size at 8.850 x 5.770 ( 29 x 19 feet approx). Unfortunately due to the rain, we had to postpone the pour till Friday.

  The concrete needed to be pumped from the front of the house through the garage down the back stairs and into the slab. Considering the amount of water that good old mother nature has dumped around the country we were a bit dubious when we saw the clouds in the sky but luckily we did not get a spit of rain all day, God must be a railway modeller! . By midday Friday the concreter had the helicopter finish the surface. It looks great.

Although this is exciting, I know need to get back upstairs and finish the rest of the house. Oh well, one step closer.......


Thursday, January 13, 2011


A very good friend of mine, Andrew Lee, and myself have been working on some etched brass models to add to our Railway collections. Some of which had been produced some time ago and are no longer available. Andrew first drew up drawings of the NSWGR LWW Well Wagon from the one currently preserved by the Dorrigo Railway Museum.
After seeing Andrew's first sample I suggested that we look at etching the 5000 Gallon Turret tender as used on the 50, 53 and 55 classes. Most of the photos I have collected for my Muswellbrook and Merriwa Layout used these turret tenders on the standard goods locos and as the model was no longer available reproducing the tender was a must for me. Andrew began Drawing up the tender body ready for etching with the LWW. We then decided that we should make these available to the model railway fraternity by producing these as kits.

LWW Well Wagon

We opted for single layer etching to not only reduce production costs but also to make drawing and designing these kits easier.  The LWW is perhaps the most difficult of the two to assemble. Experience in soldering is essential as there is quite a bit of laminated and Butt soldered joins required. The detail is superb, though care was needed to solder on the legible number plates and hold down brackets. The LWW will be the first of our kits available hopefully early this year. They will however be produced in limited numbers. They will be sold with everything to complete the model excluding paint and solder. The LWW will have Ian Lindsay Models brass archbar bogie's and Steam Era RP25/88 spoked wheels, Brass wire, decals, KD couplers, Grooved Styrene for the well floor and comprehensive assembly instruction.

At this stage we have had to make a couple minor changes to the drawing. These have been sent to our etcher and we are awaiting the finished etches. Below are some photo's of the Prototype LWW from Ron Prestons' Day Of The Goods Train' book, the etch as it will be produced and the unpainted LWW pilot model I have assembled. I have not fitted the floor or KD's at this stage. We have not established prices for any of the models at this stage.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Commonwealth Railways 5000 Gallon Turret Tender.

The first sample etch for the turret tender was done at the same time as the Well Wagon. The first drawing was taken from the Greg Edwards data sheet drawings and an old Lloyd's Kit and subsequently had quite a few faults but looked very promising. A trip to Dorrigo to measure the Turret Tender behind 5353 soon fixed several of the issues with the drawing. The tender body construction differs from the normal brass kits with its folded corners. We opted to laminate the separate body sides to an inner liner. This avoids the 'rounded' corners unlike the prototype and also strengthens the tender body. The inner liner has tabs that locate the body assembly nicely into the tender chassis that is folded up prior to the body's construction. We have also added an appropriately sized hole in the tender floor so as to fit a 23mm high bass speaker and enclosure. There is also just enough room to fit a 1000 series Soundtrax Tsunami. The front panel has a hole etched so as decoder wires can pass through into the tender from the loco. The rear ladder is made 'the hard way' by soldering short lengths of brass wire into the two ladders styles. We have added a soldering jig within the etch to aid in this process.
At this stage several more changes are needed to the drawing along with confirmation on the bogie's and castings that we intend to use before the drawings can be finalised.
Below are the photos of 5353's tender at Dorrigo, the Etched sheet from the second set of drawings and the pilot model from the same etch with some of the handrail and pipe detail added.

Apart from the above models Andrew had also played around with 3D CAD drawings for the NSWGR SL heavy load wagon. The SL pictured below is the first sample of 3D printing technology from Andrews drawing. The detail is very fine but reproduction using this technology is very expensive and would not be viable for kit production. We have the etches ready for the side stanchions.
Although this model was not initially intended for resale we have been looking into having this cast in urethane although there is some concern about casting the extremely fine 0.4mm holes for stanchions and side beams. We hope to resolve this and make the model available to others.
We are chasing photos of the swivel bolster used with these wagons. One each was used on two of these wagons when carrying longer loads. Here are the photos of the prototype, from Ron Preston's 'Day Of The Goods Train' book and of the pilot model:

OK, 'So what else are you doing' you ask. We have plans to etch both two and three lever lever frames based on the standard NSWGR design. To compliment these we will have a small selection of cranks, compensator's and pulleys along with roding chairs. They will be similar to the ones once produced by IR Models. The first etch samples are with the well wagon drawings at our etcher.
I have also discussed with Andrew about producing the 4 wheel water gin. Again these were used on the Muswelbrook line, along with many others and is a must have for my railway. Actually they had one based at Muswellbrook. See below: Take note of the markings on the tender.
Photo courtesy of Graham H on the 1972 RTM Tour to Muswellbrook. Photo from flickr.
I have started an email list so we can send out updates of the above models and future projects. If you wish to be added to this list you can email me at . I will also have updates posted on my blog as well. If you have any questions about the models or can help with info or photos you can also forward these to the above email.
That's all for now.
AndIan Models