Kingsvale, NSW 1963

Kingsvale, NSW 1963
A view of Kingsvale station, looking north towards Cowra c1963. Courtesy Ken Ames, "From Grease to Gold Braid".

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas all

Hi everyone,

I have really enjoyed being part of this blogging community this year; it has been both motivational and inspirational.  Thanks to all of you, the followers and the followed. 

There are a few things on the go, and with three weeks holiday I'm hoping to make some solid progress.  Will report, with photos, in next few weeks.

Best wishes to all for Christmas, and for 2012.  I hope Santa has some nice packages for you in the morning.


Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Good intentions

It's been a while since I last posted, so here's what I've been up to:
1. Studying
2. Busy time at work
3. A 20-month old who needs constant supervision (don't want him playing with my brass locos,now,do I?)
4. Writing an article for AJRM (slow, but progressing)
5. Dreaming, particularly being inspired by my old mate Ian Millard and his Liverpool Range layout.
6. Working on some artwork for brass etching

What's left over is for modelling.

However, the article I mentioned is about modelling brickwork, an area which is often overlooked here. I have been trying different methods of representing brick walls, with varying success. I will post some photos when I get them off the camera.

Until then, may all your days be spent in the train room.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Kings Vale - first train

Passed a significant milestone today with the first train (CPH 12) operating over the line under its own power.

This was followed by 3813 running light engine.

Very chuffed (if you'll pardon the pun)!


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Christmas has come early!

Hi all,

Coinciding with the AMRA exhibition, I have had a fairly intense "railway" period, though without much actual modelling.

I spent four days in the country last week, touring through Mudgee, Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Inverell, Ben Lomond, Armidale, Tamworth, Werris Creek and back to Sydney.  About 1700km in total.  Took a few photos, chased a few trains and saw a banked coal train at Ardglen.  Great weather to follow the line through spectacular countryside

This weekend, I've been showered with various models I've had on order for a while - CPHs with sound and some magnificent LFX kits from Mr McCormac; as well as an Auscision VR B Class.  I have always had an attraction to these unique locomotives and they fit into my prototype if I say they are passing through en route to Victoria! And boy, does it run beautifully!  I also have my eye on the Tulloch Atlantic tank wagons from Southern Models, but have resisted so far.  I also recently acquired an SJM FL and HFL kit and the Andian models well-wagon kit.  So I have a bit of work to do, but it's been nice having all these boxes to open.

The layout is running in DC mode, which is progress, but I'm still having trouble running DCC.  I am sure there is something wrong with the NCE Power Panel because there's no voltage on the output.  But that's a problem I'll sort out tomorrow.  Then I'll be able to hear my CPH!

Coonabarabran down home signal

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A visit to the ARHS

Hi all,
It's been a while since I posted - have been distracted by other things, lately.  But a few weeks ago, I visited the Railway Resource Centre in Redfern and was pleasantly surprised by what I found!  Here are several samples from their colour slide collection. 

This lovely photo of a tour train leaving Kingsvale is rich in details.  The fresh sleepers in the left foreground, the stone coloured ganger's shed and the soil and foliage colours are all very helpful.  Mid 60s.

This is from a series of photographs taken at Demondrille station during an ARHS tour.  There's also some great details here - the footbridge and station sign in particular.

A 50-class shunting atop the coal bunker.  The gangers sitting on the trestle don't appear concerned. 



Wednesday, 29 June 2011

A short story

Hi all,
Haven't posted anything for a little while, but I've been quite busy on the layout.  I've been wiring. 

I thought it was a simple layout - three tracks, two turnouts, DCC. And relatively speaking, it is simple, but I had a few dramas which took a bit of fiddling around to rectify. More importantly, I learnt a few lessons which I should share with you.

1. Check that there are no shorts between the rails before the wiring is connected.
This was the most important lesson. I did a grand job of wiring, replete with terminal blocks, colour coded wiring and inspired utilisation of the tortoise point motor outputs. I was very proud of my efforts - electronics has never been my strong suit, but feeling that the is nothing inherently difficult about it, I merrily charged ahead. Before applying any current, I found that every rail was electrically connected to every other rail. Not at all what it should be! A dead short, or shorts. Of course, I had to dismantle much of my good work to facilitate trouble-shooting!

2. Even with only about six meters of rail, I wish I had isolated some sections to help locate the short. (Clever readers will already have deduced that the most likely place for shorting is in the turnouts).

3. I want my wiring to be neat, orderly and labelled. At the moment, I can flip the module over to work on the wiring. But when the landscaping is done this won't be so easy. So I don't want to be crawling around under the layout trying to work out what's connected to what for any longer than I have to when there's a problem. To this end, I think a dot matrix in permanent marker at a 50mm spacing on the underside of the baseboard would help to place terminal blocks and wire runs in a neat grid. Might be a bit obsessive/compulsive, but not much extra effort for a lot of benefit.

To cut a long story short (pardon the pun),I had brass tie-bars connecting the point blades - these were replaced with pcb sleepers. A second short was caused by incorrect wiring of the lead rails shorting to the outer rails through the cast-brass rail chairs.

All fixed now, though I haven't yet put all the wiring back and applied power. Readers will have to wait for that exciting instalment.


Monday, 13 June 2011

Real or imaginary?

Hi all,

I had an interesting discussion at the Epping exhibition yesterday, about the pros and cons of a layout which represents a real location, or one which is "fictional" - somewhere which never existed, but recognisably follows NSW practice.

I've always wanted to model a specific place, to re-create the feel of a location I like being at.  To do this would be a kind of labour of love; you would really need to know the place intimately to capture its character in model form.

The alternate view put to me, was that this is too limiting.  With the inevitable compromises imposed by space, time or budget, modelling a real location can be frustrating and difficult.

Furthermore, the public want to see layouts which have the "wow factor", and real locations are generally pretty dull, especially on country branchlines.  I can accept that, but my goal is to model a location on a country branch, dull or not!  Besides, I'm not really that interested in satisfying the tastes of the general public.  Most of them would expect to see trains charging around the layout (one every 10 seconds or less), with the KFC hard up against a bright green tunnel.

I'm not dismissing the vital role that exhibitions play in bringing new people to the hobby.  Nor am I criticising those who exhibit month-in month-out, which must be a pretty thankless task.  But I'm not building an exhibition layout.  It's for me.

Would a rose by any other name smell any different?  If I build a real location, with a few compromises, but give it a fictional name, what does that do to the perceptions of the viewer compared with the same layout given the name of the location it's intended to depict?  Does it attract a more critical eye, looking for those errors and omissions to expose the modeller as a fraud?

In my limited experience of building layouts (this being the first serious attempt in my adult life), I like building real locations.  I see the advantages of the limitations this imposes.  It constrains my tendency to add too much to the layout.  It prevents me from buying every piece of rolling stock that I happen to like.  I don't have to think too hard about what would be consistent with usual NSWGR practice, because I'm just building it "off the plan".

Anyway, it's a subject I think about a lot and am quite interested in.  A number of high-quality layouts over the years with fictional names have captured the essence of the NSW landscape and NSWGR practice; it was not hard to guess the location they depicted; would they have been perceived as "better" or "worse" if they  used the real name?  East Matelend, Warratoo and Hawkesbury River are examples.

Should I change the name of my layout to "Queens Vale" or "Kings Vail"?

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Track re-alignment

Hi all,

Following a suggestion a few weeks back about the insufficient space between the goods loop and the passing loop (thanks Craig!), I have realigned this track to be more like the prototype, as the photos below show:

The line on the right is the goods siding, and I have enlarged the gap between it and the passing loop.  If you look at the image below and compare it with the Ken Ames photograph a the top of the blog, the spacing looks more correct now (it's subtle but prototypical, and definitely noticeable).

That Ken Ames photograph is very valuable.  The more I study it (each time I open the blog), the more stuff I notice.  For example, the pots in front of the station building, the signal pulley posts in front of the platform, etc.  Perhaps this is a good reason to put a picture like this in the dunny or on the fridge so that I see new details several times a day!

Tonight I have been wiring up the rails.  I am sure I have used an unconventional process, necessary because all the track for this module has ended-up as a soldered, one-piece assembly.  Anyway, it seems to be working so far.  For those interested, here is the process I have used:
1.  Determine the position of the track on the baseboard, paying careful attention to the proximity to the platform (rollingstock should be prototypically close without collision)
2.  Mark the baseboard with the position of the rail where "droppers" are required.  Droppers are the feeds to the rail from beneath the base-board
3.  Mark the rail to coincide with the markings on the baseboard, so that later the droppers will line up with the holes in the baseboard.
4.  Drill holes in the baseboard for the droppers, coinciding with the marks made in step 2.
5.  Solder insulated multistrand wire to the underside of the rail (so that it cannot easily be seen from above).  I have used wire with red insulation for one rail and black insulation for the other.  Areas which are to have switched polarity have mauve insulation (for example, the point frogs).
6.  Place the rail assembly in position and feed the wires (each of which are about 15cm long) through their corresponding hole.

At this stage, I now have the situation where the rail assembly is sitting about 50mm above the baseboard, supported by the droppers.  This makes the thing look a bit like a rollercoaster; rails in mid-air!  Very cool.  I will take some photos to show you the Kingsvale "Wild Mouse".

Tomorrow I can pull the rail down to the baseboard, finish detailing the points, install point motors and DCC and run a bit of a test.  Then I can paint the rail, put sleepers in place and ballast.

Tomorrow, it's the Epping exhibition - looking forward to that!  A new AJRM will be a bonus.

Until next time

Friday, 27 May 2011

Some questions to the audience...

Hi fellow bloggers and enthusiasts,

I would be interested in your opinions on a few subjects:

1.  Lighting; what do you use to light your layout and why?
2.  DCC - which system do you use and why did you choose that one?
3.  Track - did you hand build your track?  Which method did you use?  what did you use for underlay?  Did you use an assembly template?  Have you detailed the pointwork and what parts did you use?

Hope to learn from others experiences and stimulate a bit of discussion!

In fairness, here are my answers so far:
1.  Overhead warm daylight fluoros, though I'm toying with the idea of some spotlights for a warmer light.
2.  I have an NCE system; dipping my toe in the water so far and limiting the expense.  But it's the way I want to go.  Will upgrade this once I'm running and need more cabs and controllers (that's probably a way off - prices and technology will change in the mean time)
3.  Handbuilding and detailing all track.  Code 70 and 55, but not P87 (yet).  It's only a little test module to try out a few techniques before I take on a bigger layout.  Cork underlay.  Using printed templates for pointwork (courtesy Data Sheets #6 point).  Stephen Johnson detailing parts, but when I run out of those, I will be hunting for an alternative.  US and UK parts might be an option, but they are probably either the wrong size or the wrong shape.  Don't know of a good supplier of NSWGR track parts...might need to do this myself.


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Track detailing

Hi all,

A short post today, but there is some progress to report.

I have been detailing my #6 code 55 turnout from the loop to the goods siding.  I'm using some Stephen Johnson chairs I've had stashed away.  They're very nice and I wish I could get more!  (I really miss the Stephen Johnson range and Steve himself, for that matter).   I was contemplating making some new masters for code 55 rail, and code 70 rail (and for some other bits and pieces which are not available from anyone) when I remembered proto87 stores (Andy Reichart in the US).  I have some I bought years ago (when I was making sole plates for Ian Millard) so I'll give those a go, and if they're any good I can buy more.  Andy also has some very nice bolt and rivet detailing parts.

Photos and another update soon.

On another note, I've purchased the ARHS Bulletins on CD collection.  It's like porn for railway enthusiasts.  Do yourself a favour...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Pendon Museum

Hi all,
Been a while since my last post due to holidays, Easter and then a business trip to Europe.

Last weekend, I did get time to visit Pendon Museum near Didcot/Oxford in England.  This has long been an ambition of mine because I really admire the ability of the Poms to model their landscape and buildings and Pendon seems to be the pinnacle.

The highlight is their layout called "The Vale Scene", a vast layout based on an area known as The Vale of White Horse in the 1930s, on the GWR main-line. 

As expected, I was impressed and inspired.  I stocked up on Wild Swan publications and left with a very warm feeling indeed.

I attach some photos, from which you might get the idea.

Happy modelling


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Layout photos

Hi all,

Here are some photos of the layout so far.

This is the entrance to the yard, looking south towards Demondrille
Here is a view towards the station building; a "Workshop 5" ACS is at the "platform". 

Looking in the other direction.  A Stephen Johnson signal box (not quite right for the prototype, but hey) and an Ian Lindsay A4 station building.  Again, not prototypical for Kingsvale (which was a modification of the A4) but it will convey the right impression.  There are three roads in the station precinct; the main on the left, loop and loading bank loop on the right.
As you can see from the previous photo, this is my first attempt at a backscene.  It's painted on a flat piece of primed 3mm ply; there are a few imperfections in the surface I should have repaired after priming.  I'm quite pleased with this first effort, though there are some aspects which are clearly not right and I will try and correct these before starting a new one from scratch.  Too many mountains for this part of the world.   I couldn't get a recent photo of this scene because a number of trees have grown along the Kingsvale Rd boundary obscuring the horizon.

Here is my #6 scratchbuilt point so far.  This is code 55 rail, though I built the main line (at the top of the photo) in code 70.

I hope that gives you some idea of my progress.  The next two tasks (about which I'm procrastinating again) are finishing the detailing of the rails, painting and laying onto sleepers; and fixing the platform in place and completing the platform face.

That's all for now. 


Sunday, 17 April 2011


Hi all,
Thanks to the ten of you who felt it worth the while to "follow" my blog.  The pressure is mounting to make it worth your while.

I am holidays this week, and while this has meant no work on the layout, I have had some time to explore the closed north coast branch between Lismore and Mullumbimby, as well as an excursion to Kyogle and Border Loop.

It has been great to explore this picturesque line, but depressing that, despite what must have been a huge effort to build it over 100 years ago, it now lies in ruins.  I can understand the economic arguments, but I still can't see the sense in that.  Maybe there is no sense; perhaps it's just the march of humanity and our bondage to decay, but it does seem a pity.

It's worth exploring the back roads to Booyong and Nashua, as well as St Helena.  It's only seven years since the last train and most of the track and bridges look in reasonable nick, but already there are trees popping up in some areas and being an area of high rainfall, it won't be long before the whole right-of-way looks pretty much like it did before the line was surveyed.

Certainly plenty of modelling prospects for this line, and an opportunity to go wild with the scenery to capture the look of that lush north coast vegetation.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A bit about Kingsvale

Kingsvale had a small yard comprising a main line, adjacent to the platform, a crossing loop and a goods siding.  The railway infrastructure, in the period of interest (circa 1953), consisted of a timber station building (a variation of the A3 1909 design) and a signal box.  A gents lavatory was at the northern end of the platform, and further north, a fettlers shed.  A pitched-roof out-of room was added on the southern end of the platform later, as was a grain shed on the eastern side of the line.

Kingsvale, the layout, is currently only a single module 2.4m long x 0.6m wide.  This depicts approximately half of the station precinct, from the northern points to half-way along the platform.  An adjoining module will complete the station area.  However, my style is usually to be overly ambitious in the planning and overly procrastinatory in the execution.  So I wanted to limit the plan and see it through.
I'm using code 70 rail for the main line and code 55 for the sidings.  It will be DCC operated (NCE) and portable, though I'm not planning to move it far.  If I surprise myself and finish this, I will complete a loop and a fiddle yard to operate the station prototypically.
The current state is this:
The rail has been laid with PCB ties used to maintain the gauge and the 6-foot.  Points have been built, with the exception of the switch-blades.  Platform is under construction, and the station building (from a kit - can't remember whose) and the signal box (SJM) have been painted in the stone scheme.  I've laid cork road bed and the next step is to detail the rail, paint and glue down to the sleepers.  These have been stained with dilute grey raven oil.  A very effective weathered silvery/grey finish results.

More to report soon.


Market forces...

Not much to do with Kingsvale/Demondrille, but I had to share this recent experience...

I'm putting together a set of R cars I had sitting in my incomplete/unstarted kit box (when I get beyong the easy bit of filing, gluing, filling and sanding, I'll post some photos).  It got me thinking about the Stephen Johnson L car models, one of which was beautifully assembed and painted by Andrew Hayne in Branchline Modeller #1.  When they were available, I could never afford one, being a poor student. 

Even though Ian Lindsay still flogs the R cars, which are SJM patterns, Ian Storrie does not sell L cars, nor does he have access to the patterns.

Well, I found some L cars up for sale on EBay.  What luck.  I know how to play EBay and thought I was in with a good chance of at least one of the models up for sale.  I set a limit of about $90, which is exorbitant for 6 bits of plastic and a few bits of wire, but I was prepared to stretch to this for the opportunity to own one of these ugly, but strangely appealing carriages.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I won none of them, and an SJM ACM sold for $153!  Does Stephen Ottaway know what he could be charging if he made a few more?!? 

On reflection, maybe he was the one selling them!

So no L cars for me, for now.

I'll save my cash and get back to those R cars...

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Brick-faced Platform

With my rails pretty much soldered into an assembly (without detailing or completing the point-work to an operational stage) I wanted to start work on the platform.

The platform is only about 100 yards long and brick faced.  The brickwork is distinctive and I want to make sure that I create a realistic effect.  Despite the fact that a platforms is such a basic structure in the railway landscape, there doesn't seem to be much source material for brick platforms in the model railway press.  Branchline Modeller did some good work on timber and concrete-faced platforms, but nothing on brick as I recall.  So I have studied the Wild Swan book on modelling buildings and looked about for decent english bond brick sheets.  There are a few choices here:
  • printed paper sheets - seem too red and cannot be painted over
  • embossed styrene or plastruct sheets
  • etched brass sheets
I favour the brass sheets, and Keiran Ryan's product looks very nice.  The only problem is that the platform is capped, which will be difficult to do using the brass alone.  So I might need a combination of brass and styrene.

More on this later...

Friday, 18 March 2011

A new frontier

This is my first ever blog post.  I realise now that this is where it's at as far as recording modelling progress and sharing techniques and know-how, so I've joined the fraternity.
This is a short post, just to get started, but I hope to have some photos of what I'm working on in the near future.

I have always wanted to model Demondrille, 391.6 km from Sydney on the Main South.  This location is unique on the NSW railway system firstly because it was a locomotive servicing point on the main line and secondly, because it was not a terminus or locomotive depot.  Walking around the remains of the coal bunker almost twenty years ago, I was captivated by the extent of these facilities, despite the fact that it was not far from the large rail centres of Harden and Cootamundra, and yet in the middle of nowhere.

I have made some moves towards fulfilling this ambition; the train room now exists (though it also fulfils a few other functions; storage for example) and I have a half built coal bunker.  But Demondrille is a large and complex facility and my procrastination and pursuit of perfection combined with the usual lack of time means I might never have an operating layout.

So, to break this conundrum and just build something, I decided to create a smaller layout (consisting initially of one or two modules) based on Kingsvale, which is the first station along the line from Demondrille on the cross-country branch to Cowra and Blayney.  I was very fortunate to discover that in Ken Ames book "From Grease to Gold Braid" there is an entire chapter on his time at Kingsvale in the early 60s, including a number of decent photos.  Great!

Kingsvale was a busy fruit-farming area (still is) and the railway facilities comprised a single line with a loop and goods siding, a modified A4 station building and a loading bank.  An easy place to start.

I was keen to try a Proto87 layout, but this is another aspect which actually retards my modelling; with so much stuff that is not to Proto87 standards and a desire to have an operating layout of some sort as quickly as possible, I decided Kingsvale should not be Proto87.  I will aim to make it to as high a standard as I am capable of without going as far as Proto87 just yet.

If you have any photos of Kingsvale (or Demondrille) pre 1992 (the first time I visited the area) and are willing to share them, I would love to hear from you!