Kingsvale, NSW 1963

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

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.



  1. Hi James.

    Good work on the blog and progress so far it;s looking good.

    Lots of interesting things to discuss on that list.

    Lighting is interesting, but I'm toying with the idea of using those LED strips that you can control the colour by using a small control box. The thing with this is you can get hues to represent a more orange late afternoon or even a blueish evening shade as well as the normal daylight white. I don't know about anyone else but I tire with the brilliant sunny day and blue sky effect!

    I'm using an NCE Powercab at the moment, and bought a USB interface so I can plug in the laptop to run the JMRI Decoder Pro software to program loco's, as well as giving the ability to use my iPhone using the WiThrottle program as a wireless throttle. As a toe in the water it's a very cheap way to get a wireless throttle (if you already own an iPhone or iPod touch) to use as well as the std Powercab one.

    I'm also hand laying code 55 rail on pcb and balsa sleepers and using the Datasheets plans as a template for the points. I haven't super detailed them with fishplates or anything yet though. I'm not using P87 standards but using finer then normal NMRA dimensions which are somewhat generous.

    I'm using cork in some areas and also directly onto the boards in areas where no ballast shoulder is needed like a lot of country yards and single branch lines.


  2. Hi James,

    Here's what I'm doing on my layout...

    1. I have two ceiling mounted spotlight fixtures each with two swivel mount spotlights on it. Will need two more as the layout is bigger than when they were installed.
    They are fitted with compact flourescents, got some with a nice warm yellowish light. Originally had incandescents but too much heat in summer, nice in winter though!

    2. NCE PowerPro 5 amp with radio cabs. Even though the layout room is only 16 x 12 feet, I find that I will need a second radio base antenna as the signal is quit weak. The system is connected to my computer with JMRI Panel Pro and Decoder Pro. I chose the NCE system because the chip is upgradable and it's also a popular and very capable system with good support in this country.

    3. No handbuilt track here, just Peco code 75 laid on cork except for areas where the height is not needed, sidings etc. I do have etched brass fishplates to detail the track with and of course weather the sleepers and rails.
    My layout will have the first six feet of a branch line modelled including a low timber trestle over a creek. As this is close to the front edge of the layout, I want to do this as hand laid to see how it goes and get some experience of it.
    This will be in code 55 with widely spaced sleepers, fishplates and ballasted mostly in the dirt with a little ballast and ashes etc. Want to get the true pioneer line look here!

  3. Hi James,
    I think your on the right track with the flouros. I think Bowen Creek has Daylight Flouros and it shows the details very well. I would however like to see the results using the LED strips Darren was talking about. Sounds interesting.
    I plan on using code 70 for my mainline as well. Probably Micro Engineering. I bought a Fastracks NSWGR 1:7 Jig from Warren Herbert and will make all the points this way. I was not going to detail them with the brace chairs mainly because I have so many to do. I will however handlay all the branch with code 55. All the points will be detailed. I am going to have cast is brass the detailed frog section. I have made a new master for the brace chairs whitch I will have cast in urethane. Both the mainline and Branch will have our AndIan Models lever frames, Rodding chais and compensators.
    I was the first to get DCC in Coffs Harbour. Many years back when deciding on a System I tried both the NCE System and Easy DCC. In the end I was invited to GooRoo Gerry Hopkins home layout who had Easy DCC. Of course everthing ran perfect. So the System was chosen. Also at that stage the NCE Wirless cabs would not perform as good as the Easy DCC system and you had to lug around the larger cab. The wirless was a must for me. Our exhibition layout has been using the Easy DCC system for about 8 years with no problems.

    Love your Blog.


  4. Hi guys,

    RE the LED light strips, the layout I saw that used them to good effect was Victoria Mountain, at the 2010 Liverpool exhibition.

    There's an article beginning on page 14 titled "Let There Be Light" by Eddie Gallier in the Autumn 2011 NMRA Mainline publication, link below.

    I also found a youtube clip and at 8 mins 54 seconds there is some footage of the layout where you can see the lightning effect in the background, all done using the light controller system. Not for everyone, but it certainly is food for thought for anyone not wanting the sunny blue sky effect.


  5. Thanks, Darren, Darren and Ian for your comments.

    The LED lighting does sound interesting. I agree with your point about never-ending blue skies. It would be interesting to have a go at lighting which changes across a "layout-day" or portray a sunset or sunrise scene.

    I would like to try a diorama of a scene after rain, perhaps a summer storm. This could look very dramatic. The only layout I have ever seen which depicted anything other than fine weather was one I saw at the Sydney Exhibition a few years ago of a German layout after snow. It looked fantastic!

    Thanks again for your comments and kind words.