Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A Waste of Time?

We enjoy most activities associated with this hobby - we wouldn't be involved in model railways if we didn't. When it comes to layout construction jobs, most people have strengths and weaknesses, and, as such, are better at some tasks than others. For me, I am happiest adding the finishing details rather than the basic work required to construct the baseboard, lay the track and install the wiring. While I am capable enough to complete these activities, they are something that must be done rather than something that can be enjoyed. For me, wiring is a particular chore. However, over the past week or two, I have come across a scenery construction task that is almost as bad and it too involves wire. I am talking about fence building.

This was a job that kept sliding down the 'to do' list until I ran out of excuses for not doing it. In NSW, most rural areas, by the 1960s, had well established fences. I had constructed a few around specific buildings, one particular house and the water treatment plant. However, the glaring omission was a fence between the rail easement and the Philip's Creek village. I had previously purchased a few packets of the Kerroby Models wire fences to provide the fence posts and, in my late father's workshop, I found some very light gauge wire. This was very very old wire that had cloth rather than plastic insulation. In fact, the wire is that old that I suspect that my father may have acquired it from his father who used to work in the NSW Railways Electric Car Workshops at Chullora in the 1930s to 1950s. So another convoluted reason why I should stop procrastinating.

The fence line with the bottom three wire strands fitting - and barely visible!
So I was set! The fence posts were painted and then planted, and then the problems started. Threading the wire through the holes in the fence post was quite a challenge. When I was young, my mother would often ask me to thread a needle for her because "my eyes were younger than her's". Well, now, my eyes are not so young anymore, and I have no children left at home to ask. Even with my strongest set of reading glasses, it has proved to be a challenge particularly as each post is spaced about 50mm apart and there are five holes per post. I have ended up using a torch to backlight each post to give a better view of the holes.

Another view of the fence - the Royal Hotel has suffered a bit during construction
The other challenge has been working around the urban encroachment of Philip's Creek. Some smaller items could be moved but power poles and the Royal Hotel have caused more than a few problems, and there has been some minor damage to both.

At the time of writing, this section of fence is only 60% completed and I'm beginning to think that I have wasted my time. There are still quite a few metres of fencing to finish. Maybe, I should have just planted the fence posts to create an optical line and let people's imagination do the rest. Certainly, the wire is barely visible in the accompanying photos. This probably means the gauge of the wire is about right but this activity has convinced me never to attempt power and telegraph line reticulation!!

However, not wishing to close on a negative note, I have added a few photos of the latest additions to the Philip's Creek roster, the recently weathered 36 class (that sound like a contradiction of terms) and the four completed CCHs.


  1. Phil,
    I purchased 10 meters of those fence posts from Kerroby all of the same for Kamilaroi, and when I used them on Yass I used grey cotton and super glued them about every 3rd post. I used a sewing needle to thread the cotton through the posts. I found it easy but slow, and Kamilaroi might be a different story. Good luck.

  2. Jim,
    Thanks for your comment. I commend your perseverance to complete 10m of fencing. You are right, it is slow. As I contemplate things further, I think the bulk of the difficulty and hence frustration comes from having to work around other scenic elements without damaging them. The old eyes also didn't help. I have used superglue on the ends of each run, but I may try your idea and use it more frequently. I might also try a needle if I can find one thin enough.
    cheers Phil

  3. Phil, what about a needle threader, which usually comes with any set of needles ?
    Regards, Walter

  4. Walter,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I haven't used one to date but I suspect that the needle threader would work for the elasticised thread that I wrote about in a later post ( ) but I'm not sure it would work with the wire that I was using when I wrote this article. The flexibility needed isn't there in the wire. Since then, I have moved away from the use of wire to represent the standard five strand fence.
    cheers Phil