Sunday, 22 December 2013

Tanker Wagons at Christmas

In my last post for 2012, I anticipated the arrival of two long standing orders in 2013, the Trainorama 48 class and the SDS tanker wagons to add to the rolling stock that passes through Philip's Creek. Well at least one was achieved with the arrival of the SDS tanker wagons a few days ago.

I had ordered the 1960s version and, straight out of the box, they look great. However, it was time to consider weathering. Photos that I have consulted seem to indicate a wide range of weathering options but most seem to show an underlying rust hue. I sought to represent this with a light coat of Humbrol Rust Wash. This was followed with a black soot colour sprayed downwards concentrating on the upper part of each wagon. I may have overdone this a bit. Each wagon was then sprayed with a matt finish.

To finish, I added some additional rust on the chassis and substructure using pastels together with a dilute greasy black wash on and around each dome. Even though it has a gloss finish, much of the grease sheen has been lost in the overall black of the upper part of each tank. The effect doesn't come through on any of the photos I took and is only just visible when looking carefully. While I could add some extra wash around the domes, I think I will leave it for a while until I can get trains rolling again to see how they appear as part of a larger consist.

As 2013 draws to a close, I would like to thank those who have offered comments and advice throughout the year, and to take this opportunity  wish all those who read this post, as well as your "near and dear ones", a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2014.

cheers Phil
















Saturday, 14 December 2013

Moving Forward, at last!


Finally, Philip’s Creek is starting to expand again, the first time in about eight years.  My most recent post in early November provided a few photos of the new modules to be inserted between the existing layout and the Muswellbrook staging yard. Since that time, very little additional work has been achieved until a few days ago. This was primarily due to a three week holiday in New Zealand but, as usual, other issues have also conspired to impede a reasonable rate of progress.
This extension is the first phase of a more ambitious plan that will provide a slightly longer run for the mainline as well as the start of a new branchline. The branchline, inspired by the Merriwa line will eventually run as an upper level over most of the existing layout. I say inspired rather than modelled because it will pick up characteristics of the line while not seeking to reproduce elements of the line in miniature. I anticipate that it will be a rural terminus with livestock and wheat generating most of the traffic. I will also probably use the Merriwa station layout as a guide. However, that is all in the future, and the more immediate challenge is to complete the mainline extension and restore operations.

The following photo sequence shows the progress over the past few days.

The first photo shows the new module in location and, at least this time, I remembered to add a backdrop before I went too far.
The second shows the preparation of the track bed.My technique is probably different to many as I glue the track bed to the styrofoam subgrade. To get a track bed of the necessary thickness, I have cut two cork floor tile strips each 50mm wide and glued them together. To curve the track bed, I have made a series of transverse cuts, each about 35mm in length. This provides enough flexibility to create a minimum 600mm radius curve.

Each section is then held in place with nails and bricks until the glue cures (the brick train).

The section of track bed almost ready to lay track. Previously, I would have started to lay track at this point but this time, I have decided to paint the track bed with a grey paint.

Hopefully, I can get some track down before Christmas.







Monday, 4 November 2013

The Old Enemy Resurfaces

That old enemy of most railway modellers has resurfaced at Philip's Creek. I am talking about that perennial problem, a lack of time. In reality, it never really left. I had anticipated that with retirement from the full time work force, 'lack of time' would be a thing of the past. Wrong! The 'Honey Do' has expanded exponentially and the needs of elderly parents has also assumed a higher priority. These combined with a few days of part time work have meant that the time available for some solid work on Philip's Creek is very scarce.

However, slowly, Philip's Creek is being prepared for its first expansion since about 2005. I managed to scrounge some time on a weekend to construct a new module that will be inserted between the coal mine area and the 'Muswellbrook and regions north' staging area. The module will allow a slightly longer run on the main line and also include the start of a branch line that may become an upper layer, depending on how much interference there is from the old enemy. The staging area will be turned through 90 degrees and placed on top of the shelving shown in the photo to the right.


The module follows my usual practice of a light timber frame topped with Styrofoam but this time, at least, I have made some provision for a backdrop rather than tying to install it retrospectively. Previously, I had glued Homasote onto the stryofoam to act as a track bed. When my supply of Homasote ran out, I switched to canite and this performed equally as well. However, canite seems to be scarce these days and quite expensive so I am contemplating other options. Thick cork (possibly cork tiles) or perhaps mdf overlaid with a thinner cork may be the solution this time.

Unfortunately, this is where things will stay for the next month or so as another activity claims 100% of my time, and then it will be the lead up to Christmas, and then ..... The old enemy is alive and well!

In the meantime, rail traffic at Philip's Creek has now grid locked as about half of the rolling stock was moved from the staging area. If construction drags on too long, some of these may be have to be boxed up to permit some form of operation.





Monday, 30 September 2013

LCH loads - An alternate solution

Recently, I posted a short piece on the different solutions that I had used to create loads for the growing CCH/LCH fleet servicing the Philip's Creek coal mine.  ( http://philipscreek.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/cchlch-loads.html ) The CCH loads have worked well but the solution to simulate the LCH loads was not satisfactory. Because of the spreader bars at the top of each LCH hopper , there was insufficient space for some form of thin plate to carry the simulated coal without leaving an untidy gap between the load and the top of the hopper. The slight dimensional variability between different wagons also contributed to the situation. The right hand side of the photo below illustrates the problem.

I received some helpful suggestions in response to that post but I was hesitant about cutting into wagons that had just been completed particularly with my 'less than steady' hand. So I decided on a different approach. If I am trying to simulate coal, why not simulate a full load rather than just a cap  on the top. So the challenge now was to get a load of coal into and out of the LCH hoppers without making an almighty mess.


I decided to measure out  and store quantities for each wagon separately. I purchased some small cheap containers from Woolworths and they now each hold one hopper's worth of 'coal'. I also fabricated two funnels to assist the loading and unloading, the long rectangular one for loading and the square one for unloading. In reality, the unloading funnel could be any size as long as the coal can be poured from the hopper without spillage. However, the dimensions of the loading funnel were a little more critical. The base of the loading funnel is slightly smaller than the top of the hopper and two styrene supports were glued to the base of the funnel so that it would sit on the hopper.
It's a simple process that does not take too much longer than the loading of the other CCH loads but it is advisable to spread the load along the length of the hopper. To date, there has been very little spillage of 'coal' and any major issue will be addressed with 1:1 scale vacuum cleaner.

I was a bit concerned that, perhaps, I was under filling the wagons, but after a check of a loaded coal train passing through Hornsby, I noted that quite a few hoppers were significantly less than brimming. So I don't think it's an issue.

This idea may not work in hurly burly of an exhibition or on a large home layout during a major operating session. However, it is viable for layouts like Philip's Creek with a single operator.  Would I use the same technique for the CCHs? Probably not, it may be more realistic but it's not really necessary and poor old 5131 struggles with heavier loads, so I think I'll restrict it to the five LCH wagons in the fleet. However, the concept may be trialled for the BBWs where I am experiencing a similar challenge.






Thursday, 12 September 2013

'Buses will replace trains'

'Buses will replace trains' is a familiar refrain for commuters on the greater Sydney rail network when essential track maintenance is programmed. And so it was for Philip's Creek, when the decision was made to replace two points in the middle of the yard area.

The two original Atlas points had been in place since 1997 but the electrical connection on one had failed. The points provided an essential loop for shunting operations but the electrical fault, combined with the large isolated frog on both, had made these actions difficult for most locomotives.

This was a job that had been planned for some time. Having originally used Code 83 track, I decided to purchase two Peco Code 83 electro frog points as replacements. This was done about a year ago, but I held off commencing the project because of its impact on operations. There was no bypass and trains would have to cease operations. With my very recent retirement from the workforce, it was now or never for the project.


The job had several complications. The points were located in the oldest section of the layout and, consequently, the area that had been the subject of significant landscaping and detailing. Power poles, buildings, the fettlers' work area, a water column, fences and a war memorial all had to be negotiated during the repair activity.

To lift the old points, I saturated the old ballast with very hot water and some kitchen detergent and removed all of the track pins and cut the track in appropriate locations. I then used a paint scraper to ease each point out. The first came off as anticipated but the second proved to be a little more difficult and lifted the surface of the original homasote roadbed as well.
After some basic cleaning up, the exposed homasote was coated with a grey paving paint prior to the installation of the new points. The installation was a bit fiddly with additional wiring to support the electro frog arrangement and new point motors. Most of my points are manual but in this situation, I decided to use point motors and combine the operation of both points using the one switch.

The new points were significantly shorter than the original Atlas points and it was necessary to add additional short lengths of track to span the gaps.

The process took much longer than planned as I had to recall a number of skills that have not been used for some time, as well as negotiating all of the scenery obstacles. Furthermore, I hate crawling underneath the layout to finish the wiring, so additional prefabrication work was necessary to minimise this part.

The work is now about 90% complete. The point motors have yet to be connected and I am going to hold off the final ballasting until I am sure that there are no problems with the new arrangement.The repairs to the landscaping including something to cover the polarity switches will be completed after the ballasting.

But now at least, trains are again running through the Philip's Creek station and yard, and the buses can now be sent back to the depot.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

CCH/LCH Loads

The CCH and LCH fleet has been growing gradually over the past 12 months to the point where the fleet now stands at 13 with another about to enter service. However, one of the challenges has been to source suitable loads for the new wagons.

Because the wagons must run empty to the local mine and then depart full, there is no opportunity to cheat a little. Therefore, I have included spreader bars to the wagons although this  has added some extra challenges when it comes to fitting coal loads.

The photo below shows my four approaches to the challenge.
 
Initially I tried a commercial product made for the Silvermaz kits I was using, but these did not allow for the spreader bars. As a result, a fair bid of cutting was necessary. This worked for a CCH load where the "hungry boards" provided some additional depth but the same process failed dismally for the LCH. 





I also modified a few K truck coal loads and, again, this worked for the CCH but not the LCH.

Finally, I decided to scratch build the LCH loads using a very thin sheet of styrene as a base. In my most recent attempts, I have added some ribs for extra stiffness. Adding coal was done in stages, with first being a layer superglued to the styrene. When dry, a second and final layer was added using  normal track ballasting techniques followed by a final touch up of black paint around the edges.

So now there are 13 loaded wagons ready for Port Waratah with a few more to follow.











Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sleeper Traffic

The main justification for the short Mount Windeatt branch line on Philip's Creek is the Parker Brothers Saw Mill and its supply of sleepers for NSWGR as well as timber products to other markets.

As a consequence, the release of InFront's 18ft sleeper wagon  caught my attention, and I lashed out and purchased ONE at the Thornleigh exhibition some weeks ago.  My intention was to construct this one as a test and then purchase a few more when finances permitted. Unfortunately, the latest version of InFront's website advises that the wagon is now out of stock. Nice plan - fail!

It's a great kit with some fine detail. I thought the instructions included in the kit were basic but the manufacturer's website included additional photos that provided a useful supplement. Unfortunately, now that the model has been 'sold out', these photos have disappeared.

While the assembly of the kit was uncomplicated, I wasn't prepared for the partial disintegration of the Austrains chassis. It seems that everything on the chassis was a press fit and, progressively, both buffer beams came off, closely followed by the brake cables coming adrift. A bit of superglue fixed the problem but getting things back together required younger eyes and more dexterous fingers than my clumsy digits.If I was building another kit, pre-emptive gluing of the chassis components would be a requirement.

I also wasn't that happy with the decals when they were applied but I suspect that it had more to do with my technique than the product as supplied.

The colour photo on the website inspired me to be fairly generous with the rust colourings as part of the weathering. I understand that the wagons had a fairly hard life. However, it's also clear from the photo of the sleeper load that I have more work to do on the timber.

All in all, a nice addition to Philip's Creek!


Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Going Wireless

The Mt Windeatt section of the layout in 2009 in England
When I decided to change to DCC, the NCE Powercab was a good choice and I haven't regretted the purchase. However, when I made the changeover, I was living in England with only a portion of Philip's Creek residing in the attic.The 2m cable between the controller and the socket that came with the Powercab didn't pose any problem, but the limitations soon became apparent when we returned to Australia and Philip's Creek was reconstituted as a single layout.

As it is currently constructed, Philip's Creek almost fills a single car garage, around 5.5m x 1.8m with several aisles to facilitate access. I bought a longer cable but was warned that its length (3m) was about the maximum before electrical losses would impact on the efficiency of the system.  While it did allow greater reach, areas of the layout, particularly the two staging areas, were still well beyond the reach of the tethered controller.
The antenna can be seen in the middle of the window



With ambitions of further extensions and the prospect of retirement potentially providing time to achieve these ambitions, it was time to resolve the problem. The declining Aussie dollar added a further imperative. Some research on the internet and a couple of chats at the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus indicated that the best solution for me was a wireless arrangement and an additional cab controller.

Installation was fairly simple, apart from me putting one of the batteries around the wrong way in the supplementary controller. Otherwise, it was very much a 'plug and play' arrangement and. I can now use a controller at any point of the layout.

The supplementary cab is very basic and easy to use. However, I have noticed a delay between when a  locomotive has been selected and it is ready to operate. In reality, the pause is probably no more than a second or two but in this day and age, it seems like a very long time. There was one instance when it took three attempts to select a locomotive. I'm still learning and I don't know if that is normal.



As I mentioned earlier, this purchase is an 'enabler' that will facilitate the the expansion plans, so roll on retirement! Maybe then, I'll also get around to covering the white styrofoam with a fascia.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Crossing the Tracks



It has been a busy few months on the work front and this has limited the time available for modelling activities. With retirement looming, it seems as if my ‘working self’ is making sure there is one final bout of frantic activity before being consigned to history. However, the recent Queen’s Birthday long weekend did offer some respite, at least for two of the three days.

On the Saturday, I took the opportunity to visit the Epping Model Railway Exhibition at Thornleigh. It was another great exhibition from that club with a number of layouts that I had not seen previously. There were some very impressive layouts showcasing a very high standard of modelling. Congratulations to the organisers.

Suitably inspired, on Sunday, I felt motivated to tackle a few well overdue tasks on Philip’s Creek. I finally managed to finish the fence separating the village from the railway easement (http://philipscreek.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/a-waste-of-time.html). Then, it was time to tackle a job that had been hanging around ever since the scenery was laid on the first sections of the layout; the gap between the two original modules.

Previously, I had tried to mask the gap by locating the pub and road on either side of the gap in the hope that, visually, it would be overwhelmed by other detail. I suppose that idea worked in part, because something else always seemed to have a higher priority.


Anyway, filling the gap was not difficult, and I then started to cover the work with basic scenery, knowing that some day it may have to be broken up if the modules are separated. For the area between the tracks, I planned a mix of gravel, dirt and grass. However, after laying the ‘dirt’, I suddenly realised that I had created a path between the fettler’s shed and the Royal Hotel. The fettlers were ecstatic. Not only did they have a shortcut to bring in tools and equipment but they now had a quick and direct access to the pub for lunch each day.

So instead of looking for an appropriate scatter material, I went searching for one of the Laser Rail Bits timber level crossing kits that I had purchased a few months ago. One kit had sufficient pieces to allow me to create a pedestrian crossing point across three tracks. This very simple accessory was laid easily and all that was left to do was weather boards and build up the footpath level. 

I decided to try dry soft pastels after reading a few posts on the subject (http://bylong.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/weathering-with-timber-pastels.html and http://southernline.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/weathering-pastels-and-round-piles.html). The two photos of the crossings show the timber on one track with a mix of greys and brown pastels that was then rubbed with a piece of paper. I may have overdone the rubbing because the timber planks now look very homogeneous. I'll try a few different approaches on the next two tracks to get more differentiation between the planks. Probably also with the benefit of hindsight I should have weathered before installing them.

However, it has created a nice little feature that, to be truthful, I hadn't visualised previously and all because of a bit of motivation from the Epping Model Railway Club - thanks gents. 




Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Resurrection and Staying Alive

CPH 16 back at Mount Windeatt
Don't worry, this post has nothing to do with religion or music!

In February 2012, I mentioned that the CPH had been withdrawn from service. It had never run well and I was not satisfied with the electrical pick up arrangements.  At the time, I contemplated the purchase a new chassis and motor but other priorities intervened, as they do, and so the CPH just sat in the staging area.

Over the intervening 15 months, I have read a number of blog posts and articles about 'Stay Alive' or 'Keep Alive' capacitors being used as a way to overcome short term losses of power. From what I read, this seemed like a solution for my 30 Class tank locomotive and, to a lesser extent, my 50 Class. Despite having some additional pick-ups fitted, both still stall in particular locations on the Atlas points that I purchased back in the late 1990s.Yes, I could replace the points but that will be a major task probably causing a significant amount of damage to finished scenery. Hence attention has turned to the concept of the uninterrupted power supply.

Not having any experience with these and having no feel for the extra space that the Stay Alive would take, I decided to use the CPH as a trial. After a bit of investigation, I purchased a DCC Concepts decoder and 'stay alive' capacitor. However, I compromised the trial somewhat by also upgrading the electrical contact wipers on the unpowered bogie using the same Hollywood Foundry product that I had used for the 36 Class.( http://philipscreek.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/power-to-36.html)

The 'Stay Alive' is the blue object on the left
The upgrade of the wipers worked well and improved the performance of the CPH to some extent, but I'm not sure about the new decoder and stay alive. I did try to test the stay alive by running it over an unpowered section of track but The CPH  stopped dead. When I asked the manufacturer about this, he politely told me that I would need a capacitor about ten times larger than the one I purchased to get the result I sought! So in one respect, the trial delivered an answer and the CPH is back in service  but I need to keep searching for a solution.

Clearly when it comes to 'stay alives', size does matter!




Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Evolution or a Lack of Planning?

One of the non railway projects that I have been undertaking over the past few weeks  is to digitise a number of old family VHS from the mid 90s. It was certainly a trip down memory lane, and one of the segments that I uncovered was some video that I had taken of Philip's Creek in its earliest iteration in our garage in Missouri.

It highlighted how much Philip's Creek has evolved since 1996 reflecting changes in space availability and operations. For example, when the original video was taken, Philip's Creek was a continuous layout; it is now a point of point operation. Then, it occupied a space of 3.6m x 1.8m. Now it is 1.8m longer and is now a 'L+' shape. It has also moved from the original DC control to DCC.

However, some things haven't changed. The modular arrangement has withstood the test of time and  many moves. The concept of a complete styrofoam base has made it light enough to move, but has also proved to be very stable. The prototype and time era has not changed although as I mentioned a while ago, an element of elasticity has crept into the time period.

To illustrate the changes, I have attached three photos, all of which show the same location on the layout but each separated by about 8 to 9 years. The first photo shows one section of the layout as it was originally constructed at the end of 1996 as part of the continuous track plan. The second photo shows the same area as it was around 2005. The section of through track had now become the coal mine siding. Finally, the third photo show it in its current iteration as a locomotive siding.  

Philip's Creek 1996
Philip's Creek 2013

Philip's Creek 2005


While some changes have been possible because of extra space, some have been the result of changes in the way the layout is operated.  I would like to say that these reflect an evolution of my modelling but when I look at the detailed planning done by others, combined with the time they commit to get it right, I'm not so sure. I know my own eagerness to get something running, and the reality is probably more a lack of planning, or perhaps, a lack of adherence to the plan on my part. The only thing I can say in my own defence is the old cliché about 'change being a constant' on the prototype and therefore, I am modelling that change - well at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

















Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Change of Scale Weekend

This weekend saw a focus on 1:1 scale locomotives rather than the usual 1:87 version. This is just a quick post with a few photos that may be of interest.

Yesterday, my wife and I took a trip from Sydney to Wollongong hauled by 3642 looking resplendent in its green livery. It was a great trip with a interesting return journey by sea but I have to acknowledge that there was considerably more vertical and lateral movement on the return journey. Fortunately, my lunch stayed where it should for that trip.


This morning, we also heard the unmistakable whistle of a steam locomotive around Hornsby where we live. A quick check of the internet indicated that 3016, normally resident in Canberra, was operating in the area. So this afternoon, there was a quick trip to a nearby overpass to capture a few photos capture 3016 as it returned to Central.

A 36 class is already part of the Philip's Creek roster but a 30T remains on the wish list.



Thursday, 7 February 2013

A New Lease of Life

From a modelling perspective, it's been been a fairly quiet month, as work and family activities have occupied my time and attention. However, I have managed to spend a few hours on the hobby,  with the focus returning to the CCH fleet as well as upgrading my two old Powerline MHGs.

However, for this post, I wanted to spend a few moments on the development of the new coal train as a whole, and the extra lease of life that it seems to have given to my elderly 50 class locomotive. I already operate one coal train, pulled by 6018, that regularly passes through Philip's Creek to somewhere further up the Hunter Valley.  This consists of a dozen larger BCH wagons assembled from kits quite a few years ago. The original intention was for this train to pick up coal from the mine at Philip's Creek, but the frequent derailments of the 60 class caused a rethink and the second coal train was born, this time based on the smaller, "quaint" CCH and LCH wagons. Yes, I know there are two BCH wagons in the photos but they may disappear as the four wheel fleet grows.

5131 was the first white metal kit that I tackled shortly after converting back to HO scale. It is a bit rough compared to its brass and factory manufactured colleagues but is a sentimental favourite. It has been re-engined once, as well as receiving much attention and attempts at fine tuning, albeit with only limited success. In times of frustration, I have even considered converting it to a static model.

I don't know if it's my imagination, but since being assigned to the new role 5131 seems to run a lot smoother and more reliably. I may have just invoked Murphy's Law and it could return to its old ways, but hopefully, 5131 will soldier on for the foreseeable future.

One other surprise addition to the coal train was the CHG brake van. Santa (aka Gen Y son) left it under the Christmas tree. I had contemplated purchasing one at Liverpool last year but opted for two MHG vans instead. Nor was it on the Christmas wish list, but a frantic call from son just before Christmas, having left things a bit late for internet shopping, provided an opportunity for a spot purchase from the local hobby shop.

And so to finish this post, I thought I would step back, literally, and provide a longer distance view of the coal train on approach to the mine.










Thursday, 3 January 2013

Track and Wheel Cleaning

An update incorporating 12 month's experience since the original post is at http://philipscreek.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/woodland-scenics-track-and-wheel.html
A further update showing repairs to the track cleaning tool is at It Broke 

I find track and wheel cleaning to be real chores but are maintenance tasks that must be done regularly if we want our expensive locomotives to operate as they should. I'm really looking forward to the day when locomotives are powered by rechargeable batteries and controlled by radio signals. Where all this will fit in a HO scale locomotive, I don't know, but I have read some articles suggesting that it's coming. However I digress.

We all have our favoured means of cleaning. I have tended to use either a cork sanding block or champagne cork saturated with white spirit for the track. For the wheels, I used a combination of  a cotton bud again dipped in white spirit and/or running the locomotive over a piece of masking tape fixed to the track. The track cleaning methods worked reasonably well but I consistently ran foul of any object that projects more than about 20mm above the track. The wheel cleaning worked to some extent but I was never sure that I had cleaned the whole wheel, and it was very tedious.

I went searching to see what might be available as a relatively inexpensive solution and happened on two products put out by Woodland Scenics to tackle track and wheel cleaning respectively. Both were purchased over the Christmas period but unfortunately Santa didn't help with either.

I though it may be useful to provide some first impressions of both tools.The manufacturer's web site provides details of each product so I won't attempt to repeat that information here. These can be found at:   http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/item/TT4561/page/1 and http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/show/item/TT4550/page/1 


Firstly to the wheel cleaning tool. The product was set up as per the manufacturer's instructions. Several locomotives, both diesel and steam, were cleaned but the results were inconclusive. Each locomotive had similar results. There was some slight evidence of wheel dirt on the white cleaning pads but there was also traces of dirt on the cotton wool ball (soaked in white spirit)  that I wiped over the bottom of the driving wheels after the initial clean. ( It is the white object above the last right hand driving wheel of 5131). Either the wheels of my locomotives were cleaner than I thought, or the product did not work as well as it was intended. The jury is still out and I think I may have to fiddle with it a bit to see if I can get a better result.

The track cleaner is a different story. I found the swivel handle to be a real positive although it does take some concentration to stop it slipping off the track.

There are four different types of pads provided. Two are felt and two are a rubberised compound similar to pencil and ink erasers. I have tended to use the white rubberised pads for most of my regular cleaning activities. The pads are reversible with one side grooved to allow it to follow both HO and N scale track. This process works reasonably well for code 100 track but I found that my ballasted code 83 track caused the pads to foul. The manufacturer recommends that the flat side of the pads be used to clean point work but I have found it best to use this configuration across all of my track.

The kit also includes a bottle of cleaning fluid. It does clean the pads but I don't think it will last too long. I'm not sure what it contains but I think I'll be looking for substitutes.

I believe this is a handy tool for track cleaning and it will certainly get regular use on Philip's Creek.

As I said at the start, there are many ways to clean tracks and wheels. As a final point, if you are interested in purchasing either product,  I recommend that you do some comparisons between suppliers as I found a wide variety of pricing.

Happy New Year to all.