Wednesday, 21 December 2016

A Job for Grandpa, Part 2 - Face time

I mentioned in my most recent post ( A Job for Grandpa ) that I anticipated the biggest challenge of the 'rebirthing' job would be the creation of the Thomas face.This has proved to be correct. While it was easy to find a 2D image on the internet and scale it up to the necessary diameter, creating a 3D shape has required a fair bit of extra effort.

Previously, I anticipated using styrofoam to gain the necessary depth but I have noticed some modellers using clay as a construction material. When my wife, quite independently,  also suggested this material, I thought I would give it a try.

I found a suitably sized image to use as a pattern and glued it to the piece of timber that serves as the front of the boiler. I then moulded the clay to give the appropriate relief and a very sunburnt Thomas.

Not surprisingly, as the clay dried out, it cracked in several places leaving Thomas' face looking more like the face of someone of my age. I used 'Weldbond' glue to fill the mini chasms and this only enhanced the image of a geriatric Thomas.

The next step was to cover the whole face with an automotive body filler. Now Thomas' face started to look like someone recovering from a bad case of chicken pox, regardless of several attempts at sanding and refilling.

Several coats of grey primer were then applied before the mouth and eye details were added. The final step will be the application of a couple of  gloss vanish to seal everything.

There are a few mistakes, omissions and a fair bit of modeller's licence in this version of Thomas which I'm sure most readers can identify. However, if any of the grandchildren under the age of 10 comment on these, then I know I have someone who should be seriously encouraged in the model railway hobby.

However, it does seem that I will complete it in time for Christmas and, ultimately, that's what it is all about; refurbishing and overhauling a toy that has survived for almost 60 years, to provide enjoyment for the next generation of grandchildren.

As the Christmas tree is now up and decorated, it is a clear sign that, again, the festive season and the end of another year are rapidly approach.

As always at this time of the year, I would like to acknowledge all those individuals who have assisted me with comments, advice, information or materials as well as the opportunity to participate in operating sessions, all of which have enhanced my modelling activities in 2016.

And finally, to all readers, best wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas and a very happy 2017.   

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A Job for Grandpa

This post is somewhat off topic as it doesn't deal directly with modelling on Philip's Creek. However, as other issues demand a greater share of my time, it does represent the primary focus of my railway activities as other issues demand And, there is a tenuous link to Philip's Creek.

By way of background, in the late 1950s my grandfather built me a toy locomotive. The photo on the right shows my younger brother and I in the backyard of our family home in what was then fairly rural Normanhurst. The photo also shows very clearly that at one time in my life, I did have hair on the top of my head. The toy was used in its intended role for a few years but as one got older, and interests changed, it was reroled as a stagecoach or wagon or some kind of fortification. Eventually, it was put aside and remained derelict under my parents for about the next 15 years.

In 1982, now with my own family starting, my father decided to resurrect the toy and refurbish it for my two-year old son. With his extensive metal working skills, he rebuilt the chassis, added the spark arrestor smoke stack, a fresh coat of paint and a new face. Again, it was a popular toy for the next 10 years as our children and their friends moved through that 2-8 year age range.

But again, time took its toll and the locomotive was stored, also again, under my parent's house because of my frequent moves.

With the arrival of grandchildren, its time for  locomotive to undergo its next refurbishment and, this time, as the grandfather, it is now my turn to undertake the task.

One of the first questions to be resolved was the locomotive's identity. When my grandfather built the toy, as you can see from the first photo, he aligned it to the premier locomotive on the NSW railways at the time. As far as I know, 3801 was never painted red and the reason why he selected that colour has been lost in time. I never thought to ask him while he was alive but I suspect that it may be a link back to what he saw as a young boy in Birmingham in the early 1900s.

My father, or more probably my mother decided to use the name 'Tootles' harking back to a popular golden book story in my early childhood. Again, there was some 'modeller's licence' regarding the colour.

Now that it is my turn, I have decided to rebirth the locomotive as the ever popular Thomas. This was an easy decision to make. Thomas the Tank Engine has been a popular figure in literature and TV for two generations. It was a favourite of our children and now our grandchildren as evidenced from the photo taken at the recent Thomas the Tank Engine Day at Thirlmere.

So now 'Tootles' (nee '3801') will be reborn as 'Thomas'. This means a greater change in its appearance to create something that looks like a tank engine, a repaint in the appropriate shade of blue and the creation of a new face.

Work has commenced with the replacement of the wheels that were probably close to 60 years old together with some additional facade works to create a coal bunker. At the time of writing, work has also started on the side tanks.

The one area that is worrying me is how to create the Thomas face that is around 300mm in diameter. Internet searches have not identified a suitable product and I may have to resort to a sculptured solution probably using styrofoam on timber and then sealed with some form of resin. If anyone know where a commercial product is available, I would appreciate any information.

Finally, to that tenuous link to Philip's Creek - well actually there are two. The first is fairly obvious in that this activity is deflecting me from other modelling activities. The second is a little more obscure. If this toy can enhance an interest in railways and perhaps modelling amongst one or more of the grandchildren, it may be that Philip's Creek, in some form or another, might continue beyond my remaining time on this earth.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Eureka 50 Class - a few more tweaks

About 12 months ago when I wrote my first post on the Eureka 50 class
I noted that the front pony wheels derailed on a few occasions. At the time, I thought the derailment was due to a track problem but the derailments have continued at various locations and I note that James McInerney reported a similar problem in his review in the June issue of AMRM.

James removed the spring which applies a downward pressure on the wheels, relying instead on the weight of the wheel assembly to prevent derailment. I also removed the spring but also opted to add a little extra weight to the wheels. I superglued two pieces of lead flashing onto the pony truck. The piece folded on the top was beaten thin to allow room for lateral movement.

With the loss of my front coupling adaptor, I also gave up and fitted an automatic coupler to the front of 5069. I chose not to use coupler supplied but rather opted for a KD. Not prototypical, I know but it makes the movement of the four wheel hoppers to the Philip's Creek coal mine so much easier and allows locomotive to be used for other shunting tasks as required. I used a coupler that I had on hand and fitted it as outlined in Peter Jarvis' article in the August 2016 AMRM. This was a very simple job and the biggest challenge was drilling the appropriate hole in the coupler.

The final challenge is one that I haven't not been able to resolve, specifically, the clicking noise in the drive mechanism. For my locomotive, the sound only occurs when travelling in reverse. A comment from Jim on my earlier post identified that the sound came from the second pair of driving wheels when counted from the front. From my investigations, Jim's observations are correct.  I noticed that, unlike the other three driving wheel sets, the second pair allows some vertical movement as if the holes through the chassis was too large or a pair of bushes was missing. I have also noticed that the noise only occurs when travelling in reverse. The noise may be a consequence of the loose wheel set being realigned and slipping on the driving gear as connecting rods move through their arc.

However, all of this speculation does help resolve it and frankly, I can't see a solution beyond a significant dismantling of the drive assembly, something that is well beyond my skill set particularly without any drawings or schematics. Maybe instead, I should invest in a sound decoder that will mask the non prototypical noise with traditional steam locomotive sounds.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Few More Buildings

Staying on the theme of buildings for one more post, I though I would put up a few photos of two buildings that I have completed over the past few months. These will be located on the as yet unnamed township that lies at the end of the newly constructed branchline. Both are commercial kits with a few extras added.

The service station is a Structorama kit purchased a few years ago. It is an all styrene kit and it was simple to construct. With the exception of the sign at the front of the service station, the other extra details are a mix of Kerroby Models (fuel bowsers and 44 gallon drums) and other items from the spares box. The sign was scratch built based on photos found on the internet. I didn't realise how much photographic information there is available on 1960s service stations until I started searching.

Each bowser is still missing a golden fleece statuette on top but I'm not sure what I can use for that role, possibly N scale sheep.

Some interior detail has been included but it has been lost unless I add some internal lighting at a later time.

The second model is a Hawksmoor fibro branchline signal box. Branchline Modeller Number 3 has two good photos of the prototype on pages 41 and 43.

The model was cast in polyurethane, a material I find a bit more difficult to use than styrene. The major elements fitted together without difficulty but I put the smaller components such as the hand railing aside and replaced them with styrene.

When I get around to naming the branchline terminus, I will add the appropriate name plate.

For these two models, I have attempted to denote individual sheets of CGI by drawing thin pencil lines at the appropriate spacing on the roof and metal walls. I have never been 100 percent satisfied applying individual sheets of commercial GCI  and it was quite a tedious process. It seems to work reasonably well although, perhaps, the lines could be a bit less pronounced with some additional weathering washes.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

LJ Models

A short paragraph in the News section of the current edition of  AMRM noted that LJ Models, the company that manufactures a range of NSW and Victorian card building kits is ceasing production. The article noted that LJ Models had been in operation for around 25 years, and quietly producing an extensive range of HO and N scale products.

I suspect that there are not many NSW and Victorian prototypical layouts that don't include at least one or two of these kits. Philip's Creek is no exception. Indeed, around 50 percent of the structures on the layout are LJ products, and I have included a few photos of some of their models in place on the layout.

Over time there have been some evolution as to the way I have assembled these kits. Most have been constructed with some level of internal detail and I must confess that most of the kits were built with some form of internal reinforcing. Sometimes, the corrugated cladding or roofs have been replaced with commercial products. I also had difficulty folding or bending the smaller parts included in the kits, relying instead on styrene or brass for such detailing.

Now that the company is ceasing production, the final two photos show the last two LJ kits that I will probably construct. Both are sitting in their proposed locations on the branch line now under construction.

AMRM identifies John Thomas as the proprietor of LJ Models. While we have never met, I would like to thank John for his products, his commitment to the hobby and although he doesn't know it, a significant contribution to the development of Philip's Creek.Your efforts have been appreciated!!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

"It was twenty years ago today"

That famous opening line from the Beatles' Sergeant Peppers album seems appropriate for this post as it marks 20 years since work started on Philip's Creek. This somewhat self indulgent reminiscence seeks to show how the layout has evolved from its early days, what has changed and what has remained relatively unchanged from those early days.

As I mentioned in my first post (Philip's Creek, a well travelled railway), Philip's Creek was started in the garage of a married quarter in the US Army Engineer School in Missouri. However, this was not my first layout. For about 15 years before that, I had been building an N scale layout also with a NSW steam/diesel transition theme. By the mid 1990s, the hobby in Australia had seen a significant increase in the availability of local prototype in HO scale. Unfortunately, this expansion was not matched in N scale. In addition, I was also finding that N scale models were a bit small for a pair of eyes that were starting to show the first signs of aged related
near sight deterioration.

I remember working through a formal analytical decision making process although, in reality, it was probably more a verification of a decision I had already made. However, many of the ideas incorporated into Philip's Creek concerning modular sizing and construction can be traced to lessons, both positive and negative that evolved during my N scale modelling phase.

When I started construction of Philip's Creek, I set myself the objective of building something that would last, not be pulled apart and rebuilt several times as happened to its predecessor. Yes, there have been some tweaks,changes and refinements as the layout has evolved and the it has certainly grown in size but the first two sceniced modules are substantially the same as they were in that garage in Missouri.

There aren't too many photos of those early years of Philip's Creek prior to my first investment in a digital camera around 2005. However, I have created a few from a home video taken around Christmas 1996 to show the evolution over the last 20 years. My apologies for the quality of these images. 
They show one end of the layout in its very original condition. These photos also show my use of styrofoam as a base for the track work as well as a scenic medium. This method has withstood the test of time and moves, and is one of things that has really worked for Philip's Creek. The technique to lay track over the styrofoam was described in more detail in a 2013 post, Moving forward at last While the base course material has migrated from homasote to canite and currently, cork floor tiles the concept has remained unchanged for 20 years.
I have to confess that there never has been a grand or master plan for Philip's Creek. It  started out as a basic oval (3.6m x 1.8m) with one half as an unsceniced staging area.The end of the layout shown in the 1996 photos evolved over time. A few moves later, more room became available and I decided that the layout could be extended by another 1.8m. The existing main line curve became a siding and the siding just visible to the right of the 1996 photos became the main line. Initially the sidings serviced the local coal mine as shown in the 2005 photo. Later, the mine was relocated and the track became a siding with water and coaling services as can be seen in the 2012 photo.
Further adjustments to the main line were to follow.  

The other end of the layout has remained relatively unchanged although the station facilities have expanded. The photo at the bottom right was taken in 2005 while the photo bottom left was taken around 2015. Incidentally, the A3 station was the first structure built for Philip's Creek around 1997. 


As noted previously, Philip's Creek was originally established as an oval but it has always been operated as point to point layout albeit with both ends collocated. As the layout grew, it was convenient to move away from the oval arrangement. The photo below shows the construction of the Mount Windeatt station with one of the separated staging area behind. The photo also highlights another feature of Philip's Creek's development, decentalised construction of specific modules as I moved around for work reasons. In this case, this photo shows the module under construction in an attic in London.The second photo shows the same area in 2014. The backdrop now screens the staging area.

Finally, the ultimate reason why Philip's Creek exists is to provide a home for my collection of locomotives and rolling stock. Like the layout, there has been a defacto 'no disposal' policy for rolling stock. Sure, there have been some conversions but even the first wagon purchased to test the track laying still exists in some form on the layout. (Grandfather's Axe) However, the bulging staging areas indicate that this approach may need to be revisited.

Given my affection for the humble 48 class, it was inevitable that the first locomotive for the layout would be a 48 class. This poor quality photo on the right shows it operating in 1996. Twenty years on, 4856, like its prototype continues to provide sterling service albeit with a different chassis and motor.

When one looks at what other have achieved in shorter time periods, my efforts look pretty ordinary, but to return to the Sgt Peppers theme, the band continues to play for Philip's Creek, and hopefully, it can continue for another 20 years.

PS. My apologies if the formatting is a little astray in this post. There have been a few challenges this time and it has been very frustrating.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The challenges of modelling gum trees

With a significant amount of time unavailable for layout construction activities, I was scratching around for a few relatively simple tasks that I could undertake until I can get more time to focus on the construction of my branch line terminus. Since my last post on that topic  "A Place for Everything"  back at the beginning of March very little progress has been achieved, so I needed something to demonstrate to myself that I wasn't ignoring the railway altogether. With more than enough rolling stock and no need for additional motive power, at least until a 30 Class (T) finally comes onto the market, I decided to return to the construction of a few trees. With two heavily timbered areas on Philip's Creek, I can never have enough trees.

I have built a number of gum trees using primarily using adaptations of the twisted wire technique. This has been described in many on-line references, blog posts and in print. For me perhaps, one of the most helpful was Ross Hurley's article in the June 2014 edition of AMRM. In his article, Ross made the point that most gum twigs are bent and for that reason, he preferred to use twisted wire for whole tree structure.

The problem that I have with the twisted wire technique is that I can never find the right balance of 'no more gaps' or a similar product. Too little and I get a tree that looks like the one I photographed in 2012  "Twisted Trees", too much and it doesn't seem to have the right texture. I know other people can achieve this balance, but I have struggled.

Motivated by Ross' article, I once again tried a fully twisted wire tree. Certainly straighter than some earlier attempts but still, I felt the texture was not quite right. To resolve this for my second effort, I have revisited the idea of using twigs but only for the main trunk(s) and larger branches. The photo opposite shows both attempts, the full wire version is on the right, and yes the hybrid does have a bend!

So the first challenge is to find a small stick or twig usually with a diameter of around 4-7mm that is relatively straight but with sufficient taper in the diameter so that the tree is not excessively tall. The smaller wire branches are twisted with one strand of wire protruding at the bottom of the branch for about 12-25mm. This was inserted and glued into a hole drilled into the timber at an appropriate location.

The next step is the foliage. Previously, I have used either the Woodland Scenics Foliage or the Foliage Clusters. For my latest effort, I tried to combine them applying the foliage product first and then gluing small pieces of the foliage clusters.   While these seem to work from a distance, they don't seem to bear closer scrutiny. It is relatively easy to get the 'parachute canopy' effect of the gum trees, but again, the texture for the multitude of hanging leaves doesn't seem right. A impromptu survey at Epping Model Railway Cub's Thornleigh exhibition over the June long weekend indicates that there is a wide variety of techniques to simulate the foliage, many better and some worse than what I have been doing. So the second challenge is to get the foliage right, something that requires a bit more work on my part.

The final issue is one of quantity. These two trees were not quick to produce and, even withstanding those already in place,  it's going to take some time to achieve the density of trees usually found in the Australian bush.So the third and final challenge is to find enough time (and motivation) to build sufficient trees, or enough funds to purchase products that are commercially available!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Advice for Terry

During our very recent trip to the UK, we stayed for a few days with my wife's cousin Terry. Terry has come to the model railway hobby relatively late in life and a few years ago decided to create a layout inspired by the LNER prototype.

His wife very kindly arranged for a  partial fitout of their roof space and this creates the potential for a reasonably sized continuous run bench layout.

While he has been dabbling with some new track, he has not made any serious progress for a while. Unfortunately our travel program prevented me from offering any 'hands on' assistance but I said that a would put together a few points to assist him making a start.

The following is a slightly edited version of the email that I sent to Terry. While it is a bit longer than my normal blog post, I though I would upload it to see if anyone can identify any significant clangers in the advice that I have given him, or can identify any other really useful youtube clips or other sources of very basic 'how to' guidance. There is a lot of material out there and segments that I have included were only subject to very preliminary review as we moved around the UK.

So if there are any suggestions,feed back or corrections, please let me know and I will pass these on to Terry.

Thanks Phil

The following notes cannot be considered as a definitive ‘how to’. The hobby is far too big for that. There are many ways to achieve your goal and the only wrong ways are the ones that don’t end up with the trains running.

There is a mass of ‘how to information’ available on the internet and in printed form. I have included a few links here as potential start points. No doubt, after a bit of searching, you’ll find others equally instructive.

Most layout constructions tend to follow a basic sequence:

1.    Obtain a suitable space

2.    Plan or concept

3.    Baseboard – what you are going to use to support the layout – part the way there

4.    Track laying – getting track onto the baseboard

5.    Electrical work

6.    Track ballasting – some people will do this after they have completed their basic scenery

7.    Basic scenery

8.    Detailed scenery

A suitable space

You have a great space in the attic and the work done to date down one side is a good start. However, as we discussed, you will need to get good general lighting into the space as well as a number of power outlets around the area.

I suggest that you get your electrician to mount the lighting directly above the proposed two main runs of the layout rather than in the centre of the attic. You will need extra lights but it mean that your body won’t cast a shadow over areas of the layout where you are working.

I also suggest that you locate several power outlets around the area so that you don’t have electrical cables running over the floor.

Plan or concept

You already have a concept in mind and I suggest that you document this in some form of a plan that you can refer to it to guide your construction. There are a lot of planning tools that you can use but a this juncture, a simple drawing possibly on graph or gridded paper should suffice. If you are like most people, I’m sure that you will modify it as construction progresses but at least you have a start point.


The bench work that has been done down one side of the attic is a great start and you can construct further framing as and when necessary. The following YouTube clip uses a similar approach to what you have in place.

At this juncture, you may wish to fix an 18” wide sheet of ply, mdf or a similar product to the roof frame for the length of the baseboard. This can serve as a back drop or back scene. You could paint it or fix a commercial product. These clips give some ideas

With one exception, my backdrops have just been painted sky blue for the time being and I’ll come back to it later. It’s going to be more difficult but I haven’t really decided which method to use yet.

Personally, I also suggest that you lay cork underneath your track. This material can be purchased from your hobby shop although I have made my own using cork tiles. Homebase has a similar product. This YouTube link gives one method. There are others.

Some modellers take a different view and you might care to watch this.

If you do choose to lay cork, I suggest that you glue it down with PVA wood glue and use some weights to hold it down as the glue cures.


This is where it starts to get interesting. You already have a quantity of Peco flexitrack and I suggest that you continue using it. You have also purchased Insulfrog points. I suggest you have a look at this clip to understand how these points work and distribute the current to the tracks.

This clip shows a basic approach to track laying

There are many other YouTube clips and other ‘how to” articles on the internet if you wish to read further.

You should consider purchasing a few specialist tools to help with this activity:

·         Small sharp knife or blade (you have this already);

·         Razor saw (you have this already);

·         Small file;

·         Track cutting tool;

·         Small soldering iron and electrical solder (try Maplin or similar)

·         Small drill and bits;

·         Tack hammer; and

·         Multimeter – to test electrical connectivity.

I also suggest that you work in sections. Get part of the track laid, connected and the trains running and then move onto the next section.

Electrical Work

Your controller and most locomotives are set up for Digital Command Control (DCC) compared with the older Direct Current. I won’t attempt to explain the differences but suffice it to say, the two systems are basically incompatible. This means that you will need to get your older locomotive 2751 fitted with a decoder.

Basic wiring for DCC is supposedly simpler but there are things to watch. Most writers suggest that you run a ‘bus’ or central heavy gauge wires to carry the current and then run feeder wires from the bus wire to individual tracks. Many attached a feeder wire to each length of flex track.

I suggest that you solder most of your track non-insulated track joints as well as soldering the feeder wires to the respective tracks. If you haven’t done much basic soldering, it’s probably a skill you will need to acquire or at least get someone to help you with the task. (the accent may be a bit difficult).

The following two clips seem to bring everything together albeit one with a bit of a corny start. and the second may also be complicated by the accent ( )


Once you have got the track laid and connected, I suggest that you consider ballasting the track, that is laying fine crushed gravel in between the sleepers to simulate the real gravel ballast used under real track. It is not essential but it improves the look considerably. Again, there are many ways to undertake this. The following clip shows a method very similar to what I do except that I don’t add india ink to the glue mix. Instead, I purchase ballast material that is basically a finer version as the gravel used.

One thing to watch when you are ballasting your track; make sure that the ballast, when laid, does not interfere with the operation of your points.

Basic Scenery

When I talk about basic scenery, I’m referring to the landform shapes that will be found on your layout, hills, rivers etc. From what I understand of your intentions most of your areas, dock, railway stations should be relatively flat but I suggest that you have some undulations as a billiard table like surface is never very realistic. If you are planning a dock, you should also consider cutting out a portion of your baseboard to allow for the relative height difference between the water level and the dock/railway track.

Again, there are many different options but generally they distil to two basic methods:

·         a ‘hard shell’ type where some form of mesh/wire netting or cardboard strips is supported by some solid shapes such as timber or Styrofoam to create the desired landform shape which is then coated with plaster or some similar product ; or

·         a solid material, often Styrofoam, that is then carved or shaped to the desired land form, and then also coated with plaster or similar or paint if you wish.

Personally, I have concentrated on the Styrofoam method albeit with a few variations on the method shown in the videos. One word of caution, it does create a mesh particularly when carving and shaping, so make sure you have the Hoover close at hand.

Detailed Scenery

This is where you will add buildings, trees, fences, platforms, signals, people etc to bring the layout to life. Each item will be different. You may place some straight ‘out of the box’ and others, perhaps, build from a kit. However, I do suggest that you spend some time ‘weathering’ your buildings, that is making them look as if they have been there for some time. There are a multitude of techniques and materials to achieve this but a great start point is to spray the object with Testors Dullcote. Sometimes, it is also a good finish to seal the work that you have just done.

Some modellers will use simple mock-ups of buildings to help them decide where things will go, or indeed to see if something will fit. Again it is a personal choice.

Extra support and advice

No doubt, there will be many times when you’ll need some advice or assistance to get you over a particular hurdle or problem. We all do!! You appear to have already established a relationship with a local hobby shop.  I suggest that you will find that they are always willing to offer some assistance. They may offer some services for things you may not wish to take on yourself such as decoder fitting.

Exhibitions are also a great place to gain additional information, advice and motivation. They are usually arranged by a specific club or group and frequently supported by hobby shops and smaller boutique suppliers.

Clubs are another source of advice with individuals usually willing to pass on their knowledge. Most clubs will usually be building a ‘club layout’ and participating in this activity may give you confidence to undertake work on your home layout.

There are also chat rooms and blogs. This link provides a start point only. There is a multitude out there.

Of course feel free email me with any questions and if necessary we can set up a Skype call to work through a particular problem.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

"A Place for Everthing..."

As I look at the clutter that has accumulated on the current work location on Philip's Creek, I am reminded of my paternal grandfather's favourite saying, "a place for everything and everything in its place".

 I never knew the gentleman, he died about six months after I was born. But for most of his working life, he was a workshop manager in the NSWGR Electric Car Workshops Chullora. He was apparently nicknamed Basher Bill, not for his pugilistic skills but rather because, to use the slang of the time, he would 'bash on' or 'ear bash' his staff about the need for tidiness around the workshop.

I know what I should do, but progress at this time is slow and any non productive work seems to be a mis-direction of effort. Looking at the mess and knowing the challenge to find the tool that I need at any point at time, I was beginning to think that perhaps there was some form of genetic mutation between my grandfather and I.

However, I recently found an old poor quality photograph of young Bill in his workshop around 1912 when he was in his early 20s. His hobby was different but the clutter and congestion on his work area looks familiar. It would seem that his passion for cleanliness came later in life, more from experience than genes. Therefore, as someone now in his early 60s, it obviously means that I'm a slow learner!!!

However, to move away from family history, the purpose of this short post is to provide a few photos of the construction of what probably the final module of Philips' Creek.

Actually, module has been cleaned up slightly since these photos were taken. The empty peco point boxes have been thrown out!

Track laying is proceeding slowing but the work to date has been fairly conventional. I summarised my basic construction technique of gluing cork directly onto styrofoam in an earlier post The 50mm wide strips of double thickness Bunnings cork tiles continue to work very well as a track bed but trimming and cutting with a band saw makes life a lot easier.

By the way, who said DCC made for simpler wiring? I have yet to complete the wiring underneath the module and it currently resembles a tangle of vines in a tropical rain forest.  But at least all of the points will have a direct electrical feed into each.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Malthoid Roofs

I have been struggling with time issues over the past few weeks but other activities seem to be getting in the way. Consequently, I have only had to opportunity to concentrate on one aspect, the overhaul of the three passenger carriages transferred from the South Coast Railway plus the construction of one extra Camco FO kit.

A number of modellers have made the point that most observation of the layout and rolling stock is done from above, perhaps a similar angle to the photo opposite (a Lachlan Valley Railway trip to Kiama last December). As a consequence, I feel I need to get the roof appearance as close as possible to the original. In particular, I have been attempting to capture the appearance of the malthoid roofs on passenger carriages.

As an aside, pun intended, even when viewed from the side,  the texture and shape of the malthoid strips are  very apparent.

A number of authors have written about techniques to replicate malthoid roofs. Of these,  I have found that Alex Brown's article in the June 2005 edition of AMRM (p38-41) and Ian Phemister's blog post
are my 'go to' references although, I'm sure there are many others. 

Both authors start with the removal of the existing ventilators, the fixing of some form or textured material in strips to simulate the malthoid, the installation of replacement ventilators and, finally, painting and weathering. Alex used masking tape strips to simulate the malthoid while Ian cut a tea bag into strips for the same purpose. I have found that both work but I have adopted the masking tape option as my preferred alternative. I also found it convenient to drill holes in the roof where the replacement ventilators are to be located before applying the masking tape strips. Once all of the masking tape strips are in place, I also apply a coat of PVA glue, or more recently, WeldBond, to create a seal across the whole surface before replacing the ventilators and painting.

Commercial replacement ventilators, both mushroom and torpedo types, have been used, sourced primarily from Hobbyland at Hornsby.

Painting is completed using a mix of spray and brush. The one thing I have noticed looking at photographs taken in the 1960s and 70s is the considerable variation of condition and weathering between individual carriages. These range from an almost brand new appearance presumably having just emerged from an overhaul to a very degraded condition. This provides plenty of latitude within the limits of weathered black and silver, with/or without navy dressing ends. A spray with Dullcote and then soot in varying degrees finish off each roof.

The final two photos provide a comparison between the prototype and the model. Probably another application of Dullcote is appropriate but I think the texture is there.