Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lower the Drawbridge!

A sudden rush of enthusiasm, helped by the fact that I'm on holidays actually saw some work on Byron Creek. Namely the construction of a lift up flap or drawbridge to allow access to the train room. There has been much procrastination...I mean planning as this is my first attempt at building one of these.
First thing to do was decide whether to go for a lift up, a drop down, lift out or even sideways swinging (like a door) section. I decided the easiest would be a classic lift up as can be seen in the pic below.

Next pic is of course with the drawbridge in the lowered position. There will be fascias fitted to this just to finish it off and the module to the left will be trimmed back to line up with the front edge of the lift up section. For now though, this will be ready for laying track to join up with the fiddle yard to the right.

This turned out to be easier than I thought. I was able to move the fiddle yard modules on the right a little to close the gap where the free end of the lift up section meets the module to the left.
Over the next day or two I will work on the other end of the layout to close the gap there, completing the benchwork on all four sides of the room and allowing trains to run once more!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Recycling a Module

A bit of thinking over the last few days about the possibility of using an old module has seen it being fitted into place on the layout to see if it will actually work. This used to be part of a central peninsular which contained one fiddle yard for the main line and the branch line, which this module was part of. The module is partly scenicked with a cutting which I didn't want to go to waste.

It will just work although there will be a 550 millimetre (approx. 21.5 inches) radius curve on the module behind it in the above pic. The cutting there will be deeper and have the timber bridge in about the spot where it can be seen above. The cutting and bridge will help disguise the sharp curve which will be the sharpest by far on the layout. Testing with my longest passenger coaches was successful, they will just make it around the curve without the ends clashing. None of my locomotives should present a problem.

A closer view of the cutting and bridge including all the junk on the layout!

I'm pleased that I can reuse this module, it's one less that I have to build and saves a nice bit of basic scenery. The track laid in the cutting is laid to "pioneer line" standards ie. straight in the dirt with no ballast. Now that it will form part of the mainline, it will have to be taken up and relaid in ballast to mainline standards.

Only two more modules and a hinged liftup section to be built. I've arranged to take a week off work in about two weeks so hopefully during that time all benchwork will be complete and trains can be run again.

Watch this space!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Rebuilding Begins!

At long last work has commenced on the new modules for Byron Creek. Lucky for me there is a timber yard only two hundred metres from my front door. I had them precut the large sheet of plywood and the frame pieces so all I had to do was screw it all together.

This is the flour mill module in the above pic. The cut off corner is not final, this is merely so I can still enter the room when this is in place. The final cut will be made when the liftup bridge section across the doorway is installed.

I used thinner plywood and thinner frames this time as the existing modules are extremely heavy and way overbuilt.

The new module in place with the flour mill and some track laid out to see how it all really fits. The main line is next to the mill siding with the branch curving off to the right. No doubt there will be much fiddling around with the tracks and the town buildings before their permanent positions are found.

The original track plan called for a large peninsular containing an entire short branch line to jut out into the room attached the the front edge of the module closest to the camera. This has now been ditched as it would have resulted in very narrow aisles on either side and a tight horseshoe curve in the track. It would also have taken up much of the spare floorspace in the room making it hard to use the room for anything else. This room has to be able to function as a computer room, spare room and den.

However, the biggest reason for not trying to model an entire branch line is that the terminus and therefore the trains would have to have been unrealistically short. Only the first six feet of the branch will now be modelled and then straight into the fiddle yard which will be able to accommodate much longer trains. Long enough to realistically double head branch line diesel locos for hauling the long bulk wheat trains typical of a branch line "West of the Divide".

Deciding not to build the peninsular was a long and hard decision but I know it is the right one as I've been guilty of a common sin in building a model railway...trying to fit too much in!

Space for a town scene would not have been possible on the original plan so this is an added bonus. I do really like town scenes as they give the layout a better sense of what the place being modelled is really about and added life. The two shops in the above pic will add an extra challenge as they have large windows, interiors will have to be modelled as the windows are close to the edge of the layout.

Today is the first day of a four day weekend for me, so I hope to have the liftup section connecting the flour mill module to the fiddle yard completed before I head back to work.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


The Easter weekend came and went and I didn't quite get to finish the weighbridge fitter's van from my last post.

It is almost there as can be seen in this pic, only the steps below the door to be fitted and the hand brake gear. Then it will be ready for the paint shop. After this, I will fit Sergent couplers and it will be ready to help keep the weighbridges on my railway in good order!
For a small model, this one has been rather fiddly. The double roof with the batten spacers was the worst but with with a lot of care and patience, the end result was worth it being such a prominent and distinctive feature.

For the camera freaks, I took this pic with my Pentax K-x DSLR camera fitted with a macro lens. Aperture was set at f40 and a five second exposure.

I like to take close ups of my models before painting as any defects or stray flash etc. will show up and can be corrected. If I can make a model look presentable this close up then it should look good at normal viewing distances.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Getting Back Into It

It's been a long time since I last posted and since then I have gained a few more followers, so it's about time I posted more regularly now I have a bit of an audience.

I haven't been doing very much at all with my model railway Byron Creek for about the last year. This was mostly due to dismantling part of the layout to rearrange the furniture underneath but also a bit of a health problem during the first few months of the year.

With all that out of the way, the return of good health and lovely cooler weather, some planning to rebuild the missing parts of the layout is underway. Once I have the measurements needed and a cutting diagram drawn up, new plywood and pine framing can be bought so I can run trains again and get this layout closer to some state of completion. The layout has existed in some form for twenty years now so time to get on with it!

But before all that, I have this little project pictured above to keep me busy over the Easter long weekend. Those of you in the know will recognise this as a NSWGR (New South Wales Government Railways) weighbridge fitter's van. Weighbridges were installed at most goods yards so the railway could determine what to charge for goods sent by rail.
These devices needed repair and servicing from time to time and so the weighbridge fitter would visit with his little workshop on wheels. This would be parked on a nearby siding and this model will recreate that scene nicely on Byron Creek.
The kit is manufactured by Ian Lindsay Models

This model is the first kit I have worked on in a few years and I have noticed how I can no longer work on models with the naked eye. A strong magnifier with built in flourescent light and reading glasses are needed so my now forty-four year old eyes can actually see what I'm doing and not mess things up!

Well that's all for now, hopefully by the end of the weekend I can post a pic of a completed weighbridge fitters van.

Watch this space over the coming weeks as I get the layout operational again.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Something I have wanted for a long time is a decent SLR camera. With current models of digital SLR cameras more affordable than ever and packed with more features, I decided today was the day. So this morning I came home with a Pentax K-x model DSLR, currently one of the cheaper ones you can get and very suitable for the beginner to SLR photography that I am.

And here it is, fresh from the box!

After taking a few shots, I managed to get a half decent pic. While there are probably many faults with this photo, I am amazed at the depth of field you get that cannot be had from a compact camera.

Here is much the same shot taken with an old Canon compact digital camera. As can be seen, less of the picture is in focus, mainly the track in the foreground and the large building in the background.

Hopefully this new camera will as well as being a hobby in its own right, inspire me in my current railway and model railway hobbies. Maybe there will also be some interesting photos of other subjects to come!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oceanic Cafe

A recent "discovery" for me is the Oceanic Cafe in Surry Hills near Central railway station in Sydney, Australia. This place was recommended to me by a few of my fellow workers as a place to get very cheap, old fashioned home style meals.

This cafe has been here almost unchanged since the 1930's. Not only is the interior decor from the 30's but so is the menu and the old lady who runs the place (along with her daughter) is said to have been there since then!

About the most expensive item on the menu, lamb chops at $9! All the meals at the Oceanic are served with hand cut potato chips, onions, peas and two slices of white bread with butter provided on a little silver dish. No fancy spices or "jus" here, if you want extra flavour, that's what the salt and pepper shakers are for!

In a world of too many choices and exotic variety, I found this a refreshing change. Just good, simple and very tasty food that fills you up without weighing you down or emptying your pockets. Food from yesteryear with prices to match.

The entire menu at the Oceanic Cafe. All seven items. There is only one choice of cold drink, a can of Coke. Hot drink choice is tea or coffee. No latte, flat white, cappuccino, espresso or any other fancy muck.

The Oceanic is a little leftover slice of a Sydney that has long gone. I'll be back again very soon for another delicious trip back in time!

The Oceanic Cafe is at 312 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, Australia.