Sunday, May 30, 2010

November into January 2008.....

It is surprising how things can sometimes change in a short space of time.

Following my last report, while mowing the lawn in the backyard I bumped into one of three steel posts supporting the back patio of our house – a concrete slab supported from the top floor by three tubular steel posts – with the motor mower. The post swung freely! On inspection I found that it had rusted through and was not supporting anything. The other two were not much better but they were still supporting the weight of the structure. A quote to repair the posts was initially $3,000 but it soon rose to in excess of $12,000. It was then that my wife reminded me that she had always wanted a full-length veranda along the back of the house. Further quotes with this in mind escalated the cost to in excess of $40,000 (this was getting worse than a banker’s hike in interest rates).

The rear of our house. The patio that was causing our problem is on the right. 7/01/2008

The garden shed where the layout framework we had been using had been stored for 30 years. 7/01/2008

My co-director of our narrow gauge empire in the making (Raymond) said “Well we (meaning “you”) may as well do the job properly and build a shed as well so that we can move the layout from the garage and start all over again just like Craig did (see the Blog Craig’s Shed). Oh well – add on another $25,000 or so.

After being virtually debt free, I’ll now have my pockets turned inside out. The Inspector General of the Parkinson/Algester Rail Accreditation unit, Craig “The Weird Geezer”, has been very supportive with lots of gems of advice about his shed. Craig has a lot to answer for

We went through a lot of discussions and planning (about the verandah and shed – not the layout yet) and are seeking quotes and all the other details necessary. We have even taken the plunge organising the necessary finance (the mind boggles).
Our back yard with the Uniform Gauge (standard gauge) railway linking Brisbane with Sydney just over the fence beyond the tall grass. 7/01/2008

Anyway, some time in the first half of next year the Tuesday Nighters and also the AMRA NG SIG Group might be able to visit a new facility that will really allow the construction of a true narrow gauge rail empire.

Quotes for the verandah and pergola area were being sought during November through January. The Christmas Holidays caused much of the delay. However, I have also found it is not going to be as easy as I thought in getting a suitable builder, The country is so short of tradesmen (carpenters, electricians, plumbers etc) that many of the builders I phoned to see if they were available to quote turned me down flat. These builders all said they had more work than they needed and one said he was booked solid until 2009. The trouble is they also know they can charge what they like and some refused to take on any construction work because “it’s too far away” (Gumdale to Algester??).

The Inspector General of the Parkinson/Algester Rail Accreditation unit, “The Weird Geezer” has also strongly recommended that we should continue to build the current layout in the garage as it will probably not be until the latter half of 2008 that the shed to house our On30 empire will be built.

Raymond has also voted that we continue with construction of the current layout so that we at least have some where to run.

I early January, 2008, Raymond and I completed the baseboard along the garage wall. We have decided that we will make only a “U” shaped layout and not complete the continuous circuit by building the track across the front of the garage.
The final baseboard track extension.

We are still learning (“bumbling”) along. When we had started construction of the baseboard in the earlier stages of 2007 we had purchased or gathered together the tools we needed and knew where we could get our hands on them when needed. However, as it has been some months since we had done any work in this direction, much time was wasted looking for drill bits, nuts and bolts and other miscellaneous items. We have decided that we should get some suitable carry (tool) trays for the various things required ready for when we start the “big” layout. We have also decided to purchase other major tools and items beforehand so that we are not trying to “make do”.

We then laid the track from the main station yard down to a small yard we have built along the garage wall at the front of the garage. This yard consists of a passing loop with two dead-end sidings and a third line which will head back towards the main station as a short branch. This will end in a couple of sidings and possibly a very short passing loop.
The mine siding branch against the wall with the track from the main station in the foreground.

Again, today, we learnt the value of keeping all the tools needed together. We spent some frustrating time looking for the track tacks, where’s the tack hammer? where’s the rail cutters?, where’s the hobby knife to cut sleepers?.

The wiring is the only thing that remains to be done on this new track. (I think I know where the soldering iron is)

Another thing that we have learnt building this layout is, that while many narrow gauge trains are fairly short, consisting of half a dozen to ten wagons or thereabouts, in O Scale these wagons take up a lot of room so you need plenty of space for a major yard. These same length sidings and passing loops in HO scale will hold twice the number of wagons or carriages.

Friday, May 28, 2010

June through to November (2007).....

On the days when he wasn’t working Raymond spent his time soldering feeder wires to the Bus Wire. He discovered that the insulating sections we had selected weren’t going to work so much of his time was spent in pulling up sections of track and modifying the location of insulated rail joiners.

We travelled down to Christmas Everyday at Labrador on the Gold Coast in the hope that Rob might have the new Redfern Models Puffing Billy coaches. No, they weren’t available yet. Raymond purchased two more Redfern Models Puffing Billy NQR open wagons and a DigitTrax plug’n’play DCC decoder for one of his Climax locos.

We then went to Austral Modelcraft where Raymond purchased his second LokSound DCC/sound decoder for one of his Shay locos.

I (reluctantly) kept my hands in my pockets again at both shops.

Raymond tested more of his wiring with a locomotive only to find more problem areas requiring insulating rail joiners. I am concerned we are going to lose track of where we put the damned things!

Work continued on the wiring through most of June particularly whenever Raymond was not at work. Raymond spent one day wiring the rest of the station yard and when I arrived home at 4.30 pm he was happily trialling various locomotives through all the loops, crossovers, pointwork and sidings. Everything was running smoothly.

Raymond decided to leave the locos he had been testing being one each of his Bachmann 2-8-0’s and a Forney, together with the C-16 and 2 X Davenport 0-4-0DM locos in the loco shed sidings rather than putting them back in the box as was increasing the risk of breaking wires between engine & tender. We had to remember to keep the garage doors closed whenever we weren’t in the garage. We didn’t want anyone coming in off the street to nick a $500 plus loco or two.
Bachmann 2-8-0 sits in the loco shed road

The lighting in the garage is poor, so the sooner we can get the extra fluoro lights put in above the layout the sooner we will be able to work on the layout at night and also to have operating sessions. There is also a power point to shift so we don’t have to keep unplugging the washing machine.

We have been discussing and planning what buildings and scenery we could start doing as well and these construction jobs are definitely a night time task.

I am keen to continue the baseboard construction so we have somewhere to run to. I need to organise a utility to pick up the long lengths of 4” X 1” and 2” X 1” needed as well as the legs. We have enough of the shorter lengths of these. I have abandoned the idea of a branch line to a station in the back corner of the laundry. Instead, the branch will only go to an area currently within the layout boundary where it will terminate in a couple of mine sidings or such like to be worked by the smaller locos.

On Sunday, 17 June, Raymond and I built a 400 mm baseboard extension for the yard to give our marshalling yard sidings a bit more capacity.

By the time I got home from work the following day, Raymond had finished off the sidings by laying the additional lengths of track and had tested the yard layout. Everything runs fine over the whole of the yard network.

The Yard Extension

It was now some weeks since we have managed to find time to do any more work on the layout as we had been working most weekends and other issues kept intervening.

I had to take a week’s holiday to use up some of my leave so this was a good opportunity to do some more work. There was also the added incentive of an impending visit from the Tuesday Nighters the informal get together of a group of fellow model railway enthusiasts. At their previous meeting on Tuesday 17 July we had foolishly suggested that we could host the next get together. This was to be their first time at our place, due Tuesday evening, 31 July and we wanted to make a good impression.

The week commencing Monday, 23 July 2007 proved to be very busy and fruitful.
Raymond and I had decided to make the framework for the next section of baseboard. We already had one section of “L” girder 2400 mm long from the 1977 aborted layout. This would fit in nicely on the right-hand side of the garage wall. We did some measuring and put my car in place to see what sort of clearances we would need. This section was (is) intended to carry two tracks (at different heights) so we decided the width should be 250 mm. It was also decided that it should be supported on four legs so we went and purchased four 1200 mm lengths of 42 X 42 from Bunnings.

On Tuesday, 24th an electrician came and do the electrical work installing the extra lighting we had been planning for some time. This work was a much needed job to be done before the Tuesday Nighters descended on us.

The electrician installed five extra fluorescent lights above the layout area, installed a new double power point and relocated the light switches.

We went to Ray Nunn’s on Saturday morning where Raymond bought a 3 amp Booster Pack for the NCE System. I then went down to Bunnings at Browns Plains and purchased a 3 metre length of 42 X 20 for the front fascia of the proposed new extension.

We spent a pleasant Sunday afternoon assembling this framework and standing it on the legs we had purchased. We still spend much time discussing about how best to go about things but we must be getting better as we seem to have less dramas than previously. We have yet to fix the risers and track bed in place which we will do before fitting the fascia board. The Tuesday Nighters were coming the following Tuesday.

The Tuesday Nighters came over and were very encouraging even though most of them are New South Wales modellers (eehhwww!!). The guys seemed to enjoy running the On30 trains however, as well as enjoying the light refreshments provided. They made some suggestions to progress the layout. Little did we know at the time that this On30 layout would not progress any further.
The Tuesday Nighters


Raymond and I then discussed the fabrication of the next major section of the baseboard. This will require us to make two new L-Girder sections – the first we have had to build for this layout as all other sections had originated from the 1977 layout. The next section of baseboard is to be about 3000 mm long and 500 to 600 mm wide. It is located in the centre of the garage to the left of my car space.

I purchased the necessary timber but little has happened in the construction since that date.

It is now November, 2007 and we have been very slack as we have not done any more work on the layout even though I had purchased the timber to build the main section remaining to be built which will only leave the removable sections across the front of the garage and the lift-up section in the centre of the garage.

One problem preventing the work has been the storage of my youngest daughter’s furniture which filled every nook & cranny in the garage temporarily as she moved between rental houses. The furniture was finally moved out on Saturday 3rd November. Now the garage has emptied out again we can finish cleaning it up and recommence work on the final sections of baseboard.

A disastrous (almost) event was soon to intervene that would cause any more extensions being made to the On30 layout in the garage to be abandoned.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

April (2007) morphs into June.....

We carefully took up the track leading out of the main yard on the garage wall side of the layout. Relaid both curves and relocated the points into the yard using the 30” radius Tracksetta. I found that this was very easy to use except I had a lot of trouble inserting the track pins as per the instructions – our needle nose pliers weren’t “needle-nosed” enough. After a few harsh words (well a great number actually) and the loss of even more track pins which would spin off heaven knows where I finally got the section laid. The Xuron Rail Cutters were a snip (pun intended) to use compared to the Dremel. The C-16 and a K-28 can now be pushed around these curves very easily.
Raymond's MMI K-28 loco. A magnificent model and Oh so heavy!

Raymond was keen to start wiring the layout so that we could start test running some locos and rolling stock. We had a discussion about what wire to purchase and how we would set up the wiring for DCC. We decided we had better call in the Inspector General Rail Accreditation Unit (alias Craig Mackie) for his approval of the track layout so far and to consult with him (being an expert on DCC) for his recommendations for wiring sizes etc. I telephoned Cassino Headquarters where his Commander-in-Chief answered the phone and I asked to speak to the Inspector General. Craig eventually came out of the depths of his Cassino Headquarters and had to ask his Chief if he could go over to “Silkwood Depot” to do an accreditation inspection and consult with Dodgy & Son Railway Contractors (Myself & Raymond). Approval being granted the Weird Geezer duly arrived.

Having made his inspection he immediately slapped a defect notice on the contractors. Two points were located in such a way that they would short out if power was applied. The defect had to be fixed with appropriate insulating rail joiners before any wiring could be undertaken. After some further consultation the Inspector General returned to his office at Cassino Headquarters (within the half hour timeframe that he had been allotted by the Chief)

Raymond duly replaced the nickel silver rail joiners with insulating joiners. This was a relatively minor surgical process. We decided to defer purchase of wire etc pending further deep thought. (We are very deep thinkers – not much action though!!!)

Raymond then started work fixing the points and track in the yard while I tested clearances using some coaches and the two steam locos. Uh-Oh!! A serious problem has been detected.

A set of points leading off the yard lead to a head-shunt is too close to a passing loop on the main line and the Jackson & Sharp coaches foul each other let alone the C-16 and K-28. I had put these points in directly together which would have been fine for HO Scale but definitely not suitable for O Scale. These were the same points that had to have insulating joiners installed.

Dodgy & Son called a special meeting to discuss this problem. We felt we could resolve this one of two ways. Make a rule that either the head-shunt or the No.2 Passing Loop could not be used when a train was either being shunted or a train was using the Passing Loop – not ideal. The alternative was to relocate the set of points coming out of No.2 Passing Loop further away from the points leading into the head-shunt – seemed a logical solution.

While Raymond spent the remainder of the afternoon continuing laying the yard trackage I carefully pulled up the curves out of the main yard for the second time so as to relocate the points and relay the curves – for the third time.

Uh-Oh!! Yet another major problem has arisen. Somehow I have changed the geometry of the whole section and now the curve won’t fit (must be 30” absolute minimum). Left the problem (after a few choice words – my vocabulary is expanding) so as to ponder it (more deep thought) and retackle the situation another day. Need to carefully consider if there is another solution or out of necessity go back to the original layout – still not ideal from an operational viewpoint.

Raymond in the meantime managed to lay three sidings in the yard, a head-shunt for locos into the loco shed, a coaling siding, a second loop out of the loco shed and a fourth siding at the opposite end of the yard as well as the head-shunt for the depot yard. He still has to lay the three locomotive shed roads.

It is now early June (2007) and little work had been done in the last few weeks.
We went to our local hobby shop and picked up a couple of magazines while Raymond bought another G Scale loco, a Porter 0-4-0T. He already has a Porter 0-4-0ST.

Dick Smith’s, Acacia Ridge was our next stop where Raymond purchased 20 metres each of black and red wire rated at 7.5 amp which we thought would do for the Bus wire and Feeder wire for the layout as well as a special wire stripper/cutter tool. I purchased a temperature controlled soldering iron (55W), solder and cable clips to support the wiring under the layout.

Raymond spent Saturday afternoon putting Feeder wire on Loops 1, 2, 3 & 4 and the yard lead while I installed the NCE outlets on the side of the baseboard. Raymond then connected the wires from No.1 Loop to the NCE outlet and hooked up his ProCab controller. Power on!

We test ran a DCC equipped Bachmann Davenport 0-4-0DM first just to see if everything was okay and there were no short circuits. The thinking was if we blew up a loco valued at $105 this would be better than blowing up a loco valued at $500. However, everything went according to plan. We then tried a Bachmann Forney with its Tsunami sound chip. We only had about 12 feet of track to run on but it was great fun! We both had grins from ear to ear. The sounds the loco made were excellent and to actually see our first trains operating was exhilarating and a great incentive to continue the construction work on the layout,

Following this we had a discussion about how to run the Bus cables and locations of certain Feeder wires. Raymond decided to have another think about it.

Sunday morning 3rd June, we decided that the 7.5 amp wire was too thick for Feeder wire so I was sent out to Dick Smith’s, Browns Plains to get some 5 amp wire. Looked at several options and tried to phone Raymond to get his opinion but he couldn’t hear either his mobile phone (in his bedroom) or the house phone (upstairs). I decided to make an Executive Decision and purchased a roll of electrical tape and 10 metres of dual black/red 5 amp cable which could be easily split apart.

I got back home to find that Raymond was using Loop No.1 to set the DCC addresses on his locomotives.

The NCE system allows a 4-digit address for each locomotive so Raymond and I had previously discussed how we would allocate an address to each of our locomotives. I was to have the prefix 1xxx for my steam locomotives and 2xxx for my diesels and rail cars whilst Raymond was to use 5xxx for his steam locos and 6xxx for his diesels and rail cars. Further to this the running number of the particular locomotive was to be the remainder of the address eg Raymond’s Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Forney
2-4-4T No.12 would become 5012 and his D&RGW C16 No.268 would become 5268. The Porter locos like No.1 would become 5001 but we have yet to fit DCC decoders to these locomotives.

Actually we have quite a few RTR locos that have to be fitted with decoders – 4 X Porter 0-4-0Ts; 5 X Porter 0-4-2Ts; 4X Davenport 4wDM; 2 X Shay; 2 X Climax and 1 X Goose as well as Raymond’s Mountain Model Import K27 #455 and K28 #470. As well as these we have quite a number of kit locos to be built which will also require decoders when they are built including 3X Malcolm Moore 4wPM; 2 X Bundaberg Fowler 0-6-2Ts; 1 X B9 ½ and an AEC Railmotor.

The Inspector General Rail Accreditation Unit (alias Craig “Weird Geezer” Mackie) came along to make a snap inspection and give us some valuable advice which was much appreciated. His general approval of developments was most encouraging.

Raymond and I spent a great afternoon running the various DCC fitted locos up and down our short 12 feet of track trying the different sound effects. I was particularly taken with the sounds associated with the Bachmann Forney which included opening the water hatch, water running into the tender and then slamming the lid closed – amazing! I thought the Broadway Limited C16 had the best synchronisation of the chuff sound as it occurred 4 times per turn of the driving wheels. The Precision Craft Galloping Goose is also excellent. When you first turn it on you can hear the starter motor turning the engine over which then roars into life and sits there idling until you open the throttle when you can hear the gear change into first before it moves off and also hear the gear changes as it gains speed. Lights, bells, whistles and horns!!

Raymond trying out Goose No.5. Great sound effects!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

March (2007) is followed by April.....

Raymond spent up big again on Garden Railway models at our hobby shop. This time he purchased a Bachmann 3-truck Shay in 1:20.3 Scale.

Saturday afternoon we started making a triangular section across the corner from the main baseboard section to the 300 mm wide return made the previous Sunday. To do this we needed to cut two short L-girders at 45 degrees on the ends. I turned these pieces this way and that but wasn’t certain. I also didn’t trust my power sawing abilities. Rang Craig and he offered to cut these pieces using his new bench saw. Well, I say new, but he had purchased it some 12 months ago but it was still a virgin as far as use goes. Raymond and I went over to Craig’s where he twisted and turned the two lengths of L-Girder. Made one cut – looked OK. Started the second cut – in the wrong place! Made a few adjustments and tried again – success this time. The next two cuts were achieved with no dramas.

It is now the 1st of April and work continues to be hampered by the battery drill which can’t keep a charge so we changed over to a Makita electric drill which hadn’t been used for more than 10 years. Fortunately, it did not short circuit the house power like the B&D power saw had done a few weeks ago.

The next day Raymond had the day off work so he borrowed his mother’s car and went down to Bunnings, Browns Plains to see if my stories about the Bunnings Team Members are true. Actually, he went down to buy a new battery drill as it was obvious the battery in my old Ryobi was dead. One of the helpful young ladies at Bunnings managed to sell him a Bosch electronic battery drill for $224. I think it has all the bells and whistles on it and even came with a spare battery! Obviously the Bunnings staff impressed him. Work on other sections of the baseboard framework continued through the first few weeks in April. We were now ready to lay some track.

After some debate as where we should start and how best we should go about it we finally started laying the first sections of track. The first length of flex track I had to cut I tried using an old pair of rail cutters (Shark) but all I succeeded in doing was to twist the rails off the sleepers. After a few harsh words and losing a track pin or two on the garage floor, Raymond said – “I told you to use the Dremel”.

The first sections of track are laid. April 2007

Track laying. April 2007

Track laying. April 2007

I changed over to the Dremel with a cut-off wheel – no problems to cut the track now! I now succeeded in laying two points and a couple of lengths of flex track.

Track laying continued with the installation of one of the passing loops which contained the most points in a short distance (five) and continued on to lay track around to the return baseboard against the garage wall. We had considerable problems with laying out the curves as the improvised trammel and camera tripod we were using kept giving us conflicting results.

During the joining up of the other three passing loops had to redo a section as two of the points were incorrectly located. Finally we achieved what we thought was a good result.

While I was at work the next day, Raymond tested the track sections laid using his Broadway Limited C-16 2-8-0 which he pushed around the curves and behold he found a problem! The first sections of track we had laid appeared fine but the curves at the other end of the station yard that had given us so much grief when we were laying them out on Wednesday showed a problem. The C-16 would only go around them when the tender was not close coupled. We tried measuring the curves and started to get the idea that the curves were much sharper than the 34” and 30” we thought we had laid.
Pushing this Broadway Ltd C-16 by hand was used to test the curves

We went to the hobby shop as soon as we were able where I bought some sections of Tracksetta (24”, 30” and 36”). Raymond bought another box of On30 flex track and a pair of Xuron Rail Cutters.

We tried the Tracksettas when we got home and found our troublesome curves to be about 24” radius or even a bit less. They will have to be relaid! Our other curves were all 30” or above and were considered fine (although not as large a radius as we had thought, we had – 34 to 36”)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Work Continues in Mid-March.....

We had the first section of baseboard in place by mid-March 2007. Work now started on rebuilding the second section of baseboard framework which was to go between the two cars. I had become a regular at the Bunnings, Browns Plains store going down to purchase our needs in the way of screws, nuts and bolts as well as lengths of dressed pine as required. .

It was at this time that, “The Weird Geezer” (a.k.a. Cassino) made a visit to inspect work to date and supervise the modifications to the second module. After much deliberation by Raymond and myself, with some advice from the Peanut Gallery, we started putting together this second framework. The Weird Geezer left at 3.0 pm as his better half required the car. We continued to bumble along much faster than earlier in the afternoon. We completed the second section of baseboard framework then fitted the legs and bracing except for one last hole to be drilled to finish the bracing when my old battery drill died. The rechargeable battery would no longer hold a charge so the drill was condemned.

Cleaned up more of the garage and swept the floor. Butted the two baseboard framework modules together and temporarily placed (but not affixed) the two 1800 X 900 mm 12 mm ply sheets on top. The baseboard area was starting to look good – and there was a great sense of achievement. There was eager anticipation until we can continue working on the layout the following weekend.

We then placed the second section in its final location butting up to the first panel. The two panels are very close to being level across the join with just a slight discrepancy on one side which we fixed by putting a shim under one leg. We have still to bolt the two sections together.

The second section in place with a triangular fill-in section

Went to Austral Modelcraft Thursday evening where Raymond found his original intention to purchase several boxes of Peco On30 flex track diverted to a new 1:20.3 Bachmann loco that had just arrived in store. So Raymond bought a Bachmann 1:20.3 (narrow gauge) model of a 45 ton centre-cab diesel instead and only one box of Peco On30 flex track together with one each Peco Electrofrog HO Large Radius Right Hand and one Left Hand Curved Points as well as an 0n30 Bachmann Conoco Tank Wagon. I also bought one each of a Large Radius Left Hand and Right Hand Peco Electrofrog points. Raymond had purchased an MMI K-27 and also a K-28 both of which require a 26” minimum radius so we needed to buy points with a larger radius than the 24” radius offered by the Peco On30 Medium Radius Points (24” radius) we had bought on a previous visit.

Raymond's new 1:20.3 44-ton Centre Cab

We had now reached the stage where we needed to convert the paper trackwork plan to full-size on the baseboard to make sure everything would fit. We now had points with 24”, 30”/60” (curved points) and 36” radii and I felt we could have problems with the geometry in fitting them together. We could certainly measure out the centre-lines for the straight track and even the curves. I photocopied the actual points we had (making several copies) so that we could set them out to ascertain the “best fit” for our track plan.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An On30 Layout Begins.....

Early in 2007 we decided to go with NCE equipment for our proposed layout to operate on DCC. We purchased an NCE PowerCab and a ProCab together with other necessary parts. We had been evaluating the various DCC systems for some time and our Tuesday Nighter friends (alias Mackie’s Marauders) convinced us that NCE was the way to go. The shunting layout had planned initially was to be built under the house between my car and the laundry area. But, as discussed in an earlier blog it was now going to go around my car parking space with removable sections to allow the car to be moved in or out of the garage and also to allow access to the car.

During March 2007, we purchased the three Bachmann Forney locos we had ordered from Austral Modelcraft. We had previously been advised that they would be available during that week and we couldn’t wait to get them. Listening to the locos being test run at the shop and our commitment to DCC the previous month convinced us that now was the time for us to start building a layout. Our collection of On30 had grown considerably since Bachmann introduced their ¼ inch scale (American O Scale) Porter 0-4-0ST locos in the late 1990’s. We have both been attending the AMRA Narrow Gauge meetings at Zillmere for some time and Raymond had been building 2’0” gauge models in 7 mm scale (English O Scale) for some time while I had been having a go at a Fowler 0-4-2T in 7 mm scale (still unfinished).

Sunday 4 March 2007, was a momentous day as Raymond and I started cleaning up an accumulation of 30 years of junk in the garage and tried to envisage if the layout project would eventuate or not. We also worked out the general locations of the lift-up or removable sections of the layout to allow access for my car into the garage.

My side of the garage before we began

We dug out two sections of baseboard framework from the garden shed in the back yard. I had made these 30 years ago for a proposed HO Scale NSW layout that was never completed beyond the baseboard stage. Needless to say these were in imperial dimensions rather than metric at 6 feet long by 2 ft 6 ins wide. During this time we also purchased some plywood sheet pre-cut to the required sizes as well as additional timber for framing and legs.

The following Sunday, we started rebuilding the first baseboard framework panel. Typical problems with yours truly trying to do anything with his hands – my hand saw kept snagging on the timber (I think it needs sharpening) and we needed a sander. Rang Craig – he didn’t have one we could borrow – so I went to Bunnings, Browns Plains and bought one for $100 thanks to the gorgeous young Bunnings Team Member who was so helpful and patient with me. I told her that Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (TV Comedy Series – “Tool Time”) was an expert home handyman compared to me. She took pity on me and after a number of searching questions she found the right tool for me!! I now have a Ryobi Belt Sander.

I tried using my power saw (last used about 15 years previously) – blew the house earth leakage circuit breaker. It had been stored in a dark cupboard in the shed and the cockroaches had made short work of the insulation on motor windings causing a short. We discarded the power saw into the appropriate receptacle (after chopping off the power lead) – then back to the hand saw.

We found the old framework wasn’t square in relation to the plywood sheet. Unscrewed the 50 mm X 25 mm cross pieces from the two centre L-girders and found we could square it to the ply this way. We decided to reaffix the 50 mm X 25 mm cross pieces after we had screwed the ply sheet (which was square) to the frame. Well – at last we had the baseboard framework almost complete for our first 1800 mm X 900 mm panel – after a day’s work and much thought – actually it was more thought than work.

The first panel completed

Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Beginnings.......

During a meeting of the AMRA Narrow Gauge Group in February, 2007 we discussed possible plans for our proposed On30 layout. There was plenty of encouragement and support from those present. Steve Malone, Jim Fainges and others made a number of valuable suggestions. Their ideas resulted in a number of alternative ideas for our first On30 layout. The shunting layout we had been considering changed into the possibility of a point-to-point layout and finally a continuous run with a branch to a small terminus.

Obviously, I had had a go at building layouts many times over the years. I had tried a couple of layouts when I was growing up at my parents’ home at Greenslopes. My next start on a layout construction project was in 1977 when my wife and I moved into our new home. Some of these attempts got to the running stage but most were aborted. My layout at Algester got to the part finished baseboard stage using Linn Westcott’s “L-Girder” technique before it was pulled down and stored in the Garden Shed when I was given Quinton River by a neighbour who had purchased it from its creator, Ron Everingham. My family expanded, I had other railway interests and room at home was at a premium so, unfortunately I was forced to dispose of Quinton River – something I continue to regret. Raymond appears to have gained his love of model railways at this time as he could operate Quinton River and knew all its switches for changing points and isolating sections as early as 4 years of age. He was always very careful with my NSW models and was a good operator shunting Quinton River yard. Kirstine, his younger sister and my eldest daughter also loved working the Quinton River layout. She was also very careful when operating the layout and was very good at spotting wagons to be uncoupled and in coupling up. Raymond and Kirstine were both regular visitors with me to the AMRA Brisbane Model Railway Show. Raymond was always made feel welcome at many of the layouts as the modellers soon learned he would not touch anything unless invited. It was at these shows that Jim Fainges and Steve Malone took the time, as Raymond grew older, to teach him some of their valuable modelling skills. Raymond continues to put those skills to good use some 20 years later.
Raymond (Age 4) & Kirstine (Age 3) concentrate as they shunt Quinton River yard (1985)

Raymond (Age 3) stands in front of the Quinton River control panel (1984)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Meeting in The Shed........

On Tuesday evening 5 May a few members of Mackie’s Marauders met in our new shed for the first time. Craig Mackie and our group of friends hold a fortnightly Tuesday evening gathering to talk trains. Unfortunately the gathering was smaller than usual as Craig was away on business and it was also the first night after the Brisbane Miniature Train Show weekend. The guys were very encouraging with their comments regarding the progress of the shed and Raymond’s and my plans for seeing it finished. We also discussed some general concept for the new On30 layout. As usual discussions also took place on everyone's latest modelling project.

Craig’s Blog - “Craig’s Shed” - has mentioned our shed and progress or lack thereof previously as well as posting some photos. Craig and his shed were the reasons we had built our own shed along similar lines.

Geoff, Peter, PK, Raymond and Darren sit around a table in the new shed enjoying a cup of coffee and biscuits

Sunday, May 9, 2010

In the Beginning......

This is a short introduction to my first Blog. There will be several postings early on that are intended to give you a brief overview of the past few years, when Raymond and I began work on an On30 model railway, as well as some earlier background of my railway interests. These postings may be interrupted from time to time with interesting current events until we manage to bring the past up to the present day.

I have been into model railways since I was a toddler in the early 1950s and my son Raymond has grown up to be very enthusiastic as well. We have both been through many phases of modelling interest. Other than being given a shunting layout for my New South Wales phase during the 1980s for a while and then a layout built by the AMRA NG SIG Group when we changed to O Scale narrow gauge modelling in the 1990s we have never had a layout that we had built ourselves or even one that we could operate at any time without a need to set it up when required.

The world-wide interest in ready-to-run O Scale narrow gauge brought about through the On30 models released by Bachmann is encouraging new generations of modellers as well as older modellers. On30 may not necessarily be for the purists who want everything to be exact with each nut, bolt and rivet located where it should be as well as the models of prototype locomotives and rolling stock operating on the correct scale/gauge. That does not mean that On30 modellers necessarily overlook such things. The track gauge is the main compromise. The models available are based on 3 ft, 2 ft 6 in. or 2 ft gauge prototypes. They operate on a track gauge of 16.5 mm (the same as HO). To further complicate matters the Bachmann models are made to American O scale which is ¼” to the foot or 1:48. This scales out to about 2 ft 6 ins gauge, which is why it is referred to as On30. British manufactured models are made to 1:43 or 7 mm to the foot and are often referred to as O-16.5. In this scale ratio the 16.5 mm track works out about 2 ft 3 ins gauge.

The late Linn Westcott, editor of Model Railroader magazine, had a slogan on the magazine cover which he frequently espoused – “Model Railroading is Fun” – and that is what this is about.

Another interest of mine has been the sugar cane railways of Queensland. This interest really began in 1965 when my good friend, Bob Gough, took me to Nambour for a day to see the few remaining steam locomotives at Moreton Mill. It was love at first sight for me to see the little Fowler 0-6-0T locos Coolum and Eudlo struggling up Howard Street in Nambour with rakes of cane for the mill. Places like Diddilibah Hill, the River Depot, Bli Bli Cutting, Eudlo Flats and Paynter Creek were ingrained in my mind. Narrow Gauge was a passion! I am interested in all (full-size) railways but narrow gauge railways (less that 3 ft 6 ins) hold a special place.

Eudlo at The Rafting Ground, Eudlo Flats Branch. August 1967

The story will unfold with the construction of a 40 ft X 20 ft shed (The Shed) and the reasons why it was built and progress on this and the construction of an On30 layout.

This Blog will not only be about our On30 layout in The Shed. It will also tell the story of Raymond's N Scale layout to be built in the garage where our current On30 layout is located and also a Garden Railway he is to build next to The Shed.