Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Progress During October.....

Following my return from the US at the end of September, Raymond and I were ready to tackle some more work on the framing for the baseboard.

I mentioned previously that we had been in a quandry as to how to support the upper deck on the two peninsula modules. The Tuesday Nighters had a meeting at our house after we had finished the two lower deck peninsula modules. We discussed this with the guys and as usual, Darren, practical man that he is, told us exactly how to do it.

Raymond and I followed Darren's recommendations and we soon had the two upper deck modules which we had made previously mounted above the lower deck.

The two upper level baseboard modules have been mounted securely in position. We still had to work out how to build the triangular fill-in on ther corners of the upper and lower levels.

The upper and lower deck extending at right angles from the right-hand wall of The Shed

The two baseboard modules extending down the centre of The Shed towards the future helix.

Looking towards the front of The Shed along the dead-end operating aisle.
Now we had to construct the framing for the triangular in-fill joining the two island modules.

Again, a meeting of the Tuesday Nighters at our home came to our rescue and again, Darren, bless him, gave us detailed instructions on how to do it. The task was easy and worked well.

A good view showing the triangular in-fill on the lower deck

Another view of the triangular infill on the lower deck

Despite all our care in getting our levels and heights right we ended up with an issue where there was a mismatch where the framework along the right-hand wall met up with the peninsula heading away from the wall at right-angles. I tried several different approaches but none suited me. In frustration I phoned our New South Wales friend from nearby Parkinson. Craig (Cassino) was soon over inspewcting the problem and soon came up with a solution that had been staring me in the face all the time through the use of a right angle metal plate. Fixed!

But wait there's more. Tomorrow I will fill you in on what we have achieved during these past few days between celebrating Christmas and working through some more layout issues.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Visit to the United States.....

When I posted this originally the images were too large so hopefully, I have now fixed this.

During August and September 2013, I visited the United States for the first time. Altogether I spent 5 weeks there but only visited two States - California and Colorado with a short visit to northern New Mexico.

The initial incentive for my visit was to attend the 33rd National Narrow Gauge Convention being held in Pasadena on the eastern outskirts of Los Angeles. Since I was travelling to the States I absolutely had to organise visits (and train rides) on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge RR and also the Cumbres & Toltec RR. Being a museum professional, I also had to visit the Colorado Railroad Museum (Denver), the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento and Steamtown 1897 in Jamestown.

The Narrow Gauge Convention was outstanding. I have attended a few conventions here in Australia but the size of the Narrow Gauge Convention and the 1700 delegates, exhibitors and trade stand attendees was amazing. I met a few Aussie friends over there and met a few new people including Lee Riley from Bachmann and Chris Lane, Editor of the On30 Annual.

The following is a gallery of a few of the many images I took during my visit.

The Hilton Pasadena Hotel was the Convention Hotel for the 33rd National Narrow Gauge Convention and also where I stayed

Rio Grande Southern C-19 No.41 at Knott's Berry Farm

A small scene on a combined On30 Modular layout with modules from all over the United States

Durango and Silverton Railroad K-36 No.486 brings its train along Narrow Gauge Street as it approaches Durango Station

Durango and Silverton RR K-36 No.482 in Silverton
Cumbres and Toltec RR K-36 No.488 departs Chama for Antonito

The Engineer (Driver) of K-36 No.489 oils his engine in Chama yard

Cumbres and Toltec RR K-36 No.487 fitted with a wedge snow-plough stands in Chama yard

The only remaining cab forward Southern Pacific AC-12 No.4294 is preserved in the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento

Virginia and Truckee RR 2-6-0 preserved in the California State Railroad Museum

San Francisco Cable Car No.54 descends Hyde Street and is about to turn into California Street

San Francisco is not only famous for its cable cars but also its historic trams. The F Line uses these PCC cars that were used all over the US, Canada and Mexico. This one is painted in the famous Pacific Electric livery.
My next post will show some significant progress on our On30 layout.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

This Post has been a Long Time Coming.....

It is almost twelve months since I last posted a record of our progress on this Blog and for that I apologise. Craig (Cassino) has been “on my case” almost every week as have a number of others including Graham, a co-worker with Raymond.

I feel I need to fill in some of our construction efforts from the first half of the year before catching up with our efforts these past few days.

I bought a new desktop PC in January because my old one was dying and becoming unresponsive. This was another reason why I had not updated this Blog as my computer was sooooo slow. However, it was not until mid-year that I managed to install it. I also spent a considerable amount of time planning a trip to the United States.

I decided to purchase a new laptop PC as well which was to be smaller and lighter than my previous laptop. I intend using this laptop for work as well as travel while my old laptop now lives in The Shed though its WiFi internet connection is somewhat problematic. I intend using it for model railroad duties. If I could improve the internet connection I would like to use it for JIMRI as well as maintaining an asset database of our model railroad equipment.

During June, Raymond and I assembled the first two sections of the lower deck level of baseboard framing for the island peninsula of our layout. The first panel is located at right angles to the right-hand wall of the shed. The second is attached at right angles to this and runs towards the back of The Shed.
The first two rectangular sections of the island peninsula baseboard are completed and installed
While we found it easy to build two plain rectangualr baseboard panels we were uncertain how we would build the triangular infill sections which would be required on both the bottom and top levels.
The triangular area we would need to fill in to properly join both the rectangular panels

The space we have allocated for the terminal locomotive depots on the upper and lower levels

These two tables are occupying the space of the future helix near the back of The Shed.
We then also made two identical panels for the top deck but we were at somewhat of a loss as to how best to fit these in position and support then with a minimum of posts.
The two baseboard sections for the upper level can be seen leaning against the layout on the left-hand side

Little now happened on the layout for a couple of months as I went on my trip to the United States to attend the 33rd Bational Narrow Gauge Convention which was held in Pasadena (Los Angeles). My next post will give an overview of that trip.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stage One of the Lower Deck Complete.....

As indicated last week we finished the lower deck under the existing layout this weekend.
Three views of the right-hand wall
We finished assembling the final baseboard section for the left hand wall including the 2” X 1” strengthening on Saturday. Raymond had spent Saturday morning cleaning up the left hand wall where this section was to go, so once assembly was completed we put it in place.

We then cut the timber required to fill the gap where the high bridge is to go.

Sunday morning was spent in assembling this section.
The back wall
We then bolted together all the separate baseboard sections except the one along the right hand side as the timber is now stored on top of this section and the plywood and MDF is stacked against it. We have already shifted the 5.4 metre lengths of 4” X 1” four times so we are going to work around the section on the right hand wall for the time being.
Two views of the right hand wall. The timber stacked on the lower deck
with the MDF and ply leaning against the deck.
Sunday afternoon the 24 February, Raymond and I had a brainstorming session to see where we should go next. We came up with some radical changes to our track plan and how we should go about things. This has led to some heavy discussion and laid open lots of problems with a few possible solutions.
Raymond in deep thought considering our options

We originally had intended to have a point-to-point layout with the option of a continuous run through including a helix near the door to The Shed. It has always been our intention to operate the layout as a point-to-point with the two terminal stations one above the other along the left hand wall. We are now considering deleting this helix altogether and finishing each terminal station with a locomotive depot including a turntable. Our MMI Rio Grande K Class locomotives are not fitted up for proper tender first running having only a dummy knuckle coupler on the front and besides they would not look right running right around the whole layout with a train tender first. The upper terminus was to have had a reversing loop above the helix and the lower terminus a turntable in the back left hand corner of The Shed. We now have ideas to put in a turntable on the top deck with a rectangular running shed for locomotives as the deck for this upper level will need to be 2 ft 6 ins wide at most as it is cantilevered from the wall. The lower deck will also have a turntable but this deck can be say five feet wide at this point so the locomotive accommodation will be a roundhouse on this level.

The two levels of the layout were to be linked by a helix at the end of the peninsula down the centre of the room. We are having a major branch line on the bottom deck and had originally planned to have a junction station along the lower deck on the right hand side of The Shed. We discussed what this would be like with an operator for this junction station, an operator for the mining branch junction which already exists on the upper deck and the mining branch itself all in the same area. We also considered that so far we have not had any “wide open” spaces around the layout with a long run between the stations.

We now thought we could make the junction station at the terminal station on the lower deck on the left hand side of The Shed. This would give us a long run on the branch line starting on the left hand side along the back wall, down the right hand side of The Shed out from the wall on the peninsula and back down the right hand side of the peninsula around the outside circumference of the helix and into the branch line terminus on the left hand side of the peninsula. This would be a distance of approximately 80 feet.

We then started considering the possibilities of eliminating the helix for the main line. What if we could have a continuous rise from the terminal on the left hand side of The Shed until we achieve the height of the upper deck on the left hand side of the peninsula down the centre of the room? We are trying to achieve a maximum gradient of 1 in 50 but we have to gain a height of 24½ inches.

It appears that the distance we think we have available will only give us a rise of 18 inches leaving us about 6 inches to go. This may require us to have a short helix of only one or two turns rather than the six or so if we built a full helix. There are a few other issues which we are pondering.

The length of the run will possibly require a passing loop say ten feet long which will have to be level. That will knock out a significant distance in our climb.

We could build the terminal station on the lower deck about two to three inches higher using risers. That would reduce the height we have to climb down to 21½ inches.

Another option might be to have a steeper gradient – say 1 in 40. Since the climb would be basically straight track with sweeping curves the frictional pull shouldn’t be as bad as a 1 in 50 grade on a continuous spiral of about 40 to 44 inch radius curves. We don’t know what the capabilities of any of our locomotive fleet are. It would be a disaster if our main line locomotives could only pull two or three passenger or freight cars just because we had too steep a gradient.

There is a lot of room for further thought and planning.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Progress Continues to be Made.....

Darren brought along to the Tuesday Nighters on Tuesday 5 February another 28 legs for our layout. This was exceptionally kind of him as he only received the order from us on Tuesday afternoon. I did not expect him to have all the legs he brought along in such a short time. Thank you Darren.

On Saturday 9 February we fitted up the legs to the second module for the right-hand side of The Shed and cut and fitted the 2 X 1 around the bottom of the legs.

We then cut the timber ready for the first module on the left-hand side of the shed and we also cut the timber for two short baseboard sections along the back wall.

We assembled the third module on Sunday 10 February after we had finished installing the two baseboard sections on the right. We fitted four of the legs but had to wait to install the final pair until after we had cleared out the section of shed wall where this module was to go.
The two baseboard sections on the right-hand side of The Shed.
The baseboard sections on the left-hand side are similar.
On Saturday, 16 February it was necessary for us to move our stock of 4 X 1 yet again, along with sundry lengths of 2 X 1. We stacked all of this on top of the two completed baseboard sections on the right-hand side of The Shed. We then moved all the plywood leaning against the left-hand wall over to leans against the baseboard sections on the right-hand side. It’s like playing chess.

We could now test fit the first module on the left-hand side and determine the location of the middle pair of legs. We had had to wait until the wall was clear so that we could ensure the centre legs did not block a power point on the wall. This sorted, we fitted the two extra legs and then installed the 2 X 1 around the bottom of the legs.

Sunday 17 February saw us assemble the two short sections along the back wall as well as fitting the legs to these and the 2 X 1 bracing around the bottoms of the legs.
An overall view showing both sides of The Shed with the first
baseboard section installed on the left. The two short sections
are along the back wall. The centre section will be suspended
 between these two three inches lower to allow for a deep river bed.
WE next cut out the 4 X 1 timber for the final baseboard section on the left-hand side. This section was assembled in the afternoon. The legs are yet to be fitted.

Before this section is installed in place we have a stack of carry boxes and other storage boxes for MMI locomotives to be moved. We intend to store all this under the baseboard sections on the right-hand side as a temporary measure. They will have to be moved again when it comes time for us to lay track and wire up that side of the layout. I think we will plan, lay and wire the track along the left-hand wall first. We can then build the intended shelf under the lower deck on that side and move and store all these boxes properly.

We received another two On30 locomotives during the past week. They are both 2-4-4-2 tender locomotives. One has a steel cab (Raymond’s) and mine has a wood cab. They were already DCC chipped but we had to plug in a Tsunami sound module ourselves. These modules are sold separately. The two locomotives working in consist sound superb. The double exhaust on each goes into and out of beat as they travel around the layout. Raymond also bought two 18 ft box cars and two 18 ft flat cars. There were actual prototypes of these vehicles but they look quite dinky when placed next to a standard 3 ft gauge box car. They don’t look out of place behind the dinky mallet however.
Raymond's steel cab 2-4-4-2
My wooden cab 2-4-4-2
The 18 ft rolling stock. Two box cars and two flat cars.
A standard narrow gauge Rio Grande box car
compared to the 18 ft box cars. 
We have plans to finish the lower deck next weekend and then look forward to starting to build the peninsula out from the right-hand wall and down the centre of the room. The upper and lower decks will be built simultaneously for this.

I am not looking forward to building the two helixes however. I can these as being a big headache. We will be seeing Darren at the next Tuesday Nighters this coming Tuesday night to see if we can order some 1.7 metre legs as well as some more 750 mm legs. The 1.7 metre legs are needed to support the upper deck (and lower deck) along with a back scene divider on the upper deck.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Following Weekend.....

The weekend of 12 – 13 January did not see much progress as SWMBO had decreed we had to clean up before a proposed family BBQ on Sunday 20 January.

My youngest daughter and son-in-law along with our two little grandsons came over and helped us fill an industrial skip bin. It is amazing what one collects.

Saturday, 19 January, Raymond and I spent cleaning up The Shed as this was where Pauline wanted our guests to eat their BBQ lunch as it was air-conditioned. We vacuumed the carpets and shifted all the timber Darren had delivered in late December off to one side of the room.

This is the timber that Darren delivered at the end of December.
We have shifted and restacked it three times so far.

The BBQ went off well on the 20 January. So now family matters had been attended to we thought we would be back into layout work the following weekend which was to be the Australia Day long weekend. Unfortunately, things did not pan out that way. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald came down the coast of Queensland with severe flooding and cyclonic winds all along the coast. Because of the strong winds blowing heavy rain into the pergola area we could not do any work on the layout. The new Drop-Saw (Son of Beast) was covered with a weatherproof protector but the wet conditions prevented us from using it. We did shift our supply of timber (yet again) to give access to the right-hand side of The Shed and managed to cut some 2” X 1” to act as spacers around the bottoms of the legs. We then installed the six legs that had been supplied by Darren and also fitted the 2” X 1”.

Saturday, 2 February dawned sunny and clear (after a ferocious overnight storm – so I am told). Raymond and I visited my father then went to Austral Modelcraft for some magazines and sundry bits and pieces. Scooter even showed up!

Saturday afternoon, Raymond measured the remaining original stock of 4” X 1” and using the Son of Beast and cut up sufficient material to make the second section of baseboard framework for the right-hand side of The Shed and the first baseboard section for the lower deck on the left-hand side. Son of Beast certainly makes short work of the sawing required and it makes such a smooth cut.

Sunday 3 February we assembled the second section of baseboard framework for the right-hand side and set it on the four remaining legs supplied by Darren. We need another two legs and some 2” X 1” around the base to maintain the legs in position.

The two sections of baseboard framework for the lower deck
installed along the right-hand side of The Shed

Another view. Two centre legs and the 2 X 1 spacers
are yet to be fitted.
We have not yet assembled the first section of framework for the left-hand side as we need to clean-up under the upper deck along that side. We intend placing this under the new baseboard framework on the right-hand side.

I feel things are starting to move along quite well but then I always think that.

It is Tuesday Nighters this Tuesday night and this week it will be at Scooters which is just up the road from us.

A Sparmax air compressor for air-brushing which I gave
Raymond for Christmas to try to encourage him to "Have a Go"
The Badger Air-Brush set that Raymond bought quite some time ago
but has never used. It contains three air-brushes - a side-feed,
top feed and bottom feed.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Lack of Progress.....

Time really flies and I know that we have been totally slack as there has been no progress on the layout construction and little progress in other areas other than Raymond’s purchase of more rolling stock mainly for the non-existent Garden Railway.

My last post was on the 29 April – was it really that long ago?

The AMRA Brisbane Miniature Train Show was held over the Labour Day Weekend in May. I volunteered to do security duties and spent the Friday keeping an eye on things during the set-up and then I spent each of the three days the show was opened watching over the displays and helping wherever necessary. This was the last show held at the RNA Showgrounds with a pavilion at the Doomben Racecourse selected as the venue for 2013. The change of State Government has meant the transfer of the three day-Labour Day Weekend from May to a date later in the year to better spread out public holidays in Queensland. The 2013 AMRA Show will take place over two days instead of three.

The Tuesday Nighters came over to The Shed on the 1 May and again on the 29 May and finally for 2012 on the 11 December. The AMRA NG SIG Group visited The Shed on 17 July and again on 18 December. Unfortunately little had changed on our layout between those visits but everyone still had a great time with lots of talking and many suggestions as to how we could get going again on layout construction.

Craig (Cassino) phoned me early on the 3 June and invited me to pay a visit to Toowoomba with him to see the DDMRC train show. Geoff was going to be there with his Splitters Swamp Creek Layout. It was a good trip and like Craig, I had not been to the Toowoomba Show for quite some years. It was good catching up to have a yarn with many people I knew.

A scene on Geoff's Splitters Swamp Creek layout at the Toowoomba Show.
The trophy awarded to Splitters Swamp Creek layout at the Toowoomba Show.

Work issues took up a good deal of my spare time in the second half of 2012. I was sent to Mackay for a week to undertake significance assessments of the Mackay Heritage Railway during July. I also managed to get a few photographs around the local cane railway networks. It had only just stopped raining just before my arrival in Mackay and the mills did not start crushing again until several days after my arrival so I managed to get much of my Museum work done in the first few days. The resultant Museum report took a lot of time to prepare mainly taking up another weekend.

Museums & Gallery Services Queensland invited me to become an assessor on their National Museums Standards Program. This involved several visits to Bundaberg as I was asked to undertake the assessment of the Australian Sugar Cane Railway. My first trip involved a return journey on the Bundaberg Tilt Train departing on Friday and returning on the Monday. The second trip was by plane on a Saturday returning by car on the Sunday night. The final trip was for a week which again involved a return trip on the Bundaberg Tilt Train during the last week in November. This was more of a short holiday so I paid for the journey although there was some Museum work involved. During this last trip I undertook some oral history work with sugar industry staff for the Museum and I also had time to take some photographs of the cane railway systems around Bundaberg.

I had been purchasing timber for the construction of the layout baseboard a section at a time but delivery charges would add another $100 or so to the cost so I determined that it would be better if I worked out my timber requirements for the remainder of the layout and have it delivered in one go probably saving a couple of hundred dollars. I spent some of my spare time during the last half of the year drawing and redrawing the layout and working out the baseboard boundaries. I then started trying to estimate the timber requirements but could not make up my mind. We had visited Darren (Tuesday Nighters) and seen his Nimmitabel Extension layout back in May and I was impressed with his methods of baseboard construction. I had used a variation of L-Girder construction for the top deck of the layout on three sides of the room but felt that this would be unsuitable for the lower deck due to the significant depth of the supporting framework. The upper deck could only be supported from the walls of the room and obviously could not have any supports along the front edge whilst the lower deck could be supported by legs in direct contact with the floor at both the rear of the layout and also along the front edge.

Darren has been one of the Tuesday Nighters offering constructive, and more importantly, practical suggestions for our layout to progress. He may be a New South Wales modeller (we forgive him for that) but he is a keen model railroader and a good friend. I discussed with him many times his construction techniques which I know some of the other guys use as well.

I had set down some goals that I thought we might be able to achieve over the Christmas break and discussed these with the Tuesday Nighters when they visited on the 11 December. I said that I wanted to buy a drop saw which seemed to me to be an essential piece of equipment for the construction of the remainder of our layout. I also indicated I hoped to buy all the timber needed but I still hadn’t worked out what was required. I did know that I would not need any more of the 45 X 19 mm (2” X 1”) as I already had a number of lengths if I found a requirement for some. My main purchase would be 90 X 19 mm (4” X 1”). I had set myself a target of building the lower deck on the right-hand side of The Shed before starting the new baseboard extensions.

I sent an e-mail to the Tuesday Nighters on the 22 December outlining my thoughts and inviting comment on these. The guys responded positively so I started looking at drop saws and looking more seriously at our timber requirements.

On Thursday 27 December I lashed out and purchased a Bosch Mitre Saw (drop saw) and a finer blade (more teeth to give a finer cut than the standard blade that comes with the saw). Later that day, Darren phoned and asked if I had worked out my timber requirements yet? I hadn’t! He indicated he could deliver the timber the next day at the right price so I set to and worked out what I thought I needed. After a couple of false starts and a few more phone calls to Darren I had settled on an order with him – 40 lengths at 5.4 metres each of 90 X 19 mm.

First thing Friday 28 December I went down to Bunnings and purchased the Bosch Mitre Saw Work Bench that suited my Mitre Saw purchase. Later in the morning Darren turned up with eight 5.4 metre long bundles of 90 X 19 mm dressed pine which we unloaded into the shed. Darren spent some time with Raymond and I explaining how we should go about setting out the timber, undertaking the necessary measurements, cutting the timber then drilling, countersinking and assembling the baseboard framework. He was adamant that we should do this work on the garage floor as there was a large flat area. Darren pointed out there were two advantages over using the floor in The Shed. Firstly, we would minimise wood shavings from drilling and screwing and above all the surface would give us a firm surface making it easier to get everything square unlike the carpet in The Shed which would “give” making getting a square structure almost impossible. Raymond and I decided that we could use my wife’s side of the garage as this meant it was directly in line with the laundry door through the pergola and straight in through the door to The Shed. This was a brilliant idea on our part, except SWMBO did not go out often when we were home but did go to church for a couple of hours every Sunday morning. We reckoned that we could measure and cut the timber framing for each section of the baseboard framework Saturday afternoon then assemble it Sunday morning and have it into The Shed before she came home.

We could, of course move her car outside the garage when we wanted to do this work but it is a relatively new car and the fuel injection system requires the engine to be run for quite some time before it is turned off again otherwise it will “flood” and the car is almost impossible to start again. We have had the RACQ out twice to start it after these events.

Over the weekend of the 29 – 30 December, Raymond and I assembled the Bosch Mitre Saw which I have christened Son of Beast. It is not as frightening as The Beast (a Ryobi Bench Saw) which some of you may remember I purchased during the period when we were insulating and lining the shed with plasterboard. The Beast was really needed only for one short job on this project and I subsequently sold it for less that half price as I did not see any further need for it. The need for a drop saw was now, however, very much greater. It would be ideal for cutting the 90 x 19 mm and 45 X 19 mm timber to the required length and would also give us the flexibility to cut angles where required.

The Beast when it was being used during the finishing stages of The Shed.

Son of Beast - the Bosch Drop Saw I purchased from Bunnings. (Photograph – Son of Beast)

We have set Son of Beast under the pergola just outside the shed. On New Year’s Day, the first day of 2013 we christened Son of Beast and, other than a couple of mistakes with two lengths of timber shorter than intended it worked brilliantly. We ended up with two 3600 mm long pieces and seven cross pieces. The two long pieces were cut exactly to length and the final seven cross pieces were all exactly the same length and everything was cut square. If I had done this with my hand-held power saw I would have cut the timber to all different lengths and some would have curved ends instead of being square. Fantastic!!

I have yet to acquire the 70 X 35 mm timber for the legs of the bottom deck but Darren has offered to help there too. Thanks Darren.

We had planned to assemble the first baseboard framework this weekend when Pauline went to church. However, Raymond and I have been told we have a special family barbecues coming up in a couple of weeks so we have had to spend the time mowing the grass, making a trip to the dump and getting ready for a rubbish skip next weekend whence we are disposing of a lot of old furniture, mattresses and sundry junk. Sunday afternoon, we decided to move my car out of the garage and build the baseboard frame there. This was not quite as accessible but within half an hour we had this first panel built and we have the photo to prove it.

The first baseboard framework panel.
I hope to be able to give more details on what has happened in the latter half of this past year and also more especially list some more progress on the layout next week.