Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Boys are Back in Town?

DB says: I enjoyed reading this recent post from The Fettler of Amateurs. That day, my mind wandered onto: "so what shape is the scale really in in February 2010?"

Well, we're very fortunate to have had Russell bring Trackside/Trackgang back to life and I hope he's selling boatloads of kits. If I didn't have a million other projects on my list I'd be tempted to pick up one of those railcars. Maybe I will....

On a different plane, and this blog has helped bring an online Fellowship of the Thing together and that has to be good for the scale.

But other than those sparks, in a hobby where people come and go with the changing winds, really, how many active NZ120ers actually are there? Because isn't that what really matters?

For although we've managed to inject a little enthusiasm and generate some interest from the sidelines, there doesn't seem to be that much going on out there in the real NZ120 world. Or is there? I don't visit nearly as often as I should, but I only see a few people there actually 'making models' or layouts . There are a handful of regular commenters on this blog, but I know many of them aren't NZ120 folks - they visit in support or because there are so few venues for the NZ modeler to productively pee away 10 minutes of ones workday surfing the web. Maybe there is more action on the Yahoo Group (feel free to prove me wrong and post a comment here, a picture on, or send Rhys something at the email address at the top of this blog).

I sent some pics to the journal, and I sorta hoped to attend the convention this year, or at least send some models or something over, but that is looking unlikely at this stage. I hope those that do make it can fly the NZ120 flag proudly.

What more could one do? I still think that to really take off, NZ120 needs more, or dare I say 'better', wagon chassis options. The current trackgang offerings aren't an option for Darryl as discussed previously, so I've mainly been Microtrainsing amongst other experiments that you may have read about in earlier postings over the past year. The better my models get (and yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder thank you very much!), the more I'm looking at the Peco and Microtrains underframes they're sitting on with a look of concern. I was surprised how much better the RP bogie sideframes look on the DX than the modded Dash 8 ones. Heck, even that 'finescale' code 55 Peco track is starting to look a little daggy in pictures.

Rambling back to wagons for a second: there are moves afoot to make something that not only looks more prototypical, but it also runs well and is easy to use - myself and the MagicMan are keen to make a correct CAD-mastered one-piece modern image brass bogie available. Other elves and vegetables in the wilderness are pondering a two-to-four-piece 4w chassis. All idiotproof, lookin' good and runnin' fine. Otherwise there's not much point is there?
The hope is that with such chassis options, some of the fence sitters will be tempted to take the plunge, and see just how easy and rewarding NZ120 can be. That is important, because if Rhys wants to go off and play toy soldiers for a while and Darryl moves into a tiny hole with no room for modeling, and... what happens then? Does NZ's most fragile scale go into hibernation again?

Yes, we've got the band back together, but it still feels like we have fewer members than Dire Straits...!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday morning

Well, Auntie Druff doesn't appear to have any questions to answer today, so she can go fishing with a clear conscience.

Spent another session on tracklaying at a friends place yesterday, While in S scale, its still useful to get the technique down pat before doing something really challenging. I also had a couple of chats on the subject with another modeler who was over doing some work on ballasting and painting (when we were allowed to. The ex-school teacher wanted us to keep working quietly on our own). This have helped crystallise a few things in my mind about how to do the job.

The main problem I have been having is how to decide on curve radii through points and around curves. This still seems to be rather subjective, and does involve a lot of careful planning. I've still to solve this one, but I think its one of those things I just need to do. I'm planning to start with the section of track on the south east side of the station as that is all straight with a crossover and another point, so should be relatively simple to start with. The other side of the station is on a curve, and the loco depot will be a real barrel of laughs!

One idea I have had is to draw out the track layout in S scale, mark out all the various important bits (frog and point positions, sleepers etc) get everything sorted out, and then photocopy it down to Nz120. This will keep everything tidier and hopefully allow me to spot problems at the larger scale before they get too bad. And if anyone wants to build a model of Paekakariki in S scale that's ~24' long, drop me a message

Friday, February 26, 2010

What a paine

Just a quick post as I'm about to head out to make more trackwork at a friends place (S scale unfortunately, but we can't have everything now can we).

The signal boxes were feeling a bit neglected and drafty so i have put the windows in. to do this I've gone down the easiest route and just scribed clear plastic. the main problem was working off a scaled down S plan where for some odd reason the window spacings were not quite right. How do they manage in that scale. Instead I just went back and relied on simple maths to work out where the bars should be. I then scribed the lines onto the plastic sheet. white Acrylic paint was then applied and, while still wet, was wiped off with a cloth. the paint stays (sort of) in the scribed lines, giving the appearance of window bars from a distance.

The results are nowhere near as good as Kiwibonds, but they will do until someone comes up with a set of etched windows.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

DX in Half a Day 8: Finescalers Beware! NZ120 in the House!

DB intends any references to the word 'man' in the following to be gender neutral:

I've always viewed NZ120 as a 'scale for the common man'.

Quick, easy, cheap. It doesn't have to be fancy, as long as it looks good from two feet away. Realistic trains running through realistic scenery at a reasonable cost. Those have been the catchcries of NZ120 since I got involved in the early 90s.

I've also stated that anyone wanting to sell anything in NZ120 should aim to whip out moderately detailed models at moderate cost, as NZ120 is never going to be the choice for finescalers. After all, why waste your time microdetailing anything when the track, couplers, chassis and scenery they stand next to all look pretty awful from up close. And then there's the fiddliness of 1:120 - surely if you wanted to make award-winners you'd be into 9mm or S or some other scale where you can actually see what you're doing...

While I still stand by those comments, in finishing off DX 5293, I've opened my mind to the possibility that NZ120 might actually be a mighty fine choice for finescaling. It's a hell of a lot more challenging than those wimpy, easy-peasy larger scales... but with a little modern technology, a little effort and a magnifying light, it's certainly do-able.

Notes on the above pic (again thanks - or no thanks - to the Scary Closeups Dept) : Nose details, including white antenna, black round Garmin GPS housing on top (hard to see), 'tail' lights, MU connector, step light beside it, and handbrake are all baked into the nose casting. The tail lights in the nose were attacked with a blob of silver paint and a smaller blob of red in the middle, and this came out really well. The black anti-glare patch on the top is hand painted and looks almost straight from a distance. A decal would be better (hmmmm, thinks...)

Headlights/numberboards are a casting. Lights are MV lenses, which look quite sparkly to the eyes, despite looking quite dull in this pic. You have to be super-careful to not get super-glue haze on them. Numberboards are laser printed using an Excel spreadsheet and stuck on with PVA. The wee yellow anti-glare tray under the headlights is paper. Horns are from an N scale shell so they are probably a little small. For the detail connoisseurs, 5293 has them this way round, whereas 5039 has the bigger bell outboard. Wipers are N scalers.

Handrails, except for the ones right at the back, are as previously mentioned .006 brass, superglued into either #80 holes or into nicks in the side sills. Supersnot seems to work fine and is much easier for me than getting out a blowtorch and trying to solder things together. Stanchions are the same. I wonder if any N scale ones are available that are tall enough for us... Actually, that would only be good for pressed steel EMDs (DF/DC etc) as the DX ones are just round rod as depicted (whew!) Roof antennas and vents are plastic strip except the main Sinclair which is an N scale one but doesn't look much better than a lump of plastic.

On the headstock, the coupler is Z scale Microtrains, the coupler lever is the same handrail wire bent into that convoluted shape and painted with white ends. Lifting/tiedown points are thin plasticard with a #80 hole drilled, and then a triangular shape cut out around it . The brake/MU hoses are N scale items, and really don't look as good as individual wire ones because the US ones are a bit close together at the top. They do have nice glad hands on them though...

Lastly, hitting below the belt, the sandboxes front and rear are cast and the steps made up individually from plastic. I guess an etch or casting would be useful here.

Must re-do that nose decal - it looks fine to the eye, but under magnification here, it all looks a little dotty. A bit like your faithful contributors here at Druff Enterprises...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Today Amateur Fetler hits one of those milestone ages. I'm not going to reveal it (it might be suppressed you know) but it can be made up of 2 digits that appear on both of the below Dc's

On another train of thought (so to speak) I was looking at Kiwibonds latest Dx model pics, and had a pondering moment.

Occasionally in modeling a modeler will have a 'great leap' in terms of skills or model fidelity. However mostly its just small incremental improvements. Comparing the Dx's the new one is more finely detailed than the older version, although they are both very good models ( and would give some of the S scale stuff a run for its money). However it will get to a point where the newer models are so much better than the originals that they either have to be rebuilt or retired. This can go for a newly completed kit, which might shame quite a few other models on the layout

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ups and downs on roundy rounds

(Man its hard to make up titles since others have set the bar so high)

Planning for the Ka/ja project mech continues slowly and mostly in my head.

On the up side, I've been talking with Henk Oversloot who works in N gauge fine scale using the 2mm association parts. He had been making wheel centers from laser cut card soaked in superglue, which produced very nice results.

However he has sent me pictures of RP centers in plastic, which look remarkably similar materials wise to Kiwibonds Dx sidframes.

It also gives a choice in moving forward to go to either a split frame or dead frame chassis (and I do lean towards the split frame. Wires rubbing on the back of wheels is OK in the larger scales, but we get to a point in TT where friction does begin to become an issue).

On the down side. I grabbed out some of the Kato/Atlas bits that I'm planning to use as the drive train. I started with 2 pints at 12.5mm spacings, and then cut the muffs off 2 geared axles (SD-9 wheels I think). I then dropped an idler gear in.

Hmm, they don't mesh. Hang on, the SD-70 gear sets were bigger. Hmm, marginally better, but still no meshing. I then had a look at how the kato SD40-2 bogie (with 5' wheel spacings) does it. I can't get a photo but trust me there are a stack of tiny gears in the drive train which I doubt would survive transplantation into another mechanism.
(Sorry the picture is crap, I had 1/2 a dozen goes at this and this was as good as it got)

So a plus and a minus. More planing/thinking required.

Monday, February 22, 2010

DX in Half a Day But Spread Over Two Months: 7

DB Says: I'm not sure why this plan to spit out DXs by the dozen has taken so long to bear fully-formed fruit from my fruity loins. Its not as if I've spent that much time on the first model, but I certainly hate doing handrails - and that, coupled with my tendency to get distracted by other things, stalled progress for a while.

So here's an update on those yummy RP bogie sides we saw last time. As you can see, the outside of the Atlas bogie sides were filed down until the bearings started to show, the RP sides were thinned a bit on the inside and some superglue applied to join them together. A beam of plasticard joins the rear sections together. All in all they look pretty good, they don't stick out too far, and I have a few thoughts on making a 'mk2' version of these.

I've also spent an hour or four popping some handrails on, attaching couplers (Z in front, N at the back), headstocks, rear rads, paint, decals and a few other details as 5293 has moved slowly towards completion.

The sinclair radio antenna, wipers and brake hoses are leftover N scale detail items. Dodgy painting is all my own work. The handrails are .006 brass - superfine but decent-looking, making the ones on the other DX look like drainpipes. Trouble is, they won't be very robust, so I'd better take another look at my trackwork and signalling systems... The handrails flanking the rear steps are the thicker wire used on older 5039 for solidity. I'm going to enforce a rule that you're only allowed to look at the front of my models.

Now that we're on the home stretch, you can see that the lasering has turned out even better than expected. Those partial-cuts (etch lines for panels, grilles etc), which looked a big daggy on the white plasticard have come out really well with some thinned paint thrown at them - just look at those nice dynamic brake intake grilles behind the cab on 5293. The grilles on the intake ducts are part of the duct casting and were borrowed from a US N shell for the master.

So what ever happened to "DX in half a day"?

I've come to realize that when it comes to churning these things out, it's not the 'big bits' - the shell and the panelwork - that that takes time, it's sticking on the bloody handrails. I might have to cheat a little on later models or I'll be dead before my tunnel motor collection is complete.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday morning With Auntie Druff

A slow weekend here at Chateau dandruff. I'm just a bit stuck in a modeling rut at the moment. None of the ongoing projects seem to be enticing me to the bench (so much so that I'm painting ww2 Russian cavalry).

So, time for some commenting.

-RTR locomotives. This raised its head (again) on the yahoogroup during the week. personally, I think its not going to happen unless either someone decides to take an enormous financial hit in doing it to sell at a price that people can afford, or works out how to sell upwards of 500 models of one prototype. I would point out that its probably possible in S scale (they manage to do it in Australia, and some of their markets are the same size), with the most likely choice being an Ab. Maybe there is something in this, as a steam loco that runs well could be a very good seller in the scale, if comments I've heard from local modelers can be extended to the wider world.

- From the comments section last week; P.S Can you please philosophise on your blog about whether it is better to butcher an existing body or to start anew?
Hmm, well, first up I'm not quite sure what the parameters are. Back in the 'Golden age' (which i should really comment on in another post) we cut detail bits of loco shells (grills, brake fans etc) to use on the plasticard models. I would not use an existing body to start with as they are just too small (stick an N scale diesel next to a TT scle one and you can see the difference; the N scale model just does not have the 'heft'). So from this neck of the woods its start anew or make a Trackgang kit and add details (which is actualyl quite a good way to do it)

Any questions for next week?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Boys are Back in Town....

Am_Fet writes:

It really is an exciting time to be modelling in Nz120. In the space of a few years we've gone from "Cruising" to nearly full throttle, with hopefully the scale receiving a large boost this convention. We've seen a lot of people jump the fence from other scales, and alot of the people who had drifted away come back into the fold.

From a personal point of view, the 1990's really was the golden era of the scale. Modular groups in Dunedin and Christchurch had been formed and flourished, with migration between centres leading to teh scale being introduced to more and more people. The Head Druff (after mentoring from the late great John Rappard) came north to Wellington, scared the bejesus out of KiwiBonds and it wasnt long before the Cass to Otaki layout was built for exhibition. Numerous others joined the fold, with Magikan (along with a certain magazine editor from Palmerston Nth) getting in on the act and producing a superb loco and wagon fleet using the casting technologies in the day. I was somewhere in there, probably more as a cheerleader and operator...although I think I did help do the layout edge curtains at the convention one year.

For some reason though, we all drifted away....The Head Druff went to wargaming to prove that we needn't have lost the battle of Crete, KiwiBonds went overseas and was seduced by SDC8-70MAC things while Magikans ended up doing something similar in HO.

So why are we back? Good question....and one that only they can answer. I know for me the new technology has a lot to do with it, as well as wanting to model the modern scene rather than the 50's. Magikan said something about modelling American HO was getting too expensive....

So here we all are. To quote the Blues Brothers, "We're getting the old band back together"....and with all the renewed enthusiasm and new toys to learn, I know we'll have a lot of fun.

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got an RP machine, a full tank of resin, half a DX 3D file, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it!"
-Mark Gasson (

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Virtual Reality Detour: DX Bogiesicles

DB Says: You may not remember reading this cheap-champagne-fueled dribble a few months back. It was all a load of nonsense anyway, but let me replay the relevant nanosecond here:

Whoopdee-doody, a few evenings fuddling in AutoCad. But today, thanks to Mark Gasson's Magic Perfactory Machine, some semi-transparent reality arrived in the post.


Insane. These are 40mm long each and match Atlas N scale Dash-8 axlespacings give or take a few hairs. That's officially tiny. Click on the pic above and check out the bolts around the axles. Blown away.

Now to see if I can cast these things as it's going to get pricey to have him run them off by the dozen...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dj mods pat II

Got home last night to find the 3rd bogie for teh Dj in the post. I wish Kato would take a leaf out of Atlas' book on postage (a $10 flat fee is crap when its only 3$ for a medium size box). I just purchased the outside frame and the 2 pickups, as for some reason I have a stack of atlas wheelsets in my spares box.

OK, so its a wee bit too small, this will wash out when the proper bogie sideframes are added (possibly in the Mk2 version, this one just needs to be made to work). Now I just have to come up with a bogie mounting and it will be ready to take a trip across the ocean to Wellington.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

News from the front

Posted a couple of days ago over at, but just thought I would link to it ( I like riding on others coat tails).

Here is the mk3 versin of the J sheep wagon (pre assembly). Appart from a minor do-do with the doors, the rest looks exceptionally good. (photo by cabbage)

The holes on the ends are a nice touch, and are technically correct (photographic evidence suggests that there was no set pattern for the boards with holes and so, as with anything else on the NZR in the 5's and 60's, anything goes).

I'm looking forward to getting a train of these together and casting some sheep up for them, though it will cover up those loverly gratings.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Standing back a bit

Sorry for no Sunday post. I was busy doing family things, with various inlaws visiting from the western island.

last weekend the lady of the house and I set off on an expedition into the wilds of driest Marlborough, driving the Molesworth road from Blenheim to Hanmer Springs. 3 words describe it; track, goat and fecking. Its a long drive (5 hrs) on 150Km of dirt roads.

While there was a complete lack of trains, I came across one location that gave me some ideas.

OK, so you might have to stand back 10' to get the whole effect, if you focus in on the farm buildings, they seem (to me in the heat) quite reminisant of a NZR branchlinse station in central otago or northern southland. Ihe scene combines some qualities that I would really love to include in a model (like the rock outcrops just behind the buildings), but possibly taking up less real estate.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Am_Fet writes:

One scene that can really accentuates a model train (and I use the phrase to mean a locomotive and wagons) is that of a model bridge. To paraphrase Tony Koester, "It raises the models onto a pedestal, the modelling equivalent of an exclamation point." From my own point of view, there was always that childlike sense of danger as the train crept out onto a spindly structure with no restraints and an incredible height.

We are "blessed" in New Zealand that our engineers where challanged to tame our landscape with massive engineering works; cuts, fills, tunnels and bridges. You dont have to travel far anywhere on the network to find a bridge, and not all of them are simple plate girder affairs.

I think this is Bridge 45, definitely straddling the Whenuakura river just east of Patea. As in most large bridges on the line, it is at the bottom of a downgrade before the line climbs back up out of the vally to the Waverley race course. Drew pointed it out to me as it has complete upside down wagons underwater on the western side, used to shore up the river banks.

However, the one thing that struck me about the bridge is how...."different" it is. Its not particularly high in the grand scheme of things, but the structure is almost reminiscent of a mini-viaduct with its large box section. It must have been quite tempting to build a simple truss bridge, or even sink piles for a girder bridge....but for some reason the engineers in charge didnt, and gave us this.

I'd like to find space for it on my future layout, but bridge 41 north of Patea is quite tempting as well.....sigh....

So what bridges tempt you to break out the modelling materials for your own layout?

PS: The photos is from the cab of DXB5068 in charge of train 545 on Monday. The train consisted of 14 loaded UK's and 16 empty OM's....thats a long train!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The land of Lud

I've been doing a bit of work in the last couple of nights on my Ja/Ka project.I've lumped them in together and here's my reasoning.

First up they share quite a few similar bits. The most obvious ones are the wheels and some of the castings. Ditto with the leading and tender bogies. However last night I discovered (with reference to plans and pictures) that the waggly bits on the outside are largely identical ( to all intents and purposes), with only minor differences. This can be extended to the guide bars and cylinder ends. Yeah I thought, makes things a bit easier. Cabs look very similar, but not quite the same. Bugger.
However there are a few major differences. Take the frame shape; plate frames on the Ka vs bar frames on the Ja.

Enthused by the rods finding I plunged into the murky depths of CAD again. after taking 30 minutes trying to work out just how to import a scanned plan into the package (the answer is to look in a menu on something completely different. who the hell writes these things?), the fun really started.

First up, where did the plan vanish to. Oh its rescaled itself and is over there somewhere god its huge! Right then, pan back and follow Cabbages instructions from the journal and just trace the parts out. Nope, I don't want the point there, nor do I want a line to there...or there...and definitely not there. Undo undo undo undo. Try something simple. Circles on the coupling rod bosses. Hang on, why aren't you expanding. Left click right click left click left click left click. Pan in. Ahhhh, so there's where all those wee circles have gone. Undo undo undo undo undo. Left click hold and drag and there we go. Repeat for the rest. Now to draw a line across the lot and clean it up later. left click drag wheres the end gone bugger undo right there. Back the other way left click drag left click. Hang on they aren't sodding parallel! Cedric, didn't you draw these things out full size and then reduce them? Didn't you know madmen were going to come along and blow them up to unfeasible sizes on a computer?

Where the hell is my pencil and paper...

Thursday, February 11, 2010


It seems that my blog title is no longer correct. Welcome to Earwickers layout building blog.

A comment here by Mr Trackgang has also prompted some thought. While I currently own 2 Da's, and despite the fact that they are the one of the ugliest things ever to run in this country, my long term plans call for a phase 3 version. Hence when it was reported that Andrew Wells does not have many of these kits left, I was slightly concerned. Should I put some projects back a bit to buy a kit, only tom salt it away as its not on my medium term plans, or hopefully pick up one of the hoards of unmade ones in a couple of years time? That raises the further question of just how many unmade Da's are sitting in draws around the world, waiting to see the light of day?

I'm leaning towards the latter currently, simply because I would need to do some conversion work on the etch to convert it to a phase 3, and my brass soldering is not that crash hot. And I have that many other projects to direct/waste money on that I can't afford another at the moment.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lipstick on a Pig - DXR 8007

DB says: DXR 8007 was always one of my favourite locos... until they recabbed it a couple of years ago.

I built this model in late 1993 based on some early plans in the Rails magazine and had the thing in service on Otaki to Cass before the real 1:1 thing had it's bugs ironed out. It's not a bad model either - well, when viewed from underwater anyway - it's paper and plastic construction with haphazardly scribed grills are hardly Boulish, but it did look the part.While I know the real 8007, which was TranzRailed, fitted with a replacement fuel tank (I believe the aluminium one developed cracks) and banished south well before the end of the 90s; hauled the TranzAlpine at least once, I'm not sure whether it's ever been on other trains on the Midland, but what else am I going to do with it? ...Rebuild it into a DX? So I'm pulling out my Modellers' Licence (which now that I look at it, seems to have expired in 1981; and is that Rhys' signature at the bottom?) and pressing it into service on the Coal Route.One of its obvious flaws was the far-too-deep blue suit the model originally wore. A little too 'Dancing with the Stars' for my liking. A thin wash of gull gray as in the above (non-clickable) pic, followed by a thin wash of Southern Blue mix (Tamiya sky blue with some white in it) had things looking a little more stylin', and some TranzRail decals completed the package.This was originally built on a Bachman Dash 8 and has sat on a (too-long) Kato Dash 9 since 1997, but it hasn't turned its wheels over much in the past 10 years. We did give some of those early Bachman mechs a fair workout on that old layout - the drive worms were prone to wearing themselves down so much that they wouldn't sit in their plastic bearings anymore.Now on a new (albeit as yet un-DX-ified) Atlas Dash 8 chassis, she almost looks ready for action again.In the image above, courtesy of the Scary Closeups dept, we see the bullbars even have the correct ribbing on the main posts. Yes, as usual, things look a little better from the mandated NZ120 viewing distance don't they!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Caught in the Wild

Am_Fet writes:

Those of you who have been following this blog from its early days may remember DB turning out a very respectable VRA wagon using nothing except dry cunning and a decal printer. Those of you who have only just discovered this blogtastic part of the internet can revisit the triumph here.

Today saw a momentous discovery...the confirmation of a breeding colony in the Palmerston Nth Wagon Sanctuary! After sitting in a camoflaged hide for most of the afternoon, I managed to get so thoroughly annoyed that I went looking for my quarry instead, with much success:

An informal headcount puts the Palmerston North breeding population at 4, startlingly close to extinction. I am writing an application to DOC this evening, asking for them to divert some of the funding set aside to Saving the Kakapo (a rather pointless large green meal for a cat, as far as I can see) to this more worthy crusade.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Iluminating idea

Sorry, for the lack of a post yesterday. I was away stealing dust from Molesworth station ( Our dark blue car is now a pleasant beige). I'm also happy to report that the fish population of the area was not depleted in any way. If you do want to have a crack at this drive its 150km of bumpy dirt road, thats only open 2-3 months a year. We even saw some daft buggers trying to cycle it.

Todays short post is a great wee idea that I found on one of the British forum sites. I've always thought that we have more in common (as a country) with British modelers, as they tend to survive largely on a mix of kit and scratchbuilding, vs a US focus on modifying RTR stuff.

Anyway, todays clever idea was posted by a chap who goes by the handle 'Bertiedog'. Its a way to connect LED's up to fibre optic cable for lights. Its new to me, and possibly to the rest (or at least a few) of you as well. You just need some fibre optics, an LED and some heat shrink tubing. after that the picture says it all really.

You could add a number of cables in, and as the light can only leak out of one place, it should be easy to seal it up. If I had come across this 6 months ago, I might have tried harder to put lights into my 88 seat railcar.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Milking it 2: the Hoki Train

DB says briefly: not much to add from over here this week, so the upcoming week's post backlog is looking a little thin.

I did resume my milking of this old topic though with a few extra wagons being added to the train over the past few weeks. I now have 4 of the UKs with twenties and 5 (thought it was 6, but I could only find 5) of forties, with one more to come before I'm out of those nice containers; other than one I'm saving for general traffic.

The train is a little shorter than I'd like, but it doesn't look bad even though I haven't weathered any of the twenty footers yet.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Station plan time

Following on from Ranfurly last week, heres another Otago central station, Hindon. This, while not up to much as a station, has quite a spectacular location in the gorge.

I'm going to try to get hold of some more station plans in the next couple of weeks, and then tie them together into a layout (maybe)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Some thinking required

An interesting group meeting last night. We visited a large N scale layout, and I got a chance to run some rolling stock. The layout was sizable with reasonable curves and some grades. First up the Da's. these seemed to run OK, with 1431 a bit faster than 1410. Then it was time to try the Ed's. This was not quite so good with some problems with the 4 wheeled bogies tracking. I might have to put some thought into springing them onto the track, though there might also have been problems with the swing arm 'hitching' on the inner pivot. They struggled up the hills at times. The wagons were OK, but need some work with the fixed couplings, which was not really a great surprise. Finally, I brought out the railcar, which ran OK, but struggled with some of the curves which did not surprise me. So, a few pluses and a few minuses.

One thing it has reinforced in my mind is that avoiding any sort of grade on a layout is a good thing. This is just my opinion of course, and I'm very much in the 'KISS' school of model railroading.

Oh, and the chopped Dj chassis passed its run test with flying colours, despite some miss givings about the spring drive shafts. I'll have to get on to a center bogie for it, and pass it back north before the springs break down so that I can claim it wasn't my fault.

UPDATE; Sorry, forgot the biggest clanger last night. the 2 Da's had been running round the layout, so i decided to add the ed's on the front. turned on the power and nothing moved, but a wee bit of wheel slip. Hmm, that's odd. I detached the Ed's and placed them on the track 12" away from the D's. Applying the power and...Its a 'cornfield meet'. somewhere along the line the motors have been reversed, Or maybe its a thing between Kato and Atlas so that you have to buy one or the other...
I'll have to flip the Ed motors at some point, as that's the easiest solution.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bit of a rush

Have spent the day (apart from domestic chores) doing some remedial work on rolling stock. The first monthly group therapy session of the year is tonight at a local N scale modelers home, and I thought I would take some models to run. Ed's are OK, but the Da's still didn't have any couplers. so, a quick job to knock up some coupler mounts, and they were glued into position. I then had to make a converter wagon to couple to the locos with a Microtrains coupler at one end. Finally I added a wire coupler to one end of a 30' van (the other has a cosmetic NZR coupler on it) so that it could hook onto a peco coupler (which almost all of my stock still have).

Pictures to come later hopefully.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Breaking news

I see that the new run of Trackgang 88 seat railcars are now available. Get on over and buy one.

The end of Dr. Frank N. Furter - DC 4444 becomes 4421

DB asks: Anyone remember that bizarre extra from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, DC 4444? According to the Railfan mag, 4444 was a 'firm favorite' amongst the foamer community, which I suppose means that either Reid or Karl had the hots for it. Back in the 90s this freaky thing was going to revolutionise train operations in NZ - a loco stuffed with electronic wizardry that could motor itself around without the need for a driver. I guess you'd be buggered if you burst a brake hose.

Speaking of funny looking things, a pair of Rhys' cast resin DC tops floated onto my workbench in the late 90s. I made one into DBR1267 (now 1213) and started to turn the other into this beast, adding its unsightly protrusions (relocated batteries and air reservoirs if I recall), but gave up before the handrails went on. Now 10 or so years later, it's time for it to have a sex change and become DC 4421. I've liked this loco for a while, as its one of a few early bumblebees that had the TranzRail winged logo instead of the later poorhouse-edition-painted-on block TR letters, and I went for a ride in it once.It didn't take long to fill in the tablet exchanger hole, slop on some black and yellow paint and decals, and then plop some handrails on.

4444 sat on a dummy lifelike chassis, but I've since managed to scrounge a powered Atlas SD35 to go under 4421. Not only do these run well, they're also DCC friendly and with a few mods are within spitting distance of our DA/DB/DC/DBR bogies.

I always had a lowly opinion of my 4444 - unfinished on its hokey Lifelike chassis - but as 4421, it's come out fairly well despite the express paint job (including painted-on powercoated windows!) and nasty handrails (the best of them borrowed from a leftover Etchcetera set).As a postscript, one of our kind viewers sent me a link to one of these RhysResin shells that was up on Trademe a week or so ago. I hope one of our listeners snapped it up, as even in this day and age, with a touch of paint and a few details they can pretty easily be made up into mighty fine models.

Merely a jump... to the left... And then a step to the ri-i-i-i-ight...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

How far would you go

I've been reading old posts on the 2mm yahoogroup. There is a sizable amount of discussion about running finescale wheels on non finescale track. apparently its possible if you are using track built to NMRA standards, but peco points are a different matter entirely.

The inner finescaler is having a bit of a scary time as the group is quite happy talking in tenths of a millimeter which is a wee bit outside of his comfort (or eyesight) zone

Monday, February 01, 2010

The Return of Dr Cato - DX 5448 Gets the Blues

DB Says: Now that I've kicked the coal container habit, I suppose it's time to head back to the diesel depot and get some locos working. I pulled a few out of the box for those Moana pictures the other day and figured they could do with cleaning up.

Way back when, I proposed a few ideas for updating my 1990s Wellington locos for service down on the mainland, and now I'm actually following through with three loco projects on the go. Here's the DX 5448 story:
Strangely, I don't seem to have many pictures of the former incarnation of DX 5448, but it's partially visible here at the back

This was one of the small batch of zinc photoetched DXs made by Neville Caley (sp?) in Dunedin about twenty years ago. Rhys managed to procure me one and with some plastic, paper and wire, it made up into a very nice model of fruit saladed DX 5448, and put in quite a few miles on Otaki to Cass during its heyday.

It's almost a shame to cover up the superb etched grill detail with blue paint and tunnel motor ducting, but times have moved on for the real 5448.
The real thing looking clean in the Ethelton Gorge in July 2009
I used some of my DXB castings for the chutey protrusions, with the 'modern' grills shaved off the big ducts behind the cab. I'd hoped that 5448 was one of a handful of blue DXs that still have the early arrangement with no large chute on the driver's side, thus leaving one of the nicely etched dynamic brake intakes visible, but alas no.I modelled the front cab door open on the loco as this form of air-conditioning was a pretty common sight around Wellington in the warmer months, but is probably less so on the west coast, unless the door is open so the driver can shake out his umbrella.5448 originally ran on a Bachman Dash 8 and has been on this slightly modified and DCC'd Kato U30-C for the past 15 years or so, but it hasn't put a lot of miles on since then. The real 5448 has the new single-piece powdercoated side windows , but I'm not trashing the excellent etched sides for prototype fidelity. It also has really tiny cabside numbers as well which I thought might look a bit silly on a model, but I might revisit that at some stage.