Friday, December 31, 2010

On Tour II; Southland sojourn pt I

Onto Southland, where the locals prefer their sunshine in the liquid form.

In between entertaining the nieces and nephews I managed to slip away to do a bit of touring. First up was a visit to Gorrre. The Station is on the main street and has been preserved with an art gallery and a cafe inside.

Wow I thought, I wonder what the platform side looks like?
'Hello, Police? I want to report a robbery.'

Across the track (singular) is the old 'Iconic' Cremota building complete with Sergent Dan on the side.

Also on the main street I came across this. Anywhere else in the country there would be a monument to the fallen in 2 world wars, or a statue to some politician. In Gorrre they value other things more highly....

'The places I could take this if it wasn't a family blog'

Thursday, December 23, 2010

On tour I; North otago

Right, back on front of the old pooter.

The trip for the inhabitants of Chateau Dandruff (minus the spiders) started off in driving torrential rain, with a side order of flood. Things calmed down on the Canterbury plains with just gale force winds to contend with. After a stop in Timaru we ventured into the back blocks of Otago on the way to the sprawling metropolis of Winton (who's main claim to fame is that the lady of the house came from there).

First up is Oamaru. this sleepy town has reinvented itself as the steam punk capital of New Zealand.We didn't look at this bit, but did visit the Whitstone cheese shop (mmmm, cheeeeseee).
just across the road was this Bumble bee Dc parked up for the holidays.

Our ongoing trip then took us over Danseys Pass. To get there from Oamaru its required to follow the old Ngapara branch starting at Weston. This is a nice drive and I would recommend it.
At Ngapara to most obvious relic is the old flour mill. This is still in very good condition.

Unfortunately the station site is long gone, replaced by a collection of trees. I think this is where the station sat, and is the opposite direction from the flour mill.

Into Central Otago and I had to stop for this photo......

Further adventures as they come to hand.

The Year That Was

Am_Fet writes:

Sitting here in a sweltering Nor'Wester at the Ancestral Home with the Laird and Lady Druff, it seems a perfect time to look back over the year that was and try and pick out the bits that made it special. And so, with alcoholic Beverage in hand (and a fair bit of input from the head druff despite his visiting the antipodes), here is my version of the year that was:

I think the overriding impression of the year for me was "Steady as She Goes". After last years big leap forward, it really was a year of consolidation and a year about people. The convention gave many a chance to meet up in Christchurch with kindred spirits, and the "Informal BBQ's" that were held seem to be a brilliant way forward....a chance for a social chinwag plus some train running on the side. A big "Congratulations" to all those involved, and may we see lots more of it in 2011.

Our scales web presence went from strength to strength. I still think we are the best organised of any of the current scales as far as how we present ourselves to the web world is concerned, and again Wes deserves a lot of the credit for the site. Others are also flying the flag with their own blogs and I can thoroughly recommend it as a way to improve the visibility of the scale.

Many fine models were shown to an appreciative public this year, with probably the most kudos being for DB's DXB.....for many of us, it really was that "breakthrough" moment were the scale could proudly foot it with the best that the S and 9mm crowd were able to a model, it probably deserved a cover of the journal all of its own!

Wee Duggie was beavering away like a mad thing on the etched locomotive front, and I am really looking forward to his work bearing fruit in the new year. I would personally have loved to have seen the test etches soldered up to create a real buzz...but the prospect of an etched DS with lots of waggling bits under the footplate is a mouth watering prospect.

Rapid Prototyping (RP) is still the elusive "genie in a bottle" that not many seem willing or able to uncork. Some DX sideframes made it to limited production, but everything else either remains in development or hidden from view (why?). This could be the one tool that really lifts the scale to the realms of the "insanely achievable", maybe 2011 will be a bumper year?

Russell of Trackgang has continued to carry the scale with his continued work both with new kits and supplying of his current lines. The Fiat was a welcome re-introduction and the new Yd is a good choice for those wanting to model work trains from the 1950's right through to the present. So will a Yj be next, Russell??

So, nows your chance...what have I missed? What were your highlights of the year? And what are you expecting to see in 2011?

Personally, I'm really looking forward to that RP'd one piece DXB top....

A Merry Xmas to you all, and may the way to your door always be downhill with a wind at your back.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snot Bonnets Ahoy!

Am_Fet writes:

I'm always glad when the "Prototype for Everything" department gets in touch....even more so when they fill my inbox with pics that get me thinking "I gotta get me one of those!"

Latest treasure; Two bona-fide South Island DXC's together on the milkies! And one's a Snot Bonnet to boot!

Just another little treasure I can choose to model to annoy the purists....

Again, thanks to Drew for the more on his ongoing blog at

I'm going to miss that boy when he flies the coop for Aussie come April...

Monday, December 20, 2010

On tour

Well, from today, things will become even more haphazard posting wise round here. The inhabitants of Chateau dandruff will be on the road for 2 weeks, terrorising inhabitants of small out of the way places. I also have a 1/2 hatched plan to do some railway archeology while on my travels, but it remains to be seen how that's going to pan out, given that the lady of the house might have other ideas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wander lust

Time for a bit of an update here this morning.

Things in the real world here have been a bit up in the air over the last couple of months job wise. I've not been overly happy in my present position throughout this year, which I think has come through in some of the blog posts. To cut a long story short, I resigned my job a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those things which had been building for some time, and I just woke up one morning and thought 'today's the day'. As with any decision like this, once made, it was a load off my mind, and I was a completely new man (or back to the old me; take your pick).

Moving on from this, I've yesterday accepted a new job in a different location. Its a sensible career move and my new company is known in the industry as being an exceptionally good employer. I'll also be working for/with an old friend which I'm quite looking forward to. Unfortunately this will involve moving Chateau Dandruff (and all the packing that entails).

So, I guess that the one thing that you can expect is that things will continue to be rather haphazard over the next couple of months. I'm hoping that eventually this will sort itself out.

And as to where I'm moving? I'm not going to reveal it yet, but its a location that the best thing that can be said about it is that its close to a lot of other places...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Trackmaking XXIII

After the weekends disaster, I decided to buckle down and sort out the problem of no gaps.
first up I poured water everywhere to soften up the PVA. after waiting for a couple of hours the track was carefully pealed off. the gaps were quickly added. Conductivity tests were rather inconclusive at the time (waters funny like that) so I just stuck the track back down and put all the heavy books on it again.

Last night I connected the power back up, and was relieved to find that there were no shorts.
5 minutes of testing ensured.

'All the locos really did start at the right hand end honest.'

What I found interesting was that the Da's (which I thought would be fine)did not negotiate the points at the south end of the yard particularly well (there are some gauge issues with the wheels I think). At least they are not supposed to run through this area in the real thing. The Ed's, which I was worried about due to the home made bogies, ran quite happily through everything, with a little lateral jerking around only at high speeds.

I'm quite happy now I can run trains for 7'

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Son of DFT in a Day... maybe

Well some things are happening, even if it is slower than a snails pace.

I've finally got around to mounting the DFT sideframes onto a Kato SD40-2 bogie, notice I said "a bogie", the other one still has it's original N scale HTC sideframes.
See the photos below for a comparison of NZ120 and N scale sideframes, it makes you wonder how we suffered with the "N scale bogies are near enough" theory for so long.

N Scale HTC sideframe

NZ120 DFT sideframe

Hmmm, I think I need Z scale couplers, and yes I know the cab area needs some remedial work, buts that's not what we are here to see now is it?

I have also done the preliminary CAD work for the mark II version, the plan here is to add the "rodding" between the axleboxes to the sideframe. This will hopefully allow more of the N scale sideframe to be removed and let the DFT sideframe sit a little closer to the wheels.

With any luck, one day soon, work related study may not take up so much time and things may even accelerate to a turtle's pace...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Confession time

Last night, after a week of not really achieving much, I decided to have a crack at connecting up the 2 modules and at least see if I could run a loco the full length of both of them. So, after hooking all the wires up, of course I had a short didn't I. so, i go back and check everything, disconnecting as I go. Eventually I think I narrow it down to one of the frogs. It seems like the gap isn't wide enough to insulate the damn thing from the rail behind it. I then absentmindedly check the frog to the point blades.


A closer inspection reveals that I have neglected to cut a gap between the frog and the point blades.This is a bit of a bugger as I've glued most of it down haven't I. I then further examine my handwork (or lack of it). The affect total rises very quickly to 6. I decided to fire up 'El Homicido' the mini drill. Ahhhh, I seem to have no cutoff disks left. Bugger

So, this week there needs to be a trip to buy some more discs, or I have to undo the PVA (water works wonders) and cut the gaps using the good old saw.

The moral of the story here is 'check everything on the bench first you slack bastard'.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Reader Writes:

"Dear MD,

I'm hoping you can help. I have a love of DA locomotives and Tank Wagons, but cant for the life of me make decent foliage (grass, trees, etc) that just screams "New Zealand Native Bush" to save myself. Can you help?


Yellowed Thumbs"

Dear Yellowed Thumbs,

Youre modelling the wrong country. Can I suggest you try Chile?



Thursday, December 09, 2010

Aging Nicely

Am_Fet writes:

I was just looking at this pic while idly scrolling through “My Pictures” here at work, and it struck me how nicely the KR colours are aging. Sure, it’s the KR1 scheme…and it could just be the lighting…

But all the colours are starting to be evened out; the red is going darker, the grey is getting lighter, the yellow is getting that lovely “rust” look on the roof…


(Big thanks to Drew for his continued documenting of the South Taranaki Milk Scene)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Pick up line

At the monthly support group meeting I had a chat with teach about putting some more pickups on some of his S scale steam locos. Several of his locos have the archaic 'one side of loco, other side of tender' system, which I think was invented as a medieval form of torture.

So yesterday I sat down with the first victim, an Online J. A first examination revealed a split frame mech, which was a pleasant surprise pick up wise. However since I was there 'we' decided to fit some more pickups to the tender anyway.
The first step was to solder some phosphor bronze spring wire to some thin PCB strips (well OK, sleepers). I then through a series of origami moves managed to fit the damn things and get them to work (well, rub without seizing the wheels up). Unfortunately we didn't have any thin flexible wire on hand (it was at home) so a full test was out of the question.

I should have got a photo....

One thing I did notice was just how much space there is on an S scale model to fit these sort of things. They are absolutely huge. I'm now looking forward to have a crack at some of the other locos.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Support group meeting

That time of the month again, and the last one for the year.
A good turn out again, but with 1/2 of the attendees not having done much. Still, summer isn't really good modeling time, its more 'try to get photos for modeling projects while convincing the wife that these locations are a good place to visit' time. This would be easier if the railways had put their yards in more scenic spots and not run down industrial estates.

Anyhoo. thanks to the chap I normally get a lift with, I was able to to take my first 2 modules out to show off my track making. Another chap brought along some pencil drawings that his father had done based on the photos of the Rimutaka incline in the October 2009 Observer. these are nothing short of stunning. The man is a true artist and I can't believe that he doesn't do prints.
Another local modeler/engineer had been reworking an S scale Ja Kit that had been assembled wrong. the model was well put together, but it wasn't 'straight'. There were also problems with the height of the cab. There were comments raise by another modeler that these faults had also been observed in a well known modelers assembled models, which had necessitated a lengthy and fiddly rebuilding process.

This sort of raises another question that I always ponder. what do we expect in a kit, and what are we prepared to 'live with'? From reading the British forums, the answers range from 'it must be perfect, but I'll never assemble it' to 'Its not even close, but if I toss away the chassis and most of the body and add a stack of other parts then it should be fine'. I've never really understood the second one, as surely a manufacturer who wants you to part with your hard earned cash should have done his homework up front.

the evening finished with a beer and some discussion on using servos to mechanise line side models ( A compressed air coaling crane was the intended target)

Thursday, December 02, 2010


I've reported a while ago about the new Yd kit from Trackgang. I've now had a chance to actually have a go with he bits. First up a reminder of how it all looked freshly unpacked.

The castings are crisp (as you would expect). There is a small amount of flash present. the only real problem is that the air cylinders are not quite square, due to an odd choice by the caster on how to put them in the mould. However its nothing that can't be solved by a bit of filing.

Assembly is by glue (I still can't master soldering anything that melts if i screw up. give me a brass etch any day). The only problem I encountered in the early stages was attaching the sides. They have a small pin that locates them under the floor. Unfortunately this means that they are about 1mm below the ends.

'I can read the paint label....'

I simply solved this problem by removing the pins and gluing the sides level with the top of the ends which is where they should sit. If I had taken clearer pictures at the time it would all make sense.

I altered the construction order slightly by attaching the 4 cylinders to the floor first. This then gave a reference point to fit the underframe spine. Due to some error along the way this piece has to be modified by removing some of the end platforms and adding 3mm into the center of the part. Its no big problem, just something to be aware of.

And so, what does it look like together?

The kit has captured the look of the prototype, which is all we really want at the end of the day. I've always had a soft spot for these wagons since Mr Bond built a couple 25 odd years ago in S ish scale. I may well acquire 2-3 more as they were never seen alone in the wild.