Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meeting up

Comments to my post yesterday have drifted towards meetings. I've been a member of a few modeling and gaming groups over the years. Model railway groups tend to meet on weeknights, with the most common being Tuesday-Thursday. Personally for me the worst night is a Friday night. After a long week I tend to sit down on Friday night, have a couple of drinks and relax. I'm not overly good with going out again and talking for the evening. The frequency can be anything from weekly to monthly. Weekly tends to suit actively modeling clubs, while monthly suits an interest group, such as NZR modelers etc. Weekly groups tend to meet in a fixed location (club rooms or shed) while the monthly ones tend to rotate round the members houses. As an aside it would be nice to have an NZR modelers group in Palmerston North, say meeting monthly for those with an interest

Wargaming clubs that I belonged to tend to meet on weekends as a decent game can take 4-6 hrs. This doesn't suit everyone, but they tend to meet only every other week. The location is generally a cold dusty church hall which are cheap to rent, though I've been to some in working mens clubs (mmm, bar...) or schools.

I have been kicking around the possibility of having a day meeting here one weekend as a get together for like minded individuals locally (and not quite so local). Subject to approval by the lady of the house, would there be any interest in such a thing? I can provide a layout, and there could be some chats about track laying and soldering etc, which seem to be the most common topics of interest.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday morning.

"Does the sun ever shine here, lad?"
"I don't know sir, I'm only 9."

Its been (apparently) unseasonably wet here in Palmy. The radio commented the other day that it had rained on 62 of the last 25 days. However today it looks like its one of those 'once in 3 weeks' days when I'll get to mow the lawns and even do some gardening. Hence there will be sod all modeling today.

I've also found in the last couple of weeks that I've been a bit stalled modeling wise. Its odd considering that normally after a big show like Railex ones enthusiasm juices tend to be in full flow. I'm just wondering if its something to do with the stage that the layout is at currently. I've pretty much done all the track, and now its on to the making buildings etc. This is not something I feel that I'm particularly good at, despite a track record of building possibly the largest NZ120 building ever attempted (Dunedin railway station). The 2 signal boxes I've done are OK but I'm not particularly happy with them. The station will be a bit of a bastard as its an odd collection of buildings that have just sprung up. then there's the bits around the loco depot etc. This is all getting a bit overwhelming quite honestly but I guess I'll just have to leap in and get started. For some odd reason I didn't have this problem with starting the track work which was possibly even more imposing.

Oh, and did I mention there's a convention coming up at Easter?

So, what have other people run across that has held back a modeling project

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No smoke this time.

Due to Schloss Dandruff being a bit of a plague ship this week, not a lot of progress.

I did receive a care package from the states though, with some more decoders (purchased before the NZ dollar goes spiraling to oblivion). One went into the railcar which had previously prototypically started smoking. I first went round with the heat shrink tube and made sure that the motor contacts were also isolated. Thus far it seems to be fine and runs really nicely, though the chip settings need a bit of tweaking.

'Any stray electrons leaking out then?'

Also note the added weight at the front, which is a cut up Kato 2-8-2 weight. I think it needs a bit more weight, but can't seem to find any of my printers lead.
With the lid back on it now looks the part.

'Now, no more fires you...'

I must get it finished though. The drop windows need to be added, and I must do something about more accurate couplers. It would also be nice to replace the front and rear 'skirts' with an etched offering...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Brain stroming

Here at Mini-Me-Wagons the madness has taken over again, after spending a few evenings talking trains with the head Druff. Last weekend was spent, out of the rain, trying to get one of the ideas from Druff space into Cabbage space. The starting point was a simple pencil drawing scribbled on the back of the nearest credit card letter of a 4 wheel 15ft under frame.

Druff Space

The idea is based on the same sort of thing from the 2mm Association in the UK and of course the crazy idea of making it from one piece of brass just folded into a wagon.
From the information the Armless one provided in the dim dark past for the design of the J5 laser cut body, the idea was put into Cabbage space. With all the appropriate level of nutter details like 1/2 etched rivets.

Cabbage Space

All the pieces are joined together and fold around each other in a devilishly clever set of ever increasing layers to form a 15ft under frame. A CAD model has been made up to prove the concept and a few errors noted, hand brake on the wrong side again!!!

Cabbage space folded

Final stage is to put it all together in the jigsaw puzzle of the etch and send it off to PPD.

Now we wait............

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sort of done

Well, after the weekends ramblings, back to something a bit more concrete. I got to sit down at the weekend and have a crack at the fiddly bits of scissors crossover for Waihao forks. This did take a bit of doing. Doing a normal crossover involves a bit of unsoldering and remeasuring, and when it comes to something like this its just a case of making it up as you go along. Along the way I had to reset several crossing frogs, redo the point blades, and shift other bits of rail back and forward to get the geometry roughly right. I still have to do the throwbars at the moment, but its essentially finished.

The end result is something that will accept both finescale and NMRA wheel sets. I'm not sure if I'd attempt another one though. However I've reached the point that working with code 40 rail no longer holds any fears.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Morning

A couple of conversations over the weekend past have got the little grey cells prodded out of their slumber and wanting access to the keyboard.

One comment I did hear quite a lot is 'oh, I could never do that'. I also have conversations where quite detailed minuata of modeling was discussed. Now I've never been much of an engineer (I'll work with them under duress, but that's about it). Regauging 2mm wheel sets for me meant twisting them on the axle until they went into the NMRA track gauge, rather than worrying about how i was going to shift them precisely 0.4mm. And with things like this I do think that people do talk themselves out of actually making models. Now Ill admit that it is very difficult to push on with a project that is not turning out the way that you thought it would, and I have plenty of 1/2 finished projects sitting on the workbench to prove it. By in large though, I manage to push through and get things reasonably complete, though I suspect my PhD is the only thing I've actually properly completed in my life. What I have managed to do with my modeling is to push through and build models of things I needed for the overall project. And I do believe that its important to have some sort of overall goal to model making. Be it building a wagon, an entire train or a layout small or large.

This has been a bit rambling but I have a bit of a head cold and have spent most of my energy today being coherent at work. I am not quite sure what the point of it all is, maybe just that its all in the mid you know....

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


OK you wanted pictures

First we have the big and boy is it big LGB

Second English N not sure of this one's name

Third Taumaniu

Forth we have the 9mm/O gauge Kaikora layout

and lastly Rimu Flat which is the MMW layout

As for running the demo tables at the shows we have been doing this to pass the time and draw interest to the hobby for the last 4 years
It is a great way to get the audience involved
I remember last time we were at Lower Hutt RailX we were modifying S scale sheep for Kai Iwi Tunnel, you could only get runners and we needed some eaters so I was busy moving their heads down. there were about 5 kids standing around watching they would all ask "what are you doing" the reply would be "I'm cutting their heads off" this would have them intriged for 30 mins watching.
At Palmerston North Show last year saw the inventions of the birds we were hand making pukeko, the punters would watch ask "what are you doing" this time the reply was "I'm making......." at which point I would dip the blob of solder I had into a bottle of blue paint and hold it up for them to see "Oh ... its a pukeko"
Here we have Michelle building S scale disels, Steve was making paper cabbage trees Michael was doing nothing and out off shot Micheal Gee painting telephone poles, Tim building Df and Cabbage working in the other 9mm scale D cars

Train hunting

My previous attempts to photograph excursions have ended in varying degrees of complete failure. This time round I seemed to have everything in my favour. The timing meant that I could take photos over the back fence at work. However a line side fire (and one of the crew did question how an oil burner could start a fire..) held things up, and so I trekked out to the north end of Palmerston North to get some shots.

'Just testing'

'Bugger, too soon again. maybe I need an SLR'

I then headed off to the station to get some detail shots

However, as always things were not to be plain sailing. I then headed out to Longburn to get some shots passing the Fontera factory. After 10 minutes (and being quizzed by a farmer who thought I was stealing a gate or something), I wasn't feeling it at the crossing and moved down to the old over bridge. I had just pulled up when a wisp of smoke announced Ka 942's arrival. The camera refused to start and I was left sitting in the car cursing.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Making rail at Railex

So, how did my demo session making track go?

The main question was, so why do you make your own track? the three answers were (in no particular order)
1) There's nothing that looks close to the local prototype (apparently micro engineering code 55 isn't too bad, on a dark night)
2) Its cheap, I can build 3 points and a scissors crossover for a total of $40. That's about a 3rd of the price of the scissors crossover.
3) I'm not limited by commercial track geometries. Trying to force a prototype track plan to fit the limited range of points is always a pain.

Most were impressed, Some asked when I was making track for them (and the answer, Mike, is still no, until you move to a decent scale). One guy claimed that he didn't have steady enough hands, till I demonstrated that mine were worse than his (early mornings will do that to you). The Journal editor expressed his approval in that I had moved on from Peco.

I hope that I managed to de-mystify the process for some. I have had an invite to do a talk (which I'll probably have to turn down due to transport problems),and will probably wind up being tapped to do something at the convention. and how far did I get?
well, starting from here
Doing the sleepers sped things up quite a lot on the day. Saturday night at home we have...

The lower track is straight, its just a optical delusion.

A bit of a closeup. I have not put the throw sleepers in yet. One thing I immediately thought after taking this was that it looks like S scale code 70, which it essentially is scale wise. However I have found that its right on the lower limit of what I can work with. Its getting hard to see just how far through I have filed things. And before anyone suggests it (as Teach did last night) I don't do magnification as I can't get it to work for me (maybe when I need glasses) and I have tried all sorts. It just annoys me.

Finally we get to tonight. with the lady of the house safely out of earshot in Melbourne the sounds of fret saws and files echo through the living room.

I'm 1/2 way through the scissors crossover, but for a variety of reasons its being a real pig. I've tossed the rule book out the window and I'm just winging it at the moment.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

RailX II

Well yes it was a very good show always worth the effort the Mini-Me-Wagons got a really open reception with lots of positive feedback and encouragement

On Saturday monsieur Druff was busy wowing the punters with the construction of NZ120 trackwork and points but Sunday there was an empty space, we had to find something to fill the gap so we brought our own Mini-Me.

See building NZ120 really is child's play

He always likes going to the shows but normally has seen it all in less than 30 mins. Today there was something else to do to progress the scale, a Df kit from Trackgang, so with a soldering iron and a few borrowed tools he had the punters wowing again.

This was Tim's first attempt at a white metal kit and he made a respectable job of it to

Saturday, November 05, 2011


A report from one of the big shows on the NZ calendar.

Out of bed at 6:30 AM. question the wisdom of having a few beers the night before. Pack up the car, organise breakfast and head off. make it to the show by 9 AM. Load out gear and meet some of the VCC guys and girls. Settle in to the bench and start work when the show opens at 10. wonder why its so quiet, discover Mark and I are facing the quiet part of the hall when I turn round. See some old friends and get to put some names to faces (Muir, you dashed off with the Ka before I could have a closer look :v). Managed to go the entire day without injury as well.

Right, so what was there?

'Has anyone seen my train?'

Mr Trackgang on the S scale Tauranga display layout of Taumarunui. Some very good modeling and its just a pity its in the wrong scale. at 14M by 3M its just a bit large for my garage

Wellington 9mm layout. Was originally made in Christchurch in the early 1990's and has lasted quite well. A 'large' collection of locos and wagons, some of which were still being worked on when I left on the Saturday night.

OK, so not quite the same but pretty close. My Cb perched on a 9mm scale Johnson 16 wheeler. Several people commented over the weekend about how it is much smaller in real life than the photographs show.

Finally I had to include this. Its a German gauge 1 layout. As if that not bad enough, the shear size of the thing is unbelievable. The grey bit in the middle distance is the back side of it, and there's a fiddle yard on the left.

But wait, there's more. The small child obliged by not moving between shots so you can see the rest of it, where the other end eventually stops behind the concrete pillar.

Its not only the size that gets me, but the gargantuan cost of it all (German models are not cheap).
Still I guess they could afford the empty warehouse to have it set up in.

There were also a good selection of traders and second hand book shops. Its defiantly one of the 'go to' shows on the New Zealand modeling calendar, with a wide selection of odds and sods.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

How did that happen.

3 Years and 6 months ago some idiot decided that blogging about his modeling would be a good idea. Today we hit 1000 posts. Someone has indeed blundered.

Lets revisit a few quotes from that first post.

"So whats this all going to be about. Hopefully it will be a blog on modeling in NZ120, running model railways in 1:120 scale on 9mm gauge track, with some incredibly bad typing and spelling tossed in for good measure"

Well, I've certainly exceeded expectations on several of those points, though the locating of the spell checker has curbed some of the worst excesses.

"I'm hoping to bang down some thoughts from the keyboard and try to inspire a few people to have a go at building things. I'll try to do this with some modeling projects, thoughts and ideas. Also possibly a bit of modeling philosophy thrown in. Sounds ambitious I guess, but it all seems rather pointless if you start something without ambition.:v) And I've always wanted to have a crack at this blogging thing. No idea if I'll be any good, but that's not going to worry me that much anyway, as I dont really care if you read this or not."

Well, some things don't change. I'm still not overly worried if anyone reads or not, but its always a surprise to be chatting on overseas websites and get PM's with 'Oh, I read your blog BTW'. Meeting the local modelers has been a bit of a buzz too. Again, having someone walk up to you and say 'Hi, I'm Captain Carbon' is one of the most memorable.

It was suggested that I do a retrospective on our little scale and wheres its come in the last 3 1/2 years. That I think would take too long, and I can't be stuffed. The information is all under the headings on the sidebar even if its going to take a while to sift through. Think of the fun you will have dredging up long forgotten posts from 2009.

One thing that I'm still a bit surprised about is that there's still not a central forum for NZR modelers, whatever the scale. The forum demonstrates it works with very minimal policing. However no-one else has had a crack at exploiting the new media form (maybe with the exception of Grant). It would be interesting to be able to compare notes with other local bloggers.

So, where does the blog go from here. Its sort of evolved from one mans cack-handed odyssey in modeling to a smooth slickly run rag with a tightly knit group of feature writers to a disorganised rabble writing about whatever takes their fancy. Maybe thats why it works. I can have an idea or a thought, and have it written up in 15 minutes and posted. 30 minutes if I need a photo or two. It satisfies my short attention span (though longer than some of the other contributors) in ways that print media just doesn't. I'm still a great fan of magazines for picking up and reading, but its just not my thing to contribute to.

How long am I going to continue? How long is a piece of string? I have wondered at times 'why do I bother', and then just carried on (I don't tend to quit easily, as a few of my wargaming opponents will attest). I might just wake up one day and decide 'thats it, I'm done'. Currently I think that day is a ways off, but who knows. If I could forsee the future I would not be doing what I'm doing.

See you all at Railex on Saturday. I think I'm on the VCC stand (I'm assuming I'm allowed to wear shoes). Drop by and say hello.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


A question was asked from the peanut galley during the weekend re running 2mm finescale wheels on NMRA standard track. Now, while I had done finger push testing with bogies through various bits of track work, I had not done any 'live' testing' so to speak. So, tonight I gave it a crack. I used 1431 to push my R wagon through a variety of points to see how things went. First up the points on the main that have been modified to allow the use of Peco wheels. This was a fail with the wheels picking the frog. However, on the tighter NMRA standard points everything seemed to be fine. I also took this picture on the code 40 point.

Its quite pretty, and my inner finescaler is almost approving (but not quite. hes a bit of a bastard like that). I think its going to work OK on the Waihao Forks layout.