Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Its Official....

(Am_Fet faces the inevitable)

I think I am now Madder than a small Welsh Village...

The prototype Ug Horsebox has been put together during my lunch hour and hasnt turned out too bad. There were a few fit issues, but if someone (i.e MD) puts it together with due care and attention (and sandpaper) that shouldnt be an issue.

Hardest part was obviously the strapping in my favourite 0.25mm Mylar. It wants to deform all over the show, so in between stripping off the backing paper and gluing it in place it has lots of opportunities to go off on its own sweet way. And looking at the photo I see I havent got it on very straight....might need magnification next time.

I'm now off to uncross my eyes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


A quiet week here at the Schloss. With looking after the lady of the house who is recovering well, I have not had much of a chance to get out to the shed. However I did make a trip out long enough to 'fix' the jump throttle issue. A hunt through the Digitrax yahoo group revealed that swapping teh pot from a 100K to a 1K shifts the usefull linear range to a physically useful range. 30 minutes with a soldering iron and everything is now sweetness and light, and I could run 3 locos at once if I happened to have 3 arms.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blast from the Past - Otaki to Cass

DB discovers:

An old VHS tape that the Druffmeister thinks a guy called Dennis (a former boss of Mr Fettler) shot on one of the Otaki to Cass setups in maybe 1993/4. Of course I haven't had access to a PAL capable VHS player for 13 years now so it was quite nice to find this.

It turns out that there is a PAL capable player at work, so I managed to import this into my Mac using Elgato video capture. Screwed up the title/vid sizes, but such is life. Note the green fluffosauras at Otaki, commentary from Mr Dandruff himself, the seismic fault module joins, the only RoadRailer to ever visit the Otaki Ballast Pit, an accidental compulsory stop on the Otaki bridge (for electrical block switching reasons it would appear!), and a pair of racing DCs through the Karangahake Gorge in coal-black livery (portending the Bumblebee era by at least 10 years).

The layout seems a little devoid of rolling stock, although it looks like there is a decent sized DXR/DF coal train at Otaki platform and DJ+recabbed DG ballast train as well. The DFT+DF freight looks close to the limit of the Otaki loop but is certainly a nice size on this layout. The 4-wheeler coalie at the Otaki platform is a bit short - some poorly performing vehicles may have been banished to the ballast pit or goods shed sidings.

As Cass has a shortish loop, we needed at least one 'short' train to make a crossing there, so the CB coal train, the ballast train or Rhys's TranzAlpine (notably absent here) were the usual options. Much hurried point throwing (manual via rods) and block switching was required to effect the crossings, which as can be seen could be done without trains stopping at Otaki. The gorge-racing DCs were trying to get into the Cass loop so the lumbering freight could run through without stopping also, although as can be seen in the first sequence, this was not perfect all the time...

The scenic features in this iteration of the layout (counter clockwise) were Cass bank, Cass station, Cass River, Makatoke viaduct, Karangahake Gorge, Otaki, Otaki bridge and then back to Cass. In the middle, the editorial staff of this fine electric organ fended off hecklers, drank fizzy drinks and participated in frenzied switch throwing every 30 seconds.

Other Druffers and lurkers may remember more...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Exercising the old clickin' finger...

Am_Fet writes:

Well, finally the planets fell into alignment this week, and by some miracle I had some time/wasnt tired/actually felt enthused for a change/all of the above....so I finally sat down and worked on a wagon I had been promising myself for ages, the UGA bogie Horsebox.

(Cedric Green plan)

The plan is for the major structural part of the wagon (including the headstocks and solebars) to be cut from 0.8mm ply. The final side layer will then get added on from rastered 0.4mm ply with the strapping added in 0.25mm Mylar (just like the J5).

With any luck I will get to pick it up today and then have the weekend to play with it. Herr Druff is after a white "Vegetable Traffic" version for Paekak, whereas an all red one wont look out of place on "The Forks". Round it off with some 2mm society bogies and it should look quite fetching. The finishing touch might be some brass etched dog-box doors and handrails, but I'm not getting carried away yet. Maybe for Easter??

As an aside, MD has asked me about whether I'm allowed to publish the drawing here. I'm pretty sure Cedric Green worked as a draughtsman for the NZR when he did them (for whom I now work), but 'm just trying to find out who is the proper "owner" of his drawings. In the meantime, I'll leave it here but will remove it at the first hint of legal action.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A bit late

Sorry for the complete lack of posts in the last week. For a variety of health reasons there has been not a lot of modeling going on. The lady of the house has not bean in the best of nick for a while now, and the end result was planned surgery last week. shes now on the mend.

So, modeling wise whats been going on. Well, I've done a wee bit more work on the wagons for the fell museum. in the collection of bits were a stack of Bachmann old time passenger cars. Completely useless but the bogies were useful. I cut the ends off and filed off all the spring details.

I've also completed the other cheap throttle for my zephyr. I still have to make a few adjustments to the electronic gubbins but they don't look too bad.

On a lesser note a quick look round the bigger DIY shops indicate that I will have to go with crappy 3mm MDF for the outer layer of the layout as I can't find thin ply locally. A pity as plywood is so much better to work with.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A bit of admin time

Ive just had a report that Norton Antivirus has fingered us

The Norton Anitvirus software has started declaring your blog site to be a site with known dangers that people should not visit. Detailed reports by Norton advise that there are two known risks on blogspot.com, both related to Facebook invitations to non-existent events that are actually "phishing" things.

Now I've had a quick look and found 1 ligit one, but only with a google search. There's 2700 comments so I'm not going through the lot. Sufficed to say you are all big boys and shouldn't click willy nilly on links.

I've also discovered that there is a spam folder in comments, which seems to have developed a liking for people named Steve, and for replies from esteemed guild members. I've left all these comments in the dead box, as its all long past and I can't be bothered re-hashing old arguments. It will just create animosity leading up to the convention, and I would like to go having pissed off as few people as possible. Now when I'm actually there, that's another thing entirely....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

'And the categories are...'

Posted in the comments last week by B 0-4-4-0;

'Never mind the scoring, etc. Lets just get as much NZ120 stuff as we have that looks realistic (and that has never been entered in a competition before) and submit it in an appropriate category.'

I fully agree with this. So just what are the categories that you can enter your pride and joy in?

2.1 Locomotives. Says it all really. By far the most popular of the categories. Also I think one of the hardest marked by the judges, judging by the 2010 convention results. Not sure how my Cb would fair in the section, and quite honestly how any NZ120 loco would fair. Oh and locos get extra points if they can move under their own power? I would have thought it was a prerequisite for entering? As another aside, steam locos seem to fair better than the infernal combustion engine for some odd reason.

2.2 Self propelled. Anything that isn't a locomotive that can still move without the finger of god pushing it. Railcars etc. Not a large category (no entries in 2010).

2.3 Passenger rolling stock, 2.4 freight rolling stock and 2.5 non- revenue rolling stock. I've lumped all these in together as they are all pretty similar. Not overly sure how well an NZ120 model would compete in these as well, but may well find out with one of the J sheep wagons on an etched chassis.

2.6 Trains. Minimum consist of a powered 'unit' and 2 others. Just ideal for the scale provided that you can dredge up enough stock for a decent sized train. At Porirua I entered my unit coal train of 2 Dc's and 7 Cb's The problems came on the public open day when all the competition winning models were to be displayed in a separate room, and it took me 5 minutes to sort out that I actually needed them to run on Otaki to Cass, where they put in a good 8 hour work day. All a bit confusing really. I thought that they were meant to run...

2.7 Rail plant. anything on rails not covered by 2.1-2.5 above. Jiggers snowplows etc. No entries last time round.

2.8 Permanent way. Signals and track. Last time round some amazing models from my friend Graham Venning did very well here and in the rest of the competition.

2.9 Line side vehicles. Trucks and stuff.

2.10 Bridges. Only allowed to include minimal scenics.

2.11 Structures. other buildings. I've got a suspicion that this is one that will start being dominated by the laser cut wood brigade in the next few years (if not this one) as it has been one of the more active areas applying the technology.

2.12 Scenes. 'Composite models forming a scene or diorama'. It can pay to limit the size of this. I once entered Cass (all 16' of it), and I think finished 2nd behind a sawmill. last time won by a model of a cabbage tree (which went on to win a few of the cups as well, despite having a Railmaster cast sheep on the base).

So, there you have it. start sorting out which models you will be bringing and make sure that the painted finish is up to scratch as well, which was one of the failings i noticed looking at the photos last time round. I'm wondering how I will get the smell of sheep into my J for that extra dimension...

Something else I've noticed, there no longer are 1st, 2nd or 3rd awarded in each category, instead a certificate with a colour (which I think has always existed). It was nice to know if you had finished in the top 3 (or 2 in the smaller categories), but maybe its my decades of playing in wargaming competitions where everyone knows where they finished.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Lets go shopping....

(With apologies to Steve Parr...)

Armless Fet writes:

So, more non-modelling speak from the armless one. Things are definitely getting better in the rehab stakes, but I'm having enough trouble holding pens at the moment to even think of tools yet, which is a bit aggravating. Still, I'm well known and dis-respected as an Armchair Modeller, so I shall revert back to what I know best....

I dont know if I've mentioned it here before, but another favourite scene on the line to Whareroa is Bridge 41 to the north of Patea. Nothing overly special, but neat still the same.

I was thinking that it would be easy to model using some cheap proprietry kit from Atlas or someone else, but everything I looked at didnt quite give the same effect, mainly due to the construction of the girders.

(About now someone in the peanut gallery will pipe up with "Oh, its a Pratt-Mclaren Through overhead reversal truss bridge with titanium linking pins"....well done to those in the know, I honestly have no idea)

So disatisfied, the project was shunted into the dark recesses of my mind while I filled in my days with learning to be left handed...

This evening I was looking through some of Joe Fugates "Model Railroad Hobbyist" PDF's....I seem to keep downloading them, although I'm not sure why...the miss to hit ratio at the moment is horrendously unbalanced. Anyway, an article caught my eye featuring a Central Valley Model Works kit of a through truss bridge in HO scale. Now this looked just the ticket! I wonder if they do it in N? ....They DO!

Sure, it is slightly short, but at 30 odd US Smackers its not bad at all. I did wonder if our 1:120 trains would be too big for it, but then decided that there is little difference between Yank 1:160 stock and our scale when placed side by side, so all should be well.

And as an added bonus, some of those highly questionable Lc castings that have been hoarded since the 90's might finally get a use as well...

Now, back to physio and those strength exercises....

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Points scoring

Today, its time to look at the convention competitions.

The most important question is 'how does the scoring work'?

This get broken down into factors which are;

1) Skill. basically, how well did you put everything together. there are 2 subsections; scratchbuilt, in which 50% of the model is hand forged from raw metal which you have smelted yourself, and kit built, where you try to put together a model which someone else has half assedly designed. I'll make the note here about laser cut or RP models. If you have done all the work yourself then you should be able to (rightly) argue that it is scratchbuilt, and if someone else has dont the monkey work, then its a kit. The convention committee may disagree, but give me a yell and I would be happy to argue on the whole CAD scratchbuilding thing, as I think it will be quite entertaining to see just what the answers are. Oh, and this is worth 20 points.

2) Complexity. How hard/mad your build is (I think). An odd one as surely the skill is to minimise the complexity? 20 points.

3) Conformity (scratchbuilt) or fidelity/added detail (kit built). A pass on this one, as surely if it looks like the real thing its good enough? 20 points

4)Finish. doss it look like the real thing? 20 points.

5) For locos and self propelled 'stuff', there's 20 points for 'runnability', however that is determined.

So, points tally up to 80 or 100 depending on if your model can move on the application of ergs.

The colour of the medal/award you gtet is then based on the marks. If its >90% you get a gold with merit. 80 to 90% you get a gold, 75 to 80% a silver (a narrow target to hit?) and 50 to 75% a bronze. From my reading of the 2010 results you seem to get a bronze for turning up, so maybe the silver slot is a bit thin?

So, that's how the scoring appears to work (from reading the rules, which I'm reasonably good at given my background in wargaming). Next time I'll look at the categories that you can enter your models in.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Finally spent some time out in the Man-sion yesterday. The main task was to check the track work (again) to see that everything was as good as it could get. 1431 did the honours running through all the points to see where the problems were. One in particular presented grave problems. One of the bogies lifted itself vertically almost to the point of derailing before crashing back onto the track. Not overly suitable. Everything appeared to be in gauge and as a last resort I rolled the loco over and checked the wheel gauge. all 3 were too narrow. A quick expand with the fingernails and everything was fine again (my fingernails are an important part of the tool kit you know. I think I could probably use them to set a cars points)

So, all the track now works tolerably well. Its going to severely limit guests though as its vital that the wheels are in gauge, and anything that is not will be found out.

I also did a wee bit of testing to check that the Cb and the railtruck would go round 6' radius curves (the Cb had previously, but the railtruck was an unknown quantity). The answer was yes, but the railtruck then refused to climb anything but the most gentle of grades. Bang goes my plans for a loop on the bush tram layout, or even a climb up a creek valley.

On another track, who is planning to go to the convention, and what are you all planning to bring along? I still have yet to hear if they want the layout, or any track making seminars (and I'd even do one on blogging if there was any interest). I daresay that there will be a special interest group meeting, but buggered if I know what we could discuss.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday morning

Well, its been a week since I blogged anything. There have been suggestions that I have been busy modeling and not wasting time on the Wibbly Wobbly Wooo.

Instead, I've been reading military histories, which I have not done in a long time. Oh, and trying to think about ways to solve problems at work (chemistry problems, not 'why am I working here' problems). I painted 4 N scale figures to see how they came out (a British 19th century layout lurks somewhere at the back of my mind) and had another look at my 9V jump controllers (which still don't seem to make sense, but I'll see if someone else can solve that).

So, in short nothing useful.

I did some more looking into 4'6"wheels (prompted by Cabbage). It was pointed out that the 3mm society does 11mm 12 spoked wheels (well, it was listed that it existed) but there is no list on their website of what they actually sell. I could ascertain that the wheel standards fit the NMRA ones, but that was it. There is also a shop listed to sell 3mm stuff. Several e-mails later the shops says 'I don't sell them' which was bloody odd considering that they were listed them in the first place. A question on RMweb then lead to a reply 'why don't you join the 3mm society and buy them. Oh and you could model in 3mm scale and on 10.5mm track'. Grrrrr....
So, I could join the society (25 quid) on the off chance they will be able to sell me what I want (which I'm still not sure about anyway) when I don't want anything else from them (well I might, but they don't have a list online so how can I tell?). Its all a bit frustrating really.

Maybe if I win Lotto....

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Week off

Some of you may have wondered whats going on here at Schloss dandruff.

The answer is nothing, I'm just having a week of from blogging. Normal transmission may well be resumed next week.