Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Afternoon....

First stop for the Druffmeister: Holding court in Pukerua Bay...

(From left: Brabs, Cabbage, Mish and Goobah. Front and Center Herr Druff. Photo Am_Fet).

Saturday Morning

Can't stop, places to be with 2/3 of the layout...

Next time I build a layout it will fit in the damn car in one load!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Messy nights

Well, messy progress. Now I know that it is possible to make a hot wire cutter to cut polystyrene (and yes, I know it gives off toxic gas when heated), I don't have one. I do have a wood saw.....
(And you don't want to see the floor at all). Its slow progress as I have to glue the bits of polystyrene together and wait a aday to cut them. Plus I have discovered that no more nails is abit more solventy than I had thought (though the smell should have given it away).

So, with just the hills to go, things are coming together in that the layout looks like I've been working on it for over 2 years.

It was at this point that I suddenly thought 'I can't remember ever taking pictures from the other side of the layout'. So, without further ado, I climbed behind the layout and took another historical comparison shot.

Compared with this...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Productive weekend

So, as of 8PM last night, here is the extent of progress. First up, aping an historic photo here

Its amazing the difference that adding in the flat areas makes even if there are no hills behind it . The colour isn't great but its not finished is it!

Looking the other way. The retail area of town to be at the left, and the railway settlement on the right.

Finally, here is a first 'ground level' shot of the yard. Just visible past the Z wagon with no detail on the ends is 1431.

So, its coming along, and it will look tidy come convention time if nothing else. I'm not looking forward to cutting out the hills as its cheap crap polystyrene (but not permanent) and just thinking about it is giving me goosebumps down my spine. maybe I'll use a pair of earmuffs and it will be not as bad. Tonight should see the flat areas and road added on the other side of the layout. Strangely enough this is actually the punters viewing side

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Well, things seem to be finally moving forward. The MDF facings are all up, and attention has finally turned to putting on some sort of terrain above the baseboard.

Apparently you are supposed to go through some rigmarole to protect the surface of the MDF. Taking the bolt gun to that sacred cow I've painted one of the panels black to see what happens. You will never know how much restraint it took me not to do the rest.

So, its going to be a bit of a race, but hopefully today breaks the back of the hard work, and I'll be able to finish some of the competition entries.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday morning

Hmm, its only 2 weeks to the convention. might be time to pull my finger out and do something....

-Layout sides are coming along, will get painted this weekend, and I'll install the flat bits as well. I'll probably have time to make some card buildings (just the basic shapes) but that will be about it. However I'm not planning to make any side trips at the convention, preferring to sit round and talk s**t (which I excel at...) so there will probably be some modeling done while I am there.
-Competition entries.....yes well...
have started at least, but will need to get some castings pronto to get them finished.
-There is a clinic to write, fortunately I have plenty of pictures taken over the last 3 years to fill it up.
-Does anyone have any objections to the NZ120 SIG being held in the bar (any preferences Russell, since you are the only other one who has indicated that they will be there?)
-ITS ONLY 2 WEEKS TO THE CONVENTION AAAAAHHHHHH (footsteps running off into the distance).

So, quite a bit to do, so why am I sitting in front of the computer writing about it?

In other news, the latest Railfan is out. A good selection for everyone, with a sizable spread on Kiwirail trains, as well as some articles for us old time fans (I am continually astounded by the amazing George Emmerson collection, and and thankful that Richard is allowing many of the images to be used). Looking at the center spread I thought 'that style looks familiar, wonder where I have seen it before' I flip to the next page to discover its from one of the blogs other contributors. Well done that man!

And to finish, one of the finest Youtube clips ever discovered.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Uga 'kit'

I promised this earlier in the week, and here it is.
Its not a kit, but a scratchbuilders aid, and very nice it is too.

the first thing you get is the wonderful smell of burnt wood. if they could do it in fragrant ply the sales would go through the roof.

1/2 way through pealing off the cover film stuff. pretty isn't it.

The whole thing goes together well, with just a few head scratchers which are sorted with some reference to photos.

Here it is mated with the 2mm old time bogies (which are not quite right, but close enough for me at the moment).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hills up

Dragging myself away from the workbench tonight, I managed to get another panel done on the layout. This one was a bit more challenging. The seaside hill at Paekakariki is an odd shape, being cut off square by the railway. I've had a go at it....

I'm sort of happy with the shape at this end, which is a bit less square close up. The other end is a bit more of a struggle to get right, and I'll have to shape the hill behind it first to see how the shape ends up.

The view of the loco depot is OK I think.

I may have to make some changes to suit the camera happy photographers as well.

Now I have to start on the backside of the layout, which will be a bit more of a challenge as I am not getting any thinner.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Ok, so I know its less than 4 weeks to the convention, and I have a layout to get mostly complete and there are a stack of jobs to do...

But the damn thing is just so tempting.
Added the brake spreaders, sidechains and some solder to 3D the flat brake cylinder. Still needs some NZR couplers.

'Damn you cabbage!'

Sunday, March 18, 2012

In the post II

Its been a week for packages. 2 in 2 days in fact. The first was the bits for a Uga, of which I'll get on to later in the week. The second was the 3rd iteration of the J sheep wagon underframe etch.

'Mouth watering brassy goodness'

There is only so much temptation that a man can stand, and it was not long before I had one cut out and on the workbench

'Don't worry, I'll be gentle...'

Firing up the old soldering iron, and out with the solder paste (what a fantastic invention). being the 3rd iteration, Mark has worked out the bugs we have pointed out, and added a few nice bits as well.

The spring and axle box assembly folds up in 6 layers, and Mark has worked out how to get the axle box lid set at an angle. A nice touch I must admit. The underframe is a scratch aid rather than a kit, and there are some tricky bits which nearly tripped me up first time round. Finally it was time to add the re gauged 2mm finescale wheels and put it in front of a camera. Note the nice brake cylinder which is a one dimensional fold down.

The brake shoes need a bit of tweaking but apart from that its good to go.
And of course I could not resist putting the J top onto the underframe

Still a bit of work to go, mostly with adjusting the fit of the top to the underframe and add some couplers. Then I have 4 more to make before the convention. I must have a think about the amount of weight that will need to be added as well, which will be a key factor in the running qualities and also the shunting

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday morning

Trying to keep up with this slot, as its a good time for philosophising.

First up, and one of my least favorite topics, an obituary.
Last weekend marked the sudden passing of Greytrainz. I never had the opportunity to meet Graham, or even talk to him on the phone, so we only had email exchanges. Graham was a true enthusiast for the scale, and did a fair bit of work on his own to further things with his own modeling as well as providing models for others.His keenness will be missed, and I extend my/our condolences to his family.

Though it feels a bit odd just to carry on to the next topic, nevertheless....

I've been having a few thoughts on exhibition displays. Reading through the British exhibition threads it is common (standard?) to run the layout to a timetable, or at least to a sequence of moves. the standard here is to leave a train running until the operators get bored with it then swap. Unofficial comments from some members of the One track minds group suggest that this is not quite enough operationally. I must admit that I am inspired by the European Freemo groups in their get together's with an actual timetable to operate to. I just can't remember if I have ever seen anything like this at a New Zealand exhibition.

Oh, and its 4 weeks till the convention and counting. Can anyone give an indication if they are going or not? Will it be worth having a special interest meeting at all? or can we just hold it in a hallway cupboard?

((nd that reminds me, I must actually write the talk and workshop I'm giving. Does anyone have any areas that they would like reviewed in trackmaking? I won't be touching on other methods, only the ones I use. maybe a bit on laying out yards etc?)

Friday, March 16, 2012

In the post

A package I had been waiting for arrived in the post earlier in the week. My bush tram wheels arrived. They are a bit on the large side (2' diameter) but have curved spokes.

Not perfect, but they have to do. I have the brass to knock up some bogie frames so will have to do a jig to make life easier (and less burnt fingers).

Also, progress on the module sides continues, held up by more fishing trips (catch a fish and there is an expectation that you can do it again).

Its coming along well, and I guess I will have to make a decision on the colour it gets painted. I do like black (simple, elegant and frames the layout) but am willing to listen to REASONED argument for another colour, preferably with photographic examples to demonstrate that the proposer isn't on a short list for the loony bin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back into it

Out in the Man-sion again, and its 4 weeks to go to the convention.

I had been thinking about the edging of the layout. Given my dislike for MDF, and preference for plywood, it might come as some surprise that I have decided to go with MDF. A special on 3mm sheet at Mitre 10 certainly shifted my thinking. So, the first piece is up.

With a bit of thinking and care (traits that I do struggle with) it has gone OK for the first piece. The hills at the back are going to present a bit more of a problem as I'm not really sure how high or long they are going to be, or what the profile will look like. I think it will be time to get more cardboard out.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How good is your wiring??

(I just can't hold this important information back any longer)

Am_Fet scribbles:

Found this on the Interweb Thursday on Makezine (actually linked from an Analog Synth forum I'm a member of).

How-To: Splice Wire to NASA Standards

Some commenters on Friday’s post about using a washer as a soldering aid noticed my sloppy splicing technique and were kind enough to educate me about the so-called “Western Union splice,” aka the “Lineman’s splice,” which is the preferred method for twisting solid-core wire leads together for inline electrical connections.

Developed during the heydey of the telegraph, the Lineman’s splice is designed for connections that will be under tension. It is commonly claimed that, properly made, a Lineman’s splice is stronger than the wires of which it is composed. In any case, it is a time-proven method, and, coolest of all, one of NASA’s Required Workmanship Standards. To wit, in a NASA-approved Lineman’s splice:

  1. The conductors shall be pre-tinned.
  2. There shall be at least 3 turns around each conductor and the wraps shall be tight with no gaps between adjacent turns.
  3. The wraps shall not overlap and the ends of the wrap shall be trimmed flush prior to soldering to prevent protruding ends.
  4. Conductors shall not overlap the insulation of the other wire.

Though the Lineman’s splice was originally used without solder, today soldering is common. And NASA insists on it:

  1. Solder shall wet all elements of the connection.
  2. The solder shall fillet between connection elements over the complete periphery
    of the connection.

This material comes from page 84 of NASA-STD 8739.4, which is a great reference if you’re interested in best practices for interconnecting cables and wires. [Thanks, Alex Barclay!]

NASA-STD 8739.4 (PDF)

Saturday, March 10, 2012


The lady of the house's recovery goes well, and it looks like I might be able to get back out into the shed. However currently there seems to be a bit of gardening in my way (and more fishing), hopefully by the end of the weekend...

Meanwhile a flurry of postings last night and this morning (and still this afternoon) have come up with a (very) workable mini module standard that looks like it might be a goer. It looks very practical, and there might be 1/2 a chance that we can have some bits on display at the convention, assuming it can be made to work. Its a watch this space, but I think it could be great for those with not that much room who would still like to do a bit of modeling and have the possibility of joining up with other like minded individuals.

The plan is to have the bits laser cut, and possibly preassembled so that anyone can be sure that their ends will connect to everyone elses ends.

(Right, off to bottle some more beer as well)

Thursday, March 08, 2012


Sorry there has been a lull in posts (there is a post on soldering the NASA way, but I'm saving that for a special occasion).
I would have written something last night about the seeming lack of interest in the convention shown by NZ120 modelers, but was a bit busy in the great outdoors. I was fishing under the Halcome bridge (with the father in law), and was just watching a class 30 haul a freight north over the bridge in the sunset while absent mindedly casting into the river, when this blundered onto my hook. Not quite sure how it managed to get so big, while staying so dumb (a question we could ask of some people around I'm sure).

'There appears to be plenty of beer to go with that'

However I am in the good books at home (a very in that sentence would not be out of place), and he's going to be smoked over Manuka chips for tea tonight.
(hopefully I stay in the good books long enough to get a 100 buck order with North Yard paid for. Guys, if you got Paypal I could hide these things much better)

We now return you to the usual drivel.

Monday, March 05, 2012

40 odd days and counting

Well, with the stunning number of NZ120ers that seem to be going to the convention, I'm not sure my layout will be needed. However, plodding along a minor job was started. I'd had the start of the fueling areas done for a while. Yesterday found me out in the shed working on the oil tanks. I had previously shaped the ends. I gave them a coat of grey acrylic paint and when dry, sanded them down to smooth. I did this twice. next up were the cradles. I made these from 6mm thick balsa wood. I cut out 25mm by 7mm pieces, and marking a center line, then sanded the tank contour into the top. I stopped when they were cut 1/2 way through.
A bit of glue and placing on the layout and we have..

Not much but at least it is a start. I will have to add the control buildings, and I'd love a picture or plan of what the filling stand pipes looked like. I will also have to have a go at the coaling stage end of the fuel point.

UPDATE; I forgot to add that in the middle of all this yesterday, the lady of the house put in an appearance, and the first question was 'So how is this getting to Wellington?'
'An excellent question' I replied.
I've got no ideas at the moment....

Friday, March 02, 2012

Conventioning II

A few thoughts on the special interest group meeting that i assume we will be having.

A couple of things I would like to raise (well, one thing) is the sorting out face to face for modular standards. I can see 2 at the moment,. The first is the ones that have been semi thrashed out over at this is just about done and really only needs the track connections between the modules sorted.
The second is my personal hobby horse, the mini module.

'Oh, hang on, its an ass...'

At the moment I'm leaning towards something maybe 300 wide, and 600-900 long (or in multiples of this). This would allow people with not too much room or time to build a small home layout to build a small scene that could be brought together to run with others. I see no reason why these could not be attached to converter modules for the larger system as an industrial siding or branch line.

Again there needs to be a sorting out of how the track approaches the ends. I've been thinking along the lines of having computer cut ends in 8-10mm ply with markings in where the rail ends sit. However with personal experience I'm not sure how this can be made to work with low profile wheels without a lot of side-to-side rocking or even derailments

What other topics do people think should be discussed?

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Conventioning I

Had a chat with a fellow modeler while waiting for the Lady of the house to visit the vampires for a blood test. I was asked, 'so hows your planning coming along for the convention'. I mentioned the Uga's etc and that was about it. later on I had a bit more of a think about it. So just where am I up to;

-Waiting on the chassis for the J sheep wagons and the tops for the Uga's. This is going to require more wheels, bearings and in the Uga's case, the type 97 bogies. requires money.

-The layout has not been progressed much further due to the lady of the houses recent surgery. hopefully this will move on a bit faster, as I now have a source of extruded polystyrene (at a very reasonable price I think). I scored some of the crap white polystyrene from a packing crate at work which will do for the hills. The plywood is another thing that should work out. I need to make 2 end parts, and while I would like to build a couple of return loops, realistically its not going to happen.
Oh, and did I say I've got no idea about how it will get down there? It might fit into the car but...

-Paying for the convention, plus 4 nights board. The lady of the house is keen to come down for the weekend, and so that's even more money. At least nowhere is particularly far in downtown wellington, which is one of the reasons that I really love it. Another plus is that none of our favorite restaurants were named in the bad restaurants in the Dom Post today. Follow me and I'll show you how to dine well for not too much.....
(Oh, and with a second person in the car, there is no way that the layout will fit as well. It would only just fit in with the drivers seat well forward.)

-North yard has come through with some wheels for the bush tram layout. these are a bit steeper than I was expecting, but Markits stopped making them in 2008, so I'm lucky to get them. Plus the brass bits to make the log bolsters that's even more money.

So, as you can see its getting to be an expensive month. Maybe if I stop eating.....