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Southern Fabricator

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  • Location
    Waikato New Zealand
  • Interests
    All Trains,British Engineering Heritage, Music,Gardening.

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  1. So far so good! As you see the formed terrain plus the use of Contract Filler (spack) in filling up most of the holes in the poly due some of my over exuberance with the rasp and hacksaw blade. Finally the diorama has been given two coats of ordinary acrylic house paint to seal the polystyrene and provide for a stronger top surface and edging. I may have some more fettling to do at the module joint to ensure the diorama is a good match. Firstly I needed to assemble the 1 & 2 modules together once again and complete the platform patterns so that they can be cut out from 1.5 mm thick card. Then with that done I have used the the paxolin tag strips as mentioned earlier to join the track work across the module joint. I plan to use some Evergreen styrene strip to simulate the track sleepers and ballast accordingly around the paxolin to help disguise this area. The paxolin tag strip worked well and my only difficulty was cutting the branch line track to Hawes because it was close to the uphill embankment I’d placed on the Eastern side of the second module. While I had the modules joined I took the opportunity to tidy up (fettling) the diorama on module 1 where it joins module 2 just before the platform 1 waiting room on the Carlisle down line.
  2. Three Dog Night sang the title and also Cliff Richard sang a a similar song ‘In the country’, so here I am up to my ears as it were in country diorama modelling. Having laid off cut polystyrene as a foundation base, I’m now going to enjoy myself sculpturing in the foreground for the next few blogs. Incidentally the photos in my last blog were a disaster as I tried to reduce their size to comply with the 10 MB limit, and as a consequence the text shrunk as well. Fewer photos needed or more program research by me! Working with polystyrene was first introduced to me by members of our Greater Waikato Railway Modellers (GWRM) club as our exhibition layout is all about keeping weight and construction costs down where practicable. The club tends to cut, trim down the excess to mould the final shape then cover after painting with a suitable green acrylic house paint using torn paper napkins laid over the top whilst the paint is still wet and tamp with more paint on a 40 mm brush. When dry it is then ready for the detailing by team members. A good vacuum cleaner is essential to clean as you go, as poly tends to go everywhere when you work with it and a face paper filter could also be helpful. But that aside poly is easy to lay and then glue down with normal PVA glue. My own modified method is to cut and trim, then using a Sure foam rasp after to smooth out the diorama to suit. Lastly I normally use a spack filler to fill out any discrepancies in the poly and lightly sand before painting with a green acrylic paint over the top. It also pays in my case (because I’m trying my best to emulate the Dales landscape around Garsdale Station) to mark out the main features such as hills on the undulating terrain, the access roads, the walking track,with its bridge and so forth with a marking pen, then use a hacksaw blade to scribe them into the poly. This last step is necessary because as one moulds the poly to suit with a rasp, your pen marks can disappear! On the Eastern side of the station above Mud Beck Gill, Edwin’s Fell is the Wether Hill. The 45° embankment slopes upward along this side of the layout is from 80 to 180 mm at its widest with an average of 80 mm in height allowing for Mud Beck Gill and the occupational bridge Eastern portal. The backboard/scene will reflect this eventually. Phil
  3. Under way at last, another portable baseboard module (no. 2) i. This allows completion of the platforms and accommodate the station proper. The module is interlocked with the 1st module to ensure that the railway tracks are kept aligned in both the horizontal and vertical planes. With the construction completed I wanted to concentrate on the SAC Bridge 116 which is an occupational access for the farmers sheep or stock. The Eastern portal was slightly difficult as mostly there are no photographs of it. Photos of that side indicate the terrain rises sharply away from behind uphill and around towards the Network Rail communications mast tower. On the Western portal the ground falls away from the embankment that supports the Garsdale Station and tracks and the original turntable set up. There’s going to be a lot of good grazing ground on this layout,not to mention drystone walls. After my second attempt to build the portals that were more satisfactory from a visual point of view I found a little fettling of the top baseboard timber was necessary to ensure a good tunnel fit. The inside of a small OO scale tunnel construction is very hard to see from perhaps a metre away, particularly if is painted in dark colours, so don’t bring your torches to check this one please. I’m using offcuts of polystyrene floor insulation for my diorama scenery. For me this is an easy if not a little dusty at times method of keeping my module weight to a minimum. Some use hot wire to work it which would eliminate the dust, but simple hacksaw blades and a sure foam rasp gets the job done and you can always cut and add extra foam blocks if you wish to rework any area. A multi tool with a wide blade can really get one artistic as well. But I,m getting ahead of myself here, the poly offcuts were approximately 40 x 50 x metre long with other odd sizes as well. Having roughly sketched the terrain out on the plywood base, these strips should make it easier for building up the rolling diorama up for the fields below the station. Mud Beck Gill also was difficult, as it disappears below and behind a dry stone wall reappearing from under the station on the West embankment at the bottom of a dry stone retaining wall. Once it is is in place a suitable culvert outlet will be made. Getting back to the track work and the Northern end of the station platforms I have used the pencil in the centre of my longest HST carriage method for gauging the platform edges. Using the ‘Standard OO Gauge Standard Dimensions’ as a reference guide, the 11 mm from platform edge to the outer side of the inner most rail worked out accurately when checked out physically. Similarly the platform height did as well when the cork bed and sleeper/rail combination along with a 18 mm platform base and 1.5 mm platform card top left approximately a 2.0 mm platform top to under the carriage step gap. Edit Sorry for the photo size difference . Trying to get more in didn't work out! Phil
  4. Well then, another portable baseboard module (no. 2) is under way at last. This allows completion of the platforms and accommodate the station proper. The module is interlocked with the 1st module to ensure that the railway tracks are kept aligned in both the horizontal and vertical planes. With the construction completed I wanted to concentrate on the SAC Bridge 116 which is an occupational access for the farmers sheep or stock. The steep rise from the Eastern portal was difficult to get any photographs of (as trains seem to rule the day, funnily enough) but the terrain does rise away from behind the communications mast tower. On the Western portal the ground falls away from the embankment that supports the Garsdale Station and tracks and the original turntable set up. There’s going to be a lot of good grazing ground on this layout. After my second attempt to build the portals that were more satisfactory from a visual point of view I found more of a little fettering of the top baseboard timber was necessary to ensure a good tunnel fit. The inside of a small OO gauge tunnel construction is very hard to see from perhaps a metre away, particularly if is painted in dark colours, so don’t bring your torches to check this one please. Some of you may have noticed that I’m using offcuts of polystyrene floor insulation for my diorama scenery. For me this is an easy if not a little dusty at times method of keeping my module weight to a minimum. Some use hot wire to work it which would eliminate the dust, but simple hacksaw blades and a sure foam rasp gets the job done and you can always cut and add extra foam blocks if you wish to rework any area. A multi tool with a wide blade can really get one artistic as well.
  5. Despite my GWRM involvement then getting the 60 day coughing flu I have been busy building up my control mimic panel box and servo switching arrangement units for my own layout requirements. The control panel features an acrylic fascia with 3mm embedded LEDs and DPDT point switches. The control box size is 625 x 240 x 80 mm constructed from 12 mm thick ply and two 40 x 18 mm dressed timber that is piano hinged between at the front for internal access. The layout mimic panel consists of two 3.0mm clear acrylic sheets with the layout printed on a vinyl adhesive sheet mounted between. The two sheets have a 6.0mm aluminium tile edging as an escutcheon to secure them together. The 3.0mm LEDs indicate point control that the DPDT switches work as they simulate the Garsdale Signal box levers. When I determined to use servo units for point control I had to also figure out how to wire up a 3 way asymmetric point with three DPDT switches to its two servo point unit motors. Eventually a solution was arrived at by using a test rig of the DPDT switches only. The double and single slips were relatively easy to wire up for control! The construction of my second module will be shortly under way. This module features waiting rooms for both the Carlisle platform, and its down line Garsdale signal box and the Leeds platform with its up line rest room and Ruswarp memorial. The statue of which has meant that for the present Ruswarp will be standing until I find a suitable sitting figurine of the right breed. The track joints between the modules are to be aligned by using modified paxolin tag strips to secure the rails at each side of the module edges. Being a double row (i.e. on row on each side) the tags are press fitted into a square hole in the paxolin preventing any movement. The overall depth of the paxolin with the brass tinned tag is approximately 2.5 mm which matches my Peco code 75 track sleeper thickness. I found the tags being of smaller surface area solder well to the rails and you can remove the tags not being used as required.
  6. We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue like Eddie Grant and get serious about track control and electrics! At this point in time I am preparing a track mimic panel with point control based on the actual Garsdale signal box lever frame control. The AnyRail reduced track plan will be printed onto a plastic sheet, then fitted out and wired into the control box. I’ve tested my servo point motor system which is essentially like a solenoid one but without a CDU. The servos will be finally controlled by MegaPoint when my finances allow but in the meantime to operate the servos I’m using a modified CCPM solenoid tester to drive them. Each servo combination is to be connected to the control panel via a length of 6 core standard alarm cable between any point servo with its LED switch to the corresponding panel switch so finding any potential faults should be easy. A Momentary On - Off - Momentary On DPDT switch cuts the power to the servo once the point direction is confirmed and returned to its off position. This serves two purposes in as much as keeping the point at the last set position when shutting off the layout power and removes any possible servo ‘hum’ transmitting through the baseboard. The servo also operates two SPDT switches, one is for the LED’s and the other switches electrofrog polarity. Once the control box is completed my plan is to wire the points of each module baseboard to the panel as I complete them. I am still heavily involved wiring up yet another track modification to the Greater Waikato Railway Modellers Down line loop and train exchange yard which is a entry only fiddle yard really that complements our Mainline station shunting yards but is mainly concerned with our Mainline circuit display operation rather than our figure eight Great Western Railway country circuit.
  7. My last post on the new format web page posting pictures caught me out slightly. The acrylic mounting and index plate has ensured good servo to point alignment Further progress has been made with 3.0 mm cork to raise the track for drainage detailing later on between the platforms. DCC track dropper wiring and point bonding to stock rails is being done to provide for future development because at this stage a DC operated layout will be my starting point. The track is now pinned ready for ballast, but I’ll probably hold this off until I’ve got the second module made and fitted to the first module to check the rail and platform alignments. My other challenge will ensuring that the platform and the diorama joints are as close as nearly invisible. For the platform width and height, I used a Mk 3 HST 125 Intercity sleeper to give me clearance for the platform curve radius and found that the OO Gauge Standard Dimensions Chart was a great guide. BTW I also found that rail joiners come very handy for centralising point throw bars. Being half blind, finding the hole in a Peco point throw bar for a servo motor drive was for me a learning curve that gave me tunnel vision. Apart from Tortoise, Cobalt and solenoid under baseboard point motor mounting there are scant mentions for of how you ‘experts’ do it. I found by using a longer throw wire length (painted white on its very end), a back light from the track behind to shine through the hole the process was achieved easily. I’ll be a real ‘expert’ on the last one after 20 points! The double slip was an issue as the servo 0.6 mm arm wire being used would not throw the point blades sufficiently across. The increased flex may have been due to the combined thickness of the 12 mm ply baseboard, the 3.0 mm cork and the 3.0 mm acrylic Index/servo mounting plate. However I found up sizing to 0.8 mm piano wire did the trick and the desired operation of the double slip was achieved. Although the single points operated OK, I also increased their arm wire to 0.8 mm to avoid any potential problems later.
  8. Mark Knoflers song The Bug played in my mind as I finally got to grips with the back scene come storage support arrangement that will keep all the modules together for transport purposes. Basically they just slide top of each other, then become four 1.2m high x 1.0m wide x 1.8m long stacks. The side panels are ply on one side with clear panels on the other. I eventually decided that this arrangement would be more practicable for both viewing and transporting the layout. As a result however the western background scenery overlooking Clough and the A684 towards Garsdale Head is now not possible. The other view from Edwin’s Fell to Wether Hill and beyond will now be possible. My Long Drag to Garsdale Project has taken a back seat as I’ve been involved with our GWRM club preparations to our exhibition layout. After being invited over to Tauranga for a January Expo to support their modellers club our members had a ‘debrief’ of our own main line operational challenges with using rakes of passenger and freight trains on tight radius loops. Consequently new baseboards have been built and existing ones modified to suit. Basically we opted for super elevated loops with a minimum radius of 505 mm on which we test ran up to 16 carriage passenger rakes with comparable length freight rakes during a club running day last month. In reality we would only be running up to 9 passenger rakes due to existing platform and storage yard lengths and longer freight rakes. Our next expo will happen over Easter weekend in support of the Hamilton Model Railway Engineers club and our core club members will be busy building electrical circuits and diorama ready for it. In the meantime I’ve tried my hand at making a two aspect S & C type signal using materials such as a bread bag plastic tie clip and tubing from an old spray cleaner bottle. The tube was used for the 3 mm LED hoods and stanchion pole for the signal while the tie clip made up the face plate for the head assembly and maintenance platform. All I need is a ladder and safety cage and it’s done! Seriously one of my future projects will need to be working semaphore signals. Also my first module track work has been laid... after some shuffling to help accommodate the double slip. The angle difference between the prototype and the Peco one make it difficult to keep the station railway track layout prototypical. However in essence it achieves the same effect. My experiment for using a servo controlled point has so far proven workable and I have worked out a method for using an acrylic mounting plate firstly to use it as a point position index marker for the underside of the baseboard and then to mount the servo and all its components onto it. I’ve got some photos here to share.
  9. The single most enjoyment I get is discovering that patience overcomes most obstacles. That’s what drives me to invest my time in making a model railway. I can not stress the importance of taking on a challenge and completing it whether it be with others or solving it yourself. So with that in mind I’ve built myself a Static Grass Applicator as the need to build up the grass texture at Garsdale Station is paramount. My SGA is a hybrid between using the well known fly swat and Luke Towan’s design. This arose mainly because of access to readily obtainable components adapted for my purposes. The handle of the fly swat I found when disassembled fitted nicely inside a 42 mm OD PVC tube and could easily be secured inside it as it held the swats circuit board. The activation switch on the swat needed to be extended by wiring a extra sub miniature SPST switch to the rear of the SGA tubing and the addition of positive and negative wires leads for a 3.0 Volt power supply outside the SGA. Then I followed Luke’s method of construction for the rest. UHU all purpose adhesive replaced others he used.
  10. Got to pay your dues if you want to play with choos (really?) I wonder if Ringo has ever sung those words around his own layout? Having great fun laying down gravel access roading around the Railway Cottages. I started out putting a thin film of filler where the roads were, but then noticed the stepped cottages would need to move slightly for clearance of the backscene board and a 3.0 mm height adjustment to realign the cottage entrances with the road level. As I said earlier, the first four cottages became a casualty of my baseboard width restriction as a further 200 mm would be needed to accommodate them. The challenge for me is the physical reach one needs to get over the backscene board to the other side. The current set up allows to some how blend the cottages into the scene I wish to develop. A few more sleeps will finally help to decide... perhaps. So after underpinning the stepped cottages, the new improved gravel road surface was laid down. It may seem a long way to do things like cutting the road pattern out of A4 size photocopy paper, but in order to cut P 80 grit sandpaper you need to mark it out on the non grit side hence the use of a pattern. I’m not completely happy with the sandpaper joints as try as best I could to make them ‘invisible’ shrinkage happens and with filler this only helps exaggerate it. Maybe a light wire brushing will help. The sandpaper came with a light yellow colour in one metre strips x 115 mm wide that required more acrylic grey paint in a few shades that also proved to need a more generous coating worked in to eliminate that yellow! However this looked a tad shiny when done and only after using a few dark grey washes did it dull down and improve the access roads overall appearance. The Glycerol treatment on my fir tree has not prevented the asparagus fern from turning brown unfortunately, so my next option is to give the fir tree a very light spray of a florists green paint and see what happens then. Otherwise I will need to add a green food colour to the glycerol and try that until all options are exhausted. The grass will be my next challenge on the ‘to do list’ and I could even try to make a static grass applicator for myself. Phil
  11. A lot of tasks to complete with the above under way. The idea if successful will provide a texture once sanded with a suitable 120 grit or other, to the roads on this 1st module. I will also try a timber matt grey acrylic paint to cover over the shaped graphite polystyrene after a trial test. This may help to avoid disaster and make the rest of the diorama construction less involved as opposed to using other methods. Its worth a try in my view. Speaking of which there’s a few photos for you following. I’ve mocked up the buildings to get a perspective to see how the Railway Cottages behind the Platform one Retaining wall will fit together. The back scene 300 mm high panels that will double as a means of stacking my modules together will also serve to protect the buildings. One challenge I’m keen to try is joining the modules and the Platforms together to a nearly invisible one. I’ve done a lot of visits and researched to try and accomplish this, so wish me luck. Next up is to lay some track down so the two platforms can be made. The width for Platform one to Carlisle worked out to 60 mm plus another 10 mm for access each side of the waiting room and signal box areas. Leeds Platform two width and incorporating Platform three for Hawes came to 118 mm maximum width due to the track curvature. When you compare the two platform buildings, the Carlisle down line waiting room has the greater pedestrian space to the track edge coping stones. My last current involvement is with RC Servos that will be my turnout motors. Eventually I wish to use the MegaPoint system, but in the interim have opted to develop a modified simple system for controlling the servos as a stepping stone. Phil
  12. Well spring has sprung here down under and with the weather and winter colds fading away hopefully, I now get to catch up on gardening chores after a 4 month break. So while trimming down the hedges I found that an asparagus fern had grown through and being an observant ######, I remembered having seen an article by Bill McClanahan in a Kalmbach book I bought back in the early 70’s called ‘scenery for model railroads’ in which fir trees were made using wooden dowels that had finely drilled holes which then had asparagus fern inserted in. At the time I never got around to replicating John Allen and Jack Work’s method until now. As I had already decided to use the multi strand wire method instead of wooden dowels for the size of tree actually growing on the embankment between the Carlisle Platform and the Garsdale Railway cottages this was a good time to try out a modified method of my own. This involves using a 1/3 Glycerol to 2/3 water solution to soak the asparagus fern overnight and then place it on a paper towel to dry out thoroughly before attempting to attach the fronds to the wire frame by using Craft Super Glue. So far I haven't attempted to use any acrylic paint on the the tree as it looks reasonable, but will do if foliage fading occurs. The Glycerol treatment should prevent this but time will tell.
  13. Progress has slowed down mainly due illness and to my other commitments, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking on the Garsdale project. It has always been my intention to have stackable modules for storage and transport and so to this end I have been working through different ideas to achieve this. Having gained experience working on the GWRM exchange yard and return loop for our exhibition layout and the need for it to be transportable in a limited allocated space, we developed a removable perspex guard for protection against possible damage from an over enthusiastic public. Basically I’ve ended up with that is best described as a tongue and groove system that will most likely be improved or further adapted as the baseboard modules are built. The 1830 x 300 x 7 mm panels also will serve as back scene painted panels unless I find a panoramic view of Garsdale in the meantime. So using suitable photos I set out to get a handle on the background perspective and height against topography maps using a myriad of actual photos of views that I will need to interpret. An opposite view can be also achieved due to having two parallel panels on each of the station modules. However originally I planned to have this panel removable and may still do so.
  14. I’m slowly working through the process it seems to complete this part of my diorama. Lately other issues have been slowing me down somewhat. With constructing the many sized trees from small bushes 25 mm = 2 m to the the tallest 180 mm = 13.716 in OO Scale the wire lengths needed ranged from 45 mm to 1280 mm. The Gedeo latex I found needed to be watered down by 10% of its consistency for ease of application. I used a teaspoon full in a small plastic shot glass with a small amount of water and three coats were applied in rotation to batches of trees until I had all eighty done. A bit like painting the Firth of Forth Railway Bridge! I found that using a small brush dipped into a drop of dish wash liquid beforehand with the excess wiped off helped cleaning the latex off it with water later beneficial. For the tree bases I decided that a flat three root arrangement would provide each tree with more stability when putting aside to dry and help to set into the ground diorama later. Next was to apply the brown spray paint to the bare tree and then use burnt umber along with some light grey on the main trunk and branches and finally start to apply the foliage. I,ll be only completing enough trees for module one to start with and then finish the rest as needed. So from a modellers point of view I‘ve found that this has been worthwhile part of making the diorama detail. A little time consuming perhaps like the rest of my efforts but then I’m not in any rush. As an aside our club was privileged to visit a home DCC OO scale layout and have the pleasure of admiring some exceptional modelling of the Pensford viaduct, station along with its surrounds in Somerset. The chap who built it remembered the Pensford line in operation and he even had a model of the old bus in which Aker Bilk used to practice his clarinet playing rather than annoying his neighbours parked up by the viaduct nearby. Being a scale model close in length and height to the Dandry Mire viaduct that I’ve yet to build it certainly gained my interest. It made me acutely aware of my own limitations and the time that one needs to be invest. Later it spurred a lot of discussion amongst GWRM members on new ideas and achievable standards. I was sorry I didn’t take my camera to share this masterpiece with you. In the meantime looking at many photos and videos of the Garsdale ecology there is a lot going on depending what time of the year and period you you decide on. I have opted for a mid to late Summer look in the contemporary period. You know ‘the sun always shines on TV’ but with a hint of a weather front moving across the fells of Yorkshire.
  15. I’ve been slowly working through my first third of a forest of wire wound trees and like making slate roofing for my Garsdale buildings I found myself, forgive the pun, wound up! You do get much better at it when making several trees at a time and it’s amazing how every tree turns out to be an individual. The spruce tree on platform one, opposite the railway workers cottages I found slightly more challenging due to its shape and small size and now version three appears to be on the right track. I’ve got approximately 40 trees to go at this stage so I’ll be in for the long haul. But would you believe it, now I need more florist wire. A week later and I’m into making the intermediate sized wired trees. These consist of ten to twelve strands giving fewer branches and less wasted wire. The white spruce that is situated between the Carlisle platform and the railway workers cottages has been a challenge to make as many of my trials were binned before I arrived at a suitable tapered trunk frame and fir branch arrangement. Yet another week and I’ve started on the small trees that stand about 25 - 30 mm high or about 2.3 metres scale height. Up to six or eight 150 mm long wire strands work out well. This took me another good week to complete. And now.... with that all done there’s still more work to add the foliage but in the meantime here’s some progress photos.
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