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Bulimba in a Box - a Queensland Shunting layout in an APA box

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Well, this all came on rather quickly!  Two weeks ago, I had no thoughts of building a new layout, and now, I've got a plan and an APA box to build it in!  I s'pose I'd better explain myself then!


When layouts built in said IKEA boxes started appearing on here, I had a read through of some of the topics, because the idea was new to me.  I even found myself looking at one of the display boxes on a chance trip to IKEA a short time after but decided against taking up the idea.  If I was going to build a small layout, I'd just build my own board to the same dimensions as the boxes.  However, I found I have a problem with restricting the size of plans and each time I tried to draw one up to fit the space, it would always gradually increase in size until it was much bigger than originally intended.  So I dropped the idea altogether.


Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I was looking through some reference material on the old Bulimba branchline which was suggesting ways an 'inspired by' model could be built and, once again, thoughts turned to a minimum space model.  By now, I'd realised that using the box would force me to keep within its limits scenic wise, with any extensions being fiddle yards.  A quick read through the general APA box topic on here and I found internal box dimensions to work from, and I set about with the goal to get a workable layout in the space without increasing the size of the board.  I'm pleased to say that I have managed to achieved this goal, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this thread!


So, a bit of background info (for those too lazy to click the link!  :P )


The Bulimba branch was a line branching off the North Coast Line between Fortitude Valley station (or Brunswick Street depending what time period you come from) and the old Bowen Hills station, to serve the now gone wharves at Newstead and Bulimba, and the also gone sugar refinery and still partly there Power House at New Farm, as well as the many other industry sidings along the line.  It was opened in December 1897 and closed April 1990.


This is a capture from google earth which shows the area and the general route the line took (the pink lines)




Some general points to note:


- Blue lines are current trackage.

- Green lines are old tram routes.

- The bits where the blue lines have a red background are tunnels.

- Roma Street station is the multiple blue lines at bottom left.

- Central Station is where the track starts to head North east when followed from Roma St (in a tunnel).

- Fortitude Valley station is just above where is says it is on the map (it's where the track is shown as a tunnel).

- 'New' Bowen Hills station is just above where it says it on the map (it's where there is a line looping off from the NCL to the track that runs between the words 'Herston' and 'Bowen Hills'.  That line is known as the 'Hole-in-the-Wall' as it passes through a narrow rock cutting).

- Said line that runs between 'Herston' and 'Bowen Hills' is the Exhibition loop with Exhibition station (only used for passengers during the Royal Brisbane Show and selected other occasions when the RNA Showgrounds are used) located between to the two arenas directly below 'Herston'.  Also along that line at the left of the image is Normanby yard (where there are lots of blue lines grouped together).

- The mass of blue lines at the top is Mayne Depot, where most of the CityTrain fleet is stored.

- Bottom of the image where the Brisbane River loops up then back down again is Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge.


Some points more specific to the Bulimba branch:


- Where the line passes through the cleared area above 'Newstead' is where Newstead goods yard used to be located.

- Most of the large buildings to the left of the line where it runs straight up the image, roughly in the middle are the 'Woolstores', which unsurprisingly, were used to store wool.  These have now been converted to apartments.  This is also the general area of the line that the model will be based off.

- The end of the line (down the bottom, just above the coordinates) is where the sugar refinery (upper siding) and Power House (lower siding) were/are located.

- There were a heck of a lot more sidings and loops in reality than what is shown on the map, which is just more of a guide to where the line used to run.



Right, plan time




- Main running line is the one that follows the road.  As far as I know, the real line didn't run embedded in the road like I've shown it, well, not for a great distance anyway.  It mostly ran beside it and crossed when necessary.  However, this is only an 'inspired by' and Rule 1 applies anyway!

- Right side is one end of a run-around loop

- Siding bottom right is an oil depot with raised access/filling equipment.  I've got a few photos of one of the oil sidings on the line which I'm basing mine off.

- Siding top right is based off one of the most recognisable features of the line for those who know it, that is, the loading dock of one of the 'Woolstores'.  I've got a number of photos of these too

- Line disappearing between buildings and under bridge represents a line leading to one of the wharves and associated sidings to give a bit more operating flavour

- Gap between the two buildings top left will be modelled as an alley

- Building bottom left will help hide the trains entering/exiting

- Green area bottom left will be a vacant lot, full of overgrown rubble from a demolished building along with loads of other 'junk'



Now a few photos (ignore the 'modern' style cars!)












Things learnt from the mock-up:


- The plan was designed to fit within the internal corner measurements of the box, so I can shift the whole plan to the left and still fit it between the two uprights, allowing me to extend the oil depot siding as it's pretty tight.  However, if I use the shorter classes of QR tank wagons, I should be able to fit two in.

- The corner of the oil depot fence may need to be tweaked as clearances are fine, but still look a bit tight.

- Same for the small building that hides the line to the wharves.



That's it for now.  Sorry for the long opening post.  

I'm not expecting progress to be rapid now I've started and I'm definitely not expecting stuff to run under its' own power for a while because I haven't got a working loco yet.  Mainly because at the moment, QR stuff is still quite expensive for someone on an extremely low budget.


Comments (or complaints!) welcome.







P.S. When I got home with the APA box, I used it to draw a fairly accurate sketchup model before assembling it.  I'm planning on using the sketchup model to help me work out how I'm going to add the two fiddle yards at each end (one will use the lid).  I'm happy to share the sketchup file (it's version 8 ) if anyone else thinks it could be useful, but I can't upload .skp files here.

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I used to live in Bulimba but, in spite of its name, the Bulimba branch never actually got to Bulimba, on the other side of the river! I regularly commuted to work using the Bulimba ferry and route 37 bus, which occasionally had to wait for trains to cross while they were shunting the Teneriffe lines before depositing passengers at the bus and ferry terminal.

This certainly brings back a few memories.


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Need some of those smashing little Southern Rail ALY's in there! <snip>


Thanks, I'll be getting some of those eventually!  I'm trying to budget for when they release their 2000 Class railmotor, which is for another project.


I used to live in Bulimba but, into spite of its name, the Bulimba branch never actually got to Bulimba, on the other side of the river! <snip>


Hi SRman.  I'll admit, when I was first learning about the line, I was a little confused with why it was named the Bulimba branch when, as you say, the suburb of that name is across the river!  After a bit of research when planning the layout though, I found this.  The first major paragraph of the section 'Some Geography and History' explains it.




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That is an interesting article and does explain the historical reasons for the name. Nice find! :)

I always remember even after much of it was truncated, Bulimba Junction remained as essentially the entry to a stub siding. One would often see a diesel (usually a 1720 class) with Evans cars awaiting its turn in the peak hour services before electrification of the lines through Bowen Hills and beyond (Ferny Grove to Darra was the very first section of that, but that's another story entirely!). There used to be two tunnels along that stretch too, and one could watch (and listen to) the 1720s thrashing their way along in apparent slow motion from the top of the Cloudland Ballroom hill.


Another curiosity that remained for a long time was the ungated, uncontrolled level crossing running across Wickham and Ann Streets, through the middle of the roundabout at the point where the two merged. The 37 bus (as it was then) had to do a near 180 degree turn around that roundabout and cross four lanes to turn left into Commercial Road. I know trains did go across that crossing occasionally but I don't recall ever having seen it happen in all of the 15 years I lived there (1974 to 1989).

EDIT: p.s. The chair I am currently sitting in came from a furniture store that was in the one of the wool stores at one time, after they ceased to be warehouses but before they became apartments ... nice that they remained intact, notwithstanding the suspicious attempt to burn some of them down in the Bjelke-Petersen years!

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I was just chatting on the phone to an old friend who is still in Brisbane, just a few minutes ago. he and I went on a historical society trip that included the Bulimba branch and ran around at the New Farm end. From memory it was hauled by a PB15, but I may be open to correction, if I can find the #@@ photographs I know I have filed away somewhere. I'm not sure if I took any pictures along the wool stores section but I do distinctly remember a photo that included my friend's toddler daughter, so that places it at approximately 1983 or 1984.

If I can find any suitable photos, I'll scan them in and post them here - no promises though. :)

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Thanks Jack, those buildings are impressive!


I've managed to find two images that (just!) show the bridge that I'm basing mine off here.  Scroll down to the December 2000 panorama (it's pretty close to the top of the page) and it can be found between the large brick building sort of in the center and the one to the right of it.  The image below the panorama has a better view of part of it.



SRman, I'm planning on using modified DPM sections for the two buildings in the rear corners.  I'm going to try and model the one in the middle in a similar style to the one of the sections of the Winchcombe Carsons building to give a bit of variation in building styles.  Because of this, I may need to scratchbuild, unless I can find suitable pre-formed wall sections.




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Ohh, don't think I mention the scale/gauge yet!


Scale is HO and gauge is 12mm, representing QR's 1067mm (3ft 6in) narrow gauge.  Also, when I eventually get a round tuit, the layout will be wired for DCC control but will probably be operated on DC initially, unless I've got myself a DCC system before I get to that stage!






edit: forgot to mention, the points will probably just be hand operated too.

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G'day, thought I'd better post an update given I've been doing a bit of work on this.  Well, work on the sketchup model I'm using to help plan how it's going to be built, but that still counts right!



For the main surface in the box, I'm planning on using 4mm ply, raised up/supported by five lengths of PSE, cut down to the required size.




The lid fiddle yard will consist of three evenly spaced strips of 4mm ply glued to the lid to add some strength.  On top of these will be PSE spacers arranged in two rows of 6, with two spacers per ply strip for both rows.  The tops of these will be the same height as the two lengths of wood that come attached to the lid, used to locate it into the box.  Finally, on top of the spacers and lid locating strips will be two more strips of 4mm ply, glued and nailed, and these will be the track bases for the fiddle yard tracks.


Now for the clever bit!  In four of the 'tunnels' created by the strips of ply and the spacers, I'm hoping to fit sliding bolts or something similar, normally used for doors and/or gates, to hold the other fiddle yard when the layout is packed up.


To attach the lid to the box for operating, I'm going to try and find some really small two-part latches (or whatever they're called!).  To connect the track, I'm going to make two bridging pieces which are connected before the latches are done up.


The sliding bolts, latches and bridging pieces aren't in the drawing because I could be bothered drawing them!  I know in my mind what I'm looking for at the

shops though.




The second fiddle yard is in two parts (two straight roads on one part and traverser on the other) and will be made entirely out of 4mm ply, glued and nailed (with very small nails!).  The connection between the two parts and to the box will be small hinges with removable pins.




Lastly, here's the layout packed up.  You can see that while the traverser fiddle yard hangs down quite close to the surface of the model, it's still clear of all structures.







I had an opportunity today to go out and get everything needed to start building, but I decided to wait until I'd posted this, just in case what I'm planning on doing won't work!  So, a question for those who know more about this than me.  Can I go ahead and build as planned, or are there a few modifications I should make before beginning?





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  • 2 months later...

Hi Matt how did you go with this build

I'm interested in how you ended up joining the box and the lid as I'm at that stage with my APA box micro in O scale, NSWGR. http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/89204-australian-o-scale-in-ikea-apa-box/


I was thinking of using a set of latches of some type from Bunnings.


Any update on your build?



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Cheers for the interest Chris!  I needed a kick up the backside to post an update here!


If I'm honest, I haven't assembled anything for this yet, mainly because home and the workshop where I'm building it aren't the same place. I have got all bar one of the pieces required cut out and ready though.


For joining the lid to the board, I'm planning on using the same method as stevepurves has for his APA Park layout, except I'm going to try and avoid adding blocks to the lid by using smaller latches.  Trouble is, I haven't found any small enough yet (but then again I probably haven't looked hard enough!), and if I can't find any that are the right size, I might try and make my own.



Hope this helps.





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Thanks for the info Matt.

I will be taking a trip to Agquip field day on Tuesday and will have a look there as you find lots of interesting stuff there.

May find some thing of use to join the boards if not Bunnings will be next.



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  • 2 weeks later...

G'day, bit of an update tonight.


None of the wood is glued/nailed together yet, but it's all cut out and waiting to be.  Since I've got the base that goes in the box to the stage where I can start working out building heights, that's what I've been doing recently.


I obtained a digital version of the DPM wall section planning packet and have used print-outs and photocopies of these to make mock-ups of the two woolstores that hide the back corners of the box.  I knew from looking at the sections online that they won't look exactly the same as what they're meant to portray, but I thought I'd be able to live with that.  Until now.


Most of the real woolstores had/have long facades with lots of evenly spaced windows like this.  Now that seems simple enough to recreate with DPM sections.  Trouble is, the windows on the DPM sections are a lot bigger than the ones on the real buildings when comparing relative sizes.  Result, they look more like apartments or office buildings to me.




So, looks like these two will also be built from scratch, which I actually don't mind because I'll end up with structures that more closely resemble their prototypes.



With that gripe over, I made up the rest of the mock-up buildings, as well as cutting strips of cardboard to represent the fences, and placed them on the layout along with some stock.  The only structures not included are the bridge over the track between the two buildings at the rear-left of the box, and the raised platform in the oil depot, because I currently don't have any bogie tank wagons to help work out the height.  Also, it will be fairly delicate and quite see-through so I felt it may be a tad difficult to represent with thick cardboard.


Anyway, here's the rest of the pics I took last night.




post-11907-0-23664400-1409482862_thumb.jpg    post-11907-0-99423900-1409482865_thumb.jpg








post-11907-0-15101000-1409482880_thumb.jpg    post-11907-0-74762300-1409482883_thumb.jpg




The clearances between the QLX and mock-ups are tight in the last three shots, but that's down to the mock-ups being a bit over size (a mock-up muck-up?).



In other news, an unexpected trip to the model shop last week allowed me to get the brass for the fiddle yard.  Once I was there, I also decided to get the track - brass is expensive these days!  However, as the trip was unexpected, muggins here forgot one of the most important parts of track laying - track joiners!  Another trip to the model shop then!  No drama though, as I may also to get need another length of flex.


Also, I may have a lead on the latches that will hold the lid fiddle yard to the box.  A bit of google-fu came up with these.  I need to head up their way soon to get Dad's birthday present, so will pop into there as well.  I'll report back on these once I've had a look, but if they're a go-er, it could also be good news for anyone outside Aus, as they have no minimum order quantity, and appear to ship overseas too (minimum order may only apply to here, but I haven't investigated that far yet).


That's all for now, comments and complaints welcome!





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Good to hear it's coming along!


As a result of your honesty, have some period SA footage:


Next time I am at the museum, I'll see if I can get anything you need of the SA, or any other coaches if needed.

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  • 2 weeks later...


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