Monday, 9 July 2012

Time flies...

Hi all,
Been some time since this has had an gets like that sometimes.  Its been a fairly busy last few months, with the young family slowly getting older, and as their lives get busier, my modelling time usually gets either less, or later!

So whats new for me...

I'm happy to announce that planning is well under way for the next Australian Narrow Gauge Convention, to be held in Melbourne over the Easter weekend 2013 (March 29th, 30th, 31st).  I've taken a role on the committee for this one, and things are starting to fall into place.  We are expecting a good number of new layouts to be available for this convention, and have spoken with a few of the usual traders whole will be happy to collect all our hobby dollars once again!  Shaping up for a great show, with plenty of early interest, and offers for some new and exciting clinic/workshop topics.  There will of course be a well contested modelling competition again, so get the creative thinking caps on and whip up some great pieces for display.  A special category has been introduced to the competition again this year..."The Mantle Piece Challenge", a restricted footprint style diorama display thing, which should test a few creative limits.  More details will be on the convention website shortly, which is under construction at present
For me, modelling wise, it was pruning time for the neighbours Sedum crop, so needless to say, I've been making some more gum trees!  With the Australian Narrow Gauge Convention on the distant horizon, I thought it was time to get a few projects on the go, or at least going again.  I started a small layout some time ago (Diggers Bend), so dusted that off and did some work to that again.  Repaired some track around the rear loop, and made a start on some of the structures.  Hopefully it will be near completion in time for showing at the Convention???

Going back a week or so, we took the family for a few days holiday around the Dandenongs and Healesville region, ie Puffing Billy country, so took them all out for a day on "Puff".  It was a typically damn cold Dandenongs winters day, but luckily the heavy rains held off.  We ventured from Belgrave to Emerald behind 7A, with plenty of kids hanging out the windows to take in the amazing scenery, with Mountain Ash and blankets of tree ferns shadowing the tiny train.  A bit for lunch at one of the cafes in Emerald, and my wife even turning trainspotter (I was mighty impressed when she noticed, and named, the Garratt that was simmering away at Emerald station!).  G42 was our home bound hauler late in the afternoon, and made easier work of the grades than the smaller Na loco's.  Nothing like a bit of steam and smoke up the nose to get the creative modelling juices flowing again, and the kids had an absolute ball as well. 

Try this link for a 360 view at Emerald station:

Most recently though, I was up at Stawell for the annual Grampians Model Railway Exhibition, showing as part of the "Art of the Diorama" display, alongside good modelling mates John Hunter, Laurie Green and Grant McAdam.  John and Laurie hosted their Outback Model Company trade stand, while Grant and I took care of diorama duties.  Laurie also had his new little layout on display for the first time, "Grizzly Flats" (On30), which made for a great display it some classic Laurie Green styling.  As usual for the Stawell weekend, bloody cold and -1 on the Saturday morning.  Makes it kind of hard to sit and model with frozen fingers.  The day eventually warmer up a bit, and plenty of feet came through the door.  I had "Splitters Gorge" on display to favourable comments once again, and plenty of discussions about how to build some trees (always come home a bit hoarse).  We also held our monthly NMRA meeting at John's place on the Saturday evening, which was very well attended (around 30 odd members), and made for a very enjoyable evening.

So back home again, and enthusiastic after a bit of Puffing Billy and a good exhibition, I need to squeeze in some more time to get some of these ideas out of my head.  Plenty of good things happening, and plenty more coming up in the near future.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Southern Forest weekend...

Its been a while, so should throw in an update of whats been happening of late. The weekend just past saw the running of the second "Southern Forests" meeting for narrow gaugers, held in the heart of Puffing Billy country, at the town of Emerald. Southern Forests is an event designed to cater for the demands of fellow narrow gauge modellers on the alternate years to the Australian Narrow Gauge Convention (scheduled for Easter 2013, here in Melbourne).

I should back track slightly though, since my weekend started on the Saturday evening, with a pleasant BBQ at the home of Gavin Hince, editor of "
Narrow Gauge Downunder Magazine", followed by a casual operating session on his On3 home layout. Dinner on the rear patio under a cool Autumn night with around 8 in attendance, with a bit of show and tell of what each has been up too, and then upstairs to the layout room, to attend to the railway demands of the little people of California on the North Coast Narrow Gauge. The layout runs using an Easy DCC wireless system, so is well designed for sessions involving 4-5 operators. Gavin runs a busy timetable of passenger, mixed goods and logging runs, with a fast clock trying to keep everything on schedule. Running the session takes about 2 hours, with a mid evening pause to try and squeeze in some desert. Its a great layout to run on, with well finished scenes, and good mix of structures, and a believable sense of the real world in the way the layout moves from high country logging operations up at "Angels Camp", through several small halts and industry points, to the coastal township of "Lands End". The session is made more challenging, or entertaining, when you throw in a couple of amateur engineers (like myself) to try and negotiate the logging Branch's daily chores. I think I am finally starting to get my head around understanding the operational side of the evening. I didn't have to hide any cars in odd sidings to make the job look done, and wasn't beaten too badly by the flying fast clock! I spared Gavin the indignity of taking photos of the derailment that happened on the rather hard to reach loop above he stairs (lets just say it needs a ladder and a good stretch to correct any unfortunate issues in this particular spot), but the clock was paused for some time! After a late evenings finish, we all retired for the night, to ready ourselves for the early start the next morning up in Emerald.

 The Sunday morning saw the early start up in the misty hills, with the cold morning awoken to sounds of the Puffing Billy Na's rolling along the 2'6" line.  The Southern Forest meeting started with a chartered train from the Menzies Creek station, up the line to Emerald, where the meeting was being hosted at the Gemco Theatre (just alongside the Emerald Station).  I couldn't take the charter train this year due to having all my gum tree clinic gear to cart in for the show.  The meeting was well attended, with a comfortable group of around 70 enthusiasts present for the day.  A mix of presentations and clinics scattered over the day.  The most interesting presentation for me was from Eamonn Seddon, the CEO of Puffing Billy Railway, with a fascinating discussion about the position of future directions of this world renowned preservation tourist railway.  Most interesting to hear the challenges faced in modern times of OH&S and operational requirements, and the demands of maintaining such and old operation whilst pleasing modern standards.  There were a number of very nice models brought along for the display, including a beautifully modelled selection of VR narrow gauge roster (the now Puffing Billy's origins) by Melbourne modeller Roger Hill.  A filling lunch on the verandah, some inspiring presentations and models, and the sound of "Puff" climbing the grade at the back door of the venue made for a great day.  I presented my gum tree construction clinic to a receptive bunch of modellers, and had my "Splitters Gorge" bush in a box out for display in its near complete form.  Still some detailing to add around the bush hut, but the scenery side of the diorama was complete, with the new frame and signage to finish its presentation.  Didn't take many pics at the show unfortunately (to busy catching up with mates most of the time), but here's a few grabs from the day.  I need to mention that proceeds from the day were donated to the Climax Restoration Committee, to go towards getting Climax No. 1694 back on the rails at Puffing Billy.  The Climax project is well on its way to completion, with the newest fundraiser, "Coffee for the Climax" underway to continue the financial demands of the project.  I am a supporter of this project, and encourage others to get on board (so please check out the link).

So I didn't get to take any pics of "Splitters Gorge" on display at Southern Forests, since I forgot my tripod, and time really didn't permit it for me unfortunately.  So to make up for it, here's a quick snap with a cameo appearance, which hopefully also helps put the size of the diorama into perspective for you.  It was an interesting squeeze into the back of the car, but the diorama travelled well on the day.


Monday, 30 January 2012

Have box, will travel...

Hi all,
Finally finding some time for a quick update.  Been a little quiet on the modelling front with school holidays and activities with the kids.  We did our usual January camping thing at my brother in laws sawmill property out the back of Lorne, so got to walk through some of the hikes again that this bush box diorama was influenced by.  Photos are handy, but its more fun getting out in the field so to speak.

So had some late evening time to play with a few parts for the scene.  First task was to tackle the "cattails" (or bullrush) for along the creek.  Nothing that a bit of green paper, and old straw broom and a bit of blu-tack can't handle.  Took this one straight from my Geoff Nott notes, cutting fine strap leaves into the paper strips, with a few painted highlights, and then the "cattail" head made from a blob of the blu-tack rolled around a short length of the broom straw.  A bit of paint and assembly, twist of the leaves, and there's an inch of bullrush.  I made about half a dozen of these clumps to line the front edge of the scene where the creek disappears into the foreground.  When the diorama is finished, I plan to add a picture frame around the scene, and these long reedy cattails will be the little lead point that will guide the eyes further up the creek and into the scene.  Its sort of all about leading lines, and trying to make natural looking lines.  Not real easy to explain, but in nature, natural lines occur that make those scenes look good, and thats whats trying to be replicated here.  Sounds a bit mad science, but its has a theory to it.  Google it...

I wanted to get the box up to a certain point to be able to take it along to my local model railway exhibition run by the Corio Model Railway Club here in January. I participate as part of the "Art of the Diorama" display, this year with fellow modeller, Grant McAdam. Often this display also involved two other modellers, Laurie Green and John Hunter, but they had their Outback Model Company trade stand set up along side us instead. I took along a step-by-step info display on how I make my gum trees, as well as a heap of trees to finish off painting. I also had a few bags of the cheap small scale palm trees (or larger scale tree ferns!) to paint up as well. The whole display looks kind of like this...
The plan for the weekend was to get the half completed block of trees completed, paint up the ferns, and then spend the last few hours of the first day planting out the scenery around the base of the gorge on the left side (where the small bush hut was to end up).  Got that all done in time so I could give it all a good glue drenching and leave it all overnight, in the hope that it would all be dry and well secured ready for transport home at the end of the show.  This bush box coffin travels laid down flat in the back of my wagon, so I had the fingers crossed the glue would be cured in time for transport (which it did...just).  I spent day two of the show working on some detail bits for the scene around the bush hut.  Decided to add a rough little bush sawmill (old sawbench powered by a salvaged diesel engine), half housed under a small iron shelter.  A few weeds, ferns and ivy added, and still plenty of smaller details to bring into the scene, but one of the things about doing this stuff at exhibitions, is plenty of people want to stop and talk about it, a lot, so best intentions of what you wanted to get done in the day are usually cut by half.  At least all comments are positive, and viewers are impressed with what can be done with some garden scraps and plant cuttings.  While the shows can be a bit tiring (what with the constant conversations and repetetive explainations of how you did it), its good to get out a promote the hobby a bit, and catch up with a few of the usual crew out an about for the day.

With the box back home in the garage for further work, the goal is now to get it completed in time for the next "Southern Forests" meet, which is a narrow gaugers gathering at Emerald (Puffing Billy country) in late March.  I will be presenting a few of my clinics on building the gum trees at this show, and hope to have the diorama completed by then, as a good example of putting the trees to good use.  For now, heres where the scenery is at.  Time to assemble a couple more of the taller Mountain Ash trees for the right foreground...