Thursday, 15 August 2013

And so it starts...a new layout

Some brief background to start off with.  I'm outgrowing the original spare bedroom I started off with as my hobby room, with plans under negotiation for a new shed/studio/man cave in the back yard.  In the mean time, a few circumstances have given me spark to want to get out with a new exhibition layout.  Some of this dates back about 8 months, when good friend Gavin Hince (editor of NGDU), decided to tear out his old On3 North Coast layout for some home renovations.  I'd previously really enjoyed some of the operating sessions on this layout, so when the opportunity arose to salvage some parts of it, I jumped in.  A couple of shots of the one of these sessions on the former layout, and a couple of the bits I salvaged.

The section I really enjoyed watching trains roll through, was the long sweeping section around one of the corners, through sloping terrain and cascading creeks.  I  wasn't quite sure what I'd do with them initially.  These sat out in the garage for some time before I got the next spark, which was unfortunately Geoff Nott passing away, so I dragged out these old modules and sat on the garage floor to study what could be done with them.  Some of that brainstorming session can be seen below...


It was the cascading creeks on Gavin's old layout that I liked, and just by chance, with some module realignment, they form a nice meandering creek, tumbling down the slope.  The last view above is probably the one that got me most excited, with a wonderful picture looking up the twisting water course.  The terrain shape was something I wanted to retain (Gavin kept all the old pine trees for his new project), because I wanted to "Ausssie" it up a bit with my gum trees, as can be seen with the mantelpiece diorama I used here in the idea session. 

The shape I was going for was something a bit different as well.  I was a bit tired of the same old style of exhibition layouts (out the tunnel, through the town, into the tunnel).  I wanted something a bit different to view.  To explain a bit better, some rough sketches of the "grand plan".  This new exhibition layout will be called "Brooks", and is about a quarter of what is eventually planned to be the home layout.  Brooks is the small end of the line terminus, and makes up the highlighted section as seen below.

I am modelling this with Victorian Railways as the flavour, loosely based on what would have been found around the former Gembrook and Beech Forest lines.  "Upper Gully" (drawn from Upper Ferntree Gully), "Gallah" (in the same line as Cockatoo, on the Gembrook), and "Brooks" (drawn from Gembrook), however Brooks will be modelled more along the setting of Crowes on the Beechy line, as a fairly desolate and simple end of the line.
So I've made a start on the modules, by carefully removing the scenery parts from Gavin's old modules.  His timber frames were adequate for home use, but not quite up to durable exhibition use.  New frames have been constructed using a mix of aluminium tube and timber, for strength and light weight handling.  I will be exhibiting this solo, so have a few considerations as far as moving big modules (ie wheels, handles).  The modules are designed to be quick to move and quick to assemble.  Exhibiting is fun, but set up and pack down aren't, so the aim is to make this process less than one hour, and as few a pieces as possible.  The large main module can easily be rolled in on its wheels, propped on the trestle legs, and then lifted with one hand into place.

I have recently laid the track in the Brooks yard, which is a simple small terminus, and will even allow for hand shunting (the "hand of God", often frowned upon in model railway operation, but in this case, actually prototypical!).  The yard is small and a bit challenging to move within, but will also means short trains for exhibiting (running into the scenic modules from a traverser).  The station module is now on its side and starting with some of the wiring underneath.  The DCC main bus has been run through.  The guts of this system will be a NCE SB5 booster, with a DCC Specialties PSX-3 taking care of circuit protection on the different power districts.  The DCC system on this is a bit bigger than required, but intended to be incorporated into the bigger layout plans eventually (so taking care of some of those tasks sooner rather than later).  I'll be controlling points/turnouts/switches (whatever you want to call them) from the Power Cab, so am wiring in a NCE Switch-8 to control the tortoise switch machines.

I'll try to maintain ongoing updates here on the blog (famous last words), but there is also a thread going on the same build on the Railroad Line Forum.


Last year...

Geez, more than a year actually!
So, been kind of busy, and kind of forgot about the updates I was doing here, so might just breeze through a years worth of activities in one foul swoop, and then get into more recent happenings in a new post.

So back track a bit to earlier this year, and we hosted the 11th Australian Narrow Gauge Convention over the Easter long weekend in Melbourne.  Organising it was challenging and busy work, but felt quite rewarding with the success of the event.  Well attended from across Australia and also with a handful of international modellers attending, it was great to catch up and meet with a couple of blokes I have only know via forums from a distant.  Very tiring weekend keeping activities going for around 180 attendees, but got to see some great modelling, have some great conversations, and spark some great ideas.  Always love and look forward to a Narrow Gauge Convention.  I got to cap off the weekend with a cab ride up at Puffing Billy, so big smiles all round that weekend.  A huge retrospective thanks to all the traders that helped make it one of our biggest trade shows, and also to all that helped with displays of layouts and models, and those who presented the clinics and workshops over the weekend.


Was a wonderful opportunity also to experience some of the last modelling of Mr Geoff Nott, who unfortunately lost his health battle shortly after the NGC was held.  Was very grateful to his modelling partner in Michael Flack for being able to transport there last joint effort together, "Smugglers Cove", down for the show.  It was a pleasure to be able to award Geoff with the "Rick Richardson Award" at the Convention, for services and promotion of narrow gauge award thoroughly well earned and deserved.  Geoff's modelling has always been a real inspiration for myself personally, and his work as featured in Narrow Gauge Down Under magazine many years ago would be the images that made me want to do what I do today.  A modelling inspiration and genuinely top bloke that will be sadly missed.  RIP Mr Nott with the greatest respect.

I did also end up finishing my "Diggers Bend" mini layout (as mentioned in my last posting way back then) in time for the Convention.  DCC installed and running in a circle, which is strange since I previously didn't think DCC was for me since my layouts were fairly simple...and then I go and use it on a basic loop of track!  It became more a case of DCC with stay alive capacitors in the loco were required to maintain smooth operation on the less than smooth mining track work I used on the layout.  With the stay alive circuit in the small gas mechanical that loops the layout, it runs perfectly all day at exhibition.

Since the convention weekend, I have taken this mini layout to a couple of other exhibitions to excellent response and clean running.  Anyone wanna buy a small layout (or a bush box)?  I now need room in the garage for a bigger project...more on that with the next posting though.