Friday, 5 June 2020

New HO NSWGR Exhibition Layout Build May 2020 Update

As mentioned in my last blog post I have commenced working on a new HO Scale NSWGR themed Exhibition layout. I started this project back in late March of this year, where I started to gather up the surplus materials that I had left over from the Narellan Project. The only few things that I needed to purchase was the timber to build the modules, a top up of some scenic materials and order several 3D Print outs for this project.

Timber purchased from Bunnings in late March of this year

Module Construction
I have made the modules similar to how Narellan was build but minus 4 cm off the height. Unlike the Narellan approach where the Modules were built in progressive stages, I have decided to build the full pigeon box module setup in the one hit more to ensure that all everything squares up with out any issues when joining the two modules up.

All set to go with the Modules Construction completed

Getting Back into 3D Drawing
It is hard think that my last 3D drawing efforts was done in late 2018. For this project, I found that more than a few items will need to be 3D drawn up and printed. I managed to get myself re-familiar with Sketch up and produced some items which I'm currently in waiting for to be delivered from the 3d Printers. I thought it will be best to get the 3d drawings done first as I will probably need to be waiting for a while until the printouts get delivered. Without these 3d Prints I can not get started on some of the buildings. But for now there are certainly other items I can get completed whilst Im waiting for my 3D printouts.


One of many 3D Drawings pending to printed out for this project

Platform Construction
I do personally prefer scratch building over 3D printing just on the basis that it does remove me away from the computer and it allows to challenge myself in building something nice up. I manage to complete the Station platform out of styrene. I should note that I did scrape the styrene that I used to construct the platform with a small wire brush to get that wood grain effect. I have taken a different direction than normal which was prime the platform and instead of painting, I used a mix of Tamiya and Humbrol weather powders. I decided to do the colouring of the platform from this method after having a conversation with one of my model rail friends who suggested to try this out. Well, not only it worked well but it saved me making a mess in the garage that I recently cleaned up by not needing to setup my paint workshop.






Above pictures shows the progressive steps in detailing the station platform

To close of the my May 2020 Exhibition Layout Build update, I did use the remaining Portugal Cork  that I had in surplus from my Narellan project, glued onto the baseboards and use some of the offcuts build the mound for the passenger platform area.

Track is almost ready to be laid. But before it get permanently laid and set it place, unlike Narellan, I will be installing magnetic uncouplers to allow for shunting activities to be carried out. The magnetic uncouplers are a design by one of my model Rail Friends Robert P which allows housing of 2 lots of rare earth magnets which do a great job in uncoupling. At this point of time I have only carried out one session of basic testing. I will need to do some test runs to ensure where I intend to place the magnetic uncouplers work as expected without creating other issues.

 Cork Board are down, track laying process has started

Robert P Magnetic uncoupler housing for rare earth magnets

 Initial testing of the magnetic uncouplers with positive results, but more test scenarios will be carried out during June

Not sure if what I have presented in this blog has given away the location that I'm modelling here, but if the 3D prints arrive on time for my next months blog, then I have be forced to reveal the location as it is rather unique.


Friday, 8 May 2020

My New Plan Ahead For The Remainder of 2020

Over the last several weeks I have not done too much in the way of railway modelling, as I have been focusing on several activities in around my house to get those jobs that have been pending to worked on for a while to be resolved and closed off. One of these tasks was a clean up in my garage area which will help me in getting more productive in my model railway projects moving forward.

During the clean up, I was able to sort out the various surplus items that was used to construct Narellan. I found a few extra SEEP Point Motors and some surplus track plus a mix of other items which will allow me to make another Model Rail layout or maybe two. Also in the mix was a few items that did not end up getting used up on a N scale layout project that I abandoned several years ago.

My New Revised Plan
As mentioned in my last blog post that I was considering changing the plan I had for 2020 as most of the model rail exhibitions for the remainder of the year have been postponed due to the COVID 19 situation. Therefore the priorities have changed and as a result the main focus is to be ready for 2021 Model Rail Exhibitions calendar.

My Revised 2020 Model Rail Plan is as follows:
- To Build a new NSWGR Prototypical HO Scale Layout utilising the fiddle yard and run around sections that were built for Narellan.
- Build a British N scale layout.
- Build and Complete rolling stock kits that I have acquired over the last few years.
- Make some slight enhancements for Narellan for 2021 Exhibitions and other events.
- Bonus project/s pending on how soon the above projects can be completed and how long the COVID 19 situation last for.

New Exhibition Layout Project Announcement
I have decided to focus more on building another Exhibition Layout more because of the spare time that I have at my disposal at this point of time. I did intend to construct another exhibition layout. Therefore, it is the ideal time to build one and to use up what left over material that has been left over from Narellan. This will allow me to have another completed Exhibition layout for 2021 which I can provide as an another option to exhibit. Furthermore, I intend to make the new layout easier to be transported around as compared to Narellan, especially for the Rural Model Rail Events.

New NSWGR Exhibition Layout work in progress

For now I will not give away the Location that I'm going to model, but what I am going to indicate for now that it is definitely going to be very unique.

Basically, I will be utilising the existing fiddle yard and run around sections of Narrellan and build up two new scenic modules for the new layout.

The Pigeon Box Modules for the Scenic sections will be approximately 4 cm in reduced height compared to Narellan. Even though this does not seem much of a big difference, it will allow for transportation more so within the other vehicle we own which would be the preferred vehicle to drive in for those Rural Events more so on comfort and fuel efficiency. The older Mazda 2 is not that comfortable to drive and is surprisingly not that fuel efficient when travelling long distances on the Freeway.

British N Scale Layout
I will not do much detail progress updates on this layout as this is going to be more of a personal layout to be more operated from home. I have no intentions to take it to exhibitions. I have got a small collection of British N Scale locomotives and rolling stock I do wish run and whilst waiting for other items to be delivered so I can move forward on completing my current HO NSWGR Layout, I will work on this layout on the side. My aim is to use a simple but effective track plan.

Well for me now, it is time work keep working back on the new projects. Which location will this layout be modelled on? Will it be Early Steam Era, Steam to Diesel Transition Era, or Candy to Freight Line blue Era? A few more hints in my next blog.

A sample what to look forward to on my upcoming blog

Friday, 3 April 2020

Narellan First Exhibition Appearance - North Shore Railway Modellers Association Inc. Model Rail Exhibition 7th to 8th of March 2020

Before I begin with Narellan Layout first public exhibition at Forestville, sadly, as it is well known of the situation with COVID 19 Virus (also known as the Corona Virus), has escalated to the point that restrictions and shutdowns have been imposed. This has resulted in pretty much all planned Model Rail Exhibitions being postponed for the year and many Model Rail Clubs (including mine) have to go into shutdown mode. Even though this is sad situation, I with many others in the hobby totally agree that we must do our part to prevent the spread of this virus and at the same time protect the venerable people who attend our Clubs or Model Rail Events. Hopefully this will remediate soon, but for now best to stay home and stay safe.

On a positive note, I can say for one thing that my Railway modelling efforts will continue to move forward and hopefully get my Narellan Layout and rolling stock in an more enhanced state than what is today to be ready for the next appearance whenever that will be.
Now onto the Forestville Exhibition.

Narellan First Public Exhibition
From my last post, I mentioned that I was invited to have Narellan exhibited out at the Forestville Exhibition. This was something I was not expecting, but thought that it would be at least a great opportunity to finally test out the transportation of Narellan from my home location to the Exhibition venue and get to see what feedback I receive as well. This was also a self assessment if I can handle exhibiting Narrellan at the other larger Sydney Model Rail Events or other shows that are hosted in rural location.

Transporting Narellan to Forestville
One of my concerns was getting this layout to an event in a single trip. My wife and I have only small cars and would want to avoid using a trailer or hiring a larger vehicle. One of my good Model Rail Friends came over over night before the event and together we worked out a method of packing Narellan  in a back of an early model Mazda2. Not only we were able to fit the layout in the back of our Mazda 2, but there was plenty of space for other items, such as a Crowd barrier, fold up chairs, trains and luggage. The good thing was I was still able to see what was going on behind me in my rear vision mirror.

Packing of Narellan Layout 

Left View 

Right View

On the Friday, I was able to get to the venue with no issues at all. I could not hear any items sliding around which was a good thing. I safely got Narellan to Forrestville and with assistance with one of my Model Rail Friends, I was able to get Narellan successfully setup.

Narellan layout setup on the Friday ready for the event

The Exhibition
Unfortunately, I did not get much of an opportunity to photograph the activity on Narellan. But the Layout was well received by other railway modellers at the event and received a great deal of positive feedback from the general public. It was indeed good to catchup with those of you that follow this blog and other friends that I have met through this hobby.

The event event went smoothly with really no incidents to report back on. Certainly was good to speak people that were interest in Narellan and hopefully influence those who want to go into the next steps of the hobby in getting to the point of building their own layout.

A Visitor at Narellan
Joe (From Casula Hobbies) lent me the latest release of the IDR Models 71 class to run on Narellan on the Sunday.

7101 Shunting on the Coal Siding at Narellan

IDR Models 7101 had ESU DDC Sound installation fitted with a keep alive, therefore it ran without any jolting when going over dirty track. I basically had this 71 Class doing some slow movements back and forth in the coal siding which was great as it showed continue activity on the layout.

Extremely rare sighting of a 71 class at Narellan

Certainly IDR Models have done a fantastic job on this Loco and I have to admit I was reluctant to return this one back to Joe. Possible I may purchase one of these or the Victorian W class as this model was indeed a smooth runner. 

Where From Here
As mentioned, many (if not all) model Rail events that were planned for 2020 that was potential for Narellan and My other Model Rail club layouts to be exhibited have been postponed. Therefore some of the deadlines that I have set myself to be ready for these exhibitions have been relaxed as well. I have decided to take some time out to clean up the garage in order to have a better work space to do my railway modelling projects which would lead to better productivity in getting projects completed. My 2020 Model Rail plan is going to be readjusted as a result. This could consist of rolling stock projects or even a new Exhibition Layout Project could be in the new plan. Watch this space.

Keep safe out there.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

First Exhibition for Narellan and DCC Sound Chipping Some Locmotives

From my previous Blog I announced that I was at the point of completion with Narellan. On that particular weekend I got to run some of the trains such as my Narellan runners and others that are part of my model rail collection that would be non-prototypical fit for this layout. I know, but my layout my rules.

However the Plan was to dismantle the layout, store it and get working on getting the other locomotives and rolling stock ready for the upcoming events for the year. Well, that did not get done at all. In fact, most of that week I was playing trains. And yes, it was fun and I guess well deserved time to enjoy running especially with the amount of work that I have put into it. But then I had to refocus in getting DCC Sound installs for some of my Locomotives for the following reason.

Narellan First Official Public Exhibition
After recently posting Narellan on a couple of Australian Model Rail Groups on Facebook attracted some positive interest to the point I was asked if Narellan can exhibited at the first Model Rail Exhibition for the year in the Sydney area with full details below found below.




DCC Sound Chipping An Austrains 30 Class Tank Engine That has Lights
Last year with the assistance from a good Model Rail Friend of mine walk me through on how best to install a DCC Sound Chip in an Austrains 30 Class (3025) which did not have lights. In that particular case, we removed the circuit board and did a hardwire configuration from the DCC Sound chip to the Motor. The removal of the Circuit board freed up space in the coal bunker portion of locomotive which allowed a Zimo MX684 Sound chip to be successfully installed. And indeed it was a tight fit for the Zimo DCC Sound chip. However, in the case of the 30 class tank Locomotives with Lights presents a different scenario altogether. Basically you need to keep the circuit board that is within the coal bunker as it contains the circuitry for the LED lights for the locomotive, or you will need to construct a more compressed circuit to allow for the lights to work which is indeed not simple for those that are not electronically competent.

What I am about to present is more my way of installing the DCC Sound as I'm sure that there are other methods that could be adopted that may work better. The method I'm about to show is more the easiest way to achieve a DCC Sound Chip install. But in saying this, it you are not competent in using a soldering iron or can grasp basic to medium soldering work, then my advise would be to engage someone who does have the competence, perhaps more someone who is in the business in the supply and installation of DCC chips.


Austrains 3136 before removing it from its box. Ensure that you test your locomotives before chipping to make sure they work. DCC chipping your locomotives in most cases can void any warranty.

For 30 class Tank Locomotives that have lighting, will have cab detail that is attached both to the Cab and the coal bunker parts of the locomotive. 

To remove the coal bunker from the chassis, there are two screws to remove. These are the small screws that are located below the coal bunker.



 The above two pictures shows the back and front of the circuit board. You will notice the plug for the 8 pin adaptor for a DCC Chip.

I tested out the DCC chip before undergoing the hard soldering the wiring from the DCC Chip to the female 8 pin plug 

At the back of the Circuit board there are 2 x black wires that feed power to the rear LED light. It is best to unsolder this wiring from the Circuit Board as later on you will need to cut out a section of the coal bunker casting to allow for the DCC Chip to fit inside the cabinet of the locomotive. 

 Before unsoldering of the rear LED light wiring, as both wires are black, I labelled them to identify which was left and right when they needed to be soldered back on later on.

Basically I had to remove the cab and coal bunker away from the model for two reason, to prevent the my cutting tool (in this case a Dremel) not to have the main body work of the model get in the way and get damaged. The second reason to prevent the metal shavings getting sprayed over the locomotive. It is also worth noting that I did put a couple of wood dowels inside the coal bunker to protect the wiring and back section during the cutting process. 

I gave just over 2 cm of wire between the chip to the Circuit to Hardwire solder into the 8 Pin plug on the Circuit board. The purple Wires (which is for the speaker) was kept at a long length. The wiring for the rear lighting was also soldered back in.

From here I reattached the coal bunker and Cab to back the Locomotive. All tested positive.

IDR Models 70 Class DCC Sound Chipping and Numbering
First of all the IDR 70 Class is a small locomotive and like the Austrains 30 Class Locomotive you are limited to what DCC Sound Chips you could use, but unlike the Austrains 30 Class Locomotive there is not much butchering to get the DCC chip and speaker to fit. Despite this being a highly detailed model, I was pleasantly surprised on how robust this model is especially with the detailing parts did not want to break off. Little soldering was needed (only the speaker needed to be soldered) and the rest was just plug and play. It was a slightly difficult installation but not impossible to do. Again, this a my way effort.

For the two 70 Class Locomotives, acquired two unnumbered Locomotives and they came with some nice set of decals. I won't go into great detail on how to apply the decals as I have recently already covered that process in a previous blog.

The DCC Sound Chip that is being used here will be a ESU Loksound Micro V4.

IDR Models 70 Class that has been disassembled ready for an DCC Sound installation.

An Iphone speaker is going to be used for this sound installation. The brackets that would normally used for this speaker to be installed into 70 will be cut off to allow it to fit in the cab section. Avoid trimming the speaker duct.

The wiring from the plug of the DCC chip went straight into the flywheel of the motor. To remedy this issue, I twisted around the wiring from the chip under the plug. Put the wiring under tension with use of lockable tweezers so it helps it clear the flywheel whilst applying some Krystal Klear to hold in place.

I secure the rest of bundled up wiring with use of some modelling tape. I did have to use some tape for the speaker and output wiring to move it away from the worm gear. The Wiring seen above this fly wheel is not in contact with it.

I drilled in a 1.5 mm hole with a pinvise on the cab floor to feed the speaker wire and output wiring. I decided to keep the output wiring available for potential future use.

Speaker been soldered in and all tested successfully, just about ready for the detailing.






The above photos are more of the process to apply the decals.

7009 and 7010 did operate together on coal train runs to Narellan, therefore the reason I decided go with those numbers.

Narellan Locomotive test running in preparation for the Railway Exhibition

Well some more DCC Chipped Locomotives ready to put on their first public at the Forestville Model Railway Exhibition. Hope to see you there.



Thursday, 6 February 2020

Narellan Layout at the Point of Completion

Just over one year of starting Narellan, I am please to announce that this layout is completed to the point that it can now be exhibited in Public. Certainly, I can now cross off my bucket list in building a NSWGR themed HO scale layout that is functional. However, I believe from point on that changes on Narellan will be made where appropriate. I do believe that many Model Rail Layouts are ongoing projects well after their point of completion. In fact, I already have a couple of things in mind to do.

The final stretch in completing Narellan involved in getting a lot of small items constructed and added onto the layout.

Ground Throws
After completing all of the ground throws, painting was needed to have them completed. After a couple of inquiries, I learnt that the colour of the leavers determined the purpose of the leaver.
Blue - For Locking of the frame
Black - For points
Red - For Signals

Ground Throws and other items primed up ready to be painted

There are a few photographs that are in colour of Narellan Yard, but not that many show good detail of the Ground Throw setup and appropriate colour for the Ground Throw Leavers. Therefore, educated guessing and doing further consulting with others was needed to decide on how the Ground Throw Leavers were to be painted.


Paint job completed on the Ground Throws


Signal Lever Block
For the Signal Lever Block for Narellan, it was a 6 Leaver Block. You will find that looking at other locations that out door signal Blocks will have a variation of the amount of leavers that they have on them. Therefore, I would have to prototype one to looks similar to the one that was once at Narellan that I would need to kit bash one up.

I will mainly focus on how I did the construction of the Signal Lever Block as painting is already covered with the Ground Throws.

I decided to construct the Signal Lever Block by Kitbashing 2 x Andlan Models 3 Lever Ground Frames (AIM 104), which will involve one of the Levers Plates to be cut as shown in the following photos.

 With the Plate for the levers from the First Kit, carefully cut the tab off as shown above.

With the Plate for the levers from the Second Kit, carefully cut the edge off as shown above.

I did rush through this task a bit and got myself into a spot of bother when trying to join the plates together. I wanted to join the plates up first in order to make both plates to be consistent with one another when I bent them into shape. I was able to easily achieve this, but found later on when needing to bend the rest of the frame together, that the linkage (which was bit of sprew that I cut to length from the kits etched frames) I accidentally placed in area that had fold line which ended up becoming a major task to resolve my error. If it was not for that error, then it would have been a straight forward process like the Ground Throws to build.

The completed lever plate

Again, the Lever Plate would have also had a better finish if I did not make earlier error, but fortunately, I was able to place a layer of solder to smooth out the area the not so perfect side will be out of view once it is placed onto the Layout.


Main body of the Signal Lever Block has been completed. I had to also remove the respective sides framework structure from but kept the baseplate on both kits which I soldered together in order to get a firm foundation.


Levers Installed


Painted and ready to be placed on the layout 

Where the final placement for this signal block will be

Platform Lighting and Telegraph Poles
This task was one that I have been nervous about for while, as there is not much product out there that has the type of platform lighting, therefore I have been looking around for months for the solution. Fortunately, back during my Christmas break I did a visit to Casula Hobbies and whilst I was looking for other items, I stumbled across Ratio Swan Neck Kits (Ratio Kit 453) where at that moment I had a light bulb moment (pardon the Pun). This kit had the Lampshades that were a very similar match to the NSWGR Lampshades. From there, I decided to venture into scratch building the Platform Lights.

For the interest of not making this Blog post long and the fact that I did not take many photos of steps that I took to build the platform lights. I will not go into the full detail on how I constructed these lights for now. I have decided not to install LEDs for lighting as I do want to keep the electronics on this layout simple for now. However, as I did use brass tubing for the main bracket of the Lamp mounting which should allow for fine wiring to be fed through to power up a LED. I do want to experiment in building one up and wire it up to be lit up. Topic worthy for its own future Blog with the aim to have step by steps details provided.





Above Pictures summarises the steps of construction

For the Telegraph Poles, I used that Uneek models Telegraph pole kits for the stand alone light poles that are based on each side of the platform. For the larger telegraph pole located next to the Station Building, I used Kerroby Models Telegraph pole with a modified Telegraph pole Cross Arm that was also from Kerroby Models. Lamps and Telegraph Pole Cross Arms were super glued into their respective position.

Bottom Power Pole Cross Arm as supplied by Kerroby Models, the top Power Pole Cross Arm modified for getting the look to what was back in the day

Modified Cross Arms just after they are super glued on the Telegraph Pole


Telegraph Poles Primed with Model Masters Grey Primer and then a bit of Tamiya Hull Red Paint to for the effect. Station Lamps Painted and placed ready to be finally installed.



Base of each Telegraph Pole Painted back on the Base and Station Lamps Super Glued onto the Lamp Posts. Telegraph Poles completed.

Items for the Platform
Before I go into summarising the activities for the platform items. Some of you may have observed something wrong with the scales in my previous pictures where it has appeared in. Basically, I assembled it incorrectly, and yes it was a bit of rush job and was only meant to be a temporary setup until I worked out to model one that is closest to the version that was once based at Narellan. This set of scales was planned to go over to my eventual Tumbarumba home layout. Learning here is, never assume and model when you are almost falling asleep. It was a good wake up call, but thankfully something I can pull apart and start over again.

Scales that I constructed incorrectly

Scale and Station Seating are the only items that will needed for the platform, as well as some people which I will add in over time. 

Modified Version of Scale and the Platform seat

Again, I will not go into the fine detail on how I built up both the Seating and the scales, but will touch a little bit on the Scales.

The Scales are another Uneek Models kit, where there are 2 sets of scales supplied. At my second attempt, I cut off the base section of the plate of the scales to get the look of the original scales. 

Completed scales with a little bit of rust dusting on the plate of the scales

Station Seating painted and dull coated

Line Side Items
Line side items consisted of the Rodding for the Ground Throws. Typical debris such as dumped old sleepers.


Outhouse has been put into its final position and has been surrounded into the undergrowth. 

Signal Leavers and Signal Diagram board fixed into positioned

Removed Sleepers and track put into place with static grass applied after their placement


Rodding for Ground Throws Completed

Office Hut for the Coal Stage and Coal Stage fixed into place


Down Pipes constructed and fixed to the station building

Narellan Completed
Finally, it is good to say that Narellan is at the point of completion. I will be adding people in the scene but will be doing that closer to the first public showing. I will be working on getting Narrellan out to a few exhibitions this year.

Front Facias for the layout installed. Layout completed.


Next action on me now is to get the fleet of Locomotives and rolling stock sorted out.