Sunday, December 20, 2015


Nope, it's not a wedding of satellites, but my antics at the club over the last 2 Wednesdays and Saturdays.

So on Wednesday the ninth, it was to start with some soldering. I now needed to complete the track work of the two small passing loops and siding. So I got the tools ready to wire the track into place. So drills were needed to get the wires from the top of the layout to underneath it. There of course was the wire, which in this case we use the solid core wire sold by Bunnings as bell wire or detonator wire. It comes in a figure eight configuration with one wire being white and the other white with a red stripe.

Now I clean the rail where I will solder the wires. I use a Dremel rotary tool with a rotary wire brush and run it against the side webbing of the rail. This cleans it up nicely and saves me having to use flux on the rails. Next I get the electric drill out and near the rails that are to get a dropper wire soldered to them, we drill a hole through the layout deck with a 2-3 mm drill. 

Next we part the figure eight wires for about the last 50-60 mm and strip about 5 mm of insulation from the end of each wire. Now we crawl under the layout and feed the wires up through the holes we just drilled. Of course we need to make sure we keep to the standard set for the layout for wiring of tracks. In our case we have made it that the outer rail will have the white wire with red stripe on it and the inner rail will have the plain white wire. So up goes the wires and then I can crawl out from under the layout.

In the meantime our trusty soldering iron has been warming up. Now I grab it carefully and tin the rail at the webbing we cleaned earlier. I also tin the ends of the wire that we exposed earlier as well. Temporarily we push aside the soldering iron as we bend the wire so it sits up close to the track and is as hidden as we can get. Normally once the rail is painted and the ballast goes down, you will not see the wire and solder join, which is just as we like it. So once bent we hold the wire against the rail and with a quick tap of the soldering iron melt the solder and the wire is electrically and mechanically secured.

So between the above heavy work and drinking copious amounts of coffee, the morning disappeared fast. So it was now time for running of trains. So I got to test my work. So I setup a train of box cars with a caboose and a small shunter to haul it all.  With the new siding and also passing loop, I was able to haul a long train into the loop and push back the caboose and excess wagons into the siding. The remaining wagons with loco then fitted into the passing loop where the loco left the wagons and was able to run around them to be able to push them into the sidings off to the right.


The Saturday saw the club's annual Xmas bash and Modelling Competition. As usual it was a good day and some good modelling to look at. For pics of the models, head over to Craigs blog for a squiz -

Not in the comp, but I reckon well worthy of it was some first runs off of Johnny J's new molds he made of an Aussi loco. Yummy I reckon!

Also not part of the comp is ther stuff Dave is working on. He brought in to show off, his new circuit boards he's been making that will marry up with the displays for the points controls as well as control the points with servos.

Now on the following Wednesday, it was time for me to fill in the gaps and holes and lay on some earthly structure around the trackage I've laid. So it was out with my trusty ice-cream container and mixed up some No More Gaps and brown paint to act as the base to hold the Vermiculite. This then makes my structural "putty' with which to sculpt the scenery.

So the two passing loops got some attention to fix what I had to strip away to lay the track.

With some left over I was able to add a bit to the helix area on the bottom deck.

There was just enough time before train running time, for me to brush some 50/50 white glue and water mix on the sculptured areas and sprinkle a good coating of fine dirt on it.

Again I think we did a bit too much coffee and talking, as that was about it for work on the day - running trains came next. Me, I got into installing decoders in my Via Rail locos I'd been meaning to do for ages. That will be part of an article some other time.

So Saturday, yesterday, I took my spray painting gear down to the club. It was time to paint up some track that has been worked on over the last twelve months since I last painted the place. So again I used Tamiya Acrylic paints. I used Tamiya XF53 - Neutral Grey and XF64 - Red Brown, mixed 50/50 and then added about 50% thinners to the lot for my mix. It is what I used before for the yard and sidings and that was the main work for the day.

I also did some spare sleepers for sliding in on the big bridge Peter is working on. You can also see where the track laid while I painted it for the bridge as well - foam goes over the top of this area, so no probs with my mess.

So the wye got a lick of paint, as did the stock yard siding.

While I was painting, Peter A was at it puttying up the sides of the ravine with similar putty mix I use - ie No More Gaps and Vermiculite.

The River as been irking me for a while now ever since I painted it sky blue with left over skyboard paint just to cover up the scratches and markings on it. So with a bit of blue and green poster paint - I roughly fixed it - lots better now for the next 1-2 years until someone does something permanently for it.

Now back to my rum and coke - CYA.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Three Week Catchup

So about 3 weeks back, on the 21st of the month, Dave came in with more oh the kit he is working on - you know,  the little servo motors and Arduino electronics to drive them. This time he had some ready and has started to wire some into the layout down at the left hand end of the fiddle yard. There are always teething problems so a few swearwords were heard, but no tantrums - so it is all sounding promising.

I did more talking than work and ended up getting the scenery cut away for the small passing loop at the station platform I've been working on on the middle peninsula. I was then able to cut out some plywood to infill the are to support the track that will come. So the end of the day saw a pile of sandbags holding down the ply while it dried.

Prez John was bum up and head down ripping up the rear crossover and points and reinstalling it all using just points.

On the day, Peter A was busy at the waterfall area carving up and adding in more foam. The area is really going to look something when complete isn't it!

Moving on to the 28th of the month I again didn't get toooo much done, just cut out the bits of track where the new points for the main passing loop I am working on. It is amazing how long it takes to get a point out of a packet, wander all round the club talking and drinking coffee. It's pretty much all I did that day.

Wednesday saw bugger all work at the club. We were all lethargic due to the humidity and weather and many other factors. Talking crap at the table and drinking coffee was much more fun.

I did manage to file the edges of the tracks smooth where the points goes in, and wander all round the club talking and drinking coffee. Then find some more tools to use and wander all round the club talking and drinking coffee. Then insert the point and joiners then wander all round the club talking and drinking coffee. 

Now that brings us to this Saturday when a lot more happened. I at least almost finished my bit of track work. At least the flextrack is now in and glued down. Sandbags were again visible at the end of my work.Then glue down the flex track either side of the pints and wander all round the club talking and drinking coffee!

Peter A had done some more painting on the big bridge and he and an accomplice were busy carving up the foam in the canyon and making it look like it was snowing.

We also notice Tony was down and adding some more walls along the station platform of the big station. It is all looking really good.

So you are now caught up. So next weekend at the club is our Xmas do, so see most of ya there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Wednesday with PK

So we'll start off today with "Yep, still no activity inside my train shed - it is currently acting very well as a double cloths-line for me".

Now onto what IS happening. Today at the club was pretty much a usual Wednesday with work on the HO layout in the morning and running trains in the arvo. SO what work was there?

Well I got onto adding the points at the right hand end of the yard. This pair joins the right hand end to the mainline a lot closer than having to head all the way out to the normal exit. BUT it will only help those really wanting to get over to the engine shed area once it is done.

So with the help of Bruce H this morning I got these points in and wired up - AND they actually work well - bonus, hey.

After this I thought I'd better finish the short passing loop for parking cabooses and shunting locos down on the middle peninsula. This also got finished and was working well this arvo with me parking some cabooses and my shunting loco on it - perfect.

So the rough process I followed for both installations was to lay the point over the existing rail work and then cut out the piece of track the point was to replace using our Xuron rail cutters. Once the correct amount of track was removed, I got a fine file and rounded off all the edges on the rail so nothing would catch such as track cleaning rubbers, cloth, paper towels etc.

Then to allow for a little bit of realignment to be done of the exiting rail, I used a paint scraper to run under the existing track for about 300 mm or so to give us some wiggle room. Something like down in the main fiddle yard, I was able to lift a whole length of track to do the readjustment, but on the small passing loop, I could only lift about 100 or so mm.

Now as we all know, it is best not to glue in your points, so I didn't. I put the relevant insulated joiners and metals joiners on and pegged it into place with some pins. Now once the flex track was all aligned the way I wanted, I then used a 50/50 white glue and water mix to glue down the flex track whilst it was in place. I then added some pins to hold it and then added sand bags on top. With the heat of the day it dried within an hour or so and in plenty of time for running of trains later.

Now in locations where I was able to lift a whole length of flex track up, I used liquid nails to glue it back down rather than 50/50 white glue and water. So you run a small bead of liquid nails down and then smooth it out real thin with a paint scrapper. Then you quickly put the track down and it's joiners and align it correctly. Some sand bags for 10 or so minutes and it is ready to use!

I prefer the liquid nails  way as it is fast - BUT make sure to only make it a very  thin layer otherwise it is messy and wont be easily lifted if ever needed to be. ALSO, only do it one track length at a time as very thin layers of it go off FAST.

Now as the glue was drying, you don't stand around doing nothing and drinking lots of coffee - there is still more to do. So it was time to add in some sleepers into the gaps. So from scrap track pieces you get the required number of sleepers you need and with a sharp scalpel or box cutter, trim the rail chairs off the sleepers. You can then slip them under the rails and using a few drops of 50/50 white glue water mix, glue them in place.

The above photo shows chairs in place on the left and chairs removed on the right.

Now it was time for a coffee. Once fully beaned up, the glue had dried and I could get at the tracks. This time it was to put in the power feeders. Since these were just short tracks and not mainlines or such, it was acceptable to just power these new short track pieces from the nearest acceptable mainline or shortline. So with a 2.5 mm drill bit some holes were made next to the rails in all the required spots. Then with our trusty Dremel moto-tool with a wire brush, I cleaned the paint off the sides of the rail so I could solder the rail.
Next, some solid core wires were pushed through the holes. I bent them as per the photos and then soldered them to the rails.

Of course some real life train testing is required and if successful - a good pat on the back and another cup of coffee.

Some REAL work was being done by Dave. He HAS been busy at home getting point motors and such ready for testing. He has been working with Tristan who has now laser cut a pile of plywood mounts for the small servo motors. Dave has also been busy making up some Arduino systems to drive the servos - all very technical looking and from the reading of it on the club forums, will be very very good. 

Dave has also made his own circuit board up and built a server motor measuring centering thingamebob so that each servo can be measured and calibrated, as they all do vary a bit.

So that brought us up to about noon and the running session in the arvo.  Happy trains until next time.