Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Rob asked if I would put the occasional post on here so I will start with one of my first WAGR models - in this case it is Hunslet 0-4-0ST D6 known in its early days as "Little Tom" and used at first as the Fremantle Jetty shunter.

The model has a scratchbuilt body of brass and nickel silver built on a much modified "Branchlines" pug replacement chassis.  Wheels are Sharman (I think) and the motor is a Mashima. There are a couple of errors which I have noticed over the years and I still haven't got around to getting some cabside numberplates done for it.  The crew are an Alan Gibson S Scale crew.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Experiments with Static Grass

For a long, long time, the scenery on my Marbelup Valley Railway has been very barren, partly because I was unsure as to how to represent a WA "summer" look.

Like many, I guess, I have been tempted by the static grass applicators such as the Noch Grassmaster but deterred by the high price. After some research, I found a UK company which makes a product similar to the Grassmaster and also a more basic "economy" version called Grasstech.  I did an online order for the Grasstech "Original" which turns out to be based on an electronic fly swat with a tea strainer in place of the fly swat.  There are lots of DIY articles on the Internet based on the same concept but this one was ready to go and not too expensive.

I already had a bag of Heki static grass which was a yellow-green and about 6 mm long, so I also ordered some other colours in a shorter length from Modellers Warehouse in Qld while waiting for the applicator to arrive.  They have quite a range made by Polak in the Czech Republic.

Here is a photo of my first attempt at creating a fenced paddock using the 6 mm Heki grass and Polak 2 mm grass for the more "wild" areas.
The grass tufts, e.g. near the tree in the foreground, were glued on after the static grass and are by Silflor - see previous blog. Since I took these photos, I have added more tufts to give a "3D" looked to the grassed areas outside the passock. I also added some more grass to the hillside below the bogie timber wagon as the bare "earth" patches looked unnatural.

As well as the Heki grass for the "paddock", I generally used Polak 8209 2 mm "ochre straw" grass on the higher parts of the embankments, and a mixture of 8209 and 8208 2 mm "green-yellow" on the lower parts near the track.  I will have to get some more S scale sheep to populate the paddock now.

Here are a couple of newer photos showing further progress:

The basic technique, which I am still refining, starts with applying diluted PVA glue to the ground surface.  I applied the glue from a small plastic squeeze bottle and spread it with my finger for the initial tests.  Then I progressed to using a 12 mm flat paintbrush to spread the glue. I just have to remember to wash the brush out after each session.

Once an area has been glued, I have been doing a max. of about 150 x 150 mm at a time, the earth wire from the static applicator should be clipped onto a pin or small nail which is inserted into the glued area.  Then it is simply a matter of putting a pinch or two of the desired colours into the applicator and shaking it over the area while holding the press-button on the side to generate the static voltage. If an area of glue is not connected to the main glue zone, then the isolated patch should be done separately with the earth wire inserted into it.

Initially, I was a little disappointed that the the grass strands were not fully vertical, but I quite like the overall effect.  Maybe the more expensive applicators are better in this regard, but I have never seen one in action.

It has proven to fairly easy to blend different shades of grass and it is also easy to rework an area to vary the colour slightly or to add more grass if needed.  Over a few days, I have done an area 400 mm wide by about 2 metre long.  I am certainly getting quicker as I get more practice.  So far, I have used one 25g pack of the Polak 8209 grass ($7.95), and smaller quantities of other colours.  

I plan to add more trees and bushes, etc. later but I will concentrate on getting some basic colour into the layout initially.

Because of the various electronic devices on my layout, including DCC and signalling systems, I took some precautions to minimise the risk of damage from the static applicator.  I moved trains some distance away from the area I was working on, and fitted alligator clip leads across the rails either side of the work zone to prevent any damage to the train detector circuits which connected to each track section.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WAGR Rail Heights in S Scale

Rail size Weight (lbs) Per Yard
Height in Inches
Height in Millimeters
S Scale in Thou’s
Nearest Code Equivalent
(I’m Sure There’s Plenty More)
3 11/16
4 7/16
4 5/8
70 OR 75
5 3/8
The 82 lbs data sourced from The S Scale Model Railway Society at

During a recent visit to the Railway Museum at Bassendean, one of the tasks that I set myself was to find and measure the height of various weights of rails on site so I could find their equivalents in S Scale when I returned home.

Why.? Because when fellow modellers would discuss codes in rail sizes, I had no idea of what they were talking about, so it was an exercise in understanding what rail to codes was all about.

I am not claiming that the above table is 100% accurate as wear has an impact on the height but I did try and find several examples of each weight of rail to get the best readings.
The modeller will need to research the station or line in which it is to be modelled to determine rail codes to use, the State Records Office and Rail Heritage WA have large collections of track diagrams which clearly show the weight of rails used within station yard layouts.

The S Scale Model Railway Society on the UK also has a comprehensive list of prototype rail data on its web site at together with conversions to S scale.

Thanks to Richard Stallard in giving guidance in this piece. Richard had previously wrote an article in ASNM regarding the same subject but in greater detail (unknown to me when I started my research).


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Railwest Models Z Van Kit

The latest offering to come out of Railwest Models is the 1956 style Z class brake van. Although the Z has been released in kit form previously, this is latest in the line of one piece body kits.
A new set of rubber moulds and castings were produced from the original patterns constructed  by Graham Watson. This process also utilised the use of a vacuum chamber to minimise the risk of having air bubble imperfections in both the mould rubber and in the urethane castings. From these casting which were basically what the initial kit consisted of, were assembled and finished off by Lynton Englund to form the completed new body pattern. A new set of rubber moulds were produced from the new pattern and urethane castings produced from these, again using the vacuum chamber proccess. The end result being a very clean impressive casting.
The kit consists of body, underframe, brake hangers (Long), vacuum pipes, grab irons, running boards, brake cylinders, running boards, brass wire of various sizes, glazing and smokestack cap. The purchaser will need to purchase seperately the bogies, handrail knobs and marker lights.
A total of 106 of this particular model of Z van were produced between the years 1956 and 1966. Further information can be found at Andy Mays wagon site at;


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The MRWA A Class Steam Locomotive

The Midland Railway of Western Australia introduced the A class in 1926 as their heavy main line engine suitable for their 45lb line. Once dieselisation of the line occured in 1958 the A class were all withdrawn and scrapped after a hard worked life.

The locomotive which provides the running gear for the Model of the MRWA A class loco is the Mehano (IHC) 2-8-2 Mikado and it requires minimal modification. to make it suit. The tender is a modification of the Mehano tender.
I made patterns and molded castings for the cab, mainframe/running boards and Boiler/firebox in urathane whilst the firebox and tender chassis are made from urathane castings from Railwest Models. The sand dome, steam dome, turbo generator, tender bogies and wheels and other brass bits such as the headlights and the safety valves are from either North yard of NZ or Railwest Models.
The cab roof is cut and rolled from a 0.010" aluminium. The Hand-rails and hand rail knobs are from the Mehano body whilst the numbering and lettering are MnJ decals.
A 21 stretching her legs on Swan View after the SN3-1/2 meeting, 15 March.

Stuart M

Friday, March 4, 2011

M.R.W.A. - AC101

The Midland Railway Co of Western Australia has always fascinated me, for what reason I don't know, probably because I knew very little about it, as few publications existed in the late 70's, early 80's and probably because of its uniqueness.

The MRWA operated the railway between Midland Junction and Walkaway, a distance of 277 miles between the years of 1895 and 1964. It would become the longest privately owned general freight railway in Australia.

The first model I scratch built was an MRWA AC wagon in 1988 of which the MRWA had 162 of them operating over their line. Built in 1988 and with a body fully constructed from Styrene which I am happy with the results of a first effort.

The MRWA has gained interest within the SN-3.5 group, so much so that a meeting dedicated to the railway last year proved very popular and will be repeated later this year as well.