Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mapping Old Railways near Margaret River

Apologies in advance as this is not strictly a modelling topic as such.  During a recent trip to Margaret River we did a short bushwalk on part of the abandoned railway south of the town near Sebbes Road.  The authors of the bushwalking guidebook commented that there were 2 parallel railway alignments through this area but they were unaware of the reasons for the apparent duplication.
A cutting on the original timber line
south of Sebbes Road.
As a result of the comment in the bushwalking guidebook, I delved into Adrian G's "Rails Through the Bush" book which explained that the original railway was built by the M. C. Davies timber company based at Karridale.  I was unaware that the timber lines from Karridale extended all the way to Margaret River. Later, the W.A. Govt purchased the timber line and upgraded it to form the WAGR line between Margaret River and Augusta.  In the section near Sebbes Road, the original grades were too steep so a new route was found with easier grades, hence the two alignments which are visible today.

Lately, as a totally unrelated project, I have been tinkering with Open Street Map which is like the Wikipedia of online maps, as users can enter roads, tracks, paths, etc. to produce a community-generated map free of any commercial restrictions.  Combining the two interests, I ended up tracing the routes of the old railways near Margaret River from a variety of sources and entering them on the Open Street Map so they are available for viewing and can easily be located with respect to present day roads and other features.

Here is a screenshot of Open Street Map from an iPhone* showing the two, almost parallel, railway alignments south of Forrest Grove Rd, (at the top of the map).  Sebbes Rd is the next, east-west, road to the south.

The old railways are indicated by grey, dotted lines, and are easily discernible by their gently curving alignment compared to most roads and tracks. The railway alignment closer to Bussell Hwy (blue) is the original timber line.  The newer WAGR alignment is about midway between Bussell Hwy and Caves Road (pink) in this area.

The brown dashed lines lines on the map are other tracks, such as walking tracks or rough dirt roads.

The full Open Street Map for the area can be viewed on a computer at

If you follow the railway further south on the map, I have drawn the route in all the way to Augusta.  It seems the jetty at Augusta which was used for loading timber onto ships was located just south of the town beyond the mouth of the Blackwood River.  Interestingly, the Augusta airstrip is built along the former railway alignment, just west of the town. This was probably the site of Augusta station and yard.

North of Witchcliffe, there are also two railway alignments.  The eastern one, which crosses Bussell Hwy and becomes Darch Road, was the original timber line.  The later WAGR line stayed to the west of Bussell Hwy.  Parts of both routes are now cycling/walking trails nearer to Margaret River, as is the former WAGR line north to Cowaramup.
Part of Darch Road - originally a
timber line, now a walk/cycle trail.
Part of the former WAGR line about 5 km south of
Margaret River, also a walk/cycle trail.
A more open stretch of the former
WAGR line in the same area.
My next step is to map the remainder of the WAGR railway north to Busselton and, if the route can be traced, the original tramway used by one of the earliest timber operations at Quindalup, near Dunsborough.  This tramway included a sawmill at Yelverton, which is coincidentally the name of the sawmill on my model railway.  When I chose that name (in honour of C. Y. O'connor), I knew there had been a siding named Yelverton near Dunsborough but I only recently discovered it was named after a different person and that there was actually a sawmill there. This tramway is also mentioned in Rails Through the Bush.
Obligatory model photo!
A G class hauling a rake of log trucks on the
timber line to Yelverton sawmill.
* On an iPhone, the Open Street Map can be viewed "live" using a variety of "apps" - useful when out in the bush provided you have phone coverage.  One of the best free apps is "OpenMaps".  Some apps also allow the maps for an area to be saved into the iPhone memory so they work even where you don't have phone coverage.  It is also possible, with a modest degree of computer skills, to download the Open Street Maps into a GPS, such as most Garmin models.

Tortoise Wiring for 3-Position Semaphore Signals

If anyone wants to make working models of the 3-position, upper-quadrant semaphore signals used on the Eastern line through the hills, here are some circuit diagrams to obtain 3 positions from a Tortoise point motor.

Please note that I have shown 3 separate switches in the diagram, but a single switch can be used e.g. 3-position rotary or slide switch.  Relay contacts could also be used but 2 relays would be required - 1 for Stop (Red) or Proceed, and the other to select Green or Yellow for the Proceed aspect.

Please contact me if you would like a PDF of the above circuit.

No, I don't plan to install semaphores on my layout - I just experimented with the wiring for fun.  I am sure similar wiring diagrams have been published before but I couldn't find one on the web.

Ready made S scale are available from the US (NJ International) but the are made "mirror image" compared to WAGR signals as they drive on the other side of the tracks.

Another alternative to a Tortoise is a servo motor as used for radio controlled models.  There are commercial units using servo motors which can be configured to operate 3-position signals (as well as points, boom gates, etc.).  An advantage of a servo motor is that the operating speed can be adjusted, e.g. to make it slower, and the positioning is more precise than a Tortoise.  However, the electronics to control a servo motor are more complex.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Australind Railcars

The Australind in original Livery. Photo Simon Barber
The Australind prepares to leave Perth Station for Bunbury in 2001.Photo David Johnson 

The Australind is one of Western Australia’s named trains, the other two being the Prospector (Perth-Kalgoorlie) and the Avon-link (Northam-Perth-Northam and Merredin). In 1987 a brand new set of railcars was introduced to the Bunbury- Perth,  route replacing the older locomotive hauled Australind coach set which had its inaugural run in 1947.

The Australind arrives at Bunbury after having serviced at Picton. Photo David Johnson

Transwa four car Australind Mundijong. Aug 2008.

The Australind comprises a set of five railcars, three driving trailers and two non-driving centre cars. All cars are powered by under-floor diesel engines and the train usually runs as a four car set with the fifth driving trailer stored at Picton as a spare.  The set of five cars have given fast, comfortable and reliable service between Perth and Bunbury for 24 years. They have been generally well maintained and have had several liveries in that time. They were refurbished in 2008.  The journey is 185kms each way and usually takes about 2½ hours depending on the number of stoppages en-route.

In 1996, following a school holiday trip to Bunbury on the Australind, I decided to build a model of the train in Sn3½. The task was rather ambitious but I managed to complete the project in 12 weeks. I managed to obtain the outline drawings from a friend who worked on the internal fit-out of the cars at Comeng in Bayswater.  I took a number of photographs, several being of the roof from the Queens Park footbridge as the train passed underneath at about 70-80km/hour!

The bodies were built in styrene using Evergreen board and batten siding (1mm thick and 1.9mm spacing). The roofs were urethane castings produced from a pattern made from styrene. All the roofs were identical except the driving trailers which had slightly shorter roofs due to the sloping driver’s compartment. I was able to simply cut them to length at the un-detailed end. The driving ends of the driving trailers were vacuum formed in styrene over patterns I carved and shaped from wood.  I would have liked to make patterns for the sides of the cars but they were all a bit different and had tumble homes which made urethane casting somewhat problematic.

The running gear came from a Lima HST 125 set which I had and was willing to sacrifice. In a three car set there is 12 wheel electrical pick-up (6 and 6). I have all the bits for the second non-driving trailer but never quite got round to it….as yet. The coaches were painted in silver using my air-brush and the blue/red decal strips are hand-made using painted decal paper. The West-rail decals are from MnJ decals. The windows are flush-glazed using stickers to mask the windows. The Australind name board lettering is from a photo of the front of the railcar sets which I took on my old SLR camera from about 50’ with a 50mm lens. It was before the days of digital cameras and scanners after all.

The couplers between the cars are made from brass strip which allow for electrical connectivity. The Motor bogies are both under the centre, non driving trailer. The end couplers, front and rear are Kadees but are really only for cosmetic purposes. The model of the Australind set is now fitted with a DCC decoder but it ran well on DC in earlier days.    

Stuart Mackay