Monday, June 25, 2012

New source for Pliobond

Pliobond has been used for many years for handlaying track and building turnouts, but it is now virtually impossible to get in Australia other than in industrial quantities.

Thanks to eBay, I tracked down a source from the US in small tubes, which are a convenient size for modelling purposes. Here is the eBay link

It is actually a fishing tackle shop and they sell Pliobond for coating knots, etc.  The good news is that they are happy to send to Australia and it took about 2 weeks to arrive.  I would suggest NOT ordering more than 2-3 tubes in one go as a larger order may attract suspicion from postal authorities as many suppliers will not send glues and paints via airmail.

Each tube is 30 ml, compared the last batch I bought locally which were 50 ml.  The smaller tubes are actually an advantage as it does become more viscous after several years once opened.

As well as tracklaying, Pliobond is a useful adhesive for joining dissimilar materials such as wood to styrene, metal to styrene, and wood to metal.  It usually is used as a contact adhesive by applying a thin coat to both items, letting it dry a bit, then bringing the items into contact and clamping for a while.

For tracklaying, it is only necessary to coat the underside of the rail (flatbottom only) then let it dry for 15 min or longer.  When the rail is positioned on the sleepers (usually wood), heat applied from a soldering iron to the top of the rail softens the dried Pliobond and allows it to stick to the sleepers.  The great thing is that minor adjustments to track gauge, etc. can be made anytime later simply by heating with a soldering iron.  The rail can be precoated well in advance, and the Pliobond is no longer sticky once dry.  Rail precoated with Pliobond lasts indefinitely and can be used any time.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Parkerville on Show 2012

The recently held 2012 Model Railway Show saw Murray Hartzer's "Parkerville" layout, dusted off and spruced up to show the public what the WAGR  S scale group do.

The real Parkerville was one of the first stations to be constructed on the railway line between Bellevue and Mount Helena, opening for traffic in 1898.  The Station and the railway was closed on the 13th Feb 1966 as part of a change of route to the more easily graded line through the Avon Valley.

This fine layout showcases the Western Australian countryside found just east of Perth on the old Eastern Railway as it climbed up the Darling Range through John Forrest National Park.

A new feature on the layout this year was the addition of "Hovea" - a halt station located between National Park station and Parkerville easily recognisable by the row of Palm trees lining the back of the platform.

Murray had been wanting to add Hovea for some time and was pleased that he had been able to add this nice feature to his layout this year.

As usual the Western Australian layouts are popular with the crowds and also suitably impressive to the judges too! Murray does a great job of finishing off the scenic look of the model with suitable vehicles and people scenes added to bring the layout to life.

Well done Murray!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Book Title:  Modelling the 3’6” Railways of Western Australia 1894-1987, In Sn3½ Scale Vol 1
Author:  Stuart Mackay

This book consists of 94 pages in A5 format. There are 22 chapters which take the form of short articles. There is a detailed resource list as well as 73 photographs of prototypes and models, 64 of which are in colour. There are also six sets of relevant sample drawings drawn from the vast supply of outline drawings held by the WA branch of the Australian Model Railway Association.

This book was released at the recent AMRA Model Railway exhibition held in June 2012. It is the work of Stuart Mackay who has been modelling the WAGR and the MRWA since 1989.  The book is a personal account of how the author has scratch-built and assembled wagons, coaches, guard’s vans and locomotives of the 3’6” railways of WA. Stuart wrote the book to explain how he and others have been building railway models in the scale of Sn3½. 

The book attempts to promote the hobby of modelling the railways of WA while de-mistifying the process of scratch-built modelling.  It describes the tools and equipment needed and explains how many of the author’s models have been built. Stuart also touches on how he has used his scratch-bulding techniques to make and provide kits of his favorite vehicles to members and associates of the AMRA WA Sn 31/2 special interest group. He acknowledges the help and encouragement he has received from many members of the group.  

Stuart hopes to produce a second volume over the next year or so provided that he can recover the considerable publishing costs of this first volume.

The book is available for $20 plus $3 postage and packaging within Australia. Overseas postage rates to be negotiated. It is available from Stuart Mackay who can be contacted by email at    

Sunday, June 17, 2012

AZ 435 – A Variation

The choice to produce a model of AZ 435 was brought about by a desire to make a variation on my original AZ model described in a previous article on this blog.

 The requirements of the variation were that the coach needed to have survived in original car body form retaining all of its crown light windows and matchboard sides to enable use of the existing AZ kit without having to make too many changes. The next requirement was that it should have survived to the end of the steam era and be in the Green and Cream livery with Flettner Vents on the roof. The last criteria was that hopefully I would find a picture of such an AZ with a later version “Half Stable Type” centre door that would make it different to my previous model. That picture was found in the WAGR Carriage Bible in the form of AZ 435 as seen here in this picture from the Murray Rowe/Geoff Blee Collection.

And so armed with evidence and keen to add another carriage to my fleet, I set about building the WestOzModels AZ body kit, achieving body completion in a relatively short time.

During construction there would be a need to "kit bash" the centre door to achieve the Half Stable type door variant from the original door as seen in picture A below. This was achieved by carefully cutting away the centre panel and the frame at the top of the panelling between the frames of the door as can be seen in picture B. The next job was to gently file away the remainder of the beading to achieve a smooth door frame. Next a new middle frame section for the doors was cut to size from 20 thou styrene sheet and inserted in the correct position between the frames and then a section of strip styrene was added to show the separation of the two door sections as can be seen in picture C. A section of styrene was then cut to size to fill the gap in the lower door as seen in picture D. Picture E shows the finished result.

A “first” for me on construction of this carriage, was use of a styrene roof which I am pleased to say worked really well. This involved cutting a section of 20 Thou styrene, slightly larger than the size required for the roof, and then I grabbed my metal vacuum cleaner pipe and tightly bound the styrene sheet to the outside of the pipe with black electrical tape as seen in the picture below (left top). I then stood the pipe in the kitchen sink and carefully poured 2-3 full kettles of boiling water through the pipe. This action heats the metal pipe and the heat is transferred to the styrene plastic causing it to take the shape of the pipe. After removal from the pipe the styrene has held its curved shape. After matching the styrene to the coach and trimming to size, the roof material was held in place on the carriage simply using some masking tape and glued in place. The ends then had strip bargeboard added under the roof material and then the excess roof length was filed back to match the bargeboard.

With these jobs done it was onto the detail work under the floor which has some battery boxes, water tanks, a transformer box and of course the required brake equipment of Vacuum cylinders and V hangers, and the supporting taution bars as can be seen in this picture. Other detail including Concertinas, Flettner vents on the roof and end detail was also applied.

With all the major work done its onto the paint to really bring the model to life . The carriage is sprayed using a Holts auto spray grey primer and Humbrol paints (sprayed). Decals were then applied and the body finished with a Wattyl Estapol Matt spray. Windows were then applied using Micromark MicroGlaze.

And so here is the finished product built from a WestOzModels AZ bodykit using detailing parts fromWestOzModels and Railwest

The real AZ 435 (pictured near top of page) entered service on the WAGR on 29/9/1928 working as a first class sleeping car on the long distance expresses. After cessation of the overnight express services in the early 70’s, the car saw use on tour trains before being written off in March 1984 and was sold to a private owner for use with Hotham Valley Tourist Railway where it remains today.