Sunday, November 14, 2021

A new layout - Lower South West: Part 3

 With the baseboards out of the way it was time to turn to the track work - or so I thought! Originally I decided that bridges / rivers / etc were all too hard and I'd just have a flat layout. On reflection I realised a layout is much more interesting with scenic features (see Adrian Gunzburg's wonderful bridge on his South West layout) so I cut into the established baseboards and put two rivers in. The first is not prototypical, as it assumes a river just north of Wonnerup that both main and branchlines have to cross. The other is a little more prototypical, in that it covers the estuary bridge that existed just before Busselton yard, although in this case it's on a slight curve due to space constraints. But more on the bridges latter...

The track is all Micro Engineering 0n30 sourced from the US. Recently the company was put up for sale - one hopes that someone takes it on. I decided on Code 83 as it's a little more forgiving than Code 70. Again, in hindsight, it would have been good to do the Nannup branch in Code 70 however the 4 month wait time for delivery prevented a change. So the whole layout is in Code 83. The sleepers have been cut down by 2mm on each end to get the right length for WAGR track, a slow task made slightly easier with a jig. Having done it I'm glad, as the track looks right now. After cutting all the web of the rail was sprayed with Tamiya Red Brown, then the whole lot sprayed with a mix of Tamiya Black and Red Brown. Following painting each length had a red and white dropper soldered to the base ready for installation.


So that the track, now the points! I've long harbored a desire to build my own points. After seeing those on Richard Stallard's Marbellup and Adrian's South West Main I was no longer satisfied with Peco or other commercial point work. For years I'd looked at the wonderful FastTrack jigs, but was deterred by the cost. With some spare money and a deep breath I placed an order for a #5 and #6 jig, with all the tools, rail, sleepers, etc needed to make 30+ points. Not a cheap exercise at around $1,000, but when you look at the per unit cost it didn't work out to be much more, and the jigs will last a lifetime. I must say - the service was excellent. They answered all my questions quickly, and once packaged only took a couple to weeks to arrive from the States. I won't go into great detail on point construction here (that's for an article in ASnM) but I will say the jigs and tools are fantastic! Worth every cent, made building points very easy, and they all turned out beautifully. 

Th points were prime coated then given the same treatment as the track. Overall I'm thrilled with how they've turned out. 

The track has been laid on 3mm cork on the mainlines and straight on the baseboards in the yards, to give the appearance of a slight height difference that was common on WAGR tracks. So far the approach has worked well. The below photo of Nannup yard shows the mainline with cork and the rest without. 

Until next time!! Cheers, Cris

Sunday, October 3, 2021

A new layout - Lower South West: Part 2

 Hi everyone,

After deciding on what to build it was time to start doing something! The first decision was whether to make the layout transportable or fixed, as this drives the baseboard design. Having seen the posts regarding East Guildford (under construction by AMRA) I thought I'd give the aluminum frame a go, with the idea that I could disassemble and move the layout if needed. 

What a disaster!

The idea was to use 25mm joiners from Bunnings, 25mm square aluminum tube, and 12mm ply for the top. After 20 lengths of tube and all the joiners arrived I started cutting things up. The only problem was the joiners - they were terrible! Whilst marketed for use with 1.6mm thick 25mm tube the joiners were made of very hard plastic and completely unforgiving. The only way I could get them in was to file all 4 faces down 1 -1.5 mm - a very time consuming task. Even then significant force was required to get them to sit in properly, resulting in several broken joiners and split tubes (yes - the plastic was that hard) that then couldn't be extracted from the tube. Argh!!!! 

Metalwork has never been my strong suit, so by this stage I was totally fed up with the process. After some more thinking and reassessment I decided to take a completely different tack. The tube went back to the supplier and Bunnings kindly reimbursed me for all the joiners I bought. 

Given the chances of the layout being moved in the next 5+ years is highly unlikely I changed to a fixed layout, built in a similar manner to house framing. This method was used by a friend of mine in NSW very successfully so I decided to go that way myself. After waiting a month or so to get the timber (serious shortage of structural timber in Australia at the moment) I started the build. Basically I made 10 frames that were then assembled in my garage, nailed together and to the floor. Then cross pieces were added to hold the baseboards and the ply laid on top. It was all a bit flimsy at first, but once everything was nailed together it became very strong. In time I will add cross pieces coming out off the top of the frames to hold lighting and a headboard. Nothing is attached to the walls - in that way it's all free standing. 

I'm very happy with how it's come together. Next month I'll cover the track laying, including some notes around the handmade points. 

Cheers, Cris

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Another South West Layout

  Hi all, following on from Cris' recent post, I thought I'd put up a first post about what I'm working on.. 

A bit of background, alot of time in my earlier years was spent riding around on HVR tours either on the train, or in the support vehicle which used to carry the steps for the passengers to have easier access to the train. As such, a great chunk of this time was on Dwellingup trips, as well as various other locations, mostly on the South West Mainline. 

My first introduction to S scale was the sight of the combined S scale layout of Serpentine and Swanview at the claremont showgrounds as a kid. I resolved even then that at some stage down the track (parden the pun) I would build my own layout with the intention of exhibiting it, if only once. Fast forward 30 odd years and after a few false starts, I'm finally making some slow progress. 

So, onto the layout then.. overall size is 5 x 1.8m with intent of expansion to 8x1.8 at exhibition (more on that later). Track plan is unashamedly "based on" Dwellingup, but I have taken a few liberties. The aim is to create something that captures the feel and the memories of my trips "up the hill", but with some modellers license invoked to give some freedom as to train ops. Like Cris, bluemetal ballast will be used, rather than gravel, under the premice that the line was retained for both heritage use & access to Boddington mine site and the GSR wheat growing areas. Flight of fancy yes, but always remember rule #1, it's my model railway hahaha. This also means therefore my chosen modelling era is basically anything post 1985, ie the things i have seen, experienced and have memories of.

Track is all Micro Engineering Code 83 with shortened sleepers, and Peco code 83 points. 

Minimum mainline Radius is 700mm on the return loops at each end.  

So far track laying is essentially complete on 3 modules, with another three to go. Module frames are all aluminum tube framed, with plywood tops and mdf girder panels for added stiffness. Currently they rest on Ikea Bookcases, but will all be lifted to approx 1200mm rail height in due course. 

View of the Station Modules

So, there it is.. Progress is slow as free time is thin on the ground but I'd like to see trains run early next year if possible, we shall see. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A new layout - Lower South West: Part 1

 Hi everyone,

As many of you know I have been living on the East Coast for many years, however I have harbored the desire to build a Western Australian layout one day. Many plans have been draw up, many ideas thrown around. The layout went from a recreation of the Wagin - Lake Grace - Newdegate branch to something much more manageable - the Lower South West. 

Any layout I build has to have a junction. Junctions add so much to a layout, both in design and operation. It give you the opportunity to have a main line and branch line, have different classes of locomotive for heavy and light lines, shunting, a loco depot, etc etc. WA had many junctions, from major (Midland, Northam, Narrogin) to minor (Amery, Goomalling, Yillimining). After much though I picked Wonnerup in the states South West. This gave me the opportunity to model Busselton (an interesting place) and the timber branch to Nannup. After many attempts the final plan came together as below. 

This layout fits nicely into my 6m x 6m garage (the cars now live outside) with enough room for a table tennis table. Wonnerup is basically as it was in the early 80s, without the compound / double slip point. I only had room for the Busselton town yard unfortunately, and one track had to go, however the general feel of the place stays the same. With Nannup the yard is right, but the line to the timber mill runs off to the side of the yard rather than the end, again due to space. 

I've decided to set the layout in the mid 1980's - with a little modellers license. The mainline has been upgraded to take 16t locos in the assumption of more mineral sands traffic and the Australind beginning to run through to Busselton. So the main will be metal ballast, but the branch will remain 11t axle load, gravel ballast. This gives me great scope to run my DA and AB locos on the main, and the X and Y class locos on the branch. So lots of loco swaps, shunting and mixed running - everything I like in a layout.

I plan to update this blog as I go, although construction is a bit stop start depending on work, uni studies and volunteer commitments. However I will post next month on the disastrous start to the construction and the new methods I used to build the baseboards. I hope to also cover the building of the points - all have been handmade using the FastTracks jigs (which are fantastic and cannot be rated highly enough). 

Cheers, Cris

Monday, July 12, 2021

Test Running on East Guildford Layout

 Testing of the electrics and track on the main modules of the AMRA East Guildford layout has been ongoing over the last few meetings. The layout is now pretty much fully wired with operational turnouts and sections allowing the operation of either DCC or DC train operation when correct combinations of keyed switches are selected on the control panel being created by Greg Aitken

 The rake of four wheel wagons seen in the clip below was on this day dragged and propelled as fast as motive power on hand would allow, through the crossover and all areas of the yard point work with no derailments encountered earning a tick of approval.

Shunting of the sidings will be possible for equipment with suitable Kadee couplers adjusted correctly on height gauges. The shunt possibilities have also been tested in previous months with appropriate adjustments made to allow for suitable movements for what should make an interesting shunting puzzle.

Covid requirements have caused many delays to the progress of the layout over the last 15 months but slowly things are happening with some scenery and buildings starting to make the appearance of the layout more friendly.  

There is still a long way to go but its getting there - thank you to all who are contributing to this project!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

 The AMRA WA Mini Model Railway Exhibition at Rail Heritage WA Sunday 6 June 2021

The cancellation of the AMRA WA June annual model railway exhibition in Perth for the second year in a row due to the Covid-19 Pandemic was disappointing but understandable. Fortunately we were able to hold a Mini Model Railway exhibition in the buildings and grounds of the RHWA Railway Museum in Bassendean on Sunday 6 June 2021.

The day was a big success with RHWA offering their facilities. At least 1000 members of the public were able to attend and visit the many displays, stalls and layouts as well as the usual displays that the Museum provides in Bassendean.

The main hall was packed with interesting layouts and The AMRA S scale Special Interest Group was well represented and located in the Archives rooms at the front of the Noel Zeplin Exhibition Hall, where they mounted a display of  models of rail-cars and steam and diesel locomotives of the preserved prototypes which are held in the museum grounds.

A number of SIG members provided the 25 models to show to the public. There was also a range of resources available in the Archives including outline drawings, track plans, signal diagrams and rare magazines and books which are a boon to the railway historian or railway modeller of the WAGR, Westrail and the MRWA 3'6" systems, as well as the resources on the WA standard gauge railway system, and not to forget more than 25 000 photos which can be accessed on-line via the RHWA website.

Th following photo shows the display of Models, each representing the vehicles in preservation in the Museum. Thanks to those members who supplied their models and to those who ran the display on the day.


The S Scale Special Interest Group is a very active group of AMRA modellers which meets on the second Monday of every month at 7.30pm in the AMRA clubrooms, 24 Moojebing St, Bayswater Western Australia. Visitors are always welcome.





Saturday, June 19, 2021

East Guildford Exhibition Layout (Mega) Update 03/21

Hey hey, long time no post. I thought it time we update you on the latest on East Guildford's progress and the latest news from the team. In mid-2019, East Guildford's progress was displayed at her first public exhibition. Whilst the layout was far from finished, people got a glimpse of what the layout could look like once completed.

Since that time, like most clubs, the team was subjected to the restrictions and lockdowns placed on the community due to the worldwide pandemic of late 2019. This somewhat slowed the progress on East Guildford and impacted almost all operations at the club where the layout is located. Despite these setbacks, the layout has continued to grow to a point it now has running trains on both DC and DCC as well as the foundations for scenery and buildings.

Below is a selection of photos and a video of the progress made to East Guildford over the last 24 months. If you would like to know more, or get involved, then do not hesitate to come down to the AMRA WA Clubrooms at 24 Moojebing St Bayswater WA and speak to some of our lovely volunteers. 

The team at work on the layout at AMRA WA HQ in Moojebing St
The team at work on the layout at AMRA WA HQ in Moojebing St.

The layout at her first exhibition in 2019.

Murray Hartzer busy making details for East Guildford.

Another angle of Murray Hartzer busy making details for East Guildford.

East Guildford station with mock up platform shelters.

East Guildford station with mock up platform shelters.

Testing of Rollingstock for platform alignment.

Testing of Rollingstock for platform alignment.

Testing of Rollingstock for platform alignment.

Testing of Rollingstock for platform alignment.

Finally, a huge thank you to the volunteers who have kept the layout progressing, even during the current pandemic, including but not limited to; Trevor Burke, Greg Aitken, Murray Hartzer and Neil Blinco.

On a side note, do not forget about the AMRA WA Open Day on the 4th of July 2021. We will have Swan View operating and you can see the progress on East Guildford for yourself.