Thursday, 22 May 2014

Back Conversion - the consequence of being a pedant

I have always been something of  a pedant when it comes to things historic and I am usually frustrated about the inaccurate portrayal of history or equipment that was not in use during the events depicted. However, in my younger days, I was a bit more relaxed about such inconsistencies in the rolling stock used on Philip's Creek, but as I am getting older, and possibly acquiring a bit more knowledge,  the pedantry is becoming pronounced.

Although I broadened my modelling time period to about six years to allow me to run a greater range of locomotives through Philip's Creek, I have set the end of the steam in NSW as the right hand boundary of my interest. As a consequence , I recently found myself 'hoisted on my own petard' and had to address the issue of rolling stock that was not in service in the late 60s/early 70s.

Over the last few years, I have been gradually upgrading my Powerline and Lima passenger coaches. Interiors were added several years early, but recently, I have been concentrating on external elements, specifically, roof detail and hand rails. The last wagon to be upgraded was a Powerline KB Parcel Van shown opposite. Although I was aware that these KBs had been modified from surplus MHO guards vans, some preliminary research determined that the conversions occurred in the early 1970s, possibly around 1973-74. I decided that it was better to give myself some certainty and so the KB van should be returned to its earlier form as a MHO guards van. And, if I have got my understanding of the timings incorrect, I have just added a MHO to the fleet at the expense of a KB parcel van.

The conversion itself was not difficult, with the roof treatment again using masking tape to simulate the malthoid strips and new torpedo vents fitted once the strips had been set in place. As an aside, I have tried both techniques suggested in recent AMRM articles, teabags and masking tape, as a means of creating the malthoid roof. I think teabags provide a marginally better surface but the masking tape strips are much easier to apply. I also apply a thin film of PVA glue to the finished roof to help seal the work. The photo opposite shows the body as well as the roof before the addition of the torpedo vents.

I purchased an Ian Lindsay under-body kit and used some left over MHG doors and louvre panels for the guard's doors and the coffin/animal compartments. To date, the van has been painted, and weathering to the chassis and roof has also been completed. I am waiting to purchase suitable decals possibly at the Thornleigh exhibition, if not before.

The final photo is a similar but updated version of the first, now with the newly converted MHO immediately behind the 48. The changes only seem minor from this distance, but at least now, it can pass a steam locomotive at Philip's Creek without incurring the frustration of this pedant.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hiding Surface Mounted Switches - a couple of ideas

Sometimes we find it necessary to locate items  that support the operation of our model railways on the layout rather than below where most of the wiring, switches and other infrastructure are placed. I choose to operate most of my points manually and, as a consequence, have found it convenient to place a change of polarity switch on the surface adjacent to each point.

The photo opposite shows two switches that were installed last August/September when I replaced some old Atlas points with two Peco electrofrogs. Astute readers will note that this particular photo shows that these points are electrically operated. The reason for this was detailed in a comment to my post in September 2013( but the focus of this post is the subsequent work that I have recently completed to conceal those switches.

Not surprisingly, I have found that the easiest way to hide the switches was to incorporate them into the surrounding land form. Of the six switches installed to date, three have been concealed by the terrain adjacent to the track. A small rise or a cutting has been sufficient to achieve the desired effect. The photo opposite shows the start of the branch line on the module currently under construction. I have included a small mirror in the photo to show the switch, partially obscured by masking tape, in its cavern underneath the nearside cutting wall.

By the way, I haven't got around to mowing my static grass as yet. It's hard enough getting motivated to cut the real thing.

Clearly, the use of terrain is most easily achieved on new construction but in situations where the scenery has already been completed, the solutions tend to rely on structures and lineside details. To date, two switches have been hidden under a pile of sleepers and a mound of sand covered by a tarp at Philip's Creek Station. Another has been concealed by a small coaling stage at Mount Windeatt. In each situation, it is necessary to make sure that there is some roof or cover over the switch to ensure it can still operate. Don't forget that in the worst case, one may need to access the switch, so it's prudent to keep the feature as simple as possible.

Basically, I have tried to utilise items of lineside infrastructure that are appropriate for the location, can be placed near enough to the track to conceal the switch, but do not create an obstruction to traffic. For example the mound of sand was used to avoid interfering with passing trains. Other options could include platforms, loading banks, piles of rubbish, fettler's water tanks on a stand or some thick lineside vegetation. I'm sure there are many others.

The final photo links to the first photo showing the area of last September's work but now with the two switches concealed.