Wednesday, 6 December 2017


Welcome to the tree update.

After making the tree out of wire and soldering bits together for strength I gave it a coat of some no more gaps caulking stuff. In a popular hardware store I found a some different colours instead of white. I bought some brown. I last used it a couple of years ago but I was able to squeeze a bit more out.

I diluted the caulk with some water and painted it thickly onto the wire. It looked like this:

The brown is a bit dark and I'll need to apply some paint. So, I hit it with some primer.

It will need some lighter sandy coloured paint on it for the right shade of bark and once that dries, I can put some flock onto it.

Until next time.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Here's One I Started Earlier

There are alway little tutorials and articles about making trees.

Here is mine. And... here is a tree that I started earlier.

I got some wire from somewhere ages ago. It's thin and I thought that it would be good for a tree. I cut about 40 cm of the wire and folded it in half. Next I twisted the wire to form branches. Then I put it in a box for two years while I rebuilt the layout that it was being made for. After a couple of years I found it again and thought that it would be a good tree for my swagman to sit under while he boils his billy and shoves a jumbuck in his tucker back. It's going to stand about 15 cm tall. It's not really that big but it might look out of place where it is going.

The wire was very flexible so I reinforced it with a bit of solder. When it cools down a bit, the tree will receive a couple of coats of watered down no more gaps.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Two more jobs done.

Today I finished my little shelter.

There is even a little man sitting on a seat inside it. He may never be seen by anyone but I'll know he is there.

I also put some bits of timber down for passengers to walk across the tracks to get to the ferry.

I chopped up some match sticks and glued them down. Then painted them with a wash of weathered grey.

Not bad for 15 minutes.

Until next time.

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Little Shelter

On a previous layout I had a Wills station halt with a waiting room. The waiting room was a corrugated iron shed. Perfect for the waiting shed on the Billabong Marina platform.

To be honest, I have used bits of the station and on later layouts and try as I might, I couldn't find the little shelter.

Today, I was in luck. I found a wall! Not just any wall but a side wall. It wasn't much but it was a good template. Enough to use it to build another one.

Here it is:

It is wide enough to hold a Peco station seat for my little plastic people. If I place it here you can't look in but it will form a barrier so that people don't fall off the platform into the billabong.

A bit of grey primer and some rust streaks and it will be ready for passengers.

That's all for now.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Slow Progress

I seem to have fallen into the trap of slow progress.

I finally got the bollards glued on. Here they are:

I recently updated my phone and the Blogger App no longer works. This is a bit of a disappointment as I've been using the phone app to check the lists that I make and then chose the next task to do.

Check out the post titled 'Time for a Beer' for the last list. Now it looks like this:

2. Detail the Fish and Chip Shop
5. Make a shelter for the platform. I may already have something.
6. Paint oars for the rowboats. (This is from way back and I still haven't done it.)
7. Paint my swagman.
8. Build a campfire for the swagman. Hopefully this will be lit.
9. Install a coolabah tree. (I might need to make this first.)
13. Install timber walkway between tracks near station for ferry passengers.
14. Glue down marina jetties.
15. Add water.
16. Add a couple of small cranes.

I'll see how many of these that I can knock off this week.

Until then.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Never mind the bollards!

My apologies to the punk rock band who's saying I have ripped off.

I've carried on with the bollards. I've about ten to twenty to go. They are sitting on the main layout.

Something else which has needed some attention has been the concrete edging of the docks. I gave it a dry brushing of white. The next day it looked silver. I gave it a second dry brush coat.

Hopefully, I should have the bollards in by the end of the weekend.

Until then.

Monday, 6 November 2017

All Quiet on the Waterfront

Mates are great. Especially the ones who come up to you and say, "I haven't seen any updates on your blog." They are the type of mate who keep us accountable.

What has been happening?

To be honest I've had a few distractions on other activities. I've loyal to my fifteen minute philosophy, just not loyal to the little layout.

However, I have been making some piles... or bollards. I'm not sure what they're called. Last year I painted three lengths of balsa dowel with weathered black. I cut them to size and filed around the top for that chamfered look. This meant that bare balsa was now exposed. When I tried to paint it white, it didn't work. My solution was to put a peg on them where the white shouldn't be and spray them with some white primer. I had to give them a couple of coats.

Here they are drying.

While that was going on, I looked deep into the waters.

The water was so disgusting, not even the boats wanted to go in.

I gave the water a good scrub but it didn't get rid of all of the dirt. I have a small (really small) amount of this paint left so I gave it another light coat with an dish sponge. I cut the sponge up so that I could fit it into the sample pot of paint. It is pretty old and the colour or range no longer available. A little bit of work and it now looks like this:

There's a bit of a colour cast which gives the image a yellow tinge.

After the piles or bollards have dried the needed to be painted grey again and fixed up. I trimmed a few for my ferry pontoon and glued them in place.

I'm still painting the other 40 piles/bollards for the rest of the wharves.

Until next time.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The sign of pie.

This took a little over half an hour today. The sign was created in Microsoft Publisher with Word Art and Clip Art. It was printed on white card, trimmed, the edges blackened with a Sharpie and sprayed with a matte varnish. Two match sticks were trimmed and painted white before being glued to the back of the sign. The whole lot was glued to the backscene above the bakery.

The Publisher file was saved so that I can use the billboard in other parts of the larger layout.

Until next time.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Time for a beer.

The Tower Ale House is now open for business. So far it has five patrons, three upstairs enjoying the view and two down stairs. There are also a couple of old timers playing draughts (or checkers). The signs were printed on glossy photo paper. The first batch were hit with a matte spray by Dulux and resulted in splotching. The second lot were hit with Micador Matte spray and had a better finish. The Dulux can is now gone. The signs were cut out and then the white edges coloured with a red Sharpie. There was some bleeding along the edge which affected the signs. As I am now out of photo paper, I decided that it wasn't too bad. Everything was glued down. The little advertising sign which is standard copy paper is as solid as a rock. I decided not to light the Ale House. The join with the cobblestone might cause light leakage.

The only problem with this picture... no beer. Something to work out later.

I finished the small section of grass and added some clumps about the place. The only thing I need to work on from the last list is the sign for the bakery. Then this section of the layout is pretty much finished.

Then it will be time to head back to the marina.

As I like lists, here's the next one:

1. Bakery sign.
2. Detail the Fish and Chip Shop.
3. Glue down tables and benches.
4. Make a sign for the Marina platform.
5. Make a shelter for the platform. I may already have something.
6. Paint oars for the rowboats. (This is from way back and I still haven't done it.)
7. Paint my swagman.
8. Build a campfire for the swagman. Hopefully this will be lit.
9. Install a coolabah tree. (I might need to make this first.)
10. Clean up the green paint for the water.
11. Install the piles for the boats to rub against instead of the walls.
12. Install passenger pontoon and stairs.
13. Install timber walkway between tracks near station for ferry passengers.
14. Glue down marina jetties.
15. Add water.
16. Add a couple of small cranes.

This will keep me going for a while.

Until next time.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Can I Add a Small Beer Garden?

To be honest. I haven't much to show for this week. A lot of it has been moving things about and tidying up the layout room.

I painted some barrels white for a visible barrier to stop patrons of The Tower Ale House accidentally stumbling onto the tracks. Now they will need to walk a bit further and hopefully get a better and safer view of oncoming trains before crossing the tracks.

I've only placed things on the layout. There are three blokes in the tower, and the tower needs gluing. The trees need their roots trimmed, holes drilled and an bit of dead leaves and twigs placed around the base. The table and chairs have been sprayed with a white primer. They need a couple of people on them.They need to be white, just incase one winds up on the tracks, then the driver can see it. There is also a little blackboard, letting patrons know the local beers served in the ale house. On the back is a warning to look out for trains. However, my printer doesn't handle 2pt font too clearly. There are signs for the ale house but they are too small. I ran out of time today to reprint them.

I also have a couple of blokes playing checkers (or draughts). I'm hoping that I can squeeze them into the beer garden.

It may just work. A bit of turf put down next to the cobblestones with a low hedge as a barrier for the nearer tracks and it could look like a pleasant little beer garden.

Looks like the list above are the next jobs to do.

Until next time.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I could do with a drink.

If you take a trip to Billabong Wharf by on an old tin hare or a more modern 620/720 rail motor, you can catch a ferry to a destination further along the water.

Alternatively you could wait on the platform and admire the cobblestones while you wait for the X200 rail tractor to bring the old SHG guards van with some passenger accomodation to take you to Billabong Marina.

Realistically, this railway outpost is nothing more than a loading platform with a light post and maybe a bench. However, go down the stairs  and you can reach the marina. 

Here you could charter a boat or grab some of the best fish and chips in the country from Fishy McFishface.

If you look at the menu you could even buy a pint of prawns. Never heard of a pint of prawns? Neither had I until a few years ago when I was visiting one of my wife's aunts in the south of England. She took us to a pub and ordered a pint of prawns for lunch. While we were hoeing into fish and chips or bangers and mash, my wife's aunty received a pint glass full of prawns. From memory, they needed to be shelled too.

However, there is nowhere to get a beer.

This is a disgrace.

There are six, seven industries, there could be eight. I'm beginning to lose count myself. Where are all of those workers going to grab a beer? What about the sailors bringing in the goods by ship? All that time at sea can make you thirsty for a beer. Tourists need a drink too. The station master at Billabong Wharf likes a quiet ale at the end of his shift before he goes home to tend to his veggie garden and walk his dog. To do that he needs to catch a train to somewhere. That is until now.

Built between the two world wars, the lookout tower was built to assist in the defence of the small harbour at Billabong Wharf from invasion. After the war it fell out of use as a lookout tower and was eventually abandoned.

The run down tower was then turned into a pub. Now the station master has somewhere local to go for a quiet ale at the end of his shift. To stop people from accidentally tumbling out of the tower and onto the tracks some barrels will be placed as a barrier.

The view isn't too bad either, although it could do with a bit of a tidy up. The grey concrete edges are too dark and need some sorting out.

The tower began life as a Frateschi Signal Tower. It is a small kit. The walls are 2 cm long and I had hoped to be able to cut it in half but clearance problems stopped that from happening. The walls don't meet at 90 degrees but somewhere around 110 or 120 degrees. A triangle of 20 thou styrene was cut for a floor

I tried the idea of nearly flat against the backscene but sticking out a bit. However, the door would lead onto the tracks and potential disaster for my little plastic people. A roof was marked out and cut from 60 thou card. I'm not sure if the pub owner will be able to add a roof top terrace. One thing I don't think I can do is add lights inside. It's a pity but as the building sticks out only 2 cm from the side of the layout, getting the wires through what is practically 38 mm thickness of frame work is prohibitive. It could be something worth investigating though.

Plans for this week:
1. Investigate the possibilities of lights in the tower.
2. Put a couple of people in the top floor looking out and enjoying a beer. This might be more difficult than it think.
3. Glue tower to the backscene.
4. Find barrels and pain them white and glue them down.
5. Finish static grass.
6. Make a sign for the bakery.

Until next time.

P.S. The tower hides the bracket and the tree next to it hides the fact it is an extremely low relief building and the blue paint on the edge of the backscene.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Carry On Painting

Last night, I painted the cobblestones with burnt umber. I used this dark colour for the dirt that gets between the stones. I didn't grab a photo last night as my phone ran out of charge. The image below is from after I started work today.

Today, I dry brushed raw sienna over the top of the burnt umber for the brighter almost polished from use tops of the cobblestones.

Next I glued in warehouse in place.

Compare this with my last post.

The edge needs to be painted with a grey for concrete. A couple of other spots, where there was bleeding under the masking tape, needs some touching up.

Here's a longer view along the water.

There needs some tidying up. The green paint for the water needs a wash. The walls need a touch up as well, then I can work on the bollards - or whatever the wooden piles are that the ships rub against.

It is amazing how much better it looks now.

I think I might be hard pressed doing anything tomorrow night but I reckon that I might be able to squeeze something in. However, I have ticked off another two things on my list from Sunday night.

Until next time.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Ticking off the List

Finish cobblestones - tick.

Glaze warehouse, black out windows and put a sign on it - tick.

Work out how to hide the bracket holding the backscene in place - tick. (Although I have an idea, I've yet to put it into place.)

The next step is to pain the cobblestones.

Until next time.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Google Street View On a Model Railway

Some clever boffins at Google have created street view of Hamburg's Miniatur Wunderland. Check it out here:

I can't say that I'd be up for that sort of effort on my layout (I need some streets first) but if you're thinking about how it was done, then check out this clip.

As far as my efforts go, it has been a week of painting but not much dramatic progress. However, having said that the warehouse has been given enough coats of paint. It needs one or two touch ups, glazing, black cardboard so you can't see the backscene and a sign.

Another section of cobblestones were out in as well. This time they were put in in the curved section of track. To help with clearance the Das Modelling clay was scraped out from the track with a small screwdriver. Next an old Lima wagon with large flanges was used to check clearances. Often called cookie cutter wheels, these wheels cut through the clay nicely, showing what else needed to be removed. 

Once that was sorted, my VR van was used for one final check.

The next step is to finish off the cobblestones between the track and the side backscene.

Here's my list for the next week.

1. Finish cobblestones.
2. Paint cobblestones.
3. Glaze warehouse, black out windows and put a sign on it.
4. Paint the fences which still need painting.
5. Install fences.
6. Install warehouse.
7. Finish off static grass.
8. Sign for the bakery.
9. Work out how to hide the bracket in the above image.

I have a busy week with stuff on every evening but I reckon that I can knock a couple of these things off.

Until next time.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Another layout idea. (And an update.)

 I've had a bit of a break over the last couple of weeks. I managed to pick up that nasty cold that has been going about and I managed to get away for a few days. To top it off, I did a little bit of trainspotting on the Skitube. 

There wasn't a huge variety of trains. There are four sets of trains. Set 1 is three cars long and spends most of the day running between Perisher and Blue Cow. Set 2 is four cars long and travels between Bullocks Flat and Perisher. Sets 3 and 4 are two cars long. They spend most of the time coupled together between Bullocks Flat and Perisher. However, at some stage throughout the day a supply train is run. I'm not sure of the whole ins and outs. At around 1:30 the train from Blue Cow runs down the hill to Bullocks Flat. At the same time one of the two car units pushes up a bogie open wagon loaded with supplies for the Blue Cow Terminal.

I've seen this over the years that I have been heading down to the snow. While I've seen the wagon go up and the wagon at Blue Cow in the morning, I have never seen the wagon go down the mountain. I have caught the train which runs from Blue Cow to Bullocks Flat on nasty days that aren't much fun to ski - such as last Friday. To be honest, the wagon from Blue Cow could be on the rear of this train. I have never looked.

I have often thought that this would make a nice micro-layout. The station at Bullocks Flat is simple it is one track which splits into two tracks either side of an island platform. It also gets snow. A simple auto reversing module would make it work without too much hassle. However, the stock would need to be scratch built or 3D printed. This is out of my capabilities at the moment.

Having said all that, two sets of points - one for the station and one for the staging yard - and you could use a similar idea for the end of a suburban line. I think East Hills was something like this before the line was extended to Holsworthy and Glenfield. A bit of quick research also showed that Beverly Hills was once called Dumbleton.

I reckon that a twelve foot long shelf would be good, although a bit bigger than micro. 1/3 of this would be platform (a four car single deck set or a double deck S set is about 90 cm long.), 1/3 could be a run through to the final 1/3 of staging yard. If the boards were less than 30 cm deep it could be cut from a single 1200 x 900 mm sheet of ply. If you cut out the middle section then the layout could be 30 cm x 240 cm.

Enough daydreaming and back to the current layout.

I carried on with the cobblestone sets and started on the warehouse. The next lot of cobblestones need to go inside the curved track. I reckon that I'll get to that on Sunday. 

The crane was put in place to get an idea of how things would look from a viewing angle. The crane needs replacing as it has visited the floor too many times.The warehouse was put in place. It's the front of the Cutting Scissors factory by DPM. The rest of it makes up the dairy. It seemed like a good solution. I did try some DPM modular sections and looked for another idea from other available kits but this is the cheapest option. It was given a coat of primer.

It was then given a nice shade of brown. Unfortunately it blends in with the background. To counteract this, I painted the windows and doors cream.

I don't think that this helped. To solve the problem I went to to my local hobby shop to buy some lighter paint. The Humbrol paint was really gluggy. I don't know if it's just me but I seem to find inconsistency with this brand. I spent a bit of time thinning it down. I have applied a lighter shade over a dark base, which isn't ideal but it will make the building stand out more.

A couple more coats will see it done. The concrete bits will be light grey and the windows and doors will be a mid grey.

The aim of the warehouse is to provide another spot for a wagon. As it will be parked out the front and on the circuit, it can provide an extra challenge for the operator.

The next lot of tasks are much the same.
1. Put up fences. (They need to be painted and put on the layout.)
2. Create the sign for the bakery.
3. More cobblestone sets.
4. Keep painting the warehouse.

Until next time.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Setting Things in Stone

This week has been a lot of this and that. Today's effort was putting some more Das modelling clay down into cobblestones. Although from what I hear, cobblestones are round whereas square or rectangular stones are setts.

I've had the Das open for 14 months. So long as you keep it wrapped in an airtight condition it still seems to work. I did find that dipping a finger in some water helped a little though. I have the section between the tracks in front of Fine Fish and to the left of the building still to go. After that, I have between the curved track and up to the backscene and the warehouse to go. The curved track will be more challenging than the straight track as the wheels will need more space for clearance. Once done, I can paint the cobblestones.

Earlier in the week I carried on with some ballast. Now all of the track is ballasted.

Once the ballasting was completed a bit of static turf was put down. Part of this was easy but some sections close to the backscene were difficult to put the grass down. A lot landed on rooftops. Instead of shaking it out of the static grass applicator, I had to sprinkle it on by hand and then wave the applicator over the top as close as I could. Behind the Fine Fish, in a spot where no one will actually see it, the applicator wouldn't fit at all. However the end result is not too bad.

The fishery building, as you can see is narrow. The idea is to give an impression of what should be there. On this micro layout there isn't enough room for a complete building so compromises had to be made. The main aim for the layout is for operation and on the two sidings I want to load four refrigerated vans.

For the coming week I've a couple of jobs.
1. Put up a couple more fences.
2. Create a sign for the bakery. I'm thinking about a billboard style on the roof.
3. More cobblestone setts.
4. Start on the warehouse.

Until next time.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Finishing the Fishy Business

In answer to what goes inside the Fine Fish loading shed, here's the answer.

I have put some concrete down inside. I image was taken using an iPhone and the tracks which look like they are entering the building miss it... not by much though and clearance is tight.

The outside strips of styrene were glued down without fuss but the centre strip between the tracks needed a bit of help for a heavy object or ammo box.

Underneath the wood is a brass square tube lying on the plastic.

With that job done, it was time to fit the building.

In the top image you can see an LED strip. This was wired up and stuck in place. It is a little less obvious now. I spent a fair bit of time on Thursday night fixing up inner end of the building. It was a little out of square. I needed to replace a bit of styrene angle and tidy up the brick work. Once done, I hit it with some white primer. I used too much and had to wipe some off which removed the exisiting paint. I figured is gives it a worn look and I'm not worried about it.

It's now being glued into place, being held down by a bit of wood and an ammo box.

Another job this week was to sort out a nasty gap between the bakery and the backscene.

I straightened the wall a bit and played with a Faller chimney which I had bought once as it might come in handy.

The chimney needed to attach to something like a boiler house or a furnace.

A bit of paint, a bit of glue and... Hey presto!

The gap is gone!

Jobs for the week. (Because a list can keep you focused.)
1. Ballast the bakery siding.
2. Add cobblestones to the other side of the wharf.
3. Put a fence up from the bakery to the next building.
4. Put up a fence or a hedge between bakery and the other unknown industry.
5. Plant a tree next to the bakery to disguise gap on the inner end of the extreme low relief building.
6. Think about the next building. Probably a warehouse.
7. Put down some static grass.

I think that I have a clear week, which means I could get through some stuff.

Until next time.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

What goes in here?

The plan for plonking the fish building on the layout is simple. Glue it down, put the roof on and put down some Das clay for cobble stones.

The problem I have is what is going to happen inside the building? The interior would surely be concreted so I'll need to sort that out before I go much further.

The work over the last couple of days has been installing the brick work inside. This involved removing some locating plastic from the Wathers modular sections, ewhci took longer than I thought. The doors were given a coat of black paint on the inside as they let a bit of light through and a fair bit of time was given to trying to mark out the precise location of the building as clearance is way too tight. The joy of a micro layout with big stock.

I reckon I'll need to spend a bit of time on this situation this week. I might use some styrene.

Until next time.

Friday, 21 July 2017

A time to paint and a time to dry

The windows were glazed, blacked out and the building glued on this week. The above image is from an older post. there isn't any difference. The next step is to build a boiler house with a chimney to hide the bracket and the gap between the sides of the building and the backscene caused by a slightly dodgy measurement.

As the the brick wall for Fine Fish, that should be tomorrows job. The conditions when I have returned from work haven't been good for spray painting as I do most of it outside. Oh... and I got the date of the Castle Hill Exhibition wrong. It's the next Saturday. I might see if I can wire up a couple of LEDs for the awning of Fine Fish.

Until next time.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Fine Fish

To start off with, I would like to thank James McInerney and the Australian Model Railway Magazine crew for publishing my article in the August edition currently out now. Dad rang me at 11 am to let me know that he had seen it. I hadn't told him it was coming and I think he liked the surprise. You know what it's like, even as adults, we still want to impress our parents and surprise them.

The next article is on the way.

... and that brings me back to this evening's efforts. The last update had a building for the fishing boat wharf. Here is the nearly finished item.

It's in place and I've run a few wagons through it and around it. The last part is important. The building only just fits. one millimetre either way and it will block the clearance for my VLX and MLV vans. Gluing the building to the layout will need to be done before the roof goes on as, despite my best efforts, the rear wall creeps in a bit at the bottom. However, that's a job for another day.

Since last time, the building was sprayed with white primer. The internet was searched for appropriate colours and white seemed to dominate fish co-ops with blue coming a close second. The platform was sprayed Floquil concrete. I'm beginning to run out of these paints which is a pity as they are great to use. The blue doors were sprayed with grep primer and then a Humbrol blue. This didn't seem to work out so well for me. I was given dubious advice by someone that I could spray a Tamiya paint from a can over the top of this. This resulted in much stripping of paint. Once clean the doors were painted with the Tamiya paint once more. They top of the awning was given a coat of Floquil Weathered Black.

The sign on the wall was created in Word. I got the name from and old Hornby wagon which I had as a kid - I always found the name amusing. The fish was free clip art downloaded from the internet and recoloured in Word. The right font was found by trial and error and matched to the colour of the fish. It was then printed on copy paper and glued to the wall with a glue stick. Then some details were added. The pallet was from a pack from Model Scene, the yellow trays are from Harburn Hobbies in Edinburgh (Well worth a visit if you are ever in Scotland.) and the the wheelie bin is from a pack of bins from Preiser. Poking about the place are pelicans from Kerroby Hobbies. I'm not sure that one would really stick its head into a black wheelie bin and search the rubbish but it seemed like a fun thing to do. I still have a pallet jack and a wooden hand trolley to add.

The next job will be to add some lights to the outside under the awning. I have some 3mm LEDs for that job. I also want to line the inside with bricks as you can see the inside of the building from the right hand side of the layout and it doesn't look good.

For the rest of this week, I want to keep up my 15 minutes a day. The other layout that I am working on is running well and the large building, which was in the background in the last post, has been put into position at the club. This means I have fewer distractions model wise but I have other commitments throughout the week and Saturday's 15 minute budget will be blown out by the Castle Hill Exhibition.

Here is my simple plan for the rest of the week:

Tuesday: Cut out glazing for the Bakery.
Wednesday: Black out the Bakery windows as they will show the back scene through them. Hopefully, cut out bricks for Fine Fish and paint them white.
Thursday: Glue the Bakery onto the layout. Glue the bricks to the inside of Fine Fish.
Friday: Grab a beer after work, grab a burger from our local cafe and go to the club to work on the building there.

Until next time.