Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Final chance eBay and new loco reveal this week.

Tonight I've just added another dozen items to the final eBay clearance that I have culled from my collection. Having just purchased some more containers and NQYY wagons, these are taken new from the pack and listed for sale as I have now built a rather nice mixed set of container wagons. There's also a finely weathered VLCX wagon if anyone is after one, as I have now deemed it out or era and thus out of use.

Everything else I have slashed down, in some cases to $1 so that I can get it packed and sent before taking a well earned break over Christmas. There's even a lot of N scale stuff left over from my new layout's construction too.

The other real reason for wanting to clear this urgently, is that I have just acquired a new loco for Philden. Somehow I managed to pick up a sold out Auscision loco brand new from a hobby shop for less than what the pre-order price would have been. And I only have to wait 2 more days for it to arrive in the mail, unlike everyone else who had to wait almost 4 years. I was a bit upset about missing out on one of these when they came out, so am glad to have grabbed it while I could. Now I only have to put the dollars back into my holiday fund. I'll have some photos to share by Friday.

link to my eBay shop is here....

Hope you find something to your liking, and a big thanks again to everyone who made getting the NDFF hoppers possible with my eBay sell-off last month!

Monday, 10 December 2018

Operating the container train

There are enough containers starting to build up at Phills Harbour that Interail have commenced running a westbound trip train to Philden from Phills Harbour Intermodal Park, or PHIP for short.

Power today is regular 42109 with a short 2 wagon train from Phills Harbour bound for Philden.

For the maiden run, single loco 42109 backed onto a short two wagon train of NQYY flats conveying containers for two different customers, with the train holed-up in the vacant platform road at Phills Harbour, out of the way of the harbour access track.

After arriving at Philden, the short train needed to be split on the mainline.

On arrival in Philden however, the loaded Linfox side door container needed to be positioned beside the goods shed on the number 1 siding. With the number 4 siding occupied by a string of empty ballast hoppers, the second wagon with the empty Cronos container needed to be dropped out of the way on the mainline.

After running around the wagon, the side door container could then be placed alongside the goods shed.

With the shipment in place beside the goods shed, there is just enough room ahead of the switch blade for the 421 Class to use the number 1 track as a lead for the next run around move. The container wagon in the number 2 siding on the left then needed to be pulled out before the wagon with the empty Cronos container could be swapped in its place.

The sole pick-up for the return trip is stowed out of the way in the platform road on the mainline.

Needing to keep some lead track free to run around the remaining wagon to be set-out, the single wagon waiting to be worked back to Phills Harbour on the return trip had to be shoved out of the way into the platform road on the mainline.

The remaining wagon to be set out is then moved into place on the run around track...

...the loco then runs around the wagon...

...and shoves it back into the number 2 siding to complete the set out.

The crew of 42109 will then couple-on to the sole NQYY wagon in the platform road, pump the air and clear the mainline by working the very short train back to Phills Harbour. Any thoughts of scoring such an easy job again for their next shift however may be very short lived. Back at Phills Harbour, the rake of empty container wagons waiting to be loaded has spilled out across the bridge on the lead track to PHIP. Word is the next train will be built up to four wagons.

Ready to repeat the scene all over again back in Phills Harbour.

While this is only a simple walk-through of what it is like to operate on my small bookshelf layout, it does show that a small layout can indeed hold a lot of interest long after it is complete. With my next step being to implement a set of waybill like cards to further enhance my single op sessions, it seems like I'm going to have to come up with a convincing argument as to why containers are being sent back and forth in each direction to the middle of nowhere. I'm thinking the old goods shed might now have to pass into private hands, perhaps leased as a storage warehouse for the local pubs and bottleshops who receive their supplies in side door containers unloaded directly on the goods platform. The number 2 siding might also be the holding track for loading and unloading containerised hay and stock feed for outback homesteaders.

I guess that's what makes model railroading fun. But as usual, I'll let that be a story for another day.

See also; That steel ain't light: funny coil steel shipments

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Phills Harbour Travel Centre

Back in the 1990's when Countrylink was rolling out its' new corporate image across New South Wales, some of the key regional railway stations dating back to the steam era were replaced with modern, spacious, brick and air-conditioned structures dubbed as Travel Centres. Grafton, Lismore and Coffs Harbour are three such examples that spring to mind, and the city of Phills Harbour on Philden's Beach Extension is no exception, with the new Countrylink Travel Centre nearing completion opposite the harbour foreshore.

The foundations are embedded into the platform and pressed hard up against the backdrop of Coffs Harbour.

It seems that straightening the beach extension back in July may have been the best decision I made before moving ahead with the new layout extension, as it left me with enough room to build a structure sizeable enough not to be called a building flat. The curved platform and track angle that ends in the corner of the shelf called for the station to be confined to the mouse-hole end of the layout, and having already built the box housing that will hold the structure in place on the platform, it was time to turn my basic plastic kit into something else.

Printed brick paper covered in vinyl adhesive film makes for a shiny-clean tiled floor.

The structure was in fact a cheaply produced convenience store kit bought on eBay and posted from China for less than ten bucks. But as is often the case with bargain-priced anything, you get what you pay for. In this case a plain grey one-coloured shell with no provision for glass window panes. Keeping the floor unattached from the building shell for when I come back to add figurines at a later date, I first covered the interior floor with some self-adhesive printed HO scale brick paper. Being a printed paper surface, I also covered the brick paper with clear self-adhesive plastic book covering to protect the printed surface, trimmed it to size with scissors and stuck it to the floor area. I next used some of the pieces of the kit intended to be the roof mounted sign, to fashion a booking counter and passenger waiting lounge. I also added an interior support column for the roof using a piece of unpainted styrene H channel, and got to work printing some scaled to size vending machines to fill out the waiting room area.

Phills Harbour Travel Centre received a two-tone brick building, similar in design to Grafton Station.

Skinning the building turned out to be an easy and rewarding project, thanks to some 3D printed brick sheets I also found on eBay. Printed on a vinyl-like paper, the bricks had that rough texture and simply need to be cut to shape and glued to the styrene shell using some water based craft glue so as not to leach the colour. To break up the monotony of a plain one-coloured brick wall, I embedded two strips of the self-adhesive printed brick paper (also covered in clear self-adhesive wrap), that I'd trimmed to two brick width heights with scissors. I placed one strip at platform height, and stuck the other nicely between the door frame and below the rear window height, making trimming around the window areas so much easier. For this exercise I put away the ruler, and could simply cut to the nearest brick height, glue and repeat until finished.

The unpainted window and door frames look close enough to aluminium frames.

The shiny brown brick trim contrasts nicely with the rough tan colours of the 3D brickwork, and looks more like glazed decorative tiles. I'd put aside the oversized convenience store fencing, and instead fashioned it into an aluminium awning to wrap around the main corner of the travel centre.

The roof will get some special treatment after I build a row of roof-mounted air-conditioners.

I think everyone knows the type of modern awning I've tried to represent; the stupid architecturally-designed type that protects you from neither the sun or the rain yet seems to lend itself to building designs all the same. Anyway, its there for passengers to complain about when boarding the train.

The test-fit to ensure the travel centre matches its surroundings.

With the outside of the building now skinned in 3D brick paper, I test-fit the building to see how else I could improve its appearance. There was enough 3D brick paper left over for me to do the two inside facing walls, so off the floor came again, and I bricked the inside of the travel centre to the height of the top decorative brown brick trim. I need to glue the window panes to something other than textured paper, so simply left the top of the inside wall an unpainted grey.

The waiting room needed some extra interior details thanks to those big, wide windows!

Before cutting and fixing the Evergreen clear styrene window panes to the main floor to ceiling window areas, I glued my printed vending machines to the back wall. Along with the Coca-Cola, Pepsi Max and Smith's Crisps vending machines, there is also a coffee machine, map of the Sydney Trains network, three Telstra pay phones, an Xplorer poster and some vintage next train destination boards that were fictitiously salvaged from the previous station and put on display inside the new travel centre. I took this photo before adding the window glass so that the interior detail would be more visible. As for the unpainted awning, window and door frames? I'm leaving them that way. I've cleaned enough office windows with my cleaning business to know that aluminium frames look silver-grey.

Phills Harbour Station, with Philden visible through the mouse-hole at the far end of the layout.

Also added to the outside of the building were two almost unnoticeable signs. The one above the door actually says 'waiting room' and 'toilets', complete with the disabled symbol. The other is a photo of the actual Countrylink 'coaches' sign that once stood at this end of my layout when it was just staging. I photographed it, reduced it in size and printed it out before covering them with the clear self-adhesive wrap and gluing it to some card. After trimming it to size I stuck it to the underside of the aluminium awning directing passengers down the ramp towards the waiting road coach connection. It's a nice bit of trivia to have incorporated into my own layout. I now only have to wait for someone to produce a Countrylink road coach in HO scale to park between the platform and the backdrop.

My newly arrived NDFF hoppers drop some ballast on the tracks alongside the new station.

Although the nuts and bolts of the travel centre are now finished, the model is far from complete. I still have to build a row of roof mounted air-conditioning units, a skylight and add the station name signs to the platform before the first 'official' train will arrive at Phills Harbour. So for now, railfans will have to be content with watching Railcorp run ballast trains into the newly constructed platform road. These freshly painted NDFF hoppers arrived only today, and straight out of the box look fantastic. Thanks to flipping some items on eBay and Australian Modeller's 20% Off Black Friday Sale, I was able to add these and some Freightcorp NQYY container wagons and new containers to the layout, so expect to see some more photos of these in action in the near future.

While Phills Harbour is purely a fictitious station, I think I've captured the look and feel of a 90's era Countrylink Travel Centre as I remember them appearing around the turn of this century. With Philden station just visible through the mouse-hole at the far end of the layout, it gives me a decent enough run to shuttle my 2 car Xplorer train back and forth from the outback to the sea. Once I add some lights to the station area and around 20-30 passengers waiting inside for the train to arrive, Phills Harbour will become one exciting little railway station.

See also; Building the Beach Station