Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Black stretchy thread not much use

I picked up some black knitting in thread yesterday at Spotlight for $4.19 (different brand to the white and same length).

However it is black because it has a very fine black normal looking thread wrapped around a white stretchy thread, this makes it look thicker, rough and a little furry.

I checked what it would look like on poles for black PVC coated power lines and as old rusty barbed wire (rough effect) on a fence but in my mind it failed on all counts.

Also, it can't be made to sag as the black fine thread wrinkles up.

So it is a no go, back to the white.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

All you ever wanted to know about NSWGR line poles

I received some line pole information from Ian Millard and Colin Hussey in the comments from my last post and then received an email from Bob Stack of South Coast Rail with some very interesting documents.

Bob's documents were two NSWGR documents and a plan which I have uploaded to Google Docs for you to download.

Document 1 - SRA NSW Line Route Maintenance and Construction Q&A

Document 2 - NSWGR Erection and Maintenance of Line Work 19/10/1950

Document 3 - SRA NSW Line Pole Construction Detail Plan 13/04/1984

These cover anything you might want to know but you will have to look for it particularly in document 2.

For instance there are Sag Tables and I have found that the sag in between two poles spaced 40 yards (120') apart at a temperature of 70 degrees F is 6.3" for galvanised wire and 5.7" for copper wire. As my poles are approximately a scale 100' apart then the droop would be about 1.5mm actual. There are tables for spans of 40, 55 and 60 yard but because of our tight curves we need to space the poles a bit closer, I didn't know how far apart they were in reality so I spaced them to look right.

Anyway, a big thank you Bob and everyone, have fun reading if you download them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

In real life wires sag - a philosophical discussion

Last night at our train meeting I was taken to task by one of the Ramblers on the fact that my wires don't sag and I have also received a similar comment on my 'Have I started something I might regret' post.

True enough, a study of photos will show that they do indeed sag but in other photos they will be almost straight with little sag no doubt due to the prevailing temperature. It can also be seen that in most photos the wires can't be seen on telegraph and power poles and that is how I normally handled them on the layout.

Now here though is a photo clearly showing the sag in the wires in February 1969.

Photo by R Merchant

And here is another photo of the same wires (on the left above and over the 48 class below) with very little sag in March 1981.

Photo from Train Hobby Country Stations of NSW Part 1

As an aside, last night we were looking at the above (and below) telegraph poles at Ardglen station on Ron Cunningham's Werris Creek layout and after counting the insulators (48) we couldn't decide if we (meaning myself) would do them with the stretchy thread or not. There would be quite a strain on the two end poles even with the smallest amount of stretch on each of the 48 wires and as such the end poles may need to be remade with brass rod (perhaps the second last pole at each end also).

Ardglen station on Werris Creek layout showing telegraph poles, pre-production Eureka 40 Class on HUB set

I had been wanting to try the look of the telegraph wires but due to the cost of the stretchy thread available in hobby shops I had only used some purchased rust coloured Berkshire Hobbies E Z Line thread for a small section of fencing, I wasn't that impressed with the rust colour as when stretched it took on a new copper wire look.

I also had a comment posted that discussed the colour of the wires, copper wires for instance being a whitish pale green and power lines being black due to the PVC coating. I feel that the black ink makes the wires go grey which in my mind is close enough to pale green not to matter. Regarding the black PVC coated power wires, I really can't remember if they were coated in 1965 or not but see below for further comment.

When I sourced the knitting in thread I decided to give it a go. Then came the decision regarding the sag and I felt that it would be very difficult to get 12 wires all with the exact same sag so I went for the taut look.

As can be read in my last post there does appear to be black knitting in thread available and certainly for power lines I might have a go at the sag as power poles don't carry many wires and if the wire is not stretched it will look thicker as power wires do. The advantage of this thread is that it will stretch a long way if you catch it when reaching into a scene so that alone is worth the effort. Incidentally, the E Z Line comes in white, black, green and rust so the green and rust colours may be available as well as white and black.

I think I will do some fences wires with the black to see if they look more like rusted wire than the rust coloured E Z Line. Of course white thread coloured with the black ink could look like new wire.

My layout is nothing more than an experiment in techniques and this is just another.

Because in the hobby we have to work with in the physical limits of the materials we have available to attempt to replicate the real world we have to rely heavily on impression and perception to fool the eye (and now the ear but that is another story).

There is a rule called the 80/20 rule and it goes like this, it will take the same amount of time/effort to achieve the last 20% of some target as it did to get to 80%. I like to think of myself as trying to achieve somewhere between 80-90% and this is both related to having a largish layout and not being so focussed that I am driven.

To me, my hobby is about pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Does this particular effect work, I don't know at the moment but I think I will probably carry on with it.

Is this a justification for doing something 'wrong', perhaps, but it is all good fun.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Update on stretchy thread availability

Brett Robertson has just left a comment on my previous post about stretchy thread for telegraph poles, power poles and fence wires.

Here is the comment:

"Hi Ray, have been following your blog recently as I plan my own layout. The knitting in thread is available here in Qld from Spotlight stores in black as well. My Mum who is a keen knitter showed me some of the black she used on a jumper a short time ago.

Brett "

Good news, so off to Spotlight as soon as possible, I will also check Lincraft.

Now, if I try it and like the black, what do I do about the existing wires?

I suspect that I might use the black for different wires, e.g. power pole wires, and old rusty fence wires.

Thanks Brett

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Have I started something I might regret?

Somewhere on the net a few weeks ago I came across the actual name of the stretchy thread that can be used for fences and telegraph wires on the layout. When out with Chris recently we were near Lincraft (a haberdashery - materials and sewing plus craft store) and I asked Chris if she had heard of Knitting In Thread, she said yes so we went in.

Now the similar stretchy thread that you can buy in a hobby store is about $20/spool of 100 feet, this is 20 cents/foot. My main line telegraph poles have two crossarms with six insulators each so twelve insulators and 100 feet would only give me about 8-9 feet of wires (my poles are approx. 100 scale feet apart.

The spool/bobbin of Knitting In Thread was $6.95 for 220 yards (660 feet) of white thread which is 1 cent/foot so we bought a bobbin. I decided that at that price I would see how it went and deal with the white issue.

Well, it certainly works and the thread can be blackened or at least darkened by the application of some black ink once in-situ.

I found that the best way to use it was to tie it off at one end pole insulator then move along the run of telegraph poles to the other end pole gluing the thread to each of the insulators about three or four poles at a time, putting a slight stretch into the thread as you go. When you get to the other end pole wrap/turn the thread around to the next insulator on the crossarm and proceed back down the line to the pole at the other end gluing as you go. If found that the best way to hold the thread tight while applying the glue (ACC/Super Glue) was to put a large pair of tweezers through the spool/bobbin and keep the line tight (see the photo below). Keep doing this until all wires are done with the one length of thread. I worked from the bottom crossarm rear insulator to the front insulator then moved to the top crossarm rear insulator and repeated the process. I trimmed the tied off thread end pieces once the glue was set.

In between applying the thread to each crossarm I applied some black ink to the bottom wires with a cotton pipe cleaner which enabled me to do three wires at a time. The ink doesn't want to stain the thread near the insulators where the glue has absorbed into the thread but it isn't that noticeable. The effect leaves a little shine but overall it reduces the visibility to perhaps about one third of when it is white (see photos below).

Keeping the thread tight while gluing the last few insulators

Lower wires blackened prior to stringing the top white wires

All wires blackened

3520 on Up goods drifting down Cox's Gap bank

As can be seen in the above, once blackened the wires can be seen at times but at other places they virtually disappear into the scenery. I might get another roll and try soaking it in black dye for a few days so that the dye can penetrate all the way into the centre of the bobbin, the actual bobbin is plastic so it won't be a problem like a cardboard bobbin. Don't wait for the outcome of that though as I think I like the current blackened wires, try it yourself. The white is easier to see when stringing the wires anyway.

As a rule I don't glue scenic items in place but the two end poles need to be very firmly placed. In difficult to reach places I have decided that the best way to do the poles will be to get a long length of wood, drill holes in it to match the pole spacing, remove the existing 'no wire' poles from the layout (remember they aren't glued in place), wire the poles, then carefully put them back in place on the layout, gluing the end poles into the scenery and bracing them as required until they are set. It would be almost impossible to have the wires run uninterrupted all the way along the main line so the poles will be done in sections with some sort of scenic break where possible at the ends of runs. I already run the lines of telegraph poles off the edge of the layout or up into trees in places so this shouldn't be too much of a problem. There will inevitably be missing bits of wiring, e.g. at the drawbridge entry into the layout but this can't be helped.

So given how long the main line is and the potential for also wiring fences, the question is have I started something on the layout that I might regret? I don't know but I do like it.

Friday, November 15, 2013

More LED lighting

After psyching myself up I removed the 240 volt lighting from the rest of the layout. There is an exception to this though, the lower Up staging yard remains fitted with some T5 fluorescent fittings that plug into each other end to end. One of the main reasons for removing the high voltage lighting is that when I installed it I used some figure 8 240 volt wire forgetting that I already had some figure 8 wire of the same colour with low voltage for point motors. I labelled the high voltage wiring with red labels printed with 240 volts about every 300mm but I had always felt uncomfortable.

Now with the old lighting removed I had to replace it with LEDs, easy enough you say but, I now had to run the 12 volt DC wiring for the LEDs right around most of the layout to get to the lower level with the grade that climbs from Bylong No 2 tunnel to Cox's Gap loop past the long cliff face. The real problem wasn't the length of the run it was the junk in storage under my layout, the whole layout is full underneath so access was the problem. Like I said though I had psyched myself up earlier this week and gritted my teeth and got to it. Like a lot of these jobs it went OK and wasn't as fearsome as thought.

Since I had problems with the LED strips above Kerrabee sticking to the painted surface on the inside of the fascia in the first installation I decided on a different method. This time I painted the inside fascia area (bare pine timber) with Selleys Kwik Grip, a water based contact cement. I left it to go clear and touch dry then removed the adhesive protective strip from the back of the LED strips and pressed them in place. So far I have had to press on the strips in one or two places and they seem to be holding well.

When I built the upper Down staging yard I made it in two pieces for easy removal in case we ever moved. So prior to gluing the LED strips in place I had cut them at the staging yard baseboard join and attached the 12 volt DC power to the two strips at the other end of the staging yard, more wiring!

When I turned on the power I was very happy with the result. The previous fluorescent lighting did not match the room lighting at all and was much brighter so that there was a distinct change in lighting conditions when coming out from under the upper staging yard at Cox's Gap. The difference now was still there but only just and I will continue the use of the same light green foliage past the Cox's Gap signal box which will I hope tend to mask the change. If you look at the following photo you will see what I mean.

 Here is a view along the cliff, you can see the lighting change at the signal box but it isn't as obvious to the naked eye, digital cameras seems to have the ability to capture more lighting information than our eyes.
Here are some photos taken to check the colour rendition of the new lighting. I didn't make any colour balance or brightness and contrast adjustments, they look good to me.

Finally, I have made some headway on getting the upper level of the tear drop ready for scenery. I cut some templates from corrugated cardboard which I then used as a template for 6mm MDF versions. Here is a view of the MDF in place ready for scenery.

I have been pondering if I should paint the underside of the MDF with the same blue as the top part of the back scene sky but if I do that then I will have to paint the top of the MDF and the sides to prevent warping. Still thinking about that but veering towards not painting as my paint is getting low, I have more back scenes to do and the paint brand is no longer available. I could get the paint matched so not sure at this stage. Another aspect is that the back scene sky has a slight purplish tinge with the LED lighting compared to the room lighting and I am not sure if more blue on the underside of the MDF will add to the purplish effect, reduce it or make no difference.

Just one more area to do, the grade up to Bylong under Wollar. Unfortunately the Wollar baseboards are also in two pieces and then there is the drawbridge lift up section at the door. So a bit more complicated than one long run of the LED strips.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

NSWGR Station Building Stone Colours

I have just been asked what colours I used for the station buildings of Bylong and Wollar in my last post and if the colours are available 'off the shelf'.
The colours I used are the ones listed by James McInerney in his article ' Stone Colour Schemes for NSWGR buildings' in Issue 1 1994 of Branchline Modeller (later to become the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling).
The colours James used are as follows:

Dark Stone - Tamiya XF10 Flat Brown
Medium Stone - Humbrol No.62 Leather (matt)
Light Stone - Humbrol No.71 Cream (satin) with No.62 leather added to tint.
White - Any brand/type to suit

To tint means of course that you keep adding the No.62 Leather colour to the No.71 Cream until you feel that you have matched the Light Stone wall colour. The trick is to have a good photo of the Light Stone wall colour and of course like all colours it varies.
I tinted the No.71 Cream with 42 drops of No.62 Leather. The drops were from a piece of 1/8" (3mm) brazing rod that I use as a paint mixing stick, stick it in the No.62 and let a drop fall into the full tin of No.71 Cream, using another mixing stick to keep checking the resulting colour. So the answer is to stop when you have what you feel is correct.
Light Stone wasn't the only wall colour and Medium Stone was used for smaller/lesser buildings, or so it seems from photos. Here is the Medium Stone Chargeman's Office at Wollar locomotive depot.

An alternative set of colours can be found here at Brian Aylings web site, just scroll down the page:
When checking Brian's web site for the above link I also found the NSWGR station name font, just scroll down the web page above. I am sure that I got the font JPG from the Aus_Model_Rail Yahoo newsgroup and think that Brian posted it there at one time.
All I can say is thank you Brian for such a useful resource.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A bit of retro-modelling

I was prompted recently to finish some of my models as a result of seeing a very nice underframe for a SHG guards van on the SDS Models stand at the AMRA October Liverpool exhibition. I built a SHG decades ago from scribed timber and timber shapes but had never completed the detailing so out came the details storage box and away I went.
At the same time I decided that I would detail two Protype BHG guards vans as well. The BHGs were left to me as part of Chris' uncle Tom Parkes' estate so they will be a remembrance of him on the layout.
The inevitable happened and I ran out of details which meant a trip to Casula Hobbies last week. Unfortunately not all the items were in stock. I particularly wanted the AM Models end steps for guards vans so the second BHG will have to wait.
Here are photos of the SHG and one of the BHGs. The SHG has been fitted with the AM Models end steps. Yes, I have seen the warp in the SHGs top timber side step and have taken steps to correct it. It is amazing what you see in a photo, it didn't look to bad on the model.

If you study the station infrastructure on Bylong you will see that the platform seat has BYLONG in white on it. I decided a week or so ago to print up some station names for the platform seats on my layout using an ALPS printer that I have access to. I made up the artwork from a 600dpi JPG of the NSWGR alphabet font that someone had produced a couple of years ago and placed in the public domain on a newsgroup.
After printing the water slide transfer (decal) I proceeded to check the print and realised that I hadn't done Cassilis! Oh well, the platform seat on Cassilis station is facing the back scene and can't be seen. I will probably do one at some stage as it would be nice to see it in a photo such as this one of the branch platform side at Wollar. Incidentally there are three platform seats with WOLLAR on them facing the back scene on the main line side of the Wollar island platform.

While I was applying the transfers I replaced the UL with RU on some lime wagons that I had obtained. I also had to replace the code on some SDS Models BCWs that I had bought a while ago without noticing that they were the four letter coded ones.
Here are the BCWs all weathered.

Well, that's it for now.