Friday, April 22, 2011

MLV and KHG from IDR

IDR's most-excellent MLV.

Gary Laker's excellent blog this week featured a review of the 36' MLV van produced by Ian Ratcliffe and sold through Hobbyland in Hornsby. I'd mostly finished with working on the kit a few weeks ago, waiting for a set of 2AE bogies to arrive in an order from AR Kits (my kit shipped with 2BR bogies; I'm sure these were right for some of the cars, but the photos I've seen of them sported 2AE's). I installed the new bogies, but have yet to paint them nor weather the rest of the car; I've got a set of corner shunting grabs and steps to install as well, but you get the basic idea from the accompanying photograph. I'm on a bit of an MLV kick right now. In addition to the single 36' MLV, I'm working on one of the MiniModel's aluminum MLV's as well as an ARKits version as well.

IDR's KHG, sans end ladder.

I also (nearly) finished IDR's excellent KHG brakevan. Amid the nearly-dozen Trainorama GJG, MHG and JHG on the layout, the KHG is a nice bit of variety. It went together quite well, the basic kit being a roof, an underframe, and a single piece with sides and ends. A fair amount of flashing was removed, primarily around the windows and on the bottom of the solebar on the car. The model includes etched brass stiles for the end ladder (which I stuffed up assembling; I'll have to give it another go), molded clear plastic window inserts, as well as lost wax brass castings for side steps--a pair were provided, but it'd be nice if three for each side for the goods compartment steps could be included as well; I ended up bending and soldering my own wire to make the rest. I used Railey's Tuscan paint (please don't tell the custom's officers how I managed to get a bottle of that home), which provides a nice contrast with the Indian Red found on the Trainorama vans. An excellent set of decals accompanies the kits. The car was weathered with an indian ink/isopropyl alchohol wash.

I'm also working on a pair of KF flats; more on those when I get them done.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lower staging!

Four track staging in place. Capacity, 40 cars.

The sounds of power screwdrivers and saber saws were heard for the first time in months as Narrabri North finally got the lower staging yard that had been planned since day one.

Staging yards are about the least-sexiest part of building a model railway. Even moreso than bus wires and power drops! But for a fully realized and operating layout, they're among the most important.

After the helix was installed well over a year ago (or was it two years ago? Time flies!), I'd planned to put the lower staging yard representing Moree directly below the upper yard--right on top of the work bench. Lower staging would hover only six inches above the work bench, and take up 2/3rd the depth of the bench, requiring it to be removable to allow full use of the area.

But with the addition of the 15" deep Wee Waa layout section on the adjacent wall in the office/workshop, it seemed wiser to free up the workbench space permanently and place the lower staging yard beneath Wee Waa. All it would really require is one more hole in the drywall!

I've finally gotten off my ass, and now I've got the much-needed lower staging installed. All that's needed now is to hook up the electricals and connect it to the lower level on the other side of the wall in Gurley. Now running nights will have the benefit of a full staging yard top and bottom, and this will be further motivation to finally build permanent lower level trackwork.

It won't be long until I can start really thinking of putting together an operating session that takes advantage of the entire layout.

A Website for my Photographs. . .

I've made a lot of photographs over the past 35-plus years. And it seems a shame not to share them with folks. The question usually, though, is "where should I upload them?" I finally opened up a pBase account, and am slowly uploading piccies to my new site, here:

Right now, there's a few photos from my 2009 trip to New South Wales, a couple dozen from the Arizona rail photo trip last month, and just a couple from pre-adult photography of The Milwaukee Road. There certainly will be more to come, and among all the rail photos will likely be examples of my photojournalism work for newspapers in my "previous lifetime" as well as some favorite family and travel photographs. Likely I'll add some photos taken by my dad from 1939 into the 1970s.

Feel free to check it out, and don't be afraid to let me know what you think.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Austrains WHX's losing their shine. . .

Before and after grain wagons. . .

Moved three of the Austrains WHXs out of the paint shop after appropriately weathering them and taking off that Fresh-from-Tulloch's gleam. This is all acrylics, with varied washes of india ink and alcohol. You'll notice I snipped the brake hangers off the bogies; perhaps the more accurate option would be replacement of the bogies all together, but I couldn't justify another $10/car when the modified bogey is "close enough." I understand many of these cars kept their modified trucks.

So, here's a group of "before" and "after" WHX's. The grain car fleet is getting prettybig these days!

If you're observant, you'll see a "Red Box/White R" logo on the car in the left background, an attempt at a bit of variety. I haven't seen any real pattern to which of these cars got the red box vs. the more prevalent white box.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Playing around with Video

There's a dozen other things
I should be doing this evening, but thought I'd try my hand at uploading a little video to YouTube and sharing it here.

While on my Arizona trip I made a little impulse purchase and bought a FlipVideo camera, which really makes shooting and sharing video a breeze--certainly better than my present video camera which records to a mini-DVD (which my iMac can't even ingest). . and then you have to jump through hoops to convert to a format to upload it and yadaydayda. . .

I'm sure the quality isn't the greatest here, though it looks fine on the telly, and the modeling certainly has some rough edges--but this is an experiment, not a finely-rehearsed and photographed Ray Pilgrim extravaganza. So, excuse all that, and excuse the cheesy canned music.

In any event, these are rail motors 723/623 departing Wee Waa for Narrabri while Freight & Stock schedule 696 awaits the road an hour behind the passenger.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rejuvenated in Arizona!

Sounding--and looking--great: Apache Railway, all-Alco power, southbound at Milepost 24.

I don't get out and photograph trains as much as I'd like--or, to be honest, as much as I should. Frankly, most of the modern stuff here in the United States leaves me absolutely bored. You Aussies might complain about all those 81 Class and NR's running around as being dull, but let me tell you, after over 1,000 Union Pacific SD70M's and even more BNSF C44/AC44/Gevo-whatevers, well, the old saying "if you've seen one train, you've seen them all" pretty much applies here.

But I didn't want to wait another year and a trip back to Australia to get trackside again, so I cajoled a few workmates to join me on a short trip during our late-March "spring break" period to fly to Phoenix, AZ and head into the mountains to photograph a couple of shortline railroads with interesting power and operations. The only stipulation I made on the trip was that I didn't want to waste my time along either the UP or BNSF mainlines photographing those Goddamn modern locomotives!

So, you'll have to excuse this diversion from modeling for a bit.

Our targets were the Copper Basin Railway, which hauls copper ore from a mine to a smelter amid the stark desert mountains along the Gila River. Trains are powered by EMD: GP39-2's and GP9s. Management is notoriously friendly about visitors--sign a release and you can head out to door and photograph to your heart's content, as long as you can get away from President Jake Jacobsen and his gregarious personality and deep well of railroading stories. Cab ride? No problem! They'll even call you on your mobile phone when you're out on line and see if you'd like to ride along!

North of CBRY two hours and over a mountain range is the Apache Railway, owed by a paper company and largely existing to move traffic between a paper mill near the town of Snowflake and the BNSF mainline at Holbrook. It is a favorite of railfans in the US for it is one of the few railroads left still using Alco locomotives--its entire seven-locomotive roster is gleaming, well-maintained Alco C420's and C424's. Its operations aren't nearly as fan-friendly, but contact with management ahead of time paid great dividends and great access as well.

I've uploaded a selection of photographs from the trip to my pbase account, so feel free to click on this link and look around a bit:

I hope you enjoy the photographs and the wide-open Western U.S. scenery. It was a great trip, and great to be trackside again!

Wide-open desert scenery, Saguaro Cactus, and the Copper Basin Railway.