Friday, 27 December 2013

The new deal for Country passengers

Some will remember the 1980s as the year the Victorian Railways (known as VicRail from the mid-1970s) begin to change appearance and become known as V/line from 1983. As part of the change which began in 1981, a promise was made by the then State Government to improve country passenger services which were still operating with old wooden rollingstock, most edging on 70 years old. Apart from the introduction of some additional S type cars in the 1940s and the Z type cars in the 1950s, the new deal would include the single biggest upgrade project to the country rollingstock up to that time. 54 brand new carriages were built between 1981-1984 to improve service and comfort on these country services. They became known as the N cars and ran in a set of 3; a BN Ecomony car, a BRN Economy car with a Snack Bar and finally a ACN First class car with facilities for the guard. Initially hauled by B-class diesel locomotives painted in Vicrail orange and silver 'Teacup' or 'Cup and Saucer' livery to match the cars, they would later be hauled by rebuilt B-class locomotives known as A-class. The cost of rebuilding the B-class into Turbocharged A-class was not cost effective, so it was decided to build new locomotives to haul the new carriages. The new locomotives were appropriately known as N-class and entered service between 1985-1987.

More details on the upgrade project can be found on the following V/line video which is now on youtube:

The reason for this short history lesson? Well today I decided to finally buy a Auscision Models N car set. It fills a gap in my passenger stock collection as something was needed to go with my previously acquired Auscision N-class locomotive. The models are a fine representation of the cars, the set I picked representing how most sets appeared between 1983-1990 when the railways changed its name and logo from VicRail to Vline and simply replaced the logo on the cars, retaining the silver stripes. The underframe has a nice level of detail and the interior comes complete with seats, curtains and luggage racks. The BRN car comes complete with the Snack counter and food racks (even the Microwave!). The ACN is correctly modelled for the period with a Guard's periscope on the roof (removed by the late-1990s on all sets). The seats are correctly coloured according to the class of car (purple for First, brown for Economy). The thing that would set the model off is to stick some people in, not fully loaded as most trains ran with plenty of empty seats except at peak times or special holidays. A D van is included which handled goods that could not be accommodated in the Guard's van good compartment in the ACN car.

Anyway here are some photos of the set:

One job, aside from adding passengers, will be to aquire some silver striping decals to cover the window blanks where the Snack Bar is on the BRN. Otherwise they are ready to see service behind an N-class or even a blue and gold X-class.

Containing the rice

In my goods rollingstock fleet I have wagon to carry general goods in vans or open wagons, cattle wagons to cart livestock, special vans to carry explosives and of course somewhere for the guard to ride in comfort at the rear of the train. What is missing is a container train. This is the way goods have been carted on trains for the last 50 years, starting with the small LCL (Less than Container Load) that could be loaded on flat wagons fitted with container locks. Later on the 20ft container became the standard for most goods on trains.

To fill this void, I've decided it would be nice to have a container train of about 10-15 wagons. Once again Steam Era Models provide an excellent kit to build a VR container train. The FQX/VQCX container flat wagon is capable of being loaded with up to 3 20ft containers depending on how you position the container locks on the deck. It is even possible to set it up to take a 40ft container plus a 20ft container.

Anyway enough wafting, here is the first wagon. It is currently minus container locks as I need to buy some containers to set them up correctly (most likely using Walthers containers on the first one):

This would have to be one of the easiest kits to build. The bulk of the wagon is one moulding, and only required the headstocks, sides, storage lockers and brake gear added. Much easier than the cousin of this wagon, the SFX/VFLX bulkhead wagon witch has storage troughs in the deck and requires lot of squares of styrene cut to cover the bottom of these troughs.

All I got for Christmas was a lump of coal.....

....not quite. At the local model railway club Christmas break-up a couple of weeks ago I won a wagon kit in a swindle. The wagon is a AMRI Models NSWGR CHS Coal Hopper (for more details on the prototype see here ). While I don't currently model any NSW stock, I decided I will build this model now and decide later if I will paint it as a NSW wagon or paint it in VR wagon red to look a little like the JQX/JQF quarry wagon. If I do the later I could pass it off as a prototype coal wagon that the VR trialed for local coal traffic, such is the beauty of modeller's license!

Anyway here is where the model is currently. The bogie bolster's need to be moved inwards towards the centre of the wagon a bit as the outer wheels currently run the risk of fouling the shunter's steps when they are fitted:

An unusual item of rollingstock for my fleet. But there is always room for the unusual in a mixed freight train.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Eureka R-class....No Really!

It has been a long process, but nearly 8 years after they were first announced, the Eureka Models R-class has finally arrived. The model has had a difficult birth, much the same as the real locomotives which spent more than 20 years in development. Eureka had to endure a change of factory a few years into the project, and other delays with sound chips for the DCC sound versions. However they are now here and being delivered to customers. Mine was delivered to me yesterday and I was eager to unpack the model and put it through its paces. Unfortunately the number I had ordered (R761 as preserved) was not the model I ended up with; R727 in 'as delivered' condition. On closer inspection I noticed the numberplates are only plastic mouldings with the numbers printed on, so rather than send the model back I will obtain some proper etched numberplates from a 3rd party manufacturer. Other than being the wrong number, the model itself is very nicely detailed. The cab interior has all the seats, brakestand and controls modeled, but will benefit from a bit of work with a paintbrush to add some colour. The driving wheels are chemically blackened but still appear shiny, so again some paint will cure this.

On the track under power the model performs well. There is very little motor noise and it track well through points and over undulations in trackwork. I've yet to do a  full load test but the engine easily handled hauling 2 Auscision E cars. The prototype was not regarded as a heavy freight loco but rather a fast passenger loco capable of hauling a 4-6 car train at up to 70mph. As such a single R might look odd a train of more than 6 E type cars. In preservation it is common to see a R haul close to 10 cars on flat sections of track such as Melbourne-Geelong without assistance.

Anyway enough gassbagging, here are some photos of the model:

In due course the model will recieve:
-New numberplates.
-A paintjob to the cab interior.
-A crew.
-Paint to the driving wheels.
-Paint to the buffers.
-A DCC decoder (possibly sound).
-An improved front coupler to those supplied.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Project Vulcan Part 2

With the weather turning bad recently I haven't had a chance to finish the AW car. So I decided to at least get the J-class tender finished. Assembling the oil tank proved an interesting exercise, and I opted to follow the instructions to make my job easier. The tank wrapper is brass, and the ends are whitemetal. To join the 3 components the inside of the tank wrapper was tinned with standard solder, then a layer of low-melt solder. The tank ends were inserted and flux applied before rolling the barrel of the soldering iron around the edge, being careful not to melt the beading on the tank ends. To keep the wrapper taught around the ends some copper wire was wrapped and twisted around the wrapper. The rest of the tender assembly was pretty easy with all the details added to the rear. I must also give thanks to David at Steam Era Models for supplying a replacement fireman's side step after I broke the first one. Anyway here are some pics of the tender more or less finished. The pickups still needs to be wired hence the tender top isn't finally secured and the oil feed from the sump is not fitted either:

BTW the number J541 is planned to be temporary until some J549 plates are made. It just so happens J541 is one of the numbers supplied by Steam Era Models.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Project Vulcan Part 1

Progress on painting the AW is proceeding well, with the carriage likely to be finished in the next week or so.

In the meantime I have finally started a project that has been waiting 5 years for me to begin. That project is a Steam Era Models oil-burning J-class steam locomotive kit. As I require a oil fired J-class for my VGR roster (J549) I purchased the kit 5 years ago so that when the time was right I would already have the kit ready to start building. That time has finally come.

The kit itself is very well designed as most of the soldering thus far has been done from the inside. The etched brass components fit together very well. Anyway here are a couple of photos of the tender currently under construction:

The next step will be to construct and fit the oil tank and detail the rear of the tender.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The little red box....and H20 to go

Painting of the B van and WT tank wagon took a couple of days, thanks to some warm weather. The B van got Testors dullcote a mere 2 hours before it's maiden run at the Bendigo Clubrooms:

As you can see I have opted to number both wagons as those preserved by the VGR. Now that they are completed I can now focus on getting the AW car painted. This will also represent an item of VGR stock: carriage 23AW and is being painted in the crimson livery with light coloured roof that the VGR have adopted in the past. One can see this livery at the railway on carriage 41BU which is undergoing restoration. More in the next blog update.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Little red box

Well at least it will be when it's painted!

With the WT now in the paint shop and the AW car not far behind I decided to slot in a Steam Era Models B van to replace an earlier one I had constructed when I first got serious about building kits:

Since I want this van to represent the B van currently preserved at Maldon I needed the later type mesh tred shunter's steps. For this I decided to try out the Model Etch shunter's steps (ME12). In the past I have used the Auscision steps but I've found they are slightly thicker than the etched brass offerings. This van will now join the line in the paint shop.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A touch of class...First Class.

With the weather warming up it has been the ideal time to get stuck into more modelling projects. This includes finishing ones that have waited a few months for me to finish. That was certainly the case with this Steam Era Models AW car. The last items of the undergear such as the trussrods and handbrake were fitted yesterday and the car is up to a stage where it can now be painted. After painting the interior will go in, the windows fitted, vestibules finished and the handrails fitted. Show below is where the car is up to:

The plan is to paint this car in the brown/crimson colour that all timber cars received in the 1950s (and is replicated on the Auscision E cars).

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Drought Relief

It's been a while since I last assembled an etched brass kit. The Rail Tractor was probably the last. In the last few days I have assembled Steam Era Models excellent 4-wheel WT water tank wagon kit. This kit is a good beginner kit for those who wish to learn how to solder etched brass kits. The only really tricky bits are getting the tank wrapper the right shape and forming the angled brackets on each end. As I had trouble bending the later I opted to use styrene strip which were the only parts I super glued. Show below are progress pics of the construction and the finished product ready for paint:

Next step is to give the model a good clean and then painting will get underway.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

The wanderer..errr...Walker

The arrival of the Auscision Models Victorian Railways 280HP Walker railcar last week has provided another excellent RTR model for Victorian modellers. All versions except the 1970s livery with the dayglo orange stripes are represented. The detail is just superb as the photos below of the one I have just purchased show:

So what does the model have to do with this blog you may ask? Well as supplied the model is fitted with non-prototypical bogies under the trailer units so that the model can be operated on 18 inch radius curves. These bogies have no sideframes to provide more clearance with the body when operating on these curves. However Auscision do supply a set of bogies with sideframes in the box. One simply unclips the bogies from the undeframe, unsolder the wires for the pickups, then fit the replacement bogies and solder the pickup wires.

A photo of how much this lifts the look of the model:

Eventually this model will also be fitted with some passengers (and a driver, plus maybe a railfan in the seat at the front next to the driver) and also DCC sound. So expect the model to appear on this blog again when those projects happen.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Departmental Stock 2

The weather has been less than ideal (something to do with the season I'm told) so things pretty much ground to a halt waiting for some better weather to get these wagons painted. Thankfully some unusually warm weather for later July allowed me to get the wagons painted and decaled. Shown below are the results:

As luck would have it, just as I took the photo of the second it started raining!

With these wagons now finally finished, attention can now turn to an item of passenger stock: a SEM AW car.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Departmental Stock

The Victorian Railways had many wagons set aside for departmental duties. Most were old wagons which had outlived their original purpose and were cascaded into no-revenue service. Here are two very different wagons which came under the classification "HD":

This is a HD van which was a former U van with a 10ft wheelbase and lourves which dffered to later variants of U vans. The kit itself is a Steam Era Models HD plant truck but has been modified to represent wagon HD49 preserved at VGR. Windows have been fitted at both ends plus an extra side window on the side shown. The handbrake is on the opposite side to the brake cylinder (as on the real HD49). Round axlebox lids have been fitted and the standard spoked wheels supplied have been swapped out for disc wheels.
This HD van was a former Tommy Bent I wagon converted into a HD van by adding higher sides and a roof. This model will represent HD38 which is also at the VGR. The kit itself is a Steam Era Models Tommy Bent I wagon while the added roof section was produced by through this website (now sold-out). Bracing has been added with styrene strip below the wagon body as on the prototype.
Both wagons are ready for paint.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Guards van and Cattle Class Part 2

As it turned out I was able to finish off both projects with time to spare. Over the Easter weekend they completed many laps around the Bendigo Model Railroader's exhibition layout 'Elphinstone' without any problems:

After a couple of days recovery work has started on the next two projects. Both are non-revenue wagons.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Guards van and Cattle Class

With a week to go till Easter and the Bendigo Model Railroaders staging an Open Weekend I've set myself a task to complete some wagons in time for running on the club layout.

The ZF guards van is now ready for paint. The handrails, steps and vents on the roof have now been added:

Two weeks ago I attended the Sandown Model Rail Exhibition and was able to pick up the new Steam Era Models M cattle wagon kit. The original kit was as old as the GY before it was upgraded (the original tooling was 30 years old). The upgraded M wagon now includes thinner bracing above the boards and a fret of etched brass components that include shunter's steps, handrails, handbrake and brake rigging. The first it what will hopefully be many more of these wagons is now ready to join the ZF van in the paintshop:

And so begins a busy week to try and have both finished in the next 6 days.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Riveted wagons Part 2 and a guards van

The riveted IZ/RY wagons have now been painted and are ready for traffic:

I decided to make one a IZ with 1950's lettering and the other a RY with post-1970 lettering thus adding some more variety to my wagon fleet.
Meanwhile here is a progress shot of the BGB ZF Guards van:
The bogies will be replaced with more suitable ones for this type of van (the prototype had aligned bogies with a destintive pushrod arrangement on the bogie sides). Detail still to be added include shunter's grabrails, steps under the central doorways and some pipework.

Friday, 22 February 2013

How many vans does a guard need?

With the IZ/RY wagons ready for paint, it's time to look at finishing a project that has been on the backburner for 2 years:

                                               Photo sourced from Mark Bau's website
Some time ago I purchased a Broad Gauge Bodies ZF van kit. While not a hard kit to assemble the castings do require some work to get them to a good standard. As such mine has remained in a box awaiting the day I'd finally look at finishing it. Some work was done on the kit late last year which resulted in the basic componments being assembled to a running standard. I am now working on adding the detail which will make it look more like the van it will represent.
The next post should contain some photos of the progress.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Riveted Wagons

Steam Era Models excellent riveted IZ/RY wagons are the first project to be posted on this blog. The detail is supurb and rivals any of the RTR product coming onto the market. These two wagons are now ready to enter the paint shop.

Hello and welcome

Blogs seem to be the way people show off their model railway efforts these days so I have finally joined the fold. I hope the content of this blog will not only appeal to those who model Victorian Railways but also to those who enjoy model railways in General.