Why I carry a camera on every trip out and about

You never know what you are going to capture with your camera. Sometimes you’ll get a photo, and unprecedented access to things that you might never have believed would happen. Other times you manage to get a great series of photos just before a major event happens in the life of your chosen subject, after which event, things are never the same.

Just after we cam be back to Australia from the United States in 2006, my wife asked me why I bothered to take all of these photos of trams and trains. I told her that it was simple: “Today’s photo is tomorrow’s history”.

Over on the Rails West blog there are two recent posts that follow in just this theme.  Zip on over for a 1979 trip through the SP’s Hardy Street shops in Houston Texas.

Click the link to take you there: A trip to the Roundhouse…(Part I).

Site Seeing – April 17

Extreme weathering on our models is sometimes criticised as being unrealistic, and to a degree I can understand why many people would say that. But, that is not always the case so long as you have a modelling situation, or photographic evidence to the contrary. Today’s site seeing looks at prototypical examples of extreme weathering.

Site 1: Railpictures.net – image by Logan Allen

In the first image by Logan Allen an ex ATSF CF7 #2627 returns to service on August 8th 2014 after being “dead-lined” for months prior, due to engine and truck issues. Click on the image for the full size photo.

To be noted in this photo are:

  • Faded and worn out paint surfaces, note the mismatched colours and faded nature of all of the surfaces
  • Rust patches and rain marks from the large surface rust patches under the degraded paint
  • Dirt, dust and grime on the undercarriage and trucks, specific to the area (note the light brown colour of the dirt matches the dust on the unit)

Thanks to Logan Allen for allowing the use of the image.

Site 2: Railpictures.net – image by Joe Vittitoe

This photo is of former Southern Railway SW 9 (SOU 1177) as she sits in a scrap yard in Harriman, Tennessee on April 20 1988. Items of note on the locomotive:

  • Rusting on the bottom of the hood doors, and lower body side nearest the photographer
  • Dirt and dust picked up on the coupler face – note how the painted stripes have worn off by the abrasive nature of the stuff
  • On the top of the hood there’s oil and dirt and soot, and its run down the side of the hood due to rain
  • Extreme fading of the originally black paint to a dusty grey, and the same applies to the bogies and under carriage all are now a standard dusty grey

I’ve sent Joe an email from the Railpictures site asking him for permission to use the image, but have not heard from him by post time. Image is copyright Joe Vittitoe. Let me know if you have any information on the photographer. If needed I may have to take the image down if later contacted.

Site 3: Railpictures.net – Image by Ron Flanary 

Quite apart from the great rust and weathering detail in the picture there’s lots of history. L&N 2376 was new in 1941 when purchased by the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis. Then she carried the number 1, the lines first ever diesel-electric locomotive.

When that road merged into the L&N in 1957 the loco became L&N number 30. The last change for the old girl was during the late 1960s when she was re-engined with an EMD 567-C prime mover from a retired E-unit.

This photo taken in 1974 shows the EMD 567 engine shoe horned into the hood. Three years later in 1977 number the railroad retied and scrapped 2376. Here endeth the history lesson.

Onto the weathering lesson:

  • Faded paint all over the body, note the different shade on the top of the loco by comparison to the sides,
  • There’s roof rust here too but not so much as the RS-3 in the background (at least I’m pretty sure it’s an RS-3)
  • Oil spills and dirt accumulation around the base of the cab near the walkways as well as road-grime and muck on the trucks, under-body and on the coupling faces, and finally
  • Look at all the rain weathering dragging down the sides of the locomotive

Thanks go to Ron Flanary for allowing me to share the photo.

I hope that you enjoyed the photos and the weathering lessons that you can learn from them. Drop me a line in the comments if you feel so inclined. All the best and a good Friday night from a cold and rainy Ballarat.

Site seeing – April 15

While I am still on the mend, with one more surgery to complete, I’ve not been too interested in doing much of anything. However, today while looking for some inspiration for the HVL’s loco shed I came across a great layout that I really had to share.

Site 1: Worcester Road
It’s not often that you see a 1 gauge (1:32nd scale) layout at a show, in fact I’ve not seen one here in my area since we’ve been back from overseas. However, that does not mean that they are not out there. Once case in point was Worcester Road.

Worcester Road is a straight-road, 10 feet x 2 feet engine shed layout. Operated from the front, the scenic/diorama board is 6 feet in length and the fiddle yard board is 4 feet in length. It took ten years to build.

There is a video from the Eastleigh Model Railway show (in 2011) that shows a great layout idea, well executed and displayed. You can watch that here:

There’s also a great build blog on the RMWeb forum (now archived) that you can read through. Link here

I hope you enjoy reading about the layout as much as I did.

O Scale switcher – the longest project in modelling history

In the beginning…

A long time ago, in a modelling landscape far, far away… there was a UK Model Trains magazine (I cannot remember the issue) that described the conversion of the Atlas O scale Plymouth switcher; the aim being to turn it into an industrial UK shunter.

If my memory serves me well it would have been about 1982 or there about. In short order I found myself owning four of these locomotives, and set about modelling the shunter as I’d seen it a couple of years previously. Having said all of this the title of this article now becomes important because I am about to finish the project that I started sometime back in the early to mid 1980s, in the mid 2010s. Yep – that’s 30 years.

That ‘Model Trains’ magazine article suggested either:

  1. Keeping the cab height the same as it was on the original model and raising the buffer beam height to allow for buffers etc. or
  2. Raising the entire cab by about a scale foot and raising the height of the footplate at the same time to allow for buffers to be mounted on the end of the frame.

I chose the second option as I wanted a snappy looking locomotive and not something half thought out that I’d never be happy with. So with magazine, (I have the copy somewhere and I’ll update the article details when I have them) plasticard, liquid glue, files and a sense of adventure I started working on the model.

I left the length of the loco as it was, and raised the body height with a conveniently wide piece of plasticard stock to get the height visually right. In reality that was the easy part as you’re just adding that to the bottom of the body.

20150205_172152 20150205_172140 20150205_172108 20150205_171852

All images are Copyright Andrew Martin 2015 unless otherwise noted

In the four photos of the unmodified model note the squat nature of the body. The last photo shows the difference in height between the modified and original loco that the two 40 thou shims of plasticard give. It should be noted that the loco models that I have come with a textured surface on the footplate simulating a safety tread pattern. This was sanded down and removed prior to installing the higher floor.

Next I cleaned up the four pane windows and made them single pane. Finally I sanded down and covered over the buffing faces on the loco ends in preparation for the 3 link couplings and buffers. The only problem was that having put all of that work into the loco – it did not look right to me. It looked like a higher roofed American loco and not something that would have been made in or for an English railway, especially a Quarry railway which I’d always wanted to model (and still do). So it was back to the drawing board.

The second coming…

Unfortunately I only have photos from the second rebuild that I started in 1996 or there about and none from that first effort as it was back in the early 1980s and I don’t remember owning a camera at the time (being a poor electronics apprentice).

Before I begin any modelling project (I over think them to be honest) I do a lot of work on how the final model will look; This locomotive was no different. First was a working sketch that I scanned recently and cleaned up below. (Yes I store all my sketches of train models.)

Figure 1: Concept Drawing – Copyright Andrew Martin 2015

There are some differences between the concept sketch and the final model that I’ll be completing in the next week or two – overall I’ve come pretty close to what I wanted. I’ve not bothered with the end rails and chain nor the MU stand. As the quarry locomotives were generally run individually and not in MU service in the UK from what I can gather. Additionally I took about 10 mm off the rear end of the unit since I did not want the air tank or a balcony on that end with the new look.

The changes

Photo 1: The extent of the surgery

If it’s blue, it’s not new. The bubbly mess of plastic in the cab end of the hood is what happens when you try and speed up curing of putty with an incandescent bulb. The stove pipe chimney was the result of that and not planned. However, I did add 5mm in the front of the hood to extend the hood forward and rebuilt the front top are of the hood too as the bulky light on the original just irked me too much to live with. The entire cab roof, and rear wall was sawn out, and a plasticard cab end and roof was put in its place. This sounds fairly straightforward, until you see the amount of work that actually went into designing and building the new cab end.

Photo 2: Cab end plate, and ribbing waiting for the skin to go on


Photo 2 above shows the planning and work that went into the design of the new cab. When the skin (10 thou plasticard) went on it was measured and cut in one piece to ensure that there would be no visible seams on the face of the loco. This went off without a hitch and I learned a lot out of that exercise that has helped me in my model building since. Photo 3 below shows what the cab looks like after the skin has been cut and glued in place.

Photo 3: The new cab end completed


Also in Photo 3 above you’ll note the

  • Oleo buffers (from House of O Gauge in the UK – now gone I believe). These are working buffers and work as well as they look.
  • The electrical conduit to the light is fine solder Super-Glued in place. The light is a square styrene section with a circular section cut into the square frame and then drilled out to accept an LED. This will go back into the cab and into the DCC board. I had thought about having a duel sealed beam set, but I liked the look of this better.
  • To remove the need for a rear facing horn, I cut a small slot into the top left of the cab for the horn. I’ve yet to place a horn placed on the front of the loco.
  • The three link couplings are also working with draw gear behind them on the front and the back. Finally the electrical junction box is a 1:48th MU cover glued on to the face.
  • Finally the window frames are all 20 thou and allow a 0.5mm overhang into the window space. I am hoping to get some microscope slide covers cut and put in place in all of the windows. Should that prove too bothersome I will cut out some Monitor protector plastic that I’ve saved from work and use that in its place. It will be secured in either case by Revel clear cement.
Photo 4: The front of the loco
Photo 4: The front of the loco_

It’s getting late, so I’ll just add a couple more photos. If you have questions let me know in the comments and I’ll answer them for you.

Photo 5: A 3/4 view of the front of the loco


I’m not sure if I am going to leave the running gear showing like this or turn it into a tram loco. But the tram idea has me in its grip at the moment.

Photo 6: Rear left 3/4 view showing the fuel filler and tank gauge


The fuel filler and gauge are from a 1:48 scale add on kit I’m using on my GP38-2 rebuilds.

Well – that’s it for now. Talk to you all later.



Site seeing – April 1st

No April Fool’s here!!!

Today’s site seeing focuses on what I consider to be the best Australian freelanced, yet believable, model railroad system – the Dutton Bay Tramway. The only other narrow gauge line I can thnk of in the same league is Dave Frary & Bob Hayden’s ‘Carrabasset and Dead River’ that has as rich a heritage. read on, there’s a lot in today’s site seeing that you might find as fascinating as I do.

Site 1: The Dutton Bay Tramway (Link Here)

The Dutton Bay Tramway was a freelanced HO scale 2’6″ gauge railway set in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. I say was because at this time the layout has been dismantled and in storage since December 2010, with no one looking to take over the layout and erect it in a new home.

Picture 1: Loading the final Gypsum train at Kelvin (Source: Railpage)

The work of John Dennis and Peter Knife (primarily) the roots of the DBT started in 1968 when the two friends built a narrow gauge layout in John’s bedroom at his parent’s home. For the next 20 years life happened and the layout ebbed and flowed in their lives until in 1988 Peter Knife made the commitment to display a narrow gauge layout for the Liverpool NSW exhibition.

Having started life as an exhibition layout The DBT has a long history after that first exhibit in 1988. The DBT layout retired from the exhibition scene after the Adelaide Model Railway Exhibition of June 2001. It travelled to most of the major state capital cities during that time (which is no mean feat).

John Dennis then set up the layout permanently in his home until operations ceased in 2010.

Why I like the DBT

There is a lot of thought and history behind this model railway. It exists in a place, has a history of its own, a reason to exist, customers to serve and a purpose to fulfil. It shows in the modelling, often taken from real locations and similar circumstances and as someone who has followed the layout in all its guises for many years in print and online I felt sad to see it go. I had an emotional attachment to the railway system. I would have rail-fanned it if given the chance.

I may yet, in some guise, make a model of the line as a tribute to both Peter and Dennis’ commitment to great modelling.

With imitation the most sincere form of flattery there could be no greater form of foolishness, on the day of fools, than to build a model railway of a model railway which set the standard for me when it came to developing a compelling and believable layout.

How this all applies to my modelling

In the past the Hunter Valley Lines has had many articles written, but not published on its history, the political influence and situational awareness of the industry bought about by changes in the Australian Railway landscape. I do not pretend to be a railway expert, but I do believe that the HVL had a development cycle as believable as I could make it, given the experience and the knowledge I gained from living in the USA for 10 years, and that this has been applied to the models I build and the layout I am building now.



Australian Model Railway Magazine

  1. Dutton Bay Tramway AMRM #237 December 2002 17 Article Dennis, John
  2. Dutton Bay Tramway AMRM #284 October 2010 16 Article Dennis, John


John Dennis’ album (via Photobucket) showing most of the last op session shots or view the embedded item below



Dutton Bay homepage:

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