One step closer to a dream – Saturday 27 February 2016

Since late last year I’ve been a member of the Ballarat Tramway Museum. I became involved for several reasons primarily because I love trams and trains obviously, and that for the first time in my working life I had an oversupply of time and an under supply of work.

This weekend I completed and passed my initial Conductor training at the museum. Right now that means I am an assistant Conductor. I still have a couple of steps including a medical to pass before becoming a fully fledged ‘Conny’. And then hopefully I’ll be up for a slot in the driver training program starting later in 2016. I just wanted to say a big thanks go out to my Conductor trainer and the museum drivers and all the volunteers who started and have kept the museum going since the 1970s.

I’m looking forward to helping out for many years to come.


Flying Scotsman – is back!

After a mammoth 10 year £4.2 Million rebuilding program spearheaded by the National Railway Museum, who bought her for £2.3m in 2004, Flying Scotsman is back on the rails again. Work to restore the locomotive began in 2006 with Flying Scotsman undergoing an extensive restoration in the workshop of Riley & Son (E) Ltd.

The locomotive is in its BR green livery as 60103. Flying Scotsman’s return as a working museum exhibit sets another record for the oldest mainline working locomotive on Britain’s tracks occurred yesterday 25/02/2016. As you can see from the videos below, there’s a bit of hoopla going on at the moment:

Flying Scotsman chasing down a spark, being chased in turn by three helicopters.

Flying Scotsman doing what she was designed for – running fast on the mainline

To find out more about what the Flying Scotsman is up to this year head over to her website ( for more.

Site seeing – February 26 – diesel parts arrived edition

For those of you who’ve been following the blog for a while you may know that I am rebuilding two Weaver GP38-2s. In the process of rebuilding I had come to the conclusion, due to the difficulty of getting parts help from several of the USA suppliers, that I would have to build a lot of O scale parts. Then Lo and Behold – American Scale Model Professional Services comes on the scene on eBay; more in a second.

Site 1: American Scale Model Professional Services (eBay Store – page 2)

So here’s what I bought:


When I saw these little babies on Flea Bay I thought all my Christmas’ has come at once. Because these parts were going to be a Royal Pain in Diaz to manufacture. I can do it, but with dragging feet, toes in the dust and all, I just “din wanna”.

Not only are they better than I thought they’d be in the flesh, they appear to be far better than I’d hoped.

In addition the shipping costs were pretty good and the service was outstanding. Ordered the 8th of February they arrived the 24th February. I got gouged by the fallen Australian dollar – but that was not the owner Bill’s fault. I blame the bloody Chinese economy for that! I’m going to keep Bill’s details in my diary and contact him again when I need more parts. Hear that Bill? Done in my best Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator voice – I’ll be back.

And yes, those are decals in there. I’ll be putting on the magnifier and taking a look at these later on. Later gator.

Site seeing – February 25 (It’s the Southern Pacific edition)

My long-suffering, patient and very lovely wife of many years is from the Lone Star state. My first train experience in Texas was in late 1997 just after arriving in the US. After pulling into a little gas and go station to get a soft-drink (soda) for each of us and something for the car on Airport Boulevard near Highland Mall.

While sitting in the car after filling her up, the Longhorn RR’s GP9 pulled up right behind the store (the little gas station is gone now, but it sat between the rail line and Airport Blvd), the crew got off and bought themselves a soda before remounting and chugging off up the line back toward the yard at McNeil.

It is not a bad way to be introduced to North American Shortline railroading. Being less than 10 feet away from the loco and it’s train was mesmerizing. I think the crew even waved as they walked by. I do however digress, onto today’s site of interest.

Site 1: The Texas and New Orleans, Southern Pacific Railroad slide show

The Southern Pacific gobbled up a lot of other railroads in its time, before being consumed itself in 1997 by the UP. Among the most interesting legacies of the constituent railroads were the station and depot buildings whose architectures varied widely, depending on the local flavour. Among my favourite SP depots is the San Antonio depot. While not shown in this set I have some colour photos of the San Antonio depot during an open day showing the stunning stained glass window above the depot stairs leading up to the first floor. A wonderful Spanish Mission style depot it is only one of the eclectic mix shown in the set above.

There’s more than just depots and other buildings in this lot though; there are also lots of locomotive pictures, location pictures and more, and the most of them are in glorious black and white. I hope that you enjoy.

Site seeing – 24 February

It’s been a busy month here at the HVL. Unfortunately much of it focused on the business of making a living and not making trains. A necessary evil, I am sure that this too shall pass. Now off to the races.

Site 1: Brian Moore from Plymouth, UK – Quisling, CA

Brian has a set of images that are growing of his HO scale modules over at his Flickr site.

Second Street and Main Street crossing
Second Street and Main Street crossing

There’s 70 images in the set so far, and some great modelling to view as well. Enjoy.

Site seeing – 17 February

There are two very useful sites on the board today. Both relate to operations but in a different aspect.

Site 1: The Operations SIG resources website

If you are new to the idea of model railroad (railway) operations then the OPSIG site is a great place to start. I will warn you though that there is a slippery slope downwards from here to building everything with an eye to operations after you’ve perused the pages. Plenty of fun stuff to learn about however, and all of it very well presented.

Site 2: A short course on railroading

I’ve only recently found this site. I’ve not finished reading it all yet, but what a fascinating read it is. Based on the notes and memories of L. E. Crowner and centering on the Union Pacific’s Los Angeles East Yard there is so much information here that you tend to lose yourself in the pages for hours.


Site seeing – February 13 (the behind the scenes edition)


Site 1: Switching/Shunting/Shelf “Small Model Train Layouts” (Facebook group)

Glenn Sanders runs a very tight-knit and helpful group over on Facebook. I’m pretty sure that you need to be a member of Facebook to view the group, and you have to be added by Glenn, but since joining I have found some of the best modellers on there. Ray O’Neill of HELM and 59th and Rust fame is just one of the great modellers on the group. It is also a great place to share ideas and plans for your industrial switching layout (ISL) too. If you get a chance drop by and see what’s going on. Very layout focused.

Site 2: End of the spur!

For those of you who might know Ray O’Neill through his 59th and Rust layout, he has another underway at the moment that I wanted to share with you. End of the spur is an industrial switching layout (ISL) set in an inner city industrial area, using combined motive power moved because there is no run-around as in the image left, there is a lot of switching to do and surprisingly a lot of space to get it done in with 12′ (feet) of run and 14″ (inches) of depth. There are some great ideas that I’ve seen in this build that I’ll be using on my layout too. Among them the switch frog polarity controller – which is genius.

Have a great Saturday.

What I’m up to – the no trains but there is a tool in it tale

The part without trains in it

When my son turned 10 he was desperate to get into the game Warhammer 40,000. Duly noted Dad trundled down to Melbourne and quietly bought him the starter set Dark Vengeance. For a not inconsiderable sum you get some really great models (49 of them actually) all the basic rules and stuff needed to start playing.

I’d begun to get him into modelling at this stage and he’d made a couple of half-decent models. I asked him if he’d like help to get the models built and ready for paint. To his credit he said “I’ll be alright Dad” and promptly trundled off to the modelling table and began to put them together. Then things seemed to stall. I let it ride for a couple of months and then one day got the models out and asked him if he’d like some help to put them together to get this under way so he could start wargaming. Thus the problems came to light. Turns out that he followed the instructions to the letter putting the models together – using the glue supplied in the kit. And here is where the problems came to rest; the glue was woeful. It was not boy wonder’s fault. He’d followed the detail in the instructions to the letter. But the glue seemed to not want to hold and it had crystallised on the plastic. Gripping enough to not want to let go and not enough to hold the pieces together.

Warhammer_ModelsSo over the summer (since November 2015) I’ve been working away of an evening after meals to get these cleaned up and ready for paint for boy wonder. It has taken a little over two months of constant slog to undo the damage done to the models by the damned glue (think of super-glue that’s been hit with accelerator and gone off really quickly). The work to rebuild them included ‘gently’ prizing them apart, cleaning up the ‘glue’ residue, filing, shimming and doing what was needed to set arms and torso, smooth the glue damage and prep them for paint. Overall I am impressed at the quality of the models. And the acrylic black undercoat went on a treat from a car store rattle can.

The part with the tool in it

While trying to figure out the best way to paint these models I took a long hard look at my soldering station third hand. With 49 of these models to paint I needed something that would allow me to spray lots of them as often as possible without them blowing all over the place.

The_DectopusWhat I came up with was the Dektopus (left). It’s like an octopus, but with two extra hands – thus the dek bit. I am a big fan of making the tools you need when you can. And this one came out just like I wanted it to. I bought two metres of cable. Cut enough of the sheathing off to allow for a solid connection when I soldered the cable and the Alligator clips. Cut two pieces of 2×1 for the holders and two shorter ones for the stands. I screwed the long pieces back to back, drilled 10 holes in them at equal spacings, just smaller than the diameter of the cable. I unscrewed the two pieces and then placed the cable in the grooves, applied white glue, clamped it together, and then screwed it back together. Glued and screwed the ends on and left it overnight.

So that has kept me busy the last few months of evenings. Now back to trains.

Site seeing – February 03 – (the scrapped, scrap and best scrap edition)

In my previous post I discussed an industry that I am hoping to add to the layout extension when that gets built later in 2016 or early 2017.

Wolfgang Dudler MMR (who passed to the great layout in the sky on 26/08/2012) still has a great site and some fabulous videos on YouTube also. In the scrap vein I feel that his scrap industry is the model to beat when it comes to realism.

Site 1: Wolfgang’s Scrap Yard scenes

Take a look at the video and the overall impact of the scene. Wolfgang was a master model railroader for a reason.

Site 2: Westport Terminal RR

Wolfgang’s site is still up and going as of this post. I don’t know how long the site will be up so I would suggest that you head on over and take a look at the man’s modelling. It is inspirational.

Site seeing – February 02 (the scrap edition)

Well the modelling illustrated in these videos is all about scrap.

One of the industries I’ve considered for my new (home) layout was a small scrap dealer. On the layout extension that industry will I hope get a run. On the main layout at the moment there is simply not the space needed to make even a small one. Thankfully ChessieFan2 has done almost all the hard work for me by producing two videos that take you through the stages of building the industry. Additionally he has made another video where he discusses making loads for your scrap gondolas too. Enjoy.

Site 1: Modeling a Scrap Yard – Part 1

Site 2: Modeling a Scrap Yard – Part 2

Site 3: Creating scrap loads for your gondolas

Watch this video through until 14:57. Beyond is talk about the layout in general.