Above photo is my Gosford complete with the Overhead. Click on the photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sceniced Murrurundi

With a large portion of the Main North now having some scenery but ballast is still to be added to the track, I'd like to make the locations/stations more accurate to the 1965 era I model. Painting my heritage coloured “photo station” of Murrurundi my mate Brian made for me (shown below), was out of the question. With regret I needed to replace Brian’s Station that has worked for years – thanks Brian. 

Scenicing Murrurundi was the ideal time to making a new Station. I spoke to Matt Sawtell at Models N More about making a Murrurundi Station. I sent him the photos I had taken in 2006 and the 1962 Black and White photo below. 

Matt made up a Laser cut Kit with a footprint 560 x 140 mm, shown below partially assembled and undercoated.

Now to paint the Station with 1965 colours, pretty hard using a black and white photo courtesy of the NSW Heritage site (below), so I needed some help here.

I have done a few Presentations for the Epping Seminars, MRNSW etc and enjoy researching a project/model using all of the AMRM, Roundhouse and Books I have collected, done much easier using Mag Index.
Oct 81 Roundhouse has a Byways of Steam article - Murrurundi, detailing the Main North from Murrurundi to Werris Creek but no photos of the Murrurundi Station.
Byways of Steam 3, has an article about Murrurundi Loco but no Station photos.
I contacted the Des Duggan at the Murrurundi District Historical Society. Des sent me a 1980s photo of the Station but I was still not sure what the colours were in 1965.
I asked numerous modellers including James McInerney for some help about the colours of the Station in 1965. James contacted numerous modellers with Ray Love and Chris Sim sending some colour photos.
Lucky for me, Ray sent some “end on” 1965 photos that provided the overall colour of the Station but no “front on” photos to help me with the door door/window trim Awning Bracket colours. Chris sent me two 1985 photos.
The "Northern Exposures" book has a Murrurundi photo with the train blocking out the Station with just one Chimney in view but showing the Elevated Water Tank and Shed, helpful for modelling the Yard.

From the 2006 photo I sent Matt, he included a wire grille with Station sign across the front Signal Box at the Newcastle end of the Station. I needed to have a "1965" Signal Box.

Des from the Murrurundi Historical Society explained that he was told the Shed at the Newcastle end of the Station was open because it was the Signal and Points Shed but he needed to check.
Lucky for me the Oct 1981 Roundhouse Article had a photo showing the Lever Frame of the Signal Box and the photo caption said “The Interlocking Machine at Murrurundi was housed in an “open-fronted Enclosure” – Thank You both Des and P. C. Booth.

With the above description and Graeme Skeet’s 1983 photo on Rolfe Bozier’s web site, (copied at the left), I made my “open fronted enclosure” Signal Box, complete with a 12 Lever Machine made from Styrene Strips and added a Murrurundi Track Diagram to the back wall, shown in the my photo below.

I also slightly lengthened the building to fit my Signal Box and modified the Roofs. My completed Signal Box as viewed from across the tracks.

James suggested some Tamiya Paint colours including the XF Numbers for the two Roofs/Awnings, Doors, and Trims Door/Window Trims. This made my life a lot easier - thanks James. 

Using the photos and discussing the paint colour with Ray, I found a slightly pink (flesh) colour, LifeColor Diorama Series UA 707 at Microhobbies in Hornsby. Thinned it with water and sprayed the Station with 4 coats. 

The completed Murrurundi Station, shown below, with my mate Brian next to his Council Station Wagon, picking up a parcel, that he did many times when hew worked at Murrurundi in the early 70s.
I need to add some Down-pipes and a few other detail parts. 

My Murrurundi is located on one side of a 4.5 metre Peninsular with the Station and Loco on a 410 mm wide shelf, 1440 mm from the floor. 
When I added Hawkesbury River Bridge to my layout, I decided that the deck above it needed to "thinned out" and Muswellbrook along with the Oak Dairy had to go but what to do with the the OAK Dairy, that I'd spent hours making. I wasn't going to store it under the layout so I placed it on the Peninsula Blob (Sydney end of Murrurundi) .
I needed to “isolate” the OAK from Murrurundi Station a little. I made a small hill and planted some trees (below).

Along the length of the Station/Yard, I added a higher than track level Fascia, with lots of shrubs and trees. Halls Creek (added previously), is between the Yard and Loco. In the Yard I added a 5,000 gallon covered Elevated Water Tank and a Shed. A Goods Shed is located between the Yard and Halls Creek with a track going back to the Dock at the Station. 

For Loco, Brian had previously made me a dilapidated Loco Shed, that existed in 1965. I added the Workshops etc on the backside of the Loco Shed., one covered Elevated Water Tank (will be two one day), and a few other buildings as shown in the Byways of Steam 3 article about Murrurundi Loco Depot.
A Structurama Kit substituting as a Barracks until I build a more suitable one. 
On the track to the Turntable, I added a loco de-ashing Pit and a Depressed Road with an S wagon.

Thanks to my mate Brian for his models: the previous Station, the dilapidated Engine Shed and the steam powered Coal Grab for Murrurundi Loco, Matt at Models N More, Ray Love, Chris Sim, James McInerney, Ray Pilgrim and Des Duggan (Murrurundi Historical Society), Byways of Steam and Roundhouse Authors/publishers, I was able to make a 1965 Murrurundi.

I've added the newly sceniced Murrurundi to the Main North Video, at the 5 min 50 sec mark, see:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Main North Layout Video

The recent progress on the layout's scenery, as shown in my previous Blog entry, has even shocked me. The major job left in completing the layout, is ballasting the track, but...

When building the layout, I was always in a hurry to get track down and run trains to test the track "plan", with the idea that it will change after running some trains. Yes it has, hundreds of times but now the scenery encompasses the track, there won't be many track changes. Rail Joiners and minimum droppers that until now have provided for so much fun, more so now that the scenery is there, will not provide the fun I need, after I add the ballast with the glue creeping into the solder less joints rendering current flow at best, intermittent. I am surprised that my electrics (really a lack of), have provided for mostly trouble free running, for so long. My attitude was that when there was an electrical problem, I'd attend to it - then. So now there is a BIG electrical problem and I have to attend to it now.

I'll take the rest of my life "bullet proofing" the electrics and then adding the ballast but I can still play trains with my Mates on a sceniced layout with operational Semaphores on most of the single main line, keeping the Operators, apart. It can't get much better, Hey!

I'm now scared I might finish the layout, so I'm gunner slow down a bit, so that doesn't happen. I don't want to rip up the Main North to build another layout. I want to leave that to the Kids to do, they've got to earn their inheritance, hopefully not too soon though.

To celebrate, to what I thought was the biggest obstacle in building the layout, adding the scenery, I thought I'd take a video. I've edited this video to add my newly sceniced Murrurundi (Dec 2017), click below:

PS. I've just remembered the box of Bracket Semaphores, under the layout and building numerous Control Panels etc to make them work, is another "scenery length" job, on the layout. So much more to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Official Opening of the Main North's Hawkesbury River Bridge and more Scenery.

It's taken 9 months to get some more scenery done on the Main North, culminating in the "Official Opening" of the second Hawkesbury River Bridge.

About a month ago I sceniced South Gosford, opposite the Electric Car Sidings with the bridge for the Pacific Hwy crossing the 6 tracks, ballasting to be done soon.

I made a more permanent crossing of the "Broadwater" and installed a 2 metre Gosford Racecourse Track, albeit on the wrong side of the Main, but this is the only place to fit it.

Adding this Siding completes the "running" of the Gosford Race train. As Sydney Staging is "full", the Gosford Race Train comprising of 3 FOs, 3 HKGs and Van, will be "staged" in the Racecourse Siding.

Operate 1028 (til I renumber it to 3528) and the Race Train to Gosford Platform 3. Disconnect 1028 and run to Loco. Attach a 46, run the train to Sydney then back to Gosford, arriving on Platform 3. Replace the 46 with 1028 and shunt/propel the Racecourse train into the Racecourse Siding. Wait 5 minutes for all passengers and horses to disembark. Then pull the train back to Gosford Platform 3 and marshal the consist for operating to Sydney (swapping Coaches and Van "around"). Push the train back to the Racecourse Siding and leave, ready for the next Operating Session, shown below with Van behind the loco.

18 moths ago, Allan G completed my three Central Valley Model Works Double Track Bridge kits that I'm using for my Hawkesbury River Bridge. It was suggested that we'd need to have an "Official Opening" when they're installed but I have been too slack to complete the "scene" with the appropriate scenery.  Well I've finally completed the scenery around the Bridge's Tunnel Portals.

The Bridge's southern Portal and Long Island complete with the "right angle" Tunnel, underneath Newcastle Station. The grade for the 2.5 m of track from the Station (elevation 13') to the Bridge (elevation 35'), is about a 1 in 30. Not a problem as it's hidden and ALL trains are hauled by the "heavy" 46 Class Electrics or 44s (North Coast trains), due to my 1965 operation.

The Long Island (southern) Portal with the six C38s for "load testing" at the Official Opening of the Bridge.

The Bridge's Northern Portal into Mullet Creek Tunnel with the rest of the "the Bridge scene", where the tracks on the Upper Deck, diverge left up the hill to Murrurundi and to the right, down what can be seen in the photo, on a steep grade, with just enough clearance (60mm) from the Murrurundi benchwork for the 3 track North Coast Staging .

After installing and shaping the polystyrene "landform" for the track to Murrurundi/North Coast Staging, there was "something" wrong with the way the Tunnel entrance to North Coast Staging, looked.

Overnight I agonized how to improve it. I'll add a Road Bridge over the track to Murrurundi. This needed an addition to the Fascia to make it higher and now the land needed re-modelling - more polystyrene and lots of  "scraping" the land. Now the whole scene looks much better.

When I decided to fit a Hawkesbury River Bridge on the layout, I initially thought I'd locate it opposite Gosford. The delay in making up the kits, I decided I wanted to "have" Mullet Creek with Wondabyne, so the Bridge had to be located on the other side of the Peninsular, under Muswellbrook. Muswellbrook's Deck was 450 mm wide and 230 mm above the track of the future Bridge. This would have "hidden" the Bridge.
The Bridge s 2.3 metres long and is a "feature" of the Main North - it needed it's own "space".

Muswellbrook had to go. In one way this was another plus as I was having a "grade" issue, getting my 35/36 hauled trains to Murrurundi. Without Muswellbrook, I could reduce the grade a  little. BUT what to do with my Muswellbrook Oak Dairy that I spent hours kitbashing a Walters REA Kit for an Epping Seminar. It wasn't going to be packed away out of view "under" the layout, so it'll be on the "top" and at Murrurundi. Compromises have to made when building a layout.

I was now ready for my re-enactment of the 24th June 1946 "Official Opening" of the Hawkesbury River Bridge. This monumental occasion needed recording where six C38s "load tested" the bridge.

With the Main North requiring lots of scenery, I decided to keep the "scenery ball", rolling.  Below is shown the exit from Mullet Creek Tunnel as the track hugs Mullet Creek on it's way to Woy Woy Tunnel.

Looking through the cutting towards Wondabyne.

My Mullet Creek is 3.5 metres long and 200 mm below Murrurundi's Fascia but the 3 North Coast Staging tracks are jammed in between the two. With just 130 mm of height to play with I've have a very compressed Wondabyne Sandstone Quarry with the Sandstone Siding. The North Coast Staging tracks can only be seen when crouching down. Woy Woy Tunnel is in the distance.

A 46 hauled Down Pick Up is shunting the Sandstone Quarry Siding. Note the Siding does not have overhead wiring (nor does the Main at this time), so the 46 needs to keep under the wires by having consist of at least 6 Bogie Wagons.

A close up of the Wondabyne Station Down Platform with the Down Pick Up and Geoff S fishing off the Jetty in the "raw", with just a Cap. Not very pretty but you'll look good with that tan.
Note: Wondabyne is the only Station in NSW that does NOT have motor vehicle access - only boat or walking.

Some years ago I bought an Ozito 12 litre Drum Vacuum Cleaner for $35 from Bunings. It has been getting a workout the last month. It was the best $35 I ever spent. I'm surprised how many hills etc it has vacuumed up, that the motor is still going.
Remove the Top (2 Clips), empty the millions of polystyrene balls into a Garbage Bag, clean the Filter and back to sucking up "land". I added an extra Hose (never throw anything out here), making the hose about 3 metres long.
The unit is no longer available from Bunnings, buy something similar, you won't be disappointed if you're adding polystyrene scenery to your layout, see:


Sunday, July 9, 2017

DCC Ammeter for the Layout

Over the years, I've read/heard modellers asking many times, "When do I need to add a second Booster". Recently some modellers reported on one of the Yahoo/Facebook Groups, that a loco or lighted Passenger Coaches Set, drew too much current, causing the DCC system to cut out.

Determining how much current a Booster is supplying to the layout, is not about how big a layout is, how many locos you have, what scale you model etc, it's about what current is "actually" flowing. Yes quantity and size are factors.

Determining the Booster Output Current without an Ammeter, is just a GUESS.

I built a DCC Ammeter (discussed below), from Allan Gartner's Wiring for DCC pages, many years ago, see:
and found that locos (decoders) sitting on "powered" track (not moving), draw approximately 30 mAs and running modern HO loco (last 20 years or so), draw between 100 - 400 mAs.

Install a $2.50 Bridge Rectifier from Jaycar (Part No ZR1314), connected to a 10 Amp Multimeter (similar to the $10 Jaycar QM1500) or Panel Meter, as shown below, you'll then know what your layout is drawing and what each loco uses and it only takes 10 minutes to make/install.

Seems crazy if you don't make a DCC Ammeter.

The Bypass Switch: The Bridge Rectifier is necessary to measure the Amps but it reduces the Track Voltage by 1.5 Volts.
If your DCC system has a Voltage Adjustment you can compensate for this 1.5 Volt drop and you can leave out the Bypass Switch.
If your DCC system does NOT have the "adjustment" and you want to operate at the "set" voltage, install the Bypass Switch and operate it in the OPEN position for Current measurements and in the CLOSED position if you don't want to operate with the slightly reduced (1.5 Volt) track Voltage.

Add the Bridge Rectifier to one of the Track "Power Bus" Feeders as shown below by "hard wiring" the Bridge Rectifier into the Booster Track Terminals or an appropriate location and run 2 wires to the Meter and Switch (if you are using it). Shown below is the " Ammeter Adapter"for my DCC Tool Box, 10 Amp Multimeter, necessary for troubleshooting other layouts or demos etc.     

Shown above is the Bridge Rectifier with the "D.C." leads soldered into two Banana Plugs for easy removal/install of the Adapter. The two Back leads connect to the "A.C." leads and connect "into" one Track Feeder at the Booster as per the above diagram. You choose the easiest way to make it.

The above Bridge Rectifier Ammeter compared to my Fascia Ammeter, made from a Circuit from Rob Paisley's Model Railroad Circuits at: 

A 5 Amp Bridge Rectifier soldered to the rear of a 5 Amp Panel Meter and the Meter/Bridge Rectifier assembly connected in SERIES with one of the Track Feeder wires, via the two black wires.

The Digital Multimeter Ammeter compared to a 5.0 Amp D.C. Panel Meter, both indicating the track current - no locos running and all quiet (no sound). The reading indicates the standby current for 35 stationary locos and a few Bus Accessories (power to my Signal Power Supplies etc), to my layout.

During an Operating Session with 6 to 8 Operators running trains, the Ammeter rarely goes above 2.5 Amps on my 600 Sq Ft Double Deck layout and there is just the one Booster. 

Caution: The 6 Amp Bridge Rectifier used above gets quite warm at 2.0 Amps. Operating at higher currents over an extended period of time, I'd suggest mounting the Bridge Rectifier on a Heat sink. 

 A 5 Amp Panel Meter fitted to one of my mate's DCC System Cabinet, showing 4 High Speed Diodes and the small Bypass Switch. The larger one (Upper R/H side), is the Layout ON/OFF Switch. The layout is divided into 6 Power Districts using NCE EB1 Circuit Breakers. The District ON/OFF Switches are installed to help troubleshooting the layout when there are the inevitable wiring issues. This is a large layout and still only using one Booster with the Meter showing less than 2.5 Amps during the running of trains. If and when it gets to 3.5 to 4.0 Amps, we'll add a second Booster.

Measuring DCC Track Voltage is as easy as using your Multimeter and selecting A.C. Volts. While this may not be as accurate as a specialist DCC Voltmeter like Tony's RRampmeter (see below), it is good enough for troubleshooting voltage drops. With your Mutimeter, measure the voltage at the Booster Track Output Terminals then measure at the appropriate location. Compare the two readings. The "difference" in the readings is the voltage drop between the two locations. 
NOTE:  When making a voltage drop measurement, always have a load like a 12 Volt 21 Watt Automotive Lamp (1.5 Amps), across the track at the "Track" location. 

Specialist DCC Volmeter/Ammeter
For those of you that don't want to "make" the above DCC Ammeter or would like a very professional looking Meter Set, easily mounted into your layout's fascia, the A$130 RRampMeter  from DCC Specialties may be more suitable, see:
and can be purchased here in Sydney Australia from Models n More at:

For more details on Meters for DCC see my web page at:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

DEM Facebook Group's 2017 Running Day.

Recently I had lots of fun attending Aaron Denning's DEM Facebook Group's Running Day.
The  most enjoyable part of the Day was seeing so many younger modellers having fun. Not that us old Farts don't have fun, we do but seeing the younger blokes enjoying themselves so much with a some banter and a little bit of horseplay, so long as it's kept in check, is really fantastic. Reminds me a lot of myself for 65 years. I hope you younger Guys don't grow up, I haven't, just ask my wonderful wife and the kids.

Where can you get so much fun and laughs, running trains yakking to friends and new acquaintances, 2 Sausage Sandwiches/Rolls and the chance for one of the 30+ Door Prizes kindly donated by our manufacturers, all for $5.

Thanks a lot, Aaron, the Epping MRC for the supplying Binaway and Brunswick Park layouts and the venue that can host 70 + modellers and all Aaron's little Helpers for setting/packing up etc.

One of the many Lucky Door Prizes was Ian's IDR Models X200 in Candy.

Guess who's the new owner. Thanks Ian and DEM. I haven't unpacked it yet as I don't know how this is going to fit in the mid 60s Main North at at Gosford. Some including me, suggest that a lot of modeller's licence is necessary when building a layout but can there be this much.

I'm sure some of you can come up with some appropriate solutions. My Inbox is ready.

I did not take a Camera or a mobile phone so no photos from me. Thanks Aaron etc for the photos posted on the DEM Facebook Group, copied below.

The ever watchful George, overseeing procedures on Brunswick Park.

 Aaron even organised a Quiet Room for some to get a few ZZZs

Trevor and Mike attending to one of the most important jobs for the Day.

Ray, John, Ian and Evan at the "Corner of Knowledge".

Aaron said of the Day, some traveled some distance but as yet, no Interstate Visitors.
Craig Mackie from Brisbane, suggested that the DEM Running Day could be on the Sunday after the MRNSW Convention, is a great idea, where those a long way away and interstate, would get more bang for their "travelling" buck and time. Making it a TWO Day Event would be more attractive to make the trip. Call it a Sydney Model Train Extravaganza Weekend or something.

An example of making layouts available for visiting/operating before/during/after an Exhibition, that the local NMRA does here in Australia, see what I did when attending an Exhibition in 2011, yes more time and many more dollars spent but we could do something, albeit in a much smaller scale. Food for thought to help our long distance "Mates", get to Sydney. See:

I know a few layout owners in Sydney and surrounding areas that would be happy to host Visitors to be included in a "Once a Year" Convention/Weekend.
Many modellers visited the Main North on the Saturday night after the Convention and the Epping Exhibition. They all appreciated it and I had a ball hosting them. I will do it again next year with a lot more notice. Perhaps the DEM Running Day could be included, as suggested by Craig.

I'm happy to have visitors to my Main North anytime, just contact me on 02 9402 8929.

Thanks to Ian from IDR Models, I now have an Indian Red X207.

Shown below, is my "new" X207 shunting the Gosford Sidings with the Glen Innes Mail leaving and a Garratt hauled Goods train in the Up Refuge, waiting for a 46 Class Electric, for the remainder of the trip to Sydney.
Ian suggested I paint the Buffers Black. While at it I painted the wheel Coupling Rods and all the "white" stuff. I think it looks better.
The 4 wheel X207 without sound, easily negotiates all the Points complete with Dead Frogs in Gosford Yard due to the "home made" 200,000 uF Loco Stay Alive.

An excellent loco, thanks Ian and IDR Models.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Craig's Live Steam.

The May Meeting of the NSW DCC Modellers Group was at Yarramundi, 10 kms south of Richmond. I offered to take John, Andrew, Erik and Spencer in the Boss’s Honda Civic for the trip of a lifetime, first to the Model Railroad Craftsman to pick up some goodies then onto the Meeting, a 90 minute drive. Thanks to Spencer, we were not as jammed in as we would have been, if I drove. I guess Spencer wanted make sure he was comfortable. Thanks Spencer for taking us. 
Google got us there and also gave us a bird’s eye view of Craig’s layout where I've made a very rough track plan, hopefully correct, below.

All of us were all gobsmacked with what Craig has done on his layout. 

Craig’s layout is a Live Steam railway with all of our favorite NSW Steam locos in 5 inch gauge which is 1-1/8 to the foot. There is 1000 Metres of main line with a Tunnel, Trestle Bridge, Coal Stage, 20 points and Lower Quadrant Semaphores which are basically route indicators, on 4 acres. The track has two "Sprung Points" one at the end of the dual main line where it turns into a Single line and the other at the Return Loop around the Pond. This allows continuous running, without changing any Points. All others Points are manually operated with Levers.

Craig has 4 Steam locos, a 3008, 3654, 3805 and 5905 all with magnificent sound and one non sound Diesel, 42205. I did discuss how to add a sound decoder and a big speaker to 42205. A set of 6 R Cars made with Styrene and about about 60 4 wheel Wagons (my guess) and a couple of bogie Guards Vans. 3654 and 42205 were the locos rostered for us to "play" trains on the day.  

Craig, thanks a lot for the invitation to your layout.

Craig adjusting the decoder of 3654 with an Engineer in training alongside the Coal Stage

Alex having heaps of fun with 42205.

Loco Turntable with the 3 Elevated Service Tracks in a Lighted Shed with the Crew Room and Workshop at the rear.

The Controls of 3008.

For some video of the Craig's layout, click on the photo below.

For a 6 year old YouTube of Craig's Live steam, see:

Thanks Craig, Vicky and our engine driver, for a fantastic day.