Wardell Station welcomes you

Wardell Station welcomes you
Wardell Station late 1950s

Monday, 9 May 2022

The Catenary Wires

It has been a while since my last post but all has not been stopped. Slow progress has been made with the Covid lockdown restrictions being remove over the last few months meaning less time to do modelling and more time with family and other commitments. 

I thought I provide an update on the catenary work that I have been doing since there was much interest on the Facebook Group- NSW Electric Multiple Unit Modelling Group. With the large range of Sydney suburban electrical rolling stock and motive units available I think it is appropriate that if these are on the layout that catenary wire is present. My 1950s Sydney layout Wardell needs to have the catenary wire to provide the realism. 

Below is my complete catenary gantry  representing the early style of catenary overhead used in Sydney when electrification took place in the mid 1920s.


Most of the commercially available catenary overhead parts and supplies are from Europe mostly Sommerfeldt and now Peco. These represent the European prototype such as Germany and Switzerland. Southern Rail Models in Australia previously produced overhead stanchions both double and single track (Inside and outside) which provided a more modern look. All of my 1970s section of my layout, "West Wardell" and the area around Wardell Station uses these models. These are now no longer produced unless Southern Rail Models do a rerun of them. 

Above: Unopened pack of Double Track Overhead Stanchion by Southern Rail Models

Overhead Wires

Sommerfeldt have different length wires which can be purchased individually to be used for catenary wiring. I found on Ebay a couple of boxes of  Lima Golden Series overheads that were 33cm long (24 in a box). I purchased these years ago before I had my layout to provide the overhead. These are a bit thicker than the Sommerfeldt brand but more sturdier. To enable the wire to cover different lengths such as at turnouts and crossovers I just trim the wire on each side or cut it at the appropriate length.

Modelling the early Sydney catenary gantry

My basis of the overhead gantry used in Sydney during the early part of the 20th Century was a photo from Bergs promo of their U-Boat order form. I searched Ebay and google to find an appropriate model of the gantry that would represent this photo and found a laser cut one on Ebay from a UK supplier. I bought a pack of ten but these just sat in box of to-do-list for quite a few years. 

It wasn't until I was doing the double track section of my 1950s Wardell layout that I intended to work out how I could use these. After discussions with All Aboard in NSW I bought some Sommerfeldt insulators (#305) and extension for crossspan (#166) and cut these into lengths to provide support for the catenary wiring. I also used some of my off cuts from my Lima Golden Series catenary wire and held it together with super glue. To finish it off I painted the insulators white.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Life mimicking Art

 Start of the Shopping Strip

I am now onto the third area of scenery to build which includes the King Street shopping strip of Newtown. There are many challenges in detailing this area compared to doing a country scene:  

1) I need to build alot of shops and buildings probably about a dozen so it will take sometime. 

2) They need to look different and genuine as if they are Australian Victorian shops rather than kits that have been built and place down that look "out of the box" and appear to look like it is a town from American or Europe.

3) I need to give each shop/building some unique individuality as well as giving it an Australian "look".

4) Signage and decals need to look periodic.

5) Some form of order and planning needs to be done as to where building are to be placed.

As a result of the above my first attempt at this was to build a cake shop representative of my spouse who loves baking. 

Above: Completed Leona's Home Made Cakes Shop painted and detailed with signage


I searched the Internet for a number of sources for photos of cake and pastry shops set in the mid twentieth in Australia. This was used to get ideas of the style of the shop frontage as well as font types. The main difficulty is that a majority of photos were in black and white so I had to look further by a decade to find colour photos.

The Build

The Cake Shop will be positioned at the back of the layout at an angle and will be a low relief building.  I had a number of kits I previous purchased and only used parts of it. One was DPM Sams Hardware which I used the first storey of the shop for my Allandale Saw Building. I still had the rear and sides of the building as well as the ground floor, front shop section that I had not used. 

I am now learning to reuse more and more of my model bits and pieces rather than discarding them or leave them lying around for a "future project".

For the first storey of the building, I wanted to make it look different and had a partly used "Models and More" Bradbury building with the arched windows. This distinctive feature I thought would look Victorian in style and would be great to add to the front of the building.

Above: The "Frankenstein" of modelling some kit bashing taking shape bonding two different kit types together a plastic kit and a wood laser cut kit.

Other Detailed features

One distinctive feature of Australia shops is the presence of the awning which are held together by cables attached to building to ward off the Australian sun. American and European shops are absent of this feature and I wanted it to be present in my model.  I also added a top feature for the building as a distinctive addition to Victorian era shops.

Signage and Decals
An important feature in dating a building is the signage. After doing my research I chose colours and fonts that represented the era I was modelling. I used my trusty laptop and Publisher software to print this out on photo quality paper to ensure that the signage would stand up to some beating. This will be used for the awning signage as well as building signage something that is no longer common these days. I also photo-shopped some photos for use as window displays and interiors that looked appropriate for the period.
Above:  A copy of one of the artworks I did using Publisher using photo size template

Besides printing out artwork on photo paper, I also made my own decals for the building signs to be respresent the painted advertisements that use to adore side building in its day. I used my Inkjet printer and decal paper spraying on matt spray after the print to bond the decal down.
Above: Side view of the Cake Shop showing Decals applied.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Two 4 One

In my last post, I had completed the scenery section of the Wardell Goods Yard area. However, I had not built a structure to cover the point motor. I sought a number of options to find a suitable structure. 
Above: The completed 2 structures built from one kit - Signal hut and a Tram Shed.

Signal Hut options

The Peco point motor adaptor base PL-12 was bought incorrectly when I made a visit to Hatton's in Liverpool, England. I was there back in 2006 and when I purchased a number of items they didn't understand my Australian accent and place that item in my shopping bag instead of another item but now I can't remember what that was.

Rather than having surplus items lying around I decided to use it on my layout.  

I needed a structure that would cover the motor but also would look prototypical of my NSW suburban layout so a Peco or Wills Hut would not be suitable.

Above: Point Motor above baseboard in place

PC2 Rail Central Kit

There have been numerous articles on how to scratch build the PC station buildings over the years. The release of the Rail Central PC1,2 and 3 station building kits brought the idea that I could use the kit in some form. However, building the kit as is would not be suitable for my suburban layout. 

The PC1 Kit would have been too small and the PC3 kit would be too large. The size of the PC2 kit would measure favourably to cover the point motor.

Kit Building

After measuring the area of the point motor to cover with the hut, I decide to cut the the length of the station wall from the waiting room section of the wall to be used for another building. I had to use styrene to complete the end wall of the new building. 

Signal hut PC2

The signal hut was built pretty much as per the kit after I cut the on third of the length off to make the other building.  I didn't use the awning and also had to appropriately trim the roof length to measure the new shortened building. I also had to reduce height of the water tank stands to ensure it under the roof.

Above: Finished building covering motor. 

The Tram Shed

The tram shed was made from the waiting room section of the kit. The awning was also used. However, the roof was completely scratchbuilt from Noch Pantile red roof texture sheets. 
I added federation roof tips from plaster and also guttering. 

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Covid lockdown building - the Wardell Goods Yard

Since 26 June 2021, Sydney has been in lockdown with Covid restrictions with movement for only essential reasons such as shopping for groceries. This is the second time the Greater Sydney region has been in lockdown since the Covid Pandemic that begin in March 2020. 

The lockdown gave me ample reason to finish off the goods yard. I didn't have the dedicated time to complete with a start-stop approach reducing my motivation. However, four weeks into lockdown and I have been able to complete the Wardell Goods Yard

Above: Completed Wardell Goods Yard

Kits used

The Wardell goods yard area to be modelled is to represent the area of the Petersham goods yard that is currently occupied by the Transport Training Centre. I have made a few changes using artistic license. 

The kits used include the following:

Uneek Weighbridge and hut - the yard had a weighbridge in its day but was later removed. 

Sentinel Yard Crane - A yard crane was located at the yard but later removed

Uneek 5 Ton Crane Concrete base and stairs - To complement the Sentinel kit that didn't have a concrete base. 

Uneek Working Yard light - The yard light modelled was used in many NSWGR goods yards so I have installed one. 

Southern Rail Models G1b Goods Shed - This is smaller shed that the prototype but I decided to use this instead due to the small footprint. 

LJ Industrial mesh fencing - Industrial fencing used from a leftover kit to fence the area from the roadside. The prototype has something similar 

Sommerfeldt #300 and #388 - For the ending mast for the catenary and tension system. 

Scenery begins

The area is fairly large in comparison to the total layout and I had left it untouched for a number of years although I had completed the station. The varied terrain and the incorporation or a working tram line was one of the main stumble blocks. The gradient of the tramline had to be amended in order for the tram to navigate the steep incline. I have found a solution but this will be discussed in a later post. 

Above: Photo take in October 2020 showing the work required to scenic the area. 

1) The first thing I dealt with was incorporating a terminal mast for the siding that had catenary. At Petersham there was one siding that had electrical wiring and I wanted to incorporate that. 

Above is the Sommerfeldt kits unopened and the completed end terminal kit in the yard. This was completed in last 2020. 

The yard work was left dormant until the June lockdown this year. Where I had time to get to work on the scenery. 
Steps: I started with the backscene and reused an old LJ corner store card model and cut it in half and used it as a low relief building. 
Step 2: The road and footpath alongside the goods yard was done next done. I use 800 grade sandpaper for the road
Step 3: The Industrial fence was next and this was quite tedious since the road is curved and the terrain is uneven. I used a number of techniques to try and hold the fence up. 
Step 4: The Uneek Weighbridge and hut was next built using the instructions provided without any modification. 

Step 5: An corrugated gate and fence was added at the entrance this was remains of a Walthers kit I had used previously. 
Step 6: The ground cover was next made of a coal dust, asphalt and real dirt from my garden. The real dirt was dried in the oven and then sifted. 

Step 7: Woodlands Scenics foilage, fine and course turf using various colours and different grades of foilage was then used. The dark green colours were added along areas which were less trafficiated
Step 8: Trees were added along the perimeter of the yard from the inventory of trees I had on-hand. 
Step 9: I added vehicles from my collection, a Weico FC Holden Ute, Weico Ford F100 tray truck and I modified a Weico Bedford TK using a Peter Young longer wheel base and adding further details such as under carriage, side mirrors and driver. 
The completed scenery is shown in the top picture.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Christmas 2020

 It has been an extraordinary year 2020, I never thought I would live through a pandemic in which all our plans and busyness of life went out the window. The song by The Byrds "Turn! Turn! Turn! is probably apt for the year of 2020 in which we realise we don't have full control of our future and that there is a time and place for everything. 

Despite the lockdowns and restrictions in social and kids activities, I was able to reflect on life and appreciate life and its blessings. Home, family, work and of course my hobby model railway. I also was able to have time to complete some long overdue projects.

Merry Christmas to all and enjoy this time of year.  Best wishes for 2021 and hope it is a better year that 2020. 

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Its SpringTime - Jacaranda Season

Winter has gone and spring has arrived. With the abundant colours of Spring, our neighbour blooms with Jacaranda trees at this time each year. For my layout,  I want to have some jacaranda trees planted so I search around looking for colour foilage, to bring this part of the layout to life.

Above: Finished section with Jacaranda Trees blooming.

Above: Completed Jacaranda trees with completed Terrace houses. 

Above: One of the many large Jacaranda trees blooming in the my nearby suburb taken on 22 November 2020

Bring the area to life.
One of challenges and time absorbing aspects of modelling a suburban or rural setting is the effort and time in bring the area to life. Below is the corner area that has been dormant for over year without any scenery. I needed to fill these areas in which would look appropriate but also with the items I had on hand. 
Above: corner area that is to be detailed with scenery.

The Terrace House

As my layout is based in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, it would be appropriate to have at least a row of late 1800s terrace houses. However, by the 1950s, terraced houses were very much working class houses and very run down, unlike today where these houses are now sought after and craftily restored or renovated. The basis of my house is an LJ cardboard Terraced house. These kits are no longer available. However, as these card kits can be quite flimsy if made as is, I replaced the cardboard roof with model corrugated iron and reinforced the walls and floor with balsa wood. I also gave each house a separate distinct character to reflect the standard of living for each occupant. 

Making Jacaranda Trees
I previously made gum trees using old electrical power cord and no more gaps. I use light green foilage for the leaves. Instead of making new trees for Jacarandas, I was able to find purple foilage at the Epping Model Railway Buy and Swap Meet last November (2019).

It was simply a matter of ripping of the green foilage and dipping the branches in white glue and dipping the trees in the zip-lock bag containing the purple foilage.
Voila and the Jacaranda trees are present. 

Friday, 2 October 2020

Two Yards does not equal Two metres

I completed my first year yard area back in 20151, being the Wardell Goods yard. This second yard will take place in the 3rd phase of the layout covering the "Newtown" end. I have named it Crago n Dairy Yard as the industries as the sidings for the industries will include milk and flour (as per Crago Flour Mill which is located in Newtown but now currently repurposed as apartments and art studio/offices.

Brief summary of the Control Panel

The control Panel for the second yard consists of 5 points crossing over a bridge and includes a Tram point. All points are medium turnouts and are powered by Peco motors.  As per the previous yard I used red and green 3mm LEDS with green meaning the mainline or straight section and red meaning siding or turning. I also used miniature DPDT monetary toggle switches for each turn out. 

Each point motor has 4 wires two to the switch and 2 wires to the Capacity discharge unit. I also used the PL-13 Accessory switch attached to the motor to determine which direction the point is turning on the LEDS. Wiring description is in my previous post 1

Finally I added a Hex frog juicer so that all points will have continuous power especially on the frog. 

Lessons learnt from my previous yard include the following:
  1. When using the point motors with the long shaft I DID NOT cut them(until all testing is working as it should) so if I needed to make an adjustment in moving the point motor placement it will be easier to locate the hole in the turnout.
  2. Instead of soldering on the wires to the motor or toggle switches, I used Phone In crimpled lugs to crimpled to all the wires. This made it easier to remove the wires when testing and making any adjustments.
Above: Point motor and PL-13 Accessory switch with Phone in Crimpled lugs used. 

Challenges faced
Despite the above the following challenges were faced:
  1. I only a 6mm Drill bit for the layout holes where the point motor shaft connects with the point. I should have drilled it using at least an 8mm or 10 mm to ensure that the shaft has sufficient clearance. 
  2. There was difficulty in trying to use the Peco wood screws to screw the point motor adaptor bases in the underside of the layout. I tried to screw under the layout and it was difficult to ensure that the motor was aligned correctly. I had to tweak a couple of times to ensure that the shaft was free for movement. 
  3. As a result of 2) there two points that I had to ditch the mounting plate adaptor and chisel out a bigger hole and directly attach the point motor to the point. As per below.  

 Finished Product
Attached video shows how the toggle switches work

Overview of Yard