Welcome to New Zealand Rail 120, Lewis Holden's blog on modelling railways in New Zealand. I'm now modelling in 1:87 (HOn3.5). For NZR plans see the Plans page, or the NZ120 Facebook group.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Depot rebuild II

Damn non-matching ballast
My other project today was ballasting the track into the depot. All done, but now it doesn't match the older, greyer ballast. Damn.

Fertiliser unloading II

Started work on the fertiliser unloading pit today. Using the rough dimensions I've been able to garner from Google Maps, I measured the pit width and removed the sleepers from under the rail, and cut out a  section of the underlay I use (foam bedding). Unfortunately some is still stuck to the baseboard.

Next, I bought some wire mesh from Gordon Harris. It's not cheap, but looks the part. It's very fine so needs to be cut with scissors. Excess wire tends to simply fall off, or needs to be carefully pealed off.

Once it was measured and cut, it was time to bend the edges. I used the edge of my metal ruler to bend the edges. The centre part was the hardest as both sides needed to be folded.

Next it's off to the paint shop. The mesh is a little finer than I thought, but should thicken up a with a coat of paint.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fertiliser unloading

I'm planning on having a fertiliser siding in the corner of the layout, where CF wagons (I've currently got one kit on the go) are unloaded and their contents transferred to trucks for distribution on local farms.

Looking around, there aren't many great examples of fert unloading sidings in this country that are out in the open... except for the Ballance Agri-Nutrients siding in Washdyke, north of Timaru, on the former Fairlie Branch. It features in the December 2002 edition of the NZ Model Railway Journal with some pretty good shots of the unloading pit (it's basically a large concrete slab with a screen in the middle). Wagons out of the Ballance works at Awarua (south of Invercargill) are hauled over the screen as their contents are disgorged into the pit, where the fertiliser is picked up by a giant conveyor which feeds into the storage area:

Pretty plain... but the look I'm after.
Unfortunately the view on Google Earth isn't as close as I'd like, but here's the closest you can get to the unloading pit:

Unloading pit is just above where the truck trailers are.
The great thing about Google maps is you can use the measurement tool to get the basic measurements:

I'll work on a plan based on how much space there is on the baseboard, but the building should be pretty easy to put together - just lots of fine corrugated cardboard, probably built around a balsa and card structure.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Depot rebuild

Rainy days
The weather's been pretty foul today, so I took to ripping up and re-laying track on the depot module. I've been meaning to do this for a while, replacing the medium-radius PECO turnouts with large-radius turnouts.

I'm going to take out the silly back-shunt I put in as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Right said FRED - part IV

Kitchen table modelin'
So, the container is now attached and (badly) decaled and the FRED unit built from strip styrene. Now to weather the thing so no-one notices how badly the decals were put on...

But seriously, it's bloody hard to put large decals on ribbed container sides. Next time I'll stick to flat-sided NZR containers for the 80s and 70s. You know the kind:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Random Squiggles

Lack of updates here for a while, apologies. I've been playing with SCARM to see what I could do. 

The dark blue line is the outline of the existing baseboards, everything else is... well, unsupported at the moment. Track marked in red is what's actually been laid. Everything else is ... um, unlaid:

And here it is in 3D:
No glasses required.
The 3D render hides the hidden tracks on the left hand side. This is a fiddle-cum-storage area. There's a couple of things I'd change, a few curves need to be smoothed out. Overall I like the concept. Thoughts?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Right said FRED - part III

A USL log wagon with FRED attached in the New Lynn trench.
It's Sunday and that means time to play trains. Also it's raining and I couldn't do the lawns.
First take one UK wagon...
 So, I drilled two holes in the UK's brass sheet deck - the first close to where the 40ft container would sit, the other on the side of the wagon. I made this hole big enough to add in a micro-switch.

I then used my hot glue gun to secure the battery pack and circuitry, and used a wire-tie to tidy the whole thing up:
As you can see I got impatient and added the LED...
I then fixed a small balsa-wood block to the deck to hold the container in place. I'e also (finally!) cut a top for the container, which will need to be painted, decalled and weathered next.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Right said FRED - part II

Ok,  nothing to update you on - just a link to a forum post on the sort of thing I'm putting together with a UK wagon and container.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What I did on Sunday...

Track (sort of) ready to go.
Corner section is now built... I couldn't wait and put in place some flex track, looks like it should be fine.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Baseboard expansions

It's a long weekend here in NZ and my kid brother has come up from Wellington to spend Easter with us. He's a builder and offered his services to expand my layout's baseboards in the garage substantially.

Now to connect it all up...
And here's a new CAD rendering of what it all looks like:
Look at all those green pastures...
Basically the depot track is all that's in place at the moment.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Right said FRED - part I

This arrived in the mail the other day, another TradeMe purchase:

Wires and LEDs.
It's the circuitry for a FRED, or Flashing Rear-End Device. It's the flashing thing at the back of trains that replaced guards vans in 1987.

If you've ever wondered whats inside shipping containers, this won't help.
So I've removed the top off a 40-ft container that will eventually be permanently attached to a UK wagon with the FRED circuit inside and a battery pack (I thought of doing track pick-up but with AC current being used for DCC you'd need to add in an annoying rectifier and step down the voltage to 3v... too much hard work!).

The kit itself came with two different LEDs to attach - a small and really small one. I think I'll use the really small one.

Here's a video of the FRED in action on Westimaton's YouTube channel.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

HO trainiac

I was going to write a more interesting post about FREDs, but that will have to wait for another day. Instead, here's the Big Bang Theory on model trains.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

NZR track and more III

Part II here.

Righto, so after the camping mat was glued in place, it was painted quickly using some cheap acrylic paint (I think called "Burned Sienna") - it looks brown like dirt, which is the main thing:

Then it was time to add a powerfeed to the NZR track I'd made up. At the break in the track I filed away the oxidisation on the fishplates, and soldered hook-up wire to each rail:

I then drilled holes for the wires.

And now the track's in place:

Here's the holes for the wires with the track in place:

Then back come the books to hold the track in place as the glue dried:

Finally, I painted the sides of the track using Humbrol enamel "rust" in Matt. I can't remember exactly what its number is:

The next step will be to remove the paint from the top of the rail (with a fine-grade sandpaper), and away we go. I've already tested the track with Thomas and my DX, and it works fine.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

NZR track and more II

Part I here.

So apparently Blogger restricts you to seven pictures per post, so here's part II of this originally one-part post on making NZR track using Online's plastic NZR sleepers:

Here's what they look like straight out of the packet. You've got to remove the casting thingee in the middle first.

...then start to feed one of the rails through the first set.

 It's a good idea to alternate the side the sleeper supports go on, as above.
 The whole process takes about half an hour for a 1m section of flex track.

 Voila! With the PVA dried and the books removed, here's a quick test run of the NZR track in situ. I'll paint over the camping mat first with a brown acrylic, just so none of that unnatural blue shows up through the ballast and ground cover.
Thomas was disappointed with the lack of tracklaying progress.
Ok, off to make another section of flex track. It's a pretty satisfying job to see all those correctly spaced (well mostly) sleepers in place ready to go.

Next post I'll go into making the track look rusty, and ballasting the track to mainline standards.

NZR track and more

Ok, I realise this blog has had very little in the way of actual modelling from myself. However now I've finally got most of the garage unpacked, I've started dreaming of what it could look like. Enter modifications to the first (and so far only) module I've built, courtesy of SCARM:
Basically all I've done is added a track at the back of the module, which will eventually form the main line. The depot trackage remains the same, apart from the coal siding back-shunt which has been truncated. Here's an idea of what it looked like prior to the new track being added:
Thomas in Kiwiland.
As you can see, the trusty Thomas the Tank Engine test locomotive is on the current depot tracks. There was 10cm at the back the module to add in the new mainline, so I removed a strip of the ground cover and some of the camping mat. PECO code-100 flex track in place at the moment doesn't look right, but more on that in a minute.

First, I added in a new strip of camping mat. This idea comes from an article Peter Ross published in the Journal a while back. It's a cheaper alternative to cork, which I've used in the past, and more pliable. The only downside is that it forms these awful beads, but this can be overcome by using a sharp Stanley knife. The camping mat I've got is about 1cm thick. I bought it at the Warehouse a few years ago for next to nothing.

So, I cut a strip of camping mat and put it in place, then applied PVA liberally onto the baseboard. I then put assorted books to weigh it down while it dried (yes, I mainly have NZR books in the garage):
The Spirit of Tracklaying...
Don't worry if there's PVA leaking out the sides, the bond will be stronger that way.
The PVA takes a few hours to dry, so in the meantime I set about making some NZR track using Online plastic NZR sleepers. Here's how.

First, take your bog standard flex track. I use PECO code 100, mainly because I find code 83 twists too easily.

Before you ask, my nephew(s) broke the tractor.
We need to remove their out-of-scale and badly coloured sleepers. Second, I run my Stanley knife down one side of the ties to cut them off the rail.
Try this at home. Just be careful with the knife.
Third, remove the rail that you've cut the ties off, then break the sleepers off the opposite side:
Now you've got two sections of nice Code 100 rail to feed through your Online NZR sleepers.

For some reason Blogger restricts posts to 7 images, so here's Part II.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Came across this great website on the New Zealand Locomotives Yahoo Group. Will add it to the links to your right.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Napier in action

No models yet I'm sorry, still unpacking from the big move last weekend. In the meantime, here's a great film of the Port of Napier (no trains sadly):

Monday, January 16, 2012

Light weights

Strong enough to hold a DJ.
In 1:64 scale.
In the latest NZ Model Railway Journal, there's an interesting article on building light-weight baseboards using MDF and plywood blocks. After doing a bit of digging around on the internet, I found this website which describes putting together such baseboards.

I'm thinking I might remove the heavy pine framing I'm currently using to hold up my depot module and replace it with MDF framing. Seems to be a much better option.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Actual station names may vary.
No that's not scram spelled wrong... I'm moving house on Friday (it has a much larger garage which I very quickly claimed) so all of the trains are packed up.

In the mean time I've been playing with a piece of software called SCARM (Simple Computer Aided Railway Modeller). I've used a few other pieces of CAD software before for layouts, but nothing has come close to the simplicity and intuitive interface of SCARM. It's not a huge download, and easily translates your track plans into 3D (see screenshot above).

The best part is its huge track database, which includes PECO, the brand of track I'm using. You can also print off your designs to ease the construction of the layout. Simple and straightforward - just as software should be.