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.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

DA for sale

Well-lit front
I'm selling my DA, 1400. It's not really in keeping with the 90s theme of my layout.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

GBD 10ft containers II

So, it turns out some of the detail on my container was too fine...

I've fixed it now.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

GBD 10ft containers

GBD, another image stolen from Darryl Bonds website.
Another project, this time a request - the GBD containers of the 1970s. From the GBD page on NZ Railways Rolling stock it seems there were a few variations, and they've all been rebuilt a few times over, with the doors being moved around a bit.

I asked for the plans and Ev on uploaded them. Awesome. From the looks of things the remaining examples are used for grain cartage, and have had their doors moved to the roof and sides.

First shot at it...
However for the period I model (and the requester) it seems the doors were located on the front.
GBD containers being loaded onto container wagons (possibly USQ's?) at Auckland in the 70s.
Take II:

Available now in 1:64 and 1:87 scale.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

HLC coal containers part I

HLC coal containers were introduced in the late 1980s. I purchased two kits from Darryl Palmer a while back, and I've finally got onto assembling them. I'm going to paint mine in the early 1990s Railfreight colours (i.e. grey with NZRL logos and "Railfreight Bulk Products" on the side). Only one was actually painted in this way, but as usual I'm taking liberties for the sake of my favourite branding...

HLC kit parts

Assembled kit. Next I'll add in a floor.
Assembly is pretty straightforward, as you'd expect there's a bit of cleaning up of the castings but otherwise it's a quick and easy build.


Free free to re-use... Railfreight doen't exist anymore!

HLC with Railfreight Bulk Products logo

Here's a pic of the HLC on a demo train. The curtain-side container is a GST, and a ZBP wagon is coupled to that.

Friday, November 8, 2013

ZBP "Pulpliner" VII

A quick weather spray and it's pretty much all done now. Pleased with the way its come out.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

ZBP "Pulpliner" VI

The real thing, courtesy of Darryl Palmer
Almost done. Just need to add couplers, paint a few details (i.e. the shunter's grip thingee) and weather and it's done:

Yes, the large shadow is mine...
A slightly less blurry version...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

HWT wood chip container I

Part of my layout will feature a sawmill scene, with the sawmill itself "out of scene" and only part of a storage building / loading shelter and woodchip silo visible. For the woodchip silo I'll of course need woodchip wagons... and the HWT wood chip containers seem to be the perfect fit for a 1990s layout:
From NZR Rolling Stock Lists
The majority of the wood chip containers are HFC class. These are just converted ISO containers, with the roofs taken off. The HWT class were meant as a better alternative to containers, they had greater capacity and, more importantly, could tip when a hydraulic ram was applied to unload the woodchips.

From KiwiBonds
HWT 16, pictured above, was the prototype which came out in 1993. It was originally painted grey, as per the KiwiBonds pic above, but was later re-painted green with a Railfreight logo applied, and the branding "FibreLiner" (which was the style at the time... along with "SpaceRunner" for the ZH class, "SpaceRacer" for the ZG class and I'm sure plenty of other brand names). Named wagons was some sort of 90s thing.

HWT 16 was an orphan for three years until the then Tranz Rail, as NZ Rail became in 1995, had won the woodchip traffic from Portland - Port Whangarei. The production HWTs were significantly taller and shorter than the prototype, but were also 'tipping' and operated by hydraulic rams.

In my fantasy world, the original prototype went into production, hence I can have multiple HWTs mounted on UK wagons with woodchip traffic.

I'm also in the process of designing on the hoof a woodchip silo (see my other thoughts here), more on that later. Before I do I need some basic measurements for the container to get the silo's height correct. So I rapid-prototyped a container this evening in front of TV, thanks to the plans being available in the February 2005 edition of the NZ Model Railway Journal:

The plans were photocopied and glued to cardboard.
 It was one of those basic squares with a few flaps added jobs, but it did the trick:
HWT at the site of the yet-to-be-built woodchip silo.
As you can see, the sides are bent inwards, to fit within the loading gauge.
 Eventually I'll get around to making one (probably with the outer parts 3D printed)...

Sunday, October 13, 2013

LWD tank container in 1:87 scale (HO scale or NZ87)

Not much to update on this week... I've not spent much time in the garage (apart from fiddling a bit with the track), and on the 3D front I've only done a scale-down design for a fellow Shapeways member who asked for a 1:87 version of my LWD tank container design. Here it is.
LWD containers being loaded in the 1990s, with Railfreight decals.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Response to Peter Ross on 3D Printing

A response to Peter Ross, regarding his comment in the June New Zealand Model Railway Journal:

About a decade ago, the Journal noted an ongoing and seemingly unstoppable decline in new adherents of the model railway hobby. Club memberships are in decline, magazine sales falling and anyway, kids these days are more interested in video games.

About the same time, I noticed an increase in newbies to the hobby who were playing around with Microsoft's Train Simulator and Auran's Railworks. They started making 3D models for use in the game, and "skins" for them based on whatever the current liveries were  (just look at all the 3D models submitted to - the breadth of models available is very impressive). I thought at the time this was a huge loss to the hobby, as most people playing train simulators were, obviously, already interested in railways and willing to spend hours making up routes (effectively digital versions of our physical layouts) and drawing models.

While 3D printing has been around since the 80s, it has only really taken off in recent years due to the trifecta of increasing low-cost electronics, freely available CAD software and the internet. It's now possible for someone with fairly basic CAD skills and an internet connection to manufacturer plastic components as they desire. The technology is having a major impact on everything from jewellery to (more worryingly) gun manufacture. Even NASA is sending a 3D printer into space to produce otherwise bulky and heavy tools and equipment as its required, rather than having to send up entire tool kits. The technology has massive implications for manufacturing which I won't go into here - but one prediction has stated it could be as important to human progress as the invention of the printing press.

I'm certainly a fan of the technology, and have made use of it myself. My view is that it's pretty good for making awkward parts that aren't easy to replicate in styrene, at least in 1:64. But I'm not so sure such glowing predictions will prove to be accurate. Like Peter in his June comment in the Journal, I do think 3D printing can be seen as something like a tool for all purposes. It's also absolutely true that the quality of some of the models isn't nearly as good as other traditional methods. I suspect this is because many of the models being printed are coming out in the cheaper materials (which tend to show up the "layered" nature of 3D printing) rather than the ultra-detail materials which look far better, if not better detailed than traditional methods allow. At the moment I would say such models look best in NZ120 scale, rather the larger scales.

Regardless of quality though, the critical point is that 3D printing is opening up New Zealand model railways as a hobby to many more people. In particular those born since the internet became a feature of our lives. I have to take my hat off to Peter Bryant's exceptional work in this area. Peter has produced many models that would otherwise never have been made. The economic realities of making models for New Zealand's unusual gauge for our small market. To my mind the combination of train simulators' and their CAD designs and 3D printing will ensure that modeling New Zealand's railways will prosper in the long term, rather than go into decline. While I accept that 3D printing doesn't yet have the quality of, say, laser-cut that isn't the issue.

Monday, October 7, 2013

LWD 10ft bulk liquid container II

I've ordered a print of my LWD container. Now for the decals...
Enough decals for 3 containers.
The NZ Model Railway Journal shows on its design that the containers had the text "bulk wine" with the Railfreight logo and typeface, but it seems there aren't any pictures of this text actually ever appearing on the containers.

Monday, September 30, 2013

LWD 10ft bulk liquid container

Another project I've been meaning to get stuck in to for a while:

The plans for the LWD came from the March 2009 edition of the New Zealand Model Railway Journal. 25 of these LWD class 10ft bulk liquid containers were introduced by NZR in the late 1970s.
Stolen from NZR Rolling Stock Lists
KiwiBonds has a great pic of two containers sitting on a UK class container wagon at Auckland in the 1990s:
Stolen from KiwiBonds
The model itself is closer to the 1990s version than the 70s one. You just need to add in the ladders (too fine for 3D printing) and gangways/handrails.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Scenery II

Work on the corner module has continued:

Ahem... opps, distracted by the KiwiRail display train

And checking out an AK class carriage interior...

Almost done. It does look a bit bland.

Close up of the tunnel portal. The hardest thing to do in this scene was the tunnel lining...

A birds-eye view of the corner module.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DXR 8007 part III

Some progress on this loco. Earlier this week a mate of mine cut the ends off the fuel tank on the Athearn chassis I acquired for the DXR. Here's the result:

Primer grey.

As you can see the loco's in a primer grey, with about 90% of the handrails done - the only ones missing are the side ones behind the cab (as you can see from the pic). These will be added shortly, along with brake hoses, horns and stanchions for the rear handrail. After that it's off to the paint shop, the chassis will be re-painted black (it's currently silver) along with the bogies first, followed by the blue bits, yellow bits and finally the grey bits (i.e. the cab and roof).

LED light strips II

So, it turns out you can get LED light strips far cheaper online - this website, which my cousin pointed out to me, has similar SMD LED light strips for just $8.10 US or $9.30 NZ for one, for +10 they're $7.85 NZD each. So basically, paying $25 each for light strips was a rip off.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

LED light strips

The main light blew in the garage man cave a few weeks back, so I decided to replace it with those fancy LED lighting strips you see at the likes of Jaycar. They're 12V DC powered so the hardest part was finding the appropriate power supply.

Luckily I had an hold PC power supply I stole from somewhere, which has outputs varying from 33V AC to 5V DC, and of course 12V DC. The unit itself didn't have a switch, so I took the cover off to figure what wires actually switched the unit on and off... turns out it was the purple and grey wires which went to an isolated part of the power supply's internal board. They were connected together and the fan started spinning... so far so good!

Next I removed the old light, and the cabling with it. My original plan was to connect the wires that went to the old light to the power supply (via a male and female 240V plug). However once I wired it all up the old circuit didn't want to work. Nevermind.

Meanwhile I added two lighting strips to the cross-beams in the garage. This is pretty easy as the strips have 3M adhesive strips on them. They come with plugs pre-soldered on, so adding a second set was pretty easy. As you can see they put out a lot of light, pretty good considering they use much less energy than traditional incandescent lights.

I'll add more of these strips as I go - they only cost about $25 a pop. I'll probably eventually remove the halogen set I installed at the end of the garage as a second light source and replace them with LED strips as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013


And a bit of scenery work this afternoon as well.

First, a stream:
A stream of PVA
Then some additional "slither" on the hill next to the sawmill site:

I've since glued the slither down further so it doesn't look too bushy.

3D printed ZM wagon II

Carrying on with my obsession with Roman numerals, I've finally got back to the ZM wagon mentioned a few months ago. Basically John Harris pointed out that the struts on Peter's original model were wrong, so I've modified them myself (Peter's subsequently updated the wagon). The wagon's also had a quick primer, as you can see this has made the worst of the powdery plastic disappear.

Next I'll add the handrails and it'll be off to the paint booth with my ZBP wagon and a Cross Creek ZP I've assembled.

The final scheme for the ZM will be Cato blue, ala this wagon on a recent shunt to Tamaki (I've been between jobs recently so popped down to the local sidings to snap this shunt, which usually runs about the middle of the day):

Not sure if I'll grafitti my wagon like this one...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ZH class in 1:64 II

So, I ordered one of Pete's ZH wagons today off Shapeways, along with the NZ120 version of my ZBP parts. Hopefully they'll print all ok this time.

I've wanted a ZH for some time but other projects have got in the way - so I was very keen to see how one of Peter's prints will come out. The next issue is what decals to use - since I'm modeling the 1990-1995 era of New Zealand Rail Ltd, I was keen to make decals along the lines of the design used for the AusRail '95 ZH wagon, published in the October 2000 edition of the Journal. However, the design itself was in black and white - so after posting a question on the New Zealand Locomotives Facebook group, many pics were forthcoming. Stacy Chandler came up with this gem:

ZH 82 with the "New Zealand Rail" logo applied for AusRail '95. Pic from Stacy Chandler, used with permission.
 ...I've come up with these decals:
Feel free to copy them for your own models (or scale them down for NZ120 versions).