Monday, January 31, 2011

What's in a name? Part 2

The 'history' of SSC has been something I've been working on for a while. As the location is real, and the actual railway is not, I found it quite enjoyable giving some meat to the layout's bones.
So for those of you with a bit of time, as mentioned in yesterday's post here is the 'real' story of SSC.

Splitters Swamp Creek

The main north line between Boorolong (Black Mountain's original name) and Glen Innes opened in August 1884. The Branch line between Boorolong and Neleh siding opened in March 1922.

The line breaks from the mainline just north of Boorolong and arrives at Evans' Gap (Splitters Swamp Creek) some 52 miles northwest.

Interim Stations from Boorolong are: Aaronwood 12 miles, Hoskinvale siding 28 miles, Sheet 'O' Bark Creek siding 34 miles, Evans' Gap (SSC) 52 miles, terminating at Neleh siding 60 miles.

A Reason for Being

Splitters Swamp Creek came into existence for the prime reason of cutting and felling timber. Late in the 19th century timber getters trekked into the area in the search for quality hardwood.

The local timber mill became the focus of industry in the area, and was serviced by a cheaply constructed narrow gauge line. The end of 'The Great War' saw progressive changes in the area, with an injection of funds from the government and incentives to link with the mainline track work at Boorolong.

Outline of the Local Area

The construction of the town beside the mill is certainly not ideal geographically speaking. Due to the limitations that the steep terrain forced upon the settlers, the town is located fairly closely to Splitters Swamp Creek. The creek itself has a steady flow year round, however after heavy rain on the main range it does create flood issues for the immediate area. The area of flat land on the northern bank of the creek was popular with squatters early on, until the development of the mill and it's associated railway. Further south (at Aaronwood) the land opens up, and has been significantly cleared for grazing and other farming methods.

History- Evans' Gap

Mr Robert Darcy Evans trekked up into the hills behind Aaronwood in the December of 1845, clearly a man with great expectations for what the hills would hold. Mr Evans had been involved with timber getting in victoria, near Noojee, not far from Lake Mt.

It took the mountains of the main range to truly inspire this man to assert himself as a pioneer of the area. His years of milling had given him an expert eye for timber. The gap in the range that bears his name is his greatest find, without it the fine tall timber would never have been successfully (financially) removed and taken to market. The narrow gauge track work he had laid was simple but effective, enabling him to move goods in and out of 'his' town. The original line finished with the hills at Hoskinvale.

History- Splitters Swamp Creek

The creek itself runs through a depression near Evans' Gap, that after heavy rain always broke it's banks and flooded the local area. The creek was named by the timber workers from the local mill. Early on in the late 1880's the area was known as Murphy's Marsh after a squatter who entered the area in 1861 and staked a squat on the land below Evans' Gap. By 1865 Murphy was supplying the district with most of its alcoholic requirements. Murphy left the squat for his brother in 1874 after an ongoing issue with an increasing law enforcement presence in the area. Angus Murphy took over the squat and set about starting a school for the isolated families in the district. The school building still stands today, a product of a young community working together to help advance their town.

History- Evans' Gap Station

The station became a reality in 1922, as part of a post war construction period that began in 1918. The link from Boorolong to Neleh (pronounced nelly) siding was proposed in June 1919. The tender for construction was won by J.Boyde & Sons at a cost of... per mile. The line opened in early March 1922, with all the track work complete.

The link to the mill was the prime focus of the railway and so the balance of goods and station facilities were not completed till the following year. The timber production rate had always been high, however after joining to Boorolong it had more than doubled.

Rolling stock, Loco's & Facilities

The location and distance from Sydney meant that most of the rolling stock and locomotives were well out of circulation in the Sydney district years before. Since the area had many small radius curves, loco's with bogie tenders and tank locomotives were the mainstays of operation. 13 Class, 19 Class, 20 Class, 30T & 32 Class were the most popular. There were no turning facilities along the branch line, so running tender first was commonplace.

When diesels finally made there way onto the branch line there were few other choices than the 48 and 49 class locomotives. The line was certainly in decline by then, and only a restricted number of goods were brought to the area. Railmotors were rarely sighted on the line and those that were were certainly popular with the locals.

The station building was well away from the town itself, so saw little use. In fact the people of the town saw fit to construct their own 'station building' much later on, and is still in use today 'unofficially'. The goods shed was large for the area, and was always full of consignments and assorted deliveries. It's crane not used nearly as much as that in the mill. A loading bank saw plenty of use early on, with many locals using it to ferry goods about, and the occasional horse or two.

The livestock area is located in the southern end of the yard. The area is located close to the grassed area on the banks of Splitters Swamp Creek, the spot used for years by graziers in the area high above Aaronwood.

The products both produced (timber, livestock) and brought in by rail was so varied, the rolling stock mirrored this fact.

So there you have it, a bit of an outline of the line, Geoff.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's in a name?

I should apologise for the insult on your senses that this photo gives you, but it does serve a distinct purpose. It gives an actual location for my layout. J thought that it was a typical 'look' for me so there you go. Nope not a train to be seen, not closeby anyway. The photo is taken on the way to Armidale at last years convention. The region does have many of the things I enjoy about railways, rise and fall in the topography, bridges, rivers, and plenty of space, but no branchline. I love the simple 'just enough to get the job done' facilities and infrastructure that 'pioneer' lines of NSW have.

Before I go any further I should thank Bob of SCR blog fame for the motivation to put this post together. I thoroughly enjoyed his latest post and thought, 'what a great idea'. So Bob consider this act of imitation as a sincere form of flattery.

The area of northern NSW around Black Mountain and Gurya has a great deal to offer. In particular the track layout and general layout around Black Mountain does attract me, but it is mainline. The way the line curves around the side of the mountain, and also the mix of simple facilities that were there, even down to the ash ballasted track that even today you can walk along and pick up.

Apart from northern NSW, the west does have some great branches. The Grenfell line does really get me in, ever since reading the article in AJRM where BBB writes about his visit to the area many years ago. The local townships, and general size of the stations from Koorawatha till the end of the line would suit my purposes, especially for a home layout, but that's a whole other story!
The above photo shows SSC meandering it's way across this open field, with a local homestead beyond. This photo is the scenery and 'feel' that I'd like to be able to re-create. I have also put together a bit of a history of the line, that I'll put with the layout when on display. This should give the railway a place of defined location and purpose, we'll see.

Have a good week, Geoff

Monday, January 24, 2011

The navvies are back at work!

This week has been a busy one. What with work and all that is happening there to the quickly approaching end to the school holidays for J and Z, it's a wonder I've had any time out the front.

A little bit of time most evenings is enabling me to get some small jobs done during the week, and set me up for more productive time spent on the weekend. The sleepers for the second yard of SSC are glued down. The stressing of the timber seems to take a lot longer than the actual staining process. The timber work of the first of four turnouts is down, three to go.

During the week I also painted the facia the final black colour. I couldn't wait till I'd glued on the black carpet that I'll eventually be doing. The matt black really does make a difference to how the layout is viewed, I spose it's like the framing of a picture in that it keeps your attention on the actual layout.

There was a little bit of white glue and tissues stuck on the layout up one end. A bit of a starting point for all the scenery that is to come. Once it has hardened some more of the 'shell' of the scenery can be applied. Anyway enough chat! Time for a photo and I'm done, have a great week! Geoff.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Backdrop painting progress

Tonight I had a bit of time out in the shed to add to the paint that had dried on the back scene that I'd begun on the weekend. There's not much detail in the trees as I'll be covering a fair bit with some modelled trees directly in front of the back scene. The modules are not very deep so I need to keep the scenery simple, but hopefully still recognisable as aussie bush.

The layers of foam are a bit of a mock up of the height that I was thinking I'd want the background landforms to be. The cutting would be faced with some rock work, so the gap on either side of the track is wider than what it will end up.

It has been a welcomed break from the track work, but a loco can't run on the ground, so I will be back into it soon. Geoff.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Throwing some paint around

Now that the New Year has well and truly begun it's time to make good on the 'resolutions' that I again made a list of this year. As far as modelling goes they're simple really,

1. Don't start another project, unless I have less than three on the go.

2. Be regular in my modelling, allow time for the hobby that I enjoy.

3. Have more regular 'modelling' nights with the fella's.

There you go simple really.

Today I began working on the second of these year long endeavours, regular modelling. During the construction of my layout I've been trying to complete things in a methodical manner, as this is my first time at this. I want to complete each module as far as the scenery is concerned from the back to the front. This means that the backdrop is the first thing to do after the track work is done. Well I really needed a break from the trackwork so onto the backscene painting instead.

The painting is something I find rather enjoyable. As yet I'm not sure if others would find it as enjoyable after the product is completed! These photos are of the work in progress and I've gone on a bit from here. I did find that painting and having a beer did make the experience alot more enjoyable.

As usual I've loaded the photos in the wrong order. The first is actually the centre shot of the module, whilst the second is the RH end with the track disappearing into the backscene. The third is another of the centre of the module, making the clouds a bit easier to see. Clouds, can't get them right, this will have to do.

A quick post tonight and with some photos! See ya, Geoff.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Baby Steps

Today was the first time in ages that I've actually done anything to do with railway modelling. What with the festive season, and the various shifts it gives me, along with some interstate visitors, the time spent on model railway pursuits has been very slim.

The dust covers over SSC were removed and a fair bit of the clutter that had accumulated around it was removed to 'file 13'. The New Year does have a little effect on me, especially anything that hasn't been used since the previous years celebrations, (mainly the cast-off pile) is disposed of.

The rain has kept the air fairly moist in our state so I was on the look out for any mould that may have taken up residence. For the most part it was pretty good, just one part of an exposed module seemed to have been effected. I gave it all a bit of a dust and a vacuum to get it back up to scratch.

I took apart the modules as I have to finish mounting the lighting on the last module. I then realised why I'd not finished it before, I'd run out of three core. The backdrop for this module is in need of painting like the other three. As you may remember I purchased some blue paint awhile back to redo the back scenes in the same hue of blue. Now the backdrop is completely installed, lighting mounted and still to be wired up, but much closer.

I'm off to the Fish and Chip shop for a healthy dinner for all the Burns's, then after some painting of backdrops if time permits.

So the New Year for me modelling wise, is to complete one job or project, before starting another. With the number of already started projects it might be awhile before something new is begun. On another blog I follow the author Scott lists the projects he has and where he is up to. This is something I plan to do asap. a simple idea and it serves to keep you on track.

Happy New Year to all, Geoff.