Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wishing All a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The Cassilis Goods is waiting for the signal so it can make the last run out along the branch before Christmas.

Best wishes from Ray and Christine

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Fun Week of Modelling

Back Story

About a year ago I finally bought a Wombat Models Drumhead Smokebox C30T with the 6 wheel tender when there were very few left. It was a bit of an on the spot decision.

My problem was that I wanted/needed a bogie tender version for my Cassilis Branch and Wombat hadn't announced an intention to do the bogie version at the time.

So my idea was to pinch the tender from one of my Eureka Models D50s and replace it with an etched turret tender as I had both a Lloyds kit and an Andian kit.

After launching my new Australian made brass NSWGR Lower Quadrant signals recently I decided that the time had come to attack the C30T. Email me for information regarding ordering (

The first step was to open up the 6 wheel tender to remove the 8 pin tender/loco connector that I would use on the sound decoder in the D50 tender. I had saved some wiring information for the 6 wheel tender/loco connector that Gerry Hopkins had posted some time ago on a Facebook group for reference.

Wombat Models C30T 6 Wheel tender Wiring by Gerry Hopkins
The sound decoder was a 21 pin Soundtraxx Tsunami 2 Steam 2 which was nice and small. Then the issue was identifying the correct wiring to connect the 21 pins to the 8 pin tender/loco connector. I used a 21 pin diagram I found in the ESU Loksound 4 Manual and cross referenced this with both Gerry's wiring for the C30T 6 wheel tender/ loco connector and the Tsunami 2 decoder. I made up a table including the correct wire colours to ensure that I didn't get my 'wires crossed'. I used an ESU 51967 21MTC Adapter Board to plug the decoder into and solder the various wires to the 8 pin tender/loco connector.

I removed the QSI Titan, speaker, etc. from the Eureka Models D50 tender for later inclusion in the etched Turret tender.

I also wired in a TCS KA2 Keep Alive and a Model Railroad Craftsman Micro Boost 'sugar cube' speaker with 13 x 17 x 7 mm enclosure that I have had for a few years. All components were held in place with some 'BluTak' (actually orange).

A rectangular hole was cut into the front wall of the D50 tender below the small floor section for the wires to exit the tender. The connections between the C30T and the tender were pushed into a space below the C30T cab at the rear of the chassis.

One thing I do with loco/tender connections either wired through or with plug/socket connections is to use a 2 mm button die (available from JayCar 11-2019) and put some threads on the tender pin and then use a nut to retain the loco connection bar to stop it from coming off the pin when handling the model. The pin was unscrewed from the tender, held in a pin vice that was then held in a bench vice and the 2 mm die was then used to cut about 2 good threads onto the lower end of the pin.

Keeping the loco and tender together retains the connectors in the rear of the chassis so that they don't get caught between the loco and tender.

The nut and the plug/socket can be seen in this photo
Now, the C30T bogie tenders came from D50's originally but the rear wall of the coal bunker area was moved about 18 inches forward to make room for the two air tanks and a larger tool box. Incidentally, the brass C30T does not have this moved rear bunker wall, it is still modelled in the D50 position.

The rear wall is actually on a separate coal load casting in the Eureka Models D50 tender. I carefully removed this casting so that I could cut the wall off it. Be aware though that this casting seems to be of the slippery plastic not polystyrene so is  a bit difficult to cut away. As can be seen from the photo below I cut vertically down through the coal load flush with the inner side of the wall using a Xacto fine modellers saw.

Coal load with rear wall and small tool box removed

Rear coal area wall cut off
I then used some 1/4 inch by 20 thou. Evergreen polystyrene strip for the sloping coal bunker floor and and glued the wall and coal load in place as per the photo below. This piece of floor on the prototype is sloping as the original coal bunker floor was not changed.

Part of the coal load cut away to allow the wall to be placed

By this stage I was a couple of days into the re-build and it was time to do something about the two air tanks and the tool box. I took about 3-4 hours to draw up the three parts and then it took two runs of 3D prints to get them to fit mainly due to the large air tank sloping floor under it. Now I was making headway!

At this stage I decided that I wasn't too interested in bending up the piping that goes over the side of the tender from the air tanks but I knew that not all (but most) had the piping like that. I had a Tim Arnot photo of 3036 in Broadmeadow loco depot in 1966 which showed the pipes going through the tender side above the water tank part. Another undated photo by A R Astle on a mixed near Sandy Hollow indicated that 3036 would be suitable for my Bylong line.

3036 at Broadmeadow 1966-09-12 - Photo by Tim Arnot

3036 on a mixed near Sandy Hollow - Undated Photo by A R Astle
I printed a C30T funnel and steam dome (available in Fine Detail Plastic or Raw Brass from my Signals Branch Shapeways shop) and replaced the supplied funnel and dome.

As the supplied whistle was a poor representation I used a Protype whistle I had from way back in the 1980's when I did a Z13 etched brass kit. I also had a generator from an Austrains C30 that replaced the supplied one.

Lastly I added a pair of locomotive jacks from the Stephen Johnson detail parts range to the front of the footplate next to the smokebox.

I mounted a cut down Kadee No. 16 coupler on the front of the loco using a piece of Kadee No. 5 box lid as a spacer and screwing into the mounting of the hook buffer section.

The coupler fouled the front bogie so I cut off the front bogie protrusion (same as the rear section - see photo) and put a fine screw to hold the top and bottom of the bogie together.

I also added some sheet lead to the underside of the bogie, front and back of the pivot as added insurance.

Next came numbering. It will be noted that I managed to remove the last two cab side numbers and I did this with Easy Lift Off and a wooden toothpick by carefully rubbing just on the existing 'painted' numbers. I added brass numbers to the cab, yellow numbers to the rear of the tender and small white numbers to the buffer beam. Note, I didn't attempt to change the front buffer beam from timber to the correct steel version, maybe some other time.

I hit the C30T with some flat grey/black paint followed by matt clear to finish. I will weather it at some time but not as bad as in the 1966 photo.

The print layer lines aren't really visible from the usual viewing distance
Here is a video of the C30T hauling a test load both down grade and upgrade on my layout. If you listen to the sound it makes you can see that the chuff drops away when going down hill but chuffs loudly when climbing near the end of the video.

The load behind the C30T is actually 50 ton over the maximum allowed for a C30T on a 1 in 40 grade which is what the ruling grades are on my layout. So the Wombat Models C30T pulls more than the prototype.

The load in the video was a train from my Cassilis branch line which is flat so load wise, all good. Also, the CV and PV in the load are old whitemetal Protype wagons on first run Austrains S truck underframes.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Post AMRA Exhibition Brass Signal Update

Well, I sold all 24 brass NSWGR HO lower quadrant signals over the three days of the weekend exhibition and would like to thank all those who showed their interest.

I had eight operational built and painted signals and sixteen signal kits.

Brass operational and painted Right Hand Bracket Signal

Operational built and painted brass signals

Sixteen signal kits ready to go - Note the brass signal post, signal parts,
mechanism with hardware and the cast brass ladder
My little stand on the Eureka Models stand - Thanks Ron
I did note that the use of a timber stand meant that I was asked a number of times if the signals worked as the mechanisms could not be seen, a learning thing. Next time I will have a perspex stand.

I can accept orders by email for large or small numbers of signals and will be able to supply the signals with a choice of signal arm lengths. The signals I have in this locally produced line are 27 foot post single arm, 23 foot post single arm, left hand bracket and right hand bracket. So if a bracket signal is required with a 39 inch main line arm and a 36 inch arm or alternatively a 30 inch arm for a loop then this can be ordered and accommodated.

Email me at: for more information or to order.

I also had a number of requests asking if I was going to produce N Scale signals, 7mm Scale signals and Upper Quadrant signals.

The N Scale signals will definitely be looked at and do look possible.

Unfortunately however, the 7mm Scale signals would be too tall for the casting equipment.

Upper Quadrant signal kits are available in the Gordon Box brand at Casula Hobbies or from the advertisement in the latest Australian Journal of Railway Modelling magazine (Issue Number 12 page 47).

The next few HO brass signals will be a timber post Distant signal, a 23 foot steel tube post single arm signal and left and right bracket steel tube signals.

23 Ft Steel Post Signal - 3D Render

Steel Post LH Bracket Front - 3D Render

Steel Post LH Bracket Rear - 3D Render
I will endeavor to introduce more signals as the brass signal order uptake increases.

The cost of doing each signal locally is not small so the more unusual signals such as the under-slung type, Werris Creek platform starting bracket signal and some others will likely have to be ordered from my Signals Branch shop.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Australian Made NSWGR Lower Quadrant Brass Signals

I have started a locally made line of NSWGR lost wax cast signals that will be released at the AMRA Homebush Exhibition this weekend.

Here is the information from my latest handout:

Announcing Australian made lost wax cast brass NSWGR lower quadrant signals with the following features:
·         Locally produced and much cheaper than my brass signals from Shapeways
·         Available as a kit or built to order if required
·         Everything you need including brass post and details
·         Castings have been removed from sprues and cleaned up
·         All holes pre-drilled
·         3D printed mechanism with screws mounted
·         Brass wire for safety cage and operating rods
·         Single Post - Kit $60 - Built and painted $100
·         Bracket Post – Kit $100 – Built and painted $170

Assembly instructions can be found on the Signals Branch Blog at:

Contact Ray Pilgrim at for ordering or further information.

SIGNALS BRANCH HO brass Steel and Timber Post Signals with brass ladder

Other Signals Branch signals and models are on my online shop at Shapeways:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

PC 15 inch Panel Right Hand Door Signal Box

I have meant to do this since the previous post about the Gilmore signal box.

I have just uploaded to my Signals Branch Shapeways shop the various parts for a right hand door 15 inch panel PC signal box examples of which were at Bogan Gate, Bombala, Coolamon and Weethalle. I am sure they would have been found at other locations but these above are all I found photos of.

The Gilmore 15 inch panel PC signal box is a left hand door version and I haven't found any other photos of left hand door 15 inch panel PC signal boxes.

Similarly to the Gilmore left hand door version the signal box is available either complete (needs a concrete water tank) or as separate walls, roof and detail parts.

The detail parts sprue for the right hand door 15 inch panel PC signal box version has two downpipes as different signal boxes had the downpipes and water tanks at different ends. See photos below.

Right Hand Door 15 inch Panel PS Signal Box Detail Parts with two downpipes
The separate signal box components allow for easier painting and the walls and roof are in different materials for the level of finish required.

The roof for the right hand door (RHD) 15 inch panel signal box is the same roof as for the Gilmore signal box.

Bogan Gate - Photo from Heritage for NSW Facebook Group

Coolamon Signal Box - Branchline Modeller 3

Weethalle Signal Box - Kim - Camden Tramway Blog
When I get some time I will do the standard 10 inch panel PC signal box.

Post Script
The initial blog post of the Gilmore signal box had 3D render images with 6 pane windows but these were changed quickly to the correct 9 pane version when it was pointed out by Rob Nesbitt (see comments of the Gilmore post). It was as plain as day in the photos so I don't know how I managed to get it wrong initially.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Gilmore Signal Box - 3D Print

I have had a request to do the signal box at the Gilmore Station on the Tumut line. I decided to draw it up even though the chances of covering my time would be very slight but I like a challenge occasionally. No I can't do every thing that someone thinks up!

I found that there were very few photos around but I did find two in the Train Hobby NSWR Station series of books. One photo was a view of the end of the signal box from a distance and it appeared that the box was built of 10 inch PC panels so I proceeded to draw it based on that.

Well, just before the latest AMRM magazine was released I discovered another few photos on Rolfe Bozier's web site that showed that it was actually built of 15 inch panels, bummer!

Gilmore Signal Box in 2002 - Rolfe Bozier web site

Gilmore Signal Box in 2002 - Rolfe Bozier web site
So, in the AMRM News section there was a photo of a computer render I had supplied of the model signal box with the incorrect panels. Back to the computer then and two days later all was done.

Here are a couple of renders of the final signal box.

Tom Pall sent me a photo of the Gilmore Signal Box after he saw the render in AMRM and while it shows the 15 inch panels they also look like they have lines at the middle which would be why my distant view made me think it had 10 inch panels. Tom was relieved when I told him I had already discovered and corrected the issue.

Gilmore Signal Box - Tom Pall
The AMRM stated that the HO Gilmore Signal Box was for sale however I haven't made it available as yet as I have been trying to optimise the cost due to the recent increase from Shapeways for the Fine Detail Plastic material. It should be available shortly with several options of materials so that the cost can be worked out to suit (see renders below).

Gilmore Signal Box Walls - Available in White Versatile Plastic or Fine Detail Plastic
Gilmore Signal Box Roof - Available in White Versatile Plastic or Fine Detail Plastic
Gilmore Detail Parts in Fine Detail Plastic

Gilmore Signal Box PC Water Tank - Available in White Versatile Plastic or Fine Detail Plastic
It will also be available complete in Fine Detail Plastic with all details printed in place except for the water tank. The issue here will be with painting the doors, windows etc. in place on the model as against separately on a sprue.

OK, here is the sales pitch! With Casula Hobbies bringing out the HO RTR Z19 Class steam locomotive with the early Baldwin bogie tender then there is no reason not to model the Tumut branch so you will definitely need the Gilmore Signal Box.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Staffs and Staff Boxes - A Model Interpretation

It has been a while since the last post and I did say I was working on something for another post so here it is.

This took a lot longer to do than I anticipated.

I have drawn up and printed some small staff boxes for use on my Bylong layout. These staff boxes had to fit on the layout edge which is made from nominal 2 inch X 1 inch pine framing with 1/2 inch (12/13 mm) chipboard on top. The boxes were designed to fit the nominal 2 inch edge. Nominal means that the pine frame isn't really 2 inches X 1 inch and in fact measures 42 mm X 20 mm.

The idea was to use the small 3D printed staffs available from my Signals Branch shop although I did have to print two more on my FDM (filament) printer which I will come to later in this post.

So the idea was to use the small tabs on the staffs to trigger two micro switches to turn the box into a switch. Now each staff has two tabs in different places just like the prototype does. On the prototype the staff is inserted into a key way in the side of the box and this enables the box lid to be opened so that a book of tickets can be removed and used to allow a train to proceed into the next staff section without the staff. Once the train or trains have left the staff section the following train can proceed with the staff to the next staff section signal box. Of course no train movements can come in the other direction until the staff has arrived at the next section signal box to allow the process to repeat for the other direction. The other aspect of this is that the staff will only open the staff box it is for.

The staff boxes are painted in red, white, blue and green and have a circle, triangle, square and heart respectively.

The name plates on the above staff boxes appear to be a later addition. On the model boxes I chose to used raised lettering to make it easier to paint the signal box/station names.

Here is a photo of the parts I designed and printed on my FDM printer:

Of course, the staff box is too small to contain tickets so the idea is to use the micro switches and the matching staff to say change the opposing Home signal to stop. The switches could be used with a solenoid or servo to unlock another box containing tickets as well. I will be using the staffs and staff boxes to trigger programming in NCE Mini Panels. I set up a Mini Panel with some programming but found that the normal lever (switch) that operates the Home signal would change the signal to clear even if the staff box had put it at stop. So the thought is to use the staff box to disconnect the wiring of the signal lever that goes to the Mini Panel such that the signal can't go to clear while the staff is in the staff box. The staff box would also trigger the Mini Panel to put the Home signal at stop.

A note here about NCE Mini Panel triggering. The Mini Panel uses a wire from the Mini Panel ground to a switch then back to an input on the Mini Panel. The Mini Panel programming reacts to a change of state such as a switch closure but not about the switch already being closed hence the problem above with the Home signal. Also to throw a point or signal the other way it needs a separate input so keep this in mind if using a Mini Panel. The Mini Panel has 5 volts available on the circuit board which could be used with a 5 volt relay or a flip flop transistor circuit if required to feed from a NCE BD20 track detector to the Mini Panel. The Mini Panel will react to the BD20 turning on but does not react to a BD20 or switch turning off so the relay or transistor circuit can be used here to produce the turn off input to the Mini Panel. 

Anyway, that is where I have got to after several weeks of design, printing and painting the staff boxes. Oh yes, I had to make two more staffs with different tabs and matching staff boxes for two extra sections. I painted the circle and heart on the two repeating staff boxes brass along with the area around the circle and heart cutouts on the staffs to indicate that they are different.

While I am sure staff sections on the real railway have a number of stations within them I chose to have staff sections that ran from station to station in model form.

Here is the full set in order including the one already mounted at Bylong. In the way of these things I managed to put the triangle on my white model boxes upside down so It looks like some more printing and painting coming up.

Now I have to get back to finishing and installing the rest of my signals on Bylong, it never ends does it, just as well that it is fun.