Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Happy New Year. Bring on 2018.

N465 at Southern Cross Station.

Hope everybody is having a great holiday season and have started the new year on a positive. 

Well another year is done and dusted. From a railfan and modelling point of view, the highlight for me was my trip to Australia in February where I got see some of Vlines finest with my own eyes and not just through photos on the net. Another highlight was starting my first proper layout, West Ballarat Sidings. Low lights was not getting out more with the camera to capture Kiwi Rail's staff and loco's hard at work and not getting more done on the layout. Hopefully 2018 brings some direction and changes this state of affairs.

Wishing you all the best for your railfanning and modelling in 2018.

Monday, November 20, 2017

An afternoon in the Taieri Gorge

Hindon Station Sign

After getting a few things done around Dunedin I had a few hours to spare before having to get home. With the camera in the car I thought I'd head out to one of my favourite spots, Wingatui Railway Station. Wingatui is the junction between the South Island Main Trunk and the former Otago Central Railway. 

When the OCR closed in 1990, the Dunedin City Council  purchased the picturesque portion of the line between Taieri and Middlemarch. The line was then run as a tourist line by the Otago Excursion Train Trust.

I didn't have to wait long before a Dunedin Railways passenger service came off the junction onto the South Island Main Trunk as it made its way back to Dunedin. Just a shame the DJ loco was running long hood first.

DJ 1209 arrives at Wingatui Railway Station with a Dunedin Railways passenger train. 15/11/17.

With the DJ and its train now gone I made my way to the Fonterra Siding at Taieri. Fonterra has a large store here which is mainly used to store milk powder from the dairy factory at Edendale. The milk powder is transferred from curtain sider containers into the store and then into standard 40 and 20 foot containers for export. Kiwi Rail run a number of Fonterra shunting services between Taieri, Dunedin and Port of Otago at Port Chalmers every day. During the dairy season the amount of milk powder being transported is so large that the line between Wingatui and Port Chalmers becomes one of the busiest single lines in New Zealand. 

DC 4012 and DCP 4513 shunt a short container train into the Fonterra container sidings at Taieri. 15/11/17.

After getting a few shots at Taieri and with plenty of time to spare I decided to head up to Hindon. Hindon is a small station located in the Taieri Gorge. While there's no longer any freight trains using the line, Dunedin Railways, formally the Otago Excursion Train Trust and Taieri Gorge Railway, run regular passenger services from Dunedin through the Taieri Gorge to Pukerangi and Middlemarch. 

Approaching Hindon I spotted a Dunedin Railways Hi-railer at work on the line. The line passes through some very rugged country and is very prone to slips and washouts. In fact, the Taieri Gorge line was closed between July and September this year after a storm caused washouts and slips along the line. Two Otago Daily Times stories about the storm damage can be found here and here

A Dunedin Railways HI-Railer at work in the Taieri Gorge. 

A crib (holiday house) above Hindon station has the old station sign attached. 

Holiday house with the old Hindon station sign.

Before heading down to Hindon station I checked out the nearby Hindon road / rail bridge over the Taieri River. This bridge hasn't always been a road / rail bridge. Timber decking was added to the original bridge structure to allow road access to the north side of the Taieri River.

Approach to the Hindon road / rail bridge. 15/11/17.

The bridge is an awesome example of Victorian engineering. The lattice steel trusses and stone pillars have stood the test of time. Due to the isolated nature of the Taieri Gorge, engineers had to use building materials that were close at hand. Many of the bridges are constructed using stone pillars and abutments. Mortar holding the stone together was made using sand and aggregate from the river. Other construction materials like steel were hauled into the gorge using horses and bullock teams. 

The Hindon road / rail bridge. 15/11/17.

From the road on the opposite side of the gorge I got my first sight of the Hindon railway station and yard. 

Hindon Railway Station and Yard in the Taieri Gorge. 15/11/17.

Hindon itself was a small settlement established to serve farms in the area. Opened in 1889, Hindon railway station provided an important link between these isolated farms and the city of Dunedin. The station was used to cross trains making their way through the Taieri Gorge and provided a means for local farmers to receive goods and fertiliser and ship livestock and wool to freezing works and wool stores in Dunedin. Hindon was also an important passenger stop as it had a refreshment room for passengers heading between Dunedin and Central Otago.

Today Hindon is a stopping point for Dunedin Railway passenger trains and is also used to store Dunedin Railways maintenance train.

Hindon station and yard with the maintenance train. 15/11/17.

Hindon Railway Station.15/11/17.

Rear of the station. 

 Side of the station.

Station front.

The station yard still has a lot of infrastructure that could be found at yards throughout New Zealand from the 1950's through to the 1980's.

Jigger and maintenance of way sheds.

Main line points lever.

The station yard itself is a pretty simple affair with a main line, passing loop and goods siding.

Hindon station yard. 15/11/17.

In the yard was Dunedin Railway's maintenance train consisting of bogie flat wagons, four wheel ballast wagons and a ballast plow van.

 Dunedin Railway's maintenance train at Hindon. 15/11/17.

 Bogie Flat Wagon US90 at Hindon. 15/11/17.

Ballast wagon YC 648 at Hindon. 15/11/17.

Ballast plow van EP65 at Hindon. 15/11/17.

After getting some shots around Hindon it was time to head back to Dunedin. As I climbed out of the gorge I stopped to get a shot of the Christmas Creek Bridge, one of several curved lattice steel bridges found in the Taieri Gorge.

Christmas Creek Bridge. 15/11/17.

As I got back into the car I heard the unmistakable noise of a DJ's Caterpillar D398 V12 diesel engine approach. After a short run down the road I was able to grab a few shots of a Dunedin Railways service as it crossed the Christmas Creek and Hindon bridges on its approach to Hindon.

A Dunedin Railways passenger train crosses Christmas Creek in the Taieri Gorge. 15/11/17.

 A Dunedin Railways passenger train crosses over the Taieri River near Hindon. 15/11/17.

A Dunedin Railways passenger train rounds some curves as it approaches Hindon station. 15/11/17.

With time ticking it was time to end my adventure and head back to town.

If you're around Dunedin and get the chance, I can't recommend a trip on Dunedin Railways through the Taieri Gorge enough. The Dunedin Railways staff do an amazing job maintaining and operating this beautiful piece of railway line.

For more information about Dunedin Railways and their passenger services go to their website at www.dunedinrailways.co.nz . 

And that's about it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

New Rolling Stock at West Ballarat

New rolling stock in the form of three SDS 63 foot VQCX container wagons arrived this week at West Ballarat. The container anchors have been fitted and they're now ready for service. I'll do a review on these great looking models shortly.

And that's about it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: SDS Models VPFX Bulk Flour Wagon

SDS Models bulk flour wagon VPFX 5 at West Ballarat Sidings.

As I write this post I'm watching North Melbourne vs Collingwood in the Australian Football League (yes we get live AFL in NZ) but instead of a Victoria Bitter I've got a hot milo, its another cold night in the lower South Island. So what better time to post my first ever model review of my newest wagon VPFX 5, a bulk flour wagon by SDS Models.

First a bit of background. 17 of these bulk flour wagons were built by the Newport and Ballarat North Workshops between 1966 and 1971. Originally classified as the FX (Flour / Exchange) class, they were mostly used between Swan Hill VIC, Albury NSW and Bridgewater SA and Footscray, Westall and Williamstown in the greater Melbourne area. Later on in the mid 1980's they were used on the standard gauge to Canberra and to Enfield in Sydney. 

In the early 1980's the wagons were reclassified as VPFX (Victoria / Pneumatic / Flour / Exchange). In their later lives several were used to haul burnt lime (VPLX) and dried locomotive sand (VZGX). No VPFX wagons or their derivatives are still in service.

The model I have is VPFX 5 as it was in Goodman Fielder bulk flour service in the early to mid 1990's. This is outside my mid 1980's V/line era but as the only person that models Victorian railways at my club and quite possibly in New Zealand, I don't think anyone will notice. 

This model is one that is sold in a single pack. SDS offers a wide range of FX, VPFX, VPLX and VZGX wagons in single and three packs. 

The model came in the standard cardboard box with a plastic insert that holds the wagon nice and securely. Bloody handy when you're hauling models back and forth from home to the club.

Straight out of the box this is a really nice model. The side beams and lower part of the silos are all moulded in one piece. The middle and upper parts of the silos are also moulded in one piece. Together they capture the look of the wagon really well.

The brake cylinder and rigging as well as flour discharge pipes and equipment is separate detail that has been added to the wagon ends.

SDS have done a great job with the end detail and the attention to detail extends to beneath the model as well.

The detail beneath the wagon is awesome. The silo detail and the piping used for discharging the flour is very well modelled. A real shame that this detail is not normally seen but nice to know its there.

My favourite part of the wagon is the detail along the top of the model. The silo hatches, foot plates and access ladders have been really well done.

With all the detail parts you have to be careful when handling this model not to break anything. This is not something unique to this model. I've noticed with the high detail models that are coming out you have to be a little bit more careful in how they're handled. I guess there's a fine line that manufacturers have to find between robustness and the detail that modellers are always wanting more of. 

Earlier in their lives these wagons had some very elaborate liveries advertising the different flour producers that used these wagons. The Goodman Fielder livery this wagon has is fairly basic but the paint and stencilling is still very good. The white paint is applied evenly with no obvious issues that I could see.

The stencilling is very good. Even under serious close up the smaller stencilling can be read pretty easily.

The wagon runs smoothly along the track and through points with no noticeable wobble. 

Overall I'm really happy with this model. SDS have done a great job in capturing the distinctive look of these wagons and should be applauded for their efforts. While I don't currently have a flour mill on my layout, I do enjoy seeing this wagon being shunted around by the Redan shunt. VPFX 5 has been a great addition to my small wagon fleet.

And that's about it.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Y and a Flower Pot

Y146 arrives at West Ballarat with a short grain train.

Finally a Y has arrived at West Ballarat Sidings. The Cattle Yards / Redan line was mainly run by Ballarat based Y class locomotives during the 1980's so its good to have Y146 running on the layout. 

Y146 is a second hand Austrains model I picked up from Train World while I was in Melbourne earlier this year. The previous owner had already installed a DCC decoder so it was ready to go. After running it a few times I noticed that the headlight had dropped down into the cab area. After taking off the body I found the plastic headlight assembly had broken and was pointing downward. A short search on the internet found this is a common problem with this model. Nothing that some glue and a short length of styrene rod couldn't fix. With the light now shining from the correct location Y146 is able to take its rightful place on West Ballarat Sidings.

Headlight aside, Y146 is a great little model. It runs like a dream and is perfect for West Ballarat. 

Y146 with a VPFX bulk flour wagon in tow. 

Another recent arrival on West Ballarat is VPFX 5, an SDS model of a Victorian railways pneumatic flour wagon. I haven't seen any photos of these wagons on the Cattle Yards / Redan line (I haven't seen too many photos of trains on this line full stop) but they did run to the flour mill at North Ballarat. I'll write up a review of this wagon shortly.

And that's about it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My Layout Project - West Ballarat Sidings

V/line T368 holds the main at West Ballarat as it prepares to shunt the sidings.

Been a while between drinks on this blog but while I haven't been out getting photos of Kiwi Rails finest working hard around Otago I have been busy building a layout. Oh and I also fitted in a trip to Melbourne earlier in the year as well.

Photos from my Aussie trip will be on the blog soon but for this post I'll give a rundown on my layout West Ballarat Sidings.

West Ballarat Sidings is a small shunting layout loosely based on the short Cattle Yards / Redan line in Ballarat, a large town in the great Australian state of Victoria.The layout is set firmly in the V/line tangerine era of the mid 1980's.

My inspiration to build this layout came from a few sources. The first being Mark Baus Victorian Railways website http://www.victorianrailways.net/ . This website is basically the online bible for fans of Victorian Railways. Heaps of photos and track plans, a great resource for those modelling Victorian Railways and a site where I've lost a countless hours of my life. The second being flickr. Now if you're into railways I have no doubt like me you've searched flickr from top to bottom looking for your favourite trains and railways. There is a huge amount of photos of V/line trains running around Victoria during the 1980's which is great for research.
Another great site is the When there were Stations site ( http://www.stationspast.net/). This site has a huge number of photos of stations, yards and other rail infrastructure from around Australia and another great source of information for modellers of Australian railways. 

One site that really gave me a kick in the arse to build something was Ben Grays blog on building his 1970's NSW shunting layout ( http://nswrintheseventies.blogspot.co.nz/ ). Ben has done a great job documenting his layout and how he went about building it.

General overview of the layout so far.

So far I've got the bench work done and laid the track. The layout is 300 by 60 cm and is basically an inglenook with another two sidings added. Included is a petrol siding and another serving Ballarat Seed and Grain, although this customer could change. The bench work is standard grid type with foam board over the top. Track is PECO code 100 with insulfrog medium radius turnouts. Not the most realistic track but absolutely bomb proof!

First series T 322 with a short train on the main.

So far I've attached my controller to the rails with some small crocodile clips. Shortly I'll get started on the wiring but every time I get in the shed I end up running a few shunting services instead. 

 T 322 in front of the fuel siding.

As I get more things done on the layout I'll update the blog. 

This is the first 'proper' layout I've started and I'm having a blast. If you're considering building something, DO IT! The hardest part is starting.

And that's about it.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The big yellow cats

Tamper ETM 255 leads a track maintenance train through Katiki. 30/10/16.

For the last few days Kiwi Rail's South Island based track maintenance train has been working out of Palmerston. I've been meaning to get down to Palmerston Station and get a few shots but other commitments meant this didn't happen. 
Luckily I was up to see these beast's depart Palmerston for destinations north and grabbed a shot as it made its way along the East Otago coast line at Katiki. I was expecting an easy chase but these things move.

Normally its Kiwi Rail's big freights and world class passenger trains get all the attention, but without the track maintenance equipment and the hard working people that keep our rail network in good condition I wouldn't be able to see my favourite trains moving freight and passengers across Aotearoa. Good work team.

And thats about it.

Happy New Year. Bring on 2018.

N465 at Southern Cross Station. Hope everybody is having a great holiday season and have started the new year on a positive.  ...