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The Toenail Ridge Shortline

 Written 1st December,1998
Updated September 15th, 2001
 The following articles are pieces that have been published in the Garden Railway Gazette in New Zealand and in the Sydney LGB Club's magazine Garden Rails.


Article 1.
 There can't be many people who can say honestly that they bought a house on the basis of its suitability for a garden railway.
We did.
I became interested in Large-scale a number of years ago, after having built a model kit of the General, and then buying an old Lima O-scale train-set at a garage sale.
The Lima was very European, very modern (ie. no coal or steam bits) and very big compared to the N models I was struggling to see at the time.
I had been experimenting with scratch-built O-scale bodies on HO trucks as a kind of psuedo-narrow-gauge, when it hit me that a 1:24th. model built on O-scale trucks would make a nice decoration.
Subsequently, I made a board-by-board model of a free-lance narrow-gauge box-car, mounted on the frame and trucks of the Lima German 90 ft. goods wagon.
It was an eye-opener to find in this scale that the doors could be made to slide and latch, the brake rigging could be modeled instead of just suggested, and that balsa wood planks looked like real wood planks, complete with scale grain and paint absorption.
Needless to say (I know I am speaking to the converted!), the N-scale rapidly got sold off and the Large-scale search was on!
 One of the early shocks I'm sure we all experience when moving to G from the little stuff is the sheer cost of it in comparison.
I decided very quickly that this foray into G was going to be more a scratch-building procedure than a purchasing one.
Over a few months, therefore, the balsa box-car was joined by half a dozen other pieces of rolling stock and a very second-hand Bachmann radio-controlled 10-wheeler.
The original box-car had MDC G-scale trucks mounted in place of the O-scale Limas, and they all sat proudly on pressed tin track on top of the bookcases.
 About this time, a bushfire threatened our house and property and the decision was made to sell the 15 acres and move back into the suburbs.
The fire was the final decider but we were also tired of the upkeep that a large property requires and also the commuting to work was becoming a strain, and of course, I couldn't find a good, reasonably level spot for a railway.
We began the search for a normal house and property in the suburb closest to our work-place and anyone who has run the gambit of the Open House merry-go-round doesn't need me going into any details here about what the next 6 months were like.
Every place we entered, my wife Kathy would head for the kitchen and I would head for the back yard.
 Found some lovely kitchens with lousy yards and lovely yards with lousy kitchens and some with lousy everythings.
Eventually, the ideal place came on the market, perfect kitchen and disused, elevated rear garden.

 The history of the establishment of the Toenail Ridge Shortline has been covered in depth here but it is true that I can lay claim to buying the house for the railway.

Article 2.
 As those of us who build our own structures have found out, the wonderful size of windows in G-scale buildings almost mandates the inclusion of an interior.
With some constructions, this is a pleasure, but I have found that with other edifices, the merest suggestion of an interior is all that is necessary, if you can get away with it!
One way is to put window blinds and curtains in strategic positions, but this can get repetitive.
An easy cheat I have used in all scales from N to G is to substitute clear window glazing with unexposed, developed X-ray film.
This is the blue, semi-clear stuff around the edges of X-rays.
It can give the impression of soot covered glass in industrial and yard structures and if backlit from inside, looks like the fluorescent lights have been left on.
 Getting hold of the stuff in quantity isn't necessarily a challenge.
X-ray automatic developers require regular maintenance to keep their rollers clean and the usual way to do this is to feed through an unexposed film every morning.
This results in a developed but clear sheet which is normally discarded.
Your local Chiropractor may take his own X-rays using an automatic processor, and would probably be glad to hand over a handful of exposed films.
Same with the local radiology group or hospital.
Even the dentist uses films about 25 mm. square, not bad for glazing.
In smaller towns, the local GP may take his own films.
Another possibility is to pull down the X-rays off the top of the wardrobe that you've been gathering for the last 20 years and cut the clear edges off.
Chest and lung X-rays are mostly clear anyway, so if the films are over a few years old, sacrifice them to a better cause.


Article 3.

 #60 grit wet-and-dry sandpaper is perfect for simulating American tar-paper roofing and is already waterproof!
Attach over plywood with contact cement and you have a roof on your building or box-car that doesn't even need paint.


Article 4
 My 2 Bachmann 10-wheelers and the Porter all came equipped with the standard gold-coloured plastic bell, not the most inspiring object, but short of ordering out of the US, what to do?
Happened to stop into the local craft shop and what do I see!
12 mm. high brass plated pressed metal bells complete with clapper!
Apparently the crafty types use them for baby toys and decorations on hats etc.

 Guess where mine are!
 I took the Bachmann plastic item out of its hanger, bent up a new bell support from brass rod and inserted the lot back into the Bachmann base.
The rod even fits the original bell mounting holes.
I've also seen similar bells used as earrings around the Christmas season.


Article 5
 One of my favorite inhabitants of the bits-box is a bundle of florist's wire.
Florist wire is very thin steel which is used to hold the stems of floral arrangements.
It scales under half-an-inch in 1:24, is staggeringly strong, black in colour and will hold a shape virtually for ever.
I have used it for everything from hand-rails on N-scale locos to bell-rope on my 10-wheelers in G.
Unlike cotton or model ship rope, it doesn't fray or act as a dust magnet.
The bell-rope on No.9 has a gentle loop from bell to cab, natural as you like, and only on close examination do you see that it is solid wire.
 Speaking of model ships, a lot of those blokes model in 1:100 scale, and there's a lot of nice details bits around that cater to their market.
One of those is heavy anchor chain, probably about eight inch link stuff.
Well, in 1:24 that's a nice two inch safety chain, looks good and hangs well across the end rails of passenger cars and caboose porches.
I even have a roll of it hanging off the side of one of my cabooses (cabeese?) in case the brakeman has to cope with a broken coupler.
The ship guys also have a fine array of hawsers available, make great ropes for us big fellows.


Article 6.

Bachmann coach carpeting.

Recently I treated myself to two Bachmann coach kits, one of the regular passenger coaches and the other their observation car with the enclosed rear porch.
Did the usual painting and lettering on the outer bits, painted the floor/seat in a tan and was about to screw the lot together when,
inspiration! (Which, incidentally, only means to take in a breath... funny language, English!)

Had been using coloured felt pieces to carpet a General Store I'd been building, so I whipped out an offcut, cut it to the width of the passenger car's central passaige and laid it in place.
Looked so good that a few minutes more work saw individual pieces of felt also laid between each row of seats.

I used contact cement to hold the felt to the plastic base, and stretched the felt to a tight fit as the glue set off.
It is amazing how effective this quick and cheap addition is.
In full sun the large windows of these coaches allow a wonderful view of the interiors, and the bright red carpet highlights the excellent detail.

I was so pleased with the addition of carpet to these cars that I bought some more felt, this time in a maroon colour, and upholstered the seat squabs and seat backs of one car.
This stands out even more and is worth every minute it took to cut and place the individual pieces.

The only problem with having done such a great job on these two new additions to the fleet, now I have to turn around and do the other three cars on the roster.
Oh well, they were due for re-lettering and striping after 18 months out in the weather anyway.

Incidentally, my son bought some gold engine enamel for his car and I used it on the Bachmann end platform handrails.
This paint doesn't hide the details and also doesn't seem to oxidise as rapidly as other brass or gold paint that I've used in the past.


Article 7.

Was glancing through November '97 issue of Finescale Railroader and spied an article on a little 4-wheel water tank car.
The car is cute and very back-woodsy but what caught my eye was what the builder used for hose.

Track-shoe laces!

So I bought a pair, stained them in tea and acrylic poster paint suitably thinned, cut the metal ends off(which for all you Trivia buffs out there I can't for the life of me think of their proper names!) and found to my great surprise that these flat laces are actually a tubular construction, just ironed flat.
Proper hose! They look like fire hose that has been rolled.

FOr a nozzle I cut the pin off a platic cork-board thumbtack and wired and glued it into the hollow end of the lace after painting it brass.

Total cost of project, $1.40 and I still have another full lace left over.


Article 6.

Those lucky modellers in the US have SO much detail stuff available right at the local hobby shop, us poor colonials just look at their supply in envy!

But I've found a source of brakewheels without having to import from Ozark Miniatures or Trackside Details.

Dress snaps.

Yup, snap-fasteners.

You can buy big ones, they are 15mm in diameter and do a credible job of simulating a cast wheel.
I've also superglued two of them back to back with a brass rod axle to make a pulley for my watertank spout.

Small sized ones, 6mm in diameter, don't do too bad a job as boiler fittings and back-head details either.
In fact, I just found another use for them, as faucet handles on the water tank on my Fenster Cheese factory.
Come to think of it, painted bright red they would do as shut-off valve handles too.
Available at any haberdashers for cents.

While you're there, check out their button range too. I found the perfect ship's wheel for a model that was actually a blazer button.


Article 8.

Dress sequins are those sparkly little round bits of metal that doting mothers sew on their daughter's ballet gear by the thousands in the hope that the excess of glitter will hide the dearth of talent.

Well, not always.

However, sequins cost a few cents for a little bag of hundreds.

So what?

Well, they are little round pieces of metal, less than 1mm thick, about 5mm in diameter, with a hole of 1mm punched in the middle.
If you drill out the centre hole to the diameter of the brass rod you are using to scratch-build hand-rails, and glue the sequin over the hole in the model, you then insert the hand-rail through the sequin into the model and you have an attractive finish, looks like a mounting plate.

I've also added a couple to the smokebox of my Bachmann 10-wheeler.
Glue in place, drill through the hole and add a cut-down dressmakers pin, looks like a drain-plug.


I keep reading in the US mags about scratch-builders using Atlas HO track nails to simulate rivets on their G-scale models.
Well, I don't know about your hobby shop but I can't find these nails in mine.
So I use dress-makers pins.
Cut the length down to as short as you want with your diagonal cutters, predrill a 1mm hole, glue in place with superglue, voila! one perfect rivet!

ity only 999 to go!

On one tank car model I didn't cut down the length of the pin, figuring that they were only going to stick inside the hollow tank anyway.
Well, that car has over 300 rivets on it (Me a rivet-counter?!?)and it weighs a ton!
Amazing the difference in weight that 300 pins can make.





 

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