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The garden railway is taking on more and more of a DRGW/RGS theme with structures and rolling stock


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Finally added a water tower to the main station after 8 years! Picked up a Piko water tower on e-bay nicely weathered.


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RGS Motor #4 on the passenger/mail run. This is a brass model produced by Accucraft about 8 years ago converted to on board battery 24GH RC control.

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I need to sort out some 1:20.5 figures.

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  • 1 month later...

Our local garden railway group recently had an operating day on the railway. The turnout was relatively small but we managed to keep three trains running on the single line with one running in the opposite direction just to make things interesting. Visiting locos & trains included a Battery powered RC Bachmann DRGWR C19 2-8-0 & 3 truck Shay with log trains and a live steam Roundhouse Fowler 0-6-2. Passenger-mail services was operated by my battery powered RC RGS Motor 4. We attempted to run a 4th train a RGS freight behind a K27 Mudhen but things got a little congested and we ended up parking it out of the way on the High Line.



#346 & #348 arriving with a freight 346 is a Bachmann C19 348 is a re-numbered Accucraft C16 masquerading as a C19. Staple motive power on RGS freights behind the arrival of the C27 2-8-2s in the late 1930s.


RGS Motor 6 looking pretty as mechanics try and figure out why it wont run with the track power off.


A plume of steam is just about detectible from the Roundhouse Fowler



Things getting a little congested 3 way meet between RGS Motor #4 DRGWR #346 & Shay hauled log train. Raynor is waiting for #346 to clear the main line as #346 overtakes Andy's Shay with a train of log disconnects


Shay on log train RGS freight just about visible in background. The logs are natural running on LGB disconnects.



Ian lines the road for a meet between #346 & RGS #4

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Not quite sure what happen to the photos in the last post: So here goes

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DRGWR #346 & 348


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RGS Works Motor #6

This is a Berlyn Locomotive Works brass model dating from 1999 currently track power I am planning to fit this with a stay alive DCC chip.


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Roundhouse Fowler


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Motor #4 has backed into a spur to allow #346 to overtake the Shay hauled log train


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Setting the road for #4 to pass train #346


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#4 takes the siding to pass #346


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Shay hauled log train on the main line RGS freight just about visible on the "high line"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did'nt manage to get much done on the modelling front over the Christmas apart from some large scale track maintenance and fitting one of the locos with a Mylocosound sound card. Not 100% happy with the whistle, but reasonably happy with the chuff, safety valve and air pump sounds.



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  • 1 month later...

I managed to complete some of the long list of half finished jobs over the Christmas and holidays including re-instating DCC trackpower on the garden railway and tidying up the area around the loco yard. Hopefully this will free up time at some stage to finally start an Irish layout in the garage.


464 & 20 on shed at Jackson City.jpg


464 on turntable 20 on shed.


The turntable works nicely but is a tight fit for 464. Basically a length of decking pached on washers pivoting on a coach screw


One of the jobs was to convert my old Bachmann 4-6-0 to on board battery control and a repaint in satin black as my stash of Floquil Dirty Black with its nice bulish tinge had finally run out. The loco derailed while on test rolled over and I ended up having to re-build the cab. I am planning to decal and varnish the loco before weathering


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Loco yard

I have tidied up this area ballasting the track with 6-8mm washed pebble and levelling the area between the lines with screenings. The whole lot is then glued with a 50/50 concrete bonding agent water mix with a drop of isopropyl just like in the small scale.


This should reduce the build up of leaves and debris between the tracks and prevent the stone being washed away by rain. I am planning to build a coal tower beside the little shed which has stood up to 7-8 years in the weather

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  • 1 month later...

We had a bit of a flood on Friday night flooding most of the garden.


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A bit wet for running trains but a excellent opportunity to operate an Inland Waterway service like the Grand Canal Company in the old days.




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The tug boat made it through the shallows while the Cruise Ship kept to deeper water.


Most of the flooding had receded by mid afternoon ready for the next rain storm!


We are on a silt soil on top of a layer of ash from the Taupo Eruption which does not drain well, the main reason for building the railway on a raised timber foundation than earthworks.

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  • 2 months later...

The Jackson County like the Rio Grande Southern seems to hire locos and freight cars from the DRGW to move heavy seasonal freight traffic.


This was our 1st weekend of winter, and we ran our 1st freight train in about a month after a lot of leaf sweeping/blowing/shredding and a new radio transmitter from RCS in Australia.


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Jackson City DRGW K27 #464 arrives with stock cars and box cars from Placerville

#464 was regularly hired to the RGS during the late 1940s early 50s traffic ore in boxcars from local mines and sheep during the fall stock rush. Sometimes up to 3 locos were needed to move heavy stock or ore trains.


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Busy day at Jackson City RGS Motor #4 arrives with the trice weekly mail and express.

The RGS Geese were converted from late 1920s Pierce Arrow Limousines and more or less kept the railroad running into the late 1940s. Surprisingly most of the fleet survive and several are runners!


Motor #4 is an Accucraft model bought second hand from the UK and is fitted with RCS battery radio remote control system and a Phoenix sound system. In classical RGS/County Donegal fashion the radio control system was salvaged from a scrapped loco

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having converted the Bachmann Big Haulier to on board battery control it was difficult to resist running a double headed freight with the modified Bachmann Connie 2-8-0. The 4-6-0 is just about capable of pulling 5 cars and caboose without slipping the 2-8-0 can manage 8 the 2-8-2 12 over my hilly line.




Locos on shed waiting departure this is the 1st time I had two battery powered locos on shed.

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#20 turned awaiting departure

The turntable is a piece of decking timber that pivots on a coach screw. I had intended to replace the timber deck with a metal bridge and proper brass pivot but the current set up works and is trouble free.


The locos was modified to resemble RGS 20 about 5-6 years ago with new plasticard cab, lowered running board, shortened smokebox deeper tender tank, detail fittings include Ozark Miniatures classification lights and builders plates.



Locos backing down I have got to finish the plumbing from the tender airreceivers and tone down the paintwork on No 20 and order some decals!



Double headed train taking the High Line at the Junction. The gondolas are cut in between the locos to help spread the weight on weak bridges/trestles. I am planning to add a wye track in the area to the right of the caboose for turning locos & trains to add more operating interest.



Doubleheader on the 4% grade A bit like a 60 Class or D14 doubleheading with a J15 the locos seem to run well together once the 4-6-0 is leading. I was rather surprised when #20 managed 6 heavy 1:20.3 scale freight cars on the 4% though the morning was dry and sunny!

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Very nice. Looks super John. Looking at that wonderful outdoor layout, the maintenance required to keep track clear on a garden railway seems more that worth the effort. Model train services back here in Ireland seem virtually suspended for the summer season especially with the heat wave here now. Weather too nice to be cooped up indoors, but not in your case. :)

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  • 6 months later...

We had what will probably be the last of our local groups running days at the beginning of December mainly as a result of a combination of fewer people able to host meetings and outside pressures. Summer arrived early despite a cold wet spring one week I was literally wading through mud the next week the ground cracking up!

One hardy soul turned up and helped to operate trains along with my daughter, while I acted as dispatcher/trouble shooter! IMG_3873.JPG.2cabba2016ea94161ca92097b2bea4f0.JPG

We started out with two short steam (battery RC!) controlled freights and an IP Engineering Tralee & Dingle Inspection Railcar


Raynor & Skye crossing a general freight and a stock train on the oldest section of the railway laid in October-November 2007


DRGW 348 crossing the T&D inspection car

Arranging meets could be tricky as the railcar was basically running uncontrolled and superior over the freights.


In typical Rio Grande Southern fashion we had a break down with a wheel literally falling off RGS  loco 20. This happened on a few occasions with the Galloping Goose railcars, steam locos were more likely to de-rail their tenders. In reality the insulated muffs on the wheel sets split and failed after 7-8 years service in main line use.


We managed a Goose Fest for the railfans though the Bachmann Railtruck No1 is a non-runner with a failed final drive and works goose No6 the re-incarnation of RGS No 1 track power only while No 4 holds down the mail contract which just about keeps the line out of the scrappers hands.


No 20s failure turned out to be an opportunity to call out DRGW K27 Mudhen 464 to haul the combined freight and stock train home in double quick time without having to "double the hill" on the high line to get all the stock back to the shed.



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On 12/22/2017 at 9:43 PM, Noel said:

Wonderful photos John.  There is something special about a garden railway, especially in a country where the climate suits.  The railway looks fabulous.

Climate in the Waikato is not a lot different to Ireland or the UK slightly warmer all year round and similar level of rainfall to the West which leads to everything left outside being covered in moss and mould which does not look right for a railroad set in semi desert country.

There are plenty of garden railways in parts of the UK that enjoy extremes of heat and cold including Scotland and the North East, garden railway modelers tend to be a hardy lot, the limiting factor is more being able to afford and maintain a house with a largish garden. While the investment in track and rolling stock is very high in comparison to building an indoor layout, building a purpose built layout room and workshop would probably have cost as much.

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Managed to play trains on Christmas day, while daughter was busy assembling her Lego and wife and mother in law taking it easy all in all a very relaxing day (turkey had a luck escape!!)

Operation was reasonably trouble free the only glitch was C19 -2-8-0 348 stalling with 5 cars on the 4% grade to the garden shed. The problem was solved by 348 setting out 2 cars at the Junction for collection by K27 2-8-2 464 with a following freight. 348 then assisted 464 on the 4%

The video was filmed with a 7 year old FujiPix S5700 on a tripod not sure whether I would have got better resolution with my I Phone

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  • 4 months later...

That time of year again! I decided to retrofit 464 with her snowplow and see how she would do with a recent leaf fall.  On sunny days our sweet gum and oak trees provide nice shelter from the sun, the down side is 6-8 weeks leaf clearing in Autumn


A couple of weeks earlier 464 arrives with a train of stock & boxcars this is a near repeat of a photo taken 12 months earlier only changes are the caboose and the loco shed getting into an even worse condition.

Bachmann originally produced this loco with a snow plough pilot, though I was able to source a road pilot with a standard cow catcher as a spare part from Train World, the front platform is a weak point on these locos, the stays back to the smokebox serve a real purpose as a section of the diecast loco chassis had broken off just forward of the cylinders.


464 arrives on leaf clearing duties the snowplough is temporarily secured in place on the pilot with short pieces of brass rod.



Temporary set up clearing the high line. At this stage the snowplough was held in place by a pair of rubber bands.


Over the High Line and across the Warren Truss bridge. I am planning to re-build the "High Line" as a long wooden trestle similar to one of the Ophir trestles http://www.rhyman.org/articles/trestles-rgs-styleat some stage during the next two years.  The main draw back is that in terms of climate the Waikato has more in common with the Pacific North West than Colorado

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13 hours ago, Noel said:

Love it. I presume RC and battery powered?

I gradually converted all the locos to on board battery RC using the Australian RCS system https://www.rcs-rc.com/. Before that I used Digitrax DCC with their MK1 radio control system, the main draw back using the system outdoors was intermittent power pick up in humid conditions (late afternoon-evenings) and unreliable reversing. The K27 is powered by a pair of 7.2v NiMh battery packs in the tender which is also home for the RC receiver, power controller and sound system. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

The Pacific Extension!

Many railroads in the west called themselves the Somewhere,Somewhere & Pacific but got nowhere near the Ocean or across the nearest State Line so it was only appropriate the Jackson County would make a start on a Pacific Extension.


The starting point for the extension or at least a Wye for turning locos is on the inside of a gradual curve on the 2% grade from the junction from the lowest point on the railroad and Jackson City. The branch leaves the main line on a 5'6" radius curve the minimum for the Bachmann K27 2-8-2 loco the largest on the line.


Cut the rails with a junior hacksaw and tidied up the ends with a needle file, I grease the railjoiners with graphite which is both good for electrical continuity and allows the rails to expand and contract preventing the joiner siezing to the rail.


Switch installed and west leg of wye connected.


K27 loco drag beam and tender almost touching on inside of curve.


Roadbed 6X2 on 4X2 treated pine all connections with galvanised screws. 

I first checked that the K27 would go round a 5'6" curve by temporarily laying the track on the deck.


The East leg of the wye will re-join the main line between  the gondola and tank. The train is made up to 12 cars with the K27 cut in between the stock cars and general freight. The real RGS often cut in the helper mid train on trains of this length or longer.  The extension is currently supported on temporary blocking, in this area I used short timber piles on paving slabs or shallow concrete pads on account of shallow tree roots. The tree to the right of the junction is juvenile kauri  a shallow rooted conifer which can potentially grow to 70m in height and live 600 years

The wye will mainly be used for turning locos working the 4% grade between this point on the railroad and the storage sidings in the garden shed.

I may gradually extend the Pacific Extension as a logging or mine branch like the majority of branches on the RGS & DRGW narrow gauge lines

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This was the 1st reasonably dry weekend we had in several weeks, so I started work on the benchwork roadbed for the east leg of the wye. 


I decided to construct this section in situ and install the piles rather than pre-fab the roadbed on the deck, there was also the little matter of marrying in with the existing roadbed at either end!

Stringers are 4x2 fencing rail I had over from a job, piles are offcuts of fenceposts, Rapidset also surplus from a job so in a way the Pacic Extension is being built from revenue like the Ballina Branch of the Great Northern and Western in the 1860s. This form of construction with heavier section timber was basically the standard for house construction in New Zealand from Colonial days until relevatively recent times, quite a shock for someone with a construction background from Ireland

There was also some Monteiths Black for refreshments.

The right of way had to be planned to avoid the Kauri and a Feijoa tree. which produces a lot of fruit in late Summer and Autumn.


It has been difficult fitting the eastern leg of the wye into the space available, ending up with a 5' minimum radius curve rather than the preferred 6' minimum, I temporarily pinned down a section of track at 5' radius to check if there were any problems. The crew of 464 agreed to run over the temporary tracks while on their way to pick up some empty cars further up the line. I once heard a Canadian Pacific track gang asking the crew of a short line freight in Minnesota if the had time to spare to divert their train to run over a newly re-laid diamond a couple of times to check that everything was ok. It was getting late in the evening and the next CP train was not scheduled for several hours and the track gang wanted to go home after a long day!


The test was a success so installed the road bed for the eastern leg of the wye. The wye is under the drip line of a number of large trees and is a popular place for visitors to congregate on hot days, which could make the wye a very popular place indeed.

Th end of the wye is supported temporarily on blocks, for the present I will extend the tail of the wye about 6' long enough for a couple of locos to clear the switch. Rail for the wye will come from a re-lay job on the main line, where I am planning to swap out about 20' of AMS track with bleached out ties (sleepers) laid in 2007 with new material during August-September. The wye will be laid with the old rail AMS on new Sunset Valley ties which should be good for another 10-20 years.

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Went a little off the rail recently adding more locos and stock. The excuse was that another Mudhen was needed to handle the traffic and as insurance against the day 464 breaks her frames or the motion falls apart with metal fatigue, more freight cars were needed to cope with the stock rush and mine traffic just like the old RGS.


463 an early Accucraft model brass construction with stainless steel motion and tyres, should outlast 464 though motor may need replacement at some stage. Loco is currently track power will convert to on board battery r.c., loco is fitted with a Phoenix sound system similar to 464.


464 brings in her train,  the "new" stock cars and box cars appear to have been sprayed with Testors Dull Cote or some form of flat finish to tone down the factory satin finish.


463 waits on the siding to be cut into the train as helper as 464 runs past on the main with a cut of stock cars.



463 now cut into the train as mid-train helper. The RGS depended on hired DRGW Mudhens to move its heaviest trains from the late 1930s onwards, even in its final season of operation mid train helpers were needed to handle the Autumn stock rush and final ore trains. The loco shed is due to be replaced with a  brick roundhouse more typical of the area and a timber coaling tower, some day I might even get round to building a depot

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  • 3 months later...

Spring has finally arrived. Newly acquired K27 463 had her damaged pilot repaired and has been fitted up for battery remote control with a Deltang receiver/electronic power controller and sound system re-wired with the chuff timer set up on a driving rather than a tender axle as on my other locos. Although the loco was in very good condition, her pilot was damaged and may had a nose dive at some stage similar to my C19 #348

The idea was to capture the sound of the driving wheels slipping, though in practice 463 stalls when overloaded rather than kicking up a racket slipping.

Today I managed an operating session of sorts while catching up on the gardening. In spring the old RGS used to run stock specials to return sheep to high pasture for summer grazing K27s 463 & 464 teamed up to work the empties back to the DRGW interchange along with some general freight.

463 is fitted with a Phoenix sound system similar to 464 but is a noiser and has an interesting echo whistle, the matt black/grey stock cars are part of a recent purchase, I am planning to tone down my existing stock cars with a flat finish to achieve a similar effect. The train has crested a grade and is starting to pick up speed on a long down grade.


463 has just arrived at Utah Junction, helper engine C19 348 & caboose have just turned on the wye and is waiting in the clear.

The train will reverse its direction here before climbing the High Line to the DRGW interchange


463 and the rest of her train the High Line branches off behind the train in the distance and climbs on a 4% grade to the staging yard in the garden shed. The timber track base has started to dry out following the long wet winter, interestingly the timber is in good condition with little weathering after over 10 years use possibly because it was covered by a layer of ballast.


#348 & her caboose have set back along the main line past the wye allowing #463 to draw forward. #464 waits at the clearance point while 463 & the front portion of her train draw forward past the West Switch of the wye.


#463 has cut off her portion of the train and draws forward past the east switch of the wye.


#463 turns on the wye before picking up her cars and drawing forward onto the High Line. Currently the tail track of the wye is only long enough for a loco and one car, once its extended it will be possible the turn a complete train without the need to divide and re-marshall.


#463 has picked up her cars and has drawn forward on to the siding to take water. Once she's clear #464 will draw forward and repeat the exercise with her portion of the train.


#464 and the 1st portion of her cars couple on. Once #463 & #464 and their cars have drawn clear #348 will grab the box cars then hook on to the rear of the train.


The whole ensemble complete with helper locomotive and caboose will draw forward along the main line, before setting back to pick up the caboose, the whole train will then set back eastwards along the main in order to get a good run at the high line.

All went well until the radio transmitter for 348 failed as I was putting away the last portion of the train, fortunately it was still light and 348 was in a reachable place!

The general idea is to set up regular operating sessions, once some of the operating bugs with trackwork and stock is sorted


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6 hours ago, popeye said:

Very nice.

What do the neighbours think of all that noise?

Not sure I will have to put 463 on a rolling road and hook her up to a set of amps 😁. It can get a bit much when I am using 463 quite late in the evening to set up the trains for the next operating session, Phoenix have a volume switch but like kids no mute button!

The Jackson County has to compete with Kiwirail main line freight and shunting services along the nearby East Coast Main Trunk Line 9.29-10.31,events at the Claudelands arena & across the river at Waikato Stadium and next door neighbours who love have a regular afternoon music session.


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  • 2 weeks later...
2 hours ago, DiveController said:

NO Railway Crossing barriers needed either, so nothing to replace when someone wants to beat the train with only a couple of tons of car 🙄

There is no legal requirement to fence a railway in New Zealand. In recent years (since the railways were re-nationalised!) Kiwirail have fenced areas  where trespassing has been a problem. The branch to the Waitoa Dairy factory(once part of the main line to the East Coast & Thames is rural with trains running as traffic requires. The crossing of SH 26 near Morrinsville (7:47) and a similar crossing of SH 1B are unusual as open crossings of Trunk Roads and a very busy freight line with approx 30 trains daily running a line speed (100Km/h). Basically crossing signals in New Zealand are automatically operated by an approaching train, the railways in New Zealand would probably have to close down if the Government introduced a requirement to fence lines and install monitored crossings similar to the UK or Ireland.

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  • 1 month later...

November operating session IMG_3461.thumb.JPG.85955025b1c8b9879c382d8445374304.JPG

Tidied up the loco shed after 5-6 years exposed to the Waikato weather. Repaired/replaced window surrounds that had fallen off, re-painted cut checks in door heads so larger locos can fit inside!



RGS Motor 6 sits on the turntable. The RGS converted old cars into railcars and an open rail truck in the 1930s, interestingly most if not all of these vehicles survive in working order in the States. The turntable works and is basically a piece of decking board that pivots around a coach screw on some plate washers and has given very little trouble in 8-10 years service.



Busy west end of the yard 464 on the main line with a westbound stock special, 463 waits to follow with a way freight while caboose 401 on the end of an eastbound freight waits for her loco to back on once the stock special has departed.IMG_3482.thumb.JPG.14a22dc517003b7f273ff724b696693f.JPG

Stock special [asses gondolas under the hopper at Utah Junction.


Live steam 278 waits to back on to her train once the stock special has departed and the main line clear for running. Slightly scorched smokebox door, these engines were the Rio Grande equivalent in size and power to the J15, the larger 2-8-2s were introduced from the early 1900s onwards to reduce freight train running costs and probably helped keep the remaining narrow gauge lines open into the 1960s.


The nearest to conventional baseboard construction, this section of track is supported on 3/4 construction ply on 4X2 treated timber framing and slopes in one direction to help drainage and avoid puddling. Pond lining is glued to the ply with contact adhesive in a similar manner to membrane roofing ballast and ground cover (8mm to dust screenings) is glued to the membrane with a PVA concrete bonding agent, moss is starting to die off with warmer drier spring weather. I am extending the siding on the right out over a dwarf wall which include what look something like coke ovens.


This area is normally shaded with sun only in late afternoon during spring,summer, autumn months. 463 has added tonnage to her train since her last stop and has just picked up two gondolas from the hopper and is probably 2-3 carsover her weight limit for the 3-4% gradient to the covered storage tracks in the shed.

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After a brief spurt of activity preparing for a garden railway convention in 2011 the Jackson County has been pretty neglectful about providing covered accommodation at Jackson City for its staff and the very odd passenger that might want to ride the line.


After toying with the idea of a NZR style building, I settled on Ophir Depot on the RGS as a potential depot/company head office.



Valuation Floor plan and elevation.jpg


A rating valuation elevation and floor plan are available on line, a reasonable start for designing a mock-up to see if it would fit/not over dominate the scene.


The real Ophir Depot was on the inside of an almost 180° curve, Jackson City Depot will be on the outside of a 90° curve.

 Valuation  Ground Floor Plan.jpg


I planned the mock-up/shell of the building in 12mm treated ply, buying 2 1200X600 panels from a local DIY warehouse, funnily enough 2X600X1200 panels were $6 cheaper than a single 1200X1200 panel, be interesting to see how a full 1200X2400 sheet works out. Plywood is manufactured from locally grown Radiata Pine which is fast growing and tends to twist all over the place, even when bonded into a sheet of ply.


I cut out the basic outline of the platform elevation with a battery powered skilsaw and cut out the window opes with a drill and a jigsaw.




I was a bit worried that a 1:20.3 scale building might over-dominate the scene, so did a mock up with the basic elevation and depot floor, before cutting out the door and window openings.




The ground floor of the building was clad with a combination of horizontal and vertical weatherboard, the roof and upper storey in shingles. The weatherboard is a Midwest Scale basswood product, the lower panel edge is rebated to disguise horizontal joints the top strip overwidth to compensate.


I cut out the window and door openings using a sharp craft knife, openings will be trimmed with L shaped strip to form the timber flashings used round doors and windows with this form of construction. The weatherboard is temporarily fixed in place with double sided tape.


The section below window level was clad in vertical weather board with a dado rail between the two cladding systems, the large opening between the doorways is for a bay window which incorporated the telegraph operators office.


I am looking at the option of laser cutting for forming doors and windows, fixing individual shingles to the roof and upper story would be time consuming but could be very therapeutic depending on your outlook






Ophir Depot like most on the RGS was a combined depot and freight house for LCL traffic and seems to be reasonably in proportion for the site without reducing to 1:22.5 or 1:24 Scale


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