Monday, January 23, 2023


                                                    Important Update

Well, it has been longer than I had planned since the last post so I will explain. In early September my wife was hospitalised with an infection causing some delirium. She had already had a challenging time with her dementia increasing and this was the final blow. She eventually transferred to respite but this only confirmed she needed to enter full time care. Accordingly, I have not had much time for trains as we got her settled and our affairs put in order. I probably spend more time with her than most husbands but I need to do that; it may change in time.
 So what is the immediate future for Borenore? It has been temporally shelved, literally as it has been lifted and placed on shelves above the trestles, one of the benefits of the lightweight aluminum tube modules. I have moved my branch line terminus into its place and will connect it to the traverser to give me some immediate running, albeit point to point. Work on Borenore will continue in the form of buildings and point work, all on the work bench. I will post these results on the blog as they come to fruition. I still need to get some parts made for the station building and get some parts for the goods shed deck and loading bank. Some of the buildings will be temporarily place on the terminus. I am still visiting the EMRCI on occasions, so the hobby is still on my agenda.
In the meantime I have also been rationalizing my collection, if it does not fit the train running on the branch or future Borenore and a few consists for Binalong/Bethungara the out it goes. Just a final thought, if you are pover 60 y.o. and have not thought about what may happen in your future it maybe worth a few hours of research and consideration. We were reasonably well placed as this day has been coming for some years but it did not fully equip us for such a massive change of circumstances.
Hopefully the next post will be some minor buildings. 
Cheers Phil


Saturday, August 20, 2022


The Storage System on the Home Version

I probably should have posted this article earlier. On my former layout at the previous home, I built a storage traverser. It was, and still is 2.68 M long. It has now been re-engineered for use with Borenore and my branch line terminus called Balowra, a kind of mirror image of Eugowra that is now being enhanced a little. Balowra also survived the move.
The re-engineering comprised of ditching the old L-Girder benchwork and risers for direct mounting on two1.5 metre steel sliding door cabinets, which can also store train storage boxes into the future. The new arrangement gives an infinitely more stable base and better functioning traverser. I can now move the traverser in and out by one hand without any binding. The sliders are now mounted flat instead of vertically. I am still to build the connection to the remainder of the railway but that will come as Borenore gains momentum.
The original traverser was the subject of a presentation at Modelling the Railways of NSW, a joint presentation with my friend and colleague, Allan Garbutt. It was re presenter at an NMRA Convention in Canberra. With Allan’s permission I am posting the presentation here.
The new version is shown in the photos below.

The new deck fitted to the storage cabinets, the branch line models can be seen on their side in the background.

The new deck canter leavers over the cabinets

Traverser table refitted

Track isolating system using micro switches 

Table at full extention

Dust covers fitted, a must have.

The original MRofNSW Article reproduced.

Storage Yards

Building a better mousetrap


Phil Collins and Allan Garbutt


Operational Storage has traditionally been represented by a series of loops or single-ended sidings to store trains off-stage.  The purpose of operational storage is to hold as many full-length trains as possible and to provide “the other end” of the line.  Unfortunately, traditional yard loops can be expensive and reduce the amount of available storage space by up to 60%.

Traversers were used on the prototype to move a carriage or locomotive from one track to an adjacent track in a confined location.  An example of a prototype traverser can be found at the Sydney Tramway Museum, Loftus.  This traverser originally came from the Clyde Engineering workshops at Granville.

Within our model railway we can use the principle of a traverser to great advantage to maximise operational storage within our staging yards.

In model storage terms a traverser is much more like a well built draw - and not limited to moving a single car at a time!

Traversers within model railways are not a new idea.  There have been several articles within Model Railroader and other model railway publications that describe various methods of making a traverser.  Commercial manufacturers

What we will be describing are the advantages and the tips and tricks in creating a manually operated horizontal or vertical traverser.

The Horizontal Traverser Storage System

by Phil Collins

I first decided to use a traverser type storage system on my second railway at my current home as the simple ladder yard system would give me only about 40% of the storage capacity that a traverser would give me. I was inspired by an article in December 2000 Model Railroader by John R. Signor. However at the time I could not find suitable drawer slides so I settled for a cassette system, albeit unwieldy. Sometime later a friend came over for morning tea as part of his recovery from an operation and we got talking and within minutes we were on the internet and found the drawer slides I needed. It is good to have a mate who is a builder.  A quick trip to Wetherill Park the following week and I had two pairs of Hafele Part No 422.83.345 drawer slides and the rebuild was underway.

These drawer slides had a load rating of 45 kg per pair and were the fully extendable type. I calculated that a fully loaded traverser would weigh approx. 39 kg, however I decided to use two pairs of slides (total capacity of 90 Kg) to ensure stability over the 2.68 metre length and 0.45 metre width of the traverser.

The sums in favour of a traverser are indisputable. The cost of two pairs of slides was $37.37, only slightly more today, verses approx.  $300 for the point work for a ladder yard and the bonus is 2.5 times the storage capacity. You can see how this factor of 2.5 is arrived at by comparing the two photos of my traverser and a ladder yard overlayed on the deck. In the 0.45 metre width I was able to lay 8 roads at 50 mm spacing, the remainder of the width being taken up by the aluminium angle bracing used to stiffen the deck over its length.

1 Horizontal traverser in use

2 Example yard ladder in the same space

After some research I decided to use Trackrite urethane track underlay on the deck. This had two benefits. Firstly it greatly reduced noise, compared with say cork, and secondly its accurate 50 mm width made it easy to locate the track. The Trackrite simply lays on the deck between the aluminium edging, it is not glued down. The track sits in place and is held there by one set of dropper wires and printed circuit board sleepers at the ends.

The most difficult task in the building process was to develop an indexing system to align each road with the on/off roads at either end of the traverser. I finally settled on patio bolts aligning with holes in more aluminium angle. Once each position was indexed the track was soldered to the printed circuit board sleepers using a track alignment jig. The final task was to install some form of isolating system for each road. When say road 6 is aligned, roads 1,2,3,4 and part of 5 are sitting out over a 1 metre drop so power to roads sitting out over the “drop” as it were needs to be cut off. I achieved this by a series of micro switches under the deck working against an aluminium angle fixed to the structure below the deck. The formula here was simple. The micro switch cuts out  power to the track as each road moves out of alignment over the drop by half a track width. This is very important as the layout is a DCC controlled railway with no normal blocks, only the eight created by the isolating micro switches.

I guess the key to any engineering design is whether it works. Well in this case it works extremely well. The only issues so far are those associated with retro fitting it into an existing structure and ensuring vertical alignment of the tracks. This problem is amplified in my case by the structure sitting on a carpeted floor. Fortunately I have lots of 0.005 inch styrene spacers at the ready! It is regularly abused by the members of the NSWDCC Group and did not miss a beat during a visit by 70 members of the NMRA. I might add that I used code 100 rail on the traverser and on/off tracks transitioning to code 70 on the main layout section. This was largely due to having the code 100 left over from a previous project but if I were building one today from scratch I would not hesitate to use code 70.

The Vertical Traverser

By Allan Garbutt

The vertical traverser has some advantages including not intruding into the horizontal aisle space, provides dust-free storage and doubles as a display case.

The items to consider when designing a vertical storage and display traverser are:

•          Depth required is a mere 130mm (5”)

•          Wall Space Allowance (Height);

The height above and below the approach track needs to be no more than the total height of the traverser.

The length of the traverser needs to be balanced against the total weight of the materials used and the number of tracks that it will consist of.  This particular vertical traverser fits behind a door and uses 1200mm (4’) of wall space in the corner of the room.

A pulley guide rope and counter weight was used to readily shift the traverser through its range of movement.  Movement is done by simply pushing the box up or down and allows it to quickly move between any track in the display unit (Random Access Storage).

The pulleys hold the weight of the traverser and the counter weight.  The entire traverser, including trains can weigh in around the 25kg mark.  Make sure to check the load rating of the pulleys that you select.  Exceeding the load rating could be dangerous to the health of your trains.  The pulleys selected are made by Cowdry and support 30kg’s each.

The counter weight needs to balance the weight of the storage unit including trains whilst remaining relatively thin.  The material used is a cast iron BBQ hot plate with some extra weight as required.  The weight required varies depending on the size of the display unit and will need to hold the full weight of the display unit and an average load of trains.  The example traverser needed up to 20kg+ once it is filled with trains.

Tracks must align within a fraction of a millimeter both vertically and horizontally to ensure reliable operation of trains when entering and leaving the display unit. 

Cowdroy TRIUMPH Sliding Door Track System was used as a pair of vertical guides. These ensure that the traverser moves smoothly and evenly and stops unwanted horizontal and diagonal movement.  The slides act as guides only and do not carry any weight.  The vertical slides need to have a minimum tolerance to ensure correct track alignment.

The unit is locked in place by a patio security bolt.  This security bolt has minimal manufacturing tolerances and a built-in centre punch marking spike.  This ensures accurate marking for drilling holes to align the traverser and the approach track correctly.

Using these components will avoid damaging the approach and storage tracks.

The traverser is used with both DCC and DC.  A plug-in jumper cable is used to link to the main layout bus.  This pair is connected to each track via a SPST isolation switch.  The SPST switch isolates one rail.  The traverser is operated by hand and the use of a SPST switch kept the complexity to a minimum.

I used a quality piece of 9mm 3ply plywood for a flat back panel.  My main criterion was that the back should be thick enough to take screws.

The shelves need to be cut square and straight to ensure that they join at a 90 degree angle with the back panel.  I recommend using a table saw or getting them professionally cut.  Normally your supplier can do this for a small fee per cut.

Use a spacing jig to help ensure each shelf is correctly spaced at approximately 4”.

3mm Perspex is used on the front because it is relatively self-supporting and minimizes sag.  Plastic channel surround is attached to the top and bottom of the front to allow the perspex to easily slide on or off.  Some C and H mouldings from Australian Plastic profiles, available from Mitre 10, were used to manufacture a frame to hold the perspex.  The parts used were 10mm x 2.4m Cap moulding @ $5.50 for 9mm shelves and frame and 4.5mm x 2.4m “H” moulding @ $2.50 which was cut to a “C” shape.

Atlas Code 100 rerailers (part # 150-844) are used at each end of the traverser to make sure that each car is on the track as it enters and leaves the traverser.  An adjustment screw and washer hold down the Atlas rerailer.  This screw and washer allows for a fine adjustment of the vertical alignment of the track.

Code 100 track was used for the storage tracks.  Trackrite urethane track underlay was used to maintain correct track location on each shelf.  All track is laid loose on the underlay and does not need to be glued down to the shelves.

3 The Vertical Traverser

Materials Listing

Part No




Atlas Code 100 rerailers

Any good hobby shop


Code 100 Flex track

Any good hobby shop

H505A, H505B or H505C

Trackrite underlay, any of the track recess types

Casula Hobbies


Pulley, Max 30Kg ea (sold in pack of 2)

Any good hardware shop


Top Mount Track – 2000mm



Pack of 2 TT331 Wheel Assemblies



Cap mould 10mmx2.4m

Any good hardware shop


H mould 4.5mmx2.4m



3mm Perspex


Patio Bolt

Any good hardware shop or locksmith

CAT No. ST0300

SPDT Toggle switch



Interesting Internet Links:

I would be happy to upload the Poerpoint Presentation as well but as a novice I do not have any idea how to do that. If you know how let me know.

Thanks for viewing.


Friday, August 12, 2022


Signals for Borenore.

                                Borenore Crossing Loop Signals

Recently The Signals Branch, Ray Pilgrim, delivered six of the eight signals required for controlling operations at Borenore. The remaining two, the Distant Signals, will arrive in due course. These models are exquisite, all custom made as the prototype signals at Borenore were somewhat unique. 

Borenore Crossing Loop Signals, 3 for each end of the loop.

We had only a few photos to reference as Borenore loop was extended and colour lights installed just before my return to the sight in circa 1974. Thanks to the couple of photographers who published those photos that allowed us to peer into the past. There were a couple of photographers who included things like signals and infrastructure in their formatting, maybe by accident but they were a big help. You can now revisit the signal diagram in an earlier post to see how they fit into the scene. I always say if you have photos or other stuff of Borenore, I would love to hear from you.

The arrival of the signals forced me to revisit how I will fit them to the layout and for a while I questioned my use of extruded foam until I came up with method of “drilling” a 22 mm hole through the foam. Well I could not drill a hole successfully but I think I have solved the problem by using a wad punch, not as a punch but as a reamer to cut out the plug of foam. Thanks to Rod Kelly for acting as a sounding board. 

Thanks again for viewing. Cheers Phil

Friday, June 17, 2022

It has been a while since I posted on the blog, over two months,  but I have had a bit of an increase in my career role in that time and work on the modules has stalled. I am setting up a small work bench in a spare room so hopefully I can work on both roles more closely. I did manage a respite day at The Great Train Show but unfortunately I spent most of the day in the ticket booth, I hope everyone enjoyed the exhibition even if I did not see very much of it.

Thankyou to all of you who have dropped by to take a look. I now have 1000+ looks, a long way short of my peers but thankyou non the less. In this post I want to reference the DCC Guy, Larry Puckett. I am not a fan as such but he does post good stuff. He speaks slowly and clearly and his videos are well produced. If you are interested in the DCC Concepts Alignment Dowels his video on the subject is well worth a look.

I am also posting a few prototype photos taken at Borenore in the late seventies. I hope you find them interesting. I have been posting some of my photos of the west on a well know prototype group on Facebook but incurred the rath of the moderator because I am unable to caption with a date. So since I set the rules here I may just burden you with a few non Borenore photos from time to time. A friend suggested just make up a date but that is not me. Anyway I am still a member, get to see all the photos I joined to see and I still have my collection. The only people who miss out are the 100+ likes I seemed to get on each post despite the lack on a date.

So here are a few Borenore shots fron 1975 to 1980. Enjoy.

The first 6 show the safe working and photo 7 shows a Dubbo bound freight working through the station. Yes, Dubbo bound via the "Scenic" route via Molong, Cumnock etc.

Hopefully I will be back on track very soon. Cheers Phil

Thursday, April 7, 2022


The Buildings and Infrastructure

Firstly, I am indebted to my colleague Bob Stack who supplied me with copies of several key drawings of Borenore. These have helped considerably. If you have a photo or drawing that you think may help, please forward it to me.

I am leaving the signals out of the discussion for now as this will be a big project later in the build.

I will start from the LHS as you view the model or look at the plan from the first post and the first piece of infrastructure is the Overhead Bridge leading to the goods yard, an elaborate structure for such a task. It is an angled approach version of a typical NSWGR overbridge.

Fortunately, Rod Kelly from Laser Rail Bits makes an excellent kit of this bridge, albeit not exactly correct for Borenore. After a “long” enjoyable chat with Rod he offered to “burn” me some modified piles for the bridge to make it more correct for Borenore.

The next item is the SM’s Residence.

Crop from a Mike Schrader photo.

It is based on a Gate Keeper residence and in 1965 was virtually just that but with an extra chimney. However, it proceeded to get added on to over the years. I am lucky here as Stephen from SJM Models produced an excellent model of a Gate Keepers house and so this is what will be used on the model with a bit of extra work. There will be a second one needed for the level crossing.

One of the drawings I was given by Bob Stack shows it with all the additions, some of which have recently been opened up.

This is a drawing how it ended up.

Next in line are the station buildings consisting of a Lamp Room, Out of Shed, 3 Room Station Building with attached Toilet and finally the Signal Box.

The Out of Shed had a loading race at the rear as seen in the drawing below and the field notes.

The Lamp Room, Out of Shed and Station Building with attached Toilet will have to be scratch built. In the late 70’s I measured these up with the help of my father and friend Allan Garbutt who drew up excellent field notes as I called out the numbers. Here are a few scans of some of the pages.

The Signal box is a precast concrete version and SJM make a fine model of a 4-panel box so I asked very nicely and Stephen cast me an extra back for the kit which has allowed me to cut and paste it into a 5-panel box.

Finally, across the tracks from the platform is a G3 goods shed, a gantry crane, loading bank and stock race.

When first built the goods shed had the customary office attached but by 1965 it was gone as in these 1978 views.

This will be a slightly kit bashed Ian Lindsay Models G3 Kit and an SJM Gantry Crane Kit.

Rod Kelly makes a low timber loading bank that will be the basis of the one at Borenore, but I will probably need two kits.

The stock race will need to be scratch built and shrunk to fit.

There is also a tank car unloading point on the extension of the stock siding, but this is only a couple of pipes sticking out of the ground.

I have deliberately avoided discussing the large number of detail items that will be needed for the time being like platform scales, seats, etc. which will come from the SJM collection. Now to the build process. I will put up a post on each project as I build each item.

All photos by the author except the one credited.

Cheers Phil Collins

                                                                   Important Update Well, it has been longer than I had planned since the ...