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danpickard
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Hi all,

Don has bugged me a few times for this, so I've finally got some proper shots to tell the story.  Going back some 2 years ago now, myself and a fellow Aussie modeller, and great mate, John Hunter, decided on the challenge of building the Dolly Varden Mines Railway as an On30 exhibition layout, taking a much more prototypical approach then the mines have previously been represented in a model format.  We are both scenery and structure blokes, so the fact that DVMR was a 3' narrow gauge railway, and we were doing it in 0n30, was one of the minor prototype changes we made (6" difference from side on isn't particularly noticable anyway!!!).

Photos and more of the story will follow over the course of the next few days, so stay tuned...



Dan Pickard

 

Dave D
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I was hoping you would do this Dan!

Thanks to you for starting the thread and to Don for pestering you. :thumb:  :bg:

Keep an eye on this thread guys...your in for a real treat.

Herb Kephart
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I look forward to more pictures and information on this. The Dolly Varden has been of interest to me ever since the book came out. It's one of the few books that I reread on a semi regular basis. That, plus Hotshot's recommendation, means to me that this is going to be one great thread!


Herb:old dude:

danpickard
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Right then...crash course in history!:old dude:

Dolly Varden Mines Railway, located at the town of Alice Arm, British Columbia.  Back in around 1900, some mining prospects were staked near the town after discovery of silver.  Those stakes were only about 4 miles from the town because the terrain of the area was a bit "difficult".  A raging icy Kitsault River, verticle cliffs, thick forests, freezing winters, permanent ice fields...it wasn't no resort town!  In 1910 however, a group of prospectors ventured up the valley in search of riches.  18 miles up the mountain they discovered a rich strain of silver ore, and so claimed the site of the Dolly Varden Mines.

It was later decided that a 3' narrow gauge railway would be the best way to service the mines.  Hasty construction started on the basis of very rough estimates with very little survey work on the right of way.  Consequently, the budget for the railways construction was a farce, with massive blow outs before even reaching the half way mark.  Money was scarce, the winter was cold, the working conditions were shocking.  The line was steep, with tight curves and minimal clearances with the many rock cuttings.  "Build it quick and build it cheap" was the underlying motto, and this was reflected when the inspectors came to review the line.  The track was too light, mostly unballasted, often out of gauge, the locos were too small, most of them condemned etc etc

Amongst the cheap construction, blackmail was happening over sales of the railway with court cases eventuating to decide who will take ownership of the finacial mess.  Operating costs were high, and the price of silver had crashed.  Eventually the railway did earn its operating certificate in mid 1921, but was shut down due to huge finacial losses, officially an operating railway for around 6-8 weeks.  Some minor operations continued on the line there after, but the actual Dolly Varden operation was a bankrupt mess.  Some logging operations occurred for a few years to try and salvage some dollars, but that work only lasted a few years as well.  Eventually the metal scrappers moved in around 1937, and evidence of what was potentially the richest deposits of silver in the world were erased forever.

If you need to know the full story, do yourself a huge favour and track down the book "Steel Rails & Silver Dreams" by Darryl Muralt (Benchmark Publishing, now reprinted just recently).  It was our bible in building this layout.  The photos are stunning, and all references to this layout, with many of the scenes recreated in our version.  Cool story, cool pictures...they flogged the book when it was first released as "a railway crying out to be modelled"...damn right, thats why we did it!!!

Dan Pickard

danpickard
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The goal...

We set ourselves 2 years to build this monster.  28' of exhibition layout, 5 sections plus a water extension at the wharf.  Small problem being John and I live about 200 miles apart...thank god for the internet and digital photography!!!

The frames (aluminium, polystyrene bases) were all built at my house, then track layed and wired, so we knew it would work before the layout was split to its respective owners for scenic work.  It runs as 3 indepenent circuits, all operated automatically with IRdot infared sensors (auto reversing circuits), so 3 locos are in operation at all times, making plenty of animation for exhibition patrons.  It might look like one line, but is actually split to create the animation side of things.  The whole thing runs on auto for the duration of the exhibition, leaving us to build other stuff and chat about the project.  Thats really how the prototype operated anyway, locos moving up and down the grade with loaded ore cars, no need for complicated operation here.

The modules are light weight, movable by one person (modules range from 1.7-2m long), fit snuggly in 2 trailers, and can be set up and running in around 1-2 hours.  Pack down is about 15 minutes!!!  A few of the touring American narrow gaugers at the recent Australian NGC seemed a bit amazed to see such a big layout disappear into the trailer so quick at the end of the show.  Come pack up time, we want to get home quick!!

Picture time then...

Dan Pickard

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Presenting the Dolly Varden Mines Railway at the 2009 Australian Narrow Gauge Convention in Sydney.



Thats myself (Dan Pickard) on the left of shot, John Hunter on the right, giving a clinic of the building of the DVMR layout, from prototype to model.



The start of the line at the wharf on Alice Arm, with Dolly Varden House and Ore Bunker.





The grade along the top of the crib retaining wall is the highline spur that feeds the ore bunker at the water front.  Company housing was located right alongside the grade.







With a bit of modelling license, these water falls were located at the 4 mile mark, the bridge was at the 16 mile mark, but they made a nice scene together.  This centre module was the transition point between Johns scenery and mine.

Dan Pickard

 

 

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Moving on past the 16A trestle bridge, a steep rock cut is a change over point where the 5% grade starts, and the heavier Climax loco wound move the loaded ore cars down from the mine face.





The strange looking totem pole in the above shot was carved and posted to me be a Canadian modeler caled Ken Clark.  He dug up some native Indian history about the original inhabitants of the region, and carved it from some reference images of the "fin of killer whale" pole.  Ken offered a vast range of "interesting" facts on the region and period.





Moving towards the top of the line, past Camp 8.  A crude array of mining accomodation amid spectacular scenery.  Past the camp is the end of the line, with the powerhouse, sacking shed and tipple.  The actual mine face was about 2000' up the mountain from the tipple, with an overhaed bucket tramway feeding the high grade ore to the railway below.





One of the attractions of the line for us as builders, was the amount of junk featured around the area.  It was expensive enough to bring the stuff in, so there was no way they were paying to move it all out.  Lucky for them, the line came with a convieniently located hillside to shove the junk over...







After this point, it all went downhill (again)...

Cheers,

Dan Pickard

Happy now Don?? ;)

 

madmike3434
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spectacular bridge shot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Everything is ??????......................... spectacular  !!!

yup, i am happy to see this excellent piece of modelling and hopefully should 1000's more viewers.

madmike3434

 

lenelg
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Spectacular model of a wonderful prototype (I've owned and reread the book since it was first published)!

What would be interesting is a track plan with some more detail about your operating scheme..

Lennart Elg, Sweden

danpickard
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Thanks Mike, that was generally the reaction we got all weekend at the NGC.  It was its first showing, and also the first time it had been together in one piece.  We had no where big enough to set the whole thing up at home.

Lennart, the track plan is dead simple, just like the real one.  Essentially a single track from wharf to mine.  We have the highline spur to feed the ore bunker at the wharf, a passing loop at the large rock cutting (about mile 15) and a passing loop at the tipple site.  There is an added turnout that deviates down into the tunnel that heads under the mine, which enters a 2 track staging yard for basic train change overs.  There is also a hidden track that sends a loco and ore car out onto the ore bunker.  One train does the short ore bunker entry, the next train runs the full length from wharf to hidden staging under the mine, and the third train runs from the mine down to the high rock cut to "change over" to the next loco which would have completed the run down hill.  Infrared triggers run the auto shuttle circuits...runs all day with no operater needed.  There are dead sections of track to break the sections, with three separate throttles for the respective runs.  The most complicated "switching" we do is change the point to the staging yard so an alternate train does the long run to the wharf.  Sorry, there never really was a track plan as such, it just happened so to speak.

Dan Pickard

Paladin
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Thanks Dan

Great just looking at the pictures, almost as good as seeing the real thing.

One point, John's sections were modeled using basswood and Dan's sections mainly from balsa.

Dan tells me The Dolly Varden is booked up to tour many model  train shows,

It is layouts such as this that give people such as I the desire to improve our skills.

Again many thanks to John and Dan

Don

Last edited on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 11:52 am by Paladin

madmike3434
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danpickard wrote:
  Sorry, there never really was a track plan as such, it just happened so to speak.

Dan Pickard


I think that is the best way to build a layout.  Have a general idea of what you want, then start at either end or the middle and have at it .

In the case of multiple modules like this one , a basic plan would work. ?

I have seen where people spend so much time, planning, planning, planning some more , then correcting, then more planning and then either never building anything because they are planned out trying to make the perfect plan . Then finding out that everything they wanted on the layout/module will not fit in the given space once its under construction.  If you think you will be short of space, YOU WILL .

my 3 cents canadian.....$ was up yesterday

mike

Lucas Gargoloff
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Wooooooooooowwwwwwww!!!!!!

We have a guy here with big eyes to details!!! lol. I like the trees, bridges, water... everything!!! And most important, terrain is superb!

Thanks for sharing! :moose::moose::moose::moose::moose:

Dave D
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Fantastic work and photos Dan.

I have seen various other shots, but these take the cake.

As Don mentioned, these are the types of scenery applications I too shall reference when that time comes for me.

Please tell, How did you like working with frocks?

Fantastic scenery planning as well, your separate sections blend seamlessly, had you not mentioned where the two came together, I would not have been able to guess.

Simply stunning........


Herb Kephart
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Dan-

One of those times when words seem feeble in comparison to what you are trying to describe.

The ability to transport the layout to the viewers makes congratulations on the success of your efforts even more inadequate.

There are a number of overworked words that could be used.


Awesome, stunning, breath taking, inspiring---and many more


But I think you get the idea


Herb Kephart:old dude:

Paladin
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I asked Dan what track they used

Wait for it

Peco- HO with every second tie removed

I think you will all agree it looks fantastic.

Don

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Don,

almost right...

The main track is Peco On30 flex stuff.  The "HO" stuff was just used for the trestle where it was "hand layed".  I built the trestle top first (stingers and ties), then removed around half the ties from a length of HO flex.  The track was then bent to the curve on the trestle top, and held in gauge by the plastic ties (they slotted in between the timber ties on the trestle).  Track was spiked across the bridge span, and then the plastic ties removed... handlayed track with minimal keeping in gauge issues.  Seen it done before on a whole layout, with all the ties put down, and cheap flex track with half the plastic ties removed used on top, hand spiked, then remove the rest of the ties.  Works well with narrow gauge stuff because the really backwoodsy lines often had plenty of space between the ties to work with.  Very successful method for the novice hand layer.

Generally, we aren't fans of hand layed track, especially with exhibition layouts.  Seems to be more issues with movement and gauging problems.  There was an interesting clinic on hand laying track.

"The novice builder starts using flex track, then as they get more experience, they use hand layed track, then as they get more experience, they use flex track." :)

Dan

Paladin
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That's the story of my life.

ALMOST RIGHT.

The method you describe for laying the track on the trestle sounds easy, even for someone like myself.

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Dan,

this is an absolutly fantastic layout, one of the best I have seen the last years:thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb::thumb:

I also have a question:
how do you create the rocks on the layout?

At this point I work on my Romania logging layout, tunnel build in rock.

cheers
Kalle

danpickard
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Kalle,

There is a mixture of real rock, plaster castings and soft rocks.  The large rock faces are soft rocks, like in the high rock cutting with the little Davenport sitting with the ore cars.

Use an old piece of foam, like an old seat cushion, or see a foam dealer for off cuts.  Basically any shape can become a soft rock, but in this case, that one rock face (nearly 3' long) was one piece of foam, cut to about 2" thick.

Start slashing the foam with a blade, saw etc, anything sharp really.  Look at pics of real rock faces for reference, in this case, the cutting would have been probably drilled and blasted, hence some of the angular looking cuts.  One the slashing is done, start picking at the foam with your fingers, pull out sections creating some depth to the face (thats why I start at 2" thick).  Some of the pieces I pulled out were then wedged back into cracks to for overhangs, glued in with gap filler.  Keep working the foam shape until happy with its profile.

Now the messy part.  I wet the foam first to help with the spreading, and use aliberal amount of an acrylic gap filler (ie no-more-gaps, any tube gap sealer really, I use the cheapest I can find @ about $2 a tube, since there is about 30 tubes used in the whole layout!).  Squeeze the gap filler all over the foam rock, put on some gloves, get some more water on the gap filler paste and massage it over and into the foam.  Massaging it in well removes the sponge look of the foam.  When well covered, might have to be left for about a week to dry properly, especially if the foam is really wet.

When dry, I started with a quick spray of a "rock colour", beige in this case.  I used a few different colour tile grouts, sprinkle on liberally while the "rock" is flat, and then grab an old paint brush.  Mist on some water, and the grout almost starts to turn into a texture paint, work it around the rock face with the old brush until happy.  A thin black wash can be put over when the grout is dry if desired.  I then finished with heavy dry brushing using a pallette of raw sienna, beige and pale grey.  Dullcote if required.

Given the soft rock is flexible, it can be easily shaped over the scenery shell, and held in place with liquid nails.  Also very forgiving as a transportable piece, less chance of cracking like with plaster, lighter than rock.  The plaster rocks on the layout were generally confined to sections that needed to be thin, like at the waterfall.

Hope this helps...

Dan Pickard

Lucas Gargoloff
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Thanks for sharing!! A master class from a master builder!! Very helpful! :thumb:

Last edited on Sun Apr 26th, 2009 01:59 am by Lucas Gargoloff

BELG
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Dan, John the Varden mine really comes to life in your diorama modules, the detail is just stunning and seamless, how deep are the modules, I read how long they were but not the second measure. I hope when you guys do the article for Russ you include much more of the how to portion of this build, please:thumb:

I have read several types of topping now for the foam to be covered what led you to the caulk as we call it? I have only tried it on a small sample using spackling dry wall mud? Thanks Pat

danpickard
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Hi Pat,

The layout is less than 2' deep, 550mm to be more precise.  Still in some negotiations with Russ, will see how it pans out, but I know he will provide an excellent photographic coverage of the piece (worth a 1000 words remember), and I'm sure there will be a few more tips involved.

The caulk (thankyou for that generic word to describe it, had been trying to remember which word to use!) was actually the original method of doing these soft rocks, as done by another Aussie modeller, Mark Fry.  Mario took to using the plaster cover and promoted that one as his Frocks (hence also why I refer to ours as soft rocks still).  Each have their own applications I guess.  I found the caulk version gave a better solid cover of the foam sponge texture in one hit, and maintained its skin better when it came to flexing the finished soft rock into position.  The plaster covered frock version can sill tend to crack and flake when manipulated (sometimes a desired effect, depending on the type of rock you are trying to achieve), and I wasn't happy with the amount of coats I was needing to cover the foam properly (still looked like foam to me).   I feel the frock/plaster version may have better applications if the foam is mounted in place first, and then the coats start being applied once in position.  It just means the actual layout space might be a lot more messy while being built.  The good thing about the foam rock principle is they can be made away from the layout and easily transported to their final place.  Personal preference really, not a huge amount of difference. 

Dan

BELG
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DAn, thanks for the info and the insight on the different applications work. Pat

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Simply OUTSTANDING

I have seen Dan half live but can't wait to see it all at Ballarat Show,


Stuart in OZ modeling 3mm scale

Herb Kephart
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Stuart


3mm scale sounds very close to a scale that had a small following 50 years ago in this country, called TT, which was 1/10" to the foot.

What was your reason behind the choice? Not saying that there is anything wrong with it, perhaps there is a following that I don't know about elsewhere in the world.


Herb:old dude:


Last edited on Fri May 8th, 2009 02:26 pm by Herb Kephart

Stuart
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HI..

I like to do diffrent things now, HO, OO, On30, N scale are so yesterday.

I like Bristh, I like to build stuff, so they go hand in hand. Plus no one else is doing here...

Stuart

W C Greene
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Herb-TT scale must still be "alive"...some years back, the NMRA adopted standards for TTn3...What?? TTn3?? Somebody must be building in the scale/gauge or maybe the NMRA standards guys needed something to keep them busy.  When they adopt 35n2 standards, I will probably go back to model aircraft!

The Dolly Varden mine display is truly a work of model railroad art. I know how much time it takes to create the "clutter" and rustic look of the structures and you can tell that there was a lot of time AND soul poured into the construction. What an inspiring layout and beautiful photos, simply wonderful!       Woodie

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Hi Herb,

3mm translates to 0.11811 inches, which is very close to 1/8" (only .007" shy), and would work out to 8.47 feet to an inch. This would make 3mm scale about halfway between HO (1/87) and TT scale (1/120). TT scale uses .100 inches (1/10") to the foot, which would be smaller. I can see that there could be an advantage to using this scale for modeling narrow gauge, since N gauge track & mechanisms would scale out to the proper 3' track gauge. HO structures and parts, like doors & windows, could still be used, possibly even some figures and vehicles too, since many of these are actually closer to 1/100 scale than 1/87. I've often thought about trying this scale myself, but I realized I already have too many unfinished projects for this lifetime! Besides, with the new stuff coming from Micro-Trains & Blackstone, there are more reasons to go with HOn3...

Regards,
Bill Nielsen
Oakland Park, FL USA
Florida On30 Renegades

danpickard
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In addition to the pics I have put up here on the forum, I can now present
DOLLY VARDEN MINES RAILWAY, On30...THE MOVIE

Finally got to play around with the video camera and some youtube.  Just another perspective on the layout I guess.  Filmed this at its first public exhibition a few weeks ago, where it received some favourable comments.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAsqi5evRPk

Cheers,
Dan

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That was a fun tour, almost like being there.

Thanks for that Dan.

Very cool! :pimp:

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Great video.

Having watched it several times I must say I am impressed

The point that struck me was the scenery comes to life, with the motion almost second.  It requires one to take in the scenery with out staying in the one place.

Very realistic.

Don




Herb Kephart
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I can't conceive how that could be any better

Fine work, gentlemen!


Herb:old dude:

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You hit the head on the nail with this layout, it's got a little bit of everything but it's not too much all at once, awesome. :thumb: Very well done.

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WOW! :bow:

Dan and John,

Hats off to a project that will entertain and spark the imagination to others. The modeling skills are fantastic!

I got hooked on "Dolly" at a clinic. I have since been searching out material on this RR. Thru the book, "Steel Rails and Silver Dreams" and the first stills that that were posted on your project I was impressed. Now the movie!

The bar has been set very high!!!

The design direction I am heading on my home layout will use the DVRR as its backbone, only continuing along as if it survived. Will you or could you upload a layout plan to this thread?

Last edited on Fri Jun 26th, 2009 08:55 pm by BMWorks

danpickard
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Hi all,

thanks for the comments.

BMWorks...can supply any layout plans, there weren't any!!!  It started out as a bit of a rough sketch, and contoured with gradients as I went.  Only real plan was knowing it had to go uphill!!!  Essentially it runs from the wharf to the mine, much like the prototype.

Cheers,

Dan Pickard

Bob H.
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:apl:Absolutely stunning work! A true inspiration .

Lucas Gargoloff
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Great video you did!!!:thumb: and what else to say? All I have to say is ... awesome work and very inspirational!!! :apl::apl::apl::apl::apl:

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Hi Dan,

My name is Brett Douglas I have been trying to contact you.

Could you please call me on xxxxxxxxxx as soon as you can please.

Thanks very much.

Brett



It's not a good idea to have your phone number posted in any public area, unless it is the phone book.

I have sent the number on to Dan via private message, and blocked it out here.

Dave

Last edited on Fri Dec 18th, 2009 12:06 pm by

Paladin
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Hi Bret

You can send a PM ( Personal Message) on the forum.

You may like to try

Members ( top right )   then click on Dan"s name, then select Personal message.

This will prompt Dan next time he logs on.

The message will only show on Dan's monitor

Don

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Don,

Thanks for the instructions on sending PMs.

I didn't know how to send them - and, judging by some recent forum posts, I don't think I'm alone.

I also wouldn't be surprised if a few posts end up being edited back to nothing - I'm not saying this will happen, just that it might!

Regards,

Huw.

W C Greene
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Huw-none of my posts have ever been edited or "fixed" in any way except by myself. I don't think the movers & shakers here do that sort of thing. Some of my photos from earlier posts have been deleted but that is between me and Photobucket...before I knew what to do. I have not seen any censorship here (although some posts might need it!) . Now, what is said in a PM (personal message) might get some in legal trouble, but that's another matter. Get back to work and run a train.      

That Dolly Varden Mine layout is certainly outstanding and the modeling is top notch. Mining is my favorite type of operation and this line replicates the prototype beautifully. Wonderful work.           Woodie

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W C Greene wrote: Huw-none of my posts have ever been edited or "fixed" in any way except by myself. I don't think the movers & shakers here do that sort of thing. ... I have not seen any censorship here (although some posts might need it!).

I think I'd better apologise - I seem to have put across the wrong message in my post.

What I meant to say was that some people might have inadvertently posted things they thought they were putting in PMs - and that they might feel that they want to edit these posts. On the other hand, they might not - their choice entirely.

I can assure you that my concerns here were entirely connected with people accidentally making themselves vulnerable through unintended postings.

I've never had any issue with the way this site is run - and I'm not expecting this to change. 

I've never seen any censorship here - and I wasn't setting out to accuse anyone here of it. I'm sorry that I was misunderstood.

 

I'd also like to return to more pressing matters - like trains.

Regards,

Huw.

Huw Griffiths
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Returning to the real reason for this thread, the photos made my jaw drop - truly inspirational!

Scenes like these - modelled to this sort of standard - are rare indeed. They're also what draw a lot of people towards any sort of modelling - but especially railways.

Most of us would never be able to aspire to anything like this - but it doesn't stop us dreaming!

Excellent work.

Regards,

Huw.

Dave D
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Huw,

I did go back and block out the number.

Never a good idea to post a personal number on an open public forum.

I never even thought of it as censorship but rather as a protective measure.

FYI I did pass the number along to Dan in a PM before I x'ed it out in the post and contact between them has been made.

Back to trains and such. :2t:

danpickard
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Quick further update to "Dolly's" ventures...

For those of you that weren't aware, we sold Dolly Varden a while back to Dave Revelia, and the layout was crated up, packed into a container and shipped across to Florida, where it now is on display in a modelling museum of sorts, that Dave is piecing together (several layouts, dioramas and other models for open house displays).

I was also extremely pleased to have Russ from the Finescale Annuals print a layout feature of the Dolly Varden piece in the latest "Logging, Mining & Industrial Annual", due for release this April (subscribers will be getting their copies now, but due in stores shortly). Its a book that I have always admired for the high quality of the photographic content, and Russ has done a fine job of cleaning and tweaking the images I sent him some time ago now. While Dolly is no longer here on my local soil, getting that book in the post today was a proud reminder of the time we (John & I) spent on that little project.

Thanks Russ for the support.
http://www.finescalerr.com/index.htm

Cheers,
Dan Pickard

Lucas Gargoloff
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Well, now sits very safe and people can enjoy this fantastic piece of art you did bud!!

MinerFortyNiner
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Dan, I eagerly await the article! I won't try to add to the superlatives already expressed, other than to say the remarkable balance of scenery, the forest, the minimal track and structures that 'just look right' is superb. And I don't believe I have ever seen a more convincing waterfall in any scale, any layout.

:cb:

mrhoward
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Fantastic! Some years ago I did an HOn30 version of this Railroad (even had a photo of it in Model Railroader)- it was nothing compared to this- I am totally amazed by what you have acomplished- and portable no less! Thanks for showing this.

Howard

Cody Case
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While I do think the scenery is amazing I am in love with that porter. I see it is a Bachmann but was that cab a kit or a scratch build?

Last edited on Sun Aug 14th, 2011 02:13 am by Cody Case

danpickard
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Hi Cody,
Correct...started as a Bachmann Porter, with a significant rework of the cab (pretty well just the four corners used), with reshaped brass roof, styrene used for the side coal bunker, and I think we had new front and rear buffers as well. Runs a treat as well. Have to thank our good mate Peter Mc for the loco modifications (the modifications cost me a short train of logging disconnects...thats what mates rates are for!)

Dan Pickard


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