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The layout is modelled in the period of operations on the NSWR during the 1960”s. This was the period of transition for the NSWR from steam to diesel traction. Rolling stock and structures are generally as found throughout the railway system and the towns during this era. Some rolling stock has been modified from the prototype to suit today’s operating conditions on the layout.
Three stations are included on the layout, Bega, Greigs Flat and Bombala. Staging sidings are located at Sydney and Greigs Flat to store trains off the layout.
Bega is the main centre of the layout and is built on a 55 cm wide modular baseboard.
The ‘town’ spreads either side of the busy Bega Railway Junction forming ‘Station Street’. A general store, real estate office along with the local watering hole, the ‘Doopopin Hotel’ is all established along the street opposite the station.
A small church is located on the road leading up to the level crossing. The crossing has wooden gates and an adjoining brick 'Railway Cottage' for the gate keeper and his family.
Across the line from the station is a substantial two story building for the Bega Co-op. The adjacent street to the Co-op has some half relief buildings. These are set against artistically painted backgrounds of the distant hills.
A circular route is followed out of Bega to Greigs Flat, which is laid out on a 40cm wide baseboard. A crossing loop along with sidings and head shunt is provided. A removable staging siding is provided to allow for the interchange of trains on and off the layout.
The Bombala Branch is on a rising grade from Bega and is located in a elevated position above Greigs Flat.
Bombala is a simplified version of the station and yard layout that was originally provided. A single faced platform on the mainline, a run round loop and various sidings are provided. One siding has a goods platform and shed, as well as a overhead gantry crane and a weighbridge for incoming goods. Adjacent are the loco facilities including barracks, overhead watertank, water column, coal stage and inspection pit.
Scenery and Structures.
Trees and buildings are scratch-built, the latter being fabricated from picture framer’s mat-board, card, timber and styrene. Prototype photographs of buildings from various locations in NSW are used as a reference for their design and construction.
All the loca inhabitants, traveling public and railway employees are 'Preiser' models restyled to suit local ‘Aussie’ people. All models and structures are brush painted with acrylic craft paints.
Trees are hand built using locally grown tea tree cuttings with suitable craft materials for foliage. From a local sedum plant, the flowers heads and stems, dried and dyed with fabric and acrylic paint make excellent Australian gum trees.
Signs on buildings come from coloured junk mail; old phone books and some are computer generated by myself. A variety of different bridge types seen on the NSWR system have reproduced in miniature on the layout to cross the various gullies and creeks along the main and branch line.
Most rolling stock running on the layout is scratch-built; or of suitably modified kits constructed within the Builder’s Railway Workshops. Some of the rolling stock was built in the early 1960’s. As mentioned in a recent article in the Australian Model Railway Magazine, kits were not available then and most models were scratch built at that time.
I had been building ‘O’ gauge models up to that time from timber. So this method was adapted again for the smaller 'HO' scale. ‘North Eastern’ scale lumber with Red Cedar rooves, form the bodies of the RUB and NCL sets, while on more recent construction I have used ‘Evergreen’ strip styrene.
Most of the early rolling stock has received extensive rebuilding, detailing and repainting, including better running bogies. Many of the locomotives have been re-motored with ‘Mashima can’ motors.
Several classes of steam locomotives, (10, 20, 29, 36 and 59) are to be seen at the Bega Depot. A lone 29 class (Z2905) 2-8-0 has managed to escape the scrapers torch in the 1930’s, when most of her elder sisters met their fate, plods up and down the branch and can also be seen shunting around the yard.
On the layout, model of NSWR Z20 class, 2029 running bunker first, on the morning run of the 'school train' service to Bega.
The rumble of early series mainline diesel electrics, often intrude the peace and quite of the rural valleys. Classes 40,42, 44 and 47 class diesel electrics are all to be seen stabled at the local depot. A 41class diesel electric locomotive and two 73 class diesel hydraulics (from a latter era) are used as the Bega yard shunters as well as being used on local services.
Most of the early railmotor types that the NSWR operated on the system are represented as scratch built models. They range from RM No 1, the original was the pioneer railmotor for the NSWR, it was built at the Redfern Carriage Works in 1919.
Two of the popular CPH 42 foot Railmotors Nos 19 and 34 along with RM No 38 (Creamy Kate) and its trailer No 551. This car has been modeled with the addition of a driver's cab to reduce the run round at Bombala terminus. Railcar 403 and a trailer perform more distant duties on the timetable.
A modified Bachmann ‘Spectrum’ Doodle Bug chassis power the 42-foot railmotors. Australian built ‘Black Beetle’ bogie by Steam Era Models power the longer railmotors, Nos 38 and 403.These assortment of motors, trailers and driving trailers are often on the roster to perform various services operating out from Bega.
History of the Sapphire Coast Line.
Situated some (231 miles) 372 km by rail, from Sydney on the Far South Coast, Bega being the ‘Cheese Capital’ of New South Wales and is a busy commercial centre in the heart of the lush dairy country.
Originally settled in the 1830’s, the “Biggah’ run was pegged out by the Imlay brothers, who had already established substantial holdings at Twofold Bay at Eden. Historic Kameruka Estate was built in 1864, by members of the Tooth Brewing Empire, as a model dairy farm for the region. This paved the way for what was soon to become the prime industry in the area. The Bega Cheese Co-Op has been in existence since 1899.
The NSW Government had completed the Illawarra Line from Sydney to Bomaderry 158 km (98 miles) in 1893, where the bridging of the Shoalhaven River became a barrier for many years, for further progress south along the coast. Coastal steamers that plied the coast transported freight and passengers from the Port of Sydney, serving the Sapphire Coast towns of Bermagui, Tathra, Merimbula and Eden on Twofold Bay. Farmers were forced to form co-operatives to manufacture butter and cheese in many towns. Their products were taken by dray to the nearest wharf, and then dispatched to the Sydney market by sea.
In 1908, after much political pressure following Sir Henry Parkes promises at the time of Federation of the Colony, the Government of the day called tenders for the construction of the remainder of the railway from Bomaderry to Eden. Four companies tendered; Tooths Engineering of Bega was awarded the Contract. Construction commenced in September 1909. The line finally reached Bega, without public ceremony in October 1911 and it’s terminus at Eden in December 1912.
The Shoalhaven River was bridged by a four span lattice girder structure, supported on piers manufactured from granite, from the Moruya Stone Quarries. The ironwork was imported from the United Kingdom and assembled on the northern bank of the river adjacent to the site. This is the largest structure along the line.
The line from Bomaderry and Nowra was laid generally to the west of Princess’s Highway route, that continues to the Victorian Border, following the Great Divide Range for most of its length. Like the Illawarra line, the route is hilly and contains many severe curves and heavy grades, for Up traffic the ruling grade is 1:40. Four tunnels along the escarpment coupled with the grades, provided daily tests for crews handling their steeds, with loaded trains heading for Sydney.
The line is single throughout; safe working is Staff and Tablet. The line serves the towns of Conjola, Milton, East Lynne, Moruya, Narooma, Tilba Tilba, Cobargo, Bega, Candelo, Pambula, Greigs Flat and Eden.
A further contract was let by the Government in 1932 for a cross-country connection from Bega to Bombala. The Bombala to Nimmitabel line had been previously opened in 1921. This link provided the coastal communities access by rail to Cooma, Canberra, Goulburn and Sydney via the Great Southern Mainline. This connection became known as the Bombala Branch. The branch mainly carried through traffic to Canberra, but did serve the citizens living in small localities along the line.
Bega is the largest railway centre along the Sapphire Coast Line, having one of the loco relay depots for working the line in the steam days and is also the railway junction of the Bombala Branch.
View of Bega Railway Station. Cir 1922.
The singe mainline from Sydney enters Bega Station from the northeast. The station is located 4 km (2.5 miles) from the town centre, on the northern side of the Bega River. Crossing loops are provided, the station building and platform is located on the Up Side serving both Up (to Sydney) and Down (from Sydney) traffic. A short island platform to the rear provides loading for the single line Bombala Branch.
Leading from the Down Loop opposite the station, a covered siding is provided for the Bega Cheese Co-op. On the UP side a siding is used for the yard shunter and railmotor servicing, additional sidings are provided for a Carriage Shed and the Goods Yard.
The line from Bega continues in a southerly direction to Eden.
A six road, three-stall roundhouse and a 60-foot turntable are available for locomotive requirements. A high-level pre-cast concrete slab - timber signal box is located adjacent to the Up sidings.
The Bombala Branch leaves Bega in a westerly direction. The branch line immediately faces many grades of 1:30, rising through the localities and villages of Buckajo, Gourlay and Mogilla continuing its climb to Bombala. A railway connection was opened to Cooma via Nimmitabel in 1921.
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