Wednesday, 21 March 2018


Fly shunting and loose shunting was the “NORM” until the mid-1980 on the QGR...

On the arrival of a train at a station the train engine would head for the shed and a shunt engine would break up the train. The shunters would bleed the air from all the wagons leaving the hand brake as the only working brake, that is, if it was working. Most yards had a section of track on a slight grade, some western locations it was the main line into the station.  Most trains arriving at depots stations were not marshalled. For example, a train arriving at Charleville could have Quilpie loading in 4 places, Cunnamulla loading in 3 places, Charleville in 5 places, plus there could be Wyandra, Cheepie and other loading through the train for smaller stations down the track.  

To break up the train the shunters would pull the train up to a suitable location and come back kicking wagons down various roads to bring the loading together for other trains and the yard. The shunter would cut the wagons off and they would roll down the set road until they hit the first wagon in the road. Sometimes a shunter may apply the hand brake if they need to pick up the wagon again. If you are thinking this a sure fast way to damage freight and wagons you are on the right track. Wagons coming in on a train rolled better than wagons sitting in the yard, one has hot bearings as to the other cold bearings. Roller Bearing wagons put a new spin on things, they would run away just sitting in the yard without a hand brake on. When loose shunting roller bearing wagons they would pick up speed quickly, often slamming into other wagons that had gone before them. They would rebound and come back towards you until they stopped and then roll back onto the other wagons, at times this would happen several time before the wagon stopped with the other wagons.    

Roma Street was a gravity yard, all wagons were kicked from Normanby end, some of them ran all the way to 24 Road beside the old platform 8. I recall taking a PE wagon down to the 24 Road one afternoon in peal hour, platform 8 was packed with passengers. The hand brake on PE wagons was on the headstock, so you would sit on the deck with your legs hanging over the headstock and turn the hand brake wheel. Once on the wagon you would take the slack out of the mechanism and test the brake, you would it in a position so a couple of turns and the brakes were on. This day I came down, turn the corner into the loading area heading for the overhead crane riding the wagon like being on a surf board. The passengers didn’t look to happy after a day’s work at the office, so I decided I would change that. I gave the hank brake wheel a couple of turns and left the wagon. At great knots the PE wagon slammed into the first wagon sounding like a bomb had gone off. Me, now hiding behind a wagon in 23 road with a view of 24 road I could tell the passengers on 8 platform were all awake with many going into the air. It was great walking back up the yard to pick up the next wagon/s, as I made so many people happy on their way home. There was sauce and beer running out of wagons just about every day. The door on 7 shed got knocked off there hinges about once a week. Every road had a name and a hand signal for day and light signal for night. The Shunter in Charge would cut the wagon/s off and give a signal, the shunting waiting 100 yards down the track would set the road and jump on as the wagon/s as they rolled by. He would test the hand brake to see if it works, if it didn’t he would jump off and wait for the next wagon that had a brake on his side. Timber wagons only had a hand brake on one side. Yes, all good fun. 

As in the HWO review, fly shunting was getting wagons on the front of the engine to behind the engine without running around. This photo by Ted Ward shows a shunter in action. I bet you like the safety gear.   

The white circle chalk mark above the axle box indicates the wheel flanges are getting sharp. No computers them days, but the word still got about.

Ken was over on Sunday and took a few movies with his phone.  

I think there is a few more on Facebook with loose shunting as well.

Controlled shunting is still allowed by approval of management, but cannot think of any location where it is done today. Controlled shunting is much the same as loose shunting without the engine kicking wagons off. Controlled shunting is allowing a wagon to roll freely using the hand brake to control the move. Pinkenba grain terminal used this method to unload grain wagons. The wagons were dropped down onto the tippler for unloading and then dropped out of the shed. Many of the grain loading facilities on the Downs could do this to load wagons.

Until next time, enjoy.


Wednesday, 7 March 2018



As indicated previously, various loads were carried in HWO/HWOS wagons.  Steels loads are easy to make.


In this wagon the steel sheet is styrene sheet cut to size and painted with gun metal. Pigments were used to add some rust.


The steel rod bundles were made from Evergreen styrene rod. Most are .040”, one bundle of .035”. A few bundles of angle were also done to make a mixed load. All were painted gum metal, pigments were used to add some rust. Dunnage used to separate bundles of steel is 4” x 4” hardwood. I used 4“ x 4” Evergreen styrene cut to size, about 4’ long and painted brown.  Most steel wagons had loose dunnage laying around on the floor and old car/truck tyres. The tyres in these loads are off my old Matchbox cars I had as a kid. The axle/hub centres were drilled out with my cordless drill. They were painted black mounted on a skewer.  

In the Sep - Oct 2016 issue of MainLine,  Rod Tonkin has an article on “Building Material Size”, this gives a run down on steel sizes and lengths.
Auscision Models have suitable loads for Open Wagons for about $ 20.00 per single wagon. These include “H” Frame (New or Rusty). Wire, Pipes (Silver, Yellow, Black), and Telegraph Poles.
Evergreen Scale Models offer a verity of structural shapes in channels, “H”– Columns, “I” – Beams, Angles, Round Rod, Round Tubing, Square/Rectangular Tubing and strips. Most hobbies have a stand with the various sizes in each type. Cost can vary from store to store somewhere between $ 7.00 to $ 10.00 a packet.  

This wagon is loaded with Roof top vents made by Rix Products Stock # 628-0610.


This wagon has a load of concrete pipes, Evergreen # 234 - 7/16” Tube was cut to length using a razer saw and a mitre box. They were painted concrete and added to the wagon. One packet will give you a load for one wagon with most of the second tube in the packet left over. This could be used with tube of a different size for a mixed load. Note the tyres at each end to stop longitudinally movement during travel.

All these loads can be easily removed and can be exchanged.    

Loads covered by Tarpaulins.

The loads were made from styrene sheet and off cuts.


The 1982/1989 General Appendix shows general freight traps are 6 700mm x 5 200mm.                     

I made a template from styrene sheet to make it easy. I make most of my general freight tarpaulins from Lipton tea bags. After making a cup of tea, I wash the bags out in the sink. The tea bag is placed outside in the sun to dry out. Once dry the staple at the top is removed, open the seam with care and remove the tea. Using the template I cut two tarps out. I was using a fine black felt pen and cut around the line. However the black line is hard to hind during painting. Lately I just cut around the template. The centre is marked on the traps in a couple of places in pencil. I also mark a centre line on the load so the trap has equal overhang on both sides.  

The trap is placed over the load and tacked into place with a drop or two of super glue. I let is dry before attaching the trap to the sides with super glue. Using a tea bag the super glue will soak through paper onto the styrene load. I use super glue as some of the other types of glue will distort the styrene over time. Allow the super glue to dry before folding the corners into place. The ears should be folded back across the wagon ends, but you will find some that were folded back along the sides, this was much easier than across the couplings if you were on your own. I won’t talk about a windy day, I’m sure you can understand the fun we had. If there is more than one tarp covering a load, consider must be given into the wagons direction of travel. Over laps should not be allow to balloon up during travel. The leading tarp should go over the top of the tarp behind it, In other words the rear trap goes on first and work towards the leading end of the wagon. Contractor with mix loads would place the traps to suit the various heights of the load to stop water entering, if the overlap was the wrong way around, ropes over the tarps near the overlap would be used to stop ballooning.


These tarps were painted with Vallejo acrylic paint # 70.915 deep yellow. This is the first time I have used this paint for traps. The colour didn’t cover the black felt pen marking. A light grey was used to paint out the lines, then covered with the yellow, a few coats were required. In some cases, the black line on the covered trap is still showing. The stain in the tea bag add a nice weather effect.

Tarps are secured to wagons with rope called ratline. I think they are more trouble than they are worth on a working layout. After a short period of handling they all come off, so I left then off. On the Modelling the Railways of Queensland Convention website in downloads there is a copy of my presentation on tarpaulins from the 2012 Convention The presentation covers various materials used to make tarps and other references.


This wagon is a load of empty stubbies, two pallets high. ARHS Sunshine Express reported HWO’s 39546 and 39544 conveyed empty stubbies from Roma Street to C.U.B Cairns on the 14th April 1979. 

 As an experiment I have added trap numbers. A few moons back, a colleague by the name of Mr. Ken Edge-Williams made some home printed decals for my WH grain wagons. The decals have not made it to the grain wagon yet. Thus, the number are for the mid-sixties and not the correct for the era. From 18” the number are not visibly anyway.  Vallejo # 70.510 gloss varnish was apply to the traps, when dry the decals were added. After the decal set another coat of gloss was applied over the decals.  To finish off the painting, the traps were given a coat of Mr Hobby water based acrylic flat clear H 20. I would normally stick with the same brand of paint, but the Vallejo Flat clear had been sold out. One tarp on both wagons were given a wash of dirt using Fatigue Green pigments. Just a bit of fun to see how it looks, I let you judge if I have made a rod for my back.    


 This wagon had a coat of Vallejo # 70.522 satin varnish applied to the tarp to give a PVC look. The wagon is modelled on a Hiles contract wagon with a mixed load for Warwick. More on the contract train 6678 will be in the next blog. A few more loads are needed to complete the train.  

The wagons were lightly weathered using an airbrush with Vallejo Model Air # 71.133 Dirt, Game Air # 72.762 and AK 723 Dust.
The HWOS was weathered using Doctor Bar’s Scale Consortium Industrial Weathering Pigments. I have had these for a number of years and purchased them from Rails in Scale at a Sydney Exhibition. The following colours were used Brownstone, Dry Fresh Rust, Light Rust and Fatigue Green. The Pigments were applied with a wet (water) brush and allowed to dry. A dry stiff brush was used to remove excess pigments. Areas around the doors was added by dabbing pigment with a fine wet brush and let to dry.   

Trust you enjoy, please yell out if you have any questions.     
Arthur Hayes.