The ‘Kaiser’s Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).’

I have a long-standing interest in model railways., and over the years have built several small layouts, largely based on gold mining themes. These layouts have come in a variety of sizes, but tend towards the ‘Micro-layout’ concept, largely as a result of my living in a small house.  What follows will necessarily be long, but will serve to introduce one of my creations: the Kaiser’s Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability). a small world which resides in a 1930’s-era Cutlery Drawer.

As with all my modeling, what you see before you is NZN-Freelance (1:148 scale)

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The Kaiser’s Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

(Scale: 1:148)

History

The ‘Kaiser’s is a medium-sized underground gold mining operation, situated on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula. The year is 1921, and the mine is slowly declining, but still producing enough to make a profit for its London-based shareholders. While a steam-powered tramway is employed to move the ore from the mine to the crushing plant (aka ‘Reduction-works or ‘Battery) at the mine itself, a horse-drawn tramway of 3 ft gauge is employed to move loaded ore trucks to the bins, and to return empties underground.

Background

The Kaiser’s was built as a ‘fun’ exercise when I was resident in another location far from my family, and ‘needed a model railway’. Whatever was built had to be similar to the numerous tramways (light railways) employed within the now-largely-extinct hard-rock (underground) gold-mining industry on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula, and had to be as authentic as possible. It  did not however have to be based on any particular prototype. I had no money for the task, a single locomotive, the contents of a scrap-box, a transformer and a Cutlery Drawer. I had also never built anything like it in my life!! As a result, everything, (with the exception of the obvious items: animals, people, and track) is scratch built, and uses whatever could be ‘scrounged’ and modified to achieve the end result. Inventiveness ruled as a result, and nothing that appears on the layout is in its original form!!

Layout sections

The layout consists of two sections, located one on each side of the ‘Scenic divider’. One section consists of the ‘Mine itself, which is dominated by the ‘Thorndon’ Shaft (current depth 758 ft) and its associated surface buildings, with various horizontal ‘tunnels’ accessing both the shaft and the adjacent workings. The previously-mentioned 3ft-gauge tramway also provides access to the adjacent Mary-Anne section, which is reached over a bridge that crosses the cutting made for the steam-powered tramway.

The layout’s other section is the Battery (Reduction-works: the terms are interchangeable), which consists of 50-head of stampers to crush the ore to talcum-powder fineness, and a full and complete Cyanidation plant (including an early form of B & M Air Agitator Tanks) to extract the gold from the ore, along with sundry associated buildings and the tramway’s locomotive shed.

Materials

With the exception of four lengths of Peco flex-track, some Balsa Wood (in both stick and sheet form) two Atlas points (subsequently removed as being too unreliable), the track, people and animals (the things I can’t make myself, together with and some spackling compound purchased new for the project, everything on the layout is scratch built and made from scavenged materials, and the contents of my scrap box. The total cost of materials would probably be USD40. It can therefore truthfully be said that the ‘Kaiser’s is a whole lot of ‘Rubbish’. The list of materials I have used is large, and includes such things as lollipop sticks, wallpaper, picture framing board, computer-screen packaging, propelling-pencil leads, beads, cork tiles, milk-bottle lids, pins and empty paint tins; I’ll let you guess as to what has been used where, although it should be remembered that everything has been significantly altered in some way; nothing remains ‘as found’.

Rolling Stock

The tramway locomotive is ‘Jess’, a Baldwin 0-6-0ST which wears side-skirts a la’ the Glasgow Whiskey Distillery locomotives, and was evidently purchased second-hand and exported to ‘the colonies’. The rolling stock consists largely of 4-wheeled side-dump wagons, built by the company, although there are a couple of flat-deck types as well. All rolling stock rides on old N-scale bogie-units of indeterminate origin.

Base Board

As noted in my introduction, the ‘Kaiser’s resides in a 1930’s -era Cutlery Drawer, which measures 24 in x 15 in. The actual ‘working area’ inside the ‘drawer is 22 1/2 in x 13 3/4 in. The ‘Scenic Backdrop/ Divider’ rises 81/2 in above the baseboard’s surface.

Scenery and Track

The previously-referred-to Scenic Backdrop / Divider is made from Coreflute / gatorboard from a discarded Real Estate sign. It runs diagonally across the ‘Drawer, dividing the layout into two sections – the Mine on one side, the Battery on the other. Terrain is made from a type of ‘bubble packaging’ that was wrapped around computer VDU’s and which my employer had dumped. It cuts easily and takes acrylic paint, spackling, PVA and CA very well.

The track diagram is a simple oval, with (approximately) 61/2 in curves at each end, although due to my doubtful track laying skills the radii may be even tighter.in places. Everything still manages to traverse these however so they can’t be too tight.

Operation

The ‘Kaisers is a ‘Clockwork Mouse’, and simply chases its tail for the entertainment of any viewers. As previously noted there were Atlas points originally, but these were simply too unreliable, so they were removed – the resulting ‘oval’ of track proving quite adequate for the task.

‘Outings’

Although originally built ‘for fun’ others have seen fit to invite the ‘Kaiser’s to various exhibitions, where it is an object of interest due to its size and the fact that it is built from recycled materials – this latter point being a special ‘hit’ with the environmentally-conscious child viewers. The layout’s ‘Moment of Glory’ was an invited-attendance at the New Zealand Model Railway Guild’s National Convention in 2008, where it was favourably received, and performed flawlessly over four days.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view of Western end of mine and tramway.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view of Eastern end of mine and tramway, showing Poppett head (Headframe) of Thorndon shaft (758 feet deep at time of writing), together with associated tramways .

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view of Eastern end of mine and tramway, showing Poppett head (Headframe) of Thorndon shaft (758 feet deep at time of writing). Blacksmiths shop in centre foreground, goods shed in immediate foreground,

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability)

General view of Eastern end of mine and tramway, showing Poppett head (Headframe) of Thorndon shaft (758 feet deep at time of writing), together with associated tramways, adits (horizontal tunnels into the rock) and storage bins.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view of Eastern end of mine and tramway, showing Poppett head (Headframe) of Thorndon shaft (758 feet deep at time of writing), together with associated tramways . Steam tramway to battery / reduction-works visible in bottom RH corner of image.Mine Manager’s house at extreme RH edge of image.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view showing Poppett head (Headframe) of Thorndon shaft (758 feet deep at time of writing), together with associated tramways .

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability)

General view showing (from Left) locomotive shed, loco water tank, B&M Air Agitator tanks (‘Pachucca’ tanks) and part of Battery / reduction-works.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view of Battery / reduction-works. Cyanide-filed settling tanks visible in middle foreground. Mechanical agitator tank visible behind them (close to battery building). Steam-powered tramway tracks visible in lower foreground.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

Detail view showing B&M Air Agitator tanks (‘Pachucca’ tanks) and part of Battery / reduction-works. Sptizluten hydraulic classifier visible to extreme RH edge of image.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view showing B&M Air Agitator (Pachucca) tanks and part of Battery / reduction-works. Cyanide-filled settling tanks visible in middle foreground.

Tracks of Steam-powered tramway in foreground.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view showing part of B&M Air Agitator tanks and Battery / reduction-works. Cyanide-filed settling and agitator tanks visible in middle foreground. Spitzluten hydraulic classifier on roof of main battery building.

Tracks of Steam-powered tramway just visible in foreground.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view showing Battery / reduction-works. Cyanide-filled settling and agitator tanks visible in middle foreground.

Scale: 1: 148.

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Kaisers Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).

General view showing Battery / reduction-works. Cyanide-filled settling and agitator tanks visible in middle foreground. Spitzluten hydraulic classifier visible on roof of main battery building.

Scale: 1: 148.

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The ‘Kaiser’s Reef (Hauraki) Gold Mining Co. (No Liability).’

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