FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As any reader who has been following this blog for a while will be aware, I have a certain interest in model railways and underground ‘Hard rock’ gold mining, and that at times these interests have a way of combining. What follows is the latest iteration of this interest; a small 1:43 / 7 mm: 1 ft scale model railway layout which I have christened Fidero Resources (No Liability).

The layout represents a departure from my previous modelling efforts in that it is in a larger scale (‘O’ scale; 1:43 ; 7mm: 1 ft) as opposed to my previous, long-held, enthusiasm for ‘N’ scale (1:148 ; 2 mm: 2 ft), with the latter-scale having reached the limits of its possibilities.

As with the other layouts that have appeared on this blog, it is again set in New Zealand and, once again, located in that  part of that country known as the Coromandel Peninsula, specifically ‘Somewhere North of Karangahake, Somewhere South of Port Charles’, and deep within the remote ranges of that part of New Zealand.

The layout is in the early stages of its development and it is hoped that as it evolves and develops over time,  this particular Blog will be updated.

However, by way of background, what follows is an introduction:

Back Story

It is 2018 and Fidero Resources (N.L.) is a small Auckland-based gold mining company employing 20 men and extracting profitable ore from several small reefs (lodes).

The Mine is located at the upper end of a valley and a small, 18 inch (457 mm) gauge tramway (aka ‘Tram’) is used to convey the extracted ore to the processing plant located some distance away. To do this battery-electic locomotives (Both built by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n’s 002 and 003) are used, and they perform their humble tasks efficiently.and reliably.

The tram itself has little to distinguish it from others of its ilk, with the only feature of note being a centre-rail brake installed on the line immediately after it leaves the mine. The severity of the gradient necessitated such an installation and it works well and without any problems.

Locomotives

Currently two are owned by the company. Both are battery-electrics.

No.1 (also by PastaeSpghiti SPA of Bologne,Italy c/n 002) has recently returned from a rebuild, and while leaving No.2 to do the majority of the work, is being ‘tweaked’ prior to re-entering service. .

Rolling stock

The tram’s rolling stock is exclusively of the 4-wheeled side-dump type, with the locomotive (aka a ‘Trammer’) taking empty wagons underground to the working faces then, after they are loaded, taking them back outside and along the tramway to the processing plant.

Utilising the wagons in this manner avoids double-handling and enables an increased volume of ore to be worked.It is also quite prototypical.

The Reality

The layout baseboard was constructed to operating stage by Bonjing Valley Group (P. Smith Prop.) on my commission; woodworking and wiring not being part of my skillset. It was received into my care on 27 January 2019 and I have had the pleasure of creating the scenery, locomotive/s etc. which appear in the images.

 

Scenery

This has been the most interesting aspect of this layout; my use (for the first time ever) of pre-formed plastic vegetation specifically intended to replicate local fauna and flora. The ‘plants’ are made by a local organisation and although nominally OO/HO scale (1:87) in scale, seem to be ideally suited for my purposes. Although it is in fact possible to purchase the key items separately, as used on Fidero, the vegetation has come in ‘mat’ form, needing only to be cut to fit. As such it has proven very useful, and as it takes acrylic paint well, has proved suitable for its task.

Vehicles

Because it is set in the Twenty-first Century, motor vehicles form an integral part of the layout. As a result several Landrover 4-wheel drive vehicles have made their appearance as support vehicles for the operation. They can be seen in various places.

Staff 

The Company has ben fortunate in being able to acquire and retain the services of ‘Bill’ a very amiable and competent Large Lizard (aka ‘Dinosaur).  He holds the position of ‘Curator in Residence’ and closely and carefully supervises what is being done by the layout’s  builders. He is not averse to Landrover rides…

Structures

As with all my models, these are mainly constructed from discarded Picture Matte Board (aka Picture Framing Card ) and are layout specific. As the layout is evolving,  at the time of writing they are at best ‘temporary’, and may change as more information comes to hand.

 

Technical Details

Title:  FIDERO RESOURCES (NO. LIABILITY.)

 

Type: Gold-mining tramway (light railway)

Location :Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Scale: On18 (1:148 / 7mm= 1 ft)
Track gauge: 18 inches (457 mm)

Dimensions:

Length: 42 in (1066 mm)
Width: 23.5 in (596 mm)

Track Geometry:

Distorted oval rising at both ends.

AS RECEIVED 27 JANUARY 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Baseboard as received 27 January 2019

H. 24 March 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

As at 25 March 2019

 

20190216_120311

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 descending the Centre-rail section. Locomotive shed on left.

TRAMMER (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Trammer No.2 ascending the embankment to the processing plant

Part of cyanide plant visible in background

(vegetation has since been added to this area; see next image)

TRAMMER 2 ASCENDING GRADE TO MILL 24 MARCH 2019

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

General view of Tramway and Processing Plant. Trammer No.2 is on gradient

Note vegetation, including Gorse (‘Furze’) in bloom.

20190307_075510 (2)

FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

Image showing Company  Landrover (Series I), Managing Director (in front of vehicle) and Curator in Residence (to right of image). 

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FIDERO RESOURCES (NO LIABILITY)

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Yearbook of Astronomy 2019’

93. ASTRONOMY X

Reviewer: Michael Keith

Title: Yearbook of Astronomy 2019

Editor: Brian Jones

Total No. of Printed Pages: 328

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 7

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When introducing this volume to the reader, its Editor notes that it is ‘…The latest edition of an indispensable publication, the annual appearance of which has been eagerly anticipated by astronomers, both amateur and professional, for well over half a century.’ With its provenance thus established, he also notes that it is ‘…Aimed at both the armchair astronomer and the active backyard observer’. It is an accurate summary.

The volume opens with an Editor’s Foreword. Placed immediately after the Contents page this precis’ the volume’s content, outlines intended future developments and acknowledges those who have contributed towards its creation. It concludes with a summary of the title’s recent history. A Preface follows. This defines both the parameters which have been followed in respect of the Monthly Sky Notes (Star Charts) which are a significant part of the volume, and provides the titles of publications which might also be of use. The Preface is in turn followed by a two-page section titled About Time. This gives both a history of the development of time and clocks while also detailing Standard Times in operation in various parts of the world. A section titled using the Yearbook of Astronomy as an Observing Guide now appears. Its title is self-explanatory. The main part of the volume now appears. This is divided into four Sections (analogous to Chapters), each devoted to a specific aspect of astronomy. Within each section, subsections carry both maps and articles relevant to the larger narrative. While some articles carry page-specific Footnotes, these provide additional information specific to the page and do not carry citations. A separate section now appears. While the title (Articles Section) is seemingly self-explanatory (and perhaps even contradictory as ‘articles’ have also appeared within preceeding sections), the articles appearing  within this section are less section-specific than their predecessors and cover a wide range of astronomy-related topics. A Miscellaneous section placed after the Article section, while containing even more articles, also lists Astronomical Organisations and profiles the volume’s contributors. A Glossary completes the volume. The book contains numerous Maps, Photographs, Tables, Diagrams and Drawings. These are informatively captioned, although not all carry source-indicating citations.  The Contents page carries no mention of their existence. No Index is provided.

For this reviewer (possessed as he is of limited knowledge about ‘Astronomy’), the volume’s complete lack of an Index is its major failing. With literally no way of knowing what is within a Section or Subsection, a casual reader (of which the reviewer is but one) has no alternative but to stumble their way through the volume. With no familiar words such as might be found an Index to guide him, such a reader can have no idea of what he will find.  Many searchers will simply give up; a loss to both astronomy and the retailer. On that basis, this reviewer would strenuously suggest that the creation of an Index be given priority for any subsequent editions of this publication.

This is a well-written and very informative compilation, and (the Editor’s comments notwithstanding), is likely to be of interest to both professional and amateur astronomers alike.  Some readers with a passing interest in ‘things in the sky’ may also find it of interest.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I have given this volume a 7.

Had there been an Index, the rating would have been higher.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Yearbook of Astronomy 2019’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Analogue Revolution: Communication Technology 1901-1914’

92. Analogue Technology

Reviewer: Michael Keith

Title:  The Analogue Revolution: Communication Technology 1901-1914

Author: Simon Webb

Total Number of Pages: 158

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent): 7 ½

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In this volume’s Introduction, the author observes the ‘The roots of our modern Information Revolution are to be found in the Edwardian Era’. With that pronouncement made, he then proceeds to provide reasoned and well-considered argument to support his case, using the Twenty-first Century’s Digital Revolution as a reference point for what follows. The result is a well-written, well-researched, highly informative and eminently-readable volume

Within the volume, a List of Plates immediately behind the Contents page lists, in abbreviated form, the captions carried by the 20 images appearing within an eight page images’ section in the book’s centre. The ‘List, is in turn followed by an Introduction. Within this the author precis’ what is to follow within the 10 Chapters which form the bulk of the volume.  The Chapters take the reader from the Victorian-era to the start of World War I and, in Chapter 10, to The Enduring Legacy of the Analogue Revolution, in which he discusses the ‘The astonishing durability of the physical manifestations of the information technology perfected during the Edwardian period’ and the reasons why such machinery is still ‘earning its keep’ over a century after it was originally constructed. An Endword follows. In this the author considers the similarities and differences between the current Digital Age and its Edwardian predecessor, and presents his thoughts as to what the future might hold. A two-page Bibliography follows, and is in turn followed by the Index; the volume’s final section. As previously-noted there is a small (eight page), ‘images’ (Plates) section at the centre of the volume. In addition to the usual photographs, the images appearing within it include postcards, advertisements, plans and etchings. All are monochrome, informatively and clearly captioned and are alluded to within the volume when appropriate to the narrative.

As already noted, this volume is well-written, well-researched, highly-informative and eminently readable. For this reviewer however, it is let down by its Index. While reviewing a volume, this reviewer randomly looks in its Index for words which interest him. When reviewing this volume however, he found that, in many instances, the words being sought did not appear within the Index. While numerous examples could be presented, those found on page 52 will suffice.  With words such as Port Arthur, Alan Moorhead, St Petersburg, and Petrograd appearing on that page it would be reasonable to expect to find them in the Index. Such was not the case, while the omission of Frederick Lee (on page 57, and despite appearing in the same sentence as Edward Turner; his fellow patentee) is even more curious. The omissions were both widespread and random, to the extent that this reviewer eventually ceased to rely on the Index as a reliable source of information. He now has serious reservations about the Index’s authority and veracity. Unsourced Quotes have been used throughout the volume. In the absence of verifying citations, they have little research value and authority and, indeed, could well have been written by anyone.  How important such things might be will, of course, depend on the reader / purchaser’s requirements.

Due to the width of its research, and despite the ‘limitations’ previously described, this volume bids fair to become an authoritative work on its subject. As it combines both technology and social history, this volume is likely to appeal to Historians with an interest in either or both of these subjects, particularly in the context of Great Britain in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries.  Those with a specific interest in the invention and use of such things as Cinema, the Telephone, Radio /Wireless etc. may also find the volume of interest, while due to its easy-to-read style layman-readers wishing to learn more about the origins of both ‘Digital’ and Analogue’ technologies, and their inter-relationships, may also find it worthy of their attention.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I have given this volume a 7 ½.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Analogue Revolution: Communication Technology 1901-1914’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Steam In Scotland: a Portrait of the 1950s and 1960s’

91. Scottish Steam

Reviewer: Michael Keith

Title:  Steam In Scotland: a Portrait of the 1950s and 1960s

Author:  Kevin McCormack

Total Number of Pages: 168

Rating Scale (1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent) 7

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In the opening paragraph of this volume’s Introduction,  the author states: ‘’This colour album covers steam in Scotland…and uses, to the best of my knowledge, images which have not previously appeared in print’. With that established, he then states that ‘Most of the pictures used have been sourced from the Online transport Archive’ and that ‘…There are even some of my colour slides included…’  He concludes by saying: ‘I hope readers will enjoy this nostalgic glimpse of the Scottish railway scene…before the Beeching axe was wielded…’  As a precis it cannot be faulted.

The volume contains no Contents page, its first section being a three page Introduction. Within this the author details his personal railway-related story, introduces the reader to Scottish railways (the subject of this volume), and provides details about the origins of the photographs that have been used within it. The 159 pages of colour images which comprise the majority of the volume then follow. The author notes that ‘The pictures…have been arranged on a roughly geographical basis, starting on the eastern side of Scotland upwards from the English border, proceeding around the top of the country and ending on the western side near the border’. Unfortunately the absence of any Maps makes the statement rather pointless, especially to those readers who are neither local residents, or who live off-shore. All images are in colour and, as indicated by the title, the volume is predominantly of photos of steam locomotives of varying shapes, sizes and classes in a variety of Scottish settings and conditions. Sometimes the locomotives are attached to trains, but most of the photographs are of single units. Curiously, two stations (Broomhill and Arrochar and Tarber on pages 108 and 138 respectively), make appearances in their own right sans steam. The photographs are from a variety of sources, are largely single-paged in format and have informative captions placed underneath. However, and where appropriate to the narrative, smaller images have been inserted into the larger and two or three smaller images appear on a single page. The sources of the images are acknowledged. A single page Index completes the volume. As previously-noted no Maps are provided.

In this reviewer’s opinion (and given the book’s title), this volume’s Index is woefully inadequate.  Although the volume is (supposedly) concerned with Steam In Scotland, the Index carries absolutely no mention of either locomotives or trains within its entries. It is totally ‘station focused’. As a result, were the Index to be the first section consulted by a potential reader, it would be easy to conclude that steam locomotives and trains were not present when the volume’s photographs were taken. Yet even with that focus, not every ‘caption’ mention of a specific station is recorded. Boat of Garten (for example), while mentioned on page 106, according to its Index entry appears only on pages 102-104. All and any references to such items as Railway Companies, Events and Geographical Entities (despite being mentioned within the captions) are also absent. The lack of Maps has already been noted. A Glossary providing quick interpretation of the various ‘Company’ acronyms within the volume would have been helpful.

For readers seeking ‘Pictures of British steam trains in a Scottish setting’ this volume will be a delight, as they are there in quantity. Due to the Index, those seeking photographs of specific Scottish railway stations are also likely to find their desires met. Enthusiasts and railway modellers seeking images of specific locomotives and / or classes (and assuming that these have even been included) may also find this volume of interest. It should however be noted that, due to the previously-noted inadequacy of the Index a lot of searching may be required with no guarantee of success. Some may not deem it worth the effort.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I have given this volume a 7.

Had the Index been more indicative of the volume’s content, the rating would have been higher.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Steam In Scotland: a Portrait of the 1950s and 1960s’

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Convicts in the Colonies: Transportation Tales from Britain to Australia’.

90. Oz Convicts

Reviewer:  Michael Keith

Title: Convicts in the Colonies: Transportation Tales from Britain to Australia

Author: Lucy Williams

No. of Pages: 202

Rating Scale (1: very poor, 10: excellent): 5

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Writing in this volume’s Introduction, the authors states that, over a four-year period, ‘…She spent almost every day banished beyond the seas, out of time and space, in convict Australia’. She continues ‘This book is a collection of the tales I found there’. While an admirable precis of what is to follow, it must however be qualified by two of the author’s subsequent statements, both of which appear on page xiii of the volume. These are:

‘All the stories related here are based on original records’.

‘Using my knowledge of the period, places and criminal justice system, I have in some cases made suggestions for the most likely scenario…but…cannot know for sure’.

After reading these statements, this reviewer found himself asking ‘How much of what appears within this volume is in fact true (with ‘true’ being defined as ‘An accurate representation of what actually occurred’)? To state that ‘All the stories related here are based on original records’, implies very strongly that in fact ‘truth’ may be absent from the majority of the tales that are related, with the ‘original records’ have been used only as a foundation; the key word in this instance being ‘Based’. This is a definition supported by the Oxford Dictionary when it states that ‘Based on’ is as the foundation or starting point for something’, while the author, by then stating that ‘…I have in some cases made suggestions for the most likely scenario but cannot know for sure’, compounds the problem further. Against such a background, to question ‘How much of what is within the volume is true?’ is not unreasonable, and indeed, this reviewer found himself asking that question repeatedly during the review process. He believes that what has resulted from these two statements is a work of ‘Faction’ (defined as ‘A plausible mixture of fact and fiction’), but as there is no way to know which is which, and with ‘Scepticism’ now attending every word, the volume’s reputation and authority has inevitably suffered.

The volume opens with the expected Contents page, this is in turn being followed by an Acknowledgements section within-which the author thanks those individuals and organisations who assisted her in the creation of the work. The previously-mentioned Introduction follows. Subtitled The Lives of the Lagged, this summarises the narrative presented within the main part of the volume, while providing additional background concerning the records accessed during its writing, the individuals involved and the political and social circumstances which resulted in the ‘Transportation’ phenomenon. Where necessary, subheadings within the section deal with specific aspects of the story being presented.  The five Chapters which constitute the volume’s major section now appear. These take the reader from the process and reasons by which prisoners became ‘Transportees’, to descriptions of conditions within the penal colonies themselves. As with the Introduction, subheadings within each Chapter are used to detail specific individuals and events. A Conclusion section placed after Chapter Five (The Hothouse of Humanity on the Swan River) acts as a summary to what has gone before while presenting the author’s thoughts on the process. The Conclusion is in turn followed by a three-page Appendix. Although no background information is provided, its content appears to be three letters written by one Margaret Catchpole to two separate individuals in 1802. The Appendix is in turn followed by a five–page section titled Tracing Transportees: Resources for the Reader. The title is self-explanatory. A section titled Suggested Reading placed after that section is analogous to a Bibliography, and is followed by the Index; the volume’s final section. Twenty four Images appear in an eight-page section placed in the book’s centre. These are both colour and monochrome in format and contain reproductions of individual portraits, advertisements, documents, structures and ephemera relevant to the narrative. While each image is informatively captioned, not all carry citations to indicate their origins. Neither the Contents page nor the Index acknowledges the existence of the images section or its contents. The numerous Quotes that appear throughout the volume carry no authenticating citations and as a result could well be imaginary; there is no indication to the contrary. Curiously, and despite the immense distances involved in both the transportation process itself and on the continent of Australia, the volume contains no Maps.

As previously-noted (and by the author’s own admission), this volume is a work of faction; ‘actual’ history ‘embroidered’ and ‘imagined’ to create a pre-determined narrative. As such, it cannot be considered to be an authoritative historical work. The previously-mentioned lack of citations for any of the numerous quotes appearing within the book only serves to re-emphasise the point. The result is a potentially-valuable resource reduced to little more than a collection of interesting tales, some of which may actually be true. Regrettably, the Index does not help, being best described as ‘incomplete’ in its entries. When reviewing this volume, and in the course of random searching, this reviewer had occasion on to seek Index entries for  Millbank, Pentonville and Portland (all on page 21) and Ned Kelly (page 181). Nothing was found and subsequent equally-random searches, returned similar results. What other, similar, information may be missing cannot be known. The absence of Maps has already been alluded-to.

The difficulties’ mentioned above notwithstanding, while this volume may have little to offer for serious researchers, it is still a collection of ‘Convict Stories’, and as a result may appeal to readers seeking ‘Human interest’ tales about the transportee’s experiences. Readers seeking descriptions of ‘lower class’ life in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Great Britain, may also find its contents of interest, these suggestions being made with the qualification that what is appears before the reader may not in fact be true.

This is undoubtedly a ‘sincere’ book, written to explain a complicated situation and doing it well, but to present a narrative as ‘true’ when it is patently not, comes at a cost. Were that it was not so.

On a Rating Scale where 1: very poor, 10: excellent, I have given this volume a 5.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Convicts in the Colonies: Transportation Tales from Britain to Australia’.