Monday, 12 June 2017

Epping MRC Exhibition 2017

The 2017 Epping Model Railway Club's exhibition at the Thornleigh Brickpit Stadium was on again over the June long weekend in Sydney. I was there on the Saturday and enjoyed the day immensely.

There were about twenty layouts on display with one layout being a real surprise. About 25 trade stands were also in attendance to help railway modellers part with their money!

Here are some layouts that caught my eye.

The big surprise was the layout, Southern Highlands (NSW, HO scale), which is an updated version of the late Rodney James' layout Exeter. Southern Highlands is owned by Warren Herbert and Rohan Fergusson. Exeter had previously been exhibited only once before, in Brisbane, so this layout appearing again at an exhibition was a real bonus. Watching long trains meander through the scenery was quite the railfan's delight.

A-Tractiv Effort (NSW, HO scale), in its protective perspex encasing, showcases some superb suburban structures within a railway environment. This layout represents a fictional location on the Short North with the replica buildings coming from actual structures in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. The reliable H&M Duette remains the power source for this DC layout running trains in the period 1980-95.

Mango Mango (On30) was a new layout from Geoff Small representing the 2' cane railways of northern Queensland. The layout is freelance but effectively conveys the impression of narrow gauge sugar cane railways in the Queensland tropics. Geoff added some nice scenic touches and a bit of whimsy to this layout which just made the layout all that more appealing.

Western Rivers (NSW, HO scale) is a model railway based on Menindee on the Darling River in far western New South Wales. This layout had some terrific features such as the waterways, the paddle steamer "Adelaide" (the prototype of which was built in Echuca in 1866 and which still operates as a tourist attraction) with smoke billowing out from its funnel, and a great mix of bush sounds that made it feel you were out bush rather than inside a suburban hall.

Smugglers Cove (USA, On30) made another exhibition appearance and never fails to impress. The layout is the work of the late Geoff Nott and Michael Flack based on a New England theme from the northeast of the United States. Amazingly, the majority of the wonderful buildings were made of card. This layout is truly brilliant.

Binalong (NSW, HO scale), from the Epping Model Railway Club, made another exhibition appearance too. This layout is also a quality layout that showcases some fine modelling. Watching a sound-equipped lash-up of diesels or a thundering 57 class with a long rake of freight wagons traverse the length of the layout is quite a sight.

Mungo Scott (NSW, HO scale), from the Sydney Model Railway Society, was also making another exhibition appearance. This layout is based on the Mungo Scott flour mill at Dulwich Hill in Sydney; nowadays apartment blocks. It is good to see that a part of Sydney's industrial history is represented by this layout.

Jay Dubyew North Yard (HO scale) was a US-themed industrial switching layout from the Platform 1 Model Railroad Club. The layout is only 3m x .3m in length, including a small fiddle yard, proving anyone can find the space for a model railroad. Platform 1 showcases micro layouts, especially Inglenook designs.

Sandford (British, N scale) was a nice little layout showing a fictitious location on the East Coast railway line between York and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. A good range of model trains, representing the period between 1946 and 1966, kept the punters happy.

Another well displayed small model railway was the N scale NSW layout, Dunblurtin, based on a fictitious location in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Strangely, the station name board spells the town name Dunblertin!

The Beach (NSW, N scale) represented a fictitious coastal village with a very appealing townscape, a jetty jutting into the sea, and general scenery that made me reminisce of my coastal holidays as a kid in the late 1960s.

Tarana (NSW, N scale), exhibited by the Georges River Model Railway Club, made another exhibition outing at Thornleigh. The layout is based on the station of Tarana on the Main Western line approximately 200km by rail from Sydney.

And once again, the popular Lego layout was on display to entertain the kids.

Other layouts included Dirt, Mosquito Hill, Dee Valley Vegetables, Sydney 1876, Koolabar, Steve's Follie, Western Front 1917, and Thomas and Friends.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Forestville Model Railway Exhibition 2017

Last weekend I attended the Forestville Model Railway Exhibition hosted by the North Shore Railway Modellers' Association (NSRMA). As I hadn't been to the Forestville exhibition for over ten years, I made the trip up to Sydney to see what was on offer. There were sixteen layouts on display and eleven commercial outlets.

The layouts that caught my eye included the following:

Bethungra Spiral (HO scale) from the Epping Model Railway Club. This layout continues to showcase some exceptional rural NSW scenery and the interesting prototype track plan based on the Main South Line at Bethungra. A good selection of trains paraded through the layout during the day.

Guildford Model Railway Group exhibited their layout Goulburn (HO scale) which is always a delight to see. The layout is 6.5 metres long and 2.8 metres deep. The main station building is a key feature and looks terrific. Once again, a good variety of trains flowed through Goulburn to keep up the model railway action. Interestingly, this layout runs on traditional DC power.

Another large layout was Morewood (HO scale) which features four main lines and ten sidings. This layout was very popular with the kids who loved all the action and colour this layout offered.

The Yard (HO scale) from Alistair McMaster is a fictional NSW-themed layout featuring a cement plant and associated railway yard facilities. This layout is DCC using the popular NCE system. Peco code 83 track is used throughout, including insulfrog turnouts. The layout provides a good demonstration of sound-chipped NSW diesel locomotives from DCC Solutions.

Another NSW-themed layout was Back of Beyond (HO scale). This layout represents a small rural town with a narrow gauge connection supplying logs to the local sawmill.

 Koolabar (HO scale) represents a fictional NSW branch line from the 1960s. The single main line saw a range of trains crossing at regular intervals to keep the punters interested.

Stumar's Roundabout (HO scale) was an interesting tiered layout featuring six separate scenes. Jurassic Junction held a particular fascination for the kids.Walker Models were atop, stand 22.

In O scale, the British Uley Junction was a work in progress. The layout is point-to-point based on Great Western Railway (GWR) practice and covers two distinct periods: Edwardian and the 1930s. Buildings that are yet to be constructed had mock-ups in place and this is a good way to visualise things before embarking on scratchbuilding projects.

The National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) was represented at the exhibition with the Kansas City West Bottoms layout. This layout is a small switching layout just under three metres in length. The track design allows a good range of switching opportunities to keep the interest of both the operator and the public.

Another small layout was Steve's Follie (HOe). This narrow gauge layout utilises N scale track but HO scale throughout.

In N scale, there was the 7.5 metres long South Bend and Hilltop from the Hills Model Railway Society which was a very nicely scenicked layout where trains moved between three levels in a folded dog-bone track arrangement. A smaller N scale layout was Mosquito Hill measuring 1.2 metres by .45 metres in length and featuring logging operations. And Waterman's Cove was a US-themed N scale layout featuring a working cable car and multiple tracks in a holiday wonderland.

Other layouts included Malfunction Junction, Jersey City Waterfront, and Bullo Pill.

Commercial exhibitors included Austrains, Casula Hobbies, Eureka Models, Forest Miniatures, Hobbyland Hornsby, IDR Models, Matt's Ballast, Model Railroad Craftsman, Modeller's Warehouse scenery supplies, Southern Rail, and Walker Models building kits.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Sydney Model Railway Exhibition 2016

For me, the Labor Day October long weekend is synonymous with the Sydney Model Railway Exhibition at Liverpool. And so it was that I made the 2.5 hour journey from Canberra to Liverpool for this annual exhibition.

I had purchased my ticket online in the preceding week. However, when I arrived around late morning on Saturday the general admission queue was very small. Nevertheless, I gained entry straight away and made my way around the perimeter of the main hall. The majority of the trade stands occupied this space and so my circumnavigation took a wee while as I looked for new products, examples of pre-production models, and any bargains. Austrains and Trainorama seemed to have some decent specials, and I think Southern Rail Models may have had some discounted L class locos, but that was pretty much it as far as I could see. The SDS Models upcoming Speed-E-Gas tanker was on display and looked terrific, as did the selection of models in the showcases from Auscision and Bergs. Other notable commercial stands included Orient Express from Adelaide, Runway 13 from Canberra, ARHS books, Anton's Trains, Casula Hobbies, Chucks Ballast, Railroad Model Craftsman, Train World, Kerroby Models, Eureka Models, Pallas Hobbies, and IDR Models.

As for the layouts, there were about 25 or so. Most of the layouts I had seen before, but that shouldn't surprise as I have visited quite a few exhibitions over the years.

Here are a few representative layouts from the exhibition.

Upon entering the exhibition, there was the familiar live steam Railways in the Garden layout. The railway uses two gauges of running tracks - 45mm and 32mm - and the locos are fired by either gas, methylated spirits, or coal.

Bethungra Spiral (HO, NSW) from the Epping Model Railway Club was on display and the scenery looked superb. This layout offers a different design to the usual exhibition layout which are mostly based on station and yard scenes.

Yendys (HO, Australian) made the journey up to Liverpool from Canberra. This layout has been around the exhibition circuit quite a while now. I love the composition of the layout, and the bridge scene is always a stand-out. Colour light signalling had been added this time around.

Oddwalls (HO, NSW), another exhibition regular, features a typical country town and distinctly Australian scenery. Here a 32 class engine hauls a rake of four-wheeled goods wagons.

Mungo Scotts (HO, NSW) has also been on the exhibition circuit for a while now. The layout was built and is exhibited by the Sydney Model Railway Society. The photo below shows a Beyer-Garratt locomotive on the Metropolitan Goods line with a run-through train.

Goulburn (HO, NSW/Australian) from the Guildford Model Railway Group, was making its second exhibition appearance. This layout has proved inspirational to a couple of my model railway friends; something that makes attending exhibitions worthwhile. The photo below captures the Sydney-bound XPT about to depart Goulburn railway station.

Waterfall (HO, NSW) from the Illawarra Model Railway Association, was tucked away in an annex off the main hall (across from SDS Models). This layout is a quality exhibit and features some great scenery, especially around the station precinct.

Broxburn Sidings (OO) was also off the main hall. This layout is a lovely compact layout featuring industrial sidings with plenty of opportunity for shunting action.

Kyogle (N scale, NSW) from Peter Boorman was a nicely crafted rural NSW layout featuring a station, yard and bridge scene. This layout will be featured in the December 2016 issue of the Australian Model Railway Magazine.

Dunblurtin (N scale, NSW) was first exhibited by its previous owner way back in 1990! This layout has stood the test of time with some nice scenery, buildings, and plenty of train action.

Industry Lane (00, British) was my favourite layout from the Epping Model Railway Exhibition in June. It remains one of my favourite layouts. This layout demonstrates that you can still have a great model railway even in a relatively small amount of space. The buildings and scenic composition are superb. More information about the layout and the community group can be found at the following web address:

Another small layout, this time in G scale, was Whiskey Springs. This layout was a highly detailed logging-style model railway that featured exquisite scenery.

Valley Heights (O scale, NSW) is another layout I have seen before. This time I paid particular attention to the roundhouse (instead of the elevated coal stage which probably gets more than its fair share of attention). The roundhouse has great atmospheric charm generated from the larger modelling scale.

While many of the layouts I had seen before, I still enjoyed the exhibition and catching up with fellow modellers from Sydney, Canberra, and rural NSW. As Canberra does not have a dedicated model railway shop, the Liverpool exhibition was a great opportunity to check out a wide range of retailers all in the one spot. Sometimes modellers don't always appreciate the convenience of having a large range of commercial retailers all in the one place at the one time. That said, I do wonder whether there are sufficient new layouts being constructed to keep exhibitions fresh and engaging for both the public and for existing railway modellers. Perhaps this is a topic to keep for another time...

Monday, 12 September 2016

Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention 2016

It's been almost ten days since I attended the Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention in Adelaide. Whilst I stayed on in South Australia for three days after the Convention, it has still taken me another week to get in front of the computer to pen this short post. I trust Les will forgive me!

The Convention was again held at the Flinders Medical Centre. I travelled to the venue by bus from the Adelaide CBD which is a comfortable and convenient ride. The Convention once again lived up to expectations with a series of interesting presentations and a wonderful model display that showed the best of South Australian railway modelling. This diorama is an impressive example.

The presentations included the following:
The BHP Iron Knob Tramway (prototype)
Getting the details right (on structures) (modelling)
The 2000 class railcars (prototype)
The 830 class (prototype)
The O gauge Garden Railway (model)
Murray Bridge in N scale (model)
Railway cottages of the South Australian Railways (SAR) (prototype)
Terowie North - 25th Anniversary (model)

In addition, the beautifully produced and comprehensive package of notes accompanied the presentations. The Convention notes provide a wealth of detailed information. In fact, as was stated during the day, the notes from these Conventions represent a massive resource of historical and contemporary information about railways and railway life in South Australia.  All present recognised this and warmly thanked the production team for another year's worth of quality information. My notes from all the Conventions I have attended comes to six volumes of very full-looking 3-ring binders which is an impressive collection of unique information.

I must add that on the day before the Convention there was a mass protest outside the South Australian State Library and Archives in response to significant budget cuts by the South Australian Government.  This follows similar budget cuts at the Federal level to the National Library of Australia.  These valuable Australian institutions deserve better than this!

Back to the Convention: A number of commercial stands were present throughout the day, including Orient Express Model Railways, Ozrail, End of the Line Hobbies, and Train World.

The day ended with the usual raffle draws and associated prizes. I once again failed to win anything despite a modest investment in tickets. Better luck next year!

Thanks to the organisers and to the production team publishing the Convention notes. I very much look forward to the Convention in 2017 (likely to be again the first Saturday in September).

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition 2016

I made the trip down to Melbourne over the weekend to visit the Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition. The event was organised by the Australian Model Railway Assocoation (AMRA) Victorian Branch. The exhibition was held at Caulfield Racecourse as in previous years.

There were 35 layouts and just over 30 commercial stands at the exhibition. I thought Waterfall and Mullet Creek were the standout quality layouts at the show this year, even though I have seen them at NSW exhibitions in the past. The wonderful Victorian Railways Maryborough layout was not in attendance which was a pity as this is an absolutely brilliant layout.

Of the layouts that caught my eye, here is a sample.

Jackson Creek (On30) set in the Otway Ranges of Victoria and showcased some wonderful buildings from the Outback Model Company.

Filching Road (O scale, British) is a fictitious location in Eastbourne, East Sussex in the southern part of England. The layout is small and can fit in the back of a station wagon (estate car for all you British folk out there). I just love this tank locomotive.

Catherwood Junction (OO scale) is a British layout which represents a small junction station in the West Dorset part of south England. This is a lovely layout with nice composition giving the full flavour of compact British modelling. Operation is by digital command control (DCC).

Midsomer Norton (OO scale) is another British layout and one I have enjoyed at previous Caulfield exhibitions. I understand that the layout is up for sale now. The layout is octagonal in shape and features the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway. The photo below shows loading coal from the Norton Hill colliery which operated from 1839 to 1966.

Crosby Stephen (OO scale) is a British-themed layout based on the Settle and Carlisle Railway in the inter-war period. The station has features from Crosby Garrett and Kirkby Stephen on the prototype which is where the modelled station gets its name. This layout is owned and operated by the Sunbury Model Railway Club.

Triang Hornby Wrenn Minic (OO scale) was a trip down memory lane with a layout featuring these pioneering model railways from the UK. Many of us would have started out with models from this period. It is also a good reference point to see how far manufactured model railways have come; yet it remains surprisingly appealing even after 50 years of model railway development and technology.

A town like Alice (HO scale) is a modern Australian-themes layout featuring trains from Australian National Railways (ANR) and Genesee & Wyoming Australia (GWA) prototypes. The layout is operated with DCC and follows on from the previous layout, Barcoola.

Broadview (HO scale) is based on a prototype location in Central Victoria. The layout features a broad range of trains from Victoria and interstate trains from NSW. This layout has plenty of railway action with three main lines (two broad gauge and one standard gauge) to keep the punters happy.

Black Springs (HO scale) is a fictitious location in Victoria. The station resembles Swan Hill. This layout had been absent from the exhibition scene for a number of years but is now back with DCC and JMRI digital operation.

Mullet Creek (HO scale, NSW) made the trek from NSW and was a standout layout from the exhibition. A feature that enhances its quality is the use of layout lighting, something that many layouts at Caulfield still do not provide. The venue has poor lighting which makes layout lighting all the more important. The exceptional water scenes always continue to amaze.

Waterfall (HO scale, NSW) was the other standout layout. The layout is based on the real locale of Waterfall south of Sydney on the line to Wollongong. You will see a great variety of steam and diesel-hauled trains on this layout. The backscene is especially noteworthy.

Neubahn (HO scale) was a European-themed layout featuring a good selection of modern diesel freight and passenger action on a double track mainline.

Rounding off this post is Stone Creek (N scale, US). This nicely proportioned N scale (1:160) layout represents a branchline with point-to-point operation between Roscoe and Whitestone. The trestle bridge was scratchbuilt. I like the use of the dam/weir to link the backscene with the modelled scenery.

Once again, an enjoyable day out with the World's Greatest Hobby.