Monday 26 October 2009

A new house, a new model railway?

Regular readers might know that I have been looking at buying a house in Canberra for some time now. Well, the house I blogged about on 26th September is now the house that has been purchased. In a month's time we will be living in our own house in Canberra and we can put to an end the renting cycle that has bedevilled us this year.

The house has a separate-standing double garage with two external doors, and two roll-a-doors at the front. The structure used to be a single garage but has been extended to a double. It now incorporates a pitched roof, but the original outer brick wall remains as a central divide in the remodelled double garage.

I mentioned in that previous blog post in September that I was concerned about the brick wall down the centre of the garage. However, I can now report that this isn't such a major problem after all. Firstly, the brick wall doesn't extend all the way to the front of the garage and there is sufficient space to wind a peninsula around the edge. Secondly, the brick wall is certainly strong enough to run a shelf layout around it (and through a couple of the bricks if need be). And thirdly, I can pull the brick wall down if I really have to since it no longer provides any structural support.

The garage has to have insulation added to the walls and under the pitched roof. The walls also have to be lined. I may paint the concrete floor, although I am not so sure that this really helps all that much in preventing the build-up of dust. There also needs to be improved lighting. And oh by the way, somehow I have to find room for a work bench, a couple of steel cabinets, all my tools, gardening equipment, a lawn mower, and three bicycles. And Winmar. Hmmmmmm.

This brings me to my closing thought on this evening's blog post: should I keep my existing layout, Winmar, or should I scrap it and start a new Australian-prototype layout from scratch?

Monday 19 October 2009

Back in Oz after US trip

I am back from my trip to South Dakota (SD) and Minnesota (MN) in the USA. It was an interesting two weeks travelling across two US states to follow a prototype railroad between Rapid City (SD) and Winona (MN). I drove almost 1500 miles during the course of my trip so there was plenty of experience driving on "the other" side of the road! The weather wasn't the best and I would have liked to have seen more prototype railroad action, but the trip was still worthwhile and enjoyable.

The full story is in my other model railway blog, DME Down Under.

I will get back into the swing of things with new posts to this blog in the next few days.

Sunday 4 October 2009

Off to South Dakota

On Tuesday I head off to South Dakota to railfan the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DME) railroad. This US Class 2 railroad has been of interest to me for the past ten months; so much so that I am looking at building a model railroad based on the DME. I blog about this proposed layout on sister blog, DME Down Under.

I mention this now for two reasons: firstly, my report on the 2009 NMRA Convention that I attended today in Sydney is in DME Down Under and I don't need to repeat that report here; and secondly, I will have only limited opportunity to blog while I am away which means that DME Down Under will have priority!

A full report of the trip and my evolving thinking around the model railroad will reach Armchair Modeller Down Under when I get back after the 18th October.

Until next time...

Saturday 3 October 2009

Sydney MR exhibition 2009 report

I spent much of today at the Sydney Model Railway Exhibition. Tomorrow I will go to the NMRA Convention. I had initially thought I could spend the first half of the day at the exhibition and then I could drive from Liverpool to Castle Hill for the afternoon session of the Convention. It was not to be; there were simply too many layouts, trade stands, and people to catch up with at the exhibition. Moreover, the exhibition was absolutely packed out!

The exhibition featured a couple of really great layouts. The best was the 7mm (O scale) layout, Stringybark Creek. The layout represents an area of the NSW north coast in the period 1950-65. On display were a standard goods and a nineteen class steam locomotive, plus a delightful 400 class railmotor. The layout had some excellent scenery, especially the buildings. I really loved the Norco dairy factory, the pub, and the trestle bridge.

The other super quality layout was A Tracktiv Effort by Peter Lewis. The layout is 5.6 metres in length, enclosed in the plexiglass showcase style like his former layout. Peter was responsible for the superb Time and Patience layout. This new layout is in the same mould - a Newcastle (NSW) suburban scene with excellent structures and the inevitable corner petrol station, with trains running in the background, albeit on a double track this time around. I can't say I like the name of this layout but I can say I do like the layout itself.

The third top quality layout on display was Eskbank. This wasn't the first time I'd seen this layout at the Sydney exhibition, but it is always interesting to watch. The layout is circa 1899 and is based on Eskbank near Lithgow in NSW. The "olden days" locos and rollingstock are certainly of unique interest compared to the modern image of today and the steam-diesel transition era preferred by most modellers. The station building and loco depot are really superb and are a great credit to the builder, David Low.

A new layout, Wallerawang, was being exhibited for the first time from the Guildford Model Railway Group in Sydney (not the layout by Jack Parker featured recently in an issue of AMRM). The exhibition layout is 6.5 metres in length and based on the station and yard at Wallerawang on the Main Western line in NSW (actually, not far from Lithgow).

The large generic prototype layout (but really US-based) from the Coffs Harbour Modellers' Group was also on display and presented exceptionally well, especially with the self-enclosed lighting that really showcased the layout to maximum effect. Similarly well lit and presented was the much smaller but superbly modelled Plainview (On30), a diorama style North American freelance bush logging layout from Viv Farrow.

Old favourites making another exhibition appearance included Brunswick Park, Dirt, Dungog, Galong, Jembaicumbene, Smaldon Curve, and Tarana.

The floorplan included in my blog post yesterday gives details of all the layouts and trade stands (so I won't mention everything I saw today). However, it was good to see that the four main Australian r-t-r locomotive and rollingstock manufacturers were there - Auscision, Austrains, Eureka, and Trainorama. Other notable Australian model railway suppliers were Antons Trains, Balmain Drawingboard, Bergs Hobbies, Casula Hobbies, Chuck's Ballast Supplies, Frate-N, Gwyder Valley Models, IDR kits, InFront Models, Kerroby Models, Kieran Ryan Models, O-Aust kits, On Track Models, Powerline, and VR models from the Victorian Hobby Centre.
My only gripe with the exhibition was the generally poor lighting. Because the sports arena had such a high ceiling, and the flourescent lights attached directly to the ceiling rather than hanging down, the overall lighting within the building was not great. Where layouts did not provide their own lighting, or sufficient lighting, the full impact of the layout was compromised, IMHO.
Tomorrow, the NMRA Convention...

Friday 2 October 2009

Sydney Model Railway Exhibition

This weekend I am off to the Sydney Model Railway Exhibition at Liverpool. I am also going to the NMRA Convention at Castle Hill in Sydney. It will be a huge weekend, including layout visits on Monday and Tuesday!

The Sydney Model Railway Exhibition is one of the biggest in Australia, and possibly one of the best. I always look forward to this exhibition to catch up with friends, see lots of layouts, buy the odd item or two from the trade stands, and generally take in the model railway atmosphere. You can see what layouts and trade stands will be present from the floor plan.

I can see from the floor plan that there are some layouts I have seen before (Eskbank, for example) and some new ones (or one's I don't remember!) too. There is a feast of trade stands as well, always well worth visiting to see what's available and what might be tempting to purchase.

The NMRA Convention is on this weekend too. I am still deciding on the logistics as to where and when I will get to the exhibition and the convention. I still haven't fixed the times and places yet, although I have a three hour drive from Canberra to Sydney tomorrow morning to think about it.

Wherever I am over the weekend, track me down and say hello!