Sunday 13 June 2010

Epping MRE 2010

I had a very good day at the Epping Model Railway Exhibition over the weekend; albeit there is another day to go tomorrow (Monday 14th June). I trust the exhibition is a big success for the organisers who shifted the event to a new location this year - the Brickpit Sports Stadium at Thornleigh.

I arrived bright and early to get a good parking spot and get into the queue for opening time at 10am. I was therefore a little perturbed when I drove in and I wasn't allowed to park underneath the stadium. I was directed to a very dodgy goat track leading to a rather muddy but relatively flat area of grass and gravel on which to park. I made it OK but I did hear of a report later in the day where a car was bogged and had to be towed out by a 4wd parked nearby!

The queue was not as long as I expected but it curled like the shell of a snail in the foyer until the queue just became a crowd. Fortunately, the crowd was very civil and co-operative so that when we were allowed to buy tickets prior to the opening of the hall, we all dutifully fell into line and purchased our tickets accordingly. Then we lined up in two separate queues in an adjoining basketball court - one line for the exhibition and one line for the second-hand stall.

The local Hornsby Shire Mayor officially welcomed everyone to the exhibition but it was rather difficult to hear what he actually had to say with all the background noise. Next time, please provide a microphone and speakers! At 10am the doors opened and we all made our way inside. I went to the second-hand stall first and bought a couple of back issues of Model Railroader, but that was all.

Downstairs in the main hall were the layouts and the commercial stands. There were thirteen layouts and thirteen commercial displays. The hall was much bigger than the space at the previous location at Epping Boys High School. It was much easier to move around and much easier to talk to people without blocking thoroughfares. The morning session saw a lot of people in the hall but after lunch the numbers seemed to thin out. I wasn't sure if this was just an optical illusion created by the extra space or whether afternoon commitments elsewhere had kept people away. I do hope that the exhibition had good numbers because I really liked the location.

The layouts being exhibited included the following:

A-Tractive Effort - a NSW-based HO scale layout set in the Newcastle/Lake Macquarie area north of Sydney. The layout was displayed in the same way as the owner's previous layout, Time & Patience, using a plexiglass front, enclosed with excellent lighting. Naturally enough, the layout featured some superb model buildings, including a nice variety of houses, a scout hall, and the ubiquitous corner petrol station of which the layout builder is renowned! Despite the sophisticated layout, electric control is via an ancient Duette power controller (photo below).

Bergun was an HO scale narrow gauge Swiss alpine model railway that featured some beautiful Swiss scenery. The layout featured modern-era Swiss diesel electrics. The trains were controlled by NCE digital command control (DCC) - a DCC system well recommended by the owner.

Bridport South Western was a relatively small 4mm scale (EM gauge) layout set in an English scene circa 1890. The layout had a recorded commentary detailing a sequence of train movements and providing prototype explanations for what was taking place on the layout. Principally a shunting layout, it nevertheless had a constant crowd of onlookers who all seemed genuinely enthralled with what they were watching and hearing. I have only ever come across a couple of layouts at exhibitions (both at Warley in Birmingham, UK) that attempted a regular verbal commentary of layout operation and Bridport South Western should be commended for their efforts here.

Charging Moose Mining & Logging Co was the exhibition layout from Geoff Nott. As with all of Geoff's work, the scenery and detail of the layout modules were superb. The layout is O scale narrow gauge and is essentially freelance, but inspired by the Pacific Northwest logging and mining railroads in the USA.

Cooparoo was a modern Queensland Rail exhibition layout in HO scale. The layout featured Cooparoo station which is part of the Brisbane suburban network, but also includes both QR and interstate freight trains.

Dungog, an old favourite I'd seen a few times before at other exhibitions, was also on show. The layout is based on the NSW country town of Dungog, which is about 80km north of Newcastle. The layout features a a "steam-era" yard with loco facilities, the unusual Dungog station building, and  a very nicely modelled sawmill and dairy. The photo below shows a 60 class garratt crossing a steel girder bridge, with the caveat in the program clearly acknowledging the fact that 60 class garratts never went as far as Dungog.

 Ober Franken was a small HOm German layout with some excellent scenery. The track plan was essentially just a continuous loop with a small fiddle yard at the rear. The layout demonstrated that one could have a well presented layout without taking up too much space.

Myallie Yard was an HO scale US-based prototype layout featuring a typical locomotive service facility, including a fuel siding and sanding tower. The layout was operated with DCC and really showed how effective DCC is on small layouts where multiple locomotive movements occur.

Smaldon Curve made another exhibition appearance. The layout's signature feature is the cement works, with a passing parade of relatively modern era NSW diesel locomotives and freight trains.

The Macarthur District Model Railway Club exhibited Wallendbeen. Wallendbeen is a NSW station on the Main South Line, just north of Cootamundra. The layout is large, even by exhibition standards. The layout featured Wallendbeen station, the goods shed and grain loop, and the signature grain silos of the yard. There was plenty of scope to run long trains on this layout with a good variety of trains of NSW and Victorian motive power.

South Bend was a N scale layout based on US-prototype. The layout is 7.5 metres long and showed a generic series of US-based scenes. But what was it that got their attention....?

Yallah is the O scale (7mm) narrow gauge layout that seeks to promote the activities of the Illawarra Light Railway Museum Society (ILMRS) based in Albion Park near Wollongong (NSW). The layout is about 2.4 metres by 0.3 metres; once again demonstrating that layouts do not have to take up enormous amounts of space. Many of the buildings on this layout have been built from structures at the Museum site, including Otford Signal Box and Yallah station building.

And if you can count, you will notice that although there are 13 photos, there are only twelve layouts mentioned in the exhibition far. You may (or may not) be disappointed to learn that I didn't take a photo of the Thomas U-drive layout, despite its popularity with the younger children.

Until next time...


  1. thanks for these beautifull pictures


  2. Brad,
    nice report and good photos. They are there for the next two years at least. Great spot, now closer to home