Tuesday 4 October 2011

Sydney Model Railway Exhibition 2011 Report

Another Sydney Model Railway Exhibition is over. The three day event will be on again next year - the 50th!

There was a good selection of layouts and plenty of commercial stands at the exhibition.  I did feel that there were less layouts than usual but this certainly increased the aisle spacing and made it easier to walk around than in previous years. And like previous years, the Saturday morning crawl to get into the exhibition was slow. Note to exhibition organisers: is it possible to have four ticket booths operating instead of two at the busy periods of the exhbition please?

While many of the layouts at the exhibition had been on the exhibition circuit quite a few times before (no, Brisbane Waters from the Epping Club missed out this year and was replaced by the more recent Brunswick Park layout). But there were  a couple of new arrivals. The layouts that most caught my eye included the following:

The NSW O scale (7mm) layout Arakoola was very well presented. It follows the familiar NSW branch line format popular in HO scale but this time double the scale size. There certainly is the impression of weight and power when you see these O scale trains in operation, at realistic speeds, on a nicely scenicked layout. The layout is 17 metres in length and operated by digital command contril (DCC).

A G scale layout, Shady Hollow, featured a logging and forestry scene. It was amazing how much detail could be accomplished in such a relatively small layout size for a G scale exhibit.

Barcoola from the Bayside Model Railway Club represents the junction of the Trans Australian Railway and the Central Australian Railway and featured Australian National locomotives and trains. The layout is long which allows for some very lengthy trains. The layout is operated by DCC.

On a much smaller layout was the compact but well detailed Broxburn Sidings. This OO scale (4mm) layout is a small shunting layout with a freelanced Australian theme (Quinton River). Interestingly, the locos and rollingstock use Alex Jackson couplers, popular among British model railway folk. Having come all the way from Queensland, Broxburn Sidings was a nice addition to the Sydney exhibition.

A new layout to the Sydney Exhibition was Mungo Scott's, based on the iconic flour mill on the Metropolitan Goods Line in Sydney. This layout was built over a fifteen month period by members of the Arncliffe Model Railway Society (formerly Sydney Model Railway Society).

Wallerawang from the Guildford Model Railway Group is a good solid exhibition layout. The station building and footbridge are standouts, but the rest of the layout is well modelled and presented as well. For more information, try http://www.gmrg.org.au/

Oddwalls is another NSW-based HO scale layout, having started the exhibition circuit earlier this year. I enjoyed looking at the layout when I first saw it, and I still enjoy the detail in the layout now. The layout also presents very well and is a good size for both setting up and for viewing.

The good-hearted chaps from the Illawarra Model Railway Association were there with their US-based layout Kelly River. Kelly River features an operating Bascule Bridge and gauntlet track. You can find more information about this layout at www.imra.org.au/kelly.html

Still one of my favourite exhibition layouts, and still going strong, was the HO scale layout, Dungog. Dungog is an actual town located about 80km north of Newcastle and is famous as the birthplace of NSW and Australian cricketer, Doug Walters. I must say I find myself looking on the layout for a chap or a kid with a cricket bat somewhere but have yet to see it. The layout uses photographs from the Dungog district which are very effective. At the left hand end of the layout (when viewed from the front) is Martin's Creek and the quarry, while at the opposite end is the butter factory. Dungog is very nicely composed layout with some great scenery, buildings, and bridges.

Another layout on show that I liked, but unfortunately the photos were not of sufficient quality to produce here, was the HO scale Tasmanian Railways Avoca. Having a layout based on Tasmanian Railways (the Fingal Valley) was something different to see and something to be encouraged for the future.

And for the kids, there was the popular Lego layout, Brickston Valley.

The exhibition was certainly well attended on the Saturday. I enjoyed my time there looking at layouts, checking out some of the commercial outlets, and chatting to various modellers throughout the day. I trust the exhibition organisers were happy with the three day show.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Sydney Model Railway Exhibition 2011

The 49th Sydney Model Railway Exhibition will be held this coming October long weekend at the Whitlam Leisure Centre, Memorial Avenue, Liverpool. The exhibition is organised by the Australian Model Railway Association (AMRA). Information about the exhibition is available from the AMRA website.

The exhibition opening times are as follows:
Saturday 1st October 9am-5pm
Sunday 2nd October 9am-5pm
Monday 3rd October 9am-4pm

The exhibition will feature in excess of 80 stands including layouts, traders, and rail heritage organisations. Check out the exhibition floor plan to see who will be where at the exhibition over the weekend.

I will be coming up to the exhibition on Saturday. I hope to see some of you there.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention report

I am finally getting around to reporting on the Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention held in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago.

The Convention was up to the usual high standard. This year I thought the presentations were all exceptionally interesting. The presentations covered the following:

The R and Rx class of locomotives of the SAR
Motor body transport by rail in South Australia
The Penfield Branch Line
Working Mile End Yard in the 1970s
Bringing your own sound to the layout
Shared VR & SAR wagon design
Rob Burford's "Pirie" layout, emotionally described by Rodney Barrington

For those who don't know, Rob Burford died in October last year. His layout as described by Rodney certainly was the highlight of an exceptionally interesting day out.

While the prototype featured strongly this year, I find this information very fascinating; especially to someone like me more familiar with the railways of New South Wales and Victoria. There is always plenty to think about during the presentations on prototype practice.

The Convention notes were again superbly produced. The notes form the backbone (and much of the skeleton) of my knowledge about the South Australian and Commonwealth Railways.

The Convention also hosted a number of commercial outlets, including End of the Line Hobbies, Orient Express, OzRail Model Trains and Powerline. And speaking of Powerline, I have two Powerline 830 class mustard pot SAR locos for sale at $120 each if anyone is intersted. They are both in original boxes with original couplers. Test run only.

The model display area again showcased some superb modelling.

The first photo is an HO scale model railway station based on Mt Lofty near Adelaide. The model was made by Nick and Peter Michalak using a combination of materials including card, balsa, and styrene.

The next photo shows an ALX car carrier built from a Strath Hobbies kit (HO scale) by Paul Collins.

The third photo shows a beautiful model of a cement hopper built by Matthew Collins from a Strath Hobbies kit (HO scale). I really liked the look of this particular model.

 Finally, I again enjoyed catching up with friends and fellow modellers at the Convention. It was a great day, especially as part of a few days away to also enjoy the Barossa Valley and Clare Valley as well. Thoroughly recommended all round!

Thursday 8 September 2011

Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention 2011

I am busily packing late this evening for my trip to Adelaide. I fly out tomorrow morning. I will be attending the Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention on Saturday. The Convention is on again at the Flinders Medical Centre; as it has been for the last few years now.

The Convention always has a good selection of model and prototype topics. The Convention notes are superb and form the backbone of my modelling information on the South Australian Railways and Commonwealth Railways.

I also hope to find some time to visit the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide on Sunday. I love the industry and history around Port Adelaide so I must remember to take my camera!

I look forward to catching up with friends and modellers from South Australia at the Convention on Saturday. See you there!

Thursday 25 August 2011

Model Railroader Sept 2011

I received the latest (September 2011) issue of Model Railroader last week. I have just finished reading the magazine. There were plenty of great articles to read in this issue.

There is a great N scale layout by Dan Lewis on his Milwaukee Road/North Montana line. The original layout had been a shelf layout. Dan was able to increase the size of the layout into a much bigger room (18' x 24') - about the size of a double garage in Australia. The article gave me cause to reflect that building a layout can start small before taking opportunities later on to expand the size of the model railroad territory. It's not bad advice as I scribble away with track plans for a master layout that hasn't actually progressed very far!

However, there were a couple of surprises.

The first was that executive editor of Model Railroader, Andy Sperandeo, was retiring after a career with Kalmbach Publishing spanning 32 years. Fortunately, Andy will still be writing the monthly "The Operators" column where he discusses prototype railway operation.

The second surprise was a short article from Pelle Soeborg from Denmark who has cut up his superb Daneville and Donner River HO scale layout. The layout was featured in a Kalmbach book, Mountain to desert: building the HO scale Daneville & Donner River, published in 2006. Pelle has been a regular contributor to Model Railroader over recent years and will be writing in the future about his new layout. I look forward to that. The short article in this latest issue of Model Railroader gives several tips on how to cut away and keep structures from a layout that is being dismantled. The article is supported by an interview with Pelle and some photos of his new layout on the registered users section of the Model Railroader website.

Lastly, while not a surprise since the news had been announced a couple of months ago, Model Railroader is releasing a DVD set of the first 75 years of Model Railroader magazine (1934-79). Whilst I do prefer reading the printed copy, my bookshelves are overflowing with Model Railroader magazines back to 1993 and they are simply taking up too much room!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition 2011

Good morning.

This weekend sees the Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition on in Melbourne. Unfortunately, I cannot attend this year.

The exhibition promises to be a good one, especially with a number of commercial exhibitors showcasing some of their forthcoming models as well as a surprise or two!

Auscision have a new model for release at the exhibition - just waiting on a friend to get back to me with what the model actually is (VR U vans with advertisements on the sides). Auscision will also be selling SCT containers. SDS and On Track Models are expected to have samples of forthcoming models - oil tankers I believe in the case of SDS, and the new Victorian VSX / VLEX wagons from On Track. Casula Hobbies and Trainorama will also have a selection of models on display and for sale. AJRM should be on sale at the exhibition; with Branchline Models and Gwydir Valley restocking tomorrow when Stephen makes a delivery.

I will miss not being there but I hope that the exhibition is a good one for all concerned.

Sunday 7 August 2011

Malkara Exhibition 2011

I managed an hour each yesterday and today for a quick look around the Malkara Exhibition here in Canberra. The exhibition, organised by the ACT Model Railway Society,  is a major fundraiser for the Malkara School. The show includes a range of scale hobbies including model railways, model cars, plastic modelling, remote control boats, and dolls houses. I was naturally there to help a good cause and check out the the model railways.

There were about a dozen model railways on show, not including the popular train ride for the kids outside.

As I only had a short time at the show because of report writing commitments at home, here is a sample of the layouts at the exhibition.

Yendys (Sydney spelt backwards) is the HO scale club layout of the ACT Model Railway Society. The layout is a double-track mainline with a suburban station and electric suburban carriage sidings. A feature of this layout is the catenary, something that really adds realism to the scene. The following three photos highlight some of the scenes from this layout. I especially like the third photo showing a suburban train about to pull away from the station among the hustle and bustle of the day.

Another layout from Canberra modellers was Willigobung (HO scale). This layout is a generic NSW country through station on a busy two track mainline (obviously the Main South). A good selection of trains is always on show to keep the punters happy.

The amiable lads from the Illawarra returned to Canberra with their exhibition layout, Waterfall (HO scale).

South Bend and Hilltop Railway is an N scale US-prototype layout. A feature of this layout was the long trains snaking through a variety of scenic elements. The yard at the front of the layout is also a good spot to watch the trains pass through.

The Epping Model Railway Club (the "yellow shirts") made the trip to Canberra with their exhibition layout, Brunswick Park (HO scale). This layout features a Sydney suburban scene with a focus on the industries around the North Strathfield/Concord  area.

The magnificent Sydney Central Station (N scale) was back on the exhibition circuit after several months on public display at the NSWRTM office on Central Station concourse in Sydney. It is always a pleasure to admire the fabulous detail and modelling skill of this remarkable layout.

Other layouts on show were Clifton Falls, Crestwood, Mullett Creek, South Creek, and the Canberra Monaro N scale group's AusTrak modules.

Several model railway shops were also in attendance. They included Casula Hobbies and Model Railroad Craftsman (both selling the latest issue of Australian Journal of Railway Modelling I was pleased to see), Pallas Hobbies, and Runway 13. Also in attendance were Ron Cunningham of Eureka Models and John Eassie from Austrains. Austrains seemed to be pretty busy whenever I popped my head in there and I am sure the local Canberra and South Coast modellers kept the cash register ringing! I did my bit in buying another NR for myself on Saturday at the discounted price of $200. One of my mates bought three NR's and another two bought one each - who said that NR's wouldn't still be popular?

I hope the weekend was a big success for the organisers and the school. It was the 39th Malkara exhibition and that is quite an achievement. Well done!

Sunday 24 July 2011

MRNSW yesterday

I drove up to Sydney from Canberra early yesterday morning with a friend to attend the 28th Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention at Loftus.

I went to my five allocated topics:
DCC and sound
How does a steam locomotive work
NSW concrete stations
Timetable operation for model railways

I won't give a description for each presentation because much of the information is available from the notes and in a forthcoming DVD of the presentations (the content, rather than video of the actual presentations). Information about the notes and DVD can be found from the MRNSW website when it is next updated. However, from a form available on the day, the notes should be available for $10 and the DVD for $15. I can say that the notes are a lot more informative than they used to be a few years ago.

My general summation of the day was positive. I listened to the presentations with interest and for the most part I was rewarded with useful and informative information. For me, I really came to the convention to hear about DCC, timetable operations, and the traversers. The othere two presentations were also of interest, and I heard from friends on the day that Ray Love and Craig Mackey's presentation on oil-burning locomotives was terrific.

I enjoyed Ray Pilgrim's talk on DCC and sound. I also enjoyed some superb photos and video from his payout, Bylong. Why the current version of the layout hasn't been featured in AMRM is a mystery to me - it's a superb layout and one that I follow regularly on Ray's Bylong website (which you can find in my blog roll). Ray has a preference for Soundtraxx Tsunami decoders and takes great care in trying to match the sound files with the appropriate NSW locomotives. Moreover, the sound is made even more appropriate by the care in which the CV files are set for train speed, acceleration through notch 1 to notch 8, and for braking and momentum control. These features are made easier by the use of a software system called Decoder Pro from JMRI.

The presentation on traversers was also very interesting; albeit Phil Collin's horizontal traverser was very similar to the one I made for my previous layout, Winmar. Phil's traverser was improved though with the use of additional drawer rollers in the intermediate sections of his 8-track fiddle yard. Phil also had fabricated a plexiglass cover to help protect the trains from dust, something I would recommend. The other half of the presentation was from Alan Garbutt on vertical traversers. Alan was inspired by an article in the October 1979 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman where a modeller had made a traverser that ran up and down a wall to store and deliver particular trains to the main line and the layout. Having seen this in operation at Alan's home a couple of years ago on a NMRA monthly meeting, I can vouch for its effectiveness. The bottom line for both the horizontal and vertical traverser is the space saving, and also the cost saving in not having to buy points and point motors for ladder tracks.

Finally, and it was the last presentation for me on the day, was the one about timetable operation from Gary Hughes and Jim Crew. Unfortunately, there was a technical problem that prevented the visual display of the presentation through the projector, but it was nevertheless informative with just the spoken notes. The talk was based on Gary's home layout, the Hartley Railway. Gary gave advice on setting appropriate objectives, layout requirements, personnel, and operating techniques. Similar advice, albeit from US prototype modellers, comes from the US model railroad press (e.g Allen McClelland, Andy Sperandeo, Tony Koester, and others), as well as from the DVD on model train operation from Paul Scoles.

In Australia, Kev Loughhead's Moping Branch has been a local inspiration for model railway operation (Moping Branch is featured in the July 2011 issue of AMRM) as well as Ray Pilgrim's Bylong.

Gary's presentation stressed the need to take the lead from the prototype to work through the elements of timetable operation on the model railway. In this regard, NSW Working Timetables are very useful. Jim Crew gave us information on the use of fast clocks as used on Gary's layout. One nice feature of the custom-built clocks was an option to "rewind" time when unexpected things happened that severely delay operations. If only the prototype railways had this option!

There were a number of commercial outlets at the convention, including Anton's, Bergs, Casula Hobbies, Eureka, Kerroby, Model Railroad Crafstman, Pallas, and SCR Publications. It was good to see some of the outlets selling the latest issue (No.11) of the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling (AJRM).

Ian Black showed how he converted Lima steel-sided passenger cars into authentic looking Southern Aurora cars. Having a table demonstration like Ian's was a nice feature that showcases skills and ideas throughout a day already packed with scheduled formal presentations.

The other feature of the day was the layout on show - Waterfall - from the good-natured chaps from the Illawarra. I really liked being able to get up close to this layout and really spend time looking at the terrific scenic details on this layout. It was also good to have time to chat, something that's not always possible in the hustle and bustle of exhibitions.

While the day for me started around 4.45am and didn't finish until I got home around 10pm, it was nevertheless a great day. There was plenty of informative presentations and some good opportunities to chat with other modellers in the breaks. All in all, it was a great day out.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention 2011

I have a busy work schedule in July that takes me to Tonga today for a few days and then trips later in the month to PNG and Vanuatu (somebody has to do it!). But that won't stop me from going to the Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention on Saturday 23rd July. The convention is on again at Loftus TAFE (Pitt Street, Loftus). I will be going this year, having missed the one last year.

I hope to catch up with friends and modellers there, as well as listen to any ideas for future articles for the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling (AJRM). Should be a good day.

See you there!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Epping Exhibition - one week on

I am back in Canberra after a week down in Melbourne with a work assignment. I return to Melbourne later in the week and I have plenty to do before then. In keeping with my tight schedule, here are some of the photographic highlights from the Epping Model Railway Exhibition.

First up, we have the award winner for best new layout - Grischun. Greg C.'s Grischun is representative of a Swiss alpine town with main and narrow gauge lines in HO scale. The scenery is superb, as one might expect from a Swiss-based layout. The catenary and running qualities of the layout were also of a fine standard. Grischun is a very good example of  a well-detailed and compact exhibition layout. I was also impressed with Greg's use of a painter's pole and roller for the lighting stands - very ingenious!

The next layout is Geoff Small's Oddwalls - a layout first exhibited earlier this year at the Canberra Model Railway Exhibition. The layout is HO scale and showcases a small rural town in the mid 1960s. This layout is another good example of an effective exhibition layout without taking up too much space. Oddwalls is a very well designed layout with good topography, a busy little town, and a nice parade of trains on the double track main line to keep the exhibition-goers entertained.

Another well presented exhibition layout was Bowen Creek. This HO fine scale layout has a relativiely simple track plan within some superb rural scenery. The layout is exhibitied in the box-showcase style with good internal lighting. The modules are constructed of 20mm square steel tube and the backscene is one continuous length of material used for advertising banners. This is a high quality layout for discerning tastes - a real standard-setter for quality.

Another exceptionally presented pair of layouts was Sunny Corner/Lily Flat. These two diorama-style layouts had some amazingly detailed and natural scenery. Both layouts were On30 and showed how effective the larger scale can with superb scenery and quality modelling.

Wallerawang (HO scale) is another fine layout, based on the station west of Lithgow, and presented by the Guildford Model Railway Group. The layout is 6.5 metres long and 2.8 metres deep, including the 14 track storage yard at the rear. The station buildings are the signature piece of this layout.

A perennial favourite, Jembaicumbene, was on show again. This HO scale NSW-based layout has had a very long exhibition life but still has plenty to offer the crowd. A good range of trains and a nicely detailed townscape are features of this layout

Branigate (or is it Brani Gate?)is a US-prototype layout in HO scale. A feature of this layout is the ability to change the lighting to reflect a particular time of the day. This was an interesting feature that might become more popular in the years ahead.

Turning now to some different track gauges, Duck Creek was also making another exhibition appearance. Duck Creek is HOn30 (i.e. 2.6" gauge prototype railway) based on the famous Puffing Billy railway in Victoria.

One of my favourite layouts, the Japanese N scale Enoshima, was also making another exhibition appearance. Every time I see this layout I find some new and interesting part of the city scene that I had overlooked before.

The Lake and Dale is an O scale narrow gauge layout based on the Lake District in England. It features a fine station scene and bridge with some typical English scenery.

In N scale we had Tarana and Carlo. Unfortunately, my photos of Tarana didn't come out so well. But making a new appearance at Epping was the suburban-electric layout, Carlo. Carlo is loosely based on the terminus of the Carlingford Branch at Carlingford, a suburb of Sydney. In real life, Carlingford was supposed to link up with the Epping to Parramatta leg of the now defunct expansion of the suburban network.  Maybe Carlo will feature an extension next year to show how it's done!

As always, the second-hand store was popular and retailers were well represented.

And finally, this is what the new Australian Journal of Railway Modelling looks like for those of you who may have missed seeing the new issue at the Epping Exhibition.

 Check out the AJRM website for info on how to purchase the magazine.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

AJRM a big success at Epping

I enjoyed the Epping Model Railway Exhibition over the weekend. The event was even more pleasing with the successful unofficial launch of the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling (AJRM). Thanks to the advertisers, retailers and purchasers of the magazine over the weekend. And thanks to the Epping Model Railway Club for a great exhibition.

I was very pleased to see some new layouts and a couple of quality exhibits I'd seen only once or twice before. Glad to hear Greg C. won the best new layout award for his European-styled layout, Grischun. Well done, Coggo!

There was plenty of room to move around at the exhibition, even on the busy Saturday morning. While Sunday was a much quieter day, I understand that the three day exhibition may have exceeded previous attendances. I hear the second-hand stall did well again this year too. I look forward to the exhibition next year.

I am in Melbourne at the moment on a consulting project all week so I won't be posting exhibition photos until the coming weekend (sorry, Trevor).

I do hope to get to a couple of Melbourne hobby shops during any lunch breaks to show them the magazine and seek their support in selling the magazine to Victorian modellers.

Let it be said that AJRM wants to showcase quality modelling of all Australian prototypes. So if you're not from NSW, don't despair - send us some ideas for articles and we can take it from there.

We hope the ideas, insights and thinking from AJRM articles will inspire modellers everywhere.

Friday 10 June 2011

AJRM is back

I wanted to let you know that the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling (AJRM) issue 11 has just been published. Stephen and I have taken delivery of the magazines. The magazine makes a welcome return after a seven year hiatus.

There is a website at www.ajrm.com.au (with a temporary redirect at the moment) and a Twitter feed AusJRM to keep people up to date with what's happening. The new web pages should be up in the next couple of weeks with details about purchasing, back issues, and subscriptions (with a couple of interesting features). As well, there will be a form for retail vendors to order copies for sale at shops.

Copies should be available from some of the commercial vendors at the Epping Model Railway Exhibition at Thornleigh in Sydney this long weekend. There are some great articles inside, even if I do say so myself.

Check out the cover here:

... and the magazine itself over the weekend.

Monday 6 June 2011

Epping Model Railway Exhibition 2011

The Epping Model Railway Exhibition is on this coming long weekend in Sydney. The exhibition is on at the Thornleigh Brickpit stadium at Dartford Road, Thornleigh. Full details here.

The exhibition promises to be be bigger and better than last year. It's no secret that the lads from the Epping Club have their sights on having Australia's best model railway exhibition. I understand this year the exhibition will have more layouts and commercial vendors than last year.

I also hear that it's possible a former Australian model railway magazine might make a long-awaited reappearance at the exhibition. After seven years, the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling will be making a belated return to the model railway scene. The website details the magazine's progress. The website has a temporary redirect on it but will be upgraded soon. The new issue (No. 11) is currently at the printers and expected to be ready by the weekend.

I will be at the exhibition on Saturday morning and most of Sunday. I hope to catch up with lots of people over the weekend, and I will certainly be interested to hear what you think about the the new issue of AJRM. I think people will be suitably impressed.

See you on the weekend.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Toowoomba Model Train Show 2011

The Darling Downs Model Railway Club have their annual model railway exhibition this weekend in Toowoomba (Queensland). The exhibition is being held at the Founders Pavillion, Toowoomba Showgrounds, Glenvale Road, Toowoomba.

Opening hours are 9-5 on Saturday (4th June) and 9-4 on the Sunday.

I hope the weekend is a good one for both the organisers and the visiting public.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Albury Model Railway Exhibition 2011

Next weekend the Murray Railway Modellers will have their 2011 model railway exhibition in Albury (NSW). The exhibition is being held at the Mirambeena Community Centre, 19 Martha Mews, Lavington. Lavington is on the northern side of the city of Albury.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make it down for the show but here's what's on offer:

1 Bring and Sell
2 EZ Track
3 Trainz
4 Albury Model Aircraft
5 Jaycar
6 Stafford Stamps and Collectables
7 Ray's Redeemed Railway
8 Altoona
9 Border Scale Modellers
10 Kookaburra Park
11 Ettamogah
12 Leopold
13 Austrains
14 J & K Hobbies
15 Road and Rail
16 Thomas
17 Blue Dog Creek
18 Mckenzie in H.O.Lland
19 Benalta
20 Aust-N-Rail
21 T-Track
22 Iron Horse Hobbies

Full details about the exhibition (including a map) can be found here.

I hope it's a great weekend for all concerned.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Leisurely Sunday behind 3016

It was a bright, sunny day in Canberra today. Just the perfect conditions for a leisurely little trip between Canberra and Bungendore behind preserved steam locomotive 3016. 3016 was built by Beyer Peacock in 1903 and has really stood the test of time with the NSWGR and then under the care of the ARHS (ACT) Division.

Above: 3016 awaits departure from Canberra station this morning on its trip to Bungendore and return

Our scheduled departure at 10.30am was delayed but it wasn't long before we were on our way. The smell of coal-fired smoke and the gentle rolling of the carriages make for a perfect way to watch the scenery pass by. Heading beyond Queanbeyan we got to see some beautiful vistas over a winding stream in a magnificent gorge. Although it's been dry around Canberra for a few months, there was still a good flow of water in the stream. Pine plantations gave way to rolling paddocks with the odd gathering of cattle or sheep. Between Queanbeyan and Bungendore the scenery jostled between hilly paddocks and lightly forested gums. It wasn't quite picture perfect but it was relaxing nevertheless.

Of interest to the railway modeller is the variation in colour and texture of the scenery. I realise that it's difficult in model form to match the subtleties and detail of the real thing, but I do think that such observations make it clear that colour, landscape, and vegetation are not homogenously ubiquitous.

En route to Bungendore we went through three tunnels, all of which provoked great excitement from the kids on board the carriage in which I was sitting today. I can say from the experience that it really is black inside an unlit carriage going through these tunnels!

We arrived in Bungendore where we had about two hours to have lunch and look around before the train left for the return journey. Precisely at 2.30pm the train left Bungendore (tender first) for the trip back to Canberra.

On the return, I paid special attention to the disused rail sidings at Queanbeyan. One set of sidings used to service the former Ampol oil depot. The Ampol depot is quite interesting because the buildings and some of the storage facilitites are at ground level, but the main railway line and oil depot siding is some way above this, necessitating piping up to the siding. Five large tanks were also above the oil depot grounds. The main unloading point still has the valves, as this photo illustrates, and you can see the steps leading up to them.

What remains in the actual depot itself is a small office and shed, and gas tanks, now occupied by Origen Energy. It all looked very despondent; quite a contrast to the halcyon days of rail freight traffic servicing this industry across the state of NSW. Similarly at Fyshwick in Canberra, I looked at the abandoned rail sidings servicing two large oil depots on the northern side of the tracks and the recently closed Shell depot (with Freight Australia oil tankers still in the loading bays) further down on the other side of the tracks. Modelling oil depots, even abandoned ones like the four I saw today, has a certain industrial charm (and even nostalgia) associated with them.

And then the train arrived in Canberra; the afternoon sun still shining in a blue sky but with the temperature becoming cool as the end of the day approached. I can certainly conclude by saying that rail travel like this on a bright sunny day is wonderfully relaxing. Thanks to the ARHS (ACT) Division for putting on the rail tour today and for their considerable work in maintaining the loco and carriages. I thoroughly recommend the trip to one and all.

Monday 25 April 2011

Hobsons Bay Exhibition 2011 report

On Saturday I visited the Hobsons Bay Model Railway Exhibition in Collingwood, Melbourne. I arrived at about 11am but there was still a good queue to get in, an hour after the doors were opened. The entrance fee for adults was $8.

There were two halls in which the layouts and commercial stands were situated. In the first hall, I felt a bit cramped as I waded through a crowd of people at the second-hand stall and towards the first layout I spied. This layout was called Leopold (HO scale) and featured a single track Victorian Railways line with a station and a yard. This layout was being exhibited by the Sunbury Model Railway Club.

The layout next to Leopold was Tybrook, also in HO scale. Tybrook was a typical exhibition layout featuring a wide selection of Victorian prototypes from the 1940s through to the 1970s. Tybrook featured a station, goods yard, and engine facilities. In addition, Tybrook had a number of structures fitted with working lights.

The other layout in this hall was the compact Leafy Bay. The rest of this hall was filled with commercial stands, including Alco World, ARHS Victorian Division, Broad Gauge Bodies,  IDR Castings from MicroModels Hobbyland, Lyndon's Basic Trains, Orient Express, Outback Model Company, SDS Models, Southern Rails, and Spirit Design. A demonstration of scratchbuilding and model making was also on show.

In the second hall were more layouts, including the excellent Korumburra from the Victorian Model Railway Society. A feature of this layout was the station and detailed yard infrastructure. A good selection of VR trains were in operation to keep the public entertained.

Victoria Bridge was another fine Victorian HO scale layout; with a curved station and extensive yard facilities, industrial sidings, and a loco depot. On the other side of this layout was a long bridge that was a great spot to watch the trains go by. I spent a good portion of my time looking at this layout.

Nowa Nowa was a small VR N scale layout with fiddle yards at both ends. The fiddle yards used a traverser, popular among UK exhibition layouts. A photo of the layout and the traverser are below.

Other layouts included the well-travelled Brisbane Water NSW prototype layout in HO scale (Epping MRC); Jembaicumbene (HO scale, NSW prototype); Australia on Track (HO scale modular layout featuring a range of Victorian and South Australian trains); Dewsbury (HO scale, Victorian), and Jenke (another VR HO scale layout).

The second hall also had an extensive selection of commercial stands, including: Auscision, Aust-n-Rail, Austrains, Blue and Gold Models, Dotric Station Blue, End of the Line Hobbies, Eureka, J&K Hobbies, PSM, Runway 13, Steam Era, Sonic Miniature Tools, Train World, and Veteran Models.

Fellow Canberra NMRA member, David Bromage, was also at the exhibition on Saturday and he has a nice selection of photos from the show - click here.

Lunch was available from the canteen, and the prices were very reasonable. A sausage sandwich and a can of Coca-Cola was $5. Some exhibitions charge inflated prices (often to cover professional catering costs) for food and drink but the Hobson Bay exhibition offered a good selection of food at fair prices.

Whilst I enjoyed the day, I thought that the exhibition had too higher a percentage of commerical outlets to layouts. One reason for this was probably because the organisers exhibit only Australian prototype layouts and perhaps there aren't a lot of quality VR/NSW/SAR layouts that the organisers could choose from.

I felt the exhibition was a tad one dimensional, even though I appreciate that the organisers want to showcase Australian prototype model railways. The layouts pretty much followed standard exhibition loop to fiddleyard, although both Leafy Bay and Nowa Nowa tried something different with traversers. Given that most of the layouts were running popular VR and NSWR locos and rollingstock in HO scale, I thought that there was an air of sameness about the exhibition that was a bit disappointing. Having examples of prototypes from other parts of the world would have provided a nice contrast to the Australian examples. However, I understand that other exhibition viewers may be more parochial than I am when it comes to model railway layouts at exhibitions, so this is only a personal viewpoint.

Nevertheless, I was happy to have made the trip to Melbourne to get a taste of some quality Victorian layouts on the local exhibition circuit.