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.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Hobsons Bay Model Railway Exhibition 2011

Next weekend is the Hobsons Bay Model Railway Exhibition in Melbourne. I will be flying down for the day on Saturday (23rd April) and I hope to see a good show. It will be my first visit to this exhibition. This year the exhibition is on for only two days (Saturday and Sunday) on account of the Easter weekend backing onto Anzac Day on the Monday.

The exhibition details are:

10:00am to 5:00pm (both days)
Collingwood College, Hoddle Street, Collingwood
Entrance via Campbell Street (Melways ref 2C G9)
Epping Line or Hurstbridge train to Collingwood station

I hope to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones as well.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

SCMRA seminar on way and works

An Armchair Modeller Down Under special correspondent attended the Southern Cross Model Railway Association (SCMRA) modelling seminar held at the Epping Creative Centre on Saturday 9 April.  

[AMDU correspondent] I’m not sure how many of these seminars there have been, but they have been held annually for well over 10 years.  Each year the seminar has a theme and this year all of the topics covered related to NSW Way and Works wagons or departmental rollingstock.

It was a bit of a mystery as to who was going to tell us about what, however, this was cleared up on the morning with an agenda being provided when delegates were registered.  The presenters included Trevor Moore, Marcus Ammann, Ben Small and Alec Warner. The day was very capably chaired by John Parker.   

The presenters covered almost every type of non-revenue vehicle operated by the railways from both a prototype and modelling perspective.  There was also a small display of models relevant to the theme.

About 60 people attended; mostly from Sydney but there were groups from Toowoomba and also from Canberra.  What was most noticeable about those who attended was the age distribution – there were very few young people in the audience.   

The whole day was divided into 4 sessions broken up by morning and afternoon tea and lunch. The morning tended to focus on the prototype and all of the information was delivered by PowerPoint presentation and in a class room format.   

The topics included:
·         departmental rollingstock (wagons for sleepers, shunter’s trucks, special loads vehicles, etc)
·         infrastructure for loco sand
·         weed killer trains
·          track inspection vehicles
·         breakdown trains (the vehicles that travelled with the cranes)

Some of the presenters confessed that they didn’t know much about their topic when they volunteered to present. However, they had spent the intervening 12 months researching their topic and commented on how rewarding that process had been.  The audience certainly recognised and appreciated their efforts.

A very enjoyable spit roast type lunch was provided, the majority of people being able to eat in a room similar to a mess hall.  After this, presentations discussed how some of the vehicles previously described had been or could be modelled.  

It appeared that an intention of the day was to encourage people to do more modelling as the questions “Who is going to make one of these?” or “If we could get an XYZ part, who would be interested in making a such and such?” were asked.

And this is a nice segue to insert this photo of a lovely model of a Way and Works van modelled by Peter Street; a photo I took on his layout a couple of years ago (Brad).
While the class room format worked really well for the prototype presentations it could achieve little more than raising an awareness of what could be kitbashed or what kits were available (or used to be available) to make particular vehicles.  This information is indeed important and useful, but it does not address the needs of those who feel they lack the confidence or skills to tackle some of the projects discussed.  Younger modellers need to develop confidence and modelling skills and perhaps this explains why so few of them were present (or perhaps if the focus is on younger modellers, the day needs to be planned and delivered for that audience context - Brad).

For next year’s seminar, attendees were asked to register their interest against a number of topics listed on a whiteboard.  The clear preferences were for railway structures and also for bridges and culverts.   

The organisers and presenters are to be congratulated on their efforts. However, the organisers are encouraged to reconsider the format of the day if the objective is to provide people with the confidence and the range of skills needed to tackle some of the modelling projects discussed.

All in all, an enjoyable and very informative day.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Canberra Model Railway Expo report

The Canberra Model Railway Expo is over for another year. A decent selection of layouts were on display covering a range of prototypes and scales, from N scale to G scale.

I managed to spend time at the exhibition on both Saturday and Sunday. A great part of the time at the exhibition was chatting with a bevy of railway modellers from interstate and from the local Canberra region. But I did get to see all the layouts too, including Geoff Small's new layout Oddwalls (following three photos).

Oddwalls (HO scale) continues a fine tradition of exhibition layouts from Geoff (he has previously exhibited Mullet Creek, Smaldon Curve, and others). This layout is 4m long and uses the same fiddleyard as in previous layouts. Geoff uses a simple layout configuration (double main line with a couple of sidings) but demonstrates significant thought about landscape and townscape, quality detail, and very realistic scenic composition using a range of commercially available structure kits and accessories. Oddwalls was on its first showing and will be appreciated by fellow modellers when they get their chance to see the layout in the future.

Other layouts on display included:

Waterfall from the Illawarra Model Railway Association (HO scale) continues to impress as a quality NSW layout with fine attention to scenic detail. The trees at the rear of the layout look superb and this layout continues to improve at each outing. Spending time looking at the layout always reveals a fine example of railway modelling and chatting with the Illawarra blokes is always a pleasure. In the scene below, we see some NSWR diesels awaiting their call to duty.

The next layout photo shows the full length of Nicholls Siding. This layout (HO scale) is about 7 metres long and features four main running tracks that offer plenty of action throughout the day. Nicholls Siding features Australian prototype trains and uses digital command control (DCC).

Jembaicumbene is another HO scale layout that features NSW railway prototypes. This layout has been around for several years now but still runs superbly. The feature of this layout is the curved station nestled within a busy town and industrial scene. In the photo below, we see a CPH railmotor just leaving the station.

As way of contrast, the next photo shows an EL with a grain train speeding through Willigobung (HO scale). Willigobung is another layout that has been around for a few years now but I hear a new exhibition layout is currently under construction by the south Canberra lads. In the meantime, watching a parade of different trains snake around Willigobung was certainly enough to keep the punters happy.

638 Mile is an Australian HO scale (NSW) based layout featuring a fictitious rural location. The layout shows a country branchline with a range of locomotives and rolling stock from the 1960-70s period.

Another HO scale layout, but this time of US prototype, is Twelfth Street Yard. This layout from the ACT Model Railway Society uses DCC, but was originally operated using standard analogue control. Twelfth Street Yard has been on the exhibition circuit since 1999. It still holds plenty of interest with a variety of through trains, switching and interchange tracks, plus street running to a tight urban industrial precinct. The photo below shows some switching in action.

Enoshima (N scale) is a large and highly detailed Japanese layout featuring fast trains, high density living, and all the colour and light associated with big cities in Japan. Whilst I have scene this layout several times now, I always like to take in the density of detail this layout has to offer.

The Canberra Monaro N scale group displayed their large AusTrak layout featuring locos and rolling stock of prototypes from both Australia and overseas. AusTrak modules are individually built by members of the club. The standardisation of module design and construction means that these modules can easily be joined together into an operating layout. The station in the photo below is clearly a NSW prototype, albeit at the time I took this shot, long US modern era trains were having a run.

Representing OO (4mm) scale was Bridport South Western. I have seen this layout a few times now but I enjoy the audio commentary that this layout provides and the old world charm of its 1890 era. I also admire the trackwork and the use of a small traverser at one end of the layout to bring trains on and off the layout.

The larger G scale garden railway representative was Leonville Junction; always a great hit with the kids due to its fast action and multitude of cartoon and television characters scattered throughout the scenery.

The exhibition was entertaining and a great opportunity to catch up with fellow railway modellers. The new layout Oddwalls was a highlight. Some other layouts were let down by poor lighting and I am not convinced that school venues are the most suitable for model railway exhibitions - a bit of a rabbit warren to some extent. Nevertheless, I understand that exhibition organisers have to use what venues are available and at a suitable cost. Also, good venues are difficult to find.

In addition, it does appear that new quality layouts coming onto the exhibition scene are the exception these days. I can understand why to some extent - new layouts take time and cost money so it's not easy to keep building new layouts. However, I do wonder whether recycling the same layouts each year will have any impact on future attendances. That said, I do know that there are a couple of new layouts under construction by modellers in Canberra that could debut next year at the 2012 Canberra Model Railway Expo - we'll have to wait and see if these layouts keep to timetable!

Thanks to the organisers for an enjoyable weekend and I do hope it was a success for you as well.