Sunday, 6 August 2017

Malkara 2017

I spent an enjoyable weekend attending the 45th Malkara Model Railway and Scale Model Exhibition in Canberra.  The exhibition is a major fundraiser for the Malkara Specialist School in Garran.

There were a number of model railway layouts and associated scale models (ships, doll houses, etc.) to entertain the general public. As a school fundraiser, many of the people going to the Malkara Exhibition do so to support the school rather than as exhibition junkies. As such, it is a pretty useful way of introducing the model railway hobby to people who might not ordinarily go to model railway exhibitions.

The two main commercial outlets at the exhibition were Casula Hobbies and Model Railroad Craftsman. Both of these Sydney-based shops have supported the Malkara Exhibition for many years and I thank them both for coming along each year.

Talking with Joe from Casula Hobbies on Saturday, I realised that it was forty years ago when as a young lad I first went to Casula and met Joe from the newsagency (as it was then) which had begun stocking model railway items, including the early Australian polyurethane kits. I bought a couple of MRC and Friedmont kits. Since my dad and I had driven quite a way to get to Casula, Joe gave my dad a discount on the cost of the models - something both dad and I never forgot. That early encouragement was the precursor to four decades of involvement in the hobby for me. Thanks again Joe!

Other retailers supporting Malkara were Pallas Hobbies, Runway 13, Euro Hobby Trains, Kerroby Models, and Matt's Ballast.

Here are some layouts that caught my eye over the weekend.

The Epping Model Railway Club, a traditional supporter of the Malkara Exhibition, exhibited the massive layout Bethungra Spiral (HO scale). Watching trains snake their way around the spiral among the hills and the trees is truly awe-inspiring.

Another long-time supporter is the Illawarra Model Railway Association. This time they were exhibiting Kelly River (HO scale). The feature of this layout is the operating bascule bridge which always draws a crowd.

The ACT Scale Model Society, who organise the exhibition with the Malkara School, had Yendys (HO scale) on show. Despite having seen this layout many times now, I always enjoy this layout.

The Georges River Model Railway Club had their N scale layout Dunblurtin on show.

The Hills Model Railway Society brought down to Canberra their large N scale South Bend and Hilltop layout - a very impressive layout indeed.

The Guildford Model Railway Group had their exhibition layout, Goulburn (HO scale), on show. I very much like this layout. They have really captured the look of the wonderful Goulburn station buildings. There is always plenty of mainline Australian action on this layout.

Another club layout, this time from the Sydney Model Railway Society, was Mungo Scott (HO scale). This layout is based on the iconic flour mill on the Metropolitan Goods line in Sydney that ran between Dulwich Hill and Darling Harbour. Now the line is part of the Sydney urban transport network.

But for me, my favourite layout (and the first time I had seen this layout) was the beautifully presented "Inglenook" layout called Rozelle Street (HO scale). I freely admit to being a fan of "Inglenook" layouts and this was no exception. Well done Ben!

I also had a great time catching up with friends and fellow railway modellers, plus the odd purchase or two (or three) items that is always a must at these type of events. Thanks to the organisers, exhibitors, and retailers for making the weekend such an enjoyable experience.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Wagga Wagga blogger

I was very pleased to hear that former Canberra resident and railway modeller Rob N. has decided to start a blog about the construction of his HO scale home layout based on Wagga Wagga in NSW.

Rob is well known to most modellers in Canberra through his former association with the ACT Model Railway Society and the Yendys layout. He has since left the capital to the quieter life in rural NSW, but on the Main South Line!

Rob has amassed a huge amount of information about Wagga Wagga and its industries, as well as nearby towns served by the railway. Rob also has a fine collection of photos from the last 30-40 years which he can draw upon as his layout progresses.

The blog is called Building Wagga and I highly recommend it to you. Rob will, naturally, have to explain why building Wagga was not called building Wagga Wagga! I understand that the locals down that way like the double Wagga version over the single Wagga. Nevertheless, I expect that Rob will provide some very interesting and useful modelling tips as he progresses through the stages of building a large home layout.

I wish him the best.

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 near Lilyfield in Sydney.
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...