Friday, 28 August 2009

Caulfield exhibition report - final

Thanks to the people who have been in touch asking for more photos from the AMRA Caulfield model railway exhibition from last weekend. Here are a few more photos from the exhibition. I will load some more photos into a photostream in Flickr and link to there at another time.

However, I have a few images here to show. The first image shows one side of the layout, Murri. This side features the station and yard while the other side is principally an open fiddleyard from where the trains are stored between runs. You can get a good view here as to how the layout is illuminated, using fluorescent globes mounted between boards attached to a metal frame.

The next image shows End of the line - note the gap between the scenic boards in the middle towards the top of the photo where trains enter from a lead that turns ninety degrees to the left to a small stub-ended fiddleyard. This image shows the station area in the foreground and the sidings at the top right of the photo.

The next image is a full length shot of the HO scale US-inspired Yardwork layout. The layout as exhibited is the same as it is at home. Note the book-case like framing and the neutral colours.

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, the operators of Bright/Everton operate the layout outside of the middle well and are indeed part of the spectators! The next image shows the operators on the Everton side of the layout. One thing I forgot to ask them was what headset communication system they were using to let operators on each side know when a train was coming.

I also want to mention Duck Creek, a narrow gauge HO scale Victorian-inspired layout. Duck Creek had been exhibited in early August at the Malkara exhibition in Canberra. Because I'd seen it so recently, I didn't spend as much time looking at this layout as I did for others. However, it is a very nice and compact layout, worthy of a mention and a photo!

And to end off our journey to Caulfield, the dirt road rail crossing between Everton and Bright...

As one exhibition ends one weekend, another begins! This weekend (29-30 August) the Newcastle (Our Town) model railway exhibition is being held at Broadmeadow. I sure hope Bob takes his camera and gives us a report on his South Coast Rail blog! Until next time...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Caulfield exhibition - next instalment

Following on from last evening's blog post, I want to showcase a couple of overseas prototype layouts on display at the Caulfield exhibition last weekend. You will notice that I have not covered all the foreign prototype layouts - for example, Oakham (UK), Birkenstadt (German), Schoenblick (German) and the On30 scale timber railway Ashbyrne. I must also add that there was another Victorian prototype layout, Benalta, on display but the lighting was not conducive for taking pictures.

Of the foreign prototype layouts, I really liked Yardwork based on the prototype Wisconsin Central of the USA. Yardwork portrays a locomotive depot and yard lead tracks. There are a couple of industrial spurs for shunting purposes. The layout diagram on the control panel in the first photo shows the track configuration. Layout operation is by Digitrax DCC.

Yardwork is three metres in length with two short end extensions capable of housing a loco "offstage". When at home, the layout sits in a bedroom and therefore demonstrates that it is indeed possible to have an operating model railway in the house. The next image shows the right-hand side of the layout and the extension piece that takes a loco "offstage".

The next photo shows the full length of the layout looking down the yard from the right hand end. You can see the loco depot in the foreground and the lead yards further back. Industrial spurs for shunting are on the right.

A good selection of Wisconsin Central motive power was on display, including this model of an EMD-built SD35 (No. 2500) by the sanding tower.

Another nice layout, but in N scale, was the Thompson River Canyon layout. This layout was based on the Canadian prototype. The layout displayed some excellent mountain scenery, including steep rocky terrain, snow sheds, and a number of bridges. The image below shows a Canadian Pacific train led by a Sd90/43mac loco (a Kato model I think) crossing one of these mountain bridges.

Phoenix Electric
is a HO scale traction layout based on the Pacific Electric Railway of Los Angeles, California. The layout is the work of the Ballarat & District Model Railway Club. The layout featured an urban environment, something that is good to see given the number of rural-based settings most exhibition layouts portray. The street scenes, buildings, and industrial areas certainly portrayed the urban environment nicely. The layout put to good use plenty of the Walthers building kits to give the layout a strong urban feel. The photo below shows passengers about to board one of the red trolley buses for their morning commute to work. The layout control system used DCC from NCE.

The next layout I want to highlight from last weekend is the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (UK) prototype-based layout, Midsomer Norton. This layout is 4mm scale using 00 gauge track. The layout is set around 1950 and had a good period feel to it with a very well modelled station and yard area. The layout was built in the shape of a pentagon which is an unusual but effective method of layout display. A person could literally walk all around the layout looking at different scenes. The image below shows S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 No.53804 at the head of a coal train - note the lanterns and the three link couplings.

No doubt you can guess that I was most impressed by Yardwork. This layout exemplified to me what can be achieved within a relatively small amount of space and inside the home environment. Building and finishing a layout of this size is quite achievable and certainly allows for good detail and interesting operation using DCC and sound.

I must say that my plans for a US-prototype layout based on the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (DME) had it's preliminary thinking along similar lines to the Yardwork layout, albeit I still favour a traverser at each end rather than just an extended length of track for "offstage". My thinking on my planned US prototype layout is chronicled in my other model railway blog, DME Down Under.

The third instalment on the Caulfield exhibition in Armchair Modeller Down Under will feature some general comments and some more photos from the exhibition. Keep watching...

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Caulfield exhibition report

I intend to blog each day this week about the AMRA Caulfield model railway exhibition from last weekend. This is because there is much to report. I need to upload the full set of photos onto Flickr and then use the Blogger slideshow widget to link to them. In the meantime, I will blog a few different posts to show a small selection of photos in each, and to keep the length of the posts down a bit.

This blog post looks at layouts based on the Victorian Railways. I may come back to them later in the week with some additional images. In the next post, however, I will show some photos of other layouts of different prototypes.

The first photo is of the layout Murranbilla. The layout is a single track generic station and yard set in south-eastern Australia. The cattle yard (pictured) and cement plant were nice features, as was the dry creek bed and trestle bridge at the other end of the layout. The painted backscene on this layout was particularly impressive.

The next two photos are from the layout called Murri. Murri is another one of those generic prototype layouts also set somewhere is south-eastern Australia. The first shot shows a pair of SAR 930 class diesels hauling a fast goods service through the main station and yard.

The second photo shows a pair of T class diesels in post-Victorian Railways ownership - the lead loco being a CFCLA loco and the second being a Southern Shorthaul (SSR) loco. The pair are pulling a set of ballast hoppers out of the yard at the opposite end of the layout to the above shot.

The next image is of a delightful VR layout, Bright/Everton. The layout design was in the traditional loop format, although the operators stood outside the middle well and operated the layout from the front on both sides. This certainly made the operators accessible to the public! The layout featured Bright on one side of the layout and Everton on the other. In the image here a Y class diesel is pulling a short goods train out of the loop at Everton.

The last photo for this post this evening is from another excellent VR layout - the End of the line. The name says exactly what it means and shows a small terminus and yard of "a typical branchline terminus located on the Victorian Railways network" (so the program blurb says). I liked this layout a lot because it demonstrated what could be achieved in a layout length of a couple of metres. The gap between the backscene behind the station that was set further back than the backscene behind the yard to the right (to allow the entry of trains from a small fiddle yard) might not impress purists but I didn't let it detract from the overall display. The photo shows a nicely painted railmotor (a PSM brass or SEM kit ?) waiting at the station.

I thoroughly enjoyed these Victorian-based layouts and spent considerable time at all of them watching the trains roll by or seeing a range of different shunting movements.

My next blog post will have some more images from the Caulfield exhibition so stay tuned...

Monday, 24 August 2009

My weekend in Melbourne

Just a quick post about the weekend before a more comprehensive post with photos a little later on.

I flew to Melbourne on Saturday morning. I then caught the airport bus into Southern Cross Station. I bought my return ticket to Ballarat (about $20) and then boarded one of the Velocity sets (platform 8 south) to begin the trip. The train was delayed because of two defective cars that had to be uncoupled from the train. The train ended up being about 30 minutes late into Ballarat, not helped by a 12 minute delay in a crossing loop en route. From Ballarat station, I caught a taxi to pick up a rental car at Wendouree.

I drove from Ballarat down to Pittong and Skipton. The scenery here was more interesting - lightly wooded areas along the rail trail, green fields, and the occasional flock of sheep grazing - with mostly good sunshine but a chilly wind. Got plenty of photos of the kaolin factory at Pittong, some nice shots of parts of the rail trail, and some shots of what was left in the rail yard at Skipton.

I drove back to Ballarat, returned the car, taxi to station, and uneventful trip by Velocity train to Melbourne. Whilst no train photos, I still had a good day driving in the countryside and getting some good photos of an industry and some associated town and rail yard shots at Skipton.

I went to the Caulfield exhibition on the Sunday (yesterday). The exhibition was fantastic - great location, great exhibits, good trade displays, and good facilities. More about the exhibition (and photos) in the next post.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Day trip to Skipton

Next weekend I am flying down to Melbourne. As I said in a previous blog post, I wil be visiting the AMRA (Victoria) Model Railway Exhibition at Caulfield racecourse.

I am really looking forward to seeing some great layouts at the exhibition. I will also be interested in the commercial outlets and checking out anything new on show. For example, I understand that Railmotor Models will have a sample of their forthcoming SCT diesel locomotive in HO scale on display at the Caulfield exhibition.

However, the exhibition will fill only one of the two days for me. I am planning on taking a day trip by train from Melbourne to Ballarat in the morning and returning later that afternoon. I intend to hire a car and then follow the rail line south-west to Skipton, stopping to check out the quarry at Kopke and the Imerys kaolin operations at Pittong. I hope that there will still be some rail infrastructure along the way to Skipton, although I realise that the rails have been lifted and been replaced by a rail trail. Good to read here how Imerys worked with local people to help with the construction of the rail trail. If I had more time (and a bicycle), I wouldn't mind doing the Ballarat-Skipton rail trail ride.

I like exploring places (and industries) that I haven't seen before so the Skipton trip should be quite enjoyable.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Lake Hume

In a previous blog post about my current layout Winmar, I mentioned a possible branch line extension to Lake Hume.

My fictional railway junction of Winmar is just north of Albury. The equally fictional Lake Hume branch extends east towards a real body of water called Lake Hume. A real railway (the Wodonga-Cudgewa line) to Lake Hume exists on the Victorian side of the border. My Lake Hume branch would be the NSW equivalent of the Cudgewa line and would reflect the historical parochialism of state-based railway systems.

As such, some recent thinking has converged around the idea of using my (yet to be constructed) model railway terminus at Lake Hume as the basis for this small exhibition layout I have been rambling on about. If I did this, then this module would be available for both my home-based layout AND for exhibitions. I could develop the module along the lines of a four metre (a bit more than 12 foot) display with a traverser at one end, similar to layouts popular in the UK at exhibitions. I could perhaps turn the terminus into a L-shape with that power station or mineral sands industry extending onto a new baseboard beyond the station and yard itself.

And, what might be doubly appealing, I could run a session using some of my Victorian locos and wagons as well and pretend I was in Victoria! Don't know what the Victorians might think of that scenario but I am sure most exhibition-goers wouldn't know the prototypical difference. Hmmm.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

AMRA Model Railway Exhibition - Caulfield

The 2009 AMRA (Victoria) Model Railway Exhibition will be held at Caulfield racecourse on the weekend of 22-23 August. I will be going down to Melbourne that weekend to take a look.

I went to the same exhibition last year, also at Caulfield racecourse, and was very impressed by both the venue and the layouts on display. It's always great to see new layouts and talk with people who model different prototypes (in this instance, principally Victorian Railways).

In fact, as I recall, I came home thinking about building a small Victorian Railways exhibition layout myself. I even started some rudimenatry research and was quite interested in the Skipton line that ran south-west from Ballarat (now a 55km rail trail).

I can't say I know too many people living in NSW or the ACT who build layouts based on the old Victorian Railways, although Peter Street on the NSW north coast has a nice example. And Stephen Ottaway has discussed with me the potential of building a layout with a fictitious NSWR/VR rail interchange at Delegate, near the NSW and Victorian border. Perhaps my interest will be rekindled at Caulfield in a couple of weeks time.

I am looking forward to the trip but must remember to bring a spare SD card for my camera this time AND have the camera battery fully charged!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Malkara, Canberra, 2009

The 37th annual Malkara Model Railway & Scale Model Exhibition was held today and yesterday in Canberra. The event is the Malkara School's major fundraiser and plays host to a range of model trains, boats and 'planes, as well as doll houses and other crafts.

I only had an hour on Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon to get around the displays. After chatting with people (including Lloyd Sawyer from the now retired Lloyd's Model Railways) and buying a couple of things from The Model Railroad Craftsman, time was at a premium. I glanced at several exhibits but only spent time at displays of immediate interest to me. I took several quick shots with my "snappy" camera; a few being shown below.

The Epping Model Railway Club exhibited East Mateland and although a veteran of the exhibition circuit these days, was still voted by the public as the most popular layout of the show.

The first photo shows Phil Skelton's beautiful streamlined 38 class and passenger car set crossing the four-track steel bridge just past East Mateland station. The second photo shows a garratt with a line of LCH and CCH four-wheeled coal hoppers. And the third shot shows a 620/720 railcar set.

In the same room were two small but delightful layouts. The first was the HOn2.5 Duck Creek. This layout had some exceptional scenery, including a terrific saw mill with appropriate industrial sounds. Victorian Railways narrow gauge locos and rolling stock were nicely modelled.

The other layout was a terminus station layout, Blagdon, showcasing the Wrington Vale Light Railway in the UK during the first quarter of the 20th century. The layout was about 12 feet long (approx. 4 metres) and is quite a nice length for this kind of layout.

Canberra-based layout Willigobung was also on display. Willigobung is a real town name, although the layout is fictionally based on the Main South somewhere between Yass Junction and Cootamundra. This was the last photo of my day since the battery in the camera ran out!

There were several other layouts exhibited (including Crestwood, Kelly River, Tarana, Yendys, and the Canberra NMRA club's US modular exhibition layout). However, the layout, L's PaPerGlen, was of special interest because of the central road and rail overbridge - a feature that I had not seen modelled previously. The roadway sits above the rail line on the bridge.

Besides RRMC, other commercial outlets at Malkara were Pallas Hobbies, Kerroby models, Simply Glues, and local airbrushing specialist Runway 13.

The Malkara event is not a specialist model railway exhibition. However, it is always popular with the public who come to support a good cause. And there is always the chance that the Malkara event might ignite an interest in hobbies and crafts with people who would probably not ordinarily come to a specialist hobby event - something to hope for.