Armchair Modeller Down Under was fortunate to have a special correspondent at the New England Model Railway Club Convention last weekend. Here is his report on the event:
On the weekend of 6-7 November in Armidale (NSW), the New England Model Railway Club (NEMRC) held its third model railway convention. The previous two conventions in 2001 and 2005 had been held at Ebor. Some 85 or so modellers from as far away as Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Biloela (Qld) enjoyed a fantastic weekend.
Registration commenced on the Friday evening (5th November) so that by starting time on Saturday most people had been signed in without a fuss. The format provided plenty of opportunity for modellers to keep themselves amused.
There were eight presentations, each of one hour length, delivered on each day of the convention. The presentations were held concurrently, so you had to choose which of the two talks you would listen to. The presentations were repeated the following day so that there was an opportunity to go to all of them if you wanted to. The presenters included Gerry Hopkins (DCC control and Decoder Pro, and also DCC friendly locos, turnouts and accessory decoders); John Brown (Scratch building in styrene); Howard Armstrong (Rail tank cars in NSW); Dean Bradley (Weathering with a heavy hand); Laurie McLean (Lights, sounds and action); Peter Street (Modelling oil depots); Stephen Ottaway (Fettlers’ transportation), and Gary Ible and Warren Herbert held a layout planning forum.
If the talks weren’t of interest, there was plenty to do in the main hall. Participants were encouraged to bring a model to put on display and the result was an impressive and diverse array of models that took up six or so tables. Also on display were two modules of Exeter Bank, the exhibition layout started by the late Rodney James. The first and last showing of this layout was at the Brisbane exhibition some 5 or 6 years ago. Also on display was Bowen Creek, the P87 layout of Ian Millard and Andrew Campbell - a brilliant portrayal of a simple intermediate station on a line in country NSW. It was great to be able to examine the workmanship of these layouts without the constraints of barriers and crowds, as is the case at exhibitions.
There were a series of modelling demonstrations that ran over the weekend. Len Durkin gave a clinic on how to use Fast Tracks jigs to build turnouts; Rhett Herbert showed how to kitbash a better looking bogie sheep van, while Peter Boorman demonstrated soldering. Jim Pullen gave a clinic on modelling poplar trees that provided attendees with the opportunity to actually build their own trees if they wanted to. Dean Bradley, John Brown and Gerry Hopkins gave clinics to support their respective presentations. This format gave people an opportunity to get a better understanding of the topic they discussed in their presentation.
The commercial sector was well represented by Gwydir Valley Models, Peter Boormans Workshop and AR Kits. On the Saturday afternoon, attendees were able to visit three nearby layouts in club members’ homes. In the main hall a slide show through a data projector ran over the whole weekend.
Not to be underestimated was the opportunity to socialise with other modellers in a very open and relaxed atmosphere. This extended to the dinner on Saturday night which featured John Thompson (author of books on the 36 and 38 class locos) as an after dinner speaker. Everyone appreciated John’s thought provoking oratory on how modelling railways can contribute to having a great life.
It seemed that there was an endless supply of lucky door prizes handed out over the weekend, reflecting the effort that the organising committee put into the event. For those who didn’t have to get away in a hurry and wanted even more; after the convention had ended on Sunday afternoon an opportunity was provided to check out the NEMRC clubroom near the Armidale railway station and to inspect the restored station building at Dumaresq.
The NEMRC organising committee are to be congratulated on delivering an excellent weekend. They have set a standard that organisers of similar events will have to try extremely hard to match.