Monday, 28 August 2017

Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition 2017

I travelled to Melbourne on Saturday to see the 47th AMRA Victoria Branch model railway exhibition at Caulfield Racecourse. As in previous years, it was an enjoyable day with plenty of layouts and vendors in attendance.

I will showcase some of the layouts that caught my eye shortly but I do want to comment (again) that the lighting at the venue and the lighting on many of the layouts was often poor. When compared to other exhibitions I have been too, I find it amazing that the Caulfield exhibition has so many layouts on display without adequate lighting. I'm sorry, spot lights here and there just don't cut it.

According to the program, there were all together 63 layouts, vendors, and information booths.  They all fitted into the one large room underneath the grandstand at the Caulfield race track. Getting there is easy using public transport. I enjoyed the suburban train trip from Spencer Street Station to Caulfield via Richmond. I love the industrial buildings you pass along the way - the Bryant and May building is superb and even the rail-facing derelict-looking Rosella Preserving Company building at Richmond is historically interesting.

Regarding the exhibition, many of the familiar faces from the commercial side of the hobby were there, including: Auscision (some nice exhibition specials on locomotives), Austrains (had a good chat with John which was great), Aztronics, Airport West Hobbies, Blue and Gold Models, Brunel Hobbies, Casula Hobbies (another sterling job), Dotric Station Blue, Eureka, Matt's Ballast, Metro Hobbies, Models 'n' More, Model Train Buildings, On Track, Orient Express Model Railway Shop, SDS, Steam Era Models, Southern Models, Train World (and Powerline), Trainbuilder, and Trainorama. One vendor I'd not seen before was Barry's Boxes selling storage boxes for N scale model railway equipment.

Of the layouts, these are the ones that caught my eye.

Maryborough (VR, HO scale) is a well-lit and exceptionally modelled layout based on the prototype town of the same name. The station building is exquisite. I spent the most time at the exhibition admiring this layout. The era modelled is the early 1960s prior to 1967 when the level crossing gates were removed. The photographic backscenes are also superb and really give a sense of place and distance to the layout.

Murray River Bridge (HO scale) depicted the prototype at Murray Bridge, South Australia. The layout still had some finishing touches to be completed but looked great nevertheless. Watching a super-long SCT train rolling across the deck girders and through the three truss bridge was quite a sight. The period modelled represented the late 1980s with plenty of modern-era diesels and rollingstock.

Another nicely modelled layout was Leopold (VR, HO scale) from the Sunbury Model Railway Club. I have seen it before but it's always worth spending some time at this layout. One comment, however (and not just aimed at this layout), is the habit of placing the number of the layout (corresponding to the information in the program) on the layout itself. I really think that this detracts from the representation of a scale model railway. I realise there is a need to easily identify the layout but placing the number on the front fascia or curtain might be better.

Yea (VR, HO scale) was another local prototype that looked great and ran some very nice trains. However, it could be improved with better lighting. The layout was featured in the October 2014 issue of the Australian Model Railway Magazine (AMRM) if you want detailed information about the layout. The quality of the layout itself is first class with some great detailed scenes.

Another Victorian Railways layout was Skipton (HO scale) based on the town of the same name. The layout was fairly rudimentary but will improve with additional detail. Again, poor layout lighting was an issue. That said, I appreciate the work the young chaps who built and operated this layout put into exhibiting it. Interestingly, I have researched Skipton and been there to take lots of photos as I regard the location as an excellent prototype to model.

Colinsville Riverland Railway (Australian, HO and HOn30) is a fictitious location situated on an Australian coastal river port. There was plenty of action on this layout with a variety of trains.

Gum Leaf Gully (On30) was a small but well detailed layout. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Another On30 layout was Frog Hollow. This layout represented a fictional Australian narrow gauge bush railway. Modellers familiar with the work of the late Geoff Nott will see his handiwork in this layout now owned and operated by Geoff Small. The layout featured lighting effects and bush sounds that added to the realism of the display.

Another small layout, Little Chipping (VR, HO scale) is a small town (fictional?) located in Gippsland. A sequenced timetable allowed for a good range of short trains to enter and depart the layout.  The fiddle yard was a train turntable that could hold five tracks of trains that could be swivelled 180 degrees to reset the direction of the train back toward the scenic section of the layout. The layout was quite low and I imagine this was so small children could easily see the layout.

On the other hand, a layout that was at a good height for adults required quite a bit of elevation for the operator! Catherwood (British, 00 scale) is a seaside terminus station set in west Dorset in England. The layout depicts the 1955-65 era with some terrific scenery and prototypical operation. I really enjoyed looking at the detail of this layout and what can be achieved in a relatively modest space. That said, I wouldn't like to spend a whole weekend on that short stepladder...

Another British layout that was well detailed was Vale of White Horse (00 scale) based on the Great Western Railway (GWR) on the mainline between London and Bristol. A variety of trains ran throughout the day, reflecting different time periods from 1920 to 1964.

Northminster Heritage Railway (British, 00 scale) represents a fictitious heritage railway in England. As such, a variety of locomotives can be seen operating on this layout.

For those of us who grew up with Triang-Hornby and Wrenn, Gregor Potts' layout (British, 00 scale) brought back lots of memories. The trains and buildings from this period of model railway manufacturing still have a great appeal today despite the significant advancements in the hobby. Even the Minic Motorway road system on the layout was something to behold.

Neubahn (European, HO scale) showcased modern European trains on express services through a small township. The colourful passenger stock and freight wagons make European prototype layouts like this very attractive to watch.

Rounding out the layouts for me was Wallan (HO scale) that showcased a number of Australian trains running through this Victorian locale.

Finally, I must thank the organisers and exhibitors for their efforts in putting on a very enjoyable model railway exhibition

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.