Tuesday, May 19, 2009

From Here to Toowoomba!

For anyone that doesn't know me I suppose your left wondering just what all this fuss over the Toowoomba Model Railway Exhibition is all about. I've been a member of a local railway club for about five years now. Since the day I joined I've never thought it was 'a waste of time' or that 'I could have done it all myself anyway'. There are such a wide variety of modellers in the group that there's always another point of view that I hadn't imagined being expressed.
So four years ago I lept into the abyss of being a part of the clubs 'Show Layout' group. I really had no idea of what to expect. Daz gave me a lift in his van, with the club layout packed into the back.
I never expected the level of interest, genuine inquiring questioning, from the general public. The knowledge that people share truly amazes me, I've learnt so much from conversations with like minds of the railway type. The other bonus were the friendships that were sparked that weekend, that continue on today. The show is a great opportunity to catch up with people that you only see once a year, and to see what they've been up to with the hobby over the last twelve months.
Of course for those who've had the opportunity to stay at the show, it's another place overnight. The mere fact that all the panels of the 'shed' aren't blown off by the level of snoring, or the experiences of the two person shower in the amenities block, with cold water to shave in if you chose to maintain the Brad Pitt image. I myself realise that Brad really looks to me for inspiration! Certainly Helen is well pleased that I haven't extended the invitation to include her for this weekend.
Now every year about this time I try to start and finish a couple of modelling projects to take along. This year has seen a couple of my Ian Lindsay kit purchases pulled out of the kits box, to be completed. I'm in the middle of constructing a NSW SHG gaurds van, along with some flat wagons and maybe a couple of BDS open wagons.
So with about four weeks or so to go it's time to dust off the stretcher bed, grab a skivvy(ask me bout that some other time!), a notebook, camera, and plenty of those heat and eat meals in a can. Looking forward to another great weekend, well worth a visit if you are up this way, come over and say Gidday, I'll be the one that looks like Brad!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Black mountain NSW, part 2

It's been about twelve months since Darren and I headed south on tour through NSW. Darren had been invited to display his layout 'MORE' at Inverell, as part of the model railway exhibition hosted by the New England Model Railway Club. We'd spent at least the previous twelve months nutting out just where we'd like to venture off to, and the list just kept getting larger. Our aim was to visit areas that had rail infrastructure still intact even thought the line may have been disused for some time.
We were and still are acutely aware that the rail system is quickly being erased from the communities collective memory. Many lines are closed, most are not anything like what they were when at their peak, and more concerningly the people who worked on them directly are becoming few and far between. So the need to record what is there still is really becoming a 'last chance' effort.
Both Darren and I have the most understanding of wives, for them to even consider us going on a week long jaunt and leaving all the family stuff for them to deal with. Actually I think that Helen said that I was the one giving her the 'break', I'm not really sure what she means with that comment. Anyway after the Inverell show, we left the trailer at a friends place in Glen Innes before heading further south.
Darren and I both had suggestions of places we'd like to visit that included, Guyra, Werris Creek, Binnaway, Merrygoen, Molong, Canowindra, Bathurst, Merriwa, and many more along the way. Now with our list of stops, our plan was basically to take as long as we needed at each location to record with cameras and comments to each other or chats with some locals if the opportunity arose before moving on.
Heading south from Glen Innes our first place to stop was Glencoe, then Ben Lomond, Llangothlin, then Guyra. Guyra had a fair bit to see with Goods shed with goods crane, station, and some extensive fettler sheds. South of Guyra our next stop was to be Black Mountain, just off the main highway on Black Mountain Road, we came upon a strange sight a NSW guards van on blocks in a backyard. Of course we had to take a photo so up on top of the 'troopy' and a couple of photos later we thought we were done, till the owner came out, with movie camera in hand. Yep one of the pre digital cameras using probably Beta tape by the look of it. He was 'renting' the house and I use the term house and renting very loosely. The van had been placed there by the owner, and the current resident had converted one end to a guitar making workshop. An interesting fellow, very keen to show us his planting of food trees and vegetables, we thanked him for the welcome and his hospitality and moved on to Black Mountain.
We drove down the road over a hill top and down the back to be met by the rail line. On our left before the crossing was the station masters residence, then over the line to our left was the station building, lamp room and signal. To our right was the goods area with two loading banks and a well in between the sidings. we found what appeared to be the footings of a goods shed and rail rack. The line was cut into the hillside and followed a gentle curve, so that if you were at the station the goods area could not be seen. The loading banks were different to any we'd seen so far. The long loading bank on the high side of the line was constructed in two completely different methods. The far end was faced with 12"x12" timber posts and 12' timber behind. The end of the bank closer to the station was of the cement type. The top of the whole bank had the standard rail front with cement then a rail on the back as the edge to stop vehicles from going over the top. South of the loading bank was the well, then the rail rack and goods shed area. Opposite the goods area was the second loading bank, a simple timber structure.
What struck me at this stop was the simplicity of the structures, a real 'bare bones' feeling about it. This was reinforced by the ash ballast that was used in this whole area. This feeling was in complete contrast to the ballasted deck trestles, and the brick faced culverts and built up earthworks seen on the line to the north.
From here we headed further south to Dumaresq, but that will have to wait to another time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Brisbane RNA Show

Every year I like many other modellers get a 'shot in the arm' with a good dose of enthusiasm driven by a visit to the Brisbane Show. This year, unfortunately I was only able to attend on the one day (Monday) due to work commitments (Saturday) and a ticket to Chicago's last Brisbane performance (Sunday) with Helen.

I was working with Craig (Craig's Shed) for the day on a construction table associated with his club. I've done this before and it's usually a great day. This year was no exception. Craig surrounded himself with his efforts, everything from deck chairs to outhouses with lids left up. I on the other hand brought along a couple of points a soldering iron, and a piece of plastic to bash a bit later at the retailers.

The modelling competition entries stand is always one of my first visits, I am always amazed at what people can achieve, and the 19 class loco that one best built kit loco was a real winner, I do apologise to the winner as I didn't have my notebook to record their name.

Craig and I arrived about 8:00 so plenty of time to fill the coffee cup and have a look around the retailers. Plenty to see here, people to catch up with, oh and a couple of purchases to kick off the day. A quick look at the layouts, then over to the workbench. I'd brought the soldering iron, and a couple of points to finish off. It's amazing really the number of people who had questions that required some indepth responses, a real pleasure to share information to maybe inspire others to try something new. I don't do anything that anyone couldn't do, it seems that some just need that extra push to get into it. Craig had a sea of people around him during the course of the day, the poor cousin next door actually was able to finsh the point he was working on. Not bad I thought considering how busy the day was.

Since Monday, I caught up with Craig and Peter, at a modelling group we're all in. When I say 'all' I think there'd be about twelve of us involved, guess the others were a bit 'trained' out. Anyway we had a fair amount of time to chat about the show, and it was then I realised what I'd missed. I thought that I'd caught sight of all that was there, but it seemed that Geoffrey had his blinkers on that day. It very definitely means that next year I'll be on holidays for the weekend, so I can be there for at least two of the three days.

This time of the year passes like a flash, with the Brisbane show, quickly followed by Queenies Birthday long weekend, then off to Toowoomba for the weekend. I usually hear the alarm bells some time during the RNA and this year was no different, only this year it was 9:15 when I first heard them. So now a few weeks of intense modelling to (hopefully) have some new rollingstock for Toowoomba.

So Craig, thanks for a great day, it was a hoot, as usual, evn forgot to pull out the camera!