December 11, 2012


.......Because again this year, as with many years hence, if I have any skill in modelling it is only because it's a gift from Him.

November 20, 2012

Layouts are only 10% materials, the other 90% is Men/Women

With apologies to the late Harold Clapp! I reckon individuals who seek to make in three dimensions a scale operating version of what exists in the real world are special. No matter how good or bad the result, I "dips me lid" to anyone who has tried to model a layout. And I know I am guilty sometimes of forgetting that behind layouts are real people all with their own interests and challenges of time, resource and capability, as has been my own experience. It's been a real pleasure to meet and have some of these people visit "Glenburn" since starting a few years ago, particularly as many of them live far away, so the opportunity is rare. Earlier visits to this far flung outpost of VR modelling up North have included John Dennis, Bruce McLean, John Page, Bob Gallagher, Ian Weickhardt, Graeme Houghton and Grant Djung.

............and I wish I had taken a picture on those occasions to include here!

Here's a couple of visitors over the last few weeks:

James McInerney & Louise Smithers of AMRM
- James is the builder behind the seminal "Lambing Flat" layout, and Louise is his very patient Production Assistant for his AMRM work. Here they are during a short break during a fairly intense photo session for an upcoming "In Progress" article on Glenburn in AMRM.

Brett Whelan and family (and one of my children!).
- Brett works mostly in Proto48 and is one of the finest modellers I know. Pretty much a 100% scratchbuilder, the quality and precision of Brett's work is literally astounding. Ian Weickhardt put us in touch when he realised we were modelling very similar fields, albeit in different scales. People who model this aspect of the VR are pretty thin on the ground, so it was great to spend some time with him and his family while they were passing through Sydney recently.

In early December Peter Ennis and Iain Stuart, both long time VR modellers, dropped over for a general cud-chew on matters VR, and to share some of our modelling. Given we're all many kilometres from people of like interest, this was a rare and enjoyable treat. Here's the three of us:

L-R: Peter Ennis, self, Iain Stuart

And here's Peter's PSM DDE providing a window into a "What if" earlier era on "Glenburn": 


October 31, 2012

An I for an I

Like many modellers, occasionally I like to find rare and extinct rolling stock and pick up the tools to try and recreate something long lost. However, try as I might, and build as much varied rolling stock as I might, there is no escaping the bare fact that in VR's suburban runnings, as in so much of it's operation between the wars, one wagon type dominated train consists - the open I wagon. Whether with tarpaulin or no, built of wood or iron, with swing or drop door etc., I's in all their variants were used by the VR for many if not most of their goods traffics (by volume). Now, this widespread use of open wagons wasn't uncommon in this era on railways around the world, however the VR used open wagons for many load types that other railways used other types of conveyance - flat wagons seem to be an example. So to try and ensure some decency in my stock I have a rule that "every 2nd rolling stock item I build has to be an I wagon" Easy you say? Well, sort of, thanks to their relatively straight forward construction allowing ready scratchbuilding, and Steam Era Model's provision of excellent kits of both chassis and whole wagons. However with at least 50 modelling moves to get one of these beauties built with a modicum of detail in the early era (not including decals to replicate VR's penchant for markings), I'm still happy when another is finally ready for the road as these two recent examples are now......

The picture below thought to be from the late 1940s is typical and illustrates why my more exotic wagons are regularly scheduled in country goods trains, and only some of them occasionally get called up for suburban work.......

Picture: Australian News & Information Bureau via John Buckland Collection.

September 5, 2012

Another day, another Portal & complete Faith


It's been quite a long time between overhead portals, so it was good to find some time recently to form the next one and emplace it just beyond Faith St. The siting meant this portal differed from those currently on the layout with an extension to cover both the main entrance to the Yard and the siding into Qualmann's Warehouse. Until the next portal is placed and the catenary extended, the lines are bent upwards enough to engage approaching pantographs as can be seen in the picture. Finishing this area also needed another derail to protect the Dn main from the yard exit, and also an appropriate signal. I really like the VR lattice and disk combination so it was great to find this was an appropriate type to place protecting again both the yard exit (right disk as seen above) and Qualmann's (left disk above). I built up a two disk signal from Heritage's intricate kit - not the simplest kit I have ever built, but it does yield a nice and true result.

Another benefitof the further extension of catenary is completion of the view through Faith St allowing views such as that above, quite different from the previous "steam only" view as seen for example in this earlier post:

July 4, 2012

V into service.

Here's the recently completed V Class formally entering service on "Glenburn" taking the Up Country Goods in it's stride. If you are interested further, there are some pictures of the V and a link to the log of the build on the Rolling Stock page:

June 8, 2012

A Minor Setback, Progress, and some Spring....Ermm Winter Cleaning.

I managed to lose another point this week. Before any aspersions are directed toward Peco please be aware that I choose not to wire up my electrofrogs, installing them as plain insulfogs instead, so in time some loss occurs. Between 10 years of "Cudgewa" and 4 years of "Glenburn" using approx. 40 points I have had only 3 fail, so providing one is ready to replace them there's no big deal, other than that sinking feeling on Friday night when one is looking forward to running one's trains! I was particularly fortunate as can be seen above, the point was at the limit of overhead wiring, and most of the ballast chose to remain in situ so replacement was simply a drop-in. (Not sure how to straighten that picture though).

For those who keep an eye on "Glenburn's" rolling stock developments you will know I have spent a fair bit of my recent modelling time converting a RTR loco into a VR V Class. That project having come to a temporary stop while I await some parts, I commenced the next section of scenic work, the long cutting on the Up side of Faith St. This cutting is based on the first section of the prototype cutting that starts just beyond the Up end of Hawthorn Station and continues toward the Yarra crossing. This was a favourite area when I lived in Melbourne. I had stockpiled white polystyrene for a while for this kind of work but culled it a few months ago as I had too much......of course, on arriving at this point found I had culled just too much.......So, I looked into whether I would use cardboard formers for the cutting as can be seen above. Not thrilled with this approach, I decided to use some Noch foam walling that I had spare and cut and bent it to shape then applied a thin cover of polyfilla. This method was much simpler and cleaner than I expected and I will use it again. Much more work to go here as you can see, but it's a nice change to be doing something as rough and robust as this after the recent precision required for the V.

For some time I have also been meaning to give the layout its' first decent clean, it not having been dusted or vacuumed, nor the track cleaned for the last three and a half years. So for the first time in the layout's history all stock has been removed as can be seen above and the cars etc. removed also for a good Winter Spring clean. The list is the things I know need fixing, which grows as one moves around knocking bits off while cleaning, unfortunate friendly fire! Glenburn Rd hasn't been this quiet before. I'll give the rolling stock the once over also before restoring it all back to an operating semblance of the interwar years.

May 13, 2012

Fact vs. Inspiration.

I don't know about you, but for me there are often images that help motivate the path from thought to the reality of recreating a slice of miniature railway history. One I have mentioned before that was really inspirational (mentioned in an earlier post: Original Inspiration), is the shot below. This was taken by Rod Sloggett and published in an old ARHS Railway Museum guide booklet, and I have since been given a copy of the original. It shows the quite common (in earlier times) working of two Swing Door motors as a "locomotive" on a goods, passing through Flinders Street station.

Picture: Rod Slogget, ARHS Williamstown Museum Guide

Not sure whether this is how it goes for you also, however the reality has been quite different. Firstly I realised that the Moonstone/Red scheme didn't look that great on models compared to the earlier "Crimson Lake" elegance so that piece changed. Secondly, in practice I found that while running twin motors on goods was Ok, shunting was something else altogether. The reason is modelling compromise wherein we don't have scale curves. As mentioned before my curves have a minimum radius of 3ft and I use Medium points but even so, the outswing from a Swing Door motor due to body length is sufficient to cause some challenges in shunting smoothly. Now, I could fit fillets to the 2nd Motor buffers to remediate this, but time has brought about other motive power to handle the goods workings so in fact this has turned out to be a less common working on Glenburn. Hence the occasion for a picture, and this entry.

M-AM combination works 25a Dn Suburban goods through the "through roads" bisecting an unscenicked area known as The Yard (one day I will work out a name for it). Nb. As with most pictures on this Blog, clicking on the picture will bring up a larger image.

April 18, 2012

Two E's on "Glenburn", for now.....

I have struggled for a bit getting used to modifying my PSM E Class as required to backdate it to the interwar period. The modification work isn’t difficult, the issue has been the gravitas of changing a pristine, excellent and rare model (100 produced). My solution was to find a second equivalent condition PSM E to provide an “insurance” while I make the changes to the first.

I have had feelers out for some time and have recently been lucky enough to find and acquire a second PSM E. Like the first it has excellent provenance being purchased from the original owner. Also like the first, it is in mint condition and actually appears to possibly never have been run, or perhaps even taken out of the box.

Once the conversion of the first E is complete, I will likely sell it. As such I am not using it and have test run it only to make sure it works – am happy to reports it runs as sweetly as the first.
Given the rarity of the circumstance, I thought it appropriate to set up the two for a photo session on “Glenburn” before I put it away for storage, two model E’s under wires is just something we’re unlikely to see too often it seems. The 2nd (new) E doesn’t have couplings so it is posed in the shafts.

March 22, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!.......

It occured to me recently that very few people have actually seen my layout, so here's some proof it actually runs! :^ )

I have put togther a brief film of the layout as it is now, with some comments on the thinking behind it:
- This is quite large (approx. 60MB) so please don't click if that's a problem.
- It will seem more cohesive with the sound on.

February 25, 2012


I grew up in the Salvation Army and have strong family links with it of which I will always be proud. I have enormous respect for the Salvation Army both as a church and as a social outreach where they show Jesus love through works amongst the most needy. I decided some time ago to signify this through incorporating a Salvation Army Hall on "Glenburn", and here it is as the final large building in Faith St, appropriately placed amongst the working suburb of Glenburn between the terraces and industry. The building may look familiar to viewers and that is no surprise, it is modelled on but one of many Halls of similar style and architecture built throughout Australia during the significant growth of the Salvation Army under Commissioner James Hay in the early 20th Century. I based the model on the old Hall at Prospect in South Australia owing to family connections, however have had to compress it to fit the site. While a South Australian based prototype, the style was so typical it remains appropriate also for this part of Melbourne. Below is a picture of the Prospect Hall.

(Picture: Salvation Army Heritage Centre)
Below I have included some pictures during the build showing simple construction of a sheet brick and card base with layered styrene and card for detailing. Windows are all from Tichy, modified in some cases to fit the specifics of the building.

January 2, 2012

Return of the Native (with apologies to Hardy) and some Holiday running.

E374 was the first locomotive, and one of the first pieces of rollingstock I built for Glenburn back in 2008. She did most of the early running of goods trains and was the test locomotive for most of the trackwork. She was always pretty low on power though, primarily through not having room for decent weighting, and my not wanting to strain the delicate mechanism she was built on. So, as more powerful locomotives became available, she was rendered firstly to just yard shunting work, then the larger loads being shifted in the yard obsoleted her there and she ran the track cleaning train for a while. But it has been some time since her last real (revenue) run. Some space has become available in the yard with the removal of the suburban stock to the new sidings recently (see earlier post below) so I lightly oiled her and placed her back on the layout for yard shunting tasks and occasional trip working. Todays No. 10a (Up goods ex-Warburton) was light enough that I called her up for the gig. So here E374 is once again taking the stage with a pretty eclectic consist, such have the cards delivered, but she handled it in her stride. Given she's a small tank with limited range, we'll have to imagine that for some reason she has taken over the run somewhere closer to the city.

Holiday break means some time for running, below are a couple of pictures of some of the workings.

As people leave for holidays and work numbers reduce, the "off peak" period extends, and the VR ever watchful of costs during this time reduces train sizes accordingly. This then becomes a common sight, two car suburban units form both Up and Dn services:

Ah, the elegance of an interwar country passenger train! D1 heads No. 31a with consist XYZ+G+B+C consist on the Dn through Glenburn..............

.............And here seen working up Glenburn bank.

1100 rolls No. 25a (Dn suburban goods) into Lilydale yard at the end of it's outward journey from Melbourne. Given operational requirements (read my big hand with an coupling/uncoupling tool....), I probably won't ever wire the yard, perhaps just the yard approaches, so I'll keep imagining the wires.

Yes, I still have'nt enough courage to repaint the boxcab, so here she is, still a rolling anachronism in the blue gold (which most true E class enthusiasts seem to rate a very poor 2nd to the all black livery for the E), heading No.14a (suburban goods ex Ferntree Gully) back toward Melbourne. All is not as it seems here - what appears to be a city bound Mixed with an AB car towards the rear actually is'nt. The AM Electric Motor needed to be transferred back to town, and was attached at the rear of an Up Goods.