What took the best part of two years to complete took less than a day to salvage, dismantle and ultimately reduce to the pile of scrap you see above. I suppose with it comes a sense of finality, that Philden has indeed reached the end of the line. Unable to sell the layout by the close of its final public showing at this year's Brisbane Model Train Show, and ahead of moving house, a week later I made the call to strip the layout of its usable parts and pack away the buildings into some small storage boxes in case called upon in years to come. Finally, I cut the timber-work into pieces small enough to shove into a wheelie bin.
|I managed to save the timber decking in one piece to re-use on a later layout.|
The goods shed and railway station building were made to be removable, as such never went back onto the layout following pack-up from the Brisbane Show. The scratch-built timber deck for the goods shed however needed to be cut away from its balsa wood foundations. I found a long-bladed hobby knife extended to full length was enough to gently slice back and forth until it came free without damage. I intend to re-use the goods shed and timber deck with some slight alterations on my next layout.
|The exhibitor plaques and station memorabilia were all able to be removed from their adhesive tape backing.|
Having kept the beach extension section of my layout to convert into a display case, I really wanted to salvage the exhibitor plaques and railway memorabilia that decorated the timber fascia on the layout. Fortunately they were all applied with either double-sided adhesive tape, or had been screwed and glued using a few blobs of clear silicone adhesive. It took some time to use the same extended hobby knife to shimmy them free, but they came away without any damage. After cleaning the tape residue from the back of each one, are all now safely packed away, ready to be re-mounted and displayed on the next layout.
|Trees, buildings, signs and whatever else could be salvaged for my bits-and-bobs box came next.|
Unlike the station and goods shed, the cement plant and signal box were glued firmly into position. To remove the signal box I first saturated the area around it with soapy dish wash liquid, and used a stiff knife to cut around the edge of the foundations and pry the little building away in one section. It suffered only a little damage to the base beneath the stairwell, something which will easily be hidden with some ballast when next gluing it alongside the railway tracks. The cement plant however was fused to the plywood base from a combination of balsa cement and PVA white glue which had managed to seep between the scenery and the base of the building. It finally came free after a cracking sound followed by a light shower of tiny handrails that came loose from the tower feeder and top of the silo. I'll need to make some repairs with some plastic cement if it were to be re-used in the future.
Before cutting the layout into scrap sized pieces, I removed all wires and steel hooks from beneath, and made cuts through the track where I would run a jigsaw through the baseboard. With the rail joints all soldered and the points all heavily ballasted right up to the delicate switchblades, I decided against wasting any further time trying to soak, cut and pry the few turnouts loose from the layout. Finally, my wife Denise and I carried the six foot long section of layout down the stairs for the final time, and the jigsaw took care of the rest.
|Another former layout destined for the dump.|
Cutting up a layout isn't a fun feeling. But neither was not being able to sell it. I'm now two from four when it comes to selling completed layouts, and it seems the bigger they are, the harder they are to sell. With the layout no longer standing in our apartment, and moving boxes quickly beginning to accumulate, the excitement about building the next one strangely isn't there. I guess its going to take getting the house move out of the way first to see if it returns.
As always when faced with starting over, there's usually a list of notes as to what you would do better or differently next time. Building this layout has left me with plenty of ideas. While I work through them however, there's one thing that I'll be trying to avoid at all costs. Pre-ordering anything.
Case-in-point, a locomotive that I first pre-ordered not long after I started building Philden in 2015, only arrived two months before taking Philden to its final show in May 2019. Another model promised last year still isn't here. Neither is the layout. Between these two examples, I've also given up and cancelled another two pre-orders, both of which at the time of my writing this final post are still 'in-production'. Coughing up a $50 cancellation fee on an un-produced model stinks. Its akin to billing your customers for your own bad service. Without wanting to single out any company in particular, it simply isn't good enough when it comes to promoting the hobby. Particularly when there are Australian manufacturers who seem to be able to produce a model for the same price without the pre-order hoopla. It's a bit much to expect brand loyalty down the track, when there just doesn't seem to be any form of customer loyalty in the here and now!
That said, a model railway market that is so niche as Australia has never had it better. Thanks to trailblazers in the hobby who 20 years ago pioneered ready-to-run accurate plastic models of Australian trains, I do believe we are enjoying a golden era of model railways in Australia. Yet as everything quickly becomes DCC, sound equipped, more highly detailed and expensive than ever before, I wonder where the jumping off point will come for those in the hobby. Like real estate, there eventually comes a point where the average Joe simply can't afford to build that dream model railroad anymore. What happens then? Well, I hope that I've managed to offer something to the hobby in showing that a small bookshelf layout can still offer an alternative that's at least better than nothing!
While I've toyed with the idea of starting another blog to outline my next layout, ultimately I decided not to. In the four years that I've documented Philden's construction and progress, my own author blog over at phillipoverton.blogspot.com.au has fallen by the wayside. I've more books to write, promote and generate sales for, and despite the railway books I've published over the past few years, a blog such as this sends very little traffic the way of my book sites. Another how-to model railway blog only seems like more of the same, and my time has since become very precious to me. Especially if I'm going to balance writing that elusive New York Times Bestselling novel and trying to finish my next Aussie model railway layout. So why not follow it instead? I'll soon be once more concentrating on sharing my Lineside Liaisons posts featuring the railway photography from my current and forthcoming books. And I promise I won't make you pre-order any of them!
|May 2019, and the curtains come down on a layout that has been a pleasure to build and operate. Adieu!|
So I've arrived at the end of the line. The part where I thank all who have taken the time to read and follow the goings-on of a layout that satisfied my desire to build a HO scale Australian outline model railroad after 30 years of modelling U.S. N scale. Along the way I've shared what has worked, and what hasn't. For all the nice comments on this blog I say thank you. To everyone who enjoyed seeing it in person at a model railway exhibition, I hope it gave you some entertainment value. To the rude bloke at the Gold Coast Show in 2017 who commented that it was a waste of space and shouldn't even be there, I say Ppphhhlllttt!!!
Any layout comes with its own unique challenges, and taking this layout to no less than 8 model train shows when there were 5 flights of stairs to go down when I left, and the same 5 flights of stairs to lug it back up when I returned was my greatest challenge. To that I'm forever grateful to my wife Denise. Having her beside me at each model train made this 'our' layout. And strangely enough, long after I've sold off all the models that won't be making their way onto my next layout, her collection of Swarovski earings that I bought her as a reward for each model train exhibition we did will live on as a lasting reminder of how much fun we turned this into.
And finally, what does one do with a blog about a model railroad that no longer exists? My guess is you do nothing. Much like the books I've written in the past, I'll just let this blog be, and hope that it gets discovered or re-discovered by other model train enthusiasts in the years to come. Hopefully I've left behind some helpful insights into how you too can build a nice bookshelf layout such as Philden.
Why did I do it? Because I love the hobby, and I'm sure I'll be back at an exhibition soon with a new layout to share.
See also; Exhibiton #8 Brisbane Finale