It's hard to believe that 2017 is drawing to a close. It only feels like yesterday that I was putting the finishing touches to my layout ahead of the start of another year. Fast forward 12 months, and the activity centred around my desk and the bookshelf layout that stands above it has now yielded 3 model train exhibitions and 6 published railway books. In terms of having something to show for my time... 2017 was a huge year for getting things back on track.
|My desk is now in a new position, featuring my 6 new books for 2017, and awaiting the next chapter!|
Of course, nothing ever happens smoothly for me. It never has and probably never will. Following the Gold Coast Miniature Train Show in late October, a crack developed in the ceiling above my desk at the worst possible time. Right when I was busy finalising the release of my latest book Last Train to Grafton, and preparing to see my set of 4 Train Tripping books published in printed form for the first time, all our furniture had to be double-stack at one end of our apartment so that the ceiling could be patched, sanded and painted. Philden went from having just been re-assembled following the Gold Coast Train Show, to dismantled and stacked atop of chairs that were stacked atop of tables. Half of our furniture was in our kitchen, while the other half was in our bedroom.
To say that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction is an understatement, when the day after getting back from the Gold Coast Model Train Show I also underwent root canal surgery to save a front tooth from an abscess in my jaw that had gone undetected for months. There is usually a 1% chance of these things becoming infected, which you guessed, it happened to me. After a week of treatment with some pretty heavy antibiotics that prevented me from doing anything for days, I was able to return to work running our business with my wife. A week later, my shoulder went. Scans showed some long-term calcification of the tendon in my shoulder, which in turn had caused a case of bursitis and fluid build-up around the shoulder joint. The fluid affected area then burst, causing a couple of days of severe pain until I was able to be booked in for the good-ol' cortisone injection. Doctors assure me that my shoulder should feel 100% by this Friday. Coupled with our tax bill which arrived in the middle of all of this, my wife Denise and I dubbed it Black October, and it has taken us until the end of November to get over it all.
I'm glad it is all over. I'm also very glad that 2017 is almost done with. Hiccups aside, launching Philden onto the exhibition circuit and releasing 6 books between June and November has been a huge undertaking. Planning for both of these projects began back in 2015, around the same time that I launched this blog. With our apartment, and life, seemingly back in order, I can now begin planning for 2018. There's a lot I want to launch into here but I will save that for another time. So in the spirit of on-wards and up-wards, here are some highlights from 2017...
|Philden's 1st public outing at the 2017 Brisbane Model Train Show in May.|
|Last Train to Brisbane followed in June 2017.|
|The Pine Rivers Hobby & Model Train Show followed in August 2017 at Strathpine in Brisbane.|
|It was all smiles at the 2017 Gold Coast Model Train Show in October... but root canal surgery the next day!|
|Last Train to Grafton paid homage to The Glenapp Boys for its November 2017 release.|
2018 will also bring about some exciting changes on Philden. While I'm yet to lock-in which exhibitions I will take the layout to, I've already tired of the simple 2 track staging shelf. It is going to be replaced with a new, slightly longer staging yard. While I mess-about with plans to add a wheat silo opposite the cement plant, it seems more likely that I will punch a hole for a third track through the mouse-hole end of the layout, and turn the current dead-end siding into a run-around track connecting with the new staging yard. I'd like to be able to park 3 short trains hidden from view with the added option of being able to use one of the staging tracks as a run-around track. Finally, after 3 exhibitions, I also plan to add an auto-reversing switch for the Xplorer to run up-and-back unassisted on the mainline.
The amount of exciting new releases on the Australian model railway scene doesn't seem to be letting up either, and there are a number of upcoming models I am trying to formulate a way that they can make it onto Philden. I've been thinking that the postman will turn up 'any day now' with my pre-ordered Southern Rail Models XGAY hoppers since May. I bought the ATN Access L Class earlier this year simply to have something to pull them. Sometime in 2018 I'll also have the patched-out Southern Rail Models NTAF Freight Australia tank cars to look forward to, (for a new petrol siding project to be added beside my goods shed).
But it is the Auscision 48's, 442's and fishbelly underframe NCNX steel wagons that I seem to be stuck on. All would fit nicely in my 2002-2005 era. The 48 class in the Freightcorp livery with PN decals, the 442 in the unique CFCLA JL406 livery and the NCNX coil steel wagons in SRA red with the tarp supports. I've had the tarpaulin covers and spare packets of coil steel loads put aside for these since purchasing the NCTY steel wagons this time last year. The NCNX's I really need, but the 48 and 442?
I settled on the idea of selling my 82 Class in an attempt to afford both. I have fond memories of watching Freightcorp blue 48's shunt at Grafton whenever I'd stop at McDonald's on the way back from a holiday with my family, and the 442's were one of my favourite locomotives on the Main North Line when growing up back when the electrification ended at Gosford. I love that everything old is new again flavour, and an L class, 421, 48 and 442 (in the guise of a leased JL Class) would make for a motley collection of refurbished locomotives all as old as I am. By comparison, an 82 class on anything other than a coal train between 2002-2005 was a rarity. I've loved running this loco on Philden, and despite the difficulties I had removing the body shell from this model (see finding Gremlins post here) it has since run faultlessly at my last 2 exhibitions. In a year when I've managed to get everything back on track, it seems my On Track 82's time at Philden is coming to an end. I guess that is how you keep a small layout fresh, by keeping the rollingstock fluid.
Selling the 82 class at auction yielded a very pleasing result, and I should now be able to secure a blue 48 class as its replacement and a pack of NCNX's that I will keep 2 of and sell the other 2 still in the box to effectively halve the cost as I did with the NCTY wagons. I'll place my last minute pre-order straight after the Christmas holidays. As for the 442, I plan to let go of a few very rare NSWGR timetables that are surplus to my collection in the new year, including a 1956 and 1960 complete country train timetable. Those two alone should get me halfway there. Beyond that, there is very little that is planned for the era that I model that would actually be of interest to a small layout such as Philden. Aside from the long awaited re-run of the Eureka Models 620/720 railcars in City Rail grey ghost livery, but as that has been promised since 2008, and next year is 2018... I thinks its safe to say there is no need to panic with that one.
Failing that, it you're after some light-hearted railway reading, each of my Train Tripping paperbacks are between 72 and 90 pages long and priced at only $7.99 AUD. For those unfamiliar, they are a stop-by-stop guide to some great D-I-Y railway journeys in Australia. Profits from all sales go directly to the Philden Locomotive Fund, or PLF for short.
Now to get back to all my research. I have another book to write!