...or the one about 5th Birthday celebrations and seperating your ideas into what is reachable and what isn't.
There's the long of it... then there's the short of it, and today marks 5 years since I first launched Philden Model Railway as a blog to document the construction of my former HO layout Philden, (remember Philden makes the cover after being featured in the August 2018 issue of Australian Model Railway Magazine?). I thought about doing another Philden Model Railway giveaway like I did at Christmas time, but the sheer cost and bad timing of releasing my last railway book in February means that I am going to end this financial year with a financial loss. So we'll have to see what I plan for Christmas this year instead.
A lot has changed over the past 5 years. The old layout is gone, after unsuccesfully trying to find a new owner in Philden is For Sale, the layout was then stripped bare and demolished in End of the line ahead of moving house, before I almost ended this blog entirely a year ago to this day. And yet here I am still, caught between the long and short of trying to rebuild a layout at a time when the world is seemingly on pause while we avoid trying to spread the COVID-19 virus and businesses splutter along on one-and-a-half cylinders while trying to keep the economy rolling at the same time. The whole thing only highlights the need to adapt in the face of circumstances. Keeping a small business running and still trying to complete a layout I've been working on for the past 12 months with the little money I'm able to rustle together is becoming quite the challenge. What I have been able to do a lot of lately is this...
|A day's worth of post from eBay sales ready to take to the post office.|
Despite the need to keep the household running on the smell of an oily rag until our business picks up, the above photo shows just one day's worth of stuff that our household had sold on eBay. If you haven't clicked on my eBay Super Sale badge in the right hand column, then you've probably missed out on some bargains. It's become a regular affair to stop by the red post boxes whenever we head out to do a job. Some days I feel as though we half fill them! And that is what made the top photo possible. The SDS HO scale NR Class locomotive and the Wuiske Models HOn 3 1/2 scale 1720 Class locomotive that arrived in time for my birthday last weekend. I feel they symbolise the long and short of the grand ideas I had before I actually started working on the new layout... whatever that turns out like. But for now, let's just call it Philden Road.
|Sneak peak at the final level being added to the new layout before I post Philden Road Part Ten.|
I say that because I now have no idea what the new layout/layouts will be called. Only because it's no longer one layout. I had to compromise with my split level design a few posts back, which really opened up the Phills Harbour scene on the right, (complete with birthday NR Class and a small pile of Stuart Walker's model train buildings waiting for me to start on, shameless free shout-out to my mate Stuart at Walker Models G'day Stu!). But the NSW North Coast scene still needed long enough staging for my XPT, which I built at the left end in a way that was able to support the weight of the QLD scene above it. (I've already planned to do something special with the 'staging tracks' which I'll go into when its all done).
What that left me with was 1.8 metres of layout length to accommodate the QLD scene on the left end of the layout. If I kept the left side module to the same height as the right side module, the whole layout would be able to fit into our hatchback and you would be seeing Philden Road sometime next year at a model train exhibition. However, that would have left the upper level QLD tracks with a backdrop height of only 115 mm which is just... wrong.
So the long and short of it... there's now 3 layouts on 3 different levels!
Starting at the bottom; my N scale Brandon Canyon layout will be a much smaller, separate and removable layout, that at 1500 x 720 mm in size, won't be as grand as the Model Railroader Magazine's Canadian Canyons layout, but will be able to fit into our car in one piece to take to model train exhibitions and provide me with some roundy-round enjoyment beneath my HO layouts. I now have everything I need to start laying track.
In the middle; my HO scale Phills Harbour to Roma Street North Coast line (yes, spoiler alert... I'm modelling platforms 1 and 2 of Roma Street Station as they appeared in the 1990's as the scenic portion of my staging yard), will provide me with all the operational elements I'd hoped to achieve with my past layout Philden, yet couldn't on account of the limited layout length I'd built it to. Its amazing what an extra 700 mm of layout length can achieve, think 2 car Xplorer train versus a 5 car XPT set. I've long completed my NSW rollingstock roster, although a final track configuration for the staging yard might call for a space saving 3-way turnout to be substituted.
On top; HOn 3 1/2 or HO scale 12 mm guage, (everyone seems to call it something different yet still knows what it means), QLD and Granite Belt themed, (i.e. the south west corner of Queensland). Although the modelled portion will be just 1280 mm x 435 mm in size, the 1.8 metre long space I had available also accommodates the 520 mm (550 mm including the tip that protrudes into the shadow box) sector plate that I have built to be permanently affixed. Designed to sit above my NSW staging, it is now a separate and fully removable layout that can be picked up in one piece and loaded into our car for me to exhibit on its own at model train shows. I've now completed my rollingstock roster, I just need to buy the turnouts and a couple of extra lengths of flextrack.
The one downside to all of this, is that as a whole... Philden Road, (or whatever I call it), won't be able to fit into our car to take to an exhibition. Not with the NSW North Coast modules and the QLD Granite Belt layout together. I've somehow ended up with 3 modules stacked atop the separate benchwork instead of 2 modules the identical size to my Phills Harbour scene. The benchwork and the Phills Harbour (or North Coast line) level could fit into our car, but that would leave my open air staging yard and Roma Street scene looking unfinished and not the same height as the rest of the layout. To me, that defeats the purpose of trying to present this layout to a museum standard. When I'm already worried about having my beautiful timber finish scratched at home, the last thing I want to do is try to jam everything into our Ford Mondeo along with boxes of locomotives, rollingstock, control packs, a fold out stool, layout curtains and an overnight bag for my wife and I whenever we travel to exhibit it. When I'm planning on reusing all of the buildings from Philden on my Phills Harbour scene anyway, it could be a case of viewers thinking they've seen it all before. So its safe to say that my North Coast Phills Harbour layout will never be shown in public. Which is fine really. It now becomes a personal home layout to capture the memories of family holidays when our kids were young, and the memory of Philden in the form of my cherished buildings, all of which I ended up saving.
My QR Granite Belt layout... ah, that becomes an entirely different kettle of fish altogether!
It was two years ago that I attended the Modelling the Railways of Queensland convention, simply at the invite of a friend, (Anthony Veness whose QR layout Dagun just so happens to be on the cover of the June 2020 issue of Australian Model Railway Magazine, G'day Ant!). I have to be honest here... prototype modelling scares me! Saying that you've built a model of an actual location only always brings out the maginifying glass of the most discerning observers. Yet Anthony has proto-freelanced Dagun to the point where, exceptions aside for the 18" radius continual curve track, it would take an expert historian to pick any faults. I love not only his layout, but the degree of proto-freelancing that he has settled on. As a friend, its great to have such an astute modeller as Anthony to encourage me to aim higher. My QR layout is going to sit proudly as the third and final level atop the new layout in our loungeroom. At a standing view chin height, it is going to be viewed closer than the other two levels. Yet it is also going to be able to be picked up in one piece and placed in the back of our car, making it the perfect sized layout to take on the model train exhibition circuit for many years to come. So why not have a crack at proto-freelancing it?
I have the exact location on the old QR Southern line to Wallangarra chosen, and the time period of 1991-1996 picked out. I've mixed and matched enough rollingstock to accumulate a convincing roster of wagons to handle fruit traffic, and have just added a 4th Wuiske Models loco to my collection. It should be enough for me to achieve what I'm wanting to model. Atmosphere. Oozing with it! I want viewers to be able to stand there and imagine they can smell the waft of smoke coming from a campfire in the backyard of a nearby house, and imagine that the rows of vineyards from a winery that backs onto the track continues over the hill. Finally, I want the fruit packing shed to appear as it did in its final years of rail operation, complete with stacks of pallets and wooden fruit bins by the tracks. So from that point of view, as soon as the module is painted and ready to take its place in our lounge room looking like a finished piece of furniture, I'll get to work laying track and starting scenery.
I think I'll make my HO Granite Belt layout my priority from this point onwards. Simply because it will now be my exhibitable layout, and my NSW North Coast line will resort to my personal home layout that can take as long as necessary to complete.
With some shops now opening again here in Queensland, and it now possible to travel up to 150 km for non-essential business following Australia's Coronavirus enforced social restrictions, a trip south on the highway to Brisbane to purchase the missing track I need is now back on the cards for two weeks time. By then, I hope our business has either picked-up enough, or I've sold enough on eBay to be able to afford it! I've given up mentioning on this blog what I list on eBay as any models or railway collectibles that I let go from my own collection usually disappear within the first few days. But I've now also turned to parting ways with some prized football cards after my Son and I combined our Brisbane Lions collections into one, and am hoping that together it will be enough for me to afford the final kit buildings and track to complete all 3 layouts over the remainder of the year. So please, check out my eBay listings here to see if there's anything left that you'd like to buy that would help afford my model train shop crawl in two weeks time.
Until the final post of my Philden Road benchwork series, take care, and be sure to check out Anthony Veness' Dagun layout in the coming issue of Australian Model Railway Magazine.