With work progressing nicely on Philden Model Railway, I thought it was time I started reviewing some of the models that have found a home on my layout. I think its fair to say that the Australian HO scale model railway scene is enjoying a golden era right now. Go back a decade, and quality out-of-the-box models such as On Track Models VLCX Louvre Vans were things you would only dream of.
Despite Philden being a New South Wales railway town, I remember these V/Line Louvre vans from the years I spent living in Victoria between 1986-1990. The fact is, the VLCX vans were tramps, and the standard gauge varieties turned up everywhere between Brisbane and Perth, making them a perfect candidate for an interstate visitor on my layout. The problem was, on such a small layout I really only needed one, and they were released in packs of three.
|VLCX-9C features the earlier style timber plank floor and 7 louvred doors.|
660 of these 40' foot vans were built for the Victorian Railways between 1963-1967 and coded as VLF or VLX vans before being re-coded as VLCX vans during the 1979 Railways of Australia reclassification. Since then they have passed through a number of different owners and paint schemes, and by the early 2000's less than a hundred remained in service, with many re-coded for local or specialised traffic only. The earlier VLCX vans were constructed with timber flooring, while the later vans featured steel checker-plate floors. Likewise, the style of doors featured on these vans changed notably over the years, and On Track Models somehow managed to accommodate three different door types and the two different floor types in the Pack VLCX-03 that I purchased.
|VLCX 586-F features the later steel checker-plate flooring and twin louvred doors.|
Straight out-of-the-box, these babies rolled smoothly on my code 100 Peco track. There was no wobble from the AMRA profile wheels riding in the bogies, the floor height looked perfect and while the sliding doors were a treat, inside there are fully detailed cargo barriers as on the prototype that lock the steel divider bars between the two rows of 10 pallets they were designed to transport.
|While I'm not a rivet counter, I'll take On Track Models' word that they're all there.|
The lettering on the models is crisp, the genuine metal Kadee couplers function perfectly and the metal handrails and see-through end footplates really jump out at you when viewed through the lens of a camera. Even the underframe detail, while not seen from viewing height, is impressive. In short, the detailing on this model is faultless.
|My favourite angle on the model, the white painted shunter's step end with the see-through metal footplate.|
For a NSW modeller, I must admit there came a point while staring long and hard at this model that I seriously questioned whether I should be investing in a similarly liveried V/Line loco. While I have so many fond memories of watching trains in rural Victoria in the late 1980's, On Track Models VLCX louvered van has helped capture them all in just one wagon. And just as in real life, while some of my VLCX vans have now rolled out of Philden for destinations unknown, I can guarantee you will find a VLCX louvred van parked beside the goods shed platform on Philden until the day I stop playing with trains. And I'm sure that day will never come.
Review Card: On Track Models HO scale VLCX 40' Louvered Vans
Final Thoughts: A perfect candidate for a small layout. With these models now almost sold-out, I wonder if there is a planned re-release featuring different numbers and liveries in the pipeline?