Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Sounds like a CPH


Sometimes we model railroaders go backwards in search of progress. In the case of passenger train services to Philden, it seems that the only visitor at present is the occasional Rail Motor Society tour.

CPH 6 on its first run to Philden, Wednesday 10th February, 2016.

The latest arrival at Philden is a HO scale Eureka Models NSWGR CPH/CTH Rail Motor set, fully equipped with sound and finished in the nostalgic green and cream livery, (I'll post a proper review at a later date). The carriage sides feature the tongue and groove timber paneling which later disappeared when the cars were rebuilt with masonite siding and had the crown lights above the side windows plated over towards the end of the rail motor's life. I'm told the green and cream livery lasted no longer than 1960 when the class were repainted in tuscan red with yellow striping. Although I'd love to know if any survived longer in this paint scheme. Today however, some of the preserved and operational CPH rail motors have once more been repainted in this green and cream livery. Although as far as I am aware they all feature masonite siding. On my layout however, No. 6 has survived complete with timber paneling and the crown lights above the window frames simply because I thought they looked better. Hopefully its just a minor point that won't bother me over time. History aside, the 2 car rail motor set measures just 30 cm in total and is the perfect size for running on a bookshelf layout.

Fully sound equipped, this little rail motor is big on fun, which is what model trains are all about.

The train itself is nothing fancy by international terms, similar in some respects to a US gas powered doodlebug or brill car. But the powered rail motor car and attached trailer provided connecting services to almost every short branch line imaginable during their 60 year career in service with the New South Wales Government Railways between 1923 and 1983 when the majority were withdrawn. With my wife taking more of an interest in my hobby since switching from N scale to HO almost two years ago, it was her prompting for the green and cream set that had me overlooking the run-of-the-mill tuscan livery that to me so typified the government railway era in NSW.

CPH 6 and CTH 54 leave the still incomplete Philden Station, as seen from the roof of the goods shed.

Thumbing through the pages of a 1956 NSW country train timetable, I can't help but notice the amazing number of now forgotten branch lines that these hardy little rail motors would have run to, Hay, Tocumwal, Tumbarumba, Oaklands, the cross-country lines out of Cootamundra and even the old Belmont Line in Newcastle. And that is before my recollection of them running past my cousins house in Engadine on the Illawarra Line between Sutherland and Waterfall during their last days in regular service. Sometime soon I will have to post some timetable page scans from the lines I believe the rail motors travelled over. For now, my rail motor set will simply come to town whenever it feels like it, blow its horn and leave again for wherever that happens to be.

Night falls and the full interior lighting is used to great effect. Can't wait until the station lighting is complete.

And if the thought of running my CPH rail motor set up and back on a 6 foot plus layout sounds like something you would tire of easily, the added effect of the QSI sound decoder and built-in inertia has totally transformed operations on my conventional DC analog layout. I quickly calculated the cost difference between my purchasing the new CPH rail motor and what it would have cost for me to convert my old 2 car Xplorer set to DCC sound complete with a new DCC power pack to run it, and figure that I've come out slightly in front. Even factoring in the below cost price that I had sold the Xplorer set for.

After seeing and hearing my CPH in action for the first time, the silver lining to what was at first a worrying reshuffle of my model railroading roster came once more from my wife. "Why don't you add another level to the top of your layout?" She asked, and with that, out came the pen and paper to draw up plans for a short helix and second 6 foot section to sit directly above it. It seems the little rail motor might have some big hills to climb sometime in the future.

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil