It's been a week since I exhibited Philden for the second time at this year's 2017 Pine Rivers Model Train Show in the northern Brisbane suburb of Strathpine. I'm glad to say the layout is now back safe in our apartment by the sea in Caloundra, and once more standing proudly above my desk as I write this. But first of all, I wanted to share with you the biggest challenge I face each time I decide to pack Philden in the car and take it on the road; getting it down the stairs!
|There's 6 flights of stairs between the door of our apartment and the garage.|
While I enjoy great ocean views from our top level apartment overlooking the sea, getting the layout out the door and down six flights of stairs to pack it safely in the car remains my biggest hurdle. At each and every turn on the four landings between the door of our apartment and the garage, there is just enough room for one person to stand holding the end of the 1.9 metre long main layout section while the other person has to stand sideways and twist while passing it up and over each handrail. While the layout is not very heavy, it is an awkward process to say the least! Once the layout is packed safely in the car however, it takes less than 45 minutes to unpack, setup and have the first train running when we arrive at the other end.
|I use old grocery plastic bags to wrap my buildings in and transport to shows in a separate box.|
The other thing I always do when taking Philden on the road, is carefully pack both the station building and the railway goods shed, which are both removable, into a sturdy box like I've shown above. Unfortunately, I left this box at home on my desk shortly after taking this picture, and didn't realise until I had the layout set up at the venue. Thankfully I travelled to and from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane each day for this show and could simply bring it with me the next morning! (Reminder to self; don't dare do this should we take the layout to Sydney!)
|Has this blog gained me a reputation in being located beside the fire extinguisher? Don't know what I mean? then click here.|
For this show, our country music playlist on the highway was a mish-mash of everything modern, but fittingly as we passed by the Caboolture exit we had Keith Urban blaring in the car. The venue for the Railway Modellers Club of Queensland show at Strahpine was a good one. The Strathpine Community Centre was spacious, modern, had good lighting and facilities and most importantly had a level floor.
There was only one moment of panic for the entire weekend, and that occurred shortly after I'd set-up and test ran a locomotive on the layout. One of my staging shelf sidings was dead, and it took me 20 minutes to trace the problem back to a broken wire connection beneath the layout on one of the isolating toggle switches. It must have broke loose at some point between packing and unloading the car. Thankfully I always carry a fix-it box full of things like pliers, screwdrivers and a soldering iron for if things go wrong. In this instance I was able to use some wire glue to re-do the join to the toggle switch and I was back and running.
The RMCQ members were friendly to the point of ushering both Denise and myself out the back of the venue for an impromptu sausage sizzle the moment we arrived on a Friday evening to set up, something which was much appreciated given how rushed we both were in finishing work, packing the car and travelling down from the Sunshine Coast in dreaded Friday afternoon traffic. The hospitality then continued all weekend long with constant reminders to help ourselves to free tea, coffee and biscuits in the exhibitors canteen. Saturday evening saw my wife Denise head off for dinner with our daughter who lives in Brisbane, while I stayed behind for a bbq and a chin-wag with the boys. I must also thank fellow blogger Craig Mackie for the impromptu tour of the nearby RMCQ club rooms in Brendale. The facilities and sheer size of the club layouts was more than just impressive, and makes a strong statement about just how healthy our hobby is here in Queensland, Australia.
|I deliberately included this photo as a reminder to myself of what havoc the venue lighting poses for photography.|
I got so caught up talking to people throughout the weekend at this show, that I totally forgot to take the camera out and capture some photos of other people's layouts. Instead of coming back with a swag of photos, I came back with a short list of names and numbers of fellow modellers who I'd really like to meet up with later, including a fellow modeller I discovered also lives in Caloundra. I think my calendar is going to look busy for the remainder of the year.
The above photo I've included to show the difficulties in photographing a layout with a perspex panel. While the layout was easily viewed from every angle with the naked eye, taking out the camera and photographing the reflection of the hall's ceiling lights is proving a bit of a drawback. Despite the plastic chain barrier keeping most hands at arm's length, the perspex has saved my models at least a dozen times from over-keen youngsters trying to poke at the scenery. Given that my bookshelf layout is so narrow and built to the edge, I still think that for now I'm just happy to demonstrate the feature of having a removable perspex panel to the keen photographer, and keep it there when the show is busy with a large number of families. After all, it is getting by far more positive comments from the visiting public about what a good idea the perspex is to stop the layout from getting damaged, than it is remarks about it being difficult to photograph on their smart phones.
|Yes, that is the latest Model Railroad Planning book on my desk for my next plans...|
So returning home on the Sunday evening, with Keith Urban once more filling the silence from two days of me being talked-out, we left the layout in the car until Monday morning when once more we hiked it back up six flights of stairs, and re-assembled it above my desk. I had a list from the Brisbane Model Train Show back in May of things I wanted to improve ahead of Philden's next outing, but sad to say I only got around to one of them for the Pine Rivers Show, and that was replacing all the lighting in the buildings with LED's. So after two days of once more having the layout incorrectly identified on account of all the railway memorabilia that is mounted on the framework (you can take your pick with Granville, Point Clare or Broadmeadow), I'm glad to say I have ordered a custom-made LED sign with the name PHILDEN spelled out in Countrylink colours. They assure me I will easily have it in time for the layout's next outing at the Gold Coast Show in October. So there will be no mistaking Philden the next time it is exhibited, and maybe, just maybe, I might exhibit it without the perspex panel in place to gauge the difference in interest levels.
In the week that followed the Pine Rivers Model Train Show, the trains have sat quietly above my desk as I've been inundated with work on all fronts. Including an interview with ABC Radio Southern Queensland about my latest book Last Train to Brisbane, and strangely enough having one of my earlier novels Last Wish of Summer featured on this year's Bookworks Summer Reading List in the States. I don't know why after almost 5 years, but fortunately I made the novel available as an independently-released eBook in the weeks that followed being dumped by my previous publisher, so any sales at this point are most welcome for Philden's future layout fund!
Speaking of which, that's the finished and rolled-up plans for my next layout project in the above photo. After waving the white flag at any upper-level extensions on Philden, I've decided to leave any extension plans for when I have a dedicated train room in which to turn Philden into a much larger L shaped layout. These plans are instead for what is going to go beneath Philden. Yes, it will replace my current desk. Yes it will be a change of scales, and if my Star-Wars-esque quote on Philden that says "somewhere in New South Wales, at a railway station far, far, away..." is anything to go by, then it will entail a trip to the dark side. For as I discovered from a weekend a chatting with modellers of other scales and interests, the saying is true. "Come to the dark side. We have cookies." But as usual, I'll let that be a story for another day.
See also; Exhibition #1 Brisbane Beginnings