THE PHILDEN STORY
Always limited to the space available to the average apartment modeller, along the way my layouts have grown in complexity, and general appearance. As much time is spent in making each finished layout appear as an interactive piece of furniture, as there is in constructing the modelled portion of the layout itself.
PHILDEN: somewhere in outback NSW
SCALE: 1:87 HO / ERA: early 2000's / LIFESPAN: 2015-2019 / EXHIBITIONS: 8
The other half of Philden is my wife Denise. Very early on when deciding upon that all important name for the layout, we went with Phil (the first half of Phillip) and den (the first half of Denise). Philden just so happened to be available as a blogging domain, and only 3 months later would also become the name of our cleaning business in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. To our friends and clients we were effectively Philden whenever we walked into the room, and the name still sticks today.
The first Philden layout was built to be portable should we move ever move, which came in handy for transporting the layout to model train exhibitions. The problem was, that folding the back seats flat in our Ford Mondeo hatchback created a sloping angle. The main body of the layout then had to rest between the front seats, which in turn needed to be moved forward making driving uncomfortable. Whenever Philden hit the road in our black Mondeo, it looked like we were driving a budget hearse on our way to a funeral, and we did get the occasional strange look from passing motorists.
|The track plan for the original Philden layout was a total length of 2600 mm.
Prior to writing the first of my Philden Model Railway Presents books, this blog became a diary of works in progress over the life of the layout. From planning to eventual demolition, here are some bonus behind-the-scenes articles that didn't find their way into the final draft...
- Ingredients for a layout: plan before you buy
- The final track fit: last chance for changes
- Installing LED strip lighting: easy and affordable results
- Building a Station Platform: realistic stone block platforms
- Building a Station Garden: making railway stations attractive
- Railway Station Part One: dimensions for a platform
- Railway Station Part Two: lights, signs and gardens
- Railway Station Part Three: finding the right colour
- Railway Station Part Four: detailing the waiting room
- Railway Station Part Five: from windows to roof
- Railway Station Part Six: fascias, chimneys, rusted, done!
- Adding Railway Station signs: giving your station identity
- Adding the right trees: Trees for Australian stations
- Lights, wiring, toasted marshmallows!: a wiring disaster story
- Building a Highway Sign: adding unique road signs
- Building a Goods Platform: a simple balsa project
- Goods Shed Part One: adding steps and framework
- Goods Shed Part Two: windows and corrugated iron
- Goods Shed Part Three: Let's rust this thing!
- Goods Shed Part Four: bargeboards, fascias and finished!
- Installing Auscision's CTC signals: having fun with research
- What's in a name?: naming your model layout
- Cement Works Part One: starting at the base
- Cement Works Part Two: adding the discharge silos
- Cement Works Part Three: completing the rooftop details
- Cement Works Part Four: adding steps and handrails
- Cement Works Part Five: kit-bashing to add uniqueness
- Signal Box Part One: the good enough approach
- Signal Box Part Two: the matching prototype approach
- Using Peco track templates: could this be expanded?
- Avoiding space sapping staging: just keep it simple
- Making staging look sensational: museum quality staging yards
- Making awful look awesome: dressing up layout eyesores
- Improving rear layout views: behind the scenes presentation
- Safe and dust free!: adding clear perspex panels
- Philden's HO track plan: a simple layout drawing
...and prior to starting down the long and winding road to Philden Beach, I converted Philden's staging shelf into a scenic Beach Extension. The completed module was only ever exhibited attached to Philden once, and was intended to be repurposed as part of the new layout. Instead it spent the next 4 years holed up in my wardrobe awaiting a decision on whether I would do something with it one day, finally coming out of the closet at the 2023 BRMA Convention in Brisbane for perhaps it's final showing.
- Beach Extension Part One: when paint doesn't match
- Beach Extension Part Two: extending an existing layout
- Beach Extension Part Three: the Port becomes operational
- Beach Extension Part Four: rocks and rolling waves
- Beach Extension Part Five: the sea was angry
- Beach Extension Part Six: Straightening the Beach Extension
- Beach Extension Part Seven: Building the Beach Station
- Beach Extension Part Eight: Phills Harbour Travel Centre
- Beach Extension Part Nine: capturing memories in miniature
- Beach Extension Part Ten: Completing the Beach Extension
- Capturing memories in miniature: getting little details right
- End of the line...
After four years of blogging and eight model railway exhibitions, Philden was dismantled following the 2019 Brisbane Model Train Show. Philden then became the focus of my first model railway book, Build a Bookshelf Layout published in 2021.
While the layout may now be history, the process of building Philden is outlined from start to finish in this colour 72 page book, and is a great example of what you can achieve within the confines of a small layout. After four years, the layout had served its purpose. It was fun to build, presented well and I was able to exhibit a layout for the first time since my N scale days back in 2002-2005.
PHILDEN ST YARD: a slice of Melbourne
SCALE: 1:87 HO / ERA: early 2000's / LIFESPAN: 2021-2022 / EXHIBITIONS: nil
With a new backdrop and a few subtle changes, Philden Street Yard was magically transported in early 2023 to the fictitious NSW North Coast town of Philden Beach. Before that however, Philden Street Yard had all the appeal of a non-descript gritty backlot of industrial inner Melbourne, Victoria. Not exactly the type of model that looks appealing as the centrepiece of your lounge room!
Model Railway Trackside Tips. Built during the Covid-19 Pandemic, the layout was solely a YouTube layout, on account of the many cancelled model railway exhibitions in south east Queensland during 2021-2022.
I built Philden Street Yard to sit atop the same benchwork for what is now Philden Beach. The new shadow box layout module measured 1720 mm x 450 mm x 450 mm, and was joined to a 1580 mm x 450 mm staging shelf. In effect, this layout and Philden Beach are one and the same, with only the backdrop and a scenery overhaul being the most noticeable differences.
The removable backdrop really was a stroke of genius, as I was able to simply slide it out and get to work on transforming the layout back into the original NSW North Coast layout I'd wanted to build. Just like that, Philden Street Yard closed rather unceremoniously, and I instantly felt relieved. The long road back to Philden Beach had begun!
- Philden Street Yard Launch: built for a book
- Building the staging yard: why staging is important
- Sitting on the shelf: finally, staging and DCC
- My 200th Blog Post: the 3rd Philden layout
- Changing dates, plans, circumstances: preparing to move house
- Philden Street's New Chapter: the big move south
- Philden Street's Curtain Call: preparing for Act Two
PHILDEN CREEK: somewhere up the creek
SCALE: 1:87 HOn3.5 / ERA: 1990's / LIFESPAN: 2022-2023 / EXHIBITIONS: nil
Girraween National Park, and the nearest railway crossing is at the locality of Wyberba, just 8 kms from where these photos were taken in the Bald Rock Creek campgrounds.
The layout board has a well-traveled story. Originally it was the section of layout I'd accidentally sawn in half when building Philden Road. It was then rebuilt into an N scale layout board that I decided not to pursue any further due to lack of space. Finally it was saved from a trip to the rubbish dump and rebuilt into the little Queensland 12 mm narrow gauge layout you see below.
Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself once you lose interest with a project and the layout lies dormant for 12 months. With a friend eagerly enquiring about Philden Creek throughout 2023, and my modelling interests already being pulled in another direction, it made sense to send it his way to complete. Some of the images of the creek scene (below), you may even recognise from my book Model Railway Scenery Secrets.
|Philden Creek in its almost finished guise.
BACK IN THE DAY: My earlier layouts
SCALE: 1:160 N / ERA: 1990's / LIFESPAN: 1993-2012 / EXHIBITIONS: 2
Of course there were other layouts of mine that preceeded all of the above in the days before the internet. I made a blog post back in 2016 to recap my earlier layouts in a little more detail. At some point in time they all meant something to me. The time I spent building each one, the care I took with each one when moving house, and the money invested over quite a few years... It all accounts to nothing, unless someone takes the time to read about it here. So, thanks for reading right 'till the end!
Over four decades of being involved in the hobby, I've modelled in N Scale, HO Scale, HOn3.5 Scale and more recently OO9 Scale, in an assortment of German, Australian, North American and British outline. Perhaps after all these years my hobby has found a happy medium between modelling the New South Wales North Coast along with some Welsh Highlands narrow gauge.
Time, money, age and health all conspire against the best of us. Even the cleaning business I once operated alongside my wife Denise that was named after the layout has come and gone. I only hope I've left behind some of the skills I've learnt for the next generation to discover, both in the form of my Philden Model Railway books, and right here on the pages of this blog... in the Philden Museum.
Thanks for reading!
See also; Remembering My Past Layouts
|In memory of Philden Cleaning, 2015-2022.