Saturday 9 September 2023

Exhibition #10 Sunshine Coast

My Philden Coast layout is safely back home after travelling to its second model railway show in the space of two weeks. This time I ventured north up the Bruce Highway for the Sunshine Coast Model Train & Hobby Expo held on Saturday 2nd September, 2023.

This unique little one day hobby show is put on by the good folks of the Caloundra Church of Christ, and this year marked only the second occassion that the event was held in the Church building at Dicky Beach on the Sunshine Coast (pictured to the left). Being a Saturday only show that doubles as a community fundraiser for the local Church, the Expo is put on by Eion Wolter, who was once responsible for the former Stafford Heights Baptist Church Model Train Show in suburban Brisbane, which I attended back in 2018. There was some irony in returning to Caloundra for the day, given that when I lived in Caloundra I always needed to travel south with my layout for any exhibitions. Yet for what at one time might have been considered my local hometown model railway exhibition, I found myself doing the reverse and returning to the city I'd recently moved away from!

Recent work commitments called for me to load the layout into the car the night before, and travel up very early the next morning to set up.

I wasn't the only fellow modeller doing so, as I followed two vehicles from the highway exit into town that also pulled into the Church grounds infront of me. There I was greeted by the boat modellers who were setting up their displays outside along the covered entrance to the buildings, including this impressive 2 metre long model of a US Navy Tennesee Class battleship, (pictured to the right), that seemed to reveal more detail the longer you looked at it!

Fellow modeller and good friend Anthony Veness was my partner-in-crime for the day!

Inside I was soon met by my assistant driver for the day, good friend and distinguished modeller Anthony Veness. After a quick set-up and walk to the Dicky Beach shops in search of some breakfast, we had two NCE Power Cab controls plugged-in and at our mercy for the day in time for the show's opening. It was Anthony who had finally convinced me a few years earlier to make the switch to DCC control for this layout, and the twin throttle socket at the front of the layout enabled us to simultaneously work Philden Harbour Yard with separate locomotives for a short while. Until it became obvious that the combined span of our backs were blocking half of the layout's view... So from that point on we either alternated which locos we ran in and out of the yard, or stood at opposite ends while the other did their thing.

Outside in a separate wing of the building there were a few traders set up for the Expo, one of which was Matt Heness and his stall Col's Australian Railway Books & Hobbies. If you look closely at the picture to the left, you'll see a stack of my Philden Model Railway Presents books lining the table. If anyone asked how I did this or how I built that, I could direct them Matt's way in the hope that they might pick up a copy of my book, and instead concentrate on running some trains.

It was nice to have some Expo attendees stop and ask if I "was the one who wrote those books." And nicer still whenever someone asked if I'd kindly sign their copy.

There was a moment of early morning commotion on the layout, as Anthony fired up the first of his SSR locomotives he was running for the day in GM22. At the other end of the layout, I was left flabbergasted when I suddenly lost control of my Pacific National NR22. It turned out that both our locomotives' addresses were programmed as 22, and rather than attempt a quick reprogram infront of a small crowd of bemused onlookers, I simply packed NR22 away for the day so that Anthony could instead run his SSR fleet.

SSR's T363 was the yard shunter for the day in Philden Harbour.

I think Anthony enjoyed running his SSR locomotives throughout the day!

T363, 44204 and the short address bandit GM22 in the refuel tracks.

Despite the duplicate short address issue, the only other problem we faced in the morning was that the couplers on my pair of older Auscision NLKY vans proved problematic at times with the true scale couplers Anthony had fitted to his SSR locomotive fleet. We perservered for a while and eventually left them parked out of the way, or only ran them with my BL and C Class locos.

I did also manage to take a walk around the other layouts that were on display, and took a few pictures of some layouts I haven't shown before. Amongst them were these examples that caught my attention.

Beside me were these 2 brilliant little pizza box layouts.

Eion Wolter's layout "I hide them, you find them" is always a crowd favourite.

Cleat County has made a few appearances now in shows around south east Queensland.

And this gentleman's nice layout that I missed photographing the week before at the Redlands Show.

It was around this time of the morning that a migraine headache struck, and I needed to resign myself to resting in a chair behind the layout for most of the day. The good folk of the Church put on a special exhibitors tea, coffee and sweets stand throughout the day, so after taking some ibuprofen and drinking plenty of water, I eventually came good with a few cups of tea and a bikkie or three by the end of the afternoon. I don't know what I would have done if it hadn't been for Anthony taking over the running of the layout and answering questions from the public throughout the day. Another friend Steve who had stopped by just to take a look at the Expo, also got commandeered to take over a throttle for a short spell. So thanks fellas!

A pair of Bumblebees taking in the breeze on the Philden Coast...

...and a full yard by the harbour to round out the day!

After Anthony had helped me load the car, it was a tiring drive back south to Brisbane that evening, and I arrived home some 13 hours after I had left that morning. But it was a great little show to be a part of, and the experience from packing down and setting up over back-to-back weekends has been great to learn what the layout is capable of in order to maintain its portability. It fits nicely in the car and is fairly simple to set up exactly as is, which has left me not wanting to tinker too much with a good thing.

My focus now is on preparing for the BRMA Convention in Brisbane on the 22nd to 24th September, 2023. After that it will be nice to slide into a more gentle pace, and sit down to start writing my next model railway book. There's been a bit of stress behind the scenes with some illness within the family and changes that come through taking on some extra part-time work, and exhibiting at these past two model railway shows hasn't really turned out to be the welcome distraction I thought they might be. Right now I'd really welcome some clear dates on our calendar... Maybe that would enable some relaxing weekend modelling projects!

Until next time...

Monday 4 September 2023

Weathered Wonders Video Review

My book review in the August Australian Model Railway News!

What a huge weekend it has been! Fresh back from exhibiting Philden Coast at the Sunshine Coast Model Train & Hobby Expo on the Saturday, my latest book Model Railway Weathered Wonders was also featured online in Will James's Australian Model Railway News, (click the above image to play).

I returned home on Saturday night to a stack of eBay orders waiting for me to pack and post, which come Monday afternoon are now finally posted and on their way to all of my customers. I'm now completely sold-out of my own stock levels of the Weathered Wonders book and am waiting for another print run to be made and forwarded to me in time for the British Railway Modellers of Australia Convention in Brisbane this September 24-26, 2023. In the meanwhile the book is always available online through my print partner Blurb, (click the book cover image to the left).

Unfortunately, my own model railway layout is still downstairs in the garage, waiting patiently for us to carry back up to our apartment and be re-assembled in the lounge room. It's been such a busy past couple of weeks having attended 2 model train shows over back-to-back weekends, starting a new job in-between them, and having one of my busiest weeks of eBay and books sales to see to. I guess they are real nice problems to have after years of hard work and time sunk into my model railway book projects.

Post shows there's now a long list of model railway projects I can finally see to, convention notes to prepare and the final book instalment to start writing. As such I doubt I'll get too much airbrushing done this side of Christmas! So thanks to everyone who saw the review on Will James' YouTube Channel and jumped onto my blog or eBay to follow the links on where to purchase the book along with close to half of the weathered Australian HO items I had listed for sale. The response was fantastic and very much appreciated as I now focus on trying to get my most expensive book project to try and turn a profit.

Finally my personal thanks are once again extended to Will James. If you haven't already checked out his website Will James Railways, be sure to do so, as you'll find plenty of cool things like railway collector pins, merchandise, photos and links to all his YouTube videos, past News episodes and reviews. I've tried to support Will's channel from the beginning through providing book giveaways for his viewers, and its always pleasing to see a fellow modeller's creative endeavours continue to grow from strength to strength.

Until I can get to writing a post update on last weekend's exhibition experience, have a great week and I hope you get some modelling done! You can see all of my remaining HO Scale Australian weathered model railway listings here, and I can't stress this enough, they are only while they last!

Click the image to view my model railway listings.

Until next time...

Friday 1 September 2023

Exhibition #9 Redlands 2023

It has been four years since one of my layouts last appeared at a model railway exhibition, but in August 2023 it was a case of Philden rides again, as my lovely wife Denise joined me in debuting my latest layout Philden Coast at the 10th Annual Redlands Model Railway Show in the south of Brisbane.

Making it's first ever public appearance, Philden Coast makes sure the Philden name continues.

With 8 exhibitions worth of experience behind us from of setting up and packing down my previous layout Philden, I built this layout to ensure it would be easier to transport and assemble despite being that little bit bigger in size. It had it's first test run almost 18 months ago when we moved house after relocating from the Sunshine Coast back to Brisbane. A sectional bench layout L-girder frame and separate modules that are simply positioned on top once it is all assembled, makes set-up time about 30 to 40 minutes. The curtains take up most of that time, given that the only way to mount them was to gaffa-tape them to the top of the frame before the modules were placed on top to ensure they cannot move. Pack down time from the completion of the show to turning the ignition key in the car to head home was timed at 22 minutes.

This was my view for most of the weekend as I shunted the Brandon Industries warehouse.

We angled the layout to bring the viewing portion closer to the public, leaving more room for me to sit and operate the layout from the front, and open up the viewing angles for the Redlands Club layout that was beside me.

There's nothing like a model railway show deadline to put the pressure on getting all those tasks finished on a layout. Having just released a new book, seen to shop orders and commenced a new part-time job all in the same week leading up to this event, I didn't quite see to everything I would have like for Philden Coast's first outing. Come Thursday lunchtime before the weekend, I had to down tools on applying the finishing touches to the Jetty Hotel and say that it was finished. At least for now. The rollingstock and loose buildings were then boxed up, the track given a final clean and the lighting and wiring all disconnected, and that night the layout module, staging shelf and framework were all carted downstairs from our top level apartment to the garage.

Come Friday afternoon, and it could all be loaded straight into the back of our Mitsi Outlander as soon as my wife arrived home from work, and together we made the drive to the other side of Brisbane to set the layout up at the Cleveland High School Performing Arts Hall.

I dressed in my best Coastal vibes to pose for the customary photo before the doors opened to the public on Saturday morning.

Upon entry, the crowds all seem to follow in a clockwise direction to view the layouts. So it took around 20 minutes until they started gathering infront of my layout.

There were two noticeable features of my layout that I wasn't able to see to in time for the show that were both a carry over from it's first year of construction, back when it was originally intended to be completed as an inner-Melbourne layout. They were 1), the Philden St. moniker on the layout's bookcase end (above), and 2), the twin tram tracks down the middle of the Philden Street overpass (below). I couldn't do anything about either without risk of leaving an unfinished mess. So when a member of the viewing public recognised the backdrop as Coffs Harbour and pointed out that I'd even included the old train tracks leading down the to Jetty... I simply went with it for the weekend. As they're super glued to the overpass which is made from MDF board, there's a real chance that the surface could be significantly damaged from trying to remove them. It's something that I'll need to investigate further.

Philden Coast at the 10th Redlands Model Railway Show, August 26th & 27th, 2023.

Finally, my Jetty Hotel is open for business! The Walker Models kit has been in various stages of construction tracing back to 2019 when it was going to be built for my Philden Road North Coast layout. When those plans ended, it was then built to the point of being a bare shell for my Philden Street Yard layout, only for the layout to be revamped from inner-Melbourne back to a North Coast NSW setting before it could even be completed. Apart from a few finishing touches, (yes, the overhanging verandah still needs angled supports coming from the wall), it drew quite a lot of comments from the public over the weekend. The Live Music @ The Jetty Hotel sign was made to have interchangable billboards slide in and out, (I'll have more on that later), and in this example is advising that tickets to John Williamson are selling fast. I made half a dozen billboards featuring different Australian artists that Denise and I have actually seen in concert and would often change them as crowds would come and go over the two days.

The Jetty Hotel finally reached an almost finished stage only the day before we set up for the weekend.

Of course that wasn't the only bit of humour to be discovered over the weekend. Fellow modeller, blogger and resident funny man Craig Mackie stopped by to pay hommage to my Muttonbird Island backdrop, by... placing a sheep up a tree!

Yes, that's Muttonbird Island in the background... and a Muttonbird up the tree!

From that point onwards on a Saturday afternoon, it was time to do a quick walk around of the venue. I recognised many of the exhibitors whom I've stopped to talk to over the past few years while visiting the various model railway shows in south east Queensland. A lot of the layouts like Walloon, Victoria Creek Sugar and Snapshot I had featured photos of on my previous exhibition recaps from my original Philden layout days, (you can read them all here). So here are a few that I hadn't featured before...

This N scale layout was called Nothing. In the background Denise can be seen operating Philden Coast (the back of which looks all white).

Laidlaw, by the Victorian N Scale Collective, is relatively new to the SE QLD circuit.

Glinvale is a bit of a veteran layout around the Brisbane model railway scene, but I don't know if I've ever shared a photo of this layout on my blog? Probably because I always stop to chat to Alistair, who built this layout with his son.

The Logan District Model Railway Club had their N Scale Layout High Country on display.

For now this is about as close as I will get to visiting Canada!

...and Philden Coast, by some guy in rolled up boat jeans and white shoes named Phill Overton...

So there you have it... 1,575 days after exhibiting Philden for the final time, it's replacement has finally made its exhibition debut. After having an idea for a completely new model railway in May of 2019, a few false starts later and my HO Scale NSW North Coast layout has eventually become a reality.

Philden Coast completely fills the back of our 7 seater Mitsi.

And a packed down layout stays waiting in the garage for another show next weekend!

There was a lot to like about exhibiting Philden Coast compared to my original Philden layout. While it was bigger, it was lighter to carry and easier to set up and pack down. Having the framework upon which it stands assembled using bolts with wing nuts and washers was my wife's idea. As was having the staging shelf built for the modules to slot together using dowell joins to align the two sections. Again, brilliant and easy to set-up. Changing the layout to DCC early in it's construction also allowed for constant locomotive lighting when operating on a slow speed shunting layout. This is something that held the viewing public's attention much longer than my previous DC layout, and I could leave a loco sitting in the diesel service tracks with the marker lights and number boards illuminated for added effect. And sound? At first I thought it might drive my neighbouring exhibitors mad, but once the crowd filled the hall, it became difficult to determine if I had started up the loco when switching diesels between the service tracks. Hearing a short horn blast kept viewers standing infront of the layout just that little bit longer, so that too was a success.

This was the second time I have exhibited at the Redlands Model Railway Show, and with the weekend now behind me my thoughts today turn to this weekend's Sunshine Coast Model Train & Hobby Expo held at the Dicky Beach Church of Christ hall. The advantage of back-to-back weekends of model railway shows is that the layout only has to go up and down the stairs to our apartment once! For the past week it has waited quietly in the garage for a Friday final track clean before being loaded into our Mitsi one more time.

After openly talking about how I was going to rebuild the existing staging shelf into an extended scenic portion of the layout, packing the layout into our Outlander to take to a show for the weekend quickly pointed out that this isn't possible without making two trips in the car. The minute I extend Philden Coast is the moment it becomes a home layout. So once again I need to be happy with my bookshelf layout staying exactly as is. (I guess I'll now need to un-update all of those plans from the Philden Coast page on this blog). But happy I shall be. There are still enough mini-detailing projects on this layout to say it is a while away from being 100% finished, and I now have the prospect of exhibiting my Philden Coast layout at some future model railway exhibitions next year.

Until I update again next week after my layout's 2nd outing, take care and happy modelling!

Monday 21 August 2023

Weathered by Philden Showcase 21

I've just spent the past three weeks downstairs in the garage weathering a small empire of Australian HO scale models. Many were simply over-purchased ahead of sitting down to write my Model Railway Weathered Wonders book. With the project now finished and the book available in leading hobby stores around the country and online, I simply needed to make time to airbrush them up and move them on.

Ahead of this weekend's first outing for my new layout at the Redlands Model Railway Show in Brisbane, I was tinkering around with what to run, and discovered much to my disappointment that my 46'6" refrigerated containers and my recently purchased NQKY 63' foot container wagons just wouldn't pair together on the container stirrups. I'd also thought that an SCT logistics PBGY van and matching G Class locomotive might work on my short bookshelf layout. Turns out that as awesome as they looked once weathered, the PBGY van was almost as long as my shortened Walthers Cold Storage building. The ex-V/Line G Class loco G513, without the added QR National and SCT traffic, soon left me with buyers remorse...

So in an afternoon of commonsense prevailing, I rounded up anything that just wasn't doing it for me on the layout, and listed them on eBay over the weekend alongside another batch of models that I had just completed weathering. Here's a look at the latest, and possibly last for a while, of Weathered by Philden models that I have for sale...

The waaay too long PBGY van. At 28.5 cm over the couplers, this model is a Trainworld release.

All four 63' foot NQKY's from Auscision Models pack NCW-37 are now weathered and available... is this 46'6" Wilmot Freezehaul refrigerated container...

...and the Breeze Logistics equivalent, both by Auscision Models.

This Pacific National repainted VLCX van was a leftover from my Melbourne layout... were the West Coast Railway VLCX vans, all by Auscision Models.

The subtle rust effects really stand out on these models, as do the mismatched doors.

And of course the sliding doors mean that I have to weather these things inside and out!

Click on the eBay banner above to view the weathered HO scale railway models I currently have for sale. The time for me to weather any further models is quickly coming to a close. So if you've been umming and ahhing for a while, now's your chance. Each model will come with a mini certificate (see below), signed by myself as a way of saying thanks for enabling me to be able to write full-time over the past 18 months.

So my layout changeover is now complete, and any unnecessary items from my personal collection have now all been weathered and listed on eBay. All that remains for me to weather are a few packs each of SDS Models WGX open wagons and FX flour wagons to finally put my 18 month long project behind me. I want to thank each and every person who has purchased a model/models this past year. For your kind words, and even subtle pointers that along the way have culminated in me producing a book to be proud of.

I have a busy month ahead of me with 2 model train shows I am exhibiting at, plus the British Model Railway Association (Australia) Convention I will be speaking at in Brisbane late in September. On top of that there is one final Philden Model Railway book I am about to sit down and start writing ahead of a well earned holiday, (our first since a short getaway last year), that will also culminate in me starting a new job. Oh. and did I mention I am about to become a Poppy for the first time any week now? Life has just become sooo busy!

Until next time...

Each model comes with a certificate signed by yours truly.

For my own record...
Models sold 166/220

Monday 14 August 2023

Weathered by Philden Showcase 20

This latest batch of Weathered by Philden models is being listed on eBay this evening. Regular readers of my blog get first notice before they go live, as my last batch of GY wagons were all snapped up immediately by the one person. This time I've weathered 2 boxes of Auscision Models NGPF grain hoppers in the modern scheme with ground operated lids and walkways removed. One pack has the white Freight Rail Grain logos while the other has the blue Freightcorp logos.

I've copied the weathering pattern on these wagons from real life examples, with a mixture of painted over graffiti patches in various grey shades. The white dots along the top of the wagons resemble the locations where the roof walk supports have had primer painted around them following the removal of the mesh walkway treads. While the journal boxes were painted either orange or lavender as per some prototype examples I had seen.

You may have remembered that these grain hoppers were originally bought for my inner-Melbourne Philden Street Yard layout late last year, and I did a short YouTube video when they first arrived.

As there's no room for these on my NSW North Coast layout, I now need to move these on to be able to replace them with a set of the NGGF sugar hopper variants as they run through to Grafton on the North Coast line. I'm quite pleased with how the weathering turned out on these. No two look the same, so here are some side-on shots for comparison.

The other side of Freight Rail 36021-P, (shown at top), with the journal boxes painted orange.

Freight Rail 36073-E with the journal boxes painted lavender.

Freightcorp 35955-R with orange journal box covers and a bit of a graffiti squiggle on the side.

Freightcorp 36038-R with lavender journal box covers.

Freightcorp 36080-X with a worn-out logo and lavender journal boxes.

A heavily weathered Freight Rail 35992-W with lavender journal boxes.

Freightcorp 35915-X with an almost worn-off logo and orange journal boxes.

I'm going to try and weather a small batch of models each week as I work around readying my layout for two shows at the end of the month. There are still a few Victorian Railways models waiting for me to grime up and move on after my big layout change back in January, and a couple of more recent additions that I've deemed a bit too long for my bookshelf layout now that I'm getting stuck into some operating sessions and discovering what models suit the layout and what don't, but more on that to follow later.

I've now signed a fair share of these mini certificates for each weathered model that I've sold.

Click on the above banner to view my model railway listings on my eBay store.

For my own record...
Models sold 162/209