Life can be like that.....

Not the title for my first post I had been expecting after a holiday, nor the content.

After three wonderful weeks away with my wife, visiting some fantastic places, quite a few significant railway locations, collecting a bunch of images and walking the entire perway of Gwabegar with my mate Bob (Coolah Branch blog), I thought that these things, and a few others, would be shared. Instead I will share that last Friday, just 5 months and one day after fare-welling my Dad, my family and I said our farewells to my Mum.

In the same chapel, at the same time, in another beautiful service, led by the same minister to almost the same people, we went through the same painful experience again.

In stark contrast to Dads 8 year battle, Mum suffered a stroke in the early hours of the morning and passed away at 9pm the same night, never regaining consciousness. Francine and I were by her side till the end.

And as a precursor to a wonderful week, last Monday, whilst driving to the funeral directors to make arrangements, we were involved in a 'hit 'n run' accident. A car traveling in the opposite direction, hit a truck, then us and just kept going. Whilst I am thankful no one was hurt I was left speechless and suffering from an acute dose of what-else-can-go-wrong-ittis ! He, or she, never missed a panel down the drivers side of our six month old car, our first new one in 17 years.

I received an email from a friend a few days after Mum passed away and he said "I guess they just wanted to be together on their journey", now this friend never knew Mum, or Dad, so I replied with a grin "if they are indeed continuing their journey, it's a safe bet that they will be arguing about which way to go".

There is one farewell I am definitely looking forward to....2011.

I will miss you Mum.

Mum with my son Andrew. Christmas 2010

Patricia Mary Laker 28/3/1924 - 22/10/2011

Pat and Roy, together 62 years, apart just 4 months and 28 days.


Heading North

Whilst the work bench and progress on the cave have been somewhere in between 'quiet' and 'non existent' lately I have made plans to be at the next "Our Town Model Show" at Newcastle.
The last time I was at this show it was manning the Gunning exhibition layout nearly 10 years ago ! I think it was at the basket ball stadium ?
Whilst I have managed to maintain some sanity lately, with regular visits to Bylong and Werris Ck and now that the convention is over for another year, Newcastle will be the clincher beacause it also marks the start of what seems like a long overdue holiday. Just on three weeks of touring the countryside with my wife beside me and camper behind me.
Visits will include the 'real' Werris Ck and railway museum and as many other of our fast disappearing rail infrastructure sites as I can find along the way and ending up at Lightning Ridge. This was one of my Dad's favorite places and we will be scattering some of his ashes over the opal fields.
With still and video cameras along for the ride I hope to have a fair collection of images when I return.
So if you plan on attending Newcastle do stop by the Eureka stand and say G'day !


Thornleigh and our shrinking planet

This probably should have been two separate posts as they are completely unrelated.

Spent Saturday and Sunday at Thornleigh (Epping) exhibition, did some buying, some selling and some browsing. Saturday was a fairly short visit as travel plans were thwarted by the total absence of trains on the north, you would think I would have checked first...der! but Sunday was a little more relaxed leaving more time for chatting and buying!

Lending a hand on the Eureka stand, that was the selling part, it was interesting to note the similarities between exhibitions and the differences between the days.

Saturday - Arrive about 11, no parking left, long queue at the front door waiting for the starters gun, credit cards warping from the heat generated from being swiped so many times per hour (a certain retailer is reported to having two cc machines going at once while another's failed in the first hour !) and my personal favorite, watching the expression on wives/partners faces when they hear the total of the other halves purchases...priceless, the almost tidal stampede to the 'pre-loved' area, next year the club may have to consider providing shopping trollies, it's wonderful to watch and so much a part of the hobby.

Saturday is modellers day. So many familiar faces, the core of the NSW modelling fraternity and the reason that most of the exhibitions exist, IMHO of course !

Sunday - Arrived about 5 past 10, park six steps from the front door, no queue? (but BBQ smells good), must be inside already. Move inside, six or eight people waiting to buy tickets and half of them are pushing strollers or hanging onto little'uns, this must be family day ?! Move inside, look around, was there a bomb threat or something ?? It is a bit cold (this years understatement !) Traders looking way too relaxed...or is that a bit anxious?!, cc machines starting to accumulate dust, it's a tragic sight!

This is the day when, hopefully, exhibitors and traders alike will introduce someone new to the hobby, the day that first spark ignites and a life long passion, no matter how long or short, begins.

No matter the location of the exhibition I have seen this pattern on many occasions. The only variable is the numbers through the door. Whether Liverpool or Healsville (lovely place) the pattern remains the same.

I came away somewhat poorer, with a layout now on the horizon I have a great reason (excuse) to start acquiring layout type stuff, like structure kits ! I have a feeling Anton and John may start sending me Christmas cards.

As for Monday........that's a special day reserved for those "gee I wish I had of bought......" or " what do you mean I was allowed to buy......." situations.

I always enjoy the smaller exhibitions in the 'burbs. They're a nice balance between the sometimes mayhem of the big exhibitions and the occasional "is anyone coming" feeling of some country town exhibitions. This is of course from a retailers and exhibitors perspective, nothing I like better that spending time in a country town but when an entire day can pass and you answer 3 questions it can have you wondering if the long drive was worth it, but it's rare.

Now the shrinking planet part. A feature that I recently discovered on 'Blog spot' is the 'stats' section that the blog owner can access. It's really quite amazing the info that can be gleaned from this section. I have 52 public followers and approaching 5000 hits. The bulk are from Oz, no surprise there, but it's the other places that I find fascinating. US/Canada comes in second but third was a surprise - France !?, followed by England, Germany and several other European countries. What I also found was quite a large number of hits from Russia, Ukraine and Thailand.

Fairly quickly the penny dropped, as they say, I realised these folk probably aren't interested in my prowess as a modeller but are probably what is referred to as 'fishers' or 'phishers'. Prowling the internet for information to use in scams and the like. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it, it's a sad aspect of the world we live in that someone on the other side of it can sit at a computer with no other intent other than to work out a way to relieve me of some hard earned funds. Be careful of how much personal info is on your blog for, quite literally, the whole world to see.


Forms for Convention 28 - 2011

I have just posted all the forms and information for Convention 28 on the blog site .

My apologies for it being a little late but a certain 'Telco' let me down and internet access has only just been restored with home phone intermittent at best !

By the number of hits the blog had today I would say a fair few people have been looking for the forms as there availability was being released on other model railway related sites.

My apologies once again.


Goodbye Dad

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning my Dad's 8 year battle with cancer came to a peaceful end.

Today my family and I, along with a few friends, said our last goodbyes.

In a beautiful service, which was led by our pastor, we celebrated the life of a quiet achiever who had packed a lot of living into one lifetime.

I was able to get through a eulogy, although it was a struggle towards the end. It highlighted a truly Australian story of someone growing up during the depression years. In one of the proudest moments of my life, my two children spoke of the fond memories they had and the influence that their Pop had had on their lives. A musical and vocal tribute of "What a Wonderful World" was delivered by a family friend over a slide show of images from the 1940's to Christmas last year. There were not too may dry eyes in the chapel.

Another railway man has clocked off for the last time. I will miss you Dad.

Roy Laker 24/7/1924 - 24/5/2011 (86)
(Eveleigh Locomotive Workshops 1961 - 1989)


IDR Railway Castings - MLV kit

I was given 4 of these to build for a work colleague so I thought I would jot down a few words and pics for those contemplating building these kits.

The MLV is a 36' louvre van of 24 ton capacity and a 'fish belly' type underframe, which was built by Tullochs during 1957-58 (so it fits my era perfectly) and were all gone by the early 80's. Originally fitted with a dual skin corrugated steel roof, for insulation from the heat of the sun, the model is as it appeared later in life with a smooth roof and comes with either 2CF or 2AP bogies.

The main castings, all 2 of them, make assembly of this kit straight forward. Roof, sides and ends are a single casting and the other is the underframe, with some underfloor detail cast in. These castings are straight and flat, always a good thing, and required minimal 'flash' removal. Close inspection of the actual louvres reveals a few inconsistencies but in this case, I regard this as a good thing. They are not perfect, just like the real thing after a few years in service. Some of the metal body fittings, straps and other brackets, do lack the 'crispness' that depicts them as a separate component but are still pretty good.

The casting material is polyurethane and this includes a separate brake lever casting. I would have preferred to see this casting done in brass with the brake cylinder, which is readily available from other detail parts manufacturers, as most of the detail is lost in the poly. One of the kits contained a brake lever casting which appeared to be cast from a different material to the others and the detail was much better than the grey poly version. Other detail components include brake hoses (lost wax casting), hand brake spiders (etch brass) and a few lengths of 0.4 mm brass wire. One of the four kits I had also included preformed shunters steps in flat strap 'brass', the other three kits did not. I contacted IDR and he advised that he had run out, hence the extra wire to 'dyo' steps. These were an A-Line product sourced from Walthers and may be included in future kits, they made a nice touch and were certainly easier and better looking than the alternative. The Model Etch equivalent is also an alternative to brass wire. KD whisker couplings, AR bogies with blackened wheel sets and a quantity of screws for fitting both are supplied, along with a pre numbered decal sheet. I'm not sure how many number variations are available, but all 4 of mine were different numbers. The decals also include 'A' and 'B' door decals, as well as a decal to represent the cast departmental number plate as well, the decals are very nicely done, crisp in detail and easy to apply.

If your kit does not come with the pre formed steps, you had better like bending wire ! There a 8 hand rails, 6 shunter steps, 4 lamp brackets , 4 brake rigging hoops and 2 brake pull rods to bend up and fit. Also a hand brake axle, hand brake release axle and aux reservoir drain handle to fabricate and fit. There is a grade control handle cast into each side as well, but fitting an actuating rod to this would have obliterated the detail of the casting. The brake cylinder, dummy brake cylinder and aux reservoir are cast into the floor, as well as the the brake pipe itself.

Assembly involves gluing the floor and body together and adding the detail, did I mention bending some wire !?? I used a slow setting 'super glue' (Delta brand from HobbyCo) and had no problems with the fit in any of the kits.

Painting is the standard affair, wash, prime, paint (your favorite shade of black), decal and make dirty ! Bogies and couplers are fitted with the screws supplied. The first one I completed went straight to the owner so it could be used on the Maitland Clubs layout for Steamfest 11, so I didn't get time to photograph it, but I will include some pics as the others are completed.

Underframe with detail added. This shows the 'one off' brake lever casting in black which was much better than the other three.

Side view showing shunters steps (the preformed ones from A-Line), handrails etc.

End view showing shunters steps, handrails and lamp irons.

Would I buy some for my collection ? Yep. Not the cheapest kit at $50 each, but nothing else to buy apart from the paint and glue. A lot of work has gone into the masters and molds and it is a very good representation of an MLV. Available from Micro Models Hobbyland at Hornsby.


Convention update

Further info has been posted on the Modelling the Railways of NSW blog. There is a link from my reading list.


Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention 28 - 2011

Just to let everyone know, who is interested, the the next convention will be held on Saturday 23rd July 2011 at Loftus TAFE.

As one of the organisers, I look after the conventions blog, which is now on my 'reading list' for a quick link.

Have a look, sign on as a follower ( so I know someone is actually looking at it !), all registration forms (down loadable) and info will be posted as it becomes available.

Please pass this on to anyone you may feel may be interested in attending.

Note that we are always looking for people to present or demonstrate on a relevant NSW subject or modelling skill.





Sometimes a hard thing to measure in this hobby of ours.

Whilst this is my first post in over 4 months some things have still been happening. The LLC & W workshops have been rather quiet with only a few minor jobs, that didn't even rate a post, passing over the bench. Be assured though that I continue to read the blogs of fellow modellers with much interest and just a little envy of your progress and achievements. They have been and continue to be an inspiration.

Whilst I am blessed with a '4 on, 4 off' job, a big chunk of my '4 off' is taken up caring for my aged parents. Things haven't, and won't, improve on that front and I am not looking forward to the months ahead.

The Cave has not progressed past the construction stage (see last post) but I have finally pinned my electrician (also a keen modeller) down t0 a date in early Feb to come and start the wiring. Once that is roughed in I can install the insulation and think about sheeting with gyprock (drywall to my U.S. friends!). There will be an air conditioner in there somewhere as well to cater for our ever, seemingly, psychotic climate. Whether I can afford to turn it on remains to be seen! What a great idea privatising our power was !

I have also been working on some track plan 'concepts' with the help of friends and fellow bloggers which has been an incredible help as I have never pinned down a length of track in my life and it has allowed me to start visualising what the end product may resemble. Whilst I have accumulated a fairly healthy inventory of prototype knowledge, translating that into something that can be modelled is a completely different matter and set of skills.

I have also purchased a NSW outline #7 point jig from Fast Tracks, courtesy of Gwyder Valley, and some supplies for point building. I have also decided on code 70 ME track and have ordered a rather ridiculous amount direct from Walthers while the AUD is at it's prime (and the track is on special!) and placed other items on a 'wish list' for future damage.

So while my new Runway 13 air brush has not had a drop of paint through it since purchased at Liverpool last year I'm going to venture out on a limb and say "Yep, I've been doin' a bit" and I'll even call it progress !