Saturday, December 2, 2017

Return to Eden

Well can't believe it is already December another year just about gone and four weeks since my last update. Time flies when you are having fun.
I received my copy of 'Speed Limit Twenty Plus' during the week. This book is a re-write of the original 'Speed Limit Twenty' book published way back in 1963. The updated book contains around 164 pages compared with the original 132.
There are corrections to previous errors I believe. Also there are updates towards the back of the book such as an article on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway which happened long after the original book was published. It is certainly a worthwhile addition to the collection. I will leave the proper reviewing to someone else that has had the chance to go right through the book.
I was also able to get a copy of G42 Puffing Billys Big Brother at a sale day held by the Epping Model railway club last Saturday. A friend (thank you John) told me there was a book on garratts in one of the rooms on a sellers table. I thought it could have been about the 60 class garratts which I had recently sold. When he directed me to the table it was under some other books. When I saw it was the G42 one I quickly bought it. The young kid selling it said $20 or make me an offer. When I was deliberating whether to get the one I saw on Ebay for $50 plus postage, I was over the moon when this one came up. This book now fills a hole in my Victorian narrow gauge collection of books and reference material.
I have been able to get some work done on the layout lately. I really suffer from the "I've got hundred of jobs to do to get this layout finished" when entering the shed then spend wasted time trying to work out what one I will do. Maybe I should write them all down, cut up the list and put them into hat and just go with the first one I pull out!
The six Ian Lindsay models buffer stops have been painted and weathered and glued into position. Some were on a precarious position on the end of Eden baseboard. Not the place shunt and forget to stop. Straight to the floor. I have joined the Facebook On30 modellers forum whic although is US biased there is still much good information and ideas to be gotten from the site. When someone asked what do modellers use for buffer stops i put up a picture of my Victorian narrow gauge ones, just to show the variety of ways of protecting the end of the line.
ILM models VR narrow gauge buffer stop, careful of the drop beyond!
 I also did some more scenery work down from the trestle near the creek bed. I think this is the slowest part of modelling doing the scenery, but unlike wiring that tends to be hidden at least your results can be appreciated. One thing about changing over to O scale is the enormity of the trees over what you need in HO. They are huge and take some time to do right. I have put in the bare minimum at the moment just to get the feel of a scene, more detailed work in a scene will come later (maybe time permitting)
NA 8 runs towards Eden over the creek
The creek bed

So far in my scenery work I have been able to use a lot of recycled HO material which was all sorted out into take away containers. At least one corner of the layout is getting completed, it's just a slow process of keeping at it and it will all get done eventually.

NA 8 makes its way downhill from the trestle
 Another project that I have started on it to put some fascia boards on the edge of the layout. This is the final dress up to make the layout look presentable and finished (long way to go yet). It's hard to pick the right colour for the boards. Originally I was going with a darker shade of green but I thought it would blend in too well with the greenery on the layout, so I chose a darker grey which I think looks quite smart and hopefully will hide the dirt and dents etc a bit better. I am using 3mm mdf board. I obtained a 2400mm x 1200mm sheet and had to take it outside to do the first cut. The board has been glued to the main baseboard and not screwed. When the edging was cut it was taken outside for an undercoat and then the first coat of grey. When they are all in position they will all receive their second coat.
One end of Eden with the fascia board in place
 Eventually I will get around to painting the legs the same colour to blend it all in.
Section of fascia being glued into place.
 Visible in the above photo is a joining strip that is only glued to one side of the baseboard where the join is. I have tried to think ahead to when someone will have to pull all this apart. Either me or someone else.
I also did some more ballasting near the level crossing in the second last photo above. The glue is still wet, so this may be covered in the next blog write up, till then happy modelling.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What next?

Yeah what next? That's the question I ask myself every time I step into the shed and try and set some sort of priority for the work schedule. The doorway is roughly half way down the shed and upon entering I can look in two directions. If I look to the right I can see an On30 layout in the making, but if I look to the left all I see is 'Mesopotamia'. Most of that side is untouched from the old HO SCR days. This is where the 'unsorted/will get to that another day junk' resides.
Time is valuable and I use that analogy to justify not sweeping the floor each time I go in there. When it looks worthwhile the broom will come out and be swept up. I have a target for the shed in the future in that the floor will always be clean, the walls pristine, no more daddy longlegs, the junk hidden away by curtains and just a nice place to go and operate trains. It seems to take a while and although I could achieve this goal early, it really seems a waste of time to be sweeping up when I could be assembling a kit or doing some scenery work or just something practical. It shall be done, just don't know when. At least the goal is in sight.
I had this same problem when I had the HO layout. I'm not sure if it was the size that overwhelmed me or just too many projects. I would walk in, look around and after looking at all the jobs, just decide to turn a wheel and run a few train and nothing was achieved. Looking back at the time before I retired the only times I could put in long hours was the back shift on  a weekend and there were times at 2.0am I thought I had better go to bed. You seem to get your second wind and go on forever, all this energy and no sign of any drugs! But you paid for it in time as Sunday morning then didn't start until after 9.0am. But at least the work got done.
Times have now changed and after retirement the hours being more frequent there is no need to revert to the back shift anymore. I still have this problem though that when I go in there and look around and see all the projects I find it hard to prioritise. I have to keep telling myself that I started with an empty shed and in the end will be a layout and how you get to the end it doesn't really matter.
Unfinished Ian Lindsay Narrow gauge buffer stop
After wasting half an hour there today I decided that I would put together some of the Ian Lindsay excellent narrow gauge buffer stops. At the end of the day I had part assembled six of the buffer stops. They will need priming and a finish coat along with the typical rusted nut and bolt. They certainly give the atmosphere of a VR narrow gauge railway. With the six done it was time to go inside to put on a lamb roast for dinner, most suitable for the rainy and cooler day here in Sydney today.
Living near the bush we are used to hearing the constant bird sounds. Every morning it starts early with the king parrots letting us know its time to get out of bed and feed them.
Two of the three regular visitor kookaburras
The bowls of sunflowers seeds are put out and they fly down for their feed. They prefer their own bowls and it is funny to watch as they work out their pecking order playing musical bowls each morning. And in between are the three kooburras, a few rosellas and the sulphur crested cockatoos and the rainbow lorikeets that try and bully out all the others to get to the seed. That is why the hose is on standby for the daily lorikeet showers.
Nine king parrots have turned up for breakfast
Anyhow I was down the shed this week and heard the constant squak of a magpie, it went on that long I went out to investigate the noise. I was waved up to the house and found out that the noise was the magpie trying to frighten off a three foot goanna. (That's the length measurement not how many legs it had!) The maggie must have been frightened that the goanna would try and get its eggs from the nest. By the time I got around the side of the shed it was gone. Not to be outdone it made another appearance during the week strolling down the front driveway, through the side gate and repeated its previous journey. It eventually disappeared. Never a dull moment around here with the wildlife. (But no possums!)
Back to the layout and I finally got some  more scenery work done. I did some work on the baseboard that adjoins the trestle baseboard.
Trestle on left hand side, baseboard join can be seen
As mentioned when I did the rockwork on the trestle baseboard I have moved away from using plaster and utilised the soft rock instead. This is not to say that I won't use plaster in future as it has its place in scenery work when the other options don't work. On this module I decided to try out the yellow foam insulation. When the edge is ripped/torn it has its own texture that I thought could replicate a rock wall. No harm in trying. I also got a pair of long nose pliers (short nose will work as well) and ripped into the foam randomly and it was starting to look okay. It is easy to cut and form and is harder and way different to the soft white cooler type foam.
Looking towards the trestle
Formation of the cutting
Harolds back!
Once you are happy with your gouging for the rock face then it is time to find the sample pot of 'Harold' my favourite brown paint for the cutting. I placed some grass on top of the cutting leftover from the previous layout. Nothing got wasted from the old layout. Scenery products are too expensive to throw away and restart. This is where those weekly take away food containers came in handy. Lucky when I did this painting is was warm and the paint dried quickly allowing me to dry brush on the highlights.
Bit by bit it starts looking better
The placement of cuttings around the layout means that you can get away without a backscene. I have to make some trees and undergrowth for the top of the cutting. Might have to borrow Dan Pickard for a week or so. This is where the drybrushing of highlight colours is done. It almost creates a 3D effect.
Closeup of rockwork with greenery added
The above photo shows how the rockwork comes out. I was pleased with the end results and after I had painted the rail sides and added ballast to the tracks in this section I felt that another section of the layout was well on its way.
NA tries the track for clearances

The other side of the cutting is started
One beauty of getting on with the scenery is that your workbench soon shrinks, I certainly won't be resting the hammer on this section in future. At least doing scenery has a visual result at the end where although doing benchwork and wiring are essential they eventually end up hidden.
NA awaiting the coal stage to be built
Most of the photo taking that I do is really hit and miss, you always submit the ones that turn out okay. With a recent purchase of a Samsung J5 camera I though why not try it out. The above shot of the NA was taken with the phone and I though came out quite well. So it might be a mix in the future of camera choices. Rest assured you will only see the good ones.
Till the next blog, happy narrow gauging!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Broadwater (3)

The track for the first crossing loop Broadwater have now been laid. So it is time to start doing some scenery on the board. Luckily it will be completely flat, so no hills or mountains to make.
The Broadwater baseboard connects directly to the trestle baseboard, as a matter of fact as you come around the curve, the is a level crossing prior to the station.
Level crossing at Broadwater
I have used thin cork sheeting to form the level crossing. Pollyfilla was inserted between the sleepers between the rails to form a solid base for the cork to rest on. A gap was then made for the flanges to run through. The crossing is at a slight angle, again using my theory of not having tracks parallel to the edges.
Level crossing coloured up
The photo above shows the roller door for the garage. It has been painted the wall colour. There is a backboard on the right hand of the photo behind the trestle. I plan to have a backboard also on Broadwater but this will be a later addition. With so many jobs to be done, one has to prioritise all the jobs, this one can wait.
With the level crossing in place I started to fill in the space between the edge of the road and the trestle baseboard. The join between the baseboards can be seen at the bottom of the photo. The boards are wing nutted together with the option to be pulled apart at some later date. It will then need the rails to be cut and a saw through the scenery between the boards.
This shot shows how close the trestle is to Broadwater.

The two baseboards are blended together
Scenery work can be slow and frustrating. You look at your work and wonder if the end result will get better. I had wondered with the above shot if the two sections would blend okay together.
It is almost impossible to get instant results, it all takes effort but works out in the end. If what you do you don't like, rip it up and start again.
A blend happens
The blend from another angle 
In the above photo I have put in some fencing to border off the yard from the road area. The point is worked in a wire in the tube and a 44 gallon drum has been used as the 'handle' to operate the point.
A close up of the join area. (There is a join under there somewhere)

Looking more complete. The siding will be for stock wagons
Amongst some of the many jobs to be done in the shed is to clean it all up so it looks a lot better. The far end is still a mixture of left over HO layout still with some track there and a virtual dumping ground for anything that is not immediately required. Each time I go into the shed I think that I must get in and clean it up, but time is precious so I choose to do more work on the layout instead. It will eventually get done, but there are priorities.
As I am putting in as much time as I can to get the layout built, I have become time poor in arranging to assemble the many kits that this scale requires you to do. It is a fine balance in that even if I had the trains ready there is virtually no where to run to and from at the moment. I took the opportunity to ask of a really great modeller young Stephen Postma if he would assemble two NC brakevan kits for me. The results are fantastic as shown in the following two photos. Stephen represents the young blood of the future in the hobby and its great that he has taken on this uncommon hobby scale. (But I am glad he has)
Small goods with two new NC vans run over the trestle and onto Broadwater.

Over Broadwater level crossing
Another thing that is obvious from my photos is that I haven't dressed up the NA's with all the bits and pieces yet. I have all the Ian Lindsay parts ready to go, but putting them on is a job for another day!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Broadwater (2)

Well the train lag has finally worn off from our groups trip to Melbourne. Anyone that has read the previous post on the Victorian trip to the end has either staying power, plenty of time on their hands or both.
It was really an enjoyable trip and we even survived the Victorian winter. As I have said previously I am using this blog as a virtual diary, one that had recorded the history of South Coast rail both in its HO and now On30 stages.
With the baseboards in place at Broadwater it was time to start laying some track. I am using the Peco O16.5 track which really suits British narrow gauge. The Micro Engineering tracks sleepers are more suited to American narrow gauge and we are stuck here in the middle modelling Victorian narrow gauge with no commercial track that really suits. Maybe we should all gang up on Peco and ask them to introduce some VR narrow gauge track. I know that you can hand lay track but to do that for the layout in entirety would require me to live to 140 years old and I probably wouldn't be able to see or hold a throttle by then. Never mind getting the wheel chair in through the door!.
Off the trestle and into Broadwater
The Broadwater baseboard adjoins the trestle baseboard in the corner. This means that I have completed the first of the two major bridges for the layout. The second bridge will be the Thomson River bridge or really my version of it. So this is where Broadwater is at, lucky with bridges either side of it.
There will be a road crossing at the beginning of the board as shown by the black paper in the left hand photo.
The siding to the right of the picture will contain a livestock loading facility and be long enough for two VR NM livestock wagons.
As I said in the last blog it would be easy to run the track parallel to the edge but I think the gentle curve in the track gives it more appeal.
I don't use any underlay in station yards, preferring to nail the track straight to the boards. Narrow gauge track was never renown for their ballasted track. This will allow me to use dirt directly around the track and surrounding yard. (Looks like another trip out to the street. I have found if I go around the corner I can get another type of dirt for variation.
Tools of track laying. (Ignore the fencing wire pliers)
 Broadwater baseboard runs across the roller door to the shed. It has never had a car in it and has been put to better use containing model railway layouts. It was a great spot in winter to pull up the door and sit there in the afternoon sun and work on the layout. Now that it is getting hotter it won't be pulled up as much.
Left hand side of Broadwater
 In the above photo is the left hand side of Broadwater where the Thomson River bridge baseboard will join. There is also a private siding for the shunting thereof in the future. Not sure what type of building it will be yet, but probably low relief. Which is a relief for me in that it will be quicker to build. The channels cut into the ply contain the point rodding and a bit of 'safety first' foam over them to stop me getting stabbed. (Which I am sure would have happened). The track with the carriage on it is the main, then the crossing loop and then the goods siding which is accessible from both ends.
Entrance to Broadwater from the trestle end
This will all work one day
Looking the other direction
So that's where we are at the moment. I have to fit the micro switches to the points for reliable operation and then start adding all the detail, ballast, rail painting etc etc.

How lucky can you be though. I was working on the Broadwater baseboard, heard a whistle and found a loco and log wagons heading over the trestle.
It brought my day to a fitting Climax!!  I'll sneak a few photos in.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Vic Trip Again

Last year around August 2016, the 'Famous Five' decided to head south to get a taste of steam that is hardly possible in New South Wales any more.
Back in 2016 we were to travel on the Snow train to Moe and also to travel to Gembrook on Puffing Billy. This is a link to the trip.
The main part of the trip was a ride by double headed R class steam from Melbourne to Castlemaine and transfer there to a J class operated by the Victorian Goldfields Railway. We were also able to do the ride on Puffing Billy on the Sunday, the Monday being devoted to visiting a local hobby shop as we are all railway modellers to various degrees and scales.
Bookings were organised with Steamrail, a hotel in Melbourne and we were going to try this year to actually travel to Melbourne via the XPT. Last year we were unfortunate in that we had to travel by bus owing to a strike by some ARTC workers.
Victoria being closer to the South Pole has a reputation for throwing up some variable weather. My preference in weather is these days is sitting on the colder side, rather than the heat I loved when younger.
Melbourne's weather
 As can be seen from the above photo we did our homework on what to expect re weather. Light rain is do able, but we can only rug up against the weather.
All the booking were done so all we had to do was to wait for the calendar to roll around to our departure date.

Friday 8th September 2017

This year we were going to be in luck. I didn't hear that the train was going to be a bus, so the alarm was set to an unheard of time of 5.15am. I was making sure that I reached Central station in plenty of time as on our last outing together, my train arrived Central just as the connection was pulling out.
My wife kindly drove me into Hornsby for a direct train to Central. Phew we arrived there on time and I walked around towards platform 1. I spotted Phil first as he is the tallest, then Mike etc.
Ignore the time on the clock it's wrong.
 As you do we walked to the front of the train to 'look at the engine'. We noticed that there is no owner names on the side of the power car or any of the carriages. Although they are operated by NSW Trainlink, it maybe that the government is trying to sell them off in the future? The clock in the above photo was wrong. We were set for departure at 7.32am but it was showing a lot later than that. Maybe the clock winder forgot to wind that side of the clock? The east face was correct, not sure about the others.
We settled into the seats in cattle class and headed out towards Melbourne on time. This train used to travel south via Strathfield once which made a buffer to catch it if delayed getting into Central.
There was nothing special happening about the trip, many of our party dropping off to sleep, probably due to the early rising on the day. We had four seats across and one in the advance row. We regularly rotated around so that no one got bored quickly and we had a chance to catch up with each other.
I grabbed a packet of sangers to have on the train and the others managed to get a pre-order on lunch. Is this what they call fast food? I saw a butter chicken meal that looked like it was 90% rice and a hint of chicken. So I can't recommend it. The pork dish looked nice.
It was interesting going past the Goulburn roundhouse where there were many stowed locos in the area.
Along the way there were people on and off. Most seemed to want to sleep the journey off. Another highlight was seeing the numerous locos around the roundhouse area. A lot of repairs are carried out there.
At Junee platform I was also able to catch up with Peter Neve and Ben O'Malley even if it was only for two minutes! Not a lot was able to be said.
Another point of interest was the large collection of locos around the turntable at Seymour. They had many steam and diesel locos on site.
The only other 'distraction' on the trip was a continuous visit along the aisle with a young five year old named Billy who had an OCD issue we thought. He kept counting out aloud and allocating numbers to us and if we interrupted him our number became 'you are zero' Luckily on one visit he brought a Thomas the Tank colouring book. We were able to gain a half hours grace by convincing him to return to his grandmother and colour in Thomas. At least he had trains in his veins!
Having seen what was on offer for lunch we chose to hold off on dinner and have dinner in Melbourne. What a surprise, the dinner menu read out was exactly the same as the lunch menu except a bit older. I'd call it leftovers.
We eventually arrived at Southern Cross station, what the older generation would know as Spencer Street. The Myki cards from last year were checked and topped up. We decided to stay a the same accommodation in Queen Street as last year. For the three nights it was quite a reasonable price and the reasoning for this was that there was a disco on the lower level. But you do get offered 'free earplugs' from the reception desk as you check in. I thought I would be reasonably stuffed by bed time and left the earplugs for someone else. The bags were taken to the room and and we decided to head for Lygon Street for a meal.
We met in the lobby at 7.0pm and headed off into the night led by our tour guide Phil who knew most of Melbourne like the back of his Gregory's.
Jumping on a tram in Swanston street we eventually got off at Lygon Street, greeted by a thing called rain, which we haven't seen in Sydney for some time. We ended up at the University Cafe and downed a great meal which the others downed with red wine. My choice of poison was just a apple cider, which I enjoyed. One thing we all noticed was how skimpily the young girls dressed on the night and we were all rugged up!
We made our way back on the tram to our hotel and decided to meet early in the lobby and head for Southern Cross for our trip to Maldon. Although being 'upgraded' at the hotel we still managed to hear the thump thump of the disco during the night. Their definition of an upgrade is to be moved a floor higher away from the music. Although I can recognise many songs when they are played I didn't manage to recognise any during the night.

Saturday 9th September 2017

Another early start saw us gather in the lobby suitably rugged up. We could have been going to Antartica based on a combination of hats, beanies, gloves etc. Some of the crew even admitted to be wearing long johns. I must admit the Castlemaine temperature of 13c max was a little on the chilly side, I didn't think we would expect any snow.
Look - maximum of 13c
 The chilly weather deserves more than the continental breakfast that was the only thing offered at the hotel. We thought that a plate of bacon and eggs would help line the stomach and last out until lunch could be sussed out in Castlemaine. Down at Southern Cross station we washed down the breakfast with some coffee. A whistle and the sound of a steam train let us know that our transport was there ready to go.
Last year on the Snow train trip we were joined by a friend of the other guys that had a long friend ship. I must admit that Leigh last year came loaded with a present from his wife in the shape of a bag chocker block full of cakes and biscuits. This year it was repeated, so thanks to Leigh and his wife for looking after us.
We met Leigh on the platform as he had travelled in from the Dandenong line to join us. We booked through Steamrail and luckily we got a compartment normally an eight seater but they only booked the six of us in there. I promise no money changed hands but we were booked in Car 1 right next to the engine in the down direction.
What a sight! Double R class steam and the Overland to Adelaide on the right
 We were all excited to be able to travel behind double headed steam, something that is a forgotten art in New South Wales. I doubt if we will ever see double headed 38 class in NSW.
All fired up and ready to go
 It was rather cool in downtown Melbourne on Saturday morning, so once we all moved into the compartment it was doors closed and got our body heat to warm it all up. We were on the platform opposite the Overland train to Adelaide and due to depart at the same time. Our departure was slightly delayed so the parallel run didn't eventuate. I am not familiar with the track layouts in Victoria so I didn't know how far we would have run anyway. Wasn't it great to be behind steam again. We were close enough to the engine that I am sure our carriage was partly steam heated!
One thing I noticed in comparison to last year's Snow Train trip was the lack of trackside sightseers. I am also not familiar with the grades on the Bendigo line but there was enough 'stack talk' to be enjoyable.
After a while our team leader Phil, decided it was time for a coffee looking at Leigh (who had a bag full of goodies) The coffee was certainly appreciated to warm the inner soul. The wonderful cakes just added to the pleasure.
The Bendigo line was original double line from Melbourne to Bendigo but for some reason when they decided to make this line high speed, they made it single track with crossing loops. This may work well when they have the normal rostered trains operating but when they have to thread the needle with our extra train then delays can be expected. We were passed by trains in the same and opposite directions.
Double R's at the South Pole
I got out of the train at the above location for a photo. I don't know where it was. The wind was that cold my legs felt like icy poles. A quick photo then back into the carriage to thaw out. It was beautiful scenery along the way and after a short journey we reached Castlemaine where we would transfer over to a second steam train operated by the Victorian Goldfields Railway.
Our R's head off to Bendigo
The group had a eclectic collection of carriages making up the train. Had we paid up more we could have travelled in the old parlour car of the Overland express. When we looked through the windows they even had snacks and nibblies laid out. 
The train was hauled by J549 which was in beautiful condition a credit to the organisation.
This is the loco our 'head of staff' Phil had actually driven a while ago on a hands on experience. You even get to  shunt and make up your train. His brave family even rode in the carriage at the rear.
One thing that was noticeable was the large amount of wattle trees all out in magnificent yellow. There were also some that looked like miniature gums full of yellow flowers. Magic.
The wattles in Castlemaine
 After trundling along at 15km/h, passing through Muckleford we eventually reached the station of Maldon. We had a few hours here to explore the town and partake of lunch.
2017 Old Farts re-union in Maldon
So after a quick snap at the station sign just to prove to the wives that we actually went, we headed off towards the town to explore and look for lunch. I suppose Maldon is typical of many country towns in respect of the houses and shops. Gold was discovered there in 1853 and became a prosperous town until the gold typically ran out and most people moved on.
The town still maintains its heritage which is particularly evident when you see the shops along the main street. It was enjoyable to be able to see these old shops. Many of them seemed to support old wares aimed at the tourists.
Built a year after gold was discovered in the town and still standing!
Main street of Maldon
 I think we were becoming acclimatised to the weather as it didn't seem so cold. After walking the length of both sides of Maldon town we settled on a pub for lunch. Phil our head vintner settled down to another local red. A nice warming meal was had and after that we all scattered to our places of interest in town agreeing to meet up at the station before departure time. Young Mike settled on going into the local hardware looking for some brass screws which are apparently hard to get. The guy in the shop told us "You are the second person within a half of an hour from Sydney to come in and ask for them" The answer was still no but he recommended a shop in Castlemaine where he could get them. Nothing like a Bunnings store they even had the raw floor boards on the floor. Such nostalgia, I couldn't check the butcher shop to see if they had sawdust on the floor.
Home made giant sized drains in Maldon
 I was impressed with their huge drains at the side of the road. Maybe they have huge rain squalls here, not something I would like to model on the layout.
We all eventually met up at the station and could actually walk around the station yard without a vest, safety boots, helmet, safety goggles and a mountain of paperwork filled out in triplicate. Just like I remembered it many years ago here in NSW. (Not any more)

The J gets ready to return us to Castlemaine
 An on time departure and a steady heart stopping 15km/h trip got us down to Castlemaine. We had a stop at Muckleford on the way through for anyone wanting another photo. I stayed in the compartment.
Our train pulled into the branch platform waiting for our R class connection from Bendigo. While waiting I went up and had a look in the signal box which is still retained for working the branchline points and signals. Although all the levers are still in place only a few are now used to set up the routes. The signal man had his labrador there to keep him company. He said that the dog starts wagging its tail when a train comes near. Who needs a train tracker?
After a few Velocity trains to and from Bendigo our train appeared in the distance. Loading was very slow as the train was full of passengers from Bendigo who had to walk through three rear cars that were off the platform. Once they were off then we had to walk through the cars to get to our carriage. We did a parallel run out of Castlemaine with the J branching off and headed to bed up at Maldon.
Again on the return we did a few crosses on the single line threading our way back to Melbourne. Four of us had actually gone to the same school many moons ago and so naturally the conversation had brought up many topics over that period. It was a great time talking amongst those that managed to stay awake.
We eventually got back to Southern Cross after a fantastic day. Unfortunately Leigh had missed a train by half an hour but eventually got home. Leigh didn't want to take the leftover cake and biscuits so our head chef Phil promised to look after them carefully wrapped up in a Steamrail provided plastic bag, that was intended for rubbish. The intent was to drag them out of the bag on another day for so called 'afternoon tea' (Didn't happen)
Our train arrives back at Southern Cross
R761 has cut off and runaround to the rear of the train to tow back to Newport
We got back to Southern Cross and were able to relive walking up to a steam loco and enjoying the moment. After a short while the lead loco cut off the train and ran around to the rear. It would then tow the train back to the Newport workshops where the train is stabled. You can see in the photo how little coal was left in the tender, I wonder how much oil was left in 761? Hopefully enough to get back to Newport.
We went to a local cafe on the station and had a drink and a snack. A walk up Bourke Street again and down Queen Street to our hotel for an early night for us all. And yes the disco was running again that night. Two of us were Manly football fans and received the sad news that night that our season was over. Not sure who I will go for now.

Sunday 10th September, 2017

Today's entertainment was a ride on Puffing Billy out to Gembrook from Belgrave. We also did this trip last year but at least this year we didn't have to get a bus part way due to trackwork.
Back down Bourke Street again to Southern Cross station and another breakfast before boarding the 8.39am train to Lilyvale. We had to change trains at Ringwood and eventually arrived at Belgrave at around 10.0am. We obtained our tickets for the 11.10am train to Gembrook. There is only one train a day to there. A walk down to the end of the train and we noticed that G42 was again in steam. Last year this loco double headed with an NA to Menzies Creek where the G is taken off and returns to Belgrave with some of the carriages. Well after seeing the G doing the same shunt as last year was enough for us to jump on the double header to Menzies Creek. The G was duly taken off and the remaining NA took the train onto Lakeside.
NA8 resting outside Belgrave Loco shed
G42 shunts down towards the 10.30am train to Lakeside
Puffing Billy still has a lot to be thankfull from the large quantity of Asian tourists travelling on the train. They must do the short hop from Belgrave and then back onto the bus at Menzies Creek. Any money in the till is good money. We eventually arrived at Lakeside where it was time for a pit stop and into the cafe there for a warming hot chocolate. There is a bunch of very tame crimson rosellas there that seem to amuse the visitors. A few were hanging out on the gutter above the cafe waiting for a hot chip lunch. A sort of a Maccas for birds. It won't do their figures any good. We had about forty minutes to fill in there until our Gembrook train arrived. It was still cool and we managed to get into a combination brake van for the journey, having survived the journey to there in an open NBH. We eventually arrived at Gembrook, had a quick look around the station area and then led by or head maitre d' Phil crossed over the road opposite the station to the restored Gembrook Hotel for lunch. Phil had the usual red, I had a schooner glass of cider which the bartender told me was brewed in Healsville, which to me didn't matter. But it was a nice drop. For lunch it was a rump steak. Some of the guys settled for bangers and mash, which I reckon you can get at home anytime.
12A at the water tank Gembrook
Most of the team stayed on for desert and I must say that the bread and butter pudding sounded tempting, but at $13 I gave it a miss, preferring to head to the ash pit at the station to collect something I didn't get last year. I reckon there is nothing like the real thing so I decided to collect some original ash from the ash pit to add authenticity to my layout. There had been some rain there recently so the sample I got was dark. I hope it will go okay on the layout in future.
Ahh the real thing NA ash
Last year I forgot to get a container to put the ash into, so I knocked off a plastic bag from the Maldon trip the previous day from the compartment. Only to loose it before I got there to collect. So I went to the shop and asked if they had a spare plastic bag. It would have been too complicated to explain what I wanted it for.
With the bag of ash safely stowed in my backpack I went into the shop to see what I could get at the book shop.
I spotted a big pile of the 'Narrow Gauge' magazine which is the house magazine of the Puffing Billy Railway. Only trouble was I was flying back the next day and they would have exceeded my luggage allowance. Ah well next time I am in Melbourne?
The other guys had finally finished their lunches and waddled over to the train. Luckily our selected carriage was at the end of the train. By this time after three o'clock it had fined up and the sun was out in contrast to when we left Belgrave in the morning. That's Melbourne weather for you. I was hoping the long john guys weren't overheating.
Fielder trestle - looks like the one on my layout.
If you have never been on the Puffing Billy you must put it on your bucket list, it is a great trip with fantastic scenery along the way. Hopefully it will be preserved in this format forever.
Along the way home
Lakeside and another trip arrives from Belgrave.
Retracing our previous path we arrived back at Lakeside where we crossed another trip that had come out from Belgrave. Didn't see any rosellas this time, maybe they were already full from the mornings foodfest.
A sample of some of the scenery
We kept on plugging away on the trip back to Belgrave. The cool climate up in the Dandenongs seem to suit the rhododendrons, there were some beautiful examples to be seen but all the one colour. There were also hundreds of the tree ferns along the way. This is one plant I would like to see made well for layouts. There are plastic ones but the leaves are too thick.
Along the way back
This guy was here last year and will be till he drops I reckon at Menzies Creek
A short stop was made at Menzies Creek. I overheard the guard saying about the station guy that he won't raise his flag to go until the exact minute. I think the guard just wanted to get back to Belgrave.
Arriving back at Belgrave. I don't think we lost any of the little kiddies hanging out of the train!
All too soon we arrived back at Belgrave, a long day but very enjoyable. I purchased a PB key ring from the shop which is now in use.
Most of us went straight up to the waiting connection, but Michael stayed on to search out a magnum. We spotted him heading towards the train on the high path, but he eventually joined us for a direct train back to Flinders Street.
After an uneventful trip back to Flinders St upon arrival we once again turned to our head man Phil for guidance re the evening meal. He suggested we head for South Gate where there are some eateries. It was on the other side of the Yarra River. I suggested we walk straight across but we eventually took a foot bridge. Along the pathway to the bridge there were a whole pile of vegans/animal rights dudes who were drawing their messages in chalk all over the walls and path way. Just for a stir as I walked past a girl writing away I said "Can't wait to sink my teeth into a nice steak tonight" Yes she heard me and gave out a "Ha Ha" I relented and only got some honey chicken and blackbean. After a good meal we headed back to the hotel for our last night in Melbourne. And the good news was that the disco doesn't operate on a Sunday night.

Monday 11th September 2017

Monday morning finally turned up and it was a no urgent deadline morning. I decided that I needed a few things from a hobby shop and went out to Trainworld at North Brighton again.
The other guys decided to go out to St. Kilda for the morning by tram.
I walked down to Flinders Street and caught the 9.12am train out on the Sandringham line getting off at North Brighton, remembering where we went the year before. As I was there early before their 10.0am opening I went to a cafe and had a coffee and some fruit toast to fill in some time.
At the shop I got most of the items I needed and a few more. I was after a track gauge but Murphy was with me and they didn't have the one I wanted. I obtained another narrow gauge point for the layout and I noticed a video they had running in the shop which was "Remembering the Beechy" all about the Beech Forest narrow gauge line. You can't have too much research material.
So with the few purchases I headed back to the station and had to meet up with the guys at the bus station at Southern Cross at 12 midday.
All united once again we got our Skybus ticket an headed off for our 2.0pm flight back to Sydney. A quick lunch, a drink and onto the 2.0pm flight with Virgin. No sooner had they dished out the drinks then we were set for landing. Into Central on the Airport line and a transfer to a suburban service saw us split up and head for home.
So that is a quick summary of our fantastic weekend away with some good mates and plenty of fun was had by all. If you have made the reading of the blog to here, you have done well. I promise the next entry will have some models in it.