Tag Archives: exhibition

Site seeing – February 19 – The small passenger layout edition

While searching for ideas recently I came across a now very old set of posts from 2001 onwards about the building of a narrow yet long passenger station layout. Onto today’s site of interest.

Site 1: Simon Martin’s Shelf Layout project

This appears to be an orphaned site, and I cannot find any information or updates beyond the 2005 update on the page. Which is a real shame as this layout is a simple, well designed and yet highly operational layout for the single operator at home or at an exhibition.

The track plan is clean and has no major needs apart from two switches and some flextrack. You could even use this to get into building your own track work. Operationally there is much to work with. Trains may arrive and depart from either platform. Heading to the fueling depot means that you need to either shunt back onto the main, then into the second platform road prior to running back into the fueling/storage road. Planning your moves here would be very worthwhile in the smooth operation of the layout.

The fueling/storage point on the bottom left of the plan gives options for storing stock on the layout without over crowding the scene. Scenically the station building hides the end of the platform roads and gives the layout a greater depth than would otherwise be the case.

I think this would be a great design to work with not only in the short-term, but for the longer term by adding all the bells and whistles (such as automated announcements, details, more scenery and upgraded ready to run models.

I’ve tried finding anything else by the blogger but have been unsuccessful. I’d love to see more of this layout and what it became. No luck however. So we’ll just have to enjoy the layout as it would have been. If you know anything about the layout, the author or have contact details for Simon, let me know in the comments.


2017 Corio Model Railway Club show report (28-29 January)

The city of Geelong (of which Corio is a suburb) is just over 90 kilometres away from home, that’s around an hours travelling time each way in the car. I may be getting fussy in my old age. I find myself considering the costs of getting to and entering shows versus the enjoyment gained as a criteria for attendance. The Corio Club’s show is still one of the best large non-metropolitan Melbourne shows going, although I find that my fascination with the ‘BIG’ exhibition layouts diminishing, and the desire to find and watch small layouts is growing rapidly. Don’t mistake that I am only interested in small layouts. What I want to see at exhibitions are more layouts by individuals, for individuals. That is people who’ve built a layout, who can show others how to build a layout for themselves. The large club layouts are fantastic to me but I know that they are beyond my personal reach, and I am sure that when the punters who come through the door so full of enthusiasm get home, take a long hard look at the price of trains, track, baseboard, effort, blah, blah, and blah are left with a hollow feeling. That is the feeling of not being able to achieve. I’m hoping to reverse that trend with my own small layouts this year. More on those for later posts; during the meanwhilst let’s on to the exhibition report.

Exhibition report

The 44th MR Exhibition was very well attended. So well attended in fact that it was very warm inside the location and packed to the gills. Moving around was difficult to achieve, photography even more so. The site this year was larger than in previous years, moving from Geelong West out to Belmont, near Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus. It appeared easy to get to by public transport and by car. Well supported by the local and national vendors including Broad Gauge Models, Outback Model Company, SDS Models, Kerroby Models, Train World Pty Ltd, Road and Rail Hobbies, and many more. This year there did seem to be more vendors than exhibitors though. I understand that you need vendor support, yet I felt crowded in by vendors and struggled to see enough layouts.

One brighter note was the layout bought by, and showcasing the models of, Phoenix Models and Hobbies. Not only the best layout at the show (small of course), even though it was not listed in the program. I was impressed by the central idea which dovetails nicely with other layout ideas I’ve been working on for some time. Now let’s get into the images.

Image Galleries

There were several layouts of note. Some I’ve shown on the blog before, others new.


The first is Yendys from the ACT Model Society. A large layout imagining a section of the leafy outskirts of the Sydney are. As a Sydney boy born and bred it reminds me most of the main western line between Stanmore and Ashfield. It could just as well be the Bankstown line between Sydenham and Hurlstone Park. If you’ve ever spent any time in Sydney’s inner city by the railway you can smell the brake dust and diesel fumes the moment you see this layout.


This HO scale layout displays the area around Alexandra in Melbourne’s north-east as it was in 1947, prior to the closure of the timber tramway. The track plan is the original Victorian Railways (VR) track plan. Buildings are scratchbuilt from photos with the Broad Gauge (5’3″) VR line coming in from the left side of the layout and the narrow gauge tramway coming in from the right. Each has its own fiddle yard. You can read more about the tramway by visiting the museum’s website. If you look closely you’ll see on the model the green Kelly & Lewis 0-6-0DM of 1935 in the images.

Phoenix Models and Hobby display layout

This layout was the standout of all layouts at the show. Yet it was not in the Exhibitors program. I hope they’ll bring it to many more shows in the future. There’ll be more on this layout and it’s features in another post soon.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope that you enjoyed the layout tours. This is not all of them mind you but the standout ones I wanted to share.


Site Seeing – May 14 (the All American Model Railroad show issue)

Thanks to Neil Cowie, a friend and former fellow member of the Essendon Model Railway club in Glenroy – Melbourne, I got invited down to his new club’s show today.

Site 1: US Model Railroad Club of Australia

The US Model Railroad Club of Australia are all US modellers (obviously) and model a variety of US prototype. You can find the club’s web presence on Facebook. Their show was open today, Saturday 14 May, and will be again tomorrow from 09:30 – 16:00 hours at 27 Talmage Street, Albion, Victoria. For locals it is Melways ref: 26 – F10.

The club has only been going for a relatively short time (a couple of years) but they’ve secured club rooms in an iconic (some might say landmark) building in suburban Melbourne and have made a solid start on a large HO scale club layout.

Based in the former Albion railway sub-station, one of several built around the Melbourne metropolitan railway system in the 1910s which housed large rotary converters to transform the 20,000V AC electric current supplied by the Victorian Railway’s Newport Power Station to 1500V DC to power Melbourne’s electric trains. Luckily that very building now allows them plenty of floor space.

If you get  chance tomorrow drop by and visit with Neil. Tell him that Andrew sent you. He’ll get a kick out of that I’m sure. Below is a work in progress shot of the layout.


Exhibition report – March 12, 2016 (Kyneton & Sandown – in that order)

Trip Detail

Wondering if we could make two exhibitions at opposite ends of Melbourne with nothing but public transport, boy wonder and I headed off early (07:19 hours) from Ballarat station on a joint VL34 – VL04 (with VL 1234 trailing the consist) to Southern Cross.

Vlocity set VL21 at Ballarat Railway Station Image courtesy of “Wongm’s Rail Gallery”

Quickly moving over to platform 12 we picked up the suburban service and headed off a few minutes later.

Sandown Park railway station is on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines in the South-East of the city. Roughly an hour out-of-town we arrived at the gates of the exhibition at 09:55 hours.

With the crowds already building and the exhibition opening at 10:00 AM we were pleasantly surprised with how they managed to move the crowd quickly through the racecourse turnstiles; our experience was smooth and speedy.

By 10:10 we were inside and looking around. Now onto the exhibition report.


Overall I was disappointed; mainly because I want to see layouts at a model railway exhibition. I understand that vendor support is critical to the running of all shows that want to be around more than once. However, moving to an exhibition model that has few layouts and lots of vendors is not my idea of how to spend 10 dollars adult and five dollars a child, plus fares/fuel and maintenance. Unfortunately this is what Sandown is; a vendor fest. I’ve not been for a couple of years and have no intention of returning until the list of layouts are more numerous.

The verdict: If you want to buy something then you should be there. If you want to look at new and exciting layouts, I’m sorry but this is not the place to be.


  • There were many large layouts, among which boy wonder delighted in the Lego display. Big and well done. Nice one Lego lads and lassies.
  • Neil Cowie’s Northern Pacific – a basic 4 x 8 with two 6 foot wings on opposing corners. This was the first run of Neil’s layout on the exhibition circuit, and what I saw I liked. The group he is a member of will be holding an open day in April I believe. More about that in another post.
  • Leopold – while a roundy-roundy had a lot of interesting track and operational potential. The modelling was very good.
  • Finally; Ravenswood was again another roundy-roundy with excellent topography and scenery and I believe based on an actual location here in Victoria (I’m from Sydney remember).

Sandown to Kyneton

We left the exhibition at 11:30 and headed over to the station, which is a walk of only a couple of minutes. Then a suburban train back to Southern Cross (that required a little work since the train was 9 minutes down and finished at Flinders St). Due to the late running train we missed our connection to Bendigo and had to wait an hour for the next train. On time our Velocity’s left Southern Cross at 13:37 heading for Kyneton. The run down to Kyneton was speedy with few stops, but the track left something to be desired with several kinks throwing the train and passengers about.

Kyneton station is beautiful. An old fashioned bluestone edifice that says Victorian Railways from the foundation up; modernised of course but still lovely. Arriving on time at 14:39 we walked the 1100 metres to the venue (which crosses a river and beside the town’s botanic garden) to the venue.


Kyneton is not a small exhibition, nor is it a large one. Well supported by the vendors it’s the layouts that rule the show. Suffice to say that Kyneton is my preferred long-weekend model rail show. They seem to attract great modellers to the club and have a great selection of layouts every year.

The verdict: Kyneton is the go-to exhibition on the March long-weekend. If you’ve not been before I suggest that you put it in your diary and take a trip on the train out with boy-wonder and I next year.

The Highlights:

  •  Glyn Halt – a simple narrow gauge layout shown on the blog before.
  • Great Colne – a freelanced North British layout this is a work in progress, but it looks like a real cracker. I am looking forward to seeing this finished at next years show.
  • Alexandra – wow – nothing more needs be said, except that this is what Sandown should have had.

Colinsville Riverland Railroad Company – a great little whimsy, with outstanding modelling and imagination.

  • Beechy – an 0n30 masterpiece with great scenery and modelling making an eye-catching package
  • Town and Country – first seen at the Albury (Laverton) show in 2015 still a great layout after seeing it at several shows recently.

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Show report – January 23 – Corio

The Corio model railway club hold their exhibition each year on or about the Australia Day weekend at the tail end of January. This year it was on the 23rd and 24th of January at the Geelong West Town Hall. It is a very good location with plenty of parking locally and some great food and shopping close by. Close to public transport and easy to get to as well for those coming from out-of-town (like me).

As this is usually the first show I get to (unless i can get down to Warrnambool or Philip Island for their show at the beginning of January) my expectations are riding high and these are usually met on arrival.

This year however the show seemed to be a case of the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good

When it’s good, it was very, very good.

  1. Jackson’s Creek (Gallery view)

Jackson's Creek-01

This layout is a On30 layout showcasing the narrow gauge railways of Victoria. There were others apart from Puffing Billy though they all used the same or similar equipment to deliver their service. The presentation was outstanding. Well lit, presented and displayed (although a little more action would have kept people around a little longer) this was the outstanding large layout of the show. There are more pictures in the gallery available from the link above.

2. Murri (Gallery View)


Based on the Victorian South West, Murri provides a very well displayed layout for big trains running through typical Victorian countryside. I particularly liked the West Coast railway set running on the Saturday morning. For such a big layout though, there was little action happening and that downgraded it from best large layout for me. There are more pictures in the gallery available from the link above.

3. Micro Layout (Gallery View)

Tucked away in the back corner of the show, was what I consider the best layout in show.


Well presented, with a high standard of work throughout and ideal to help get people into the business of building small and interesting layouts this unnamed layout deserved much more attention from the club than it received. There were two other Micro layouts (and they’re in the picture, but they were put in the shade by this little beauty as you can see by the presentation, and the attention of the young man in the extreme right of the photo. The more you looked into the layout box, the more you got. The track plan was very simple but the level of presentation completely overwhelmed you.

What let the presentation down though was that it was not operating, and the builder was not there. The person minding the store had no idea and could not talk to you about the layout at all. Come on Corio, you have a real gem here, and this should have been shouted from the roof tops!

The bad

When it was bad, it was awful.

Rather than point fingers and show photos let’s talk about the standard of presentation. An exhibition aims to publicly display works of art, craft or other items of interest or provide a display or demonstration of a skill.

I am not sure that simply running a train on a layout is enough though. Especially when these were at very low height; which while perfect for 4 year olds do nothing for grumpy 50 year olds to whom they are of the greatest interest.

One layout in particular was very low in both height and presentation standard with cars derailing and operators not noticing. Talk about embarrassing? It was in a dark area of the hall and had no light rig to focus attention on the layout areas. I’ve seen this layout before and by comparison it looked old, dusty and tired. And not in a good way.

The ugly

I was disappointed to note the layouts at the show that were not ready to exhibit. Among the problems were layouts still being set up an hour after the show opened, very poor lighting on many of the layouts, and what appeared to be constant derailments on one of the vendor’s layouts already mentioned.

More so was me apparently missing out on a range of layouts and vendors tucked away in a part of the hall – according to the exhibition guide – that was neither signed nor pointed out by club members. That was a real disappointment when I reviewed the day on my return home.


Being one of the closest non-Ballarat exhibitions the Corio show is one of my favourite exhibitions and it really starts my railway exhibition year. It’s still a 190 km round trip to see it by car but normally is well worth the effort. I’ve written an email to the club about my views and while I don’t expect a response I hope that there is a change next year – for the better.

You can find out more about the club and the next show by visiting the website at: http://www.coriomrc.org/.

Exhibition Report – Caulfield Victoria 2015

I travelled to Caulfield (some 130 Km) from home on Saturday the 22nd of August. I’m not complaining about the train ride, I never do, but I have to say that I expected better than I got at the exhibition.

The venue is large, well-lit, and well laid out. There is great vendor support, and there were some nice layouts on site. But – and I hesitate because I know that there’ll be some wailing and moaning when I say this – I did not enjoy my time at the show today and I did not enjoy seeing and photographing the layouts on offer; here’s why.

Issue number one: The vendors got all the light

If you’ve ever been to a race track (as in where horses race) you’ll know that the windows facing the track let in a lot of light. Why then do you put all the vendors there, who usually, but not always I agree, have their own lights. The layouts were by and large tucked away in dark holes in the venue, and the lighting on these layouts generally was not up to the task given the darkness that came about from the large walls and escalator spaces in which they found themselves.

I’ve got an idea. How about you give me the light I need to take my photographs (without a flash and without the need to run my digital camera at ISO 800 ) so that I can capture the model railway layouts in a reasonable amount of light. I understand that the vendors need light too. But since most of them had access to their own sources in any case, I wonder why they needed to be put at the windows. I guess what I’m wondering is: Was it a model railway exhibition, or a model railway manufacturer trade show, with a couple of layouts thrown in to keep the punters happy?

Issue number two: Layouts spread all over the place

I felt like I had to walk a mile to see the layouts. There was no logical layout to the layouts, tucked as they were about the space. Is there any reason the organisers could not cluster the layouts (with some natural light) and cluster the vendors in a vendor area? Don’t get me wrong, I bought three Athearn Blue box 50 foot gondolas (at $10.00 AU a pop – may I add my thanks to Casula Hobbies) so I spent some money beyond the $10.00 entry fees.

Some of the layouts were so well hidden that it was only on my second time walking around that I noticed them.

So what am I asking for?

Stawell Victoria’s Grampian Model Railroader (GMR) exhibition site at the SES Hall in Stawell showing what I mean about having lots of light for the viewing of the layouts (Courtesy of the GMR Website)

I’m interested in the modelling aspect of the hobby. I want to watch well modelled trains run through well modelled scenery. I want to see what other layout designers have come up with to dazzle me. I want to also see what the manufacturers have come out with. But mainly I’m interested in seeing layouts. 2015 will be the last time I’ll be visiting Caulfield. You may not agree, and I’m OK with that. I lived in the US for 10 years and the trend of having the manufacturers overwhelm exhibitions is long entrenched in the Texas modelling scene. It’s not something that I want to see happen here. Vendor support is critical for the success of model railway shows; they help offset the costs of hiring the space. However, it’s a model railway show. Let’s all think on that for a moment before we begin to pander too much to the vendors at the expense of the modellers and the layout exhibitors.

Your thoughts are always welcome, whether they’re bouquets for brick-bats. Have a great day.

Site seeing – August 9th

Just the one site to see today, on YouTube, and the background idea for a future layout design. Let’s away!

Site 1: Bacchus Marsh, Victoria

Whenever I travel to Melbourne on the train I pass through Bacchus Marsh (it’s around the halfway point between Ballarat and Melbourne). I recently found a new channel on YouTube featuring Trams and Trains from around Melbourne. Watching the operations in the video below at Bacchus Marsh led me to thinking about an exhibition layout. With the wealth of Ready to run (RTR) rolling stock available and the intensive working of the passenger service (especially the storage of train sets) this could have the makings of a great medium-sized exhibition layout.

First watch the video and then take a look at the signalling diagram below.

Video 1: V/Line Variety at Bacchus Marsh Railway Station in 2012

Bacchus March Signalling & Track Layout

Image 1: The Bacchus Marsh signalling diagram & Tram layout

I think that there is plenty enough in the track layout to keep an exhibition crew going all weekend. With the station being both a single platform terminus and through platform (with the right hand side going through to Ballarat and beyond) this could be nirvana for DMU & Loco hauled railway modellers. Your thoughts?