Monday, May 31, 2010

Vision For The Future

I guess at some stage we all stop being a 'Train Player' and become railway modellers. For me it was at about the time the railway group created their first modular setup back in 1996 and i had dreams of creating a home layout for myself. I had always wanted what inspired me when reading model railroader etc. Large pine trees, Timber trestles, Canyons etc. I had taken some advise from a few friends and to model a certain prototype and possibly research and model an area that had not really been modelled. The jointly owned trackage of the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific's Camas prairie line in Northern Idaho fitted the bill. The secondary trackage of the camas prairie line followed the snake river from Lewiston Idaho, Branched from this a short distance east and climbed the Lapwai Canyon over many timber trestles up onto the rich grain fields across to Grangville. It all sounded great......But the railway never eventuated. I did however use my collected locos and rolling stock on the Railway groups Layout and still do today. Pictured above is a section of the old layout modules before they were exhibited.

The change to NSW modelling happened in a strange way. I was involved in the Glenreagh Mountain Railway where i was training to be a fireman for their tourist railway on Loco 1919. The organisation was offered through the Office of Rail heritage, An organisation put in place to manage the NSW heritage railway collection, two locomotives a several end platform carriages. Loco's 2606 and 3085 were the locos originally offered. I took a keen interest in the possibility of restoring the 26 class and as such researched the loco a little.

While at a good friends home railway i discovered that he had a Brass model of a 26. I had to have one! I begged and pleaded for him to sell it to me but he would not budge. He did however find me Bergs Brass 26 in the for sale section of AMRM. A quick phone call and it was mine. A mint condition factory painted 26 class. That was the beginning of my NSW railway modelling interest.

I started to collect a few small items......Well, two 60 class garrets, Eureka ones both with sound. Though i justified the purchase to the BOSS as one was for Daughter Abbi! At this stage we had the house sorted and the home layout was looking promising. What did i want to do?

I had found the American modelling quite easy and had done quite a bit on the modules for the group layout. I wanted more of a challenge and new that NSW modelling would be that as most items needed to be scratch built or be it advanced kits (loco's etc). I had also become fairly fussy with my US trains and wanted to maintain a similar level of detail in both the layout, loco's and rolling stock to be used. I also wanted to follow along the same lines as the US interest and model a specific location and possibly time period. As i had already had the Garrets i would need to model a location that they where used.

While having a discussion about trains with a club member, he was telling me about when he used to load the S wagons onto the steam trains at Denman when he was younger. Denman is a short distance from Muswellbrook along the Muswellbrook to Merriwa branch. With the thought for a railway in mind i begun to research a little on this particular stretch of line.

Muswellbrook, the junction for the branch, had a large yard with loco facility at the eastern end. Beyond the turntable and engine house was a large 'Y' where they turned the garrets after their trip from Newcastle. The Garrets were rarely used past Muswellbrook as the Ardglen tunnel was too tight and the heat and fumed from the garrets would harm the drivers. Almost opposite the Loco shed was the Muswellbrook No 1 Colliery. Coal being the major commodity of the area.

Muswellbrook No 2 Colliery was further east along the main and was severd by a short branch from St Hellier's. Pictured below loco 5362 returns to Muswellbrook with a train of S,K and LCH/CCH hoppers from the no.2 colliery.

Along the branch to Merriwa were several towns including Denman, Myambat, Sandy Hollow and Gungal. The line generally served the farming community however at Myambat was the Army Munitions base. A small siding led into the base were the army's ammunition and explosives could be unloaded from Goods wagons.
The terminus at Merriwa was the home for the local passenger service in the form of a CPH witch was housed in the single engine shed at almost the extremity of the line. Along side the shed was a 60' turntable for turning the 30T or 50 class goods locos that were often used. Towering the town on the northern side of the line is a large grain Silo fed from the local fields of the area.

The railway had it all. And so it was chosen for future railway research and home layout.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Hi there and welcome,
This is my first attempt at creating a Blog. I have named this blog 'Muswellbrook and Merriwa Railway' as i hope to recreate this area of the NSWGR in my home layout and would like to share my experience in creating the layout and numerous other modeling projects i encounter along the way with those who are interested. Here is a bit about myself before we get into the good stuff:

Being fairly young, I have had to first set myself up with a home for my wife Trudy and 2 year old Daughter Abbi before actually starting to build a layout for myself. I have been a model railway enthusiast since i was five years old where my father Russell and I exhibited his tramway display 'Russell's Corner', a half inch to the foot tramway based on the Newcastle tramway system in the 30's, or there abouts! My first railway was the good old 8 x 4 witch most of the time never ran as i had more interest in finding out how things worked, therefore not much ran at all! I tended to pull things apart that i was not supposed too. I never really built and finished a layout for myself till i was about 16. A 12 x 6 foot railway named 'Iansville' witch swung down from my fathers shed using a boat winch.
Father Russell with the Good Old 8x4

When i left school in year ten I immediately started work at Norm Mitchell's Model World here in Coffs Harbour. Norm Created a model display centre and hobby shop where along with Dads Russell's Corner,my own home railway 'Iansville' and numerous other models people had built, Norms 1/4 scale W model Kenworth Truck being the main attraction, gave tourists of the Coffs Harbour area a chance to see up close the modelling work of some very talented people. Working in the hobby industry almost seven day a week over three years took a toll on my modelling....I never really done any, and for three years after the center closed. But I learnt allot about both the workings of a hobby shop and the running of exhibition style layouts. And how long an Atlas loco could go one way round a layout before the flanges wore off!

Just before the closure of Model World, a small add in the local paper asking for model railway enthusiasts was run to see if we could create a small group of people to create a model railway interest group in the area. Some 30 or so turned up to the first meeting at Model World and from there on the group here in Coffs has just grown. My keen involvement in the group and my experience with exhibiting model railway layouts led me to co ordinate the successful exhibit of 2 modular layouts that a select few from the group had created. These 13 active members forming Northern Division 8 of the National Model Railway Association (NMRA) AKA 'Coffs Harbour Railway Modellers'. (I'll cover this in a later Post). I have been helping almost all of our members with Decoder installs, Weathering and even loco construction as it seems that i have the best eyes! Will try and cover these in the blog as well.....
Now that I have my home sorted and the wife is happy with Daughter Abbi, I can look forward to Building a life long dream of my own model railway Layout. In the next posting i will try and convey what i hope to create for the railway.