With the era I'm modelling, brake vans were a must at the tail end of any goods train, so I will need quite few on the roster.
Now Trainorama have (or had) some beautiful brake vans that suit my era perfectly, however I was too late getting back into things to buy them before they sold out, grey OHG's in particular.
However as luck would have it, they have some MHG and PHG brake vans coming in 2010 which will fit the bill nicely. Highly detailed, very well painted, and basically need just a little weathering and they are right to go. As much as that's easy, it doesn't really give you that sense of satisfaction you get from doing something yourself.
About twenty odd years ago, Trax (now Powerline) brought out a model of the NSWGR MHG brake van. In its day, being made to suit the toy market and modeller alike, it was not a bad model at all. Drop the height, add some decent bogies, Kadee's and a bit of weathering and if you were keen some metal handrails and it made up into not a bad model at all.
They pop up on E-bay occasionally, and if you are lucky you can score one for around $15.00-$20.00, although I have also seen people get keen and bid up to $50.00+ for a standard one and $60.00+++ for a modified one. To me $15-$20 is top dollar for one, and I was lucky enough to pick up three in this price range over the past few months.
Today, armed with a little enthusiasm after visiting the AMRA Liverpool exhibition yesterday I thought I might make a start on doing the necessary modifications to bring them up to (or as close as I can manage) today's RTR standards.
The main body of the MHG is pretty good, however the door and louvred panel on one side is transposed. So armed with a very sharp and fine scalpel blade set I bought at Bunnings after seeing Ray Pilgrim advocate the use of them ( http://bylong.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-found-new-tool.html ), ironically for exactly the same job!
Cutting out the door and louvred panel took only a few minutes, with the very fine blade removing literally only the space between door, louvred panel and body without any of the actual panel or door material which is very handy.
I have also removed the sliding door section, as a feature of these vans was sometimes running with the doors open. Of course this will mean adding some degree of interior detail, but that just gives me something else to do to test out my modelling skills.
Apart from removing the doors, and doing a bit of removing some of the moulded glass sections of the one piece moulded insert, I didn't get much more done today. So still to go is refitting the single door and louvred section, installing the sliding door in an open position, and then drilling the body for metal handrails, lowering the bogie bolsters, fitting some underfloor details, Kadee's, and possibly fitting full height better detailed roof vents.
In any case it's just another project to undertake for the simple enjoyment of it, and depending on how well this first one comes up will depend on whether I undertake the same mods on the other two. If my skills mean that my modified MHG falls way short of the coming RTR version, I may just admit defeat, E-bay the other two and happily purchase some RTR ones, although I think as long as my modified ones look ok, I'd get more enjoyment out of watching them running around than something that I simply purchased.
I spent a few hours at the 2009 AMRA Liverpool Model Railway Exhibition on Saturday. Like most exhibitions there is the good the bad and the ugly, however by direct comparison to last years exhibition at Hurstville this was a big improvement.
Better venue, more space in the main hall, nowhere near as hot, better quality and variety of layouts, better trade stands that you could more easily access, and overall I left with the impression of it being a very good exhibition.
One gripe I have, which is in no way the fault of the organisers, is the utter contempt of some people, who feel the need to gather either in front of the layouts or in the isles, and carry on in depth conversations whilt being totally oblivious to anyone around them trying to see the layouts or simply walk past. It's something I've seen at all exhibitions but still never ceases to amaze me.
On the positive side, there were some good specials on hand for those lucky enough to spot them or simply be there before they disappeared. I bought a set of On Track Models GLX Louvre Vans, fearing that they will run out before I get around to buying some, I got a set of 2AE bogies for my BMT 1 Milk Tanker project, five "Railway Album" books by the NSW Transport Museum for $5.00 each which feature some great photographs of early diesel late steam action in NSW which is what I'm modelling, a lazy mans screw pin vice to save twirling the fingers when drilling fine holes in things, but the best and most unexpected score was a brand new Tuscan (or Indian - the debate rages on) Red Trainorama 44 Class numbered 4498 for $150.00 (rrp $245.00).
One of the highlights for me was the superb "Stringybark Creek" O Gauge layout featuring some fine NSWGR steam and diesel rolling stock, and was probably the first large scale layout I have seen in the flesh which actually did justice to the detail you should be able to apply to this scale. If space and money was no issue then this opened my eyes to modelling in this scale.
"A Tractiv Effort", the successor to "Time and Patience" once again stood alone in presenting the most realistic "typically Australian" outer suburban scenes with exquisite houses (with gardens, sheds, and detail to die for), vacant blocks (with grazing chained up goat no less), service station, and even the infamous wheely bins (our garbage bins are big plastic bins on wheels). I would have spent more time looking at this layout than any other, and yet I doubt I could tell you much about the trains that were running through the scenery, so occupied was I with taking in all the little details which could be missed without taking the time to really look.
Kieran Ryan ( http://www.krmodels.com.au/ ) once again had his Silo's, Grain Sheds and detailing parts on display, and the big four bin Silo there was very impressive and a look towards the future when I get around to getting an SO41 and grain shed for Gunnedah yard.
I've added a few photos, out of the 160 odd I took these ones really speak to me, and although I'm a very average point and shoot photographer I think they came out ok.