Thursday, 24 June 2021

A pair of Model Train weekends


A pair of Model Train weekends


Over the last month or so, my hands-on modelling has taken a bit of a back seat, whilst I concentrate on other activities, many totally unrelated to model trains.  I am sure, that many of us need a break at times. 


The Steel Bridge, over the Willamette River in Oregon, is a memory of the 2015 NMRA National Convention. This bridge is unique, in that the lower deck of the lifting span can raise or lower independant of the upper deck.  Read on to find out why I am including this picture.   

This situation came to a close on the June – Queens Birthday long weekend.  The June long weekend is one that often co-incides with model train exhibitions.  Over the years I have exhibited at Morewell (Victoria) and Adelaide(South Australia), and more recently attended the Rosehill exhibition in Sydney. The Rosehill exhibition was also to coincide with the annual Australian Region NMRA convention, but Covid has managed to disrupt this idea for the last 2 years.

A Virtual Convention

Not to be defeated, an alternate virtual convention was arranged by the local NMRAx team.  This event was well publicised, and whilst I doubted I could be enticed to sit at my computer screen for 4 days, I was curious to see some of the clinics.

And, I am now a believer of the concept.  Each session was placed on a you-tube live feed – and whilst you could indeed watch it live, I found it possible to rewind to the start of the session – fast forward over the adverts, watch those sessions and layout tours that interested me, rewinding if you needed to check up on the details, and best of all if watching live, ask questions, which were answered by the presenter at the end of their session.

There were even live sessions from overseas (Britain and USA).  Particularly impressive was the operation session on Dave Abeles layout in New Jersey – where the camera was trackside, to view the parade of trains.

And I learnt things too. Some examples in no particular order

Some useful tips on fasttrack turnout assembly;

Private business cars;

Weathering Aussie locos;

3D printing;

Animation for your layout,  

And the quiz questions were a bit of competitive fun too.

All of the NMRAx clinics (not just the ones above)  have now been edited, and uploaded to you-tube forming a useful resource for all modellers, not just those in the NMRA.  Thank you to the NMRAx team

Down the coast

Last weekend, the Eurobodalla Model Railway club, a 100% affiliated club in my local Division of the NMRA (Div 2), hosted a weekend of activities in the Batemans Bay area.  It included our monthly meeting, and a selection of layout tours on both Saturday and Sunday.  As I had only seen pictures of some of the layouts, and wanting to say farewell to the Batemans Bay road bridge, I booked 2 nights accommodation, and made the 350km journey from Junee.

It was a great weekend.

Two views of the Eurobodalla Model Railway clubs sectional layout, being built by the members

Peter R's Z scale layout was also on display for the meeting. The Eurobodalla club regularly attends events, and fairs down the South Coast, and small displays such as this, promote the hobby.

Ian B is building a prototype freelance NSWGR layout on 2 decks in a purpose built building. I visited his layout on Saturday night.  Very nice trackwork,  good scenery, and great presentation. Ian tells me that he has taken around 2 years to construct so far, although he did start with parts of former layouts. His layout "footprint" is bigger than my Wagga layout, and I got some great ideas.

Bill C's layout was built into a one car garage space - consisting of an oval of track, large station, with a pair of branchlines.  He has named the stations and golf course after his grandkids. Bill had his layout open on Sunday morning.

Whilst not on the official layout tour, I wrangled a quick visit to David V's place on Sunday morning. David is building a small portable layout.  His expertise in in 3D printing, but I really wanted to view his backscenes, which have been made from David's photos using OfficeWorks poster prints. This may be the process I will use on the Wagga layout.  Great to see.

Matt S's layout is based in the wilds of British Columbia, and scenically spectacular. He encouraged us to participate in a running session on Sunday, but I was very happy to allow others that honour, and I simply just watched the trains running. The layout had taken over his 2 car garage fully. Again, like Ian's layout earlier, the presentation was excellent.

Thanks to the Eurobodalla club for organizing.


Batemans Bay bridge

As part of the upgrade of the Princess Highway, the Batemans Bay lift span bridge was recently bypassed with a modern 4 lane concrete bridge.

The new bridge opened on March 27, 2021, seen beside the old lift span bridge.  The new bridge was designed, and built by John Holland Construction group, which is a 100% Chinese owned company. John Holland also have the contract to demolish the old bridge. There is a little bit of simularity with the Portland Steel Bridge - being the high towers, the control cabin on the lifting span, and the steel girders.  This picture was sent to me

Whilst I understand that maintenance costs on an old steel structure were high, the bridge being just 2 lanes was a bottleneck, particularly when the lifting span was in operation. But the old bridge had character, and a lot in common with railway bridges of that era.  It has nothing to do with my Wagga layout, apart from it making a big impression  the first time I saw it as a kid in the 1960s

2 years ago, knowing that the bridge was to be replaced, I took some detail pictures

And more recently June 19/20th 2021

I do not know if anything of the old bridge is to be retained as a reminder of its importance in the development of the Batemans Bay area


A closing thought. Record what you can now -Take pictures, listen to the old timers, and write down notes. You never will know where your modelling journey will take you.



  1. Hi Rob, great photos of Batemans Bay - I regularly visited there when living in Canberra. Last time was the end part of a Canberra - Cooma - Eden - Bega - Moruya - Batemans Bay - Braidwood - Canberra holiday back in 2018. I didn't even know the new bridge was being built.

    Back to things Wagga, there's a post on the Lost Wagga Wagga FB page about the Urana St Level Crossing Gatekeeper's Cottage with a couple of photos of both the structure and the gates. Another post shows the area to the north-east of the station along Edward St, including the level crossing and part of the yard. I can't believe how much open space there was back then.

    1. Thanks Robert for your information. I just checked - no new pictures unfortunately as I have the Ivy Black gatekeeper pictures, but the date of the abolision of the gates( April 1969) is useful to know. A lot of that empty space in the yard was originally filled with sheds - I have some early pictures, but not enough for a blog post. Some interesting pictures show up on that facebook site.

  2. Loved the photos of the old bridge. Back in the early 1980's I drew the details for the brackets that supported the water main suspended under the deck on the downstream side. I had access to copies of the original design drawings from the late 1940's, which were interesting. The cabin on top of the lift span had a petrol tractor type 4 cylinder motor driving the winches that did the lifting.

  3. Mike , I really appreciate for sharing your memories. I had a close look at my original images, and yes, I see the water pipe and the brackets you describe. WOW. Never thought I would get this great information. Almost makes me want to build a model. I wonder where the original design drawings are now?