Friday, 27 December 2013

The new deal for Country passengers

Some will remember the 1980s as the year the Victorian Railways (known as VicRail from the mid-1970s) begin to change appearance and become known as V/line from 1983. As part of the change which began in 1981, a promise was made by the then State Government to improve country passenger services which were still operating with old wooden rollingstock, most edging on 70 years old. Apart from the introduction of some additional S type cars in the 1940s and the Z type cars in the 1950s, the new deal would include the single biggest upgrade project to the country rollingstock up to that time. 54 brand new carriages were built between 1981-1984 to improve service and comfort on these country services. They became known as the N cars and ran in a set of 3; a BN Ecomony car, a BRN Economy car with a Snack Bar and finally a ACN First class car with facilities for the guard. Initially hauled by B-class diesel locomotives painted in Vicrail orange and silver 'Teacup' or 'Cup and Saucer' livery to match the cars, they would later be hauled by rebuilt B-class locomotives known as A-class. The cost of rebuilding the B-class into Turbocharged A-class was not cost effective, so it was decided to build new locomotives to haul the new carriages. The new locomotives were appropriately known as N-class and entered service between 1985-1987.

More details on the upgrade project can be found on the following V/line video which is now on youtube:

The reason for this short history lesson? Well today I decided to finally buy a Auscision Models N car set. It fills a gap in my passenger stock collection as something was needed to go with my previously acquired Auscision N-class locomotive. The models are a fine representation of the cars, the set I picked representing how most sets appeared between 1983-1990 when the railways changed its name and logo from VicRail to Vline and simply replaced the logo on the cars, retaining the silver stripes. The underframe has a nice level of detail and the interior comes complete with seats, curtains and luggage racks. The BRN car comes complete with the Snack counter and food racks (even the Microwave!). The ACN is correctly modelled for the period with a Guard's periscope on the roof (removed by the late-1990s on all sets). The seats are correctly coloured according to the class of car (purple for First, brown for Economy). The thing that would set the model off is to stick some people in, not fully loaded as most trains ran with plenty of empty seats except at peak times or special holidays. A D van is included which handled goods that could not be accommodated in the Guard's van good compartment in the ACN car.

Anyway here are some photos of the set:

One job, aside from adding passengers, will be to aquire some silver striping decals to cover the window blanks where the Snack Bar is on the BRN. Otherwise they are ready to see service behind an N-class or even a blue and gold X-class.

Containing the rice

In my goods rollingstock fleet I have wagon to carry general goods in vans or open wagons, cattle wagons to cart livestock, special vans to carry explosives and of course somewhere for the guard to ride in comfort at the rear of the train. What is missing is a container train. This is the way goods have been carted on trains for the last 50 years, starting with the small LCL (Less than Container Load) that could be loaded on flat wagons fitted with container locks. Later on the 20ft container became the standard for most goods on trains.

To fill this void, I've decided it would be nice to have a container train of about 10-15 wagons. Once again Steam Era Models provide an excellent kit to build a VR container train. The FQX/VQCX container flat wagon is capable of being loaded with up to 3 20ft containers depending on how you position the container locks on the deck. It is even possible to set it up to take a 40ft container plus a 20ft container.

Anyway enough wafting, here is the first wagon. It is currently minus container locks as I need to buy some containers to set them up correctly (most likely using Walthers containers on the first one):

This would have to be one of the easiest kits to build. The bulk of the wagon is one moulding, and only required the headstocks, sides, storage lockers and brake gear added. Much easier than the cousin of this wagon, the SFX/VFLX bulkhead wagon witch has storage troughs in the deck and requires lot of squares of styrene cut to cover the bottom of these troughs.

All I got for Christmas was a lump of coal.....

....not quite. At the local model railway club Christmas break-up a couple of weeks ago I won a wagon kit in a swindle. The wagon is a AMRI Models NSWGR CHS Coal Hopper (for more details on the prototype see here ). While I don't currently model any NSW stock, I decided I will build this model now and decide later if I will paint it as a NSW wagon or paint it in VR wagon red to look a little like the JQX/JQF quarry wagon. If I do the later I could pass it off as a prototype coal wagon that the VR trialed for local coal traffic, such is the beauty of modeller's license!

Anyway here is where the model is currently. The bogie bolster's need to be moved inwards towards the centre of the wagon a bit as the outer wheels currently run the risk of fouling the shunter's steps when they are fitted:

An unusual item of rollingstock for my fleet. But there is always room for the unusual in a mixed freight train.