Summer’s end

Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia 19 January 2005 © PJ Croft

Well, as I sit here in the air-conditioning with fans on and 37degC outside, it’s the first day of autumn. To readers in cooler and wetter climates, would you believe we only had 1.4mm of rain in the whole three months of summer. That’s pretty dry.

However, it was a relatively easy summer to endure, if that’s the right word. We had no maximums of 40deg or above, whereas we usually get two or three in a typical summer. So it has been quite pleasant.

But to cap it off, we’re in the middle of a heat wave at the moment – we’ve had maximums of 35C or above for the last five days, and tomorrow will be 37C too.

Summer is my favourite season, although I love Spring as well, with its cool dewy mornings in October and November. Luckily, we have one every year!


I continue working on my model railway, although I admit it’s still mostly only on paper (or more correctly, on a screen).

I found this layout on the web, with no details whatever, and especially with no dimensions. It took me a long time to work out how to size it, and the result is shown above. The top part of the L shape is 2.385m and the left side is 2.05m, which are workable dimensions.

The coloured rectangles are the sizes of base board that I plan to use. I’ll build the layout in sections, then bolt the base boards together when in use. You’ll notice the white dots on the tracks along each join line of the base boards. These are breaks in the tracks, which will have to align precisely when the boards are bolted together.

This is a bit ambitious and fraught with potential difficulties in getting the tracks to line up along the joins. I may have given myself a source of ulcers. I foresee being able to get one part of the track to align properly, but being unable to get another part to line up.

I’ve been thinking that it might be easier to make the sections bigger, that is, two base boards in one. Hmmmm.

Here’s the track on its own:

I’ve realised that this layout incorporates two reverse loops, one on each leg of the L. I think it’s only the inner pair of tracks, but each will need to include an automatic reverse loop switch. The problem arises because when a powered pair of rails rejoins the main line through a point, the polarity of the rails must be reversed as a train goes through the point. It’s done by an electronic circuit:

Fundamentals of a reverse loop © Silicon Chip

I’ve bought the bits for one of these from Silicon Chip magazine in Sydney, but I’ve realised I need two. I’ve also had a box of 25 x 1m lengths of rails on my shelf for a few years. I thought that would easily be enough, but by the magic of my railway design project, I find I need 50.86m, so I’ve had to buy another box of 30 lengths (at a cost of $237).

Here’s the latest count of locos:

This will be a very strange working layout. I’ve got a mix of US diesels (the two Santa Fe models, the blue/white Electromotive and the blue Conrail), an Australian livery diesel marked BHP Billiton from the Pilbara iron ore mines, and two UK inter-city and suburban railways (the blue/yellow Metronet and the dark green Dragon). It would be hard to think of a location where all those came together!

I don’t plan to even try to make a consistent location. I’ll just make a completely fictional scene, with a mix of industrial and suburban localities. You’ll notice – no steam, either. I’m not interested in “old” stuff. I only want modern diesels.

This is a rich man’s hobby. I haven’t kept count, but I estimate I’ve bought around $3,000 worth of bits over the past seven years. I think I’ve got everything I need now, although a model railway is NEVER finished. I’ll probably continue buying bits and pieces. A man can never have enough locos and rolling stock.

Stop Press: I’ve found this picture:

An iron ore train in the Pilbara, WA. Those locos up front – that’s what I’ve got!


It feels as if Ive got everything except the energy to build it. I wish I was a power supply and could plug myself in to 240V on the wall. I feel so tired all the time. I’ve been tested for thyroid and found deficient, so I’m on the fourth day of thyroxine medication for it. It takes a couple of weeks to work, they tell me. I hope it works soon.

I had my fifth COVID vaccination on Sunday, the booster to cope with the Omicron-variant. Fingers crossed, I haven’t had the virus. I only know one person who has, and she said it wasn’t too bad. That’s good to know.


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