Thursday, 24 September 2015

Sipping Champagne in First Class

A couple of weeks ago Beth and I rode the Victorian Goldfields Railway between Castlemaine and Maldon. The tourist railway operates a number of restored steam and diesel locomotives, and our train was pulled by a former VR J-class steam engine.

Here's our train arriving from Maldon:

It was a cold and drizzly day, which seemed to be perfect for impressive steam displays.

The loco was turned on an Armstrong turntable, before running around the train to couple onto the other end:
 In the foreground is a VGR Explosives Van, and sneaking into the view on the right is a V/Line VLocity.

Once turned, the J-class came back to be coupled to the other end of the train:

For the trip to Maldon we sat in a Pullman First Class lounge/diner, sipping champagne over a cheese platter. Well, actually it was just a Victorian bubbly, but we pretended it was Champagne.

Unfortunately, the view from the Lounge wasn't all that good, but we had a good time nevertheless.

At Maldon the VGR hussled us onto a bus to save us the short walk into town, where we spent a couple of hours having lunch and looking around. The biggest business in town appears to be an antique shop, which is hardly surprising since pretty much everything in the town is an antique.  I don't know when I last noticed one of these Peters Ice Cream signs, but when I was a kid they were everywhere:

When we got back to Maldon station we had some time to take some photos of the station and some of the  VGR's impressive rolling stock collection:

Our J-class was again turned and run around the train for our trip back to Castlemaine:

This time we rode (enjoying more cheese and 'Champagne') in the front car, a "parlor" car named "Tambo" that was converted from a sleeping car at some time in its history.  I didn't take any pics of the interior, but I did get lots of photos from the observation platform.  For more information about the Tambo and other VR "E type" carriages (which were apparently inspired by Canadian rolling stock) read here.

Approximately half way between Castlemaine and Maldon is the station of Muckleford, along with a Goods Shed, some sidings and more of the VGR rolling stock collection:

When we arrived back at Castlemaine J549 again made the trip to the turntable, and I took photos of some of the carriages in our train:

Despite the drizzle throughout the day, Beth and I thoroughly enjoyed the trip.  Thank-you VGR for a great day out.


Thursday, 10 September 2015

There's light at the end of the tunnel ...

He can't give us an exact date just yet, but our builder tells us that the new HQ building for the GC will be ready for us to move into in October. To say that we're excited by the prospect of returning to our old address would be a huge understatement, although the past 15 months of house-sitting has been an experience in itself.

Here's how the new house looks as of today:

No - the blue box isn't the TARDIS.

I will sure be glad to be able to run trains on the layout again.  All in all, 2015 has been a bad year as far as layout operation is concerned. Not only has my own layout been unavailable for sessions, but two other layouts in our group have become 'fallen flags'.  Earlier this year, Brendan sold his house and headed off for a trip around Australia with his family.  Fortunately, his layout was purchased complete by another friend and will rise again in the (hopefully) not too distant future.  You can see the full story on Brendan's blog.

Our friend Big John also sold his house, and has completely demolished his ATSF Boise Sub layout.  It was a seriously good layout, and I will miss it very much as I really enjoyed operating on it. John is planning to build a new layout in his new home, and as he works quickly I'm sure we won't have to wait too long to be running trains on it.

The Boise Sub featured an interchange with the Rock Island, and included this GP18 which was owned and weathered by Rod. Now that the Boise Sub no longer needs it, Rod offered it to me. He didn't have to ask twice.

Now I've just got to come up with a plausible reason for it to show up on the GC&SF in 1960. (I'm also thinking that the paint scheme is too modern for 1960. Maybe I should get a TARDIS after all.)