Program for 2023

The 26th annual Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention will be held at the Medical Lecture Theatre and Tutorial Rooms of the Flinders Medical Centre on Saturday, 2nd September 2023, using the same 200-seat lecture theatre that we had for 2022. Doors open at 8am for those attendees who wish to register early, look at the commercial stands, or to lodge models for display. Formal proceedings start at 9am and are timed to finish around 5pm. The hospital is a big place and if you happen to get lost, be sure to ask for directions to the “Medical Centre Lecture Theatres”, rather than the “Model Railway Convention”. 

For anyone using the train, we suggest you stay outside the hospital and walk up-hill past the entire hospital to the southern end. Here you will find a drive going up between a very large car park building and the hospital, and at the top of the drive is a very short-term car park and our normal entrance. This way, you won’t get lost in the multitude of hospital corridors.

Planning for the 2023 event will be subject to any Covid rules that are in place at the time. The committee is planning for the same alternatives as in the previous year. These include full use of the 200 seat lecture theatre, however should any restrictions be placed on the number of attendees allowed into the lecture theatre, those who register first will be given priority to attend the Convention, and if for any reason the Convention has to be cancelled, the notes will be sent out to everyone who has registered or who has asked for a copy of the notes. People who register to attend will have the choice of printed notes, a CD or both. If you cannot attend and want a set of printed notes, then these must be preordered during the Convention registration period. Please note that we have specifically asked that registration forms be lodged with us by late July 2023 so that we can work out how many sets of notes to print. 

The convention area can be reached from the southern end of the hospital through the same ground level entrance we have used for a number of years. A large multi-story car park is situated at the southern end of the hospital and we are again negotiating to have free car parking available on the 4th floor of this building. Included in the Convention fee are morning and afternoon teas, and a hot lunch. Approximately 200 pages of Convention notes will also be provided, containing a number of colour photos and plans relating to the topics being presented. Some previous years’ hard copy notes will be available, including an updated index, and these notes form a considerable reference library of around 4500 pages. All of our notes up to and including 2023 will be available on CDs and the remaining hard copy notes that we still have for 2011 to 2015 are currently being sold at a discount – three years if we have them for $65 (Including postage). Prices for the most recent hard copy notes and discs will be included on this year’s registration form that can be downloaded from this web site from around the end of May. The forms are or will be located under the “Registration Form” heading. The registration forms will also be sent to everyone who has attended the last couple of Conventions.

The program for 2023 will include the following presentations:

The 620 Class Steam Locomotives of the SAR. Stuart Gamble is going to talk about the ten 620 class steam locos that were built at Islington in the mid 1930s. We have previously had a talk about making a 620 model, so this presentation will deal with the prototype and the surprising number of variations that existed between the various locos. Stuart is well known locally as the person who designed several brass and polyurethane loco kits of SAR large power locos, so his eye for detail is extremely well developed as was noted in one of his earlier presentations on the SAR Centenary Cars. 

SAR Pre-Webb Freight Wagons is the topic for Simon Rimmington’s presentation.

Simon is an O scale modeller and has produced some superb CAD drawings of broad gauge pre-Webb freight wagons as well as having modelled some. To produce these drawings, Simon has scoured various archives including those kept by Mark O’Malley of Refreshing Memories (formerly of Inprotrans). He has been looking to find as many drawings as he can of older SAR style wagons, axle boxes and underframes and this work has been carried out over a number of years. He has also looked at early photos from the State Archives, from the State Library and from the NRM Archives that contain four-wheel vehicles. He has enlarged parts of these to come up with a great collection of photos of early freight wagons. We will also be releasing a numerical list of freight wagons from one through to several thousand that record most of our early wagons. This list is too big to publish in our notes, so it will be placed on our website around September this year. Being in Excel format, it can be expanded as required or sorted into various classes if required.

On a modelling front, Dean Schluter from the South Australian Railway Modellers Association will talk about the club’s South Australian Railways themed permanent layout that fills a space some 15 metres long by, in some places 6 metres wide. The modelling on this DCC-controlled layout is as good as the club has ever had over its sixty-five year history, with numerous factories and buildings covering the layout, as well as some great scenery. Of note are the station buildings based on Victor Harbour, Bowmans and the Mitcham style – a Walker & Swan design erected at numerous locations throughout the SAR. There is also a large collection of club-owned SAR rolling stock which has been built up by club members over a fifty year period; needless to say a lot of the early vehicles are scratchbuilt. As the “Permanent Layout Director”, Dean has overseen much of the planning and construction of this layout.

Modelling South Australian Railways Station Buildings is the topic of Hugh Williams’ presentation. Over the years we have accumulated a large number of photos and drawings of various SAR station buildings as well as photos of models of some thirty different station buildings. This presentation will include photos of the prototype as well as models of the same building. A brief description will also be given on some of the materials used to make the models and any special techniques that might have been employed. Because of the number of buildings to be discussed, this will not be an in-depth discussion on modelling methods, rather an overview. A few more plans of station buildings will be included in the notes, however because of page count limitations, not all of the plans or drawings that have been prepared will be included in the notes. Instead, it is likely that a CD will be produced containing the plans and photos of around fifty SAR station buildings and that this CD will be available for purchase at the 2023 Convention. 

Looking to the Future will be the topic of Les Fordham’s presentation on downsizing layouts. As we get older, many of us are faced with the problem of what to do with the large model railway layout that currently fills a room or a shed. Do we ignore the problem and let our siblings axe the layout and throw most of it in a bin, or do we nominate a friend in the hobby to dispose of it for us (and they probably need the job like a hole in the head), or do we try to do something with it whilst we can! Les has decided to meet this challenge head-on before it becomes too late an issue in  downsizing his empire. He still wishes to retain some operational capabilities by building a much smaller layout. Hear what Les has to say on the topic.

North Adelaide Railway Station Building.

In response to a request for a kit for the North Adelaide railway station building, Don Bishop has been slaving over his CAD system and the laser cutter to produce one. Along the way there have been many trials and tribulations making Don unsure whether he should have taken the project on in the first place. Having done so, however, he will now talk about how he went about it, and where and how he went wrong, and how we might undertake such a project even without the aid of a laser cutter or 3D printer.

Inside the Fence Line is the topic to be presented by Peter Polson. Whilst we at the Convention appear to have given station buildings a bit of a thrashing, we should not forget that the ancillary buildings and infrastructure scattered around every station forms an equally important part of the scene we are modelling. Peter is going to deal with some of these, including gangers’ sheds, Fairmont speeders, weighbridges, goods yard offices, derailers, cattle grids, ablution blocks including portable long drops, and permanent passenger facilities. He might even cover the fence line itself and discuss different types of railway gates. Peter is gathering a number of photos and diagrams of the items he intends to cover in both his notes and his presentation.

In addition to detailed articles on the talks, the following articles-only are planned to be in the notes:

Des Egan has prepared an article on the V & SAR joint stock Dynamometer Car, a vehicle that is currently preserved at the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide. A comprehensive article including photos and a detailed HO scale plan will be provided.

Hugh Williams has provided a further article in the series on early SAR steam locos, this one being on the A class 2-4-0s numbered 1, 19 and 20.

Graham Ahern
has prepared an article on modelling the Commonwealth Railways narrow gauge rolling stock.

John Wilson has greatly simplified the circuit for his ‘simple signal controller’, published in the 2015 notes.

Other Information

As in previous years, a number of commercial stands will be at the Convention. John Gordon looks after this area of our activities. He can be contacted on or via the Convention e-mail site.

Attendees are encouraged to bring along any models of their handiwork, especially models built using previous Convention notes. This year, we encourage attendees to bring models of railway station buildings.