Friday, February 6, 2009

The Overland - Scratchbuilding the western lines premier passenger train

Over the past few years, this is one of those projects which for me has been on and off the theoretical to-do list. Nick (my brother, who no doubt, you will all get to know through these blogs as time goes on) has been bugging me to get this project back on track (please excuse the pun).

I have always had a soft spot for the Overland, particuarly as it was the interstate train I ever travelled on - departing Adelaide on 17th March 1997, behind trusty MKA rebuild CLP16 - ah the memories come flooding back! Thats not to say that my interest in it began then! I remember returning to Adelaide as a 3 or 4 year old on one of Steamranger's (ARHS SA Div) Southern Encounter services to the South Coast, and pulling up over the Goodwood road underpass at Millswood to allow N457 drag a Melbourne bound Overland up the hill. Naturally this was in the days before the main south was converted to the "narrow gauge" of 4' 8 1/2". (as an aside N457 will be the number of the locomotive I purchase from Auscision when the N is released this year).

Most Saturday evenings until late 1998/99 the family made the trek to Keswick Passenger Terminal to watch the departure of the Overland - sadly this came to an end when the Saturday evening services were abolished, and then later again when the timetable changed for Daylight running over the Adelaide to Melbourne leg of the journey during 2000. My passion for this train did not cease however, and on finishing school, I applied to work for Great Southern Railway at Keswick Terminal, which eventually saw me rostered onto the 'night shift' which revolved around the Overland, and saw my now Fiancee Sarah and myself head to Melbourne on the trial run of the refurbished Overland during May 2007.

We had originally intended to produce a series of kits of these cars, but unfortunatley, at the 2009 Modelling the Railways of South Australia convention, it was brought to our attention a number of times during the day that there was a very nice set of pre-production samples of the AJ, PCO, CO and a JTA twinette sleeping car on display - being produced by Noel Potter and Bruce McGuinness. Now these are very very nice models, with full interiors, correct Commonwealth bogies, correct under carriage detail the works - and at only $60 each for the power and baggage vans, and $70-$80 for the others - they've hit a home run in my books.

Unfortunatley for us, this meant canning a project that had finally gained some momentum - after about 5 months, we made the decision to start again, this time making a set for ourselves. Back in 2007, I made a set of moulds for the RBJ Economy class refreshment car, and as a result I am now in the process of making up an 'improved' version of the masters to get our project back on track.

I recently completed rebuilding an ancient Hornby VR baggage car into a PCO power van for the said train. This project appeared simple, but in reality was a little more complex than I had ever imagined it would have been. Having said this, it turned out rather well, and I believe it is a fine representation of such a car. The changes included relocating the large baggage doors, initially re-profiling the roof - which later turned into replacing the roof, adding extra windows/filling in of non-required windows, reworking the vehicle ends, adding new concertinas, new panelling above the windows, fitting of anti-stress ribbing between the windows and a multitude of smaller bits and pieces. The car was then finished in Floquil Old Silver for the stainless steel panels, Floquil PRR Maroon for the regal red car sides and ends, and Humbrol Matt Black for the roof. The car was then decalled with BGB Models decals before being given a light coat of weathering and liberal coat of Testors DullCote to seal the deal. The roof itself was a piece of re-profiled north-eastern wood shape.

Check back soon, and I hope to have some photos of the RBJ to show off - now a cool change is less than 24hours away - construction can finally re-commence!


  1. Peter,
    Very nice job on the power van, I can see the amount of work you have described. It would be nice to have availible a correct set of these cars and I look forward to your next installment.
    Regards Wayne

  2. Thanks Wayne,
    Noel Potter and Bruce McGunniess are expecting to release their kits sometime this year.

    As we've just had a cool change here in Adelaide, its possible I may have another update tommorrow night, once I finish re-spraying the RBJ class car.