Club Visit – Sci-Bono Discovery Centre

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On Sunday the 31st January, seven club members and their families travelled to the Sci-Bono Science and Discovery Centre in Newtown, Johannesburg to see the resurrected layout that once belonged to Jim McLuskie. Jim opened his home to the club members in early 2014 where the same layout had been built in a dedicated room. This was one of the last opportunities for visitors to see the layout at the time as Jim had plans to sell the house and move into a smaller home where the layout would not fit.

[singlepic id=636 w=300 h=233 float=right]Jim followed a career as a mining engineer throughout his life working for various big companies in the gold, coal and diamond sectors. As he approached his retirement he laid out his plans to build a model railroad layout, drawing inspiration from his childhood memories of riding on the trains back in England. He started building his layout in 2002 and finally completed it in 2008.

Due to the decision to sell his house, the layout had to be removed from the home and the original thought was to scrap it as he could not take it with. It was a difficult decision to make as it had taken countless hours of work to achieve such great detail and perfection to get it complete. The search was then started to find a new home for Jim’s incredible layout.

[singlepic id=635 w=300 h=233 float=left]This search ended when a new home was found for it at Sci-Bono. The mammoth task was now to move this layout from Jims home to the new premises. The layout was carefully cut into five sections and the partition wall was removed to get them out of the room. The sections were then loaded onto a truck and transported to Sci-Bono, where they were lifted by fork-lift to the first floor and reassembled into the current position. The wiring had to be carefully cut, marked and then re-joined when the layout was reassembled. After many hours of further work by Jim, Colin Tanner Tremaine and Graham Guthrie [who automated and computerised the layout] it now stands proud as it did when it was part of Jim’s home.

[singlepic id=647 w=300 h=233 float=right]As it was still to be an operational layout in an exhibition setting, it was necessary to have the trains running seven days a week without an operator being on duty. This was achieved with the use of a Digitrax system, and a Laptop computer running Model Train Control software available from Railroad & Co. It was also not necessary to have trains running all day while there were no visitors looking at the layout.

All of this was made possible in the following way:-

Four trains were assigned Digitrax addresses. A neat panel was made up with four illuminated pushbuttons, one for each train. The layout was then divided into sections, each with a detector developed by Colin. The layout and all the sections were then tied into the software on the computer so the positions of each train can be monitored as it travelled around the layout. There were four routes programmed, The Up Line, The Down Line, The Branch Line and the Coal Line.

[singlepic id=653 w=300 h=233 float=left]As a visitor stood in front of the panel and pressed the appropriate push button, the corresponding train, slowly accelerated, made its way along the designated route and returned to its original position thus completing the programmed operation. Once the operation was complete, the lamp in the pushbutton would switch on again indicating that the sequence was complete and the push button could be pressed again.
When originally designing his OO Scale layout, Jim wanted four main features to be included, a railway town, a junction station, a branch line and part of the line being underground. This town was to be located on the mainline between London and Birmingham.

Stourbridge – a light industrial town West of Birmingham, was his model for the town. It relies on the Great Western Railway ( GWR ) to import and move raw materials and export finished product. By contrast, Ditton Priors is a tiny Shropshire village that had its own line, “The Cleobury Mortimer & Ditton Priors Light Railway”. It was mainly used to transport stone from the GWR owned quarry which was a short distance away. The quarried stone was used in GWR operations such as laying track and building bridges and tunnels.

[singlepic id=642 w=300 h=233 float=right]Since the scene is set in 1936, all the detail included on the layout is authentic to that year.
Stourbridge Town Station ( in the far corner of the layout ) served the town of Stourbridge which was in the heart of “The Industrial Revolution“ and steam drove this “Revolution“ from the trains used for transportation purposes to the machines used in manufacturing and mining. The need at the time to move huge quantities of coal and raw materials around the country made the railway systems and railway towns crucial to the new economy.



[singlepic id=662 w=300 h=233 float=right]A large area of the West Midlands became known as the Black Country because of coal seams close to the surface as well as train and factory soot. Stourbridge was fortunate to be surrounded by picturesque countryside as it was located on the Perimeter of the Black Country.

To summarize, Jim’s layout can be classed as an example of perfection in the model railway world. The detail and scenery is in a class of its own. As the layout now stands as a permanent display at the Sci-Bono Exhibition centre, Jim can be proud of his workmanship and be assured that he is spreading the joy of our hobby to hundreds of people every month, and he can rest assured that thousands more visitors will see and enjoy the layout for many years to come.

2016 AGM feedback

AGM feedback By John Henry

[singlepic id=625 w=300 h=233 float=right]EMRIG AGM Sunday 17 January 2016 Folks if you are still waiting for this year’s AGM then you have missed it. So let me brief you on some of the details. The weather was very kind to us. Indeed no El Nino hot weather patterns as we experienced recently in December of last year. But it was not cool either – just right. Perhaps this was the reason for the good attendance.

The majority of members turned up for the occasion within the last 15 minutes or so prior to scheduled commencement of the meeting. All the eats, drinks and braai equipment were placed on standby before we assisted Kobus to offload the chairs and tables provided for, courtesy of his very familiar light truck.

[singlepic id=626 w=300 h=233 float=left]Members made quick work of the seating arrangements and we soon sat down to listen to the welcoming address extended to members by Colin (2015 Chairman of EMRIG; just in case you did not know). The content of his report inspired us all to look forward to a very exciting 2016 and beyond, in terms of “working party” projects interspaced by layout visits and the possibility of a larger facility.

It appeared from the report that we may possibly get access to the upstairs premises due to it being officially acknowledged by the centre management as dead space for retailers. However some i’s still had to be dotted and t’s crossed before this could/would be realised. A potential plan was set out by Colin, which if successful, would mean that we would be able to share the development cost for the site on a 50/50 basis. The only snag would be that the shopping site management would determine the contractor and the building methodology to be employed Page 5 of 31 based on several Acts that govern the construction and the commercial running of such a building with all the public and financial liabilities related thereto. This could be a costly affair and an agreement by EMRIG on those terms and conditions would be based on the period of lease that the centre management would be prepared to enter into. Based on the costs it appeared that we should play around with the idea of at least a 5 to 10 year lease so as to justify the expenditure costs we would be liable for.

[singlepic id=627 w=300 h=233 float=left]A proposed budget of R22,000 income and an expenditure of R21,710 was put forward for 2016 which indicated that there would not be an increase in the annual membership fees for this year. The budget recognised the income from membership fees, donations and sponsorship fees. With respect to sponsorship members came up with suggestions to boost the income by companies sponsoring signage or products displayed on our layout(s). Based on the enthusiastic response by some members with related experience from other clubs it appears this will be investigated and these members will no doubt see what they can come up with to ensure this idea’s success.

The enthusiastic call by members for an EMRIG golf shirt and a cap has been acknowledged. Soon, very soon we will have the pricing available. We hope it will be embroidered and not engraved as suggested inadvertently by Colin on at least two occasions during the report! Loud and raucous peals of laughter resounded on both occasions. This is what the ad lib portion of an annual report does to you.

As we have a new banking facility, actually not so new anymore, the desired way of payment would be by EFT. Colin will soon send out the statements to all members with the banking details. You are requested to pay your membership fee ASAP with your name as reference as we still have one unknown acknowledgement of payment to contend with for last year. Actually this has been converted to a donation now. Thank you “unknown”. The treasurer will reciprocate your enthusiasm and supply you with your 2016 membership card on the closest Saturday following receipt of the fee.

In the meantime the first working party will soon be called to action to join up the returned HO modules to be interconnected as sidings and fiddle yards. But wait … there’s more. Ron Poole will need one pair of steady hands to assist with measuring the height for the wall mounted N-gauge layout extension (he broke his collar bone). You guessed it; we need an N-gauge working party as well. Watch the EMRIG communication channels for further “working party” information.

This was the largest AGM attendance in many years with some new members in attendance. With the enthusiastic exchange of ideas inter alia including looking at the real possibility of disciplining mavericks in future who repeatedly abuse club driving/operating rules on the club layout(s) to the detriment of other members’ locos and rolling stock, all this enthusiasm bodes well for the future. It was agreed that accidents do happen from time to time but repeated flagrant disregard of protocol resulting in the aforementioned should be addressed.

[singlepic id=628 w=300 h=233 float=right]The AGM was concluded with a braai feast of note by all members providing their own meat and supporting the call to provide some salads as well. This was washed down with copious amounts of relevant refreshing liquids followed by a visit to Colin’s Friewalds Train Controller software operated layout which is running 98% correctly (my own thumb suck based on what he told me still has to be tweaked and tuned). Everyone marvelled at the way trains would be in running blocks and only departing the relevant station when the programme allowed it to through a combination of changing signals and switches once successful detection had been achieved.

[singlepic id=629 w=300 h=233 float=left]Colin has programmed his layout to ensure that there is always an open block between trains. So there should be no head-on or rear-ending incidents ever. Due to different lengths of tracks between stations and different lengths of trains some would be stationary as others departed or came to a controlled stop. The time and effort going into programming the CV’s for realistic acceleration and deceleration was presented in a very successful demonstration of what can be achieved. And then there was sound at the appropriate times. Indeed well done Colin since the last AGM.

[singlepic id=630 w=300 h=233 float=right]And finally there was that famous apple crumble pudding with custard, to crown the day. All in all this was a very pleasant day well spent in the company of good people with the same interest. Many hands make light work and soon Kobus’s truck was loaded with chairs and tables and the gazebo packed away for the next whatever event.

Well done to the committee of 2015 who through your enthusiasm ensured that for the most part of last year members had an operating home, a safe storage area, and probably the most successful swap meet venue in the country, as well as the opportunity to have had amazing layouts to view in the greater Gauteng area. You have set the bar high for yourself as the committee of 2016 after the landslide elections to retain your services. Thank you for accepting and the request for support by you to make it all happen will surely not go unheeded.

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Letter from the Chairman, 16 December 2015.

By Colin Tanner-Tremaine

This time last month we had just been given notice to vacate our “Paddington Station” which we did so. Since then not much has happened on our model railway front. Although we had been offered another “box” there was much to do in planning our new layout and more importantly to get our new room suitable for our use before the 12th Dec, the day on which we were to host the next swap meet. So I spent considerable time and energy communicating or chasing the centre management to appoint a contractor to install power and lights in the ceiling and painting of the walls. It was only last Monday the 8th that an electrical contractor was appointed so he only had 4 days to install a new DB and the 10 lighting battens and 4 power sockets. Could this be done, in Africa?

Also the room was full of junk and layers of dirt and dust. The mall janitor was instructed, on the Monday to get the place cleaned up. He had 4 days to do this. Should be possible but in Africa? Not so sure.

Now we have the swap meet to consider. We could not use the Mall between Maxis and Absa, the Mall in front of Paddington’s was not available either, as other traders and stalls were set up there, so we were limited to the mall by our new shop. Now based on the plan that our new shop would be ready we could place 20+ tables in there and fit the other 22 in the passage outside. Fine, or so I thought. On Wednesday I did an inspection of the premises and guess what, nothing had been done. So some serious discussion with the Mall management followed. On Thursday the electrician had installed the new power outlet sockets and the DB. No attempt had been made to clean the room. On Friday morning the electrician was busy at work but no attempt had been made to clear the rubbish; so more hard words with the centre management. Just where was this elusive and idle janitor. Eventually he pitched up and so the cleaning process began. So maybe all will be well for our swap meet. The plan was to set up the table on the Friday afternoon ready for an early start on the Saturday but at 5 pm nothing was completed. The electrician and his team were hard at work and the cleaning crew were hard at it so I went home at about 6h30 satisfied that all would be completed and ready for us on the Saturday. But you guessed it. At 7am on the Saturday morning the room was still full of junk, but we could see it better now as all the lights were up and running. The electrician finished his work at 3am! Thanks for the commitment; I will give him a Bells for that.


Thankfully we have some dedicated and hard working members. This team got stuck in cleaning up the room, the broom was ably handled by Hansie and our vacuum cleaner was put to good use by Glynn and others. All of the tables were soon erected, located and the table cloths were in place. However we could not use all the space in our shop so some rapid planning and the balance was located in the Mall, some where we were not allowed to. But it worked and everyone was happy. Due to poor ventilation and lack of air chillers we purchased 2 oscillating fans seen here being assembled by our technicians!

Not one shop owner complained. Actually 2 did, Mr Price and Aminas’, their problem being that it went very quiet, after the customers disappeared when we packed up!

So that was the saga leading up to the swap meet. But what of getting our new box ready for the trains? On Monday nothing happened apart from me getting cross again. So on Tuesday the cleaning gang finally got to work to finish off their job so on Wednesday we could move, which we did. BUT, can you believe it not all the junk had been taken out. Once again our EMRIG team got down to it and removed said rubbish. Then the fun began, moving the modules and other stuff into our new box, which is officially known as shop 23. We had a good day from 9h30 till 16h30 the result being a new DCC layout all modules in place and lined up, just the electrics, Loconet and skirting to hang. So on Friday another work party will hopefully complete these tasks and have trains running by Saturday morning. The Jean Dulez layout is also in position; the N gauge line will be erected and commissioned on Saturday, latest. Today I will more keys cut, and notices printed and laminated.


So that is where we are now. The future will bring our AGM which will probably by held on the second Sunday of January and the next layout visit will be to Scibono on the last Sunday of January. The new committee will then take over and plan for 2016.

All the best for Christmas and the New Year, may it be a happy, safe, healthy and prosperous one for you and your loved ones.

Colin TT

Club Visit to Danie Wentzel

[singlepic id=588 w=300 h=233 float=right]On Sunday 29th November, Eight members of Emrig were again treated to another spectacular layout visit, this time the one belonging to Danie Wentzel whose home is situated on the extreme North of Pretoria.

The invitation was sent out to all the members of Emrig but only the first eight members who responded to the e-mail were considered, mainly due to the space limitations in Danie’s layout room. There will be follow up visits for members next year in batches of 8, as Danie has offered to open his house and layout again in the future for everyone’s enjoyment.

Danie has built his layout in a two car garage attached to his house so access is through his study. Once entering the layout room, the layout is a site to behold. It is an HO German layout in the shape of an L which stretches along [singlepic id=598 w=300 h=233 float=left]the entire back wall of the garage, with the bench work extending up the length of the one side wall.

In the centre of the one part of the layout is an operator’s pit which can be accessed only by crawling under the layout. Situated in this operators pit is all the controllers for the Lenz Digital Command system that Danie uses to run his layout.

[singlepic id=592 w=300 h=233 float=right]Once Danie was in the operator’s area, he ran up to three trains on separate circuits around his layout. The scenery on the layout is spectacular and complete, but as all layout owners mention, there is so much more to do. A wonderful feature of the layout is the animation and mini scenes that are taking place all over the layout. In one section there is a fair ground where the rides are in constant motion. On another part of the layout is an industrial complex where the crane is moving backwards and forwards. Situated next to one of the main lines was a crowd of railway enthusiasts with tiny camera flashes going off every few seconds. Most impressive was the number of lights Danie had. From street lights, office lights, lights overlooking yards as well as hazard lights next to roadworks and the railway line. The first article in the layout gives just some idea of the number!

[singlepic id=594 w=300 h=233 float=left]Positioned adjacent to the operators pit is a massive station complex with passenger trains parked next to the platforms crowded with people. Through the duration of the visit, Danie ran a number of passenger and freight trains around the layout. He also ran a steam train around part of his layout for us to see.

[singlepic id=607 w=300 h=233 float=right]One of the amazing features in Danie’s train room which he was proud of was his truly amazing collection of Roco Locomotives and rolling stock. Next to his layout, Danie has built a number of wood and glass display cabinets where he keeps his astounding collection. There are approximately ten individual cabinets that are just over one meter wide, half a meter deep and over two meters high. Danie has about eight to nine hundred diesel locomotives, fifty to a hundred steam locomotives and hundreds of passenger coach sets and freight cars. When he was asked if they ever make an appearance on the layout, he mentioned that he will often take a few trains off the layout and replace them with another set out of his cabinets.
After we spent some time in the train room, we took a break and enjoyed a tasty selection of snacks and cold drinks, offered to us by Danie’s wife. After a short chat in the lounge, we all went back into the train room where Danie demonstrated some of his more special trains. One of these was an eight car passenger train given to Danie by the staff of Roco. The special feature about this train was the doors of the coaches that opened and closed at the push of a button on the handheld controller. The electronics and servo’s used to operate the doors is all located in the roof of the coach.

[singlepic id=593 w=300 h=233 float=left]There was another special train in Danie’s collection being a single engined snow plough. This locomotive would travel down the line, and again, when controlled with the handheld controller, would stop, the entire cab and snow plow equipment would rotate one hundred and eighty degrees on its frame and then travel in the opposite direction.

[singlepic id=616 w=300 h=233 float=right]There was an actual working drive in with a screen showing a train movie together with sound
As always, the day came to an end and we had to make our way back home. A big thank you goes out to Danie and his wife for allowing us into his home to share in his hobby for a short while and thank you for your wonderful hospitality.

For larger photos, remember to click on the thumbnail.

Club Visit to Hans Bac’s Amsterdam Trams.

[singlepic id=583 w=300 h=233 float=right]On Sunday 18th October, nine EMRIG members went to another home layout visit. This was following the invitation offered to the club by Hans Bac. The theme of the layout was Trams in Little Amsterdam .

Hans has built the layout in the upstairs room in his house adjacent to a small, well kitted and neat workshop where all of his model building takes place.

Hans explained that the love of trams, and the trams in Amsterdam in particular grew from when he used to travel in them as a child during the war years.

This love of the trams urged him to start modelling them and thus his layout was born. His current layout has taken him many years to build and detail but all the hard work is evident.

[singlepic id=572 w=300 h=233 float=left]Hans explained that there are not many HO Scale working trams to be found in the world. There are however many plastic kits available. He has therefore, painstakingly, built these kits and installed motors and gearboxes in them, and even more impressive, installed decoders so that they can be operated on his layout that is controlled by a Digitrax Zephyr Digital Command controller.

Hans mentioned that he currently has about eighty trams fitted with decoders on his layout. The layout is in the shape of an E with many buildings, roads and scenery in place. There are 14 routes on the layout which the trams follow with a number of trams travelling on their routes at the same time.

[singlepic id=586 w=300 h=233 float=right]Hans has hand laid most of the track on his layout which is buried into the road surface as can be found on the prototype. Hans even makes his own custom turnouts, a photo of which can be seen to the right.  The trams are powered through the overhead catenary which acts as the one polarity with both the tracks acting as the opposite.

One impressive feature is a bridge over one of the canals that can be automatically raised and lowered at the push of a button. Firstly the traffic lights for the trams go red, indicating that they must stop and then the bridge goes about its duty.

[singlepic id=587 w=300 h=233 float=left]The scenery is arguably 95% complete. There are many buildings together with many mini scenes. For instance, a wedding at the church, folk sitting around tables on the corner of a city block, and what layout cannot be without something like the photo below?

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[singlepic id=564 w=300 h=233 float=right]Lastly, to the right can be seen one of Hans display cabinets packed with trams. It is obvious Hans has a passion for the Trams and this certainly shows in his hobby

It was a great experience to visit a layout that is completely different and to see and admire the work and dedication that the modeller has put into his dream layout. Hans Bac’s layout is one such layout.

As is usual, after the visit, Hans put on a wonderful spread for the visitor which was greatly enjoyed.

Club Visit To Johan Leeflangs Little Switzerland.

[singlepic id=549 w=300 h=233 float=right]On Sunday the 13th September, the EMRIG members visited Johan Leeflang’s “Little Switzerland”.

As Helgard Meyers layout was unique in being historically themed, so was Johan’s, however, pictorially themed.

Johan’s model is based on Switzerland where he has visited before and photographed. To totally understand Johan’s vision, one needs to have visited the country and fully understand the vastness and grandeur of the Swiss Alps and valleys. By placing the layout high with the scenery higher, Johan has tried to re-create this grandness and has pretty much achieved this.

[singlepic id=525 w=300 h=233 float=left]Also, as if one scale is not enough to model in, Johan models in 4 “gauges” but one scale, being HO. These gauges are: – HO; HOm or meter gauge or 12mm track; 9mm track which is HOe and lastly, HOi or 6,5mm track! As mentioned, all one scale being 1:84 or HO. Johan had a fantastic template explaining the relation between gauges and scale which will be used for a small article in next month’s newsletter.


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With reference to the photo above, using his photographic expertise and a pro lab, his backgrounds are in between 2m and 6 meters wide! I am sure that by looking at the photographs here, one can gain some kind of perspective as to the atmosphere and grandness they give.

Johan is a professional photographer, and has used his skills, profession and resources to create a unique layout, which by Johan’s words is arguably 20% complete, but certainly looks amazing and substantially more complete when taking in the backgrounds which constitute a large part of the layout. As Johan said, when starting a home layout, one wants to start at the back and work forward. It becomes more and more difficult to put in a wonderful background when there is a substantial amount of scenery and buildings placed on the layout.

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Above is another amazing scene where Johan has worked with photos to make the backdrop and together with the bridge, frames this scene amazingly. The only sacrilege here is that the photo was taken without any train of any sort traversing the bridge.

With this photo above, Johan dimmed the room and switched on an ultraviolet light strategically placed to shine on this backdrop. The background magically transformed into an amazing night scene with a wonderful clean deep blue night sky so common over Europe. Also showing itself better was the half-moon faintly visible on the upper left of the image as well as stars!

Night transforming into day, and vice versa.

The below is difficult to explain, but behind the main town “Ostermundigen”, Johan has been very cunning to create an awesome and amazing backdrop. He had a large photo developed and placed this on a wooden background. The sky was then cut off of this backdrop so as just to show literally the mountains, and no sky. This mountain backdrop was then fixed between 150mm to 200mm in front of the wall behind which has been painted a sky blue with clouds. Now between the mountain backdrop and the wall behind, Johan has placed a selection of lights which together with a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) create a sunrise and sunset effect, happening “behind” the mountains, which is honestly, something to see.

Now, that is not the end. Hopefully many of those reading this newsletter have been to Cape Town and witnessed the clouds rolling over Table Mountain. Well, again, Johan has cleverly re-created this effect by purchasing a “smoke machine” commonly used on stages for shows or musicals. He has channelled the smoke that is generated, to flow out between the backdrop and wall to create the same effect over his Swiss mountains. Again, something to see to be believed and appreciated!

On the next page is a series of photos that have been taken of this set up to try and show this effect. However, honestly, these photos just do not do justice to actually being there and watching it with one’s own eyes.  By viewing the photos one after the other going down the page, you will see the progression from night time, through dawn to a wonderful sunny day.

The town in particular here is Ostermundigen.

Currently night time over the Alps

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The first sign of the sky lighting up

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The sky getting more crimson

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Slowly turning orange

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And now the early morning mist rolls over the mountain

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The mist clearing.

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And a new day has just begun!

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Simply brilliant!

[singlepic id=552 w=600 h=233 float=right]Moving on to the layout, Johan mentions that by learning from EMRIG, he has gone the modular route. All his bench work is modular steel frames which is the medium he prefers to work with. Talking about his upcoming move to the Western Cape, Johan says it will be fairly simple to pull apart the various sections ready for transportation. The electrics is something else though J.

The layout consists of two return loops around their respective towns, Bergun on the left and Solis on the right of Ostermundigen. Between these towns are some substantial bridges, enveloping whole scenes as can be seen to the right and below.

In a separate room, Johan has his staging where there are multiple tracks again with a reverse loop. Then there were the towns themselves. A lot of scenery still needs to be done, but at least trains are running and there are buildings in place giving the effect of the scene.

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[singlepic id=553 w=300 h=233 float=left]Although separate from the main layout, Johan had other scenes showing his modelling prowess. To the left is a module which he built for a convention as well as for use in the EMRIG layout that is the largest module I have seen yet. It is a scene from Durban harbour with a container ship placed as the centrepiece and again, a photo backdrop of the Harbour to set the scene. It did not end there though. Below, there was the water scene together with what was happening under the water. By using a Perspex sheet for the water, Johan had gone a step further by placing rocks on the sea floor, together with a Shark eyeing out a scuba diver. Also, “under the water” were old rusted cars, trucks and junk!

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The visit was again absolutely awesome and well enjoyed by the members.

In next month’s newsletter, Johan will be explaining more about how he did the sunrise and sunset effect as well as his Scale vs Gauge template. So keep an eye out for that article.

To enlarge the photos above, simply click on them.

Emrig Workshop / Clinic

By Kevin Chamberlain

On Sunday 27th September, the club held the first of hopefully many model railroad clinics in one of the vacant rooms upstairs at the Northmead Mall.  To say the least, the turnout was fantastic with approximately twenty or more members in attendance.

The topics covered were wide and varied with Colin starting off with basic layout construction and bench work techniques, before moving on to the more complex tasks of tracklaying, wiring or Digital Command Control as well as different scenery techniques. As the clinic progressed, photographs of the techniques and ideas were displayed in the form of a slide show from an overhead projector. These photographs were taken by Colin while building his own layout, as well as on other people’s layouts during the course of their construction.

Many questions were asked by the members attending with advice being given by Colin, John Burkhardt and other modellers who had gone through the process and faced the same challenges while building their own layouts.

The clinic was a huge success with all those attending enjoying the morning. Tea, coffee and biscuits were arranged for the break.

More clinics such as this are being planned and will be placed on the clubs Calendar. If anyone has ideas that they would like to share, or a specific area of the hobby that they would like to know more about and need help with, let Colin or one of the committee members know, so it can become one of the subjects discussed at a future Clinic.

 (Ed: – We are so sorry, but believe it or not, not one single person took a photo or photos of the event! Possibly just goes to show you how engrossed everyone was in the talk. Next time hopefully)

Club Visit To Helgard Meyer’s Fine SAR Layout

The EMRIG members set out on Sunday the 30th of August 2015 to visit Helgard Meyer’s HO scale SAR layout. As is normal, one is uncertain as to what to expect. We have seen a good number of layouts recently, all different and simply amazing.  Surely those could not be beaten. Well this one arguably did just that. This is one layout visit you attend where you just wish you had brought a dictaphone!

The layout is relatively small being about 3m X 4m, with wonderful scenery. However, what set this layout apart from the rest was the history. Helgard undoubtedly enjoys and loves his local history, much of which he seems to have been intricately involved with. Helgard has commissioned a number of people to help him build his dream, who will be discussed later; however, he had the most amazing vision which these helpers were to follow. He wanted 4 independent scenes based on real history he was associated with.

[singlepic id=515 w=300 h=233 float=right]The first scene was the Swartkop air force base, together with the SAAF Memorial and the Airforce military band. He started explaining every scene around the air force base, even down to a crashed spitfire which was apparently the last spitfire flying in South Africa at the time. The plane crashed on the approach to Swartkop’s after the engine failed (fortunately the pilot survived!). The scene has a model spitfire in pieces against the boundary wall together with ambulances and emergency personnel rushing to the scene. Also, a Netcare 911 helicopter, appropriately decaled, is approaching with the rotors spinning. To compliment all this, there is a sound recording playback of sirens and complimentary audio to suit the scene.

Then there is the South African Air Force Memorial with an outside parade. To match this was also an accompanying audio of a military band playing. Helgard pulled out the “record” of the audio clip, telling everyone which one it was as well as its history.

Then it was over to the planes themselves. Helgard went into great detail about almost every plane in the scene. The South African Airforce is the second oldest air force in the world and the layout includes aeroplanes from the early 1920’s. Some of the EMRIG members associated with the planes and scenes and brought back fond memories. Again, to compliment the scene were sounds of fighter aircraft “screaming” through the air.

[singlepic id=505 w=300 h=233 float=left]Scene 2 was then the “Pretoria Station”. This was not just about the trains, but also the trams and busses at that time. Helgard made extensive use of framed photos hanging on his walls to explain his scenes. The showcase however was the Pretoria station building. This was meticulously built by Albert Borgstein from the original architect’s plans! If one looks at the photo and compares it to the real building, it is incredibly accurate. The cars, busses and trams were all period models.

Then it was over to Helgard’s younger years with Queenstown station being modelled. In the photos there is a photo of two houses which when you look at them make you know they are railway houses. The whole scene resembled one of the train towns of the old South Africa.

[singlepic id=484 w=300 h=233 float=right]Lastly, the 4th scene was of a farm his family had since the 1800’s in the Eastern Cape, between Tarkastad and Sterkstroom (close to Queenstown). The farmhouse was built by Deiderick van Rensburg and included chickens, children playing, period cars and more. At that time, there was even a true narrow gauge line in the Eastern Cape. So, true to form, there is a narrow gauge loop with a dedicated NGG16 Beyer Garratt to run on this track with a mixed train from the 50’s and 60’s.

Then there were the actors, the trains. All again, were based on prototypical trains, one such being the “White Train”. Helgard went into great detail explaining the history of this train and more specifically the Royal Visit in 1947.

[singlepic id=478 w=300 h=233 float=left]During 1947 King George VI, as “King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British dominions beyond the seas,” accompanied by Queen Elizabeth and the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, visited the British territories in Southern Africa, beginning in South Africa in February of that year.[Ref: – Wikipedia].

However, for Helgard, the very first “vivid” memory of the “White Train” was when it was used to transport the remains of the then Prime Minister of South Africa “Adv Johannes Gerhardus Strijdom”, who died in 1958. After a memorial service in Cape Town his body was transported to Pretoria on the White train which stopped at most stations, where a small orchestra moved out of the train and played the national anthem while onlookers sang and paid their last respects! His “coffin” was draped in the national flag and he was finally buried in Pretoria. Just imagine what Helgard witnessed!

Obviously other trains included the old and new Blue trains, the metro sets as well as an Iron ore hauler together with mid train and rear train helpers. Diesel loco’s, electric locos and steam. The whole layout and environment were rich in history, ably told by Helgard.

[singlepic id=472 w=300 h=233 float=right]There were finally the display cases and shelves of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. As soon as someone saw or commented on a specific model, Helgard would give a run down on its history. Not once did anyone show signs of disinterest or boredom. If anything, the EMRIG’ers were enthralled and just kept on wanting more.

There was a lot of animation on the layout with a helicopter and rotating rotors mentioned above, children on a see-saw moving up and down, chickens pecking at the ground for their food, a cow who’s head was moving from side to side, Eagles flying in a ravine with their nest on a ledge, to a car, crashed over the railing with the skid marks and all.

Helgard mentioned many times the folk that made all this happen, in particular Diederick and Colin who were the main contributors.

As mentioned, Albert Borgstein built the Pretoria station. All the steam engines were built by Eric Bekker from Mosselbay. Lourens Sturgeon built the 4E, 9E, 14E, 15E electrical locomotives. Chris van der Walt from the Aviation shop did the painting of most of the aeroplanes, also the Paul Kruger locos, the Gautrain, the trams and buses and many other items. Diederick van Rensburg built the lay-out over a 6 month period including all the landscaping as well as the farmhouse. Colin did all the electrical engineering and both John Burkhardt and Colin fitted the sound chips. Lastly, Jean Dulez’s book provided the inspiration to turn the layout into both a “historic and nostalgic” layout!

This article will just never do the visit justice. Hopefully one day in the future, Helgard will allow the club back for another visit. If that happens, don’t think about it, jump at the opportunity! You will not regret it.

Many more photos below.

Till next time.

Swap Meet: – 29th August 2015 – Great Friends and Great Trains

[singlepic id=459 w=300 h=233 float=right]At the end of August, EMRIG had another of our Swap Meets. The attendance was outstanding and another fantastic success.

It was very noticeable that there were many more buyers this time round with all of them crowding around the tables. There were also a couple of new comers. The tables remained around the 40 level, however, for our December meet, we are already gearing up for 48 tables.

What appears to make the Swap Meets so successful is not just having the club layout room with modules and trains running, but also the environment. We are so fortunate in having a space in Northmead mall as well as being allowed to set up our Swap Meet in the corridors. The buyers and sellers were seen purchasing breakfast from Maxis as well as constant snacks and drinks from the various food shops in the mall. Arguably, the worst part is having fully stocked auto teller machines nearby. It is no longer and excuse or discouraging to have to go down the road to draw money. It is just there on tap and very bad on the wallet :-).

A very special word of thanks must go out to the owner, manager and fellow tenants that allow us to do this.

Something else that is amazing is the number of club members joining in to set up and break down the tables. It started last year with poor Colin TT doing all the work. Then the remainder of the committee got involved. And now every time there is another Swap Meet, more and more club members are assisting. The committee is really grateful to all the members that arrived on the day to help. It really was heart-warming.

Lastly, we heard and were asked by some of the traders to convey their thanks in helping those carrying boxes in and out as well as setting up. Very special thanks go out to all the traders that attended. It is certainly terrible, getting up early, back breaking work loading and unloading cars and then travelling so far. Thank you very much.

So, next meeting is December 12th! Be there for some fun and retail therapy before the Christmas holidays.

August Swap Meet flyer