Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Australind Railcars

The Australind in original Livery. Photo Simon Barber
The Australind prepares to leave Perth Station for Bunbury in 2001.Photo David Johnson 

The Australind is one of Western Australia’s named trains, the other two being the Prospector (Perth-Kalgoorlie) and the Avon-link (Northam-Perth-Northam and Merredin). In 1987 a brand new set of railcars was introduced to the Bunbury- Perth,  route replacing the older locomotive hauled Australind coach set which had its inaugural run in 1947.

The Australind arrives at Bunbury after having serviced at Picton. Photo David Johnson

Transwa four car Australind Mundijong. Aug 2008.

The Australind comprises a set of five railcars, three driving trailers and two non-driving centre cars. All cars are powered by under-floor diesel engines and the train usually runs as a four car set with the fifth driving trailer stored at Picton as a spare.  The set of five cars have given fast, comfortable and reliable service between Perth and Bunbury for 24 years. They have been generally well maintained and have had several liveries in that time. They were refurbished in 2008.  The journey is 185kms each way and usually takes about 2½ hours depending on the number of stoppages en-route.

In 1996, following a school holiday trip to Bunbury on the Australind, I decided to build a model of the train in Sn3½. The task was rather ambitious but I managed to complete the project in 12 weeks. I managed to obtain the outline drawings from a friend who worked on the internal fit-out of the cars at Comeng in Bayswater.  I took a number of photographs, several being of the roof from the Queens Park footbridge as the train passed underneath at about 70-80km/hour!

The bodies were built in styrene using Evergreen board and batten siding (1mm thick and 1.9mm spacing). The roofs were urethane castings produced from a pattern made from styrene. All the roofs were identical except the driving trailers which had slightly shorter roofs due to the sloping driver’s compartment. I was able to simply cut them to length at the un-detailed end. The driving ends of the driving trailers were vacuum formed in styrene over patterns I carved and shaped from wood.  I would have liked to make patterns for the sides of the cars but they were all a bit different and had tumble homes which made urethane casting somewhat problematic.

The running gear came from a Lima HST 125 set which I had and was willing to sacrifice. In a three car set there is 12 wheel electrical pick-up (6 and 6). I have all the bits for the second non-driving trailer but never quite got round to it….as yet. The coaches were painted in silver using my air-brush and the blue/red decal strips are hand-made using painted decal paper. The West-rail decals are from MnJ decals. The windows are flush-glazed using stickers to mask the windows. The Australind name board lettering is from a photo of the front of the railcar sets which I took on my old SLR camera from about 50’ with a 50mm lens. It was before the days of digital cameras and scanners after all.

The couplers between the cars are made from brass strip which allow for electrical connectivity. The Motor bogies are both under the centre, non driving trailer. The end couplers, front and rear are Kadees but are really only for cosmetic purposes. The model of the Australind set is now fitted with a DCC decoder but it ran well on DC in earlier days.    

Stuart Mackay