On Train For...

My late dad was a first a clerk, then a draftsman, then a civil engineering technical officer, then the field engineering officer for track rehabilitation and derailments for the Tasmanian Government Railways. He seemed to always be studying by night, and working by day. He started as a clerk with not even a Tasmanian High School Certificate. My maternal grandfather was a foundryman with the TGR at the Launceston yards. He died when I was about 2, I think, when he died.

I say this because, well, to say that trains and railways are in my blood, even though I went into a career in media support, more like my mum, but trains are a passion. I changed city for love and for Melbourne's railways in my late 40s. If you're ever in Tasmania for a visit, just hire a car. I don't encourage car use, I actively stand against it, but Tasmania has no passenger rail, has overcrowded, untimely buses, almost no bus service worth the money between the major cities of Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. Melbourne has rail and light rail aplenty! I can count on 1 hand the number of times I've caught a bus that wasn't a rail replacement bus in Melbourne. Changing cities for trains is a big deal for this "Tassy boy."

So, it's probably not surprising, I'm rediscovering the joy (and expense!) of model railways. Of course, being me, I'm not doing it the easy way. I'm trying to recreate, sort of, the golden age of Tasmanian passenger rail, an age that began barely a little over a decade before I was born, and ended a year before I came of age. The Tasman Limited!

Now, this is no mean feat! I can get TGR Y class locomotives from SDS Models. (Saving for Y4 in TGR yellow and Y2 in earlier TGR red.) However, to "properly" model the Tasman Limited also requires passenger cars (there are som SAR cars at SDS Models that will repaint nicely), a brake van, EEP class, and, the important model, the TGR DP class rail motors that ran the Launceston to Western Junction shuttle service. These last two exist only as 3D printing STL files online.

These rail motors are interesting vehicles for a Tassy "gunzel" like me. Built by Commonwealth Engineering at their Clyde, NSW plant, the first of them started work in Tasmania before the Second World War. While they look primitive when compared to sleek, modern urban trains like the new, computerised beast running the Dandenong services, here in Melbourne, they're quite advanced for early/mid century rail engineering in Australia. Gardner 6LW diesel/hydraulic powered, some articulated units, some double enders. They're a model for modern short haul passenger rail we know quite well in the modern world. My first ever train journey I remember, started and ended on one of these in 1968(?), when dad used his Railway Institute members' discount to take us to Hobart to show my new sister off to rels. Hence the passion for recreating, in some detail, the Tasman Limited. I don't have the finances or business resources to run a privateer recreation on Tassy's Main Line (could theoretically be done), so I'll settle for the model.

Well, at least they're printable. Well, sort of. I run "filament squirters", "bed slingers" at that. Here's the best I could do with my 32 bit Ender 3 Pro. Not pretty. There's almost as much fill and sand as required for a full scale, real life DP railcar! And that's before the paint!

Shitty 3d print of a TGR DP class rail motor.

I could resin print it. SLA is in the same price range as when I bought my first Tronxy Prusa-clone in 2018. Yuck, disposal of isopropyl alcohol! I've seen some print-heads recommend just letting that toxic crap evaporate outside! Curing in the sun, after cleanup is doable, but not as controlled as a wash and cure machine - DOUBLE THE COST already. But wait...

Resin printing service screenshot

Total cost at Melbourne's KAD3D, in Preston, 2 bodies for a back to back pair, came out at AU$110 (incl. GST) for pickup in a few days. Something about "extra setup costs" but hey, minimum pricing. A human has to do this. It takes time. I've still got to get something like a Black Beetle power bogie (or the Black Bug mini power unit and build my own bogie, or just build the whole power and trailing bogies...) and add a pair of chassis to mount the bogies and bodies on, but the total cost, if I build from commercial parts, will still come in just under the cost of those Y Class locos from SDS.

Soooo, I reckon I'll be getting my EEP guards vans printed (2 trains, one northbound, one southbound, plus the Launny shuttle) at KAD3D, too. As I have to paint the DP Class prints for my Tasman Limited, I may as well paint up the South Australian carriages, too. Voids the warranty, but hey, I do that on all sorts of projects.

I think they call this "active retirement."


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