Eltham Model Railway Club
Exhibition Layout

The Exhibition layout was built out of a desire to participate with our fellow Railway modellers.

The layout Murranbilla, has resulted in twenty five exhibitions so far, with more to come.

Exhibitions we will be going to
Click here to find out the next showing of Murranbilla.
Exhibitions we have been to
(newest to oldest)
Open Weekend, Nov 2008
AMRA Caulfield, August 2008
Hobson Bay, Easter 2008
Croydon, September 2007
Stawell, July 2007
Canberra, 2007
Eltham Festival,
Nov 2004
Waverley MRC,
June 2006

Box Hill, March 2006
Braybrook, 2005
Ballarat, June 2005
Hobson Bay 2005
Glen Waverley Dec 2004
(Brandon Park)
Stawell, July 2004
Esssendon 2003
Morwell 2003
Corio 2003
Braybrook 2002
Hobson Bay 2002
Box Hill 2002
Waverley 2001
Box Hill 2001
Hobson Bay 2000
Corio 2000
Strathmore 1999

The layout was built at Panton Hill, and various member's houses. It is a station on a oval representing a through station in HO scale. It is based on Australian prototype with a strong leaning toward Victorian Railways.


The overall layout is 20ft long by 8ft 4inches wide. The layout breaks down into 8 modules, each 5ft 10 inches in length and 2ft 6inches wide. The legs are made from tublular steel that are fitted into larger square tubing screwed into each corner.

The layout is built on the open type timber frame, with decking only where necessary for a solid base for the trackwork. Hand holds have been cut into the sides to allow easy carrying.

All of the trackwork on the visable portion of the layout have been hand-laid by the members using code 80 rail laid on copper clad printed circuit board (PCB) sleepers. The sleepers in between the copperclad sleepers are of balsa stained with diluted Indian ink. Included in this hand laid trackwork there are in excess of 25 sets of points, a double slip. All points have been made by Mark Laidley in situ on the layout. The minimum radius of curves on the layout is 75cm and all points are made to standard No.6 configuration. This method of track construction allows for the running of both fine scale and proprietary rolling stock.

The trackwork on the staging yards is commercial code 100 track. Points are Peco and Shinohara. The track was ballasted with commercial ballast products of different colours, and fixed with diluted white glue.


The power supplies and controllers are borrowed off the club layout - why duplicate everything !

Power to the track is by way of two commercial battery chargers modified to give a split potential power supply using the two transformers in parallel. This allows the running of one common rail and a common return wire for the whole layout. The controllers were originally purchased from the Melbourne Model Railway Society and were modified by removing the jug style of element from the circuit and replacing this with series connected diodes. This allows for a smoother operation of locos by varying the voltage rather than the resistance.

All points are powered by the tried and proven Telecom type 3000 relays, the power being supplied by a 32 volt DC transformer using the same common return as the track.


The scenery base is built using foam sheeting, cut to shape and contoured. A thin layer of plaster is applied over this.This gives a light construction.

The plaster was painted with an earth coloured plastic paint. This was then covered with sawdust made from an old piece of very weathered treated pine (with the help of one masochistic member, who spent over two hours one cold winter's night feeding the timber into a sawbench and collecting the sawdust in a specially constructed bin). This gives the desired colour to represent the grass in the typical summertime countryside of southern Australia.

Visitors to our club layout will see the similarity to Murranbilla in the basic grass colours.

Rock mouldings were produced using latex moulds taken from faces of natural rocks. The plaster used when casting the rock moulds was tinted using concrete colouring. The castings were then pressed onto the hard shell and allowed to dry but not harden. The moulds were then removed and the joins disguised by carving with an artist's palette knife. Once completely dry the rock moulding was painted with various colours of artist's acrylic paints. Before this dried completely, they were washed with water. This has the effect of giving the correct colours in the rock and also highlighting the darkened crevices.

Grass tussocks were made using natural, aged baling twine bound at the bottom with fine wire, then cut to the desired length and inserted into holes drilled into the hardshell. Fences are constructed from matchsticks, which were stained using diluted Indian ink. The wire for the fencing is enamelled wire from a Telecom relay. This give a rusty appearance and is held in place by shallow slots cut into the fence posts. Woodland Scenics ground foam is used along with lichen to represent blackberries, bushes and small trees.

The buildings on the layout are a variety of scratchbuilt and proprietary kits, modified to give an Australian appearance. A number of L.J. Models card kits are also used on the layout. Careful construction of these kits gives an extremely desirable effect. Visitors to our club layout may notice we have borrowed a few buildings for the exhibition layout (we will leave to to find out what we have used)

Ian Deans has painted the back-scenes after success on the club layout. The rolling grassy hills and the cloudy sky highlight the layout.

Our practise of removing items off the club layout for use on the exhibiton layout has resulted in another good point. With back-scenes,buildings, platforms, trees, cars, powerpoles etc all removeable, the modules are quite easy to stack with little depth to worry about had these items been fixed to the layout. The railway certainly looks wildly different when first set up to when it is ready to display.

In the past we did not have lighting built for our layout. We borrowed the Somerton's lighting ducts. Thanks to the Somerton Model Railway Group for their use ! We now have lighting made to suit our railway. Only the sceniced three sides of the layout is lit, the stageing is in 'relative' darkness. Like 'Somerton' ordinary box guttering inverted with light bulbs fitted, smaller lower profile globes are used. Also the colour blends in with the layout better.

Operation and Activities

Members work on the layout as required. Monday evenings can see something being constructed or repaired for the exhibition layout. At the moment tree making is a favoured activity - as you can never have enough trees (unless modelling a stark desert!).

Running is usually either Victorian & South Australian Broad Gauge or Standard gauge with locomotives and rolling stock from all over Australia can be seen. We try to keep our gauges correct.