Wombat Creek is a H0 (1:87) scale model of a fictional town situated somewhere in the Victorian Goldfields, Australia.
The time is 1963. Geelong wins the VFL Championship against Hawthorn (109– 60). John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. ValentinaTeresjkova is the first woman in Space. The men behind The Great Train Robbery get £2.6 million from a Royal Mail train heading from Glasgow to London. The town consists of several buildings. The “Wombat Creek Bank and Gold Exchange” is a prominent building in the town centre. You will also find several other commercial buildings; among them the daily newspaper“W.C. Chronicle”(colloquial known as the "Toilet Paper") and “Wombat Creek Brewing Company” (Famous for the “Wombat Bitter”). “The Big Nugget Gold Mine” is situated at the Western outskirts of town near the small Chinatown. The War Memorial is in a small park along East Street. The town’s mayor Alfred Campbell together with his son David Campbell owns several businesses, including the bank, the pub and the newspaper. AC/DC basically run the town and make most decisions on behalf of the rest of Wombat Creek’s residents, who, on the other hand, are too busy with their own businesses. The mayor’s latest initiative is Wombat Creek Tramways. Wombat Creek doesn’t really need a tram system, but AC reckons tramways will improve the town’s reputation. Partly because of limited funds the tramways' construction and rolling stock depend heavily on second-hand requirements from other Australian and overseas tramways.
Quite a few years ago I bought one of the (in-)famous Atlas tram editions. Unfortunate – perhaps because I didn’t do a proper research first – the model of a steam tram from Bern, Switzerland is narrow gauge. Fortunately it can be re-gauged to standard gauge even the model needs some alterations to resemble an Australian steam tram.
The trailer was deemed to be of no use, but a friend from the Melbourne Tram Museum provided photos of the steam trams in Bendigo. They only operated for a short period between 1892 and 1902. The trailers were of slightly various designs but all more or less like the one from Bern. The Bendigo trailers had either 8 windows and platforms with open sides or 6 windows with enclosed platforms. The Wombat Creek Tramways went for a ‘consolidated’ version. So instead of being scrapped it underwent a minor rebuild. The platforms got solid sides and longitudinal benches and the bogies got wheels from a W class tram.
The double-decker trams in Hobart did occasionally display an unfortunate habit – overturning rounding sharp curves. The tramways solved the problem by converting the trams into single-decker trams.
Wombat Creek Tramways will keep no. 17 as a double-decker. The test-runs have showed a tendency of the tram swinging from side to side, so I have decided to add some extra weight. A visit to a store selling fishing gear paid off. Two 20 grams lead sinkers have stabilised the tram. The shop assistant asked, where I would go fishing. To his surprise I replied: ‘I never go fishing!’
The livery is very close to Hobart no. 17. As seen from the photo the tram sports very fine lines and a tramway logo on the sides. This was done in ‘Photoshop’ and later printer out on ‘Transparent Clear Label For Ink-jet Printer Only’. Before applying the prints to the tram, they were sprayed three times with matt finishing sealer.
The mechanics at the workshop have been busy this week. The former Hobart tram has been transformed from this:
The photo shows the tram, now renumbered as WCT no. 17, at the tram stop in Victoria street. The rebuilt is almost finished. Still to come are two side steps and the seats of the saloon. To gain a more smooth run additional weight will be placed under the longitudinal seats.
Except the four seat in the corners the seats of the top floor of the double-decker tram have reversible backs. The joiners at the workshop have been busy today. 10 pieces of cardboard, 10 pieces of thin plastic sheets, 40 small staples, some paint and a lot of patience (plus a pinch of quiet swearing) give you 10 seats.
On the last day of the year the employees at the tram shed were busy testing the ‘new’ tram despite the temperature of 39 C. All buildings in Wombat Creek are removable – except one. The petrol station is glued in place. Every consideration was taken placing it years ago, but could a double-decker tram pass? As the photo shows – just!
After a few ‘wobbly’ test runs (how the driver managed to do that without a cab and controllers is a mystery) the tram went back to the workshops. The roof was cut of, and the windows replaced with steel poles made out of ‘extra log quilting pins’. Just before the workers went home for New Year celebrations they put the first coat of brown paint to the upper level.
A while ago Wombat Creek Tramways acquired a double-decker tram from Hobart (read: from the internet). The aim is to put it into service after re-gauging and repainting. Later two tramsand a trailer arrived from the same source. They seem to be of Austrian origin. The manufacturer is unknown and the work quality is rather dubious, but the motors are fine. One of them has a wheelbase which is only 1 or 2 mm to long for the double-decker, so it is doomed as spare parts. Anyway it fell apart trying to get the chassis out! Next step is to cut away the lower floor of the double-decker. The work is still in progress. The result so far is shown of the photo. The floor is still intact but the two ends have come off!
The top floor will need a make-over, too. The Hobart trams were totally open except for a roof. So the side windows and the doors at both ends have to go. The model came without seats, so they have to be manufactured in the workshop. And no, the passengers didn’t loose their legs in an explosion. They were already gone at their arrival.