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.
Three days work and the control panel for the tramways is almost finished. Only the loop around the Big Nugget Mine is missing. The final position of the tracks has to be determined depending on the design of the bridge over the narrow gauge railway.
Obviously the black lines are the tracks. The red push buttons control the points. Some points are still not connected. The black push buttons control the power to the tram-stops. The tracks are under constant power and the trams will come to a stop, unless the black buttons are activated. The slide switches are normally on, but they make it possible to stop a tram between stops.
The narrow gauge railway and the creek both run under the tramway loop. No problem with the creek but the clearance for the steam locomotive is very tight with 1 mm between the the top of the funnel and the underside of the loop. This is too tight so something has to be done. Lowering the railway is not an option because of the risk of the creek flooding the line. Instead I will go for a thinner board under the tramway. Probably not quite right from an engineering perspective but it will not be visible once the sides of the future bridge are in place.
The whole area around the explosives factory, the sawmill and the loco shed has been raised 6 mm to get above the surface of the creek. As seen on the photos the factory has been set into the ground to partly cover up it’s very high concrete foundation.
The track plan has the three points joining each other, but as can be seen from the first photo the track will hit the corner of the factory. Moving the points away from the factory will clear the corner but leave a too short shunt in front of the sawmill. Instead the first and second points will be separated by a slight curve as seen in the second photo.
I have tried an alternative to resin for the Wombat Creek. Instead of resin I have used clear PVC sold as ‘table cover’ at the local hardware store (They get enough advertising, so I will not name the store!). The PVC comes in different thickness. I went for 0.75 mm with the idea of a double layer for additional ‘depth’. It is very easy to cut into any shape. I did two cuts along the template for the creek allowing an extra 5 mm of both sides.
Putting the two layers on top of each other makes them ‘cling’ together but only partially. The result looked like the creek had an oil slick or partly frozen over. So I had to go with one layer, but I think it will be fine in the end. The banks and adjoining land will be made from foam-board. Like the PVC easy to cut into desired shape and no mess!
I pass the local creek every day to and from work and keep an eye out for the colour of the water. After a rainy day the water resembles ‘coffee latte’, but mostly the colour is brown with a hint of green. Along the banks the water is almost black. For Wombat Creek I have gone for a non-rainy day.
The track down the slope towards the Explosives Factory has been laid. It is not yet wired up, so the trams aren’t running yet. The track is not embedded in a road and will need to be ballasted.
The tram connection to the Explosives Factory is inspired by the trams at the once isolated Footscray system in Melbourne. As seen on the photo from Melbourne Tram Museum, the T class No 180 is showing Explosives Factory in the destination box.
n the Maribyrnong/Footscray area there used to be a factory complex consisting of the Explosives, Ammunition, Ordnance and Pyrotechnic Factories. They were involved in productions for the Australian Defence Forces. During WW2 the factories operated around the clock 365 days a year. Of the 8000 strong workforce 52 % were women and many of them lived locally. They used the trams to and from work. With trams every 7 minutes day and night they didn’t have to wait long for the next tram.
Originally the destinations for the trams were listed as the factory names, Explosives Factory, Ammunition Factory, Ordnance Factory and Pyrotechnic Factory, but after the Japanese bombing of Darwin 12 February 1942 the Commonwealth Authorities ordered the signs changed by the end of the month. Apparently to make it less obvious for spies where to find the factories. The destinations would be ‘Special A’, ‘Special B’ and ‘Special E’. To make life even harder for an eventual spy ‘Special A’ went to the Explosives Factory and ‘Special E’ went to the Ammunition Factory. How the Pyrotechnic Factory was signed is unknown.
The products from the Explosives Factory in Wombat Creek are of course destined for the mining industry and the trams will not arrive at the factory every seven minutes 24 hours a day.
The photo shows the latest track work at the Tramways. The two parallel points are the turnouts towards the loop around the Big Nugget Mine. The points at the front connects to the track towards the Explosives Factory. This track will be on an decline/incline, which will be rather steep. The greatest gradient on the tramways in Melbourne is 1:8 (some resources state 1:6). At Wombat Creek it will probably be around 1:10 or a bit less. A trial run with three trams showed no issues going up-hill.
Planning further work on the Tramways is rather complicated. The loop can’t be finished before part of the track for the mining train is done. This can’t be done before the creek is in place. Nothing can be tested before the control panel is extended. Where to start?