100 Years for Sydney SSME and
50 Years for the AALS
The 2006 AALS Convention at Luddenham, NSW
by David Proctor
It’s not every day that a club celebrates a Centenary. The Sydney Society of Model Engineers Inc are only the second model engineering society in the world to do so (the only other one is the SMEE in London). As an added milestone this was also the 50th AALS Convention.
For those who don’t already know, the SSME have their 10 hectare (25 acre) property known as Model Park at Luddenham, approximately 50km south west of the Sydney CBD. They have a 170 metre elevated 2½”/3½”/5″ elevated track and a 1260 metre ground level dual gauge 5″/7¼” track as well as an extensive ground level Gauge 1 layout. The site also hosts other hobbies including 1/4 scale cars, aircraft, boats and slot cars but these were not operating over the Convention weekend.
A large number of people had arrived by Thursday afternoon and the facilities were filling up very quickly. A few afternoon showers caused a bit of anxiety but the remainder of the weekend turned out to be perfectly fine. The politics of the hobby entered a lot of discussions over the weekend though judging by most of the conversations there appeared to be little support for the efforts of some clubs to make some changes to the AALS Codes of Practice. The general impression I got was that those who come to a convention do so to play trains and enjoy themselves. Most of those I spoke to reckoned that politics and lobbying for changes should be done in a different time and manner and “not stuff up a good weekend”. I am keeping this report shorter than usual so that we can have more pictures.
Friday, the first official day, was fairly warm and became quite hot as the day progressed. The ground level track was busy all day, as was the gauge 1 layout. The elevated track saw steady use, the highlight for me being some London & North Western Railway express running late in the afternoon, and I mean “express”. Hugh Elsol’s LNWR “Hardwicke” was coupled to Barry Tulloch’s LNWR “Teutonic” and some very spirited running was involved. Probably the fastest running the Luddenham elevated track has seen (I think John Tulloch was marginally more adventurous than his father), and Matthew Lee who was sharing the track with them, really had to push the P class to stay out of their way. Great stuff!
Friday evening saw the AMBSC’s 40th AGM followed by the inaugural meeting of the ALSSC (Australian Live Steamers Safety Committee). Saturday was also fine but much cooler. The official opening was performed by David Hill, former NSW rail chief and the man responsible for the restoration of 3801. He obviously enjoyed the task as he was still on site a couple of hours later, driving locomotives.
After all the politicking and lobbying which had been going on within the hobby for the past few months the AGM on Saturday night turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax. I noted there were more observers than usual this year, drawn out as someone commented, by the prospect of some blood sport! When it came to the voting the status quo prevailed, in most cases by an overwhelming majority. In fact the only change was that Alf Grigg (Echuca) replaced Murray Hill as the Victorian AALS State representative. Obviously the majority are happy with the AALS and its constituent parts in the present form.
On Sunday the numbers were down a bit, particularly in the 5″ gauge, apparently because several people decided to head over to the Western Districts Live Steamers at Fairfield for their regular run day. It was another enjoyable day for most, but a bit frustrating for the ones who wanted to run on the elevated track as there was no water for most of the day.
Sunday night was, as usual, time for the “Bogies”, the annual awards. The awards were as follows:
- Aradlay-Triton Trophy (best first effort) – Ed Millington (Sunshine Coast RMS) for his 5″ IC/hydraulic cane loco Bli Bli.
- Bolton Scale Model Trophy – not awarded this year.
- Southern Federation Award (contribution to the hobby) – David Proctor (MELSA Maryborough)
- AME Under 25 Encouragement Award – Andrew Allison (Sydney LSLS) for a 5″ gauge QR 4-wheel flat top wagon. This trophy was accompanied by an up-market, liquid-proof vernier donated by Hare & Forbes.
- Sydney SME Trophy (most popular locomotive) – Bob Nash (SASMEE) for his 7¼” Southern PS-4
- Tullamarine Road Steam Trophy – Martin Yule (Sydney LSLS) 3″ scale Foden steam wagon and trailer.
- Toastmaster Award – Dave Merrifield. This was a special award to commemorate Dave’s attempts at making toast for breakfast, the activated smoke alarm and the attendance of three fire engines.
Monday was wind-down day, with those had not already packed up, having a last run before getting ready for the trip home or to one of the numerous post-convention runs which were held around the region. My main disappointment for the weekend was to find that someone had made a large dent in the bonnet of my car, on top where an accident seems unlikely. Next year’s convention (2007) will be hosted by the Penfield Model Engineers in Adelaide. No venue has yet been chosen for 2008 yet, but Ray Hall seemed quite keen on the idea of Penfield hosting two in a row! Some of us urged him to consult with his club members first!
… And a lady’s view, from Helen Hotchin
I arrived on Good Friday, the day that the Convention at the Sydney Society of Model Engineers got underway. The Society was celebrating their 100th anniversary. The weather was beautiful, a most scenic place as campers camped at the foothills of the Blue Mountains.
This society is unique having a variety of different interests: * radio control planes * control line planes, * slot cars * HO railway * garden railway * tether cars * 1/4 scale cars * radio control boats * stationary steam * elevated railway * passenger hauling railway * ladies auxiliary * traction engines & road vehicles. There are around 200 members.
Around 600 people arrived from different states of Australia as well as visitors from Texas (USA), New Zealand and England. 80 people camped on site each day.
The final event of the Convention was the presentations and there was a lovely birthday cake to celebrate the Sydney Society’s 100th birthday and the AALS 50th birthday. A young man I thought well deserving of his award was Andrew Allison (AME Under 25 Encouragement Award) for his Queensland flat top wagon. The Convention was a great success and congratulations to Sydney SME on 100 years and to the AALS on 50 years.
CLICK THE IMAGES To VIEW LARGER SIZE
The birthday cake
Photo: Helen Hotchin
Something is of interest as Bill Bagley (SCRMS) passes on his 7¼” BB18¼
Photo: Helen Hotchin
This article was first published in Australian Model Engineering magazine in Issue 127 Jul-Aug 2006. It is published here with permission. Photos from and copyright © David Proctor 2006 unless stated.