Normally I look forward the Epping Club's Exhibition on the June Long Weekend, always a great show but this year I was asked if I'd like to accompany my Son Matt on a 4WD crossing of the Simpson Desert with 7 other 4WDs.
This opportunity does not come often especially if you don't own a 4WD. I read and was told, crossing the Simpson Desert should be one thing on your "Bucket List". After doing the "crossing", I agree. There's always next year for the exhibition but a once in a lifetime experience spending two weeks with my Son, so it was off to the Simpson Desert instead of "trains". What a BIG call.
Even bigger kms to get there - 2,400 kms to Dalhouise Springs S.A. via Mildura Vic, Port Augusta S.A and Kulgera N.T. and 2,100 kms from Birdsville QLD via Bourke, home. We did the easier "easterly" 500 km crossing of the Simpson Desert - all sand and lots of Sand Dunes and took 5 days so the other 4,500 kms, took 5 days. I was pulled over at 3.30 AM at Coober Pedy S.A. in the pouring rain, and breath tested. They are dedicated police in S.A. Going the other way, I only passed 2 trucks (road trains) and a car in 6 hours on the Stuart Hwy.
How can I add this desert experience to my layout? It seems too good an opportunity to add something personal to my layout. We crossed both the old (replaced in 1980) and the new Ghan Railways, some 2,000 plus kms from Gunnedah, the furthest north west location on my Main North but with some "selective compression", I'll add the Simpson Desert, well the highest Sand Dune "Big Red" (35 metres), to my North West Staging. I bought some sand back from "Big Red", just west of Birdsville. One day soon you may see a Sand Dune and some 4WDs on the Main North.
A fantastic experience but only possible if you own or can be a passenger in a 4WD. If you are interested in seeing some photos and a 30 second video climbing "Big Red" see:
Now back to playing trains.
Yesterday I ran my 4803 a latest Powerline 48 equipped with what I consider the best diesel sound - Loksound 244, to get back into trains. It kept cutting out even though it had a TCS KA2 Keep Alive. Last night I dismantled the bogies and cleaned out all the black crud around the axles/bearings and it again runs great. So if your latest Powerline 48 runs like crap, dismantle the bogies and clean the axles/bearings.