Industrial Relics


Well, it’s not like I discovered the lost Powerhouse Of Machu Pichu…all I did was find an old iron turntable in a back lane of Perth. But I still reckon it is a find.


The lane runs off Queen Street and serves a set of old buildings on Murray Street. I reckon they must have been large stores at one stage of the game that received wagons or lorries full of goods. The lane was probably considered too narrow to turn a wagon in so they installed a flat-bed iron turntable in a concrete well. It was made a close fit to the well to prevent hooves or wheels from going down the crack.


At some stage of the game they must have decided to bolt it shut – probably to prevent someone going arse over on it in a modern car and sueing the lessees.


From the bolt pattern  I think there is a 5-point framework under the iron plates – it would have been designed to take a fair tonnage – and it probably has a centre pintle.

I just itch to go down there, unbolt it, and see what happens when you spin it… The black car you see in the picture had to exit the lane but did so by reversing to the street using its rear-mounted video camera. Cheating.

Note: Ledger turns up as a name associated with the railways and East Perth power station in the early 1900’s so it is a local engineering job.



Heavy Harry


I used to avoid cars at the shows that were obviously unfinished – it was not snobbery so much as not wanting to look when they weren’t quite dressed…I was sympathetic to someone who desperately wanted to show their build but just hadn’t gotten enough time or money to finish for the opening date. Now I have been to enough shows to realise that there are some vehicles that are just never going to be complete – so I might as well love ’em when I see ’em…


Here’s a January 2016 view of a Ford F600 – a seriously large small truck on a tray-top chassis. It is obviously a work in progress and I hope that it does go further – and that the builder has the chance to bring it back to Melbourne in the future as a finished deal.


The idea of a truck-rod is not new – ever since the Model T/A small-bed pickups were made people have been using them and eventually relinquishing them to hot rodders for the glamour treatment. Bigger cabs, though, are not as common. Big modern cabs the least common of all. I wonder if the price of them means that they are used far longer in their commercial life before falling into the enthusiast’s hands?  Then again, the extra weight and size means you need to be dedicated to want to take the art of work and make it into a work of art.


That’s a big cab. It would be a great ride for someone who themselves were larger – as many truck drivers seem to be. The seats are big. The dash is not overcrowded with instruments either, so there should be plenty of space for a bigger stereo and some air conditioning.


In the back, apart from the box that crowds out the front of the tray, all is pretty plain. If you had the full tray you could stack some pretty heavy goods out there – I’ll bet the owner dreads it when his mates move house because guess who gets the first phone call…Maybe that is why it has the red warning plate.

Road Signs


I like those memes that have silly road signs from around the world – the ones with warnings about falling moose or rising damp. I look out for them constantly here in Perth but rarely see any that Facebook-worthy.

I discount spelinge errors – these can happen to the beast of us, as can auto-corrects that make a finely-tuned literary work look like a Macedonian milk-note. I actually have an affectionate memory for a Polish butcher shop that had a carefully hand-lettered sign that advertised ” smollgoods “. The fact that it did so for over 20 years is a testimony to something – probably the nervousness that people feel telling a man with a butcher knife that he is a bad speller…

Whenever I go out now, I try to take a small digital camera to record the scene. Someone said it was illegal to shoot pictures with two hands while you are simultaneously steering the car with two hands, and shifting the gears and operating the turn signal with two hands. I wasn’t so sure about this so I went and asked at the local Hindu temple. They referred me to higher authorities who said they could see no problem with it.

Singapore 2014 369

So I snap away. The concrete truck that I followed seemed to have enough signs for everyone. I took to reading them until I got frightened. They warn against drinking water or dying, or putting your hands anywhere. There are signs that look like bombs falling and signs that say they can’t see you. I think that there were probably fewer signs at Chernobyl, because it was safer than driving a concrete truck.


Nearby was someone driving by in their dental car. Normally you think of dentists as needing chairs and drills and needles to practise their profession, but these aren’t really something that you need a car for. Perhaps it was rushing emergency supplies somewhere – cotton wool rolls, or old magazines, or rifle ammunition…At least it gave the dentist a chance to advertise that you could have 12 solid hours of treatment every day – though 7:30 at night is probably not the time to go in for a scale and clean if they didn’t get a lunch break…


Of course what would a road be without a political statement. And the roads in North Perth are as political as they get. They are echoed by Fremantle but I don’t go there because I have not had my booster shots.


Here’s a sign that the 100-year old railway bridge underpass was built for carts and horses…


And another sign that the black car driver is a fool – the white Toyota was parked there hours before him.


And the sign at the top of the page? A sign that someone has been overseas and thinks it’s a good idea to import this trick here. And a sign that there are not enough cop cars on the road in the middle of the day.

Dogwashing For the New Age


The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia has always encouraged new industries. We feel that an active interest in capital growth is the best way to bring young people ahead – that and a good shooting war in someone else’s country that they can participate in on a contract basis.

Here in Australia, scientists have brought to our attention the need to conserve water and energy, and have pointed out the millions of gallons of fresh water that are wasted every year in cleaning cars, boats, dogs, and vagrants. The Guild has a plan to cut this waste. We have invested in water cannon trucks left over from the East German Political Police Service and are bringing them to Australia.

These trucks –  1989 Feldröhr 3000 SKV vehicles – are fitted with Skoda hydraulic cannon and pumps capable of pushing out 3000 psi streams of icy water that can travel up to 80 metres. They are fitted with a separate water trailer in some cases. Up until now they have been in demand in the Canadian goldfields as mobile hydraulic monitors to wash hillsides down into gold sluices. Unfortunately the British Columbia Department Of Ecology has ruled that they are too destructive to be used on rock faces or pine forests and so they have been offered to the Guild.

The new service – to be branded Guildy As Charged – will be available through the suburbs on a call-up basis. You merely phone in, give credit card details, and tell us what you want washed and where. The Feldröhr turns the corner in your street, the operator puts the muddy dog, child, or Hyundai in the laser sight and opens the valve. Most cleaning takes place in under 5 seconds and in many cases no windows are broken. Soap is unnecessary, and isn’t that good news for the environment.

For those objects that may be badly affected by water, the Guild will reserve one vehicle for use with a tank of xylene monoacetyte biphenolic acid which has been shown to dissolve even the toughest stain. In some cases through armour plate.

Remember – if it’s not clean it’s not safe…call the Guild today and rest in peace.

Grim , Grey, and Grimy


Merrie Englande. The Old Dart. Blighty. The Old Country. Mother England. Pommieland.


If you have gotten to thinking that England is all meadows and Cornish beaches and GWR railway autocrat gliding through the fields…we present the other view. Courtesy of the WA Model Railway Exhibition. The Lord Street Depot.


I can only guess at the location but the time period seems to be the late 50’s to early 60’s. The British Railways logo on the side of the locos gives that away, plus the lorries and vans fit the era. The grime is timeless. I cannot say whether the real English rails scene was as dark as this but I am willing to take the word of the layout builders.


I think it is O scale, and this means the vehicles are 1:43 or 1:48. I admire the good sense of the builders in making sure they are lined and weathered to fit in with the theme. In particular the use of the thin black wash on the beige sedan (Morris? Austin? ) makes it real.


Like a lot of British-themed layouts this one is a shunt back and forth yard with the occasional making up of trains and an arrival or departure to punctuate the day. Very much life as it was seen by the people who lived and worked in these areas – if they were not working on the trains and travelling to other places they did not envisage those other places. I know it is somewhat of a old saw to say that the European’s world was bounded by the walls of his town or his fields for a millennium but at least that makes the modelling of a railway scene a little easier and cheaper for them than the North American layout that tries to do a point-to-point over an entire basement.


This layout had an amazing feature. I’m still not sure if what I saw was what I saw, but I think that the little red lorry shown in this photo was entirely free of any under-ground control. It traversed the length of the layout – up and down the roadway, and seemed free to steer from side to side. When it reached the loading dock at the bottom of the hill it stopped, reversed into the dock, and then eventually ground its way back up the hill into the Lord Street Depot yard. I think one chap was operating it with a 4 channel radio controller like they use for model aircraft, and I’ll bet the motor that drove it was one of the servo motors from an aero set broken out of its casing. The action of the little lorry was absolutely realistic and I found it to be the most attractive part of the scene. Full marks!


Full marks to the designers of the large Lord Street Depot building as well – they incorporated just enough interior detail and bluish lighting to give the impression of a working building. Too many modellers fail to do this, even when the openings are small and the effort to detail the interior would be small. For my 1:18 scale automotive world dioramas I cannot afford to have bare interiors – they would give me away in a second. I do admit to deciding to leave some internal rooms unfurnished if they will never be seen from the outside, but showrooms and offices that open to a window must have some furnishings.


One thing I do hope – that the operators of Lord Street Depot can occasionally be treated to a fresh passenger carriage in Blood and Custard passing through to liven up their day. Rust and grime can dull the soul.





Il Duce


We all have moments in our lives when time seems to stop. I had one a few years ago when a large 4-WD SUV vehicle pulled into the lane in front of me. It wasn’t a traffic accident – the car was being driven very well. It was the name the back of the car…the SsangYong  Musso.

I ignored the SsangYong. Like ffitch-Smythe and llewellen, the double letters are just cultural pretence. It was that Musso that grabbed me.

Musso is the Australian slang for Benito Mussolini…the head of the Italian fascist movement and a man who briefly hung around petrol stations…as stinky a name as Hitler. How any sensible oriental marketing department could have thought to send that one here is beyond me.


Imagine my delight upon discovering this Musso in the long-term car park at Perth Airport this week. From the looks of the left rear tyre, it has been a longer stay than most…


I suspect that it will be longer still. My daughter once worked for the airport and mentioned that it was a regular problem – backpackers would club together, buy an older vehicle to travel Australia, then merely abandon it in the long-term park when they exited Australia…not caring what became of it after that.


That’s all very well if they post the keys to the airport and agree that it can be sold off for the parking fees, but if they take the keys away or bin them it means that there is a hell of a lot of fuss that has to be gone through to remove the hulk and dispose of it. By the looks of this  Musso it has been in the hands of the tourists all right, and from the looks of the ground around it has been there through several rain storms.

Perhaps it is just the vehicle of an exceptionally conscientious mine worker who has elected to stay up in the northwest through several work cycles and will eventually come and claim it. Or it could just be a giant keychain ornament…