Train driver happy to take work home
SCREWING nuts smaller than a grain of sand and using a drill thinner than a human hair to create model trains is how Brian Millar spends the good part of six months a year.
And when he is not building the tiny little models, he is driving great big cane trains more than a kilometre long at Mackay.
“I really like both. Driving the trains is fun, I have a ball,” he said.
“But when I’m away sometimes I miss it
I really like both. Driving the trains is fun, I have a ball.
(building models). I like working with my hands.
“I tell you though, it’s a pain when you drop the parts. Not only are they tiny but I have to import them, mostly from England and America.”
Mr Millar said his passion for building model trains, and all sorts of other replicas, came when he was just eight years old, but he worked in the “rat gangs” on the railway as a firefighter, shunter and guard on a steam engine and as a shunter and guard with Queensland Rail before he made money from his talent.
To keep money rolling in once he quit the railway to become a single dad, Mr Millar decided to make souvenirs, carving cane stalks, knife handles and trophies out of solid brass.
A dollhouse he made was valued by the Queensland Builders Association at $7500, excluding labour costs, and his model sulkies had genuine leather seats and were designed to balance with the shafts 10 degrees above horizontal, just like the real ones.
“I made everything, furniture, treasure chests, trophies.”
When it comes to building model trains his aim is not only to make them look like real trains on the outside, but on the inside as well.
They are given proper suspension, tilt-tray carriages have working mechanisms and they have the real logos to go on the side.
“I like to make sure everything I build would work in the real world,” he said.
“Most people don’t worry about that.”
That boils down to a lot of maths, to make sure everything fits together properly.
“Before I had a calculator I would have notebooks with just pages and pages of figures.
“People say to me “you’ll go blind doing that” but the more you use your eyes, the better they keep.”
FINE ART: When Brian Millar is not driving trains more than a kilometre long, he builds tiny replicas, complete with working suspension, in his Monto workshop.