Train driver happy to take work home

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Emily Smith emily.smith@cnbtimes.com.au

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

Brian Mil­lar

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.”

PHOTO: EMILY SMITH

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.

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