Monday, 27 March 2017

The idea in pictures.

This post is long. If you are really keen on reading it, make a cuppa and grab a bikkie first. There could be a few typos too.

What happened to the grand plan that was the Sapphire Coast Line? (Check out the post from November 8th, 2015 if you haven't seen it.)

There was fantastic staging but little access if things went wrong at the back of the staging yard.

January 2016 was spent putting the staging yard down. The control panel was planned but sensibility sort of kicked in. Discussions with the head track layer were had and he agreed that my plan wasn't that great after all.

October 2016 and January 2017 were spent relaying track. This time into a new plan. This plan has balloon loops at each end and the track is really one big oval with the occasional cross over between sides. There are no real up and down lines and every train (I've had three at one time.) follows each other.

Where did I get the idea from?

A couple of places. The first was this plan from Railway Modeller November 1984. Printed here without permission.


This article is well worth a read, if you can get your hands on it, as it explains the whole operational side of the layout. Quite often I find that UK layouts, though great, often have the fiddle yard to front style with little operation. I can't whinge too much that's what my original layout at this location was. For it's drawbacks, read old blog posts.

The problem with this layout was that it had a single track line. Great for solo operators or for regional lines but I like the hustle and bustle of suburban traffic. Let's face it. The Sydney suburban modeller has more electric units than he can poke a stick at these days. I wanted a double track line.

The second source of inspiration came from the Gosford City Model Railroad Club. I've been a member there for a few years and still visit it on Friday nights when I can. We had to relocated a few yeas ago. We are now part of the Kincumber Mens Shed. With the shed built for the club the committee went about coming up with a track plan. The idea was that it would be one continuous oval with the tracks running parallel until they his the loops at each end. The train would head out from the main station, travel the length of the layout and return from the direction it left in. I love that idea as it is an out and back layout and prototypical.

Lots of work on AnyRail was carried out and a new plan assembled. It is still along way from finished but it's going well.

Here's a tour of the line so far. Images were taken on an iPhone. Some of the quality may not be great but you get the idea.

Near the freight yard is a couple of loco storage sidings. We pick up 4494 in the yard. 

After leaving the yard and crossing to the Up Line, we pass the station throat, stop and then reverse into the carriage sidings. We are collecting a RUB set bound for Sydney. The carriage sidings won't be electrified so electric locos won't be able to pick up their trains from the carriage shed. The 79 class is parked for operators of electric locos to get their trains. It won't be a separate job. From here 4494 pulls forward and takes its train around the back of the station to Platform 1.

4494 awaits the signal to leave Platform 1 for Sydney. Sitting in Platform 4 is the local suburban train. In between Platform 1 and 2 roads is a through road so that trains can still run if both through platforms are full. Above this scene will be the station building and townscape. Most of the trains will be covered. I like long platforms but in a smallish space sometimes compromises have to be made.

I have no idea what the main town will be called. Traditionally it was Paddington South Coast. (See the first post for a shabby explanation.) In my old shed on the coast it was a terminus station with an overall roof. It sat under a clock with Paddington London printed on it and I had even made a little Paddington Bear with a Mr and Mrs Brown talking to him. I also like Paddington Station as I have spent some time over the years trainspotting there on holidays.

The train leaves and crosses to the Up Line and past the carriage shed. The white stuff in the background is Woodland Scenics 2% incline. Expensive but worth the cash for the fuss it avoids.

The train continues north past the main freight yard. It has five sidings. This will also be some open staging sidings. In the yard currently is an empty coal and a wheat train. When the whole layout is finished these trains won't need to be using this yard. 

This is the site of the first station out of Paddington SC (for want of a better name). I haven't got a name for this yet. Where the screws are will be the top level. There will be another short platform for the top branch. I'm planning a kick back siding to a couple of industries which will run above the carriage sidings. The carriage shed will be a short representation but will be the opening for full length sidings.

At the moment destinations from this yard are Bega Yard and Billabong Marina. I'm hoping in the next couple of weeks to finish a couple of other places.

The train is about to head into a tunnel underneath what is planned to be a brewery. The freight yard will be open.

The train comes out of the tunnel and past the entrance to the yard. The yard is accessible only to down trains. This location is called Two Bridges. I scribbled a rough description on some ply when I was piecing things together over twelve months ago.

The line to the right of the train is the passing loop and Platform 3. 4494 is on the terminating road for the suburban trains. The S Set from earlier will follow our train and turn around here. Interurban trains will also stop here as it is the suburban limits. Our train is an express to Sydney so it sails through the station.

Platform 3 is also the access to the top branch, which is yet to be built.

The train disappears into a tunnel. To the right is the Platform 1 Road of Paddington SC. Where the spray can is will be a cathedral and other town buildings. From here the train descends to the bottom level. 

Travelling at a moderate speed 4494 leaves the darkness after about a minute at Billabong Junction. Above the train is the entrance to the yard. There is a line here which leaves the Up Line and heads under Two Bridges and ends up at Billabong Wharf. Passengers change here for the short trip to Billabong Marina. To the left of the train is the small Goods Yard of Frogs Hollow. It is a location near Bega.

The train doesn't stop here so it races through Frogs Hollow Station. Above is Two Bridges Station.

After rounding the bend and past a tower for the hinges, (Two Bridges was named as it is two bridges for the tracks.) the train is about to vanish again into a tunnel. Above is the main station. The train is on the Up Line. The cross over from the Down to the Up is for use when trains are shunting at Frog's Hollow. The next track is the line from Bega to Tathra. At Tathra there will be a dockside layout with a passenger station and a few sidings. On of the sidings will be to a set of wheat silos, this is the closest track. The station and harbour will be a little cramped as it will be 30 cm wide. Another 30 cm will be allocated to a loco depot (or the impression of one.) This will be the main loco storage for the layout.

The train appears from under the bridge carrying Platform 1 of the main station and into Platform 1 of Bega.

Like the main station, only part of the train will be visible. At the end of Platform 1 is the Fat Controller. He'll have a little speech bubble welcoming people to the Sapphire Coast.

At Bega the interurban electrics will terminate as the overhead wires stop a little north of here. Electric locos will need to be swapped for diesels or steam. But this is a tad difficult as the locos will be under two layers of layout, so they can travel on a bit first before technically arriving at Bega.

From here the train continues through Tunnel Junction with some very reliable side mounted Peco point motors. When it appears is carries on past Twofold Colliery. This colliery will have the three tracks for loading coal and well as a flood loader for some QR hoppers that I have to go behind a Northern Rivers Railroads 421 class.

And it is back under the main freight yard, through Tunnel Junction again. The lever frame controls Tunnel Junction. The switches switch the three roads from the auto reverser to normal so that shunting in the colliery can take place while other trains go past. The curved track leading to a pile of stuff will go to a small industrial area of unknown industries as yet.

Magically the train turns into the return train from Sydney. It is now that locos can be swapped. There is a 46 class waiting to back onto the train to continue its journey south. 4494 rest in the siding next to the 46 and wait to be swapped for a northbound journey or, when built, it can retire to the loco depot at Tathra.

The trip has taken 2 1/2 minutes in real time. As Paddington SC is the only place to park a HUB set, the operator needs to take it back to the top. If they went out with an electric loco, they will swap at Bega, go for another trip around, swap the loco back at Bega again and the original train will head back to the main station. The job will take about 15-20 minutes.

Beyond the 46 class is the Bega Yard. Here the empty coal train for Twofold Colliery will be collected and after a couple of laps with some loco swapping, will shunt Twofold Mine and travel back to Bega Yard with a couple of laps as well.

Some shunting can be done here but I see this as a staging yard mainly. The sidings are smaller than the main yard so I will need to be judicious with what ends up here.

Hope you enjoyed the tour if you stuck it out.

Until next time.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Not the original plan...

It's been too long between updates. The plan was started and then stopped. Then a new plan was devised. A couple of feature of the original new plan were incorporated into the new new plan. Making sense? Maybe not but enjoy the clip.



Saturday, 7 November 2015

A big rethink.

We’ve had a few operating sessions over the past year. Most of the crew has enjoyed the calamity that has ensued from the signalman getting things wrong. I can’t say that I have enjoyed them as much as others.

When we first started over a year ago, we had seven blokes in the shed and all at the front of the layout. After a couple of squishy sessions I decided to put a couple of people into the access holes in the middle of the layout. With the new branch line station mentioned in the last post, three people were put in the middle.

However, visibility for these drivers is poor. They need advice of where to stop their train. This stops other operators from running their trains. The yard work is also held up by locos going to and from the loco sidings. With the planned harbour extension this will make this section busier and more cramped. It will be difficult for operators in the middle to bring their trains out from staging, run through the station and onto the harbour.
I was taking about this with my wife after a session. Her reply was, “I don’t know why you didn’t just build it around the walls of the shed instead of just to the middle. You could build a lift out section and have heaps of room in the middle to move around.”

That was about six weeks ago. Since then I have been working ideas and plans.
After a few frustrating weeks I began to realise that I didn’t need to make too many changes. I started to make a list of what I liked with the current plan and needed to take into consideration the building kits that I had purchased and constructed or are on the to do list.
I liked the station. That’s staying. I liked the marshalling yard. That’s staying but I have an opportunity to make them double ended. I would have liked to be able to add an extra siding or two. That’s not really going to happen. However, they will be longer. I’ve kept the carriage sidings and they will be accessible from two platforms so hopefully they will be easier to work without blocking the running roads. As the new layout is a large oval, there could be some empty carriage workings around the layout to the right platforms. As I type this, I have just wondered why I haven’t thought of this before.



The layout will be on three levels. Below will be a staging yard with 10 dead end sidings, 8 double ended sidings and one through road giving access to the dead end sidings. More may be added if there is space. The line at each end will climb a 2% grade and reach the main line via a double slip near the lift out section. There will be a small station here with a turn back road for suburban trains coming and going in each direction. Heading east trains will continue to climb, though a planned tunnel, pass through another suburban station and in to the main station. If it is a goods train it will need to cross to the inner line to access the goods sidings. Goods trains upon leaving the yard will need to do two laps before vanishing into staging. Heading west from the lift out section, the four tracks will need to be bi directional to gain access to the right platforms and the goods yard.

The line underneath the town scene along the back wall will be at zero level and in the staging yard. However, the second line will climb to the third level where there will be a branch line station. There is also a peninsular which will be a future harbour extension and another section that could be another place to operate later.


The big issue is that everything needs to come off the layout and I start all over again. I know I’m not the only one to have done that.

Monday, 28 September 2015

'Does this mean your layout is finished.'

That's the question I was asked when I visited my local hobby shop and bought a handful of points.

The answer was that I thought that I had finished it last year.

There have been a couple of changes. Gone are the set track points in the loco depot. The 50 class didn't like the reverse 18 inch curves that they produced. I contemplated moving the loco depot to the back of the layout but thought against it as it would be too hard for most of the drivers to work. 

I guess the great thing about having a blog is that you can look back over your meanderings and I found this aspect useful. Since beginning operations on the layout I have found that there are sometimes too many people to run the layout from the front. This has meant that I needed to put people in the middle to operate trains from the staging yard to the front to the layout. The station and goods sidings shunters are out the front, along with a third driver. When a driver brings a train in, he then takes the engine to the depot and swaps it for his next task. This could be taking another engine out or bring another train around to the front. They have all been short tasks which have involved swapping lots of trains. Unless you are the station or goods yard shunter as their engine are the same for the whole session.

That was until now. Over the past week I have rid myself of four pesky staging sidings to create a destination for some of my trains.
It's not the best picture and the scene is in a spot where scenery was never planned. Believe it or not, the four sidings are on the same alignments as before. During the previous ops sessions these sidings held a suburban electric train, a couple of rail motors and a Vlocity set. However, with the last ops session these sidings were used only once. Things seemed to run more smoothly not using them. One of the rail motors still has a destination the other one may need to find a new home. I am contemplating adding sidings under the town scene but that's for another day.

The four sidings have eight different places to spot wagons. The run around will hold four bogie wagons and a CHG guards van and the there is just enough room for a 50 class to work the sidings. One draw back is that most tender locos have a KD coupler on the tender and not the front. As all of the sidings are facing the same way, the engine will be turned using a loco lift. It can then shunt to its digital heart's delight and bring the train back to the front. The engine will drop off its train, be serviced at the newly renovated loco depot (it still needs more work) and then take the next train to its branch line destination. This should take a driver a whole session.

This means that there will be two drivers with jobs that they can work with at their own pace. If this works out well, another similar area may have the same work done to it.

Something else that changed this week was the passenger train line up.
My little plastic people will be able to travel to Sydney in less time and with more frequent services.


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A New Standard

I'm pretty sure that I have an audience of two. They being myself and some computer in the Ukrane, according to my Blogger stats. From this, I can assume that not many will read about this. However...

Last week I received my Eureka 50 class. Just like a kid with a new toy, I raced home from work to play with it. After picking it up from my local post office, I took it straight to my local hobby shop in  Hornsby (Hobbyland) to buy a chip (and thanks to Ian for putting it in) before heading home to give it a few laps of the layout. 

Every new model seems to show a few weaknesses in your permanent way and the class 50 is no exception. It's no fan of second radius curves. This is not too surprising but as my loco depot is full of set track points, there is some replanning in the works.

I did find that the wheel on the leading bogie was a bit narrow. Not by much but enough to make it derail on some of my older Peco points. I adjusted the wheel using a wheel gauge and gave the blades on some of the points a gentle squeeze to bring them in a bit more. Over the years these standards and construction of the points have changed and even though I still use code 100 the difference between new points and points which are fifteen years or more older is fairly noticeable. The last post which I made can show the difference between an old double slip from last century and a new double slip from last year.

It was with the former that I had the most difficulty, especially when going backwards. It appears that the tender doesn't have enough weight in it. When running backwards, the bogie next to the loco derailed. I adjusted the wheels using the wheel gauge but to no avail. When running backwards trough the vital piece of trackwork this bogie kept coming of and shorting the Digitrax Zephr. It wasn't long before the red LED in the tender for the marker lights refused to work.

From what I was able to conclude from observations on straights and flat track (Let's face it, that track was great when it was laid two years ago but expansion and contraction aren't a railway modeller's friends.) when running backwards it appears that the bar between the loco and the tender pushes the front of the tender up. Both bogies are sprung and that can cause a little wobble but the spring doesn't seem to be strong enough to push the bogie onto he track. I stopped the loco from revers on the test track and the bogie next to the loco was not sitting on the track and was easy to push off.
A thumping large nut did the trick but it's too big to fit in the tender. However, the loco and tender ran well through all of the trouble spots on the layout.

I messed about with a couple of sinkers and weights from other sources. In the end, as I had a strip of lead, I folded it to triple thickness and placed it into the area where the speaker will be fitted for the sound version. I cut one of the sinkers above in half and attached it to another strip of lead. The half sinker is placed between the plugs on the left and the e DCC chip with the strip of lead sitting above the chip. The lead is wrapped in electrical tape to avoid shorts and any weird corrosion that may occur. 

It is important to remember that the weight needs to be over the leading bogie, otherwise the bar will continue to push the front of the tender up and you will have the same problems.


I have now bought these weights from Hobbyland which should be easier to use next time. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Some Things Take a While

Today I picked up my second Trainorama 48 class loco, close to eight years after the order was placed. 

More importantly, I finally put numbers on my ballast hoppers. I bought a rake AR Kits BBW ballast hoppers when they were released sometime last century. I put them together quickly and painted them but for some reason I put numbers on all but three of them. I have no idea why the whole rake wasn't completed. The rest were weathered after numbering. 

After fitting a chip into the 48, I put numbers on the ballast hopper, however, they still need a bit of grime added to them. 



They also need a load of ballast to put on the tracks. 

I've also added another double slip between the station and the goods sidings. There was a crossing originally but this restricted access to the yard. Trains leaving or entering the yard (where the loco is in the picture below) could travel via the loop only. I thought that it would be operationally interesting which it was but it soon became to much of a challenge. At the time, I also didn't have two double slips. 




I took the opportunity to replace the medium right hand point as the old one was originally a second hand point which had some wear and tear and was causing some shunting difficulties with one of my locos. 

Now trains leaving the yard can run through the station using either the loop or platform five. 

Another job that has taken a while has been constructing the carriage shed. I'm building the shed from foam core board. The shed is half built for the moment but in place. Even in its half built state it protects the carriages within it. I reckon that a shell of thin cardboard and brick paper should finish the job. 

It could be a while yet before this job is complete to but in the meantime the car park behind the shed is done. 


Tuesday, 3 March 2015