Site update – Operations pages updated

I’ve completed a complete rewrite of the introduction page to the operations section. In addition I’ve added another page to the ops section to improve the information flow. I wrote the original in September 2014 stating that it would be a living document, and so it has proved.

You can read the updated intro page here. That page then refers you to the new 101 – Ops Intro page which has more information on the subject moved on from the first page. I’ve updated several of the other pages also. There is still more work to do to make a better complete article. I’ll continue working on this section during January and February 2018. More information once I complete the new sections.

I don’t expect that you will agree with me on every point in this article series on Operations. For me it is about creating the conversation, and getting people to talk and think about the subject. I hope that you will use it as a jumping off point from which to refine your own vision of what model railroad operations means for you.

Make sure to comment and share your ideas with me. I love hearing what you have to say.

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Site update – Tram pictures update – A2 Class edition

I’ve updated the Melbourne A2 class page with additional photos of the Southbank assigned units.

I’ll continue to update photos as I find or take them.

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Site update – Tram pictures update – A1 Class edition

I’ve finished uploading and documenting all of my recent Melbourne A1 class tram photos. You can see the page here:

All the photos are of Southbank trams (with some exceptions where I’ve not driven them). There are some Glenhuntly A1 class trams that I’ve not managed to get photos of – yet.

Keep coming back as I’ll be updating photos as I can get them. And I have a bunch that I’ve yet to get on the website. They’ll continue to come up as I can get the time to upload and write them up.


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Site Seeing – January 1 – The new Everard Junction version

Everard Junction was a great finished model railway filling the loft of Richard Warren’s home in the UK (his YouTube channel can be watched here). However, he was unhappy with several key elements to the underlying baseboard design and issues with the loft space itself  that were causing running issues due to temperature and moisture. So he took what I consider to be a brave step and decided to start again from scratch.

With the loft area now completely reworked, insulated and ready to go, the work to build the new Everard Junction (Mark II?) is underway. As I write there are four videos in the current build series with more to come. With much detail each shows what ideas and issues Richard is solving as he builds the new layout. Richard’s baseboard design shows the very serious thought he has put into the new build. A couple of his ideas will make it into my next baseboard design, specifically allowing a removable backscene within the body of the baseboard.

Click the videos below to being watching, and if you find them interesting head over to the YouTube channel and like and subscribe. There’ll be more content about the build shortly and Richard is very good at presenting his ideas and showing his working method. Now onto the videos.


New Layout Build – Baseboards

Layout Update – November 2017

New Layout Build – Backscenes

New Layout Build – Fiddle Yard

There are a heap of videos on his channel that should be watched for their ideas and his modelling is outstanding. Enjoy Richard’s work; I do.

Posted in Information, Large, Layout Design, Layouts, Modelling, OO Scale (4mm:Foot), Scenery, Site seeing, Web, YouTube | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Merry Christmas for 2017

Hi all;

Just wanted to say a quick Merry Christmas to you all. It’s been a busy year at work. So the sharing here has been light on. I wanted to wish you all the best for the Christmas season, and the best for 2018. Be safe, be happy, keep modelling and operating your layouts and keep coming back when you can.

Merry Christmas 2017 from Andrew Martin

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Site Seeing – August 7 – Master class: Operating Session

A recent post on the Model Railroad Hobbyist site by Tim Garland and the associated video (see below) shows the realism and enjoyment that can be achieved by operators with little cost beyond the time to set up and the time to operate.

What I enjoyed most out of this operating session video was the way that both Tim (who works as an Engineer for NS) and Tom Klimoski (the layout owner) work together as a team to get the ‘work’ done in a professional way, without hassle, in a small layout space, all the time working the layout to get the switching work done. Better was the way that you cannot see the engineer (Tom in this case) only the conductor on the ground working the cars into place.

Watch the video below and share your thoughts here or on Facebook.

At the Recent Ballarat Model Railway show (June 2017) I managed to catch up with a long time railway mate and his layout. When I saw this video I forwarded it onto Neil as a teaching tool to help him get operations going on his own layout. I think that what Tom Klimoski has recorded is the gold standard for small layout operations. It shows how (and I’m guessing on time) over a shorter operating session two people can work and have a lot of fun switching. Maximising the usefulness of a small layout by following the rules as set out, and by opening and closing gates, calling out the moves, and so on makes such a difference. I hope that you enjoy the video as much as I did.

Additionally there is a great post by Tim going on over at the MRH site about this video. Click the link at the top of the post for more. Lots of really good stuff in that post for the operator as well.

Posted in HO Scale, Layout Design, Layouts, Operations, Scales, Small, Switching | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Site Update – The end of a work era

Since 1982 I have worked in the Telecommunications and Information Technology industry. I’ve worked as a technician, technical officer, sales representative, Helpdesk staffer, IT Manager and for the last 10 years as a specialist and consultant service delivery manager. That all comes to a close today. I move on to a new career in the public transit industry as a tram driver. In some ways I’m very sad to leave behind the people and the skills I’ve learned and nurtured for the greatest part of my working life.

The IT life is not all that glorious though. I wont miss the constant stress and never-ending drive needed to keep up and get ahead of the game. The incredibly thankless tasks that you get to do all day, and often part of the night. Not for IT staff is overtime, shift penalties, and Rostered Days off. Just that never-ending all hands to the pump work ethic, and hopefully no heart attack.

Today is a point from which to look forward, not backward. Thus begins the next 15 years of my work life. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a boy after I rode the footplate of a steam locomotive, my Uncle Col Casbolt in charge, in Sydney’s western suburbs.

NSW 32 Class Locomotive 3325 has just arrived at Richmond (27 January 1968) –
Image courtesy of ARHS NSW – click image for page

My uncle had been a suburban train driver in the Sydney suburban network for a while then. He made the move from steam to the Sparks (EMUs as shown below) not long after this ride in the southern hemisphere’s spring of 1968 as best I can recall. (I was only 4, almost 5, at the time and hadn’t started school yet!)

NSW ‘Red Rattler’ sets F1 and W3 sit quietly in the old sheds at Redfern (image courtesy of Flying_Donkey@Flickr)

While this week has been a time of a lot of last moments, from this Friday forward I begin a life of firsts for the first time in a long time.

A Yarra Trams E Class Tram # 6015 on the Route 96 @ St Kilda – one of the routes I hope to be driving in 2017-18

I’m looking forward to the hard work and study required to be a fully competent tram driver on our network. And looking forward to becoming a part of the fabric of the city’s public transit network.

W8 Class No. 1010 (built 1955) and rebuilt in 2015-16 at Bendigo Tramway Museum on the City Circle route

I am sure you’ve noticed the volume of posts has dropped away over the last 4 months,  fear not. I’ve not been publishing much yet have been busy working away on a number of smaller projects and layout designs and expect to start building a small switching layout for my son in August. So I hope you can join me in the journey for that project.

While I’ll be working odd hours, studying hard and hoping to pass all of my written and driving exams with flying colours, I do expect to have a little more time to post on the HVL. And of course I expect to have a lot more pictures of trams, with views that I’ve never been able to get before. Looking forward to sharing. Thanks for reading a long and sharing the journey.


Posted in Site Updates, This Site, Tramways, Web | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Site Seeing – June 30 – SMS Rail revisited

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post there are a lot of videos of this very nice Industrial Park shortline available on YouTube. I said you could search them, or you can simply watch some of the best ones here.


I hope that you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Site Seeing – 29 June – A new series from Model Railroader – Taking Care of Business

I’ve been quite hard on model railroader over the years. They’ve been very predatory in their behaviour over the years. I even got a cease and desist letter from them at one point because they thought I’d copied part of their intellectual property when I published a corner layout of my design. After to-ing and fro-ing and a level of “kiss my A##” from me since I was in the right, we’ve gotten along well ever since.

However, I may, and I stress only may, change my point of view if they keep up their new free to watch video venture – Taking Care of business. The basis of the idea is to ride along with a crew (in this video SMS Lines switching the Pureland Industrial Park in Bridgeport, New Jersey) as they go about their day-to-day work. The video was entertaining and informative. My concern is that if it doesn’t stay free I certainly won’t be putting up my money to pay for it. Lots of content providers share similar videos on YouTube and other sharing sites that help me understand as much.

Free is good as in beer, and speech. Hopefully MR keeps this series going as free to watch. There is some really interesting content, good production values and I enjoyed the narrative of the story showing the crew going about all of their tasks during their day.


  • Video: To watch the video (while it is still free) head over to Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines |
  • SMS Rail Lines: SMS Rail Lines restores, maintains and operates many historic Baldwin diesel locomotives (in fact I believe they have the largest fleet of Classic Baldwin’s in North America). It’s a labor of love to keep these rare and historic units in-service for future generations to witness. For more just search “SMS Baldwin” on YouTube.

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Posted in Boxcars, Freight, Magazine, Prototype, Site seeing, Sites of interest, Switching, Web | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ops, TT&TO, invective, and blah-blah-blah

It’s been a while since my last post. Life has become hectic with lots of work (as the opposite to none at all for quite some time) so to keep the blog moving I thought I’d cross post my response to Joe Fugate’s recent editorial: Secret to needing less layout on page 11 of the June 2017 edition of the e-zine ‘Model Railroad Hobbyist’. I found that as I read through the responses there was a lot of heat being generated by those for and against the smaller layout ethos. A recent kind email from a new model railroading friend Charles Malinowski got me to thinking about the original post on Joe’s editorial and the thought that perhaps it might be time to draw that line in the sand on this blog too.

If you can, take a moment, to read of some of the initial responses to Joe’s posting. Then either read my post on the MRH  site or as reproduced below. Don’t be shy. Got something to say, then comment and start the conversation here. It’s the only way we all learn.

Am I missing something? Did the hobby just become a pain in the butt during this discussion (and I’m not through reading all the responses yet)? Timetable and train orders, and… all to much work for me. While I understand that model railroading is all things to all people I don’t need all of that other stuff to make a me a happy modeller or operator.

I like small layouts. I live in rented accommodation, and will likely for the remainder of my life due to circumstances beyond my control. My wife loves the idea of me ‘not’ cluttering the place up with ugly wooden stuff that takes over the space, so I have to consider the aesthetic of any layout design as well as the piece of furniture it must also purport to be.

I’m limited in space, money and the time I have available to actually build the thing. So a long time ago I took the first mile, last mile approach to railway modelling. I model industries and locations where there is a lot of work to go on (switching) at an industry or location (such as a team track facility) getting the loads in and out in an efficient and useful way.

Do I care about Timetable and Train Order operation? Nope. Does it affect me as either the modelled customer or as an operator? Nope. And lastly, does it affect my enjoyment of the hobby? Nope. Would I love to model TT&TO operations? I’d love to but I cannot afford it.

I use paperwork, operations plans and rule books to model, and there’s a reason for this. I like my crew (usually my son and I) to feel the need to get the work done efficiently and with haste. There’s a train to catch out there somewhere and our cars need to be on it. I love operating by real railroad rules and with prototypical operations paperwork.

I focus on the things that matter to me, and that is the first mile and the last mile. What happens in between where the rail line curves away from my business – is none of my business. I put a lot of thought into what makes operations work for me. And I’ve shared that online as well. And it is not all that hard to achieve, especially in a small space. You can read more about that on my blog.

Joe’s TOMA approach I like. It means that it is achievable, in space, time and money. It gets you working quickly and allows for interests to develop as your skills and knowledge develop. Big TOMA, small TOMA, even in between TOMA… who cares? The idea is to get something going that allows you to play, find out what you enjoy the most and do that with the effort you have available.

Thanks Joe for sharing that article. I’ve been following along with the TOMA approach because it mirrors what I’m already doing and because it makes sense from my son’s perspective (Dad can we get something running now, I want to play with the trains again).

I appreciate that others do things differently. It’s a good thing. Let’s not get so focused on the forest that we forget about the trees. Happy modelling from Ballarat in Victoria.

Posted in Layout Design, Liked off site, Modelling, Operations, Sites of interest, Small, This Site, TOMA, Web | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments