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 long. 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.

Andrew

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.

Resources:

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

Posted in Layouts | Leave a comment

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.

Resources:

  • Video: To watch the video (while it is still free) head over to Taking Care of Business: SMS Rail Lines | ModelRailroaderVideoPlus.com
  • 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

Site Seeing – May 25 – MRH Universal modelling sizes chart

If you have not become a reader and participant with the crew over at Model Railroad Hobbyist, now is certainly the time to do so. IN the current issue (May 2017) of their free online magazine they have great download: a universal modelling sizes chart.

Has all the major gauges in the chart in both PDF and Excel format free for download.

Go here for the download page.

Enjoy and have a great day.

Posted in About, Site seeing, Sites of interest, Web | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Site update – May 23 – TSE Boxcars – additional lading and operation information added

Who says that asking for help doesn’t work?

When I wrote the TSE Boxcars page, about images I took back in 2005 in Austin Texas, I had no idea about the operational nature of the cars. Thanks to Paul, who is familiar with the cars, their loads, and operations I now can share a little more information with you.

This morning (AEST) Paul wrote the following: “Those cars came in empty. We would spot six at a time Balcones Recycling and they would be loaded with waste paper. There was about 30 of these cars that were in captured service. We would send the loaded cars out on the UP. They did not come in loaded with lumber. East end lumber is now long gone, and it has been at least 40 years since they received rail service.

My thanks go out to Paul for sharing his time and knowledge with me. One of the reasons I love the Model Railway community is their willingness to share. Greatest hobby in the world? I’d like to think so.

I’ve updated the page with the information Paul has provided. Good to know finally what they were there for, and the operation cycle they used.

Posted in Class 1, Information, Loads, Modelling, Prototype, Site Updates, Switching, This Site, Web | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Site update: 12 April 2017 – the geographically challenged edition

It’s been very busy getting back to work after the long period of ‘under-employment’ as our government describes it. My time has been totally focused on getting through the day and making the changes that will allow for eventual success down the track. Having said all that I got a lovely comment from Peter Walker who is a committee member of the Corio Club.

Peter wrote:

Andrew,
Thanks for the positive report on our 2017 exhibition. By way of feedback the exhibition hall this year was in BELMONT (not Corio). We felt this venue handled the show crowd better and, with support from City of Geelong, have now been able to book that venue again for 2018. Hope your readers don’t look for us in Corio next year?

In reply I wrote:

Thanks for the correction. I’ll make sure to update the post and publish an update to make sure to get people to the right spot next year. Keep me up to date on what’s going on for 2018. Glad to help get the word out for the show.

I don’t mind people pointing out my geographical faux pars. I navigate mostly by visuals and not by map, compass or any other known means of getting from one place to another. I’ve found that often the thrill of the journey is discovering somewhere or something you never knew was there.

Thanks to Peter for bringing my error to light. I really did enjoy the show this year. I know also how difficult it can be for a club (small or large) to find a new premisies, cover your insurance and venue costs, and still make a little something to support your club or the charity of choice. I applaud the committee for being able to pull this move off so well, and from the outside at least,  make it look so effortless.

With Peter and the Committee’s support I hope to bring you more information about the next show in January 2018.

Posted in Site seeing, Site Updates, This Site, Web | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Site update – 20 March – Updated 12 foot home layout design page

There has been a lot of thoughtful experimentation going on at Andrew’s Trains of late. While I was ‘reasonably happy’ with my Mk 72 layout design I wasn’t joyous about it. Recently while rediscovering some of my older layout designs I came across the design for ‘Industrial Park East’, as shown below, from somewhere about 2006-7.‘. Something in this design called out to me and so I set off on a slight redesign from the Mk 72 to Mk73 version. The changes I made have allowed me to get the ‘flow’, and the look that I wanted. I know this all sounds like something ‘the Dude’ would say from the Big Lebowski at this point but if it doesn’t work for you while you’re designing it, then it sure won’t work for you once you’ve committed track to plywood.

There’s a lot more information on the what, the why and the wherefore on the additional layout design page (yes I added another one to keep it all straight in my head). If your interest is peaked and you’d like to see more click the link in the line above and head on over to read on.

Thanks for reading – now it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Posted in Layout Design, Medium, Modelling, Operations, Site seeing, Site Updates, Sites of interest, SuperNook, Switching, This Site, Tuning Fork, Updates, Web | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Site Seeing – March 18 – The ‘other’ Glendale freight layout edition

It’s been a while since my last post and that is thankfully due to being fully employed for the first time in two and a half years. A full-time job is a very satisfying thing. But I digress.

As I wrote in my March 6th post I’ve worked up another idea for the Glendale Freight layout. Let me say from the outset, that this is not one of my better ideas; especially after seeing Bruce Petty’s original layout. There’s merit in the ideas expressed in the design certainly – it just doesn’t have that vibe going on as Bruce’s layout does in spades. Before I go on to tear my work apart let’s take a look at a 1/12th scale model and why I find them so useful for designing a layout.

So what’s wrong with this layout idea?

  • Firstly the central theme of the design is not the freight station, it is the entrance from staging onto the layout.
  • I wanted to have the train enter through a portal of buildings, cross the street and then go about its business. It’s a pretty skimpy idea right? There’s no meat on the bones though.
  • Why this means to enter onto the layout instead of some other way? Is there some missing story about this means of entrance; did the city grow up around the freight station for example? But isn’t this supposed to be Glendale CA, right? Well, is it?

The layout is overall 8 feet long (2400mm) and each square is 12 x 12 inches (300 x 300 mm). It is 2 feet (600mm) wide. And it’s very linear.

So what would I do different now that I’ve built this mini layout?

  1. Angle the entrance onto the layout,
  2. Angle the buildings and the street to the long axis of the layout,
  3. Cluster the switches near the end of the run around, and finally
  4. I’d make a transition between the industrial area on ‘main street’ at the entrance end and the other end of the layout – making it more suburban

And having had a while to think on how I’d make those changes here’s a rough drawing of the layout that ‘could’ spring from this thought experiment.

This design has gravitas. It is the last bastion of railroading in the inner city, and the edge of the suburbs. Sure there are some strange curves, and I’d rework the industry lead and the industry back wall too. But it is much more interesting and tells much more of a story than the first layout.

This layout could be setup as is with the industries, it could be modified for a single industry layout (say an industrial workplace such as a foundry), or it could be something that I’ve not considered and that you already have swimming around in that pool of ideas in your head. As an aside, I videoed the first layout build process. If interested in seeing that video let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here over the next week or so.

Posted in HO Scale, Inglenook, Layout Design, Layouts, Modelling, Operations, Scenery, Site seeing, Small, SuperNook, Switching, This Site, Tuning Fork, Web | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment