Tag Archives: Layouts

Site seeing – July 7

A local site seeing tour today of the newest pages uploaded to the blog.

Site 1: Small Layouts [Follow the link —>]

This is the small layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website that is now offline as mentioned in my post yesterday. There are over 30 layout designs in this section.

Site 2: Medium Layouts [Follow the link –>]

This is the medium layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website. There are 13 layout designs in this section.

Site 3: Large Layouts [Follow the link –>]

This is the large layouts section of the old HunterValleyLines.com/gallery website. There are 3 layout designs in this section.

Site 4: Ideas and Scribbles [Follow the link –>]

This is the most interesting and fastest growing section of the website. The Ideas and scribbles section is the storehouse of all of the doodling and noodling that I’ve done over the years. There are narrow gauge loco designs, industry designs, layout ideas and designs but all are drawings only.

  1. Layout Bits
  2. Layout Ideas
  3. Other Stuff
  4. Track Diagrams

 

Broken down into four major sections follow the links and find some hopefully useful ideas to kickstart your own modelling process.

An industry you can model – Kensington Grain Siding (Victoria, Australia)

On June 02, 2015 I made mention in a post of a grain silo operation close to the CBD in Melbourne, Victoria that allows for interesting operation, and would keep a model railroader busy and interested for the length of a short operating session (around a half an hour).

Image 1: G529 stabled in the dead-end siding at Kensington. The grain hoppers and the switch engine are down by the flour mill (courtesy of wongm’s rail gallery – LINK)

A little background

For those of you not in Australia let me give you a little background on the site from image 1 above. The photo above is from the grade (level) crossing at Kensington station. The station buildings are directly behind the photographer.  G529 is sitting at the north end of the site on a dead-end siding used for second units or for red-carded (bad-ordered) cars.

The two lines under wire are the UP (left-hand line to Melbourne) and the DOWN (right-hand line from Melbourne) lines to the outer suburban terminus of Craigieburn, a fast growing suburb 26 Km to Melbourne’s north. Grain trains come north from Tottenham Yard and back into the sidings. When they leave they have to do a long looping route north, then west before returning to the yard once more. A fair bit of this is on the suburban Craigieburn passenger line. This situation occurred because of changes to rail lines for the Regional Rail Link that has taken freight lines out of service.

The single slip allows access into the site from the DOWN line. On the mill site there are two spurs with the left road running over the under track unloading auger; the right is a passing siding. The switching problem on this site is that the turnout at the end of the two roads only has enough room for two grain cars, and one locomotive at a time.

Site Overview

Image 2: An overview of the site (courtesy of Bing – LINK)

Operation

Generally the train has two locomotives. While a single locomotive can handle the work, and would be easier on the crews when switching, the extra power helps clear the path for the passenger services on the Craigieburn line. Melbourne’s rail network is greatly used by the it’s citizens and the infrastructure is congested requiring new signalling to allow greater train density. Anything that holds up one train has knock-on effects that can and do regularly impact on the rest of the network. So any freight movements using passenger routes tend to be over-powered.

Image 3: A track diagram showing the grain siding and signalling at Kensington (courtesy VicSIG)

1. Arrival

The shift begins with the loaded grain train arriving early on the north-bound suburban tracks. The train pulls into Kensington stations up platform road, before informing train control that they are ready to reverse into the facility. Train control (under CTC) unlocks the shunt signal 7, switch 8 and switch 9 to allow the movement and the train reverses into the site, putting the grain cars onto the ‘left-hand’ unloading road. On completion of the move the crew contacts train control once more and the switches and signals returned to normal.

2. Set up

The crew has to unload one of the locomotives. Without the room to run the power around at the switching end on the unloading road one loco is usually parked on the ‘B’ siding at the north end of the site. Image 2 below shows the problem on-site with the short headshunt (switching lead).

Image 4: The switching problem – the short headshunt (courtesy of wongm’s rail gallery – LINK)

3. Switching / Shunting

Prior to unloading beginning the mill staff remove the metal grate covers to allow grain to begin unloading into the under-track auger. With only one loco for shunting (switching) the operation is fairly straight-forward:

  • The first two cars unload at the under-track auger
  • When unloaded the train pulls forward to two car lengths to begin the unloading process again and handbrakes are applied
  • The loco cuts off the two empty cars, pulls them to the headshunt, before pushing back onto the passing siding
  • Handbrakes are applied on the two empty cars before the loco cuts off and moves back to the headshunt
  • The loco reverses onto the loaded cars, and the cycle repeats until all the cars are empty.

With all the cars emptied the mill workers cover the auger pit with the metal covers. The loco eases off the unloaded cars, runs into the headshunt, and backs through the unloading road back to siding B. Here it picks up the previously stabled locomotive and once MU’d they back onto the empty cars; with the air pumped and they wait for train control to authorise their return to the running lines.

Modelling

Operation of this layout design element offers a lot of opportunity. Whether a small train or a large one the work to be done, including air brake operations and taking time to switch back and forth would give a lot of interest for those so inclined. I can see this being a great industry especially for the modular railroader. Across two or more modules, you’d have the best of all worlds with action on the main, and then a lot of switching action on the modules.

Being self-contained the industry is a real winner and could be transplanted anywhere.

Resources

There are a couple of videos available below for you to get an idea of the action at Kensington.

In the second video you can see the operation under way with the switching in this case being handled by BL class # 32.

You can find out more about the locomotives using the resource links below:

  • V/Line G Class Locomotives: Link
  • Australian National BL Class Locomotives: Link
  • V/Line X Class Locomotives: Link

Feedback?

If you have information that you can share about operations at the site, please let me know. I’ve found everything that I can about the site and its operation, but there is nothing like a driver or someone else knowledgeable of the site sharing what they know. Leave a comment, like and subscribe to the blog if that suits you.

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 7

While I chose not to (over) design my layout, there are some aspects that simply have to have a structured and logical approach to simplify troubleshooting for the longer term. These need to be in place to allow me to add to and grow the layout in the future. This post focuses on the wiring standard for all layouts that I build going forward.

After watching the current work being done over at Everard Junction with the wiring of the new section of his layout (+ Link) one of the things I noticed was the colour code in use. I feel that in the future he’ll find that there’ll be more stress and confusion in the future when tracing and troubleshooting.

As a former telephone technician colour codes are very important to me. As a result I’ve written a module / baseboard wiring standard. If you are not worried about troubleshooting your wiring in the future you can ignore this post now. Each module / baseboard will have a dual wiring BUS. One BUS will power the Locomotives and DCC accessories (the DCC BUS) while the other will power the DC accessories and other non-DCC devices (the DC BUS).

You might be wondering why I’d have non DCC accessories. Think for a moment of LED lighting. LED Lighting is 12V DC so lighting the module / baseboard is made easier using the 12 volt BUS. Additionally internal building lights, signalling and repeater panel lights that do not use DCC to operate can be powered off this BUS. Finally there is no extra effort required to wire these up later; its wired into the module / baseboard from the get-go. There’s no extra work to get DC powered items wired up beyond setting up dropper wires to the DC BUS.

There’s a download!

Andrew’s Trains_Baseboard Wiring Standards_Andrew Martin

The wiring standard for the boards and modules is a work in progress. You are welcome to download version 1. Please keep in mind it is not in the public domain. You may use it for personal use only. Any commercial applications of the document should be run by me first.

I don’t claim that this is the standard you should be using; it works for me. If it works for you too, then please download and use it.

 

Site seeing – May 1

A month down the track and I am on the mend after discovering the joys and pitfalls (and there are no joys) of kidney stones. Not being in constant pain is allowing me to get back to normal operation; thanks to the skill of the urology team at the Ballarat Base Hospital.

But enough of me, and on to the first of this month’s site seeing.

I grew up with a very Scottish grandfather, very Scottish. I listened in awe as a child to his stories of the highlands. Working for the railways (in Australia) all his working life, it was perhaps fated that I should fall in love with the Scottish highland railway lines. One particularly holds me in awe all these years later – the line out to the Kyle of Localsh.

In the very early 1980s Michael Palin’s Great Railway Journey’s travelled the line, and quite apart from being a fan of Michael Palin this program only made my yearning to travel it greater. It still is on the top of my railway journeys bucket list.

Over the years there’s been a couple of great layouts on the highland lines. Two that come to mind are presented today.

Site 1: Portchullin – a layout by Mark Tatlow

I love the sound of diesel engines working, doing what they are supposed to do; industry, grime and dust. Hearing a diesel notch up, lifting its train, from station, industry or yard reignites my passion for modelling. I don’t know why; it just does.

While ‘tubing recently I came across Portchullin. It ticks all the boxes for me on how a great North of Scotland layout should be built and come to life.

You can watch “A day’s trainspotting at Portchullin” here:

Best of all the creator of the layout has a great website with lots of useful posts (which I’ve just begun to follow) here: (Offsite link)

If you are a signalling buff like I am, you’ll enjoy the excellent working signalling on the layout too. Mark also sells (albeit as a small run manufacturer) parts for signals, which you can also find on his website.

Site 2: Kyle of Tongue – a layout by Steve Flint

Featured in the February 1990 Railway Modellers magazine, this layout was completely immersive. You could feel the cold coming off the highland hills, and leaching into your bones. Unfortunately images are hard to come by on the web. However this image shows Port Pennan also by Steve Flint I believe.

This ought to give you an idea of the layout style that Steve is famous for.

Resources:
Great Railway Journeys – Confessions of a train spotter

Site Seeing March 22

Bound for South Australia

Small, smart, practical exhibition layouts are not as easy to find as I’d like in Australia. Most club layouts are huge affairs, requiring many willing hands, a box trailer or van, and a pioneering spirit to move from home to exhibition to home.

Site 1: “Commercial Road” – 1960s South Australian Railways (Link Here)

One such layout that just popped up on my radar on Thursday is the Commercial Road layout of Gavin Thrum of South Australia. If you’ve not come in contact with the railways of South Australia before then you are in for a real treat.

Commercial Road – view the website for more great pictures of the layout

The South Australian railways are an interesting study in Multiculturalism. Originally built to English standards,  and operating practices, in 3 gauges (Irish Broad at 5′ 3″, Standard Gauge at 4′ 8 1/2″, and Narrow Gauge at 3′ 6″) the states rail system was a hodge-podge of types and wooden bodies goods and freight wagons until 1922 when the state’s worst financial deficit reared its ugly head.

To the rescue rode Commissioner William Webb (of the Missouri Kansas and Texas RR) and from 1922 Mr Webb revolutionised railroading in the south.

Engine 502 – 1953 – Public Domain Image courtesy of Wikipedia (more detial below)

Speed signalling, large steam engines, metal freight cars, Brill railcars, and more became the norm. Today there are still three gauges in use and lots of action through the state and in Adelaide where electrification has finally arrived (link here); Very similar to the Victorian VLocity diesel railcar (link here) that I travel in down to Melbourne. (I love electric traction)

But I digress; back to the layout. It’s a great small layout measuring 10′ 10″ long by just 13″ wide. Hop on over to his site and take a look at the images and the modelling. Really well worth a visit.

Resources

Wikipedia article on the SAR – Link Here

More on the big steamers of the Web Era

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 5

Somewhere back in a previous post I am certain that I published a basic op session. Today I wanted to update that in light of the new layout design, as there is a pretty big change to both the ops plan and the layout since I first set track on plywood.

A Modified Op Session

An op session will start where ever the previous session stopped. You should keep in mind that I am aiming to have roughly one 30 minute operating session per night, at least 3 nights per week. I’d like more but the realities of work and family mean that aiming for 3 nights is achievable.

Assuming that a full day’s work (around 90 minutes odd) is planned for say a Saturday op session here’s how the work would be done.

The yardmaster will go through the electronic system (more about that later on) and determine what cars are due to be picked up and what inbound cars are due to be setout for the day. The YM then hands the paperwork off to the switch crew and goes about his business.

We pick up with the switch crew after they’ve already travelled out to the interchange, connected on, pumped up the air and begun their return back to the Industrial park.

  1. Train arrives from interchange
  2. Loco runs around the train on the arrival track and moves the train over to the classification 1 track
  3. Cars are classified according to the switch list using the main, loop and the Class 2 track
  4. The crew checks the pickups and setouts for industries and then sets about doing the individual jobs for each customer. In cases where there are multiple customers on a spur, the job is handled as a single job
  5. Industries are pulled and setout as required by the switching documentation
  6. The crew then returns outbound cars to the yard, for storage while other switching goes on for other customers (if any that day)
  7. Once all of the industries for that day are switched all outbound cars are made up into a train (blocking is not required)
  8. The final work for the day is to pull the outbounds to the interchange
  9. The cars are set out, handbrakes applied as needed and the air bled off
  10. The loco crew return empty handed to the yard, carry out any further trimming of the class tracks as needed, and
  11. Run the loco back into the maintenance facility.

Here endeth the operating session.

As I said above this full operating session ought to take up about 90 minutes. Allowing the session to be broken down into shorter, easier to achieve 30 minute mini-sessions means I’ll be more likelt to play with my layout, and get more enjoyment from it.

Between sessions the paper work will be hung on clip boards off the front of the layout ready for me the next night.

Should I want to run a longer session I can do that and simply complete the previous sessions work as a part of that.

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 4

I did some measuring on the new track plan (version 3) today and the result is pleasing (at least to me). On the HVRR we use a XAF10 Railbox car as our standard measure for cars; These car’s measure 190 mm over coupler faces – that’s right on the 54′ and some change that a real car has for door spacing if it is recorded as a 50′ car. With the numbers in hand I tried a few calculations to see how everything fit.

Yard Tracks

With measurements now completed on all of the storage and “yard” tracks our holding ability on all tracks suggests that the:

  • Main (at 1400 mm) can clear 7 standard cars,
  • Loop (at 1500 mm) can clear 8 standard cars.
  • Classification track 1(at 1800 mm) can clear 9 cars ,
  • Classification track 2 (at 1300 mm) can clear 6 cars, and
  • The total on-track yard capacity is 30 cars (not including the interchange as I consider the interchange loadings to be a part of this number).

Yard Occupancy

I don’t want to flood the yard on any one day so I expect that the total yard occupancy at maximum will be 50% of the total – leaving me with 15 cars maximum. So that even with a full train of 9 cars coming in from the interchange I can use Class 1 & 2 to store all of the cars and leave the main and the loop free to work. More on this though below.

Industry tracks

On the main board there are two industries:

  • Industry 1 is 800 mm long and can manage 4 cars
  • Industry 2 is 1600 mm long and can manage 8 cars
  • Interchange track (at 2400 mm) can clear 9 cars plus the loco. The interchange track is considered an industry also.

The trackage on the base of the L are to be built based on an article in Model Trains International #58, page 106 by Bruce Petty. While this was essentially an article on scratchbuilding the Strongheart Packing Co. there was also a track diagram included. While I cannot post the magazine article here for you, I can point you to Bruce’s website which has the same information and track diagram (link here)

The current track layout in this area bounded by East 49th and E 50th Street is somewhat different from that of 25 – 35 years ago, this is reflected in the two images here:

Strongheart Packing Co - Vernon CA

Image 1: Block bounded by 49th & 50th Street, and Gifford To Corona Ave

This is an overhead view of the same block as in the article, but several of the buildings have been removed; specifically Union Malleable and Strongheart Packing. Otherwise the track for the most psrt seems to be intact.

Vernon CA - 49-50th Street - Gifford to Corona Ave - Track Layout

Another overhead view showing a slightly different angle that puts the article map in perspective.

I’ll be leaving building’s in place at Ingle Bros. It is a nice, generic building, plain brick that will be easy to model. It will have the two car spots as on the plan. The Chase Bag Co will go. In it’s place I’m going to put a team track. This will ensure that I can have a range of cars in that spot, and in addition give a great view of the remainder of this section of the layout.

The other buildings will be changed slightly to give that 1970’s renewal look of tilt-up concrete construction so prevalent in Texas.

Industry occupancy

Just as for the yard, I do not want to flood the industry tracks with cars. There are two reasons for this:

  1. I like that industries are not always blocked with cars – this is also very prototypical, and
  2. I am aiming at maximum to have industries be 50-60 percent occupied

Thus the total car numbers of the main board will be:

  • Industry 1 holds on average 2 cars with a maximum of 3 cars
  • Industry 2 holds on average 4 cars with a maximum of 5 cars
  • Interchange holds on average 5 cars (rounded up from 4.5) to 7 cars.

As noted earlier it can clear up to 9 cars at any one time if needed; this ensures that the interchange and the yard tracks should never be flooded with cars to stop the operations of the railroad.

The industrial park (bottom of the L) boards will hold on average 7 cars using the same occupancy rate. In total then the maximum cars in and out of the layout (should all of the occupied spots be switched on one day) would be 17 cars. Luckily that is not going to happen because these car movements would be spread over 6 days.

I am hoping the average will be in the range of 4-5 cars per session. This meets my goal of a short switching session, but with plenty of interest for me as the crew. More on this later.

Why I chose not to design my layout – Part 3

I wanted to show my working (as my Math teacher always encouraged me to do) on the layout design as it evolves to meet my needs. I was not happy with the way the original design performed when I looked at the yard throat design. There was an ‘irksome’ separation between the mainline and the branchline running into the future Industrial park extension. Image 1 below, shows my attempt to fix that issue; a simplified version of the first track layout.

New Layout Design - Take 2
Image 1: Take 2 on the layout design

The throat area is the set of switches around the Interchange track and the branch out to the rest of the industrial park. In mock operating sessions the biggest issue I had on the fist design was the lead out to the rest of the industrial park had crept down quite a way onto the upright of the L shaped boards. Keep in mind here that the other boards are not yet attached to the three boards in the image.

Additionally, I wanted to have a better yard throat, that was easier to switch through and took up less space.  After due reflection, the layout just didn’t look right for a small, smart industrial line with the smarts to build their own industrial park out of a couple of abandoned branch lines. Thus we arrive at version 3.

New Layout Design - Take 3
Image 2: Take 3 of the layout design

First there’s a better use of space,and visual appeal (to me anyway) with the long classification track #1, and the maintenance lead / class track # 2 being at the front end of the board.

All of it coming direct off the old main (now the interchange track). It simply feels better, and right in a way that the previous versions did not. I’ve run a quick thought exercise ops session on the new layout, and it also makes it easier to do business on the new layout. I’ll post the results of that a few days in the future once I have some other modelling work that I have to complete done.

On reflection I will be moving the switch (currently a Wye that will be replaced with a left #5) further back toward the camera to extend the run-around on both the main and the loop. This will stop just short of the road overpass and ensure that a loco can pull clear of the switch to allow the run-around move to take place. Additionally it will allow the

That’s it for me at the moment. Talk to you all later. If you have any questions let me know.

Site seeing – March 9

Introduction

All of last week I was sicker than could be with the current Ballarat flu bug. I am almost over it just in time to see the cooler Autumn weather really kick in. As a result of the dreaded lurgy I did not feel in the mood to model or post or do anything beyond making a buck. The next few posts are a catch up from the last week and should bring me back up to speed.

Site 1: Trevor Marshall’s ‘The Peterboro Project

With the current layout build under way, I’ve looked about for inspiration for the scenic treatment. In both the model and the prototypical sense I’ve found inspiration for the look as well as the overall design. Today’s site is a source of my inspiration. I hope that you enjoy looking it over as much as I have.

Trevor’s S Scale Port Rowan layout has been featured here before. Before this S Scale masterpiece there was an HO Scale masterpiece – The Peterboro Project. In 2006 he and a friend, intrigued by the Free-mo modular standard, decided to build a module.

Not just any module though, this was a complete layout module set, that could then be joined to other modules with like-minded Freemo modellers. While the layout itself is fantastic, the experiment did not work out for Trevor and his friend. The layout .

However, the pictures of the layout still exist, and are very worthwhile to review.

Enjoy

This is inspiration

One image, can have vast and lasting influence on the viewer. For modellers, as Chris Mears points out in this post, one single image can make the difference between a model that works for you or one that falls short of your expectation. And none of us want something not quite right.
For Chris this image is iconic and is what he wants out of his model railroad experience. Enjoy reading along.