How my railroad interests moved from the Pacific Northwest to Southern New South Wales .....with a stop over in Southern California

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another year passes

Happy Holidays to all!

New Layout construction begins in 2012
Watch this space!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plans....Part 2

Here are the other 2 plans I've come up with...both OK, but not great in their own ways.
Once again, the plans are not to exact scale....the squares are 1 foot and the mainline curve radius is nominally 30"


Dubbo seems to be an interesting place....haven't been yet, but it's on the list for February.  I know it is now a shell of it's former self in terms of importance in the NSW rail operations.  Blair had been suggesting it for a model RR for some time, and co-worker, and fellow modeler Matt Sugerman came up with the basic design of this plan after spending some time with track diagrams and Google Earth.

In order to get as much space as possible for the yard at Dubbo, this is the only layout plan that is not a walk-in....there is a duckunder at the west end of the yard.  In spite of the space given, by the time the yard tracks and ladders are laid out, I don't believe the yard will be big enough to really be operationally useful.

This plan is mostly yard oriented, with the lines from Merrygoen, Coonamble, Cobar and Parkes all represented by staging that will feed traffic into Dubbo.  The one line segment that is modeled on the lower level is a portion of the line to Orange, and it terminates in staging representing Orange/Sydney.

While I'm not that familiar with operations at Dubbo, I believe grain, fuel and ore traffic predominate with Pac National, Silverton and Patrick (& LVRC?). But a yard with a road crossing through it that has gates that swing across the tracks....kinda cool!

 I would need to sell off my coal equipment, and stock up on 48's....And probably have to drop 800+ bills for an Auscision XPT.

...or back date to the time when Dubbo was a happening place.

Ardglen  2.0

When the plans for the new house were finalized and I saw the size and shape of the new layout room,  my mind went to work on how I could scale down my dismantled Muswellbrook to Werris Creek railway.  I decided that the most interesting part of the line to me was Ardglen Bank itself, and with a little thought, found that it seems to fit rather nicely in my new space.

The major downside to this plan is that, with the exception of the Silo at Willow Tree, and the ballast pit at Ardglen, this railroad would just be running trains back and forth, and thus, would probably get boring  rather quickly.

This plan would require less turns on the helix, because a good bit of the climb would be modeled, but trying to operate the bankers on the helix would present another problem.
Since the helix would be shorter, I included turn-back loops stacked with the helix on both the Newcastle and Werris Creek staging areas
Since the same operators/trains that go to Gunnedah, come thru Ardglen...the same equipment would be needed for this as the Gunnedah plan...and I have a good portion of that already.

The least interesting of them all.   And one that would require mountain building....yuck!

Well,  that's all I've come up with....I did download the signal diagrams for the Sydney Metro Goods line...thought about coming up with something really off the wall....but haven't yet.   Hopefully I can settle on something and get started soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Have Plans....Part 1

For the last couple of weeks now, I've been sketching up some layout plans based on a couple of preferences:

1.  New South Wales in approximately 2005.  This will allow me to use all the equipment I have collected over the last 5 years.  (as increasingly appealing as back dating is, I believe I'm a little too far along, especially locomotive-wise, to change now)

2.  preferably a good mix between main line running, yard shunting and online industry work

3.  Someplace I have already visited and/or can visit during my next visit down under in 4 months.

4.  Flat, or relatively flat terrain would be NICE (Mountainous scenery building "killed" my last 2 RR's)

Based on these wants, and after scrutinizing track charts and signal diagrams...I came up with 4 plans:

One that I am strongly leaning toward:                            Gunnedah
One that I like quite a bit:                                                 Parkes
One that is good, but don't think space will do it justice:  Dubbo
One that I have visualized since my space was known:   Ardglen

Tonights entry will cover the first 2....I'll try and post the others tomorrow.
The plans are only roughly to scale....with the squares being 1 foot and the mainline radius nominally 30".


Fits well with my requirements.  In 2005 (as it appears today) , seemingly every operator in the state operated into or through Gunnedah.   ARG held the Manildra Flour contract and ran these services with a great variety of Orange former GWA power.  Pac Nat handled grain into Gunnedah and also from the Northwest of the state to the grain export terminals in the Newcastle area.  Pac National also ran the former Freight Australia fuel services to Dubbo and coal loaded in the Gunnedah area to Kooragang Island.  Add to this the Lachlan Valley cotton services to the Narrabri area and the Southern Short Haul infrastructure workings and you have all the variety my equipment roster can support.

This plan focuses one level on Gunnedah itself...which in reality has a very linear arrangement which seems to work well in the space available.  It allows me to have all the basic features in their proper order, including the coal loading loop, with Narrabri staging beyond:
Heading southeast by using the helix to the lower level, you pass the only 3 "towns" between Gunnedah and Werris Creek which are Curlewis, Nea and Breeza...each of which has at least 1 grain silo to provide some rail activity. Then travel into staging which will be at a yet to be determined location...probably along the wall under Curlewis.

Additions to my equipment roster for this plan will need to be acquired as they are released by the manufacturers:   Auscision AGHX grain cars for the Manildra services, and NGTY grain wagons.  The long awaited 48 class locos from Train-O (or Powerline...whoever comes out with the Freight Corp blue first),  81 class locos from Austrains,  and a set of Explorer passenger DMU cars that reportedly may show up some day.  

All in all, I am probably best equipped to operate this plan over all others.


I had thought about Parkes when I started thinking about a new railroad, but didn't think it would lend itself to my space, due to the fact that there are lines radiating out in all directions from this western depot.   But after the suggestion from Brad Hinton that I  look at it, I decided that it could be done, IF I just focused on a single line.  

What I ended up with was a railroad that runs from Orange/Sydney staging to Parkes and then on Northwest to Narromine with staging for Dubbo and Cobar.  The lines to Broken Hill and Cootamundra will be dummies diverging from the modeled route.

Like Gunndedah,  Parkes has a fairly linear layout stretching from the Grain sub-terminal on the east, through the yard and station, and loco depot before coming to Goobang Jct. on the west side.  Like the Gunnedah plan, The Parkes area takes in the entire upper level with the Orange staging on the far left side of the room over my desk.

After traversing the helix, you pass through Goonumbla (Silo and container loading), Mickibri (Silos) and Peak Hill (Silos) before coming into Narromine where the line to Cobar branches off (staging) and the trip ends at staging representing Dubbo.

This plan will be basically a grain operation with branch trains coming from the Dubbo and the lower level towns and from the Cootamundra and Orange lines to the Parkes sub terminal, for reloading into trains going to export.  An additional operating element will be the ore trains to/from Cobar, which will require a run-around move at Narromine to access Parkes from Cobar (as the prototype does).  

Equipment wise, by not modeling the Main west to Broken Hill, or the line to Cootamundra...I don't have to by up a bunch of NR's or  build myself a steel train or an Indian Pacific.  But I will need more 48-class locos than I would for the Gunnedah plan..both Freight Corp/Pac Nat and Silverton versions.

If anyone is still reading after all this......As these are the 2 front runners...I would appreciate any suggestions or critiques. 

Next time:   2 more plans

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh My God.....It's an Update!!!!

Hi All,

It's been FAR too long since my last update...a lot has happened in that time.

It all started with a visit to our financial adviser late last summer.  During the course of our yearly update meeting he advised us that we were in the position where we could retire at age 58 if we so desired, especially if we could make some minor changes to our expenses.

I had already resigned myself to the fact that I would need to go to 60, so this revelation, along with my total hatred of my job in the last year, moved us to action.  The "For Sale" sign was in the ground outside the house within a week or two.  We found a home plan we liked and signed a contract with a builder to construct us a new, smaller home...on a small lot.

To make a long, stressful story short....9 months and  4 cancelled sales later, we finally sold our 3300 square foot house on 1.5 acres and moved across town to our 2500 sq.ft house on a 50 x 100 ft lot.  Biggest thing was the cutting of our monthly house payment nearly in half!!   Retirement in 3 years and 10 I come!

Of course the downside of the move was the dismantling of my Ardglen Bank model Railroad....once again, the starting of the scenery was the kiss of death.

But, the new house has an upstairs bonus room that will be the home to my office and a new railroad.  The main space will be about half of what I had in the old house, but I had the builder add on a 5 x 5 attached area to house a helix out of the main layout area.

below is a plan of my new space:

I've been debating with myself since the layout room plan was formalized, as to what part of New South Wales I was going to model this time.  I want to keep the same early 2000's era as before, due to the volume of equipment already purchased.    I keep thinking about backdating, but think that it wouldn't be a good financial move!

As of now, there are 4 choices in the running (in current order of preference):

1.  Dubbo -  including part of the Dubbo to Orange line, and lines to Merrygoen, Conamble, Cobar and 
Parkes all separate staging.   This is the favorite of friends Blair and Matt.   Will have yard shunting and traffic flowing to all different lines along with grain train work on line to Orange.

2.  Gunnedah -  basically modeling Main north / Northwest from Boggibri to Curlewis, with the Mill town of Gunnedah as the focal point.  This plan would best utilize all the equipment I already own.

3.  Ardglen Bank - a shrunk down version of my previous railroad, basically modeling only Willow Tree  to Murrurundi.  This was my front runner for some time as I was able to visualize the entire layout in my head as to how it would fit in the room.  Main problem with this plan is the fact that it would only be running trains and bankers....would probably get boring pretty fast

4. Total Freelance  -  use bits and pieces from all over the state to allow me to utilize my current Equiment Roster.  Ray Pilgrim's Bylong being the inspiration for this option.

In the weeks ahead, I'll post some sketches on possible track plans for some of these options with the hopes that my mates down under will critique and suggest changes or other options