Yesterday I travelled with Shelton and Darren over to the border district of Victoria and South Australia. We had the opportunity to run about 10 trains in on operating session hosted by Anthony on his layout Border District. It was very nice indeed. I forgot to take the camera, but I know Shelton took some shots, so hopefully we will see some on his blog later http://vrwv.blogspot.com.au/. There are certainly some interesting features on Anthony's layout.
The height of the layout is higher than what I would call normal. Anthony is certainly well over 6 foot tall so that might explain the height he has chosen, as well as the fact he has chosen two duck-unders at each end of the layout to allow movement between the two operating wells.
The control panels are very simple and look very professional. They replicate the signalling aspects via repeating LED's. very good as you can't always see the signal from where you are driving from. The layout while NCE is not yet configured for wireless control. I think there are only about three pairs of points set up to be remotely controlled via either Peco or slow motion point controls.
The rest of the points are controlled either by wire in tube concept - actually dowels. These work very nicely indeed. In the staging yard, there are many small point throws to align the tracks in the 10 track staging yard.
The signals installed are just pieces of art. They are manually controlled and working. There is some degree of interlocking, so if two signals in a row are clear, you will get a green on the first and then yellow on the second.
We used car cards to advise what loading is to be picked up and what is to be dropped off. The shunting involved certainly extended the time taken to go from point A to point B. Additionally as we are modelling an interchange point between two distinct systems - Victorian and South Australian, we had to swap motive power for the trains running through the main station. It was very busy in the location of Tatiara Downs.
As quite a lot of shunting occurs, there are various methods used to uncouple the wagons. There are permanent magnets below track. There are hinged magnets below track where you pull a lever and the magnet is swung up to uncouple the wagons and also the good old fashioned kebab skewer that we all use.
As I mentioned earlier, Anthony is a convert to NCE. He is using the latest Powercab with a V1.65 chip installed. So he should be able to run three additional throttles, at addresses 3, 4 and 5. However, we could not get address 5 to work. We are investigating this following some feedback from the NCE DCC yahoo group. So the layout is wired with two plug in point on each side of the aisleways in each of the two aisles or operating wells. More than enough for this small area, but I would suggest wireless is the way to go for the future. Wireless certainly prevents the tangling of cables are people lean over to undertaken their work.
Most of the mainline track is code 83 track, with some code 70 in some sidings and code 100 in staging yard. The track plan is quite ingenious and gets the most run in the space provided. It tricked me up more than one, expecting a train to go to one location and it went around to another and I almost ran a red signal. I had some of my loco past the stick, but not all. From my point of view, it wasn't a SPAD and that is my opinion and I'm entitled to it. The trackwork is very nicely done and the trains run very smoothly. Although I did leave some of my train behind once as I ran over a permanent uncoupling magnet.
It was a great afternoon. To top it off, we even had a South Australian Beer at the end of the running session. A nice cold Coopers. A great day. Thanks Anthony for the invite and thanks Shelton and Darren for the company on the day. Although the Train Controller on occasions (was a bit of a cow) would not let us do what we liked. He made us follow the rule book. I have no idea why? We were definitely out in the middle of nowhere near the Border Region.
I wouldn't be dead for quids while I've got model railway mates!