Friday this week four of us headed over to Brendan’s to do a couple of things. First off there was a BBQ put on by Brendan. Our traditional modelling fare of snorkers on a piece of bread with onions, cheese and a selection of sauces was on the menu. Off course we all brought along our own versions of poison to drink. We then adjourned into his lounge and dining room, where Brendan has set up his under construction layout. While in its early stages, this layout has module frames all built, a track plan almost finalised, and ideas for how to operate the points, control the trains and provide power to the lighting system as well as the track. We spent the next almost two hours standing around, asking questions, offering alternate solutions to problems and just having a really great time discussing this nicely progressing layout. We had planned on spending time during the night doing some modelling. We all took some projects along, but we did not even get our stuff out. We were having too much fun discussing the planning of this layout. This layout is going to be a great little effort. It is going to be different to many out on the circuit. Although I know of a few with some similar features, this is going to be unique. Apparently Brendan is targeting next June for its unveiling.
On Saturday three of us from the previous night (Darren, Brendan and myself), headed over to Anthony’s place for his regular operating session. We were joined by Iain, Mark and of course the host Anthony. Our session took the form of five operators – three Victorian and two South Australian, with the host being Train Control, Station Master at Tatiara Downs as well as head shunter at Tatiara Downs. As usual it was a very good session. I had four grains trains (2 out and 2 back) to various locations. As you guessed it, they included lots of shunting. The train timetable must have been prepared by a sadist. When shunting Tatiara Downs grain siding. I could only take 10 units up the siding. Guess how long my train was? Answer - 12 units. When shunting Nankiva, you could only fit 4 bogie wagons under the loader. Of course my train was 8 bogie wagons plus a van, but there were already two wagons already loaded sitting under the loader. The run around track between road 2 and 3 at Nankiva, can only support about 8 wagons - another brain teaser. On the weekend I enjoy relaxing doing some model railway related activities. But these sadistic timetable guys, ensure that I have no time to relax, but I have to crank up the old grey matter to ensure that I can get the task done. So there is absolutely no rest for the wicked. Each four wheel wagon, has to spend 7 fast clock minutes (we were running at 4:1) under the loader at Tariara Downs, the bogie wagons have to spend 14 minutes. I really appreciated the extra money the grain board spent at Nankiva, installing a faster loader, as you only need to wait 12 fast clock minutes there for loading each bogie wagon at this location. So the loading process means that we must position each wagon in turn under the loader. Some of the down time, between wagon moves) is spent thinking about what I could do to move some of the already loaded wagons out of the siding, to allow the next lot of wagons to fit into the siding, or that we have enough wagons in the run around track so the loco can push back onto the train and still fit between the cross overs. At the end, it can push back up into the headshunt at Nankiva, to collect the first two loaded wagons and van before heading back to Portland.
I was amazed that when I completed each of my first 6 runs for the day, the time that I picked up my next timetable card, was almost exactly the time that my next train was due to run on the timetable graph. So I guess I must have been able to handle the mental arithmetic without too many problems.
Today I went down to the shed after midday and was trying to think about what work I was going to do. I decided to increase the length of my Gold Coast Motorail and I gave it a run from Grafton to Murwillumbah and return. I added the Auscision motorail wagon after the loco. I also added an Auscision Brisbane Limited Sleeper. I have other cars to add, but they are still in various states of semi-assembly. I had issues with a section of track between Cassino and Old Cassino. So that received some packing to reduce a rather severe height adjustment in the track. This track does drop down grade from Cassino to Old Cassino just like the prototype, but the current gradient was too severe just after a set of points. That was causing some of these new additional wagons to uncouple. I added two KD washers under the Auscision Sleeper car, and now its coupler seems to be more accurately aligned to my height gauge. When I got to Murwillumbah, I could not get the motorail wagon to uncouple. So I changed over the couplers on that wagon to KD #5s, and now it uncouples every time on my under track magnets. I also had to change the coupler on my PHS power car, as a previous owner had cut off the coupler tang and thus it does not uncouple over an uncoupler magnet. So with the new coupler fitted, all is now good. I also cleaned the track that I ballasted last week around the Old Cassino goods shed siding. I also took the opportunity to remove quite a number of tacks that were previously holding the track in place from my recently ballast sections of track.
Next week, I plan on ensuring all trains are in their starting places for an Operating Session in late August, and I will print out a new set of timetable cards with all my minor changes since the last session earlier this year. I hope to also complete the 6’ x 4’ trailers that I am constructing. A lot of these are going to end up as loads on some 40' open container flats. I also hope to pick up my long awaited 12mm points from a hobby shop, so I can install then in Clapham Yard. I might also get around to putting some more weight into my Wuiske 1720 loco, somehow in each end of the hood. I have already put some weight in the fuel tank. I also can't wait for the next issue of the AMRM magazine to arrive in the latter box. I might know one of the authors with an article in the next issue.