On Saturday I went to the local hobby shop to check on the delivery of my dual gauge Tillig point and it is still not here. I assume that the delivery has been lost in the Christmas mail somewhere. So I went home empty handed. Later on that day I went down to the Shed, and decided to install a small shelf under the layout near Grafton Loops, that will hold the containers for Coal Loads, Ballast Loads, Sleeper Loads and Steel Loads. So that was completed and everything loaded onto the shelf with labelled containers.
Next up I spliced in the two cross over points between tracks 2 and 3 in Acacia Ridge Yard. This is to allow me to run around the steel train for its shunt to Rocklea Siding and return. Once installed, I needed to add a couple of power jumpers to the tracks and all is fine with the work performed.
So today at about 1:15pm, I shut the shed door, turned on the layout lights and the air conditioner as I had Shelton and Darren pop over for a mini Operations Session. This was 16 trains being run today. Well I have confirmed that I really need that Tillig point for Rocklea Sidings as most of the trains on the mainline stall and need to be helped along and this point is in an awkward position to get to, particularly if I am running my own train at the other end of the layout. I found that while shunting the Limestone siding in Rocklea, that one of the tracks did not have power. So a soldering iron fixed that up. With the various new wagons added to the roster, allowing for empties to be added to a train after loaded wagons have been detached, I found out that some of these wagons needed some attention with the bogies, the coupler heights etc. So this is the whole purpose of this mini Ops Session. One steel slab wagon has had its bogies swapped out. Others have had the bogies lowered or raised to standardise the coupler heights. I also was able to be given direction from the crews about adding some more detailed text to a number of timetable cards. We also had some fun, with many crosses being made when we were running these trains. Additionally we had to look ahead on the train line, as we had trains come from different directions wanting to cross, but with two intermediate loops with others trains stabled from the main timetable, this caused some problems. We had a shunt trains heading south from South Brisbane Interstate, after picking up loading from Clapham Yard, and the train got put away on the main at Glenapp Loop. At The Risk Loop we had a ballast train in the Loop, and at Border Loop, we had an overlength Container train in the Loop with its tail up one of the run offs. The other run off had the 620/720 set to form the Mountain Goat. Coming the other way was a loaded steel train. But we got over this cross.
This was the first session where we actually unloaded the steel wagons in the Rocklea Sidings, and then loaded them again when the empty steel train got to Grafton Loops for staging. This provided a bit of a long time to unload and reload the Auscision wire carrying wagons. For unloading, we used a large magnet that fitted above the two wire coils in a bay and lifted then off the wagon and allows them to be placed in the steel storage box. Loading was done with a piece of styrene two coils at a time. Following the session, I made up 4 wire loaders out of 0.100” styrene square strip. This now allows each bay of the wagon to be loaded separately, 4 coils at a time. It works great and has greatly improved efficiency of loading/unloading process for the train crew. I made four of these unloaders, as I’m sure some of my mates might want one for their layouts. It only takes about 2 minutes to make one.
On the subject of those steel slab wagons, I think the two bogie steel slab carrying wagons were scratch built by the late Mike Boyde. Mike gave me a number of his wagons over the last few months before he moved from Regents park to Toowoomba. That is another reason to try and add them to the timetable. Back about 20 years ago, his enthusiasm to build items out of styrene was un matched. We made some great models back them striving for more and more detail on them.
Thanks to the guys that came over today and helped out. I now have to update the timetable cards with all the notes we have now made and maybe reset the timetable back a few hours, so that the remaining number of trains can be comfortably fitted into the next Operations Session slot scheduled for sometime around Australia Day. But I will need to buy another carton or two before then, as the fridge is almost empty.