Well, again it has been quite some time since I posted anything on my Blog. Due to constant nagging to Raymond by "he who shall remain nameless" (Craig - you know who you are) we invited the Tuesday Nighters over last Tuesday night. I was somewhat (read - "very") reluctant to have the guys over as we had not really advanced with the layout and I thought I would cop a lot of flak.
However again, as usual, I was wrong. We had a good roll-up and everyone was very supportive. They understood the hiatus I was going through, the second thoughts, the concerns, do we need to rip this up, relay that and so on.
Darren and Geoff, in particular listened to my problems and self-doubts, and again (as in the past) they came up with some very positive suggestions.
The layout had started to grow like topsy with, initially, no serious track planning - at least for the first station. Much to Raymond's chagrin, many of the point motors ended up being located over the top of the timber framing making them exceedingly (frustratingly so) difficult to install let alone wire up whereas with a bit of planning and forethought I could have positioned them better. The track plan for this first station was built as serendipity - no planning it just kind of happened. As it turned out we had to relay a curve several times and respace the passing loops as the window shades on the big K-36 and K-37 locos fouled. We have ended up with a yard that was unnecessarily full of passing loops and lots of trackwork and points.
By the time we got to our second station the sidings were better planned and so Raymond could better access the pointwork to install the motors and do the wiring. (I must say his wiring on this section was much tidier than his attempt at the first station. (He doesn't think his old man is capable of doing wiring and won't believe me I was doing it before he was a gleam in my eye). We have reached our third station but trackwork has not progressed far yet.
One of my big gripes is that Raymond is a Limited Edition Star Wars Lego builder and sections of the layout baseboard framework are taken up with a huge Death Star, a large X-Wing, a big Millennium Falcon, R2-D2 and other bits and pieces. He has already filled up a spare (?) bedroom upstairs with Lego models and quite a bit of Garden Railway locomotives and rolling stock.
Another of my nagging doubts has been that we have a narrow gauge free-lance Colorado style narrow gauge layout that starts nowhere and ends nowhere, totally isolated from the outside world. I am a big fan of train operations, shunting, making up trains to send somewhere (for a reason) to detach loaded wagons or pick up empties along the way and so on. I needed an interchange of some sort perhaps a standard gauge siding transfer point at one of the stations? However, this is O Scale and while 0n30 takes up a lot of space 0 Scale Standard Gauge takes up a lot more.
I have been reading in Model Railroader and other model railroading magazines about "Staging Sidings" and wondered if that might be a solution to my interchange problem having an imaginary interchange off layout and hidden?
Anyway, back to the story. Darren & Geoff listened and inspected. I really appreciated how they could listen to my grumblings and self-doubt and then discuss (Note -Discuss) with me possible solutions.
1. They agreed that the first station needed simplification and made a number of suggestions especially in relation to fitting in buildings and some dead-end sidings while removing superfluous passing loops and location of industry sidings.
2. They felt that the second station was fine in that it was a junction for a mining branch and that as well as a couple of necessary passing loops, it also had some dead-end sidings serving a mining supply company, and an ore crusher (logical for a mining branch).
3. Darren and Geoff also made some suggestions for buildings around this second station area.
3. They indicated that until we managed to sort out the Lego problem there was no reason why the mining branch could not be built. It could then be operated independently as a small branch line.
4. Darren and Geoff also felt that a hidden staging siding would be the best opportunity for a hidden interchange and indicate a possible location.
Last year I was occupied for much of the year in co-authoring a book about Hudswell Clarke locomotives in the sugar industry in Fiji and Queensland. This year much of my spare time is taken up with a World War 1 Exhibition Gallery for the Museum. However, Raymond and I spent about an hour on Saturday having a brief discussion about our options following on from the advice that the guys have given us.
We generally agreed on a thinning out and slight redesign of the first station yard. This should not be too painful and will result in a much better layout.
Raymond came out of left field with an idea for two different sets of staging tracks. One of these would be a continuation of the branch line trackage around the back of the proposed timber milling scene and then curving into a space behind the shelving towards the work benches - out of the way and utilising a wasted space - probably two sidings.
The second set would be off the main line as it climbs up towards the helix. We were intending to have a passing loop and dead-end siding about half-way up. Instead we will move it back a bit and make it into a simple junction station with the same passing loop and dead-end siding but with the addition of a set of points heading straight ahead through the backscene above the branch line staging sidings into the same wasted space. Possibly four dead-ends? Anyway it sounds feasible just needs some "proper" track planning and further discussion.
I need to get back to my World War 1 Museum Project now