Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel

Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel
Click on the above photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Sunday, March 22, 2009



My "Main North" layout is modelled loosely on the Sydney to Werris Creek/Gunnedah , section of the NSWGR's Main North. that runs from Sydney to Brisbane via Wallangarra in 1965. The section from Glen Innes to Wallangarra was closed around the late 70s I think. In 1965 many areas of the NSWGR were/already transitioning to Diesel but the the Main North from Broadmeadow to Werris Creek was still very much "steam".

I chose this era and the area, because I wanted to add the "extra" operations of changing the "locos" from/to the 46 Class Electrics at Gosford (Sydney to Gosford was electrified in 1959) and the banking/double heading over "both" sides of the 1 in 40 grades of the Liverpool Ranges at Murrurundi and Willow Tree, due to the NSWGR practice of trains being hauled by a single engine until they needed assistance, all this done easier with DCC.
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The walk around, double deck "point to point" "Main North" layout is located in a 20' x 22' double car garage and an adjacent 10' x 12' spare bedroom with a mainline length of approx 300 feet (100 metres). The layout is at the "final" track plan stage with only a few buildings but no ballast or scenery, at the moment. I have the rest of my life to add these. For the time being the layout provides lots of fun runnning trains.
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The layout starts/finishes at Sydney Staging at the summit of the Cowan Bank then to Gosford, Fassifern (Newstan Mine), Sulphide Junction, Broadmeadow/Port Waratah and Newcastle, all on the Lower Deck. The track branches going north west just prior to Newcastle, to Murrurundi, Ardgen, Werris Creek and Gunnedah that are on the Upper Deck. There are 1 in 40 grades up the Fassifern Bank (down trains) and going north over the Liverpool Ranges (to Werris Creek), similar to the "real" Main North.
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With the release of Eureka Model's RTR AD60 Garratts in 2005, Newstan Mine was added, providing a "loaded" Double Garratts coal trains up the Fassifern Bank, a much photographed prototype operation, that I "had to" replicate. The installation of a "sneak path" back to Newstan Mine, provides a continuous "loads out and empties in" operations.
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A very recent operating procedure for the layout, is my form of "Cards" providing sequential running of staged trains with the turning and servicing of the locos done by the operator. This provides a 15 to 30 minute "run" for most trains.
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The Main North is operated with DCC from Northcoast Engineering (NCE) from the U.S with radio throttles that are essential for a medium sized walk around layout.

NCE was was chosen for its ability to build/break up consists anywhere on the layout due to my banking/double heading requirements at Murrurundi, Willow Tree and Gosford and the "radio" system is approved in Australia. 
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DCC provides for maximum flexibility of locos/train, no "block" control panels with the cry of "who's got my train" from operators, the addition of sound into your existing locos etc, but the level of benefit will be determined by the type of layout etc.
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Due to my, what many say, too many locations, the trackage and the industries and relative positions may be not be "prototypical" but will be good enouh to provide plenty of "operations" for the operators. Building your "dream" layout is full of compromises and there are many on my "Main North". One aspect of modelling a "real" location and specific era, that I have found really enjoyable, is the research that is necessary to "put" this altogether.
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The Main North Track Plans.


Larger track plans are at:

http://tinyurl.com/cwywtr

Further information for my "Main North" and lots of DCC information, can be seen at my web site at:

http://tinyurl.com/cq7sed
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