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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Layout Changes.

On my Main North layout, the "Main North Line" terminated at Armidale Staging a few feet north of Werris Creek Station and on the "wrong" side of the Station. The Mungindi Branch line crosses the Lift Up Bridge through to Gunnedah and then through a Return Loop, providing easy turning of a train and continuous running if necessary.

Recently I "fine tuned" and "electrified" the Points at Gunnedah's Black Jack Coal Mine located opposite Gunnedah and on a shelf 80 mm above the track, south of Werris Creek Yard. With the Gunnedah Abattoir and the Mine it provided some great train operations.

I had made some changes at Werris Creek to improve operations that included repositioning the Roundhouse and Turntable, adding the Shunting Neck and adding a second line into the Yard for the "main line", providing a more direct path to the Station. This eliminated a Crossover that was giving me some grief (Shinohara Double Curves - what a pain in the proverbial).

I wanted to add a Stock Yard and Loading Bank for additional operations around Werris Creek but there was no room to do it unless I removed Gunnedah's Black Jack Coal Mine. A monumental decision had to be made as Gunnedah was an important part of my layout.

Due to the "people traffic" in the Aisle between Sulphide Junction and Broadmeadow, I had removed the 300 mm high Platform that was necessary to operate Gunnedah so there was not much happening at the Black Jack Coal Mine so Gunnedah had become a "through" station as North West trains used the Return Loop to turn around trains.

Layouts "evolve", so I removed the Mine and the associated track along with the Abattoirs and now I had room for the Loading Bank and Stock Yards. These could be operated from the Train Room, see below. I have included the Werris Creek Mine (seen in the background of the above photo), so LCH Coal Trains will be running from/to Werris Creek.


With these above changes the 3 "signature" Main North Passenger Trains - the Brisbane Express via Wallangarra, the Glen Innes Mail and the 4 Car DEB Set Northern Tablelands Express that I've now got all the correct rolling stock for (mentioned last post), would STILL be terminated at Armidale Staging, 3 feet away from Werris Creek Station.

The "importance" of Gunnedah without the Mine and Abattoir was drastically reduced. To provide a 25 foot longer "Main North"and the Return Loop for these 3 Passenger Trains etc, I've swapped around the two sections of track "north" of Werris Creek, see the Track Plan below.


The below photo shows the Glen Innes Mail having arrived on the "correct" side of the Station, departing and continuing on the additional 25 foot section of the Main North line (previously the Mungindi Branch), heading across the Lift Up Bridge to West Tamworth.



Gunnedah Station/Yard with the Mill and Silo will now be my "close enough" combined West Tamworth/Tamworth and the previous Armidale Staging (3 feet from Werris Creek) will now be the North West Staging. A new Armidale Staging above Newcastle (Middle Deck), will be added later.


Shown above is one of the signature Passenger Trains of the Main North, the 3616 hauled Glen Innes Mail, double headed to "light engine" 3390 to West Tamworth for the Barraba Passenger. Operating Trains on the Main North and the The Glen Innes Mail, are the topic for my next Blog entry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Passenger Trains for the Main North.

Over the years of building the Main North I have mainly concentrated on Goods trains with just a few Passenger trains, namely the:
  • 3801 hauled Newcastle Flyer HUB Cars,
  • 3076 hauled Toronto Passenger FOs, 
  • An 8 Car Interurban U Boats - Syd/Gos/Syd.
  • A Northern Tablelands Express using a RUB Set until I get a DEB Set.
For years I've been collecting all manner of stuff that's required when building a layout and storing it under the layout with a hope of using it some time later, just like "normal" model railroaders. The Main North is a "mainline" layout so I really needed to make up some more passenger trains, including some "Mails".Those Lima 12 wheelers, Austrains and Powerline passenger coaches under the layout, are now going to see the light.

The chance of purchasing some rolling stock in the dismantling of Keith's layout (mentioned on a previous Blog entry), I once again forgot about passenger trains and only purchased goods wagons.

Using the NSWGR Train Composition and Marshalling Book, I made a list of the extra Passenger trains that ran in 1965 on the Main North, listed below. I needed quite a few pieces of rolling stock marked in bold and italics.
  • Brisbane Express via Wallangarra.- HKL (at WCK) MHO BS TAM FS FS EHO,
  • North West Mail - EHO MHO KP CS TAM FS.
  • Glen Innes Mail - ACS CR MHO MHO TAM BS FS EHO.
  • North Coast Daylight Express - RUB Set.
  • North Coast Mail - MLV MHO MHO KP FS TAM BS.
  • All stops Newcastle/Gosford/Newcastle Passenger trains - 4 and 6 FOs.
I contacted Bob Stack as I knew he was selling his NSW rolling stock. Bob came to the rescue with all but two coaches for the Glen Innes Mail  (ACS and CR). I made a few "substitutions" namely LHOs for EHOs and a Elliptical High Roof Mail Van for the HKL. 

The Epping Club Market Day would provide an opportunity of getting the two missing coaches but I'd decided I'd go with what I had. Well that statement only lasted a few days when a mate rang me and said there was a CR on Ebay and the auction ends in 4 hours. I was not a member of Ebay or Paypal, I joined the Ebay and I made a couple of bids on the CR. I won it. On delivery I was pleasantly surprised that the CR looked better in the flesh than in the photo. My nearly correct Glen Innes Mail is shown below.



I went to the Market Day to catch up with a few mates and had a look at what's for sale. Charlie from Canberra had a "ACS" decaled Lima MBE. Essentially I paid $20 for an ACS decal because I now have a spare MBE. I now have a "correct" Glen Innes Mail.

While talking to Allan Garbutt who was helping on Phil Collins' table, Allan showed me a box and said I badly needed "these" on the Main North. I looked at the label on the box and said "No way it's a kit!!!" I'm a Plonker now and time I spend on my hobby needs to be on the building/scenecing the Main North. Allan opened the box and said: "It won't take too much time to finish them as they're all painted and you desperately need a DEB Set Northern Tablelands Express, make Phil an offer". With a pause from Phil, I was now an owner of a 4 Car DEB Set.

I installed a Diesel Econami decoder, selecting the EMD 567 Non Turbo Prime Mover sound that'll provide a "close enough" sound for the DEB Set. I needed to power the second Power Car's motor. I thought of adding a motor only decoder for this but thought locos always need extra pick ups. I decided to run a 6 conductor harness through the 4 Cars - two wires to connect all the bogie pick ups, two wires to power the second motor and two wires for the second speaker. With this harness, it's a real pain in the backside to handle this 4 Car Set but they can be separated if necessary.

When you get to be an old fart like me, it gets hard to read the small numbers on the side of these coaches, so I decided it's number would be 904 (900 for DEB Set and 4 for the 4 Car Set), also I was already thinking of having a 3 Car set - see below.

Operating the 4 Car Northern Tablelands Express from Sydney to Werris Ck and return, I now wanted to have the "real" thing, so I needed to find 3 extra cars. When the N/T Express arrived at Werris Creek, it split into two trains - 4 Cars to Glen Innes and 3 Cars to Moree. I also wanted to replicate this "operation" on my layout. I NEEDED a 3 Car DEB Set and luckily Lloyd Sawyer was able to fix me up.

The 3 Car DEB Set has only one motor. I installed a another Econami decoder into the "motored" Power Car. I used a SBS4DCC 15 x 11 x 8 mm Sugar Cube speaker that I'm fitting to all of my locos. Without the need for connecting a second motor, I thought I'd try the Power Car on the track. It kept cutting out/stalling due to a lack of pick ups and the fact that the Bowser Bogies have brass wheels. I installed a TCS KA2 (200,000 uF) Stay Alive and now it runs without stalling. If it stalls anymore I'll add another KA2 (in parallel). Adjusted the decoder's address to guess what - 903 for the same above reason.


I have finally (May 2016), fitted lights to the "end" Cars of the 7 Car Set, using LEDs and fibre optic cable. This provides the necessary lights from Werris Creek to Sydney and return but one end of the 4 Cars Set to Armidale won't have lights. A small price to pay for the huge saving in time installing the lights


Now with these extra Passenger trains, I need some more Staging Tracks. They will be easily added at Sydney (obviously) and some at the Northern End (Upper Deck) beyond Gunnedah that will be renamed to "West Tamworth" for reasons that'll be explained in my next Blog entry about running Passenger Trains on the Main North.

I was very conscious of operating a RUB Set Northern Tableland Express on my 1965 time period "Main North".

Thanks to some "arm twisting" from Allan and Lloyd and Phil's generosity, I can now sleep at nights knowing I am running the "right" train.



See the DEB Set operating up the the Liverpool Ranges between Pangela and Ardglen at: