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 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:


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Bob. Thanks. I'll keep it altogether and "serviceable" for the photo shoot on the SCR.