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

Monday, March 25, 2019

West Tamworth on my Main North.

Previously I wrote a Blog entry about Passenger Trains on my Main North and described that I swapped around the way Werris Creek worked, with the track from the rear Platform entering a 3 track North West Staging and the Front Platform track went onto West Tamworth instead of going to Gunnedah. This allowed a longer run of three of my "signature" Passenger trains, the DEB Set Northern Tablelands Express, the Brisbane Express via Wallangarra and the Glen Innes Mail.

For the Glen Innes Mail, I have included the 3 Coaches for the Barraba Mail that are removed from the Mail, at Tamworth. Secondly a 30T (3009) needs to be "light engined" from Werris Creek to Tamworth for the Barraba Mail.

I needed to upgrade my Tamworth particularly for the Barraba Mail "part" of the Glen Innes Mail.

Thirdly, the Mail with the ACS, CR and MHO, make the train heavier than the C36's load limit of 268 tons for the 1 in 40 grade. The 3616 hauled Glen Innes Mail will need to be double headed up the 1 in 40 climb from Murrurundi to Ardglen but on my layout, to Werris Creek.

Operating the DOWN Glen Innes Mail from Sydney now terminates "turned" in the Tamworth Sidings, has 5 engine "movements/changes" on it's run north. with a lot of "operation" centred around Tamworth and can take over 60 minutes to "run". See my latest Glen Innes Mail YouTube, below.

I needed to change the West Tamworth trackage (shown at right), to include easier operation/storage of the Barraba Mail etc.

Using a 1945 Track and Signal Diagram, courtesy of the ARHS DVD  shown below, there are many industries to model in West Tamworth.

The above 1945 show the following industries. A little research to find which ones were there in 1965. For starters I needed to model some of the following:
  • 250 foot long Platform with a Dock at each end.
  • Station Building that was from the diagram, about 150 feet long.
  • Goods Shed
  • 2 large Mills: West Tamworth Mills and Fielders Mill. 
  • Silo.
  • Stock Yard and Loading Banks. .
  • 2 Road Engine Shed
  • Small Coal Stage.
  • 60 Foot Turntable 
This section of the Main North Upper Deck is 15 feet/5 metres long and 3 feet wide. The photo shows my very compressed West Tamworth on the left and Werris Creek Cattle Pens/Loading Ramp and Mine (in the distant), on the right.

Good thing the 250 foot platform equals 3 feet in HO.

On the layout, the Station is on the "down" line closest to the aisle. Passing the Goods Shed, the line goes to the right for Armidale Staging and left to the Upper Deck Return Loop.
The Return Loop exits from behind the Mill connecting to the 3rd Loop, then "back onto" the mainline at the doorway.

Trains running from Werris Creek, Occupancy Detection on the Lift Up Bridge section, "sets" the Points so all trains go past the Station. With the Points selected for the Return Loop (not Armidale Staging), trains "turn" and appear on the 3rd Loop, passing the Silo, where a second Occupancy Detector operates the Points (opposite to that above), to bring the train back onto the single mainline. This provides automatic end of the layout, "turning" of trains so long as 3 "fixed" Points are set for their normal positions. Not prototypical but it provides the procedure I want. One day I'll add switches to these 3 Points for some form of warning. I could have used a Tony's AR PS One but I wanted to make something and I already had the Auto Reverser. 

I located the 6 Tamworth Sidings including a Fuel Depot and a Mill
at the northern end of Tamworth.

The Glen Innes Mail and the NTE are stabled in these Sidings, ready for their runs to Sydney.

The Tamworth Loco with a 60 foot Turntable and a single line Engine Shed is located between the fascia and the Sidings as shown,  Access can be gained from any of the 3 Loops.

The Centre Loop opposite the Station provides the "storage" of the the Barraba Mail's 3 Coaches and 3009 when the Glen Innes Mail is at Tamworth Sidings, ready to be connected to a UP Glen Innes Mail to Sydney.

I am still thinking of how to add track and a Return loop for the Barraba Line but this has to wait, so the Middle Road and shunting will have to do for running the Barraba Mail.

While remodelling Tamworth, I added the track crossing the mainline from Ardglen to Werris Creek, using a 90 degree Crossing, to the existing but not connected, Armidale Staging (6 tracks above Newcastle).

I wanted Armidale Staging to be as low as possible and I did not want a Bridge over the mainline.
I have changed how this Staging was to work, initially thinking I could add a further Return Loop (over Murrurundi) but it hasn't happened.

This "crossing" is "signalled and interlocked" (May 2019), using the Bracket Semaphore (shown at left) and a colour light Signal controlling the exit from Armidale Staging, so you cannot run out of Armidale Staging without first selecting the Point (shown at left) to Armidale and the Ardglen to Werris Creek "block" is NOT occupied. I used a colour light signal instead of a Semaphore as it does not need Servos or part of a Octopus III, making this a simple "signal" control of Staging.

I added scenery using my foam packaging method and added plenty of home grown Autumn Joy Sedums to hide the "90 degree crossing".

The Upper Deck of the Main North here at the aisle way from the Trainroom is 1570 mm from the floor. For Operators and especially the vertically challenged Marcus, I added a platform 300 mm above the floor to 3/4s of the Aisle way, making the height now a very comfortable, 1270 mm.

There are never enough Staging Tracks on a layout and with 30+ trains trains "staged" for an Operating Session, this new Armidale Staging shown below, helps a lot and is the new location for holding the Down Glen Innes Main and the Northern Tablelands Express, ready for their run to Sydney.

A March 2020 Glen Innes Mail 9 minute video is at YouTube:


  1. Best news is the 300mm platform so I can finally see what goes on 'up' at Tamworth.

  2. More operational challenges! Looks great. Sufficient staging tracks are always a challenge regardless of the layout size.

    cheers Phil

  3. You have been busy, Marcus! Any chance of a visit for a running-deprived exile to the wild West! ;)

  4. Hi Bob, Phil and James
    Thanks. Tamworth Sidings still needs plenty of work as I struggle to eliminate all derailments especially from my Northern Tablelands Express equipped with Bowser bogies and my newly acquired Wombat 3009 loco. There is only limited time left and I need all of it to be fun so the 5 fingered shunt from above will have to do. There is no derailments when trains are turned using the Return Loop that's used more. Armidale Staging still needs a milk crate. I will organize a a running night soon. Regards

  5. West Tamworth station building is extremely similar to Bomen, although there are minor differences externally, with one fewer chimney, and different door locations. I built a model of Bomen on my "buildingwagga" blog, and if you are keen Marcus, I have plans available. email me: alco4801 at

  6. No doubt about you Marcus, you have been a busy boy, ....... again!

    Ray P

  7. Hi Rob and Ray.
    Rob thanks for your offer about plans of your Bomen Station but I'm not up to scatch building a West Tamworth Station, yet, especially when a "close enough" Station that I acquired as a part of a deceased estate was sitting in a Box under the layout, will do. Time is what I don't have enough of especially when there's so much still to do on my Main North plus other train related commitments. Maybe in my "next" life.
    Ray, yes I have been busy since missing a couple of months over Christmas, by making Tamworth "work" and getting the 3 Murrurundi UP Semaphores to work, including a Triple Bracket and you know what's involved there. I also made 2 control Panels, Occupancy etc and fixed up North Coast Staging. Most of track and scenery you see, was done last year. I started this Blog entry, in June last year and finished this recently. Regards Marcus

  8. Marcus, in 65 the egg board had use of a siding that I believe is the silo road, eggs were sent to Sulphide where they had an extended siding that ran up the storage roads at the Cardiff end of the up side. There were 2 storage sidings and one with access into the egg board unloading dock. By that time in 65 there was not a lot of eggs on rail though.

    There was at least one other oil depot on the Barraba branch as well, then another on the down side of the line short of Nemingha, if my memory serves me correct there was also another oil siding on the northern side of Tamworth station, another siding ran of the main line on the west tamworth side of Tamworth station.

    Fielders had at least two other sidings on the North end of Tamworth on the up side of the main.

    West Tamworth had 2 shunt engines during the day, with one running to Tamworth but another day train often off the schoolies mixed shunted the sidings to Nemingha as well.

    Its very sad to see the remnants of what was a very very busy twin location of West Tamworth and Tamworth-Nemingah. Most of those sidings still worked in the 80's when I was still there. Difference though with the era's was that the 65 period there were little diesel useage, even though affected by the drought.

  9. Hi Colin
    Thanks a lot for the extra prototype operation for my 1965 Tamworth. Researching the prototype is lots of fun that helps us to get it right on the layout, well sometimes. Your real life experiences are so valuable to us modellers. I really appreciate the help you provide us, as I build my NSW Main North empire.
    The building at the southern end of my Tamworth next to the entrance to Tamworth (shown in the 2nd photo above) will now be the Egg Board and we'll shunt egg wagons onto a Pick Up, I know James will, now we knows about the egg traffic.
    I hope your progress on re-establishing your "Essence" layout, is progressing as you'd like it to be. There is nothing like a "train fix" from running on your own layout or by looking at what you've just done. Good Luck. Regards Marcus