Above photo is my Gosford complete with the Overhead. Click on the photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Hawkesbury River Station

Hawkesbury River Station, Newcastle and Armidale Staging.

As said in a previous Blog entry, I needed to add Armidale Staging above Newcastle (1700mm above the floor). I wanted to add scenery around the Hawkesbury River Bridge area as the Bridge Spans are nearly complete. I had to add Armidale Staging (the upper level in the photo below), before doing the scenery.

While adding the shelf for Armidale Staging, during one of my Coffee Breaks, I read Ray Love’s article “The Last of the Hawkesbury River Bank Engines” in Diesel Scene 5. In 1965 these Bank Engines were the 46 Class Electrics. Checking my 46 Class book - Portrait of a Classic, operating the 46 the Maximum Loads listed the following:

From Gosford, southbound (Up) trains up to 1,100 tons trains were hauled by a single 46.
At Hawkesbury River, if the load exceeded 550 tons, a second 46 was added to the front for the "haul" up the 1 in 40 Cowan Bank.
The second 46 was detached at Cowan (my layout Sydney Staging) and light engined back to Hawkesbury River where it waited for it's next banking assignment.
From Hornsby to Gosford (Up trains), the maximum load for single 46, is 600 tons. The maximum load for both up and down passenger trains is 375 tons.

This above "banking" operation had to be included on my Main North, so I needed to add a Hawkesbury River Station to the layout.

Since replacing the Garage Door with a Wall, it was possible to move Newcastle further back towards the wall. This allowed enough space to install a very compressed Hawkesbury River Station and Causeway, in front and below Newcastle. My "River" consists of Up and Down lines and a Siding on the Up side at the Sydney end, for two 46s. No room for the Up and Down Refuge Loops and the Siding on the Causeway commonly called "Siberia", that existed in 1965.

With the Station/Causeway and the Bridge only 2 Metres apart, the layout's sea levels will have to be at the same height and meeting at the Fascia (see lower photo). The Bridge deck height is 35 feet above the water and the track has to go down to 13 feet elevation for the Station. This means a 40 mm rise/fall in 1.5 Metres. That's a grade of 1 in 35 made worse with the 28 inch curves onto the Bridge. There is a similar grade up to Sydney Staging (1,170 mm).

These 1 in 35 grades are in Tunnels so they won’t be noticed and all trains travelling in this Sydney – Gosford – Sydney section are hauled by the 46 Class Electrics, it won’t be an issue as the model is very heavy. Comparing the “weight over the wheels” that provides all models with their pulling effort, the 46s weigh 436 grams while a C36 (without a Tender), is 225 grams. Of course you have to have a Tender (82 grams including decoder and speaker), this 82g “weight” is equivalent to hauling another wagon.   

The “front” track of the Armidale Staging (5 Loops), will be a continuation of the Main North to Armidale 550 mm above Hawkesbury River Bridge, with a Return Loop (added at a later stage), providing the turning of the trains stored in Armidale Staging, ready for their next journey, south and obviously continuous running if necessary. The previous Return Loop at Tamworth will be removed.

The track separation for the 3 levels are from Hawkesbury River Station to Newcastle is 240 mm and Newcastle to Armidale Staging 340 mm, while not desirable, this arrangement provides the operation I want. Hawkesbury River Station being in front (lower) than Newcastle, makes the track with the adding of the Bankers, easy and looks better than if the Station was underneath the Newcastle. Building a layout is full of compromises.

The Hawkesbury River Hotel is paramount to the Hawkesbury River Station scene. Thankfully Bob Stack was able to "re-secure" his Pub and now it's the centrepiece of the scene. I have been very lucky to have been able to have "instant" town scenes with all the buildings from Bob and Keith.

Te track separation between Hawkesbury River Bridge and the track above (the single line to Murrurundi), is 170mm, While not desirable, there are many compromises to be made when building a layout. Placing this upper track further back and no scenery, will "hide" the track. Could have be hidden the track in a Tunnel.


  1. Hi Marcus, your Hawkesbury River Station area looks fantastic, it really does capture the feel of the area.


  2. Marcus,
    I second Darren's comment ... I spent a little time at Brooklyn and Hawkesbury River as a kid, fishing with my late grandfather (late 1970s and early 1980s). While I know your treatment of the scene and area is a work in progress, viewing this blog post and the images in it took me straight back there ... well done and thank you!

  3. Hi Darren and Anthony. Thanks for your comments. As with most layouts they're evolving, one scene at a time. My 6 year old Grandson visited and said I should have made the Long Island Tunnel better and you should not see the train "in" the Tunnel. I said next time you're here, you won't see the train in the Tunnel. Work on the layout never finishes. Regards Marcus

  4. Ballast - will I never thought that day would come..

    Well done.

  5. Wow Marcus! Your layout is already looking fantastic. I'd be happy enough just to have the scene at Hawkesbury River and the bridge operating as a continuous layout. I was lucky enough to spend some time in a put-put boat beneath the Hawkesbury River Bridge taking train photos back in the early 1990's, but the film jammed in my camera and all I was left with is the sound of the trains passing over the bridge. I can almost hear them now rolling across your layout.

  6. Hi Gary and Philip. Thanks for the compliments, yes Gary not long ago ballast was a long way off that's because everything has to be finalized and you know me, everything about the layout is temporary, well it was. The 3 Arch Bridges have been finished, just got install the track AND the overhead wiring so the 46s will operate over the bridge. Phillip I'll put you in a put put under bridge but instead of a camera, you'll have a fishing rod.

  7. Even though it is compressed, it looks great and I agree it captures the 'feel' very well. I especially like the scenery you've done on the causeway itself, it looks right to me.
    I'm also planning a Hawkesbury River layout although I haven't decided whether it will be compressed a little and mirrored, or full-size with the causeway & station at correct scale (needs about 8.4 metres IIRC).

  8. Hi Toby. Thanks for the comments. "8.4 metres" for the real thing in HO. No wonder I had to severely compress my scene to fit into the available 2.5 metres.