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

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Willow Tree

In the early days of the Main North, I had ear marked Willow Tree on the 30 feet of track from Ardglen to Werris Ck, with the intention of adding/removing Bankers of some of my trains. The banking didn’t happen due to the track being 1700mm off the floor so this section of track remained a single line into Werris Ck. Note: The garage floor is 300 mm lower than the Trainroom floor. 

To get better operation of trains at Tamworth and the Werris Ck Shunting Neck/Loading Bank, I extended the Trainroom floor down the aisleway, providing a much better operating height of 1400 mm, shown left with me operating at the new Willow Tree. 

To negotiate the Duck Under that's at 1700 mm, I installed a Step down to the floor, 2/3rds the way down the aisleway, making it easier for Operators to duck under the Duck Under.

With this improved operating height out in the aisleway, I decided to re-introduce Willow Tree and add more of what I love doing, operating “Rear End Bankers”, to some of my UP trains, even if it was just a short “bank” around the corner into Ardglen. It’s all about operation.


I replaced the Werris Ck’s Shunting Neck/Loading Bank with Willow Tree, adding a “scenic block” to divide Willow Tree from Werris Ck, at the doorway by adding a Hill, a road bridge and plenty of trees.

This available space was only 3 metres long, not ideal but compromises have to be made when building a layout, so it’ll do for my Willow Tree and the Bankers. The below photo from the Ardglen end shows my overall Willow Tree with my extras. Lots more detailing necessary.   

On the Down side of the Station, I added a Siding for the 60’ Turntable, Coal Stage and Sheep Pen with Ramp. The Middle track is the “through” road and the aisle side track is a Siding with a very compressed Good Shed, a Loading Ramp and a Wheat Shed.

Looking towards Ardglen shows the Station, the middle “Through” road and the Siding, with the severely compressed Goods Shed, Loading Bank/Crane and Wheat Shed into the available 50 mm, better than not having them. Adding a higher fascia helps with the "compression". The “old” Werris Ck Coal Mine in the distance. 

Instead of removing the Werris Ck Coal Mine, the folks at Willow Tree have a Mine that’ll be serviced by Coal trains to/from Gunnedah (N.W. Staging) and Werris Creek.

Willow Tree will have 4 Starting Semaphores (yet to build my new brass units from Ray Pilgrim), for the middle “through” road and rear “Platform” road & a Down Home Bracket Semaphore above the Duck Under that'll show “the road” for the Points into Willow Tree.

With just 3 feet to Werris Ck, the Werris Ck Down Home Bracket is located at the exit of Willow Tree just before the Road Bridge, on the track into Werris Ck and maybe a Willow Tree UP Home will be added in the Cutting on the Werris Ck side.

When adding Willow Tree, I added Peco Point motors to all of the Points and ballasted the track with Chuck's Ballast, so the scene is "complete". With no Control Panels installed for the Points, they are operated digitally with the Index finger, good thing with Peco Point motors.

With the 48s now in Werris Ck, the UP Wheat train is hauled by two 48s and made of 16 BWHs & Van, making it a 1,000 tons. This train was banked from the rear with a third 48 from Willow Tree up the 1 in 40 grade to Ardglen in 1967.  When the train arrives at Willow Tree a Second Operator, runs the Banker 48, see the below 5 minute video. 




  1. Great addition allowing more operation. You move fast.

  2. Looks great Marcus. You've obviously made good use of the time in lockdown.

    cheers Phil

  3. Love the video. Great operational scene of working banker. Scenery is realistic. Cheers Gary

  4. Hi Bob, Phil & Gary. Thanks for the compliments. Bob, nothing moves fast here anymore. Phil, I have not utilized my Lockdown very well but Willow Tree is on the layout but so much to do. Gary, Banking is so much fun. If you need a "banking fix" contact me. Regards