Muswellbrook V3.6

A slight revision of the previous plan was called for after I spent some time in the train room today taking measurements and thinking about possibilities.

While I didn’t do any modelling today I did spend some time thinking about my layout plan and decided to take a trip upstairs, check some measurements and test out an idea I’d had. All the changes in this plan are at the top of the page which is a spot in the room adjacent to a large, sliding glass door that sits high above the driveway I’ve recently had laid. This door will eventually have a vertical blind installed in front of it to allow me to control some of the light coming into the room, however it sits within a two-step recess within the wall. My original plan didn’t include the first of these steps s useable floor space because I wasn’t sure what would eventually happen at this spot. After the wall board went up it turns out there’s a convenient, shallow recess available for the layout to utilize.

The plan I posted yesterday had one major absence as far as I was concerned and that was the dual rail bridges that span the New England Hwy at the northern end of Muswellbrook rail yard. Both the Merriwa branch and the main line cross the highway at this point on twin adjacent bridges. While being able to reproduce the exact track plan for Muswellbrook would be nice, for me the most important aspect of getting the feel of a place into a layout is to reproduce the signature scenic elements of the location you’re modelling. In Muswellbrook these are the distinctive Art Deco Oak Dairy, the turntable/ roundhouse and the rail bridges that cross the road. The station building is a standard NSWR design that has had a rather large, ugly brick addition added at some point in its life and so for me getting this exactly right is less important. V3.5 of the plan had the Oak dairy in a spot that should have been reserved for the bridges but if it’s a choice between a purely scenic feature like a bridge and one that produces rail traffic I’ll chose to model the rail-side industry. It takes very little to prompt me to include a bridge on a layout but for me rail traffic trumps scenery every time. Another problem was that I had the dairy sitting on the branch rather than the main which is different to the prototype. However from a traffic perspective this was a minor matter. The fact that I’ve had to make the turnout to the dairy a facing point rather than a trailing one is going to make the siding a pain to shunt but I don’t want to let my operators off too lightly 🙂

What I’ve done with this plan is to add the shallow alcove next to the sliding glass door which is a space approximately 200mm deep and 2 1/2 meters long. Bulging the branch into this space has opened up a gap between the branch and main lines allowing me to cram in the dairy building and thus freeing up the curve out of Muswellbrook yard for the bridges. In carrying out these changes and checking measurements I discovered a mistake in the dimensions of the room in the previous plans that I’ve now fixed. I’d had the room as slightly longer and narrower than it actually is. This was less than 200mm but from past experience I’ve discovered that a dimensional inaccuracy as small as 50mm can cause major headaches if you’re trying to take advantage of every square centimeter.

I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this photo before but it gives you a good sense of what I want to build at the northern end of the yard. The main crosses the New England Hwy on the further of these two bridges with the old Merriwa line closer to the camera. Both are still in operation but the Merriwa line is truncated and used to access a coal mine near Muswellbrook. How could I resist modelling something as gloriously brutal as these bridges?



5 thoughts on “Muswellbrook V3.6

  1. Trevor, it is looking very good. A few thoughts.

    Is there an opportunity to use the area on the plan where you have the text box with plan info? If so, you could ‘drag’ the Merriwa station & yard area a metre or so further towards the bottom of the plan (stairs), maybe leaving the silo where it is. this would extend the run of the branch a little. Or is this area where your modelling bench is going?

    Could you swap the M’brook engine shed with the colliery? Just thinking that those shed roads will be very close to the path taken by visitors when entering. With the roundhouse in the corner and the shed roads facing the door, you might get a great view along each road and into the shed when reaching the top of the stairs (and the locos would be out of the way).

    Can Muswellbrook yard loops be lengthened at all? Train lengths might be restricted (looks about 2m and less at the moment excluding platform road). It would be great to use the station / yard for passing (longer) trains in either direction – a real change from Morpeth etc.

    Are you planning any scenic barriers? When sitting / operating at Muswellbrook, will Merriwa station, loco etc be visible?

    What access width do you envisage between Merriwa shell depot and Oak factory? 500mm isn’t much!

    Where will the operators panel be?


    • John,
      The text box is a very solidly built and quite useful storage cupboard. I did think about having it removed but it’s more valuable as is than as space for more layout. The layout is already too big as is and I’ve managed to fit almost everthing I wanted into the available space
      As for putting the round house in the corner of the room, I certainly considered this but the decision to do it as per the plan was basically one of practical access. This turntable is big and I need to be able to get at it. In it’s location on the plan it’s accessible on three sides. I can’t see myself crawling under the layout when I’m 75 trying to reach locos that are caught at the apex of the far corner inside an engine shed. If I can’t get at the colliery I’ll just stop running trains there.
      I’d love to make the yard a little longer and if it were feasible I would stretch things a bit but I would rather avoid the scenario where trains exit north to almost immediately run into storage. There’s only 2 1/2 meters separation now. The loop next to the main is 2 1/2 meters long which I can live with, it simply means slightly shorter trains so I have to build fewer kits 🙂
      The entire layout will have backboards screening the walls and the rear of the scenes at the end of the branch. Where I can fit them in at this height they will be the standard height of all my other layouts, about 350mm above rail height. In spots where the roof line impinges into the scene the height of the backdrop is yet to be determined.
      The distance between the end of the branch and the lines on the other side of the aisle is approximately 700mm which is about 50mm less than an average domestic doorway. It will be the easiest thing in the world to knock off 100mm from the end of the branch and add this to the aisle if I feel it’s needed.
      There may be a control panel in front of Muswellbrook yard but this will depend on whether my operators and I prefer this or prefer using the DCC hand controllers. All the points on Morpeth can be operated from the throttles and I’m currently deciding whether I’m going to bother with a panel on this layout. If I do decide to build any more panels than the one at Muswellbrook they will be in front of Merriwa yard and in front of the storage lines. The one for Mrerriwa will probably need to be attached to the lower storage roads too so as not to obstruct access. All individual “isolated points”, the diverging branch point, the dairy and those at the end of the brancn in loco and the flour mill siding will be operated from the throttles. I don’t intend to have a “dispatcher” sitting in an isolated part of the room. I want the branch to be worked as it would have been on the prototype, by the crew as the sidings were worked.
      Hope this answers your questions.

  2. Hi Trevor is there space at the top of the layout to swap the main line and branch and use the Dairy as the scenic break with the main line disappearing to the staging yard behind the building and the branch line passing to the front. May make the scenic’s treatment to hide the entry to the staging a little easier.
    Ps Liking the look of the new train room.

    • Chris,
      Thanks for the feedback. There’s a very specific reason the branch runs in front of the main and it’s not just that the prototype is arranged this way. It’s mostly to do with the fact that the storage is not intended to be be truly “under” the branch. It is intended that it will run below (and partially under) Merriwa but I want the majority of storage road track out and on view so that it’s easy to reach. I can live with a slightly more difficult transition to the storage but if I put the main behind the branch it would need to pass under it quite a bit closer to the diverging point, thus making the branch even steeper.

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