I’m like a lot of railway modellers: I can rarely resist the temptation to fill a piece of empty layout real estate with another siding if the opportunity presents itself. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks gradually working on laying the track through the last empty part of my layout in the section called Raworth. Raworth is a real place on the Morpeth line but it was restricted to a single line with a through station on a gentle curve. The brick faced platform had a small wooden waiting shed and that was it in terms of line-side facilities. However in the deep, distant past Raworth sported a small balloon loop long enough to hold approximately seven S wagons (short, 4 wheel open wagons) that were used to ship bricks out of a brick works that used to exist at this spot. The brick kilns in this works were fired using coal that was dug up from a deposit on site (well that’s my surmise). This small coal deposit was rich enough and close enough to the surface that at certain times in the line’s history limited amounts of coal were shipped out from the same loop and exported via the wharf that once stood about 2km away at, you guessed it, Queens Wharf.
In my extended version of history this coal deposit was more extensive and economic than the real deposit and as such a coal loader was built at the end of a short coal branch which headed back south from the now extended Raworth passing loop. Non air coal wagons would be hauled up to the loader by an South Maitland Railways 10 class tank locomotive which was leased from this private coal railway. This coal branch is above the bank that runs to the south of the line and as such requires quite a stiff 3% grade to reach it.
Anyway, I had all the the elements in place to start laying track through Raworth, connect the circle of track around the room so I would have a continuous run and then make a start on laying track on the coal branch that would curve back around the same real estate as the main line and rise something like 14cm to cross the throat of the storage sidings and then run along the back of these sidings on a narrow 220mm wide shelf where I’d eventually build the Raworth coal loader.
Then I ran out of code 125 rail!
While I waited for more rail to arrive I looked around for something to productively fill the interregnum and decided that I could make a start on the coal branch. I was going to use code 100 rail on the track on the coal branch and I had a good supply of this on hand. So after I used up the last of my code 125 on laying the last of the main line through Raworth I stopped to take a look at where the track exits Raworth yard and decided that I might just be able to squeeze in a #6 point and use the resultant siding as a line into a brickworks scene or perhaps as a engine siding for the 10 class tank between its trips up and down the line. Which is the explanation for why the video of me making a code 100 point appeared yesterday.
This morning I got up, took the point out to the layout room and sat down to actually calculate the grade and the risers needed to get it to the height needed to provide sufficient clearance so it could cross above the throat of the storage sidings. The point lasted in that location till approximately lunchtime. I knew I could get the track to rise to the height I needed and I was pretty sure I could get a train up that grade, but it turned out that the needed grade was a smidge over 3% and the spot where the grade really kicked in needed to be plain track at the start of the hill. Guess where there point was going to be sitting…
Placing a point at this location was only an experiment so nothing is lost. The point will be used on the run around loop at the end of the coal branch. I had intended to commence the grade just after the point but that required pushing the grade across another joist to give it some support and stop it transferring this grade into the section of benchwork where the point was sitting and this then telegraphed itself into an even stiffer grade. The end point and the starting point for the grade are fixed elevations so every centimeter I nibbled from the length of the line would result in a steeper grade and this was going to be on a tight curve as well. Getting the point out of the equation put approximately 800mm of clear, single line track back in the run and removed something like a 2mm rise from every 500mm or run. That might not sound like much but it took the grade down from about 3.5% to about 3.1%. Did I get the roadbed’s height where I needed it to be at the end of the line? I’ll let the photo do the talking…