Final Track Plan V1.5A

I’d planned to spend some time in the layout room this morning working on the preliminaries to installing the new turnout motors under the storage sidings. However this plan took a side line after about an hour because as I worked I kept mentally adding items to a list of parts I need for the next stage of work and this kept getting longer and longer. It reached a stage where I felt I needed to jump online and place some orders so I abandoned work on the layout and trooped downstairs to the computer. Of course once I’m sitting in front of the computer I seem to get stuck and I started pulling up other files and made a phone call to my DCC guru trying to nut out a plan for how I was going use an NCE Mini-panel to allow route control on the storage sidings. I’m also in the middle of writing an article for a magazine I’ve never written for before and when I started tinkering with this I called up a track plan of the layout only to realize this was woefully out of date. So I spent the balance of the morning and some time this afternoon getting the plan up to date.

As this most recent plan drawing is an accurate reflection of what actually exists on the layout, as opposed to some vague scrawls I did a couple of years ago before I started laying track, I thought it might be worth sharing it here. I’ve placed a couple of labels at points where changes are taking place, or are about to take place, to help guide your attention to the section of the layout I’m talking about.

This is accurate as of the 15.07.2019. Don’t commit it to memory as it’s still likely to change. However at least it reflects what actually exists: I was shocked by how out of date V1.4 was.

A – I’d had this siding on the previous plan however it had been accessed by it’s own dedicated turnout. I removed that turnout to allow space for the loop to be lengthened in the QW yard. The siding is now accessed via the existing Morpeth dairy siding. I haven’t settled finally on what industry this siding is going to serve, however I like the idea of a flour mill as this would allow me to run a limited number of wheat wagons on the layout. There was a mill in Morpeth some years prior to the line closing but it wasn’t rail served so if I imagineer this into a situation where the mill was a success and needed to move to a bigger building a little down the line at Queens Wharf then I feel I can justify this being designated a mill. The alternative would be to make it a siding for the brick works that shipped out of Queens Wharf at one time but I feel this needs more space than I have available and possibly a couple of lines on its own dedicated siding.

B – I’ve moved the 60′ turntable from Raworth and this will be shifted up to the end of the coal branch which is where it should have been in the first place. Not having this turntable at Raworth has allowed me to fit a siding for an industry into this yard. Just like the siding at Queens Wharf I’m not sure what industry it’s going to serve yet but another dairy is appealing. I feel having a second dairy siding on the line is not only justified by the industry that existed at Morpeth at the time but it would also allow me to justify the existence of a dedicated milk/perishables train that would do a down pick up run to Morpeth where the loaded wagons would be shunted onto the pier and on the up run the empties would be picked up and hauled back to East Maitland (off the layout in storage). This would be in addition to the daily pick up goods which, from experience running the operating session a few weeks ago, has more than enough to keep it busy from the sidings that already exist on the line. And remember I’m adding sidings that weren’t on the layout when that operating session was held. I feel that separating the dairy wagons onto a separate train could be justified if there were two separate dairies on the line thus providing sufficient traffic for a dedicated milk train.

C – With the turntable gone from Raworth this opens the yard up, with the installation of a new set of turnouts and a goods loop, to some standard industries at this location. It will probably only consist of a small goods shed and a stock race but this is exactly the type of infrastructure that would have existed at this type of station and it gives the crew of the daily pick up goods another yard to shunt. Just what they need the lazy beggars! 🙂

D – This is the location that kicked off the majority of these track plan changes in a sort of cascade of dominoes, if that isn’t mixing my metaphors. By lengthening the passing loop at QW I’ve found myself spending most of my modelling time over the past few weeks pulling out work that I thought I’d completed last year. I’m happy with the way this has turned out because once these changes have been made I’ll be living with them for quite a while.

E – This is the location where I’m currently working in the layout room. While the storage lines have always been designated at this spot on the earlier versions of the plan, this version is actually what exists there now, not a vague representation of what I might one day build which is the situation with all my previous plans of Morpeth Mk5. As I’ve written here recently the most significant changes at this location are turning the turntable round 180 degrees to lengthen the yards and the addition of a 7th siding which is the dead end siding on the aisle side. This is a dead end simply because I can’t see how I can bend it at the end to get it to enter the turntable while maintaining my minimum radius curve but I may be able to squeeze something in, who knows? A dead end siding isn’t ideal but it’s better than not having it and I can possibly park locos on this or even the CPH rail-motor which doesn’t need to be turned. I certainly don’t want a siding with access to the turntable being tied up by the CPH.

I Wish I Had Shares In Circuitron

After spending quite a bit of time wiring up the layout and laying new track in preparation for the operation day I held at my home a month ago, I’ve spent the past few weeks pulling wiring out and hauling up some of the track I laid last year on another part of the layout. The most recent changes to the Morpeth Line are really a mix of things I knew needed to happen combined with some lessons learned on that day; I knew I needed to replace the Peco solenoid switch motors with Tortoise stall motors and I was also aware that I needed to address the yard in Raworth. However I’d had no thoughts regarding the length of my storage yard lines (being too short of course, are they ever too long?) and the ability to tell at a glance which way the turnout in the storage cupboard is set without having to open the door and look in there.

And don’t get me started on couplers! 🙂 After the operating session I spent most of two weeks converting every piece of my rolling stock to Protocraft couplers, in the process taking all the older style couplers that had been installed on my models over the years, including stock that never had knuckle couplers installed on the prototype. I’ll probably be arrested by the hobby police but I was sick of seeing my stock (especially the scratch built items) with three link and older style couplers sit in the yard unused because it was just too difficult to hook them up to a train. My two scratch built ICVs got a run around the layout for the first time last week. Yes the first time, and all because they had couplers that were incompatible with everything else rather than what was applied to those wagons on the prototype 70 years ago.

After waiting for packages to arrive in the mail from the US and a trip to Sydney to buy supplies I started in on the really big job: removing all the solenoid switch motors from the storage yard and changing these over to Tortoise machines.

There are 9 turnouts in the storage yard and I made the decision to change the way they were thrown from solenoids to Tortoise machines about 15 minutes after I completed the control panel for the solenoid motors last year. In this photo you can see them ready to be installed. All of them have been pre-wired to a screw terminal block and mounted on a small rectangle of 7mm (1/4″) ply, all of which have four pre-drilled and counter sunk holes in them to accept the wood screws I’ll use to mount the machines under the layout. This makes them a doddle to install and wire up and is well worth the effort. Once I prepare the turnouts by removing their over centre springs I’ll get all of these installed most probably in about 2 hours. Wiring them will take a little longer but it means no soldering under the layout.

Probably the two biggest decisions I’ve made in the past moth concern the arrangement of the yard at Raworth and the orientation of the turntable at the end of the storage lines.

I originally had decided to set up the turntable at the end of the storage yard with about 600mm (2′) of space beyond the table where spare locos could be stored. Pretty standard hey? The problem with this arrangement for me was that 1) I really don’t like locomotives on show in storage and 2) after running the longest train I could fit into the loop at QW around the layout back to storage I discovered that only 3 of the six lines could accommodate this admittedly modest length train. Something had to give.

I’ve included this shot to demonstrate the amount of space that was being eaten up by this completely unnecessary storage fan (well it would have been a storage fan if I’d ever got around to installing the track). This 600mm of length will be much better utilized added to the length of all 6 of my storage lines. Make that 7 as I’ve decided I can squeeze in a 7th line along the edge nearest the camera, although this probably won’t be able to be hooked up to the turntable so will be a simple dead end siding.

After the operating session a month ago I decided that storage space of excess (and as yet unbuilt) locos came a very poor second to storing my (as yet unbuilt) trains. So today I un-hooked the wiring and bolts holding the table that houses the turntable and dragged this around 180 degrees to place this unused space on the train side of the turntable, where it should have been in the first place.

As the turntable was located in the exact centre of the free standing table I’d built to house it, turning the whole affair around was a simple matter. A couple of temporary legs, disconnect a few wires and loosen two bolts and then spin. Easy Peasy! I plan to hook everything back up and actually run the tracks to the turn table as I work my way down and re-wire the entire storage yard.

As yet none of the re-wiring and track laying has started: all I’ve managed to do is undo all the work I did last year. Oh and the trains aren’t running again as I seem to have disconnected something vital in pulling all the wiring away from the Peco motors. But that will be addressed in the next couple of weeks.

Stay tuned. I haven’t even started on Raworth yet 🙂