Over the past couple of weeks I’ve spent some time in the house, along with 50% of the rest of the world’s population, doing some modelling. I completed the semaphore signals I’d been working on and moved onto making a brake van (caboose) to allow myself the feeling that I can occasionally work on a model of my own choosing, as opposed to working on models belonging to friends. I currently only have one van to use in service during operating sessions and as we plan to run more than one goods train per ops session a second brake van was a logical choice for the next build. It’s been an enjoyable break from pulling up and modifying the work I’ve done on the layout and working on a series of DCC installations and building the signals.
The brake van is almost ready for paint so it was time to start getting serious about the work I plan to do on the layout as a part of my isolation regime over the next weeks, months or for however long our politicians decide they much prefer us all inside not out causing trouble on the streets. Things are so much quieter when everyone is stuck inside and I bet the crime, road death and air quality stats are way down. It reminds me of that hospital in Yes Minister that had only one patient and got an award for the most efficient hospital in the country 🙂
Layout work can be translated into fixing issues that arose in the good old days when I could invite friends over to run trains and that to-do list is still quite long. However I’ve been planning some major adjustments to the track arrangements at Raworth, alongside the installation of the electrical cables, signals and the final move of the 60′ turntable and before all this can happen I need to take some measurements and nut out whether my grand schemes are actually going to fit. I’m happy to report that they do!
The main issue I want to address in the re-work of the Raworth yard is that I need to bite the bullet and install a goods loop taking it from a main line and a single passing loop. In the early planning stages for the layout this seemed like an adequate arrangement but as soon as I watched people running trains on the layout I realized that a through station needed a goods loop to make it workable. By “workable” I mean a train crew being able to shunt the yard at the same time as a train runs through on the main without work in the yard coming to a shuddering halt. Raworth lacked any provision for sidings for such basic facilities as a goods shed, stock race or a crane and with the turntable located in the yard, making room for these was near impossible. So I wasn’t trying to install some huge industry siding, just some basic yard infrastructure and places to place wagons.
As is always the case space is limited and I tend to work on the assumption that if I can cram in an extra siding then all the better, but as one end of Raworth’s yard is inside a storage cupboard, and this was further hemmed in by the turntable, and at the other end of the yard I’d been planning to run a NG line I was really narrowing my options. The first thing to go was the NG line. It didn’t work in a planning or operational sense, making the aisle space too cramped and the operation was always going to be a neglected half sibling, so NG will just have to take a back seat for a time while I do some thinking. The turntable that hemmed in the line is being shifted to the end of the coal branch in this re-arrangement so after these changes were settled on in my mind I had a semi-clean slate to work on. But I still wanted to draw up a plan and I still wanted to see if I couldn’t fit in a bigger industry such as a dairy or a mill to justify more intensive loadings coming and going from Raworth. Then a thought struck me: why not extend a line into the cupboard and build a mill or dairy (or both) in there? There’s plenty of shelf space in there and the line runs through it on the end of one of the shelves already so adding a turnout or two and reserving one shelf for a layout extension wasn’t a difficult decision to make. As long as I could get a 1.2m curve into the confined space??
I’ve put a lot of thought into what changes I was going to make to Raworth and I was really determined to finalize these on my plan before I started pulling track up and making new track and turnouts. I’d hankered for a space for a larger industry in Raworth for a long time and not being able to get it to fit at the other end of the yard was what led me to try cramming in the NG line. Well if you just open your eyes you sometimes find a solution in the most unlikely places.
This change should allow a crew to potter about shunting Raworth yard and associated sidings with a minimum of disruption when a through train appears around the bend. I want my crews to have challenges but I’d also like them to be able to work their trains and shunt the industries at the same time as trains are passing through the yards.
On a separate matter I was interested to hear about the temporary closure of Peco and Dapol in the UK and KD in the US, and I’m sure the same is happening to many other large and small railway hobby businesses due to the pandemic. I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before a lot of the supplies and materials we rely on to carry on our hobby will be in pretty short supply and images of people fighting over toilet rolls came to mind. How long will it be before we see similar scenes in our hobby shops?