Thursday, May 31, 2012

Early Australian National photographs

Hi All

Doug as sent me a link for some Australian National era shots, there is some TAR shots.  Some great aerial shots of Islington Freight Centre, even Cook.
Alice Springs, Port Augusta, with narrow gauge still in the workshop area, Eyre Peninsular.
Early to mid AN green and gold era.



Monday, May 28, 2012

GWU C44aci detail shots from Glen

Hi All  Here is some detail shots of GWA's new GWU C44aci's

Looks like an Austrains NR class would be a good start.  Will look a home on Alice Springs.



AQQY GWI's new fuel tenders

Hi All
Here are some shots of GWI's new fuel tenders, many thanks to Glen for the shots.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Design lessons from Alice Springs

Hi All

Its been a while between posts, and lets just say I have been busy on the layout and work. (roll eyes now).

However, I would like to share a few of the more obvious learnings in my building of "A town like Alice".
You would think that I would have learnt over time, but some times its reality that kicks us into gear.  I have watched layouts such as David Barrows Cat Mountain develop over time.  In one of his interim versions he had 18 inch squeeze points at the ends of pennisulars, only for his redesigns to have more generous aisles and less or no pinch points.

I have to confess that I too fell into this trap.
Post construction of the Alice Springs industrial area, all looked good until I added the main yard boards.  I though that 2ft was more than enough for one person access, after walking up and down that section I quickly learned why alot of operators go for 30 inch minimum aisles.  That's because of the human swinging room requirements.  There is nothing worse than having your arms skim the sides of the layout, just as you are walking up and down the industrial area.

So lesson one, don't be stingy with your people space.  Allocate the space and don't compromise on it.

It gets worse, I also tried to get all I could into the Train room, thus created a layout that was hard to construct.  The design as it stood had a number of different complicated boards.  The slight S shaped board at the west end of Alice Springs took three times as long to construct because of its awkward shape.  So the lesson here is the more complicated you make the construction the longer it will take to actually build, and not just twice but three times as long.

For this reason I have modified the rest of the layout and the next four boards are of a much simpler construction.  I have made them double sided, on one side is Bow Creek, with a 5ft bridge the other side is the fiddle yard with Mereenie oil sidings.
This way I have given the operators the best of both worlds, lost of space to move around, room for cup holders etc.  If might not be a great design as before, but I think more functional.
Lesson two, Keep it simple and things will happen quicker.

Not all layouts are designed to go to exhibitions, but there are little things that I have come up with to tweak the process, ie make it easier.
Alice Springs has thirteen boards and of these only two are different heights, thus this layout should be easier to assemble at an exhibition.
Taking a tip from the military and the aviation industry, all the bolts to protect the ends in transit are the same size and reach.  I have decided to use colours for designating how things fit together.  I seems that we are more visual than we think, and this will just make the assembly and disassembly process alot smoother.
I also found that we always take too much tools and spare equipment, to make it worse, each operator would take there own tool box, and then the tools would end up being mixed between each other etc.  So I have decided to build a proper "fly away" kit.  This will have all that we will ever need, and only use this equipment for exhibitions.
Thus there should be more room for real equipment, and under the layout won't be such a "site".  If Bands can do it, then we should be able to do the same.

Lesson three, standardise, will make lesson two work.

Finally, an Alice Springs status update:
Twelve boards have been built, one to go.  All legs have been built.  Four wiring looms have been built, the biggest first.  Five to go.
Five boards remain for inserting the foam, the rest are done.
All trackage in Alice Springs yard has been marked out, and dropper locations identified.

Roger is coming by this weekend, so I intend to be laying track in the yard by Sunday arvo.

For what ever reason during times of stress, I find that my brain goes into high gear and won't turn off.  As such I have already designed the next three layouts, using this concept. (roll eyes again).



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Port Augusta Station a AN 1990's modelling proposition.

Hi All

Below is one of my early layout proposals.  Again designed in my early 20s, was flawed by both length and way too much to accomplish. Still, it was the second "serious" layout, that made it into the construction phase.  The concept was for an exhibition layout that was not straight and 'boring", yet ticked off all my "then" requirements.  These requirements mainly centred around being able to operate both Alcos and the more modern locomotives.  However almost all the boards were actually built.  The locomotive workshops and leads are currently in the shed.  Doug has the four main scenery boards under his house.  The fiddle yard mophed into the first version of Barcoola's fiddle yard. and currently resides with the rest of the Club equipment in Leon's loft.
The complicated triangle board, was scrapped.
The mainline track was scratch built.  At the time of construction the only concrete track available was PECO 100, but the correct pandrol clips were available in there individualay range.  Yes, I built the platform road with 4 timber sleepers for every one concrete sleeper.
The other nail in the coffin is all the other points on the layout were early shinohara, really bad conductivity  on the blades.

 Above is the initial proposed track plan.  Designed to fit in the then club rooms.
Port Augusta station platform looking east, to the left are the back roads and Motorail loading ramp.  This is now replaced by narrow gauge track and a train shed for Pichi Rich Railway.
305 Port Pirie to Port Augusta fuel train ambles through Port Augusta Station with GM2 on the lead in 1989, I mined the enbankment to the left for soil for the layout.  In the backgound is one of the reasons this layout was not finished, Port Augusta Station building just too much work to built it.
859 shunts the triangle fuel sidings, to the right is the end of the platform.
CL DL and GM under the sanding towers at Port Augusta.
DL BL DL at the fuel point, the expansive wagon and coach works are behind the locomotives.
Looking east out of Port Augusta, a Narrow Gauge turntable is now situated between the mainline the back fences.

Highway One overpass looking east with lake Knockout in the distance.
The Locomotive workshops,  I built the front and one side of this building.
AN retail, is to the right, with the ever modest "tiny" AN symbol on the side of the building.

In the end is was just too much work for not much return, lots of buildings without much operation.  However was a learning experience, plus my carpentry skills have improved much since then.

If I happen to retire with a 12mtr by 12mtr room for building a layout, I might again contemplate Port Augusta, as a layout.  but I have at least three other layouts in the pipe line after Alice Springs and Port Augusta isn't one of them.

Alice Springs update.
The "Gap" board has been positioned and mapped out, the east end of the yard has been mapped out and the position of the turntable has been finalised.
All the additional legs have been cut up in kit form and I have started construction of the new legs, for the rest of the layout.
Probably by the end of the week I will be just waiting on the track!