Monday, October 26, 2009

Test Spin

After fifteen months of on-again, off-again construction, the North-West railroad is an operating reality. I had Lance over to give the railroad a little "test run"--at least the upper level where trackwork is completed. I staged a number of trains, and while I didn't adhere to any sort of timetable operation, I did roughly try to approximate the sequencing of trains through Narrabri consistent with what was running in the late 1970s.

We operated a good assortment of trains, in sequential order:
  • Down-bound pick-up goods train which started the session by setting out at Narrabri and descending to the lower level for staging;
  • Narrabri shunter, which spotted and pulled wagons at Narrabri West and Narrabri's goods sidings, grain silos, and assembled the branch-line goods train for later departure (kept Lance busy most of the time);
  • Down-bound North-West Mail #7, setting out a parcel van at Narrabri (spotted at the Goods Siding by the shunter engine);
  • Up-bound Northern Tablelands Express #22 (with 620/720 set standing in for DEB set);
  • Extra-grain move off branch from Wee Waa, for the sub-terminal at Narrabri;
  • Grain train from Moree up-bound for port at Newcastle;
  • Grain train pulled from the sub-terminal at Narrabri, bound for the port at Newcastle;
  • Down-bound empty grain from Newcastle, bound for reloading at Narrabri sub-terminal;
  • Branchline goods train departing for Wee Waa;
  • Down-bound Northern Tablelands Express #21;
  • Up-bound North-West Mail #8, picking up parcel van at Narrabri;
  • Up-bound Moree-Werris Creek pick-up goods, picking up southbound traffic at Narrabri West.

That's a good number of trains to run in two or three hours. Trains operated between upper-level staging and a passing loop/trailing mainline on the lower level, and a stub-end single track as the branch to Wee Waa. Lance operated the shunting engine, and declared it a good job to operate. All of this was done quite informally, with no paperwork, etc. It was just a way to start to shake out the bugs on the railroad. . .and there were a few:

  • I had to rush to get the railroad set up to run, so I hadn't cleaned all the track as well as I should have;
  • A couple of points gave the two-axle wagons fits; I'll have to go back and re-check these on the standards gauge;
  • One of the 47 class was a bit touchy through some of the trackage, likely a tight-gauge problem on a wheel-set;
  • I'll need to make adjustments on a couple of the blue-tooth switch-point controllers, as they were a bit "loose" in fully throwing the points over.

On the whole, it wasn't a bad first session. It gave me an extra kick of motivation to get projects and items I'd been procrastinating on doing finished, and validated (to me at least) that this will be an interesting layout to operate. And that wasn't even with the additonal operating potential of the lower level (a pair of crossing loops, grain silos, goods sidings, etc.) figured into the equation.

I don't know when the first "official" running night will be--with paperwork and all that good stuff to guide the operators in their endeavours--but it shouldn't be too far down the road now.


Cassino said...


Great to see you moving along the path to full operation. It would be great to see some more detail photos of the layout so far complete.


Ray P said...


Nice to hear you have got it up and running.

Those 4 wheelers will certainly test out the trackwork, the challenge is to get them to roll through a point (switch) frog without any noticeable wheel drop.

How do I know? ;-)

Say hello to Lance for me.

Ray P

Geoff said...

Blair, great description of your running session. Makes it all the more real for us half a world away from your layout. Yep some photos would be great when you have a moment, Geoff.

Gary Laker said...

Congrats Blair on your first 'unofficial' session.
A couple of Dispatchers running a layout! Would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one! ;-)

Progress on 'the cave' is slow but I have poisoned the grass where it's going - I think that constitutes a start!?


Brad H. said...


Must be a great feeling getting the "first" operational session out of the way. It's something I am looking forward to myself over the next 12-18 months!


South Coast Rail said...

Hey mate,
Its winter over there, which equals inside modelling time.
No post for two months, are you still modelling?
Happy New Year

BEK said...

g'day, Bob,
shut down the modeling from Thanksgiving holiday (late November) til New Years. Today I was back at the work bench--modified a shinohara point set and built another one on the jig. Hoping to build another point tonight.

Still, rebuilt points are hardly exciting to read about on a blog!