Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gunnedah and Beyond - The Track Plan

It's been too long since I last updated this blog, but I haven't been completely idle.

All going to plan (when does that happen?) there's a good possibility that soon I may have a 7.2m x 7.2m shed to house a layout. It will have to share space with at least one of my cars, but that shouldn't bee too much of a problem.

I've come up with something that is probably a little bit ambitious, but by the same token I'm a big believer in taking a big bite and chewing like heck.

The plan shown here would be the top level of a two level layout, with the top level featuring Gunnedah yard. The benchwork looks to be around 750mm wide, and mainline curves will genrally be around 750mm radius as a minimum.

Along the left hand side a single line approaches Gunnedah, with two oil sidings on the outskirts, BP and Vacuum. These sidings would be serviced by either up or down trains, with some tankers being taken out from Gunnedah yard. I haven't decided exactly what will be located leading up to the oil sidings yet, as there are a few things to work out, more on that further down.

Trains will then take a 90 degree curve run into Gunnedah yard. Wheat trains will drop hoppers off to be shunted into the wheat siding, there are two mills which will need hoppers shunted in and out of, there is a goods shed, two oil sidings and two loco storage roads off the end of the wheat siding. So there is considerable opportunity for operation within Gunnedah yard itself.

Leaving Gunnedah yard the track once again curves through 180 degrees to the right where the stock yard is located. Stock trains made a big portion of rail traffic through Gunnedah.

Leaving the stock yards the track curves back through 180 degrees and heads back to the right, where the sidings for the Section Silo and Amoco oil siding branch off. The Section Silo is one of those big roughly circular silos made up of multiple circular bins.

The single main line then curves back to the right and past the silo, where another oil siding is located, Ampol this time. The multiple oil sidings will also allow for a good deal of operation.

Heading past the Ampol siding the track again curved to the right and runs along to where the meatworks siding is. Once again this will allow more operational work.

From there the track splits into two lines, with the inside track simply forming a return loop which will allow trains to head back towards Gunnedah.

The outer track will run down a grade around the outside and enter a tunnel which will take it into the helix that will take trains down to the lower deck.

I haven't drawn the lower deck in any real detail yet, but basically under the meatworks and section silo will be a very rough representation of Hornsby, which will in fact be more of a staging yard with a turntable. It may seem weird going from the outskirts of Gunnedah then into Hornsby but there is a method in my madness which I will explain later.

Underneath the extension between the section silo and the stock yards will be a brief representation of Cowan Bank that will actually feature a decent grade.

Curving back around underneath where the western end of Gunnedah yard is will be Hawkesbury River station, with the goods sidings located underneath Gunnedah yard.

Coming back around underneath where the Vacuum and BP sidings are will be a basic representation of Gosford, mainly to allow for more staging track and another turntable.

I'm not completely sure how I am going to get from the lower deck back up to the upper deck at this part of the layout. I can't fit a helix as it will block the entrance to the garage for the car. Although I have tossed up the idea of building a portable helix, maybe using castor wheels or something so it can be wheeled into place! That will need some more thought.

The reason for the lower deck representing Hornsby to Gosford is it will allow me to run electric power, so 46's will have somewhere to run, I can run a Newcastle Flyer HUB set behind a 38, and it also allows for trains leaving the outskirts of Gunnedah to enter Hornsby yard, have the brake van re-marshalled to the other end and then run back up the helix and back through Gunnedah dropping off or picking up wagons from the various sidings.

So the lower deck kind of works as both a Short North section, and twin staging yards. The main trains that would use this would be coal trains which I can run empty out through Gunnedah, past the outer reaches of the top deck and down the helix, and full trains can run in the opposite direction, coming from the "Hornsby" yard and up the helix and then back through Gunnedah. Empty trains would continue down the Cowan Bank and around to Gosford where they would then make their way back up to the top deck. This way empties and fulls look right going through Gunnedah and simply run in opposite directions.

Of course this is all still speculation and armchairing, but in principal it fulfills what I want to cover and should allow for some interesting operation.


BEK said...

this is a fascinating plan you've drawn so far. Checking it against the Gunnedah track maps I've seen it really captures the feeling of the operation. Will you be able to fit all those crossovers in central Gunnedah within 7 metres?

A question and an observation: Is the return loop included just so you can have continuious running or what is the rationale? I'm assuming looking at the track plan that the "up" end is to the left of Gunnedah (per the prototype)?. In looking at the prototype track arrangements, it seems like your reverse loop is in the *exact location* of the Gunnedah coal loader--is this a happy accident or on purpose? I don't know the era of the coal loader, however--it may be before your modeled period--but if you wanted to use the reverse loop for coal loading, you've already had that in place. . .the only issue might be if the helix descends towards Sydney. . but if the helix is towards Narrabri, then you're in good shape to take advantage of that.

Do you need a second helix, other than to run continuously? If you stacked staging yards atop each other on the left side of the plan, I think you'd have a good point-to-point operation, if you have enough equipment to either use a train one time per operating session or have a designated "mole" person who would re-stage trains between staging levels to keep a good supply of trains ready to run.

Darren said...

Hi Bek.

When I drew up a rough plan initially it didn't have the return loop in place. However once I was drawing this plan up I thought it might be a while before I would have both levels running, s a return loop would make operation a lot easier.

But like yourself, when thinking about it and looking at the track plan, I too realised that it would be in about the right location for the coal loader. But I'm still a a little suspect about making it that location due to the full vs empty coal hopper scenario that I find annoying.

The helix does in theory head towards Narrabri which is why I thought about running coal trains down there, representing them heading off towards the coal loader. So although the lower level staging would be "Hornsby" to an extent, it's also just somewhere to send the train "Beyond Gunnedah".

If I build the second helix, the empty train would then keep going down the Cowan Bank, through Hawksberry River, through Gosford and then up the helix at the Werris Creek end of Gunnedah ready to make another empty trip.

Conversely a full train would start from "Hornsby" / "Beyond Gunnedah"and run up the helix back towards Gunnedah, through Gunnedah towards Werris Creek and then go down the helix to "Gosford".

So effectively I can have a loaded and empty train which both only need to go in one direction and be loaded or unloaded going in the correct direction through Gunnedah.

In effect the coal trains on the bottom level are merely traveling through there as a means to an end to allow them to look right on the top deck.

Having said that there is nothing wrong with using the loop as a coal loader site if the bottom level takes a while to build.

In any case thanks for the feedback and ideas, it's always good to throw thoughts about and see what comes from it.


Darren said...

I forgot to add ...........

With some careful selective compression the Gunndeah yard should fit within the allocated space.

The track plan shown is a copy of a "likeness" of the yard, not a scale drawing, so some sidings will not be exactly the same.

The main S041 Silo siding will be just long enough to get eight BWH's either side of the silo. That will be the main priority as any other trains dropping tankers, open wagons or louvre vans will only need room for one or two wagons in the various sidings.

I think until I start to lay track on the base boards with points and all it would be hard to draw exactly right.