Wednesday 19 April 2023

Thinking out loud

Four months. I lasted four months before I started planning the next railway. 

I know that when I get back to Australia we will likely have space for a model railway, but not necessarily the space for a model railway room, so I've been sketching ideas for a layout that can satisfy my desire to run trains and also be incorporated into a larger layout in future. 

The lessons from previous layouts that I've incorporated into this design are:

  • reliability of track is paramount for slow-speed running and enjoyment of shunting
  • no magnet uncouplers on curves
  • train consists can serve more than three industries
  • includes a run-around
  • limited passenger train operations
  • Sydney metropolitan theme
  • the layout needs to be able to be incorporated into a bigger layout in future

Here then is the plan:

The grey circles on the track plan are Rapido Railcrew Uncouplers. Top left industry is an abattoir with cattle wagons disappearing to the receiving yards out of sight behind some trees/shrubbery, and refrigerator wagons in front. On the top right is a feed mill which receives a few wheat wagons at a time. On the lower right-hand side are a steel delivery shed and sidings, inspired by those at Leightonfield. 

The idea behind the double-slip in the middle is that empty refrigerated wagons would be deposited on the headshunt at the lower left-hand side of the plan (where the 48 is currently sitting) by one of the trip trains, with the wagons brought over to be loaded once a rake of cattle wagons has been delivered. I wanted some space between the two main industries at either end of the layout so that while you're focussing on shunting one side of the layout you forget the other side; the space between helps the layout 'breathe' and all of the action isn't crammed in on top of itself.

The theme/influence for this layout is the area around the homebush saleyards in my chosen era - the very late 1970s. Although the abattoir, saleyards, and the feed mill were quite far apart according to the track diagram of the prototype, it's not unbelievable to have them all centrally located with the right amount of scenic spacing. 

I've chosen these industries to use the maximum variety of rollingstock I own - namely refrigerator vans and RACE containers, cattle wagons, wheat wagons, open wagons, louvre vans and some steel wagons I've developed an interest in. I would have liked to have incorporated cement somewhere in the layout but that will have to be on the next module. I do enjoy running rakes of coal trains and larger mixed consists (and the Indian Pacific and Southern Aurora) as well, but that will need also to be a future consideration.

Long term, I want a shelf layout that goes around the walls of a modestly-sized spare room, with a peninsula terminus in the middle. This layout will serve as a terminus on a peninsula jutting into the centre of the room in future. To future-proof the design above I've reviewed the space I've had available for my layout in all of the houses we've lived in over the last ten years. The average spare room  has consistently been around 3m x 3m, so this design will fit in the middle and still leave 50cm of aisle space (albeit with a narrow shelf where the future layout passes perpendicular to the end of this layout) and the ability to join the main line of the future layout with a minimum 24" radius curve. 

Back to the plan itself, this part of Sydney was quite rural in character despite being fairly centrally located within the Sydney metropolitan area. Accordingly, the surrounding scenery is going to be grassy and thoroughly populated with weeds. That should help space things out a little too.

My trusty gang of fettlers are going to make an appearance on the bottom-left of the plan as well, necessitating fortnightly visits of the pay bus. There's also a small platform for worker's trains and enthusiast specials to visit. 

Anyway, that's my current thoughts. I won't be starting on this until next year most likely, but I wanted to get my thoughts onto the blog to think out loud and confirm for my own piece of mind the track plan, industries, and overall operating concept. I'm still going to tweak it between now and then, but I think it's 95% done.

Hopefully this thought process is useful to someone out there too.

Until next time!




  1. Nice plan Ben. I like the use of the four corners of the layout. Enjoy your time overseas.

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