Sunday, 24 April 2016

A New Layout

Billabong Marina is a 140 x 60 cm continuous run HO scale layout set in the south coast of New South Wales.

This post is lengthy. If you're reading this, why not make a cup of tea first.

The idea started a long time ago in a country far far away...
Yarmouth Quay from Railway Modeller June 1988. Used without permission.

In June 1988 Andrew Knight's plan for Yarmouth Quay was published in the Railway Modeller. It was an end to end OO scale British layout. The plan called for a radius of 7.5 inches or 17.75 cm. His idea was to run Class 03 and 04 diesel shunters on the layout which is prototypical of the area he was modelling. These 0-6-0 shunters have a very short wheel base and the Bachmann models are recommended by layout designer, Paul A Lunn for micro layouts. (Paul's work has appeared in the Railway Modeller and more recently Model Rail. I have, in the past built one of his plans and displayed it for a few years at my club's model railway exhibition as well as a couple of fetes.) However, the above plan was found when looking through a collection of magazines around the start of this century. Something made me hold onto the issue instead of throwing it out.

Andrew Knight's layout was featured in Scale Model Trains in October 1993. While the locos and the four wheeled wagons negotiated the tight radius, the couplings caused buffer lock and he had to design his own style of couplings for the layout.

About ten years ago I was pulling apart a layout which I had exhibited. There were three base boards 150 x 45 cm which I could use. I played around with the idea of using two boards a modified version of the plan above. I mainly model NSW HO scale and not British OO scale (although I do have some stock around.) and he NSWGR S trucks were perfect for this layout. As they have Kadee couplers the coupling/buffer lock issue is reduced. Some larger bogie rolling stock could also manage a 9 inch radius curve. The plan would need two boards and it seemed like too much trouble considering that I was building a bigger shed layout. More importantly, I didn't have any locomotives which would work on the layout. The idea was shelved. Over the years, I managed to pick up a Bachmann 44 tonner and a 45 tonner. Both of these will negotiate 9 inch radius curves.

In 2015, I walked into Hobbyland Hornsby to find that they were producing a NSWGR X200 rail tractor. The prototypes were built on the bogies of withdrawn steam locomotives. The models arrived in January 2016 and a number of club members bought one. Another member suggested that I should get around to building that layout which I had been talking about for years as the X200 would be perfect for it.

Ideas were tossed about. A brewery? A quarry? A coal mine? A goods yard?

The same bloke who suggested that I build it also suggested that maybe both sides could be the same shunting puzzle which could be worked by two people in a race. I liked that idea. As I have some Kibri fishing boats and other vessels and this marina kit which I picked up second hand from the Marklin Exhibition in Beecroft in 2013, I thought about a wharf.

With much consideration and Anyrail software, I came up with this plan.

While it is a complete layout in itself, I wanted something which could fit into the layout which I am currently rebuilding in my shed. In fact, this layout was to be a "weekend quickie" - to be built while my wife was 1000 km away.

Although the plan is symmetrical, not all sidings have the similar functions. The bottom left track is the access from the main layout. The bottom right is the loco release for larger locos such as a 48 class. The top left siding would be a dairy and the top right an oil siding. The grey building over the bottom would be a fish dock as would the siding above it. These two sidings can hold two TRC or MRC refrigerated vans each. The rest of the sidings are up for grabs. There is no run around as the whole layout is the run around. (An idea I got from the Dorrville Branch published in Model Railroader September 2004.) The green shape is a passenger ferry. At the bottom of the plan would be a platform and then people could walk across a crossing down a ramp and catch their ferry. The brown rectangle is the idea for a swing bridge. Otherwise the boats won't every leave.

Having said that - a billabong is an enclosed  body of water cut of from a river. Hence the name.

The curves were planned to be 9 inches or 22.5 cm. They originally were laid a little tighter in the effort of allowing platform space. I also added cross overs in the top section to provide a runaround if two operators were to be used.

The track was pulled up and this is the final plan.

The track is almost down. A Peco station building is in the centre of the bottom of the curved line. This uses second radius Peco track, which match the set track points. The bottom sections two long sidings will be the fish dock. The siding with the bent end will be inside a building. The two sidings can hold up to five bogie vans between them.

Th platform has to be curved or I won't get a building in. There needs to be a platform and the passengers for the ferry need to come and go from somewhere. Where the yellow lid is plonked is where a Faller barge will be. It can be loaded with stones or coal or something. I may need to adjust a Dapol crane to fit the site.Just above the PVA bottle will be the location of the marina. the relaying of track means that the track at the top is further from the edge. I plan a facade of a building with an awning. I reckon a dairy will go well here as the straight section of the run around will fit two BMT Dairy Farmers milk tanks.

The big question is will it work?

Yes. Most of my stock are bogie wagons and on my old shed layout there were no four wheel trucks. I do have a small collection though.

What will go around 9 inch curves?

Four  wheel tracks without problems. As for bogie stock? You have to be a bit judicious with your shunting and make sure that bogie vehicles with buffers aren't next to each other. However, so far I have found that Trainorama LX, OHG, MRC wagons, Auscision VLX, On Track Models TRC, SDS Models BMT, Powerline single dome tank, Silvermaz BD open wagon, Columbia Models NOFF, Minimodels MLV and Camco FO passenger cars. Unless you're familiar with Australian railways the above probably won't make much sense.

The last item was a real surprise. I am now considering a small platform (just above where I have placed the 48 class) for passengers for the marina. I was going to make my plastic population walk across the swing bridge and down a path next to the causeway from the top section of the layout. However a Camco FO converted to a CCA could be an interesting proposition. As a stand alone layout it could have its own internal passenger service. It could also have a direct service from my main station.

In the meantime, I leave you with a short clip of the first train travelling around the layout.