Even more pictures from the September session …


A week out from the October operating session on the Border District, I realised I still had plenty of photographic coverage from September – with thanks to various crew members – that was yet to be shared. So, here ’tis …

The images above and below are again taken at or around the branch station of Jameston – and are both provided courtesy of Brendan. Leading off the blog is another view of some of the facilities at Jameston, this time focused on the goods shed. The barrel roof building and substantial loading platform are all based on facilities that once stood at Bordertown. The rear industrial siding trackage,  discussed in a previous post, can be seen in the background. Below, South Australian Railways Alco 956 has received a “highball” (green over red) signal, giving clearance to depart Jameston for points west with another south east goods working

148 JAM depart


The image above is a great capture of one of the busiest areas on the Border District – the staging yards. In the foreground, an SAR “Bluebird” railcar waits to be one of the first workings out from the yard. There are 8 through tracks and 10 stub ended tracks here – capable of holding 18+ trains, that serve both VR and SAR workings and provide an “off layout” destination and/or origin for workings. Below and in a far more quiet and less busy scene than the one above, a couple of Victorian Railways “L” sheep vans can be seen awaiting loading from the livestock cooperative facilities at Tatiara Downs. Thanks to Shelton for these two pictures.

TAT sheep

SAR 166 at TAT

The final set of two pictures are provided with thanks to Mark. Also taken at Tatiara Downs, the image above captures South Australian Railways Train Number 166 undertaking shunting en route, attaching a “CD” passenger brake van for express and parcels loading, before continuing west. The final image, below, is another example of operators finding perspectives and angles often not seen on the ‘District. Captured long before drones were thought of, this aerial view taken at Border Junction sees SAR English Electric 909 (right of image) heading off the Jameston branch and onto the main line, bound for Tatiara Downs. Sister engine 907 (left of image) is sitting on the Southern Aggregates siding, behind the dwarf shunting signal, waiting for 909 to pass before being able to head down the branch.

900s at BJN wide


More from the September session ..

147 JAM shunt

With thanks to Mark and Brendan, here is some more photographic coverage from the most recent operating session on the Border District. In the images above and below (courtesy of Mark and Brendan respectively), South Australian Railways’ Alco 956 – resplendent in the short lived “blood nose” livery of 1976 – can be seen going about breaking up Train Number (TN) 147 Goods and making up TN 148 Goods on a fine and sunny weekday afternoon at Jameston. It would appear the good people of Jameston prefer Holdens to Fords …

JAM cars and trains487 JAM shunt

Still at Jameston, Brendan has captured a few images of the back industrial track here, which takes significant inspiration from a similar arrangement at Millicent. Above, “mustard pot” 858 can be seen on the aforementioned track, shunting OB and OBf wagons at the “Top” fertiliser depot. The Alco is working an “extra” goods service, conveying wagons loaded with superphosphate fertiliser and returning with empties. The image below captures the range of industries along the back track – a bagged super shed (also part of the “Top” facility), an agricultural merchant (“Millicent and Sons” – paying homage to Jameston’s parentage), the Jameston Farmer’s Co-operative (with the barrel roof building here inspired by a similar one at Milang) and the Southern Dairy structure (taking cues from a wonderfully “must be modelled” facility at Murray Bridge).

Ind at JAM

SAR 186 at JAM wide

In the image above, a little more of the Southern Dairy building can be seen in the background, as a rather grubby Alco 950 goes about breaking up the recently arrived SAR Train Number 185 “Paper Jet”. This working also includes making up the return train, TN 186, and is the biggest to operate on the Jameston branch, serving the paper mill. Loading for TN 186 includes box and louvre vans full of paper for Adelaide, Sydney and Perth, empty open bogie wagons that previously conveyed pulp paper to the mill and empty four wheeled open wagons that have brought in soda ash. Below, 950 shows off just how “grubby” grubby can be, with a very clean, bright yellow Western Australian van providing the contrast. Thanks to Mark for the images above and below.

SAR 186 at JAM

More shots from September … thanks to Shelton

TAT station

A few more images from the most recent session on the Border District, courtesy of Shelton. A long time friend of the ‘District, Shelton was attending his first session in some time – over ten months! The first few images capture the “serenity” at Tatiara Downs, prior to the operating session kicking off. Above, a Victorian Railways 280HP “Walkers” railcar sits at the station, ahead of the afternoon service delivering school students back home after a day’s study. Below, resident TD shunter, Goodwin-Alco 836 in “mustard pot” livery, idles at a fairly empty loco depot ahead of a busy afternoon and evening shift. By the end of the session, there will be plenty more SAR power “on shed” here!

TAT loco

TAT goods shed

Above, there appears to be a degree of progress at Tatiara Downs, with a platform and goods shed “mock up” in place – with thanks to Mark. The “bow” in the platform will be addressed by affixing it to a stronger and more rigid base – the trial fitting here was to test heights, clearances and the like. This image also captures the “sorting station” for car cards at Tatiara Downs quite well! Below, Shelton has captured one of his workings a little later in the session – VR Train Number 55 – the afternoon passenger service ex-Melbourne. Today sees an S class in charge, and the train has paused for a station stop at Nankiva, not too far away from the ultimate destination of Tatiara Downs.

NAN pass

The “Stonie”, Southern Aggregates and September …

Southern Agg

Brendan has kindly provided these images from one of his “SAR Crew 2” workings from the most recent September session – the famed “Stonie” (SAR Train Numbers 583/583A/584) operation. The above view captures most of the Southern Aggregates complex just to the west of Border Junction. SAR TN 583 has arrived as an empty consist and the Goods Brake (one of the ubiquitous 8300 vans) has already been shunted off into the adjacent siding (right of image). A rake of empty HS stone hoppers is currently being positioned for loading, with the first hopper passing under the overhead loader.

Load that stone

Above, the first rake of HS hoppers are now positioned and are ready for loading. This is undertaken in blocks of three hoppers at a time, and Brendan will draw the rake forward by one hopper once the preceding one is loaded. Locomotives and Goods Brakes (or Guard’s Vans on the VR) are not permitted to pass underneath the overhead loader here. There is also a degree of shuffling about required when undertaking this operation, as there are nine HS hoppers in total to be loaded (yes, three blocks of three) and only two sidings to work with!

Overhead at SA

The above image continues on from the previous, with the first two of the three hoppers now having been loaded. Loads are simply placed in the hoppers and are made of balsa, topped with actual limestone. A small angle is cut into one side of the load (see above, bottom of image), to allow for easy removal between operating sessions. The loads, and indeed the HS hoppers they sit inside, are yet another example of the outstanding modelling talents of Don Bishop – and were originally built as part of a “bulk build” for Kev Loughead’s “Moping Branch Railway”. It is with equal amounts of pride and humility that I am able to see them continue in operation on the Border District.

166 BJN depart 2

Above, with the shuffling, shunting and loading completed at the Southern Aggregates complex, SAR TN 583A loaded “Stonie” is now ready to head down the branch to Jameston (in order to reverse the loco and van for the journey west to Port Adelaide). However, before being able to depart Border Junction, Brendan is holding his train on the siding – allowing Mark at the controls of SAR Train Number 166 “South East Overnight” passenger to head off the branch for Tatiara Downs (and ultimately Adelaide). The meeting of two English Electric 900s here caused much gunzelling in the session – witness also the closing image in the previous blog post!

584 TAT wait

Much further into the working, Goods Brake 8331 can be seen bringing up the rear (or “holding the markers”) of SAR TN 584 loaded “Stonie” – captured above at Tatiara Downs, awaiting a cross with the eastbound “Paper Jet” (SAR TN 185) before continuing to head west. In the yard, 836 (the resident shunter for Tatiara Downs) can be seen going about breaking up SAR TN 148 and making up SAR TN 312. The three wagons to the left of the mustard pot Alco having come off the branch on 148 earlier in the session, bound for Adelaide on 312. Once the “Paper Jet” has passed, the “Stonie” will get a “red over green” (clear medium speed) signal indication and the 900 will power out of the ‘Downs, Kybybolite bound.

September 2017 operating session

SAR 147 at BJN

The September operating session – the seventh session on the Border District for 2017 – saw a crew of five in attendance. Given a few other events on that day/weekend, the smaller crew size brought about a “milestone” in the twenty-nine operating sessions on the ‘District to date – the first to be composed entirely of Victorian Railways modellers (someone present may have claimed a slight interest in NSWR, but that was swiftly quashed!). The reduced number of operators also gave a chance to put the revised “flexible operations/number of operators” plan into action. Mark and Brendan headed “over the border” to take on SAR crews roles 1 and 2 respectively, while Jeff and Shelton stayed true to the Victorian Railways, taking on VR crews jobs 1 and 2. I manned Tatiara Downs, as well as occasionally “pretending” to be Train Control too.

The session was both enjoyable and successful – due in large part to the approach and attitude of the operators on the day – thank you gentlemen! Jeff excelled in the “VR 1 crew” role – so much so that he was even able to be thrown an extra working (from the not used “VR 3 crew” list) to slow him down! Shelton also had no issues with the “VR 2 crew” job, despite it being his first time on the Border District in ten months! Brendan and Mark made the SAR side of things and Jameston branch their own – and were so relaxed undertaking their tasks/trains that there was plenty of time for going beyond mere “gunzel” shots to grab some interesting images (credit the two in this post to Mark).

There were only two “downers” for the session – and both were of my own making. For the up SAR “Paper Jet”, I had neglected to turn the waybills in the card cards for collection from Jameston prior to the session kicking off – an error quickly spotted and righted by Mark. Secondly, there were a few cases of sequence cards containing incorrect information that had crews scratching their heads for a bit – Shelton, Jeff and Brendan all enjoying this “treat”. It would appear that the CEO is a little too fond of the “cut and paste” function and needs to read (an re-read) sequence cards a little more closely! These issues aside, the flexible approach to operator numbers, built into both the timetable and sequence, worked as intended.

Another benefit from such an enjoyable and relaxed session is the bounty of images provided to me afterwards (a good thing, given I managed to again not record a single shot) – so there could be a few “photo posts” upcoming in the blog with images from the September session. The two here are simply to whet the appetite – the lead image sees 956 bring SAR Train Number 147 Jameston Goods to a stand at Border Junction, ahead of  the guard unloading “take outs” from the DWf van immediately inside the Goods Brake. The image below is also taken at Border Junction and captures a meeting of classic English Electrics. In the foreground, 909 on SAR Train Number 166 up “South East Overnight” passenger heads off the branch and towards Tatiara Downs, as 907 (background) continues to shunt at “Southern Aggregates” with SAR Train Numbers 583/584, the afternoon “Stonie” working.

900s at BJN

No August operating session … but operations elsewhere and a little more from July

SAR TN 583 at BJN

Due to a combination of factors, the decision was made that there would be no operating session held on the Border District in August. However, I still managed plenty of model railway “operations” during the month. This began with helping out a couple of friends at the Strathpine Model Railway Show (organised by the Railway Modellers’ Club of Queensland … or “RMCQ”). Keith Trueman exhibited his “Lesney Park” (EM gauge, British Railways) layout for the second time, and Aaron Simpson debuted his “Yarradale” (H0 scale, Victorian Railways) layout, based on the Yarra Valley. While the location is freelanced, Aaron’s layout simply oozes VR branch line goodness and captures the feel of the intended location very well. It was great to be able to provide a little assistance (well, before the flu hit me …) and see two members of the “Victorian Railways Modelling Group Queensland” exhibiting layouts side by side!

Also in August, I had the chance to join another operating session on Duncan Cabassi’s N scale “UP/BNSF Joint Division” empire. This again provide both lots of fun and lots of learning. Duncan has a great crew and I have enjoyed getting to meet and chat with a number of other modellers. The month of operations away from the Border District was to be rounded out with a session on Craig Mackie’s NSW “Cassino” layout, but at the last minute Craig fell victim to one of the many nasty flu strains going about in these parts of late. Get well soon Craig!

In reflecting on these opportunities and experiences in operations, I realised that while I had talked about how “stacked” we managed to make Border Junction in a previous post, I hadn’t yet blogged about the second “interesting” event at Border Junction that occurred during the July operating session … so here goes! In the lead image above, all looks pretty straight forward and normal at “Southern Aggregates”, with South Australian Railways Train Number 583 empty limestone train (known as the “Stonie”) being shunted for loading by 907. This task is slightly challenging, as the rake of nine hoppers are only able to be loaded three at a time.

SAR TN 584 at BJN 3

However, once this task was completed, the crew of the now loaded “Stonie”(South Australian Railways Train Number 583A) encountered a problem. The Train Controller, who also happened to be undertaking the roles of Station Master and Head Shunter at Tatiara Downs, had in his infinite wisdom mistakenly let the empty “Paper Jet” head down the branch to Jameston. The “Paper Jet” (SAR TN 185/186) is both a big train and a priority working – and it consumes most of the available trackage at Jameston to do its work. As such, there was no way the loaded “Stonie” could also head down the branch to reverse the engine and goods brake, as is the usual operating practice.

The solution? Firstly, the decision was made to bring the loaded “Stonie” back to Tatiara Downs and so avoid any conflict with the “Paper Jet” further down the branch. Effectively, the SAR TN 583A working was cancelled. However, the arrangement of track, sidings and points at “Southern Aggregates” means that a loaded train is facing the wrong direction … and the Train Controller wasn’t going to allow a 4000 tonne train to be pushed backwards! So an SAR 700 Alco diesel was dispatched from Tatiara Downs loco depot (having previously worked a Jet Goods in from Adelaide) to pilot/pull the “Stonie” (now SAR TN 584) back to Tatiara Downs – which would then allow the original train engine to be moved to the correct end of the consist to continue west.

The image above captures the beginnings of this move from the rear, with the 900 class diesel in the foreground facing the wrong way and “pushing” the train backwards. Keen eyes might just be able to make out the 700 class diesel at the other end (just to the left of the main line signal post and below the red marker light). Below is the same train but viewed from the other (“pulling”) end, with the 700 Alco belching black smoke as only Alcos can (yes, a little imagination needed …). Hmmm, two photos taken at the same time in different locations? There must have been a few gunzels about that had heard of this unusual “pull-push” working – a first on the Border District. A big thanks to Brendan for the cracking images, and also to the crews involved in problem solving and coordinating this interesting move.

SAR TN 584 at BJN 1

… oh, the carnage …

Chaos at BJN

As mentioned in the previous blog post, the July session on the Border District brought about some interesting occurrences, with the most significant located at or around the smallest station on the layout, Border Junction. The above images speaks a little to one of these – the “Flinders Street Station” like traffic levels experienced through “the Junction” at one point! Please ignore the foreground and right hand side of the picture – which always looks busy as it is the area which contains the “through staging” yards of Kybybolite (SAR/West) and Edenhope (VR/East).

Our real interest above is to the left hand side and then centre(ish) of the image – with SAR Train Number 148 Goods loading and unloading “take outs” at the platform (though it appears the DWf performing the role of “take out” van might not have been marshalled inside the Guard’s Brake, as required …). Normal enough you say? Well then look further down the line behind TN 148 … and you might just be able to make out an 830 Alco at the head of SAR Train Number 134 Extra Empty Super, holding at the outer home. You want more? Next to SAR TN 134 and again in the distance, but now on the VR main line, VR Train Number P4 Loaded Grain can be seen, ex-Tatiara Downs and having just passed through Border Junction. And for even more … also present but out of image (further to the left) is VR Train Number 4 Quarry Goods, loading JQF hoppers at the facility at Southern Aggregates.

For those good at maths … yes, that is four trains in or around Border Junction at the one time – easily a record. Add to this the fact that when the above picture was taken, the fifth operator/train was shunting Nankiva (just to the right of the image – around the curve VR TN P6 is heading) and so placing all five operators in the same operating “pit” at the same time. This is not necessarily unusual, but something which normally happens on the other side of the layout! Perhaps this was all part of a nefarious scheme to keep the other operating pit clear and free for myself? Hmmm … regardless, the ensuing “carnage” made for some fun moments – thanks to Brendan for capturing the image!