Border District update

Above: With thanks to Alan Shaw, and found in the bottom of a box of seemingly lost and random images, is this capture of Victorian Railways’ oil burner R748 going about shunting at Nankiva, circa 1959.

My apologies to followers and readers of this blog – September and October have proven to be very busy months, with a larger than usual number of events and distractions. As a result, the blog has languished with very limited (read “no”…) attention. Whilst there might not have been much action here, there has certainly been plenty going on, hobby-wise, over the last two months.

September began with Mark, Brendan and myself heading south to attend this year’s Victorian Model Railway Society’s “Prototype Modellers’ Forum” (or VMRS PMF for those who are playing the acronym game). We also took the opportunity to head out to the Newport Railway Museum on the afternoon before the PMF. The PMF itself was again top shelf, with high quality presentations and notes – and the organisers deserve a goodly amount of praise for their efforts. Trying to not lessen the quality too much, the 2019 PMF saw Mark and myself share our latest “Immersive Operation” presentation. A big thank you to both Lindsay Carroll and Chris Graham for their work with and support of our paper and presentation, and for providing a visit to the VMRS clubrooms and library too. Our presentation also allowed us to connect with a number of like-minded, operations-focussed people – a big thank you to Adrian Gunzburg for his impromptu hosting of a quick (but mind blowing!) visit to his south Western Australian layout, and also to Phil Jeffrey for the continuing correspondence and emerging/increasing links between his Victorian layout and our two – despite being physically located two states apart.

Above: A view of two stations on the “Border Downs Railway” (BDR), belonging to Geoff Mathias. The modest facilities of Yumali sit on the lower level, with the larger locale of Donald (think Keith, not Donald in Victoria) located above. There are another three modelled locations (Ki Ki, Coonara and Border Downs) not in this image, as well as two expansive staging yards/locations – Riverbend and Easton – on the lowest level. Operation is the focus on this very well planned and thought out homage to the SAR’s main south line.

Trying to prove the adage of “too many forums/conventions/model railway events are barely enough”, I also attended the 2019 Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention (or MRSAC for those still playing the acronym game) in September – with Border District friends Iain and Malcolm also heading to Adelaide for the convention. As was the case with the PMF, this year’s MRSAC also provided high quality notes and presentations, and a great day of catching up with old friends, and making some new ones. The trip south also allowed me the chance to once again operate on the “Border Downs Railway” of Geoff Mathias, as well as visit Pete Michalak’s “Hills Line” layout for the first time. This provided for two very awesome and enjoyable evenings, with wonderful hospitality – thanks guys!

Above: Just part of Pete Michalak’s “Hills Line” layout, incorporating his previous exhibition layout “Bridgewater” into a multi-levelled festival that celebrates the SAR main south line … and more! Bridgewater itself is on the lower level to the left, with Mile End/Adelaide is on the right. Tailem Bend, a current work in progress, is located above Bridgewater. The other aisle includes Port Adelaide, Mount Lofty, Petwood Loop and Appamurra – lots of railway and still more to come.

While in Adelaide I also managed to catch up with with friends Stu Gamble and Don Bishop, resulting in a slightly larger amount of carry-on luggage for the return trip! A very big thank you to Don for another amazing structure – in “ultra-low relief” no less – to add to the Border District. Coverage of this structure – the “Edenhope Valley Vegetable Growers’ Co-Operative” – will be provided in a future blog post. An equally big thanks to Stu for his work on completing two SAR 600C Webb steamers (from his kit and collaboration with Peter Carter) for the ‘District – the impact of the addition of these Webb steamers has had a profound impact and is not to be underestimated, as will be seen …

The lead image in this blog post isn’t as random as it might seem, or have been made out to be. For some time, thoughts (occasionally turning to talk as well) of modelling an “alternate” earlier period on the Border District have been entertained. A small collection of earlier period locos and rollingstock have been acquired over a number years – initially with thoughts of operating a preservation society or tourist railway within my 1976 modelling period. However, the recent increase in suitable locomotive power, coupled with holidays in late September, saw me bite the bullet and plan for a “1959 throwback” operating session as a proof of concept trial. I removed a significant amount of 1976 rollingstock from the layout and set about tweaking both trains and timetables for something more akin to 1959.

Above: SAR “Big Mikado” 730 shares the locomotive facilities at Tatiara Downs with VR “Hudson” R748 – one of only two oil burners in a class of 70 engines. A shiny new 830 diseasal can be seen in the background. Image thanks to Mark, captured at the inaugural “1959 throwback” operating session.

Why 1959 you might ask? There are a number of reasons, but I’ll share my top three. The first, and possibly most obvious, is the ability to still run a variety of SAR steam power – in particular the 600C and 720B classes, my two favourite Webb engine types and both of which being all scrapped by the early 1960s. The second reason is to play with the long running jesting from good friend and operations co-conspirator Mark – who quickly said (or typed) “1959” every time and earlier modelling period was mentioned. The third and possibly most important reason is simply to relive the glory days of the mighty Melbourne Demons Football Club – who were VFL premiers in 1959! Having only won another two flags since – 1960 and 1964 – I’m still a little unsure when our next era of success will be …

After much planning and preparation, the first “1959 throwback” operating session was held in early October, with a crew of seven attending. It wasn’t planned as a regular operating session – rather a lunch/catch up at a local eatery first, then a smaller than usual session (in terms of number of trains and train sizes) was undertaken, considered to be a proof of concept trial. Thanks to Mark, Brendan, Iain, Jeff, Aaron and Kane who came along and participated – putting the layout, locos, trains and concept through their paces and providing thoughts and feedback. While this event was also Kane’s first visit to and experience of the Border District, he quickly found his feet and was even kind enough to record some video of the occasion: The Border District

Above: Two examples of early twentieth century express passenger engines, SAR RX207 and VR A2994 meet at Border Junction during the first “1959 throwback” operating session. Both locos are still hauling passenger trains, but a little less glamorous than the “big wheel” expresses they once ran – each is in charge of morning school trains! Image thanks to Iain.

The first “1959 throwback” session was deemed successful enough to have a second crack at the concept and approach – with the regular October operating session slot chosen for this. A crew of six came along to party like it was 1959 … with Jeff taking on the Tatiara Downs/Sheriff role, Malcolm and Iain taking the SAR crew positions, Tony and Alan working the VR crew roles and myself scoring a combination of Hostler and Train Control roles (after a late apology from the usual “West End” suspect). Tweaks to the timetable from the inaugural session were made, resulting in a better “flow” and more “even” amount of work.

A very big thank you to friends who joined in one or both of the “1959 throwback” sessions – I wouldn’t have been able to do so without your interest and input. While only two sessions have been run, I am confident that the 1976 rollingstock is likely to stay packed away for just a little bit longer and further adventures be planned for “circa 1959”! An additional bonus is the number of great images captured from operators at both throwback sessions … many of which I look forward to sharing through future blogposts, perhaps even a little more regularly than once every few months.

Above: VR oilburning Mikado N493 sits underneath the somewhat superfluous coal stage, while taking a break at Tatiara Downs. The lack of locomotive watering facilities, as well as the dry and arid area of western Victoria, necessitates the little WT water tank being almost permanently attached to the engine. Image courtesy of Jeff.

August 2019 operating session

Above: The August 2019 operating session crew, hard at work. Tony and Darren are focussed on VR arrivals and departures at Tatiara Downs, with Brendan immersed in shunting there too. In the foreground, Iain is engaged in some shunting at Jameston. Malcolm can be seen in the other operating aisle, having arrived at Kybybolite with the westbound “Overland”.

Operating session number five on the Border District for 2019 has been run and done, and is now “in the books” as they say. It was another great session – and perhaps fittingly for the fifth session of the year, a crew of five joined in for an afternoon of immersive operations. The AM timetable was undertaken for the first time since March – and not only were all thirty-one scheduled workings completed, two additional workings/one additional train was also run. More on that later though …

As was the case for the July session, Iain and Malcolm worked the SAR1 and SAR2 crew jobs respectively – and did so fairly effortlessly and efficiently, it must be said. Darren also again found himself with the VR1 crew role – managing his eight trains with ease and taking some shoddy paperwork/instructions (no thanks to the host) in his stride. Tony took on the VR2 crew position in his second outing on the ‘District. While this time there wasn’t too much shunting to do at Nankiva, there was the opportunity to load the VR quarry train at Southern Aggregates – a task Tony managed very nicely! Brendan held down the Sheriff role at Tatiara Downs with his usual effortless aplomb – while also suffering me in the “West End” role there, combined with Train Control as well.

The session built on and from the success of the previous one in July and ran very smoothly, even with the alternate timetable (AM rather than PM) being undertaken. This was no doubt thanks to the approach and attitude of the operators – each of fully embraced the immersive operation elements, taking their time and not rushing. There was also some great feedback on the hybrid “sequence/timetable” system employed on the Border District, which indicates its purpose is successfully being achieved. As always, my thanks to the August crew for bringing the Border District to life – and providing an engaging and enjoyable afternoon of operations.

Above: A busy time at Border Junction – the smallest station on the Border District. Tony is currently loading VR TN 102 – the morning quarry train – at Southern Aggregates. Malcolm is passing by on the main with SAR TN 263 goods from Tatiara Downs to Jameston, and will soon diverge to head down the branch. Darren is waiting on the main with VR TN 13, the morning school railmotor. In front of Border Junction is the open and combined staging yards of Edenhope and Kybybolite.
Above: Double bulldogs caught at the ‘Downs! To the right, S315 sits at the head of the soon to be eastbound VR TN 16 Fast Goods. To the left, S304 brings VR TN 277 Jet goods into Tatiara Downs, ahead of a loco swap and continuation west as SAR TN 276. Once the JCP van on the end of the Jet clears the main, the signal will change to “red over green” and S315 will get underway …

However, the session was of course not without a few “moments”. There were a couple of rollingstock fails – an out of gauge wheelset on a flour hopper, and a broken coupler box on a louvre van needing a red card. The Peco three-way point claimed another victim in a SAR Goods Brake (though didn’t the five times the same van ran through while cleaning the track and checking consists before the session … go figure). The most amusing though was the apparent runaway of one Victorian loco while running another – a sometimes DCC issue I had never experienced on my layout. However I soon realised, thanks to the suggestion from others, that in fact the consist the two engines had formed last session might not have been cancelled … oops!

As mentioned previously, the August session saw the inclusion of a couple of extra workings. This has been an oft thought about idea, to introduce a little more variability into an operating session. Six possible additional workings were planned for (somewhat maxing out space in the staging yard, it must be said!) and while only two were undertaken, I think there was success enough for me to claim proof of concept. I have a few ideas how to tweak this for both AM and PM timetables for future sessions.

Another enjoyable “first” for the August session was the recording of the full session via time lapse. Regular readers and followers would know this is nothing new – but previously the camera has run off battery, which has meant only the first two thirds to three quarters of the session is captured. However, Brendan came armed with both determination and USB connectors – and the results can be viewed on Brendan’s YouTube channel here: Border District 2019 August

Above: Chief Signalling Engineer and offical videographer of the Border District, Brendan, goes about setting up the camera before the session kicks off. For the first time in 42 sessions, the entirety of the afternoon’s proceedings were captured in time lapse – thanks Brendan!

July 2019 operating session

Above: How’s the serenity … a quiet moment at Nankiva. The signal gantry protecting the eastern end of the yard and main line to Edenhope can be seen to the left, with the Grain Elevators’ Board (GEB) complex here slowly (… very slowly …) nearing completion to the right. Image thanks to Iain.

The July 2019 operating session on the Border District – session number 41 for those playing at home – saw a crew of six in attendance. The revised and refined ‘PM’ timetable was undertaken for the second time in two months. This timetable is probably ready to be declared a success, with both the June and July sessions being engaging and immersive – and very enjoyable. All thirty-two planned workings for the session were run and completed.

As a collective, the July crew were some of the most ‘regular’ operators on the ‘District, as well as each being experienced in model railways operations in general. For the session, Brendan returned to his usual position as the Sheriff of Tatiara Downs (Station Master, ‘East End’ and shunter). Jeff joined Team Tatiara for the second time in two months, on this occasion having his first crack at ‘West End/Hostler’ role there. Iain and Malcolm took the SAR1 and SAR2 crew jobs respectively. Darren undertook the position of VR1 crew, while I juggled a combination of VR2 crew and Train Control roles.

Above: The July 2019 crew going about their business, early in the session. Malcolm can be seen in the far ‘pit’, ahead of working the SAR afternoon school train. Brendan and Iain are conversing, with Iain having just brought the SAR roadside goods to a stand in the yard. Darren looks on, ahead of running the railmotor on the VR afternoon school train, currently in the dock. Jeff appears to be master of his domain and seems very, very happy in the ‘West End’ role …
Above: Taken just a little later, but still early in the session, and the compromises of a model railway are on show – albeit making for a great photo opportunity! On the higher line, 858 and the SAR afternoon school train are traversing the Tatiara Downs to Border Junction section, bound for Jameston. Meanwhile, seemingly miles away and over the border in Victoria, Walkers’ railmotor 91RM is running the VR afternoon school train ex-Tatiara Downs, and has been captured between Nankiva and Edenhope.

The crew size of six did make for a comfortable afternoon, without too much crowding in the aisles. Additionally, the use of a ‘spotter’ in the opposite aisle was increasingly employed to limit the amount of ‘ducking under’ required, particularly on short hops/runs. That said, there was one occasion when we all found ourselves in the same operating ‘pit’ (to much hilarity) – Tatiara Downs being such a focal point of the layout.

As mentioned previously, the ‘PM’ timetable used for the session worked very well, in particular the number of passenger train connections, crosses and meets – three trains, twice during the session. Learnings from the previous month’s running of the same timetable were shared and mostly employed – the challenge now is to get the ‘AM’ timetable to run as smoothly and consistently. I think we were close to this – but the last time we tried it was March!

Above: Not quite Flinders Street Station, but the evening rush at Tatiara Downs. Three passenger services are in attendance – the Bluebird railmotor from Jameston (in the dock) and the afternoon passenger service from Melbourne (east end of main platform), both of which provide connections to the overnight service to Adelaide (west end of platform). And while all these connections and workings are being orchestrated, there is plenty happening goods wise in the yard too …
Above: Another busy moment, this time at Border Junction. S306 and S311 pass through at speed on a westbound Jet, having received ‘Clear Normal Speed’ signal indications all the way to Tatiara Downs. Behind this express goods working, SAR English Electric 907 can be seen commencing shunting of the ‘Stonie’ at Southern Aggregates.

As always, my sincere thanks to the crew for again bringing the layout and operations to life. As was reflected after the session, there were more than a few moments in the afternoon where all were so engaged that the only sounds were those of the engines (well, those with sound …). A large number of photos were taken throughout the session, so stay tuned for a few more blog posts, ahead of the August 2019 operating session re-cap next month.

With over forty sessions now under the layout’s belt, the Border District continues to meet its goals of providing an immersive operation experience and recreating SAR and VR workings, circa 1976. For more on the July 2019 operating session, Brendan’s time lapse capture (of the first two thirds or so of the session) can be found on his YouTube channel by clicking here: Border District July 2019

Above: The classic ALCo rumble of SAR 956, wearing the shortlived ‘blood nose’ austerity scheme of 1976, disturbs the quiet at Jameston. The engine is going about shunting the ‘Paper Jet’ working, serving the Apcel Paper Mill. Jameston is a dual gauge station, with the narrow gauge (visible in the foreground) having remained in use into the 1970s. Image thanks to Iain.

A couple of additional images from the June 2019 operating session

Above: The faces say it all. Iain, ahead of working another South Australian Railways’ run, is clearly enjoying something said, while Tony remains focused as he undertakes some Victorian Railways’ immersion at Nankiva. In the other pit, Mark is without doubt enjoying the many tasks undertaken by the “Hostler/West End” role … though perhaps appears a little unsure of the photographer …

With the planned July 2019 operating session on the Border District but a few weekends away, I realised there were a couple of snaps from the June session still to be uploaded and shared via this blog. Both these images are as focused on the operators as they are on the layout. As mentioned in the previous blog post, the June operating session was a very enjoyable, engaging and immersive one. There were a number of reasons for this, but upon reflection I keep coming back to the biggest being the mix of and approach by the crew. Two long time Border District regulars, another experienced regular having a crack at a new role, and two newcomers who, while both having their first time on the Border District, were experienced and knowledgeable in terms of model railway operations.

Immersive operation is the intent of the Border District – it gives purpose and adds interest – and there is little doubt the June 2019 session was one which facilitated and realised this goal. Long time friend of the Border District, Mark, is a co-conspirator in charting a course through the waters which we have come to know as Immersive Operation. We look forward to sharing some of our thoughts and engaging in some conversation around the Immersive Operations concept at the upcoming Victorian Model Railway Society’s “Prototype Modellers’ Forum” (or PMF). Held annually since 2006, the 2019 Prototype Modellers’ Forum will again include a wide range of Victorian Railways’ based topics and presentations, and will take place on Sunday 1 September at Thornbury High School in eastern Melbourne. To find out more, or even register to attend, click the following link – VMRS PMF 2019 – it promises to be another great day.

Operating sessions are the reason for the Border District, plain and simple. However, as often stated, the crew and camaraderie therein is one of the highlights of having an operating layout that is able to be shared with others – and certainly one of the most enjoyable aspects of this hobby. I’ve happened across a number of musings by hobbyists of late in this space, all expressing this same view. One such recent example is Joe Fugate and his thoughts in presenting and discussing Rob Spangler’s incredible “Western Pacific 8th Subdivision” layout in the July 2019 issue of “Model Railroad Hobbyist” magazine. If you haven’t found this amazing, free, monthly online resource yet, or the very cheap/great value for money “Running Extra” additional material, click the following link – Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine – it is certainly worthwhile.

Sharing the hobby and ensuring the inclusion of the “human element” are two important factors that richly add to the enjoyment and experience of model railways. Without any doubt, I know that the Border District wouldn’t be the layout it is, were it not for the continuing input and influence of the many friends I have met through this hobby. While the Border District has just ticked over operating session number forty, the possibly greater milestone is just how much wider the network of Border District friends has grown in this time – a sincere thank you to everyone that has been, and continues to be, part of the journey.

Above: Mark continues to ponder things at the west end of Tatiara Downs, while Alan is clearly engrossed and working hard down the South Australian Railways’ branch at Jameston. Perhaps the reason for Iain’s amusement in the previous image can be seen here – Jeff is fairly relaxed as his first stint as the “Sheriff” at the ‘Downs gets underway …

June 2019 operating session

Above: The June 2019 crew hard at work, immersed in operations both Victorian and South Australian, 1976 style …

The recently completed June 2019 operating session proved a milestone session in the life of the Border District for a number of reasons. After an operations hiatus for a few months – a little planned, a little unplanned – the June session saw the ‘District record operating session number forty … yes, the big “4-0”, two score, or even “middle age” (allegedly …)!

One notable change for the session came with late apologies tendered from regular Tatiara Downs stalwart Brendan (get well soon mate) – meaning no time lapse capture of the fortieth session, and also a vacancy for the role of “Sheriff” at the ‘Downs. Jeff willingly took on this role (a combination of Station master and Shunter – considered the most challenging job on the layout) – in no way, shape or form was this a result of knowing his efforts wouldn’t be recorded on video …

Above: Mustard pots on show at Tatiara Downs Loco, providing an interesting comparison of the offerings from Trainorama (front) and Auscision (back). 830 is the Tatiara Downs shunter and can look forward to a busy few hours ahead, while 836 is paired with 946 and will soon lead the first Jet of the evening westwards, once it arrives from Melbourne. Image thanks to Mark.

The June session also saw the debut of not one but two new operators – though while new to the Border District, neither were new to operations. Alan and Tony both had their first runs on the ‘District in session number 40. Perhaps interestingly, I met both these fine gentlemen though Malcolm’s “Belair and Murray Bridge Railway”, of similar prototype – if a little later period and a little smaller gauge! I’ve also had the chance to chat further with both of them through sessions on Duncan’s “UP/BNSF Joint Division” layout.

It has certainly been some time since one third of the crew on the Border District were first timers for a session. However, Tony and Alan quickly found their feet – juggling the paperwork, acquiring some local knowledge and immersing themselves in operations. Alan took on the South Australian Railways’ Crew 1 job, with multiple opportunities to enjoy the shunting paradise/challenge that is Jameston. Tony had the Victorian Railways’ Crew 1 role, which also provided many a chance to enjoy shunting at Nankiva and the quintessential VR yard layout, with single compounds (slips) in abundance of course …

Above: A 153HP Walkers railmotor sits in the quiet at Tatiara Downs station. Having earlier worked the afternoon connecting service from the east, the Walkers will soon return from whence it came – not the warmest of accomodations with Winter having arrived. Image also thanks to Mark.

Rounding out roles for the session, Mark again took the “West End/Tatiara Downs Loco Hostler/additional SAR Crew” triple threat – a role he has made his own of late, but a little different for this session with the PM timetable being attempted for the first time in quite a while. Iain was also in familiar territory as SAR Crew 2 – getting to run and shunt a number of famed Border District trains, including the “Stonie” and the “Paper Jet”. I took on a combination of Train Control and the VR Crew 2 job – a highlight being the meeting of first two railmotors, and then two grain trains, both at Nankiva.

The PM timetable – notionally 15:00 hours to 01:00 hours – included an intended thirty-two movements, all of which were capably undertaken and completed. It was rewarding to see a number of “PM session only” trains and movements, as the previous few sessions have all featured the AM timetable (and some continuing tweaking to get it right!). In fact, this particular PM session ran so well it is likely that no major changes will be made before giving it a run again. One minor change required will be to one of the sequence cards – with an eastbound working incorrectly labelled as westbound (nice pick up for a first timer, Alan!).

Above: South Australian Railways’ ALCo power, 946 and 836, arrive at Kybybolite (SAR/West staging) with Train 82, a westbound Jet. This classic loco combination took over from an equally classic one at the ‘Downs – back to back Victorian Railways’ S class engines.

The success of the timetable and session was very rewarding – with Tony and Alan learning the road, and Jeff also playing “rookie” in his first crack at Sheriff, the session could have been one that was, if you will excuse the pun, easily derailed. However, this was far from the case – though that isn’t to say there wasn’t a moment or two (or perhaps even more) of high jinks and hilarity …

A Border District tradition is the naming of errors or mistakes after the operator who first commits them. The long held favourite of these is the “Craig” – forgetting to take your train cards with you. To protect the identity and preserve the desire to return to the ‘District, I’ll invoke the “what happens during the session stays in the session” rule for number 40 – mostly. Suffice to say: “T” is for Tony (flattop especially); Alan subtly challenged the notion of whether passenger trains can be also be goods trains (or at least carry rocks); and Jeff clearly set an approach/agenda for me to look to extend the length of pretty much every siding at Tatiara Downs … head shunts as a priority.

Above: Double grain trains at Nankiva – with double flattop Ts to boot! Being early June, the Grain Elevators’ Board is working hard to complete the total clearing of silos, ahead of an anticipated bumper wheat season …

Though not having turned a wheel for nearly the past three months, the Border District performed pretty well for the fortieth session. A couple of low couple tangs, a minor derailment or two (most often the result of wrongly set points) and a few spots of dirty track were the only times the layout sullied itself. However, credit must go to the June 2019 operating session crew for their work and enthusiasm that made the afternoon a very, very enjoyable one. While the weather outside certainly resembled the modelled location and period more than could have been hoped – grey, dull and damp for the beginning of Winter – the camaraderie and approach to immersive operations inside ensured session number forty on the ‘District was a success.

A very big thank you to all those who were part of this session … and a very big thank you also to those who have been part of the journey to get to session number forty – sixteen operators and friends in all. The Border District is truly fortunate to have benefitted from your input, and I count myself lucky to have such an amazing group of mates to share and grow the layout and operations with. Here’s to the next forty (or more)!

Above: Jeff paying close attention at Tatiara Downs, as he undertakes some shunting at the flour mill. Another image provided thanks to Mark – and possibly one for a caption competition? I’ll throw the first one out there: “Jeff thinking this Sheriff caper isn’t that hard after all …” – though I’d qualify this comment with the fact this photo was taken somewhat early in the session!

More images from the March 2019 operating session

Above: See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil? Three wise monkeys indeed – the talented three person Tatiara Downs crew for the March 2019 operating session on the Border District, captured ready to go and awaiting the commencement of hostilities! From the foreground going back: Station Master/East End Signalman and “Sheriff” – Brendan; Shunter (a luxury not always afforded at Tatiara Downs, with this role usually falling to the “Sheriff”) – Geoff; and Hostler/West End Signalman – Mark. This was the second session where Tatiara Downs was worked by two signallers, making life a little less complicated at this busy station. The added bonus is the reduction in “sideways” movement required by operators – a successful modification to operations and roles which is likely to be continued.
Above: Panning a little to the left of the previous image, the rest of the crew are captured in the other operating pit, also waiting for the start of the operating session. Moving from left to right: Jeff, taking on the Train Control role on the Border District for the first time; Malcolm and Craig, working the “Number One” crew jobs (SAR and VR respectively); and Ian and Iain, holding down the “Number Two” crew roles (VR and SAR respectively this time). Even with a crew of nine for the session – the largest ever in Border District history – what are the chances of there being a Geoff and a Jeff, and an Iain and an Iain, for the session?! The image also shows the relative luxury of those wide, wide operator aisles – five people and nary a worry about personal space …
Above: Shuffling the cards while operating the Stonie. An image captured by Mark, who was also at the controls of the iconic SAR Stone train, nicely demonstrating the ABLO (Adelaide Branch Line Operators) car card and waybill system. Each card represents/corresponds to a wagon, with goods wagon cards also having a plastic pocket for the “waybill” to be placed with the wagon. Mark has commenced “flipping” the waybills, having loaded the Stonie at Southern Aggregates. The waybill for wagon HS9561 (left) has already been turned to show the wagon is now loaded, and bound for ICI Osborne. The waybill for wagon HS9557 (right) is yet to be turned, showing the status (empty) and destination (Southern Aggregates) for the initial working of this train. Mark will turn the remaining waybills, and then place the cards in the same order as they are on his train (“doing the brakes”), before departing westwards.

Same same, but different …

Above: At the suggestion (and effort) of photographer and Border District historian extraordinaire, Mark, please find posted here a different organisation of the comparative images from the previous blog post, recording the quiet and not so quiet life and times of Tatiara Downs station and yard, as experienced at the March 2019 operating session …