Not too much to report in terms of layout progress – to be honest, nothing to report at all in terms of layout progress! However, the recent return of my Model Design Studio Rx class gave the opportunity for some railfanning snaps – 1960 style – on the Border District.
Positioned at the west end of Tatiara Downs, on the grade into the station, the first train captured is the down south east goods, headed by “Big Mikado” 730 (a Rocky River Models body on an Athearn mechanism, with thanks to Stuart Gamble). The 720 is working hard on the climb and will receive a “red over yellow” from the arrival signal to permit the train enter the yard.
Our railfans have followed 730 and train into the station environs at Tatiara Downs, as the driver brings the south east good to a stop. Shunting will ensue, with some loading being for Tatiara Downs, some for the SAR branchline to Jameston and some for destinations over the Victorian border – itself only a few miles away. Any loading for Jameston will be moved forward on the south east roadside goods, later in the day.
Not too far behind the south east goods is an express goods from Adelaide to Melbourne. At the head is one of those new fangled “diesel-electric” locomotives – a Goodwin-Alco single-ended 930 class. Still looking quite new, and resplendent in maroon and silver, 935 has made much easier work of the grade. At Tatiara Downs, the 930 will hand the express goods over to a Victorian Railways “B” class diesel electric for the remainder of the journey. 935 is a Trainorama model in original condition.
The next train to arrive is the down south east “day” passenger, headed by one of SAR’s big wheeled Pacifics. 606 has raced her train across the ninety-mile desert from Tailem Bend to Tatiara Downs, where the train will terminate. Passengers for the Jameston branch will go ahead in the guards van attached to the south east roadside goods. Below, 606 and train can be seen outside the arrival signal.
Again, our fans head into the Tatiara Downs yard to catch another shot of 606 (a heavily modified Mehanotehnika model, again with thanks to Stuart Gamble) and the pass (they didn’t bother to do so with the diseasal!). The 600 steamer will shunt the carriages to the dock, before heading to the loco to “drop the fire” and be coaled and watered for her next assignment.
Back to the outskirts of Tatiara Downs, Rx207 (a Model Design Studio kit, assembled by Richard Ross) can be seen struggling up hill with the down south east roadside goods. The signaller has been kind and already cleared the signals to allow the Rx to access the yard, meaning there is no need to stop and start again on the grade. The Rx will hand her train over to another Rx – and once wagons for Jameston are added and any passengers have boarded the guard’s van – the south east roadside goods will continue on its way …
Our final shot of the day sees the 600 and Rx “on shed” at Tatiara Downs. 606 sits under a 45ton coal stage (a Trainbuilder product). Four down trains, all in close company to one another and with a good amount of variety, have provided for any interesting trip to the Border District.
I’m more and more inclined to set up an “alternate” Border District operating session, circa 1960, to facilitate all of the above – and more. I feel this will compliment the “usual” period of 1976 on the layout. The advent of more SAR steam – through Model Design Studio, Rocky River Models and now Shrike Models – makes this goal even more achievable than before – who ever could have imagined we would have the prospect of an affordable, RTR SAR steamer? My only reservation with also modelling 1960 – those awesome colour searchlight signals I’ve already got …