Next Saturday will see the March 2015 operating session – the third on the Border District for the year. Ahead of this occasion, I realised no blog post, or even comment, had been made on the February session! Craig Mackie, of “Cassino” (layout) and “Craig’s Shed” (blog) fame, was good enough to summarise his thoughts about the session as part of his weekly blog post here: http://ca55ino.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/locos-and-layouts.html
Craig is being a little kind I feel when he says the layout “ran well as usual”. Yes, it is true the Border District usually runs well – for a layout with a heavy focus on operation, this is a must. In fact, I pride myself that the layout runs so well there is no need for any comment on how things run. However, the last session saw the layout operate at its worst ever – and I’m not exaggerating! A number of wagons that were either too light (which I knew) or had questionable running characteristics (which I also knew) caused issues … but in the interests of “full” operations, I used them anyways – lesson learned!
The last operating session was also held on the Saturday that Brisbane received a significant amount of rainfall (the most for some time!), while northern parts of the state dealt with the cyclone and aftermath. This added to a number of issues – mainly electrical – such as signal aspects not always displaying correctly and wiring that, usually reliable, become anything but.
However, the crew persisted and once again the full sequence of trains were successfully operated. The session did demonstrate, on the positive side, that the “super 6” is possibly a better number of operators than the “magnificent 7”. My sincere thanks and appreciation again go to those that came, operated and showed patience … Border District “veteran” Mark, SAR modeller, ABLO veteran and “regular” Iain, NSW modeller and blogger extraordinaire Craig, Shelton (VR modeller and regular, but attending his first 2015 session) and Geoff – a NSW modeller (of considerable talent) and force behind “Splitters Swamp Creek” – who was a Border District “first timer”.
Craig once again took on the role of Train Controller (TC), while the two, two person crews were Mark and Shelton (both VR modellers … so naturally the VR crew!) and Iain and Geoff (SAR crew). I once again took the yard master and head shunter gig at Tatiara Downs. This was a great vantage point to hear Iain – in only his third visit to the Border District – explain and discuss elements of operation, such as the ABLO car card system and his previous experience “working” the branch terminus of Jameston, with first timer Geoff. Once again, it struck me how great this hobby is and how lucky I am to have met and made friends with some awesome people.
While there were some negatives from the February session, these have been used as learnings and a number of changes and tweaks have been made for the March session. The biggest of these is the upgrade from the NCE PowerCab system by the addition of the SB5 booster. As well as increasing the amps, I can also now facilitate up to 6 throttles … and also use the PowerCab to program while the remaining layout continues to operate. Operator roles and sequence timetables have been slightly changed too … but I’ll talk about them when reviewing the March session. This will hopefully be done in March, not April!