More images from the May 2016 operating session

Y at NAN 3

With thanks to operators and photographers Mark and Shelton, here are a few more “snaps” from the most recent operating session on the Border District, held last weekend …

Above, Victorian Railways’ Y169 can be seen undertaking shunting at the far western Victorian location of Nankiva. The diminutive loco is picking up a South Australian Railways’ D louvre van, loaded with vegetables grown in the local area and headed for the Central Markets in Adelaide. Y169 will add the van to VR TN 29 Roadside Goods, before continuing on to the SAR and VR interchange station of Tatiara Downs. There, the D van will be added to the consist of SAR TN 312 for Tailem Bend, and then Adelaide …

The image below captures the same scene from a very different viewpoint … the end of the platform at Nankiva. Our intrepid photographer must have crossed the four track yard at Nankiva very quickly! Out of shot in both pictures is the remainder of VR TN 29 … a motley collection of VR and SAR four wheelers, trailed by a wooden guard’s van. Both images courtesy of Shelton.

Y at NAN 2

Border Junction signals

Signals and signalling are a significant feature of the Border District, and the above image shows the emerging “forest” of searchlights that help to guide movements over SAR and VR metals. The departure signals at Border Junction are set for “clear normal speed” (green over red) on the main, with the branch having a “caution” (red over red) to protect the crossing and siding ahead. The new “outer home” signal for Taiara Downs can be seen in the distance, displaying a “clear medium speed” (red over green) indication. This tells the driver that the arrival signal at Tatiara Downs (around the curve and out of easy viewing) will be set for the yard.

Below, two bogie louvre vans with loading for Adelaide can be seen at rest in the goods shed at Jameston. These will make their way east shortly as part of SAR TN 166 – the up “South East Overnight” passenger service, which operates there days a week and also conveys some goods loading. The use of “DS” and “SLP” vans means that the train can still operate at passenger train speeds. While on the Border District this train operates from Jameston through Tatiara Downs and on to Adelaide, it recreates a similar train that once ran from Mount Gambier through Naracoorte and onto Adelaide. Both images courtesy of Mark.

Jameston shed

May 2016 operating session

Y at NAN 1

Yes, the Border District crew were at it again … spending the Saturday afternoon running trains for both the South Australian Railways and Victorian Railways like it was 1976 (or there abouts …). After several apologies were received, a crew of five – Mark, Iain, Brendan, Shelton and myself  – worked through the “PM” timetable (14:00 to 02:00) for the third time this year. The crew size could possibly be the largest yet in terms of “only” SAR and/or VR modellers (yep, we are claiming Brendan as one of our own now!) – no northern interlopers this month.

In the image above, provided courtesy of Shelton, Y169 is rumbling about the yard at Nankiva while working VR TN 18 Roadside Goods. In the distance is the “Edenhope Valley Vegetable Growers” siding (currently modelled in all its cardboard glory), which will receive an empty van for loading once the Y class has shunted the van from its small consist.

In the image below, a better view of the “Edenhope Valley Vegetable Growers” siding (and Nankiva yard environs) can be seen, with the van discussed above (an SAR DW louvre van) having been positioned and VR TN 18 having departed. Centre of this image is a new signal to protect the siding. As with almost all signals on the Border District, a big shout out must go to Mr Bill Dick of San Mateo Line – thanks Bill. The signal below has been interlocked with the departure signal – seen in the distance on the gantry …

Nankiva new signal

Signals were indeed a feature of the session – for a variety of reasons! Bill had recently completed an order of additional signals for the layout, and was kind enough to hand them over personally at the Brisbane Model Train Show a few weekends ago. The main reason for the additional signals was to add “outer home” signals to all stations – to assist operators and not require drivers to become “divers” between operating pits to check signals! Only a two were installed and tested fro this session, but they were a resounding success. I also developed a very simple logic to interlock these signals with existing “arrival” and “departure” home signals on the layout.

The image below shows the new Tatiara Downs “outer home” signal for the east end … positioned just outside “Southern Aggregates” and beyond Border Junction, giving drivers a clear indication of what the next signal at Tatiara Downs is … a signal hard to see due to both positioning on a curve and being in the other aisle of the layout. While the signal below is showing a “red over red” protect indication, it can also show “green over red” (for the mainline at Tatiara Downs), “red over green” (for the yard at Tatiara Downs) and “red over yellow” (approach the arrival home, but be prepared to stop) indications, all interlocked and controlled form the arrival signal at Tatiara Downs – neat!

New TD outer home signal

As good as Bill’s signals are, a few operators may or may not have passed them while they displayed a “protect” aspect … edging just past the signal to shunt and ignoring dwarf signals being two popular activities for some. There were also occasional issues with identifying the correct routing of points, with one operator in particular feeling the pain on more than one occasion …

Two thirds of the way through the session all signals – yes, every single one of them – went black! Clearly, the Border District hadn’t been keeping up to date with electricity payments. The reason was traced to an overheating transformer used to power the signal circuits. A verbal “track warrant” system was instigated, but the power came back on less than 10 minutes later, the transformer having cooled itself sufficiently. The image below, again with thanks to Shelton, shows the eerie sight at Nankiva of a signal gantry gone “dark” …

Blackout 1

Aside from signalling issues and a few self-induced derailments, the session was a great one, with all present really “getting” the Border District and its operations and intracacies. For the afternoon, Shelton and Iain took on the two Victorian Railways crew roles and ruled the mainline between Edenhope and Tatiara Downs, working a combination of through trains and trains requiring shunting en route.

Mark and I took on the South Australian Railways crew jobs – with yours truly also undertaking the Train Control gig. Mark was happy to head to the Jameston branch and work a range of passenger and goods trains. In the image below, provided courtesy of Mark, his first train for the session is underway – SAR TN 280 passenger – and can be seen departing its origin point of Jameston for Naracoorte …

SAR 280 departs Jameston

Brendan again took on the Tatiara Downs Head Shunter role – and Station Master for most of the session too. Just as the branch had previously become synonymous with Iain, leading to thoughts of Jameston being renamed “Iainston”, the session saw plenty of creative renamings for Tatiara Downs, including: “Canning Downs”, Cannington”, “Canning Vale”, “The Cannery” and more. In the image below, the Mayor of Canning Central has done a great job of sorting all sidings in the Tatiara Downs industrial district … including ensuring wagons for the next session have been positioned on the correct side of inwards loadings from this session!

The May session was another great one and I would again like to thank the crew that helps to bring the layout to life every month. Thanks also to the “gunzels” in the crew for providing me with images – often giving a different perspective of the Border District. I look forward to featuring some more images from the May session over the coming weeks, and ahead of the June session.

TD industrial sidings