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


2 thoughts on “May 2016 operating session

  1. G’Day Anthony,
    Thanks for posting. I like your signals, they must add realism to sessions on the Border District. How are they operated? Do you have a separate operator to control the signals by computer or some other method?

    Regards Ken.

    • Ken,
      Thanks for your comment. My signals are controlled manually via rotary switches, on panels at each end of every yard. Usually, one operator (most often yours truly) is given the task of being “Train Control” – which also includes throwing all mainline points and setting signals. Operators then reset signals to “protect” as they pass.The signal panels also include switches for points (for the mainline points with motors), as well as LEDs that mimic signal aspects to assist operators. Everything runs off an old Bachmann transformer, with the volts set to about 7. There is no detection (yet!). Signals are interlocked with each other though – for example, if a departure signal is set to “red over red”, then the arrival signal will only show “yellow over red” – clear the departure signal and the arrival signal will also clear to “green over red” (or “red over free” for a diverging route). The new “outer home” signals are also interlocked, so prototypical aspect sequences are always observed …

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