No August operating session … but operations elsewhere and a little more from July

SAR TN 583 at BJN

Due to a combination of factors, the decision was made that there would be no operating session held on the Border District in August. However, I still managed plenty of model railway “operations” during the month. This began with helping out a couple of friends at the Strathpine Model Railway Show (organised by the Railway Modellers’ Club of Queensland … or “RMCQ”). Keith Trueman exhibited his “Lesney Park” (EM gauge, British Railways) layout for the second time, and Aaron Simpson debuted his “Yarradale” (H0 scale, Victorian Railways) layout, based on the Yarra Valley. While the location is freelanced, Aaron’s layout simply oozes VR branch line goodness and captures the feel of the intended location very well. It was great to be able to provide a little assistance (well, before the flu hit me …) and see two members of the “Victorian Railways Modelling Group Queensland” exhibiting layouts side by side!

Also in August, I had the chance to join another operating session on Duncan Cabassi’s N scale “UP/BNSF Joint Division” empire. This again provide both lots of fun and lots of learning. Duncan has a great crew and I have enjoyed getting to meet and chat with a number of other modellers.┬áThe month of operations away from the Border District was to be rounded out with a session on Craig Mackie’s NSW “Cassino” layout, but at the last minute Craig fell victim to one of the many nasty flu strains going about in these parts of late. Get well soon Craig!

In reflecting on these opportunities and experiences in operations, I realised that while I had talked about how “stacked” we managed to make Border Junction in a previous post, I hadn’t yet blogged about the second “interesting” event at Border Junction that occurred during the July operating session … so here goes! In the lead image above, all looks pretty straight forward and normal at “Southern Aggregates”, with South Australian Railways Train Number 583 empty limestone train (known as the “Stonie”) being shunted for loading by 907. This task is slightly challenging, as the rake of nine hoppers are only able to be loaded three at a time.

SAR TN 584 at BJN 3

However, once this task was completed, the crew of the now loaded “Stonie”(South Australian Railways Train Number 583A) encountered a problem. The Train Controller, who also happened to be undertaking the roles of Station Master and Head Shunter at Tatiara Downs, had in his infinite wisdom mistakenly let the empty “Paper Jet” head down the branch to Jameston. The “Paper Jet” (SAR TN 185/186) is both a big train and a priority working – and it consumes most of the available trackage at Jameston to do its work. As such, there was no way the loaded “Stonie” could also head down the branch to reverse the engine and goods brake, as is the usual operating practice.

The solution? Firstly, the decision was made to bring the loaded “Stonie” back to Tatiara Downs and so avoid any conflict with the “Paper Jet” further down the branch. Effectively, the SAR TN 583A working was cancelled. However, the arrangement of track, sidings and points at “Southern Aggregates” means that a loaded train is facing the wrong direction … and the Train Controller wasn’t going to allow a 4000 tonne train to be pushed backwards! So an SAR 700 Alco diesel was dispatched from Tatiara Downs loco depot (having previously worked a Jet Goods in from Adelaide) to pilot/pull the “Stonie” (now SAR TN 584) back to Tatiara Downs – which would then allow the original train engine to be moved to the correct end of the consist to continue west.

The image above captures the beginnings of this move from the rear, with the 900 class diesel in the foreground facing the wrong way and “pushing” the train backwards. Keen eyes might just be able to make out the 700 class diesel at the other end (just to the left of the main line signal post and below the red marker light). Below is the same train but viewed from the other (“pulling”) end, with the 700 Alco belching black smoke as only Alcos can (yes, a little imagination needed …). Hmmm, two photos taken at the same time in different locations? There must have been a few gunzels about that had heard of this unusual “pull-push” working – a first on the Border District. A big thanks to Brendan for the cracking images, and also to the crews involved in problem solving and coordinating this interesting move.

SAR TN 584 at BJN 1

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