A few more images from the most recent session on the Border District, courtesy of Shelton. A long time friend of the ‘District, Shelton was attending his first session in some time – over ten months! The first few images capture the “serenity” at Tatiara Downs, prior to the operating session kicking off. Above, a Victorian Railways 280HP “Walkers” railcar sits at the station, ahead of the afternoon service delivering school students back home after a day’s study. Below, resident TD shunter, Goodwin-Alco 836 in “mustard pot” livery, idles at a fairly empty loco depot ahead of a busy afternoon and evening shift. By the end of the session, there will be plenty more SAR power “on shed” here!
Above, there appears to be a degree of progress at Tatiara Downs, with a platform and goods shed “mock up” in place – with thanks to Mark. The “bow” in the platform will be addressed by affixing it to a stronger and more rigid base – the trial fitting here was to test heights, clearances and the like. This image also captures the “sorting station” for car cards at Tatiara Downs quite well! Below, Shelton has captured one of his workings a little later in the session – VR Train Number 55 – the afternoon passenger service ex-Melbourne. Today sees an S class in charge, and the train has paused for a station stop at Nankiva, not too far away from the ultimate destination of Tatiara Downs.
Brendan has kindly provided these images from one of his “SAR Crew 2” workings from the most recent September session – the famed “Stonie” (SAR Train Numbers 583/583A/584) operation. The above view captures most of the Southern Aggregates complex just to the west of Border Junction. SAR TN 583 has arrived as an empty consist and the Goods Brake (one of the ubiquitous 8300 vans) has already been shunted off into the adjacent siding (right of image). A rake of empty HS stone hoppers is currently being positioned for loading, with the first hopper passing under the overhead loader.
Above, the first rake of HS hoppers are now positioned and are ready for loading. This is undertaken in blocks of three hoppers at a time, and Brendan will draw the rake forward by one hopper once the preceding one is loaded. Locomotives and Goods Brakes (or Guard’s Vans on the VR) are not permitted to pass underneath the overhead loader here. There is also a degree of shuffling about required when undertaking this operation, as there are nine HS hoppers in total to be loaded (yes, three blocks of three) and only two sidings to work with!
The above image continues on from the previous, with the first two of the three hoppers now having been loaded. Loads are simply placed in the hoppers and are made of balsa, topped with actual limestone. A small angle is cut into one side of the load (see above, bottom of image), to allow for easy removal between operating sessions. The loads, and indeed the HS hoppers they sit inside, are yet another example of the outstanding modelling talents of Don Bishop – and were originally built as part of a “bulk build” for Kev Loughead’s “Moping Branch Railway”. It is with equal amounts of pride and humility that I am able to see them continue in operation on the Border District.
Above, with the shuffling, shunting and loading completed at the Southern Aggregates complex, SAR TN 583A loaded “Stonie” is now ready to head down the branch to Jameston (in order to reverse the loco and van for the journey west to Port Adelaide). However, before being able to depart Border Junction, Brendan is holding his train on the siding – allowing Mark at the controls of SAR Train Number 166 “South East Overnight” passenger to head off the branch for Tatiara Downs (and ultimately Adelaide). The meeting of two English Electric 900s here caused much gunzelling in the session – witness also the closing image in the previous blog post!
Much further into the working, Goods Brake 8331 can be seen bringing up the rear (or “holding the markers”) of SAR TN 584 loaded “Stonie” – captured above at Tatiara Downs, awaiting a cross with the eastbound “Paper Jet” (SAR TN 185) before continuing to head west. In the yard, 836 (the resident shunter for Tatiara Downs) can be seen going about breaking up SAR TN 148 and making up SAR TN 312. The three wagons to the left of the mustard pot Alco having come off the branch on 148 earlier in the session, bound for Adelaide on 312. Once the “Paper Jet” has passed, the “Stonie” will get a “red over green” (clear medium speed) signal indication and the 900 will power out of the ‘Downs, Kybybolite bound.
The September operating session – the seventh session on the Border District for 2017 – saw a crew of five in attendance. Given a few other events on that day/weekend, the smaller crew size brought about a “milestone” in the twenty-nine operating sessions on the ‘District to date – the first to be composed entirely of Victorian Railways modellers (someone present may have claimed a slight interest in NSWR, but that was swiftly quashed!). The reduced number of operators also gave a chance to put the revised “flexible operations/number of operators” plan into action. Mark and Brendan headed “over the border” to take on SAR crews roles 1 and 2 respectively, while Jeff and Shelton stayed true to the Victorian Railways, taking on VR crews jobs 1 and 2. I manned Tatiara Downs, as well as occasionally “pretending” to be Train Control too.
The session was both enjoyable and successful – due in large part to the approach and attitude of the operators on the day – thank you gentlemen! Jeff excelled in the “VR 1 crew” role – so much so that he was even able to be thrown an extra working (from the not used “VR 3 crew” list) to slow him down! Shelton also had no issues with the “VR 2 crew” job, despite it being his first time on the Border District in ten months! Brendan and Mark made the SAR side of things and Jameston branch their own – and were so relaxed undertaking their tasks/trains that there was plenty of time for going beyond mere “gunzel” shots to grab some interesting images (credit the two in this post to Mark).
There were only two “downers” for the session – and both were of my own making. For the up SAR “Paper Jet”, I had neglected to turn the waybills in the card cards for collection from Jameston prior to the session kicking off – an error quickly spotted and righted by Mark. Secondly, there were a few cases of sequence cards containing incorrect information that had crews scratching their heads for a bit – Shelton, Jeff and Brendan all enjoying this “treat”. It would appear that the CEO is a little too fond of the “cut and paste” function and needs to read (an re-read) sequence cards a little more closely! These issues aside, the flexible approach to operator numbers, built into both the timetable and sequence, worked as intended.
Another benefit from such an enjoyable and relaxed session is the bounty of images provided to me afterwards (a good thing, given I managed to again not record a single shot) – so there could be a few “photo posts” upcoming in the blog with images from the September session. The two here are simply to whet the appetite – the lead image sees 956 bring SAR Train Number 147 Jameston Goods to a stand at Border Junction, ahead of the guard unloading “take outs” from the DWf van immediately inside the Goods Brake. The image below is also taken at Border Junction and captures a meeting of classic English Electrics. In the foreground, 909 on SAR Train Number 166 up “South East Overnight” passenger heads off the branch and towards Tatiara Downs, as 907 (background) continues to shunt at “Southern Aggregates” with SAR Train Numbers 583/584, the afternoon “Stonie” working.