Thursday, 6 September 2018

Planting trees for screening

Ever since my early teens, when I was running Tri-ang OO scale stuff, I've been strongly interested in switching (or "shunting", back in those days). In fact, one of the things that drew me to N scale was the ability to pack more switching into any given space. It should therefore be no surprise that my GC&SF layout was designed and built with switching operations in mind.

The trade-off that I made in order to maximise the switching opportunities at each town was to reduce the running distance between the towns. I'm pretty happy with that trade off as the switching locations are for the most part isolated from each other. However, when you're switching at the end of the two peninsulas, it is possible to see part-way into the next town. By that, I mean that if you're switching Johnstone Construction or the stock yard at Davis, you can see the loading racks at Wynnewood Refinery (and vice versa.)

The following photo illustrates what I mean. I also don't like the fact that you can see both ends of the train as it does a >180 degree turn around the end of the peninsula.

It has always been my plan to use trees as sight screens to disrupt that view, and over the past two days I've been planting trees at the end of the Wynnewood-Davis peninsula to test that idea. The following photos were taken at eye-level (for me):

This stand of trees seems to do a pretty good job of interrupting the view to the other side, but I want to add more trees closer to the tracks, and in that patch of grass at the end of the siding that the two box cars are sitting on, to hide the curvature of the mainline track a bit better.


Friday, 31 August 2018

Now you see them. Now you don't.

It has been two months since our last operating session on the GC&SF. The layout has been restaged and ready-to-go for most of that time, and I was hoping to host a session this evening.  However, family matters have intervened and I lost that opportunity.

On the bright side however, I've been able to spend some time working on structures and scenery for the Wynnewood area of my layout.  In particular, I've been making trees.

The title of this post comes from the fact that the structures I've been working on most recently have all been demolished since I built my models.

This first building is for Martin Fertilizer:

I don't know whether this structure existed in 1960, and it is not shown on the 1942 Sanborn insurance map.  The building looked like this when I built my model, but not long afterwards it caught fire. A few years later the remains were demolished, and all that's left now is the concrete slab.

Google Earth imagery showed a large door on the rear of the building, that backed onto a double-ended siding, so I assume that at one time the industry here was served by rail. At the time of this photo, the occupant was Martin Fertilzer, and that's the name I've gone with.

These next two structures were inspired by real buildings that were located near the railroad tracks but were not rail-served. Both are shown on the 1942 Sanborn map. The first is a public weigh-station, and the second is a small feed-mill.

Photo by Rod Warren.

This afternoon I tried to download a photo of these two buildings from Google Earth Streetview, only to discover that the latest Google imagery shows them both to be gone.

The weigh-bridge building is visible on the left-hand side of the followings photo of Wynnewood station, showing just how close it was to the railroad. The siding that the tank-car is sitting on continued to the right, passing the rear of the building that was Martin Fertilizer.

This last building was not located near the tracks at all, but I've liked it ever since Rod took some photos of it when he, John C and Vic visited Wynnewood back in 1998. For some reason, two sides of the building were clad in red-painted timber, and two sides in corrugated metal sheeting. I didn't have any reddish paint in a  spray-bomb when I painted my model, so I used dark grey instead. Unfortunately, the grey "timber" and silver "corrugated iron" appear to be the same colour in my photo. Someday, I might repaint the grey sides in red.
Photo by Rod Warren

Photo by Rod Warren

That building, like the others, is now gone.

These three buildings are located right on the edge of the layout where they're likely to be bumped by operators, so I'm reluctant to add too much detail to them.

I've also been learning to make trees using Scenic Express SuperTrees and plastic tree armatures that I bought on ebay. Some of my trees are visible in the photos above, and I have several more batches to "plant".

Thanks for looking. And thank-you to Rod for the photos.


Monday, 16 July 2018

Operating on the Cann River

Last Friday Darren hosted an operating session on his Cann River layout which is based on the Victorian Railways.  Here are some photos that I took during the evening.

This N scale stock pen near Noorinbee is exquisite, and my photo does not do it justice. I need two, larger
stock pens on the GC, and I'll be hard-pressed to model anything this nice.

This is a view of the long platform at Noorinbee. The signal box at the far right is shown in
the following photos.

The signal box at Noorinbee.

Another view of the signal box at Noorinbee.

The motive power for the train that I ran during the evening was this "T" class,
accompanied by two guards vans.

After making up my train at Genoa I had to wait for a goods train pulled by this "B" class to pass.

Greg was shunting coal wagons at Wingan when I took this photo.

A town scene at Noorinbee, although this could be almost anywhere in rural Victoria.

A small goods shed situated next to overgrown track near Noorinbee.

Darren (L) watches as Graham shunts wagons at the Cann River yard.

The control panel at Cann River. I understand that the display follows VR practice.

Graham at Cann River

Chris, shunting covered wagons at one of the smaller towns (the name of which I forget.)

The control panel at Wingan is typical of those found on the smaller towns on Darren's layout. The plan is (or was)
for the layout to be controlled by a dispatcher using CTC, but train operators can over-ride that system by first
unlocking the local points and then operating them. The unlocking controls are shown in the box to the left
of the 4 toggle switches, and the process involves pressing a button until a LED glows, then throwing
a toggle switch. This adds an entirely new and fun dimension to operations.

This is my goods train leaving Noorinbee. I had arrived at Noorinbee via the track on the left, and then
run around the train so I could depart in the right direction.

A level crossing in rural Victoria.

Crossing a timber trestle bridge on the way to Chandler.

A couple of N scale wagons - a cement car and a tarp-covered GY wagon. The quality of the N scale
VR models available is staggering.

A VR goods shed with a couple of enclosed vans.

I've delivered my loaded coal wagons to the paper mill at chandler, and I'm on my way back to
Genoa with several empty cars.

Darren's layout ran just as nice as it looks, and I had a very enjoyable time running my goods train from Genoa to Chandler and back.

Unfortunately, the Cann River's days are numbered as Darren has sold his house and the layout is to be demolished. However, Darren hopes to host another session (or more?) before the layout comes down, and I hope to be invited over again.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, 30 June 2018

GC&SF operating session - 29 June 2018

I called the crew together for another operating session on the GC&SF last night. Some of the guys couldn't make it due to other commitments, and a couple called in sick (sorry guys; there's no paid sick-leave on the GC), so we were down quite a bit on crew numbers. However, with just six of us we managed to complete the full morning schedule. Better still, we achieved that without any annoying problems (such as derailments in the hidden staging.) It has been a long time since that happened.

Brendan and I operated the yards while Greg, Bill, Graham and Chris ran the trains. Chris also took a bunch of photos and made a short video.

Here are some of the photos that Chris and I took during the session:
Greg is doing some switching at Dougherty, with the Ardmore local freight.

Chris, with Train 37 at Davis.

Graham with the Davis - Pauls Valley local freight, switching at Wynnewood.
(This photo also shows some of the new structures I've been working on for Wynnewood.)

Brendan is checking the Crew Call Board, to see what train he can run during a quiet time at Pauls Valley.

Ooops ... something when wrong as Graham left Pauls Valley with the local freight.

Greg, still at Dougherty with the Ardmore local freight.

Bill is waiting for Chris to terminate Train 37 in the south staging yard,
so he can run a north-bound train.

Graham is switching some cars at the Kerr-McGee Refinery (Wynnewood).

Bill has Train 38 stopped while he waits for Graham to clear the main.

Greg is delivering empty gons to the Dolese Bros. crusher at Big Canyon.

Greg has set out the gravel train on the siding at Davis, and Graham is making his final deliveries
with the Davis - Pauls Valley local freight.

Brendan is sorting cars at Pauls Valley.

Graham is working out what switching he has to do at Wynnewood.

A 'drone's-eye view' of the sidings at Kerr McGee Refinery.

The Stillwater Mill at Davis.

Empty gondolas awaiting loading at Southern Rock Asphalt in Dougherty.

Chris also made this video of a train with a block of Santa Fe box cars moving through Davis.

I've always thought that we needed at least seven operators (and preferably eight) to keep to the schedule, so I'm chuffed that with just six of us we were able to work the full schedule without any delays or problems. I feel I'm lucky to have such a skillful and enthusiastic bunch of crew members to run the layout with me just as I like it to be run. Thanks guys!

Thanks also to Chris for allowing me to share his photos and video.