Total Pageviews

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Long time between updates


2024 has arrived and yes , it has been a while. 

The blog I started over 10 years ago was meant to follow the progress of my journey, building a branchline HO scale layout.

The focus has always been towards operation and am happy to say that the ops session held on the 13th January went very well and was a great way to kick off a new year.

The opening photo is the scene you see when first entering the room. The layout is operated as a point to point style, linear design. A combination of open air and hidden staging give the feeling that trains are 'going somewhere'.

There are 2 peninsulas, with back drops that prevent operators from seeing over. Radio NCE throttles are used to control the movement of trains in a 'sequence style' program.

My pre-ops preparation program involves cleaning the track and vacuum. Wheels on locomotives are checked and cleaned. I am lucky in that the  room is air conditioned, carpeted, insulated and lined with dry wall. This keeps the layout easy to maintain and a pleasure to work in. Sometimes the crew lounge is too comfortable and nothing gets done , but I digress

Regular and visiting operators are updated on any changes to the layout or operating instructions after the usual arrival greetings, refreshments and nibbles have been undertaken.  There is always something new to share or discuss and here we see visiting operator Aaron Stinton from Sydney, New South Wales showing the developments in his signal project.

Briefing over and operators waste not time in checking their paperwork and getting the trains underway. Trains are operated under a 2 person crew, engineer and conductor or as we call it in Australia , driver and second person.  In this scene, the Grain train is about ready to depart Wattle Flat yard.  The crew of the mixed goods train are waiting at the 'Home signal' and when 'clear' will enter the station precinct , allowing the Grain train to depart.

Operators rely on the instruction sheet and the X2010 or Train Consist Form. This form lists the car (carriage) numbers for each car and where each car needs to be switched (placed) and if there are any cars that need to be pulled. Sign on locations, date and time, engine number along with operators name are all recorded.  I record all the jobs that each operator completes in a log so I can allocate different jobs each ops session. The information is also handy for anyone working on their MMR , AP program.

The other end of the layout, North Gulgong is where the branchline enters the mainline. Aaron and Geoff are working another mixed freight that arrived from the Sydney (hidden staging) via the west due to track closures (maintenance). The fore ground is still to receive scenery and leads to the open air staging part of the layout representing Newcastle and the more direct way to Sydney. 

Craig to the left is operating the Rail Motor and has stopped at the station. Employees depart here and walk to the Feed Mill complex for their respective shifts. Brendan is in charge of the Grain train and about to switch the silo track on the opposite peninsular.

The relaxed pace of sequential operations , I feel allow for the crews to enjoy and get a feel for what they have to do. There is no need to rush. The 2 crews are working their trains. There is plenty to think about but more importantly enjoy each other company.

Each crew works at their own pace. I typically ops session last 2 hours and then we break for crib and then we run again if operators are wanting too.

There has been a lot of changes from when I last posted and am very happy to say that the layout is 'earning a keep' and providing me and my operators with plent y of enjoyment.

Take care and in future updates I hope to share more of my journey.

Remember this hobby is not about the destination, but the Journey.

Big Daz


  1. So grea to see a new post Darren! Welcome to 2024, and thanks for asking us along for a running session. You will have to give a bit of time to posting photos of the areas you’ve been working on since your last post. Even just some updated photos so people can see the projects you’ve completed. The kit bashed projects, and your bridge construction are truly worth a revisit!

  2. Thanks for the comment. My plan is to share and update followers of my progress. Hopefully I can keep the momentum. See you next Tuesday .