Thursday, October 14, 2010

What to do now....

Well I know my posting has somewhat slowed in the past few months and there are other things on the layout that I would like to share. My attention really has been on future projects, namely my home layout.

I have built the layout shed and had it lined, so now I am trying to really work out what it is that I want in there. The layout room is basically 23 feet by 18 feet and it was always intended to build the Merriwa branch. My issue is although I really like Merriwa yard, the rest of the line I am not so sure about. There are some structures I want and they are not on the line. EG . I want the Half Howe Truss Bridge. How much modellers license can someone have before you loose the atmosphere of the line that you are modelling?

My latest thought is to build hidden staging and come into Merriwa, then build what I perceive to be the Merriwa Extension,  but does that change the way that Merriwa would be, most of the facilities would have been removed I would think and then it no longer could be considered Merriwa.

Does anyone have any opinion that would maybe get me out of this developing rut.



  1. G'day Andrew

    It's always a tough decision, whether to model something as exactly as possible within space constraints so that it is essentially a replica of what is there, or to take all of the features that we like be they track plans, structures, land formations etc and combine to make something that appeals to ourselves.

    I think so long as all of the idea that you would like to combine still work together, who is to say that you cannot have a half Howe truss bridge on your layout just because the general area you are basing your layout on didn't have one.

    I wonder how many people have fixed their layout plans based on replicating the real thing only to finish it and be slightly underwhelmed because it now doesn't allow them to run that piece of rolling stock that they would like to, doesn't have that interesting bridge or cutting they would have liked to model, or doesn't even give them the operational enjoyment it should because of the track plan?

    Maybe you need to put down some priorities and see how they fit the plan you are looking at.

    Operational enjoyment - does the track plan allow you to run trains the way you'd like to with long runs, lots of shunting, passing loops etc?

    Variety of Train Types - does it allow you to run all of the rolling stock you'd like to use for variety, coal, wheat, oil, cattle, sheep etc?

    Overall Landscape - does the landscape include the features you will enjoy running your trains through for years to come, bridges, rivers, cuttings etc?

    Overall Effect - Try to visualise looking across the layout and seeing all of your "wish list" items there, vs only having the things that you would have seen on the line you are looking to model? Would you prefer looking at a replica (which will never actually be a true replica anyway due to size) or simply enjoy the fact that the things you like to look at are there?

    With a decent sized layout you actually have the ability to model some key scenes or area's, so even though they may not have been on the one line as such in real life, each station/yard/silo etc within each are would have a consistent feel to it by what surrounds it, and they are all joined by the line running between them.

    If you like a cattle yard on the South Westen part of NSW and a wheat silo from the north west, why can't you have them on the layout so long as the basic feel of each area doesn't clash?

    Most importantly you need to build what will make you happy, not what other people will like, because as you've seen even with Bowen Creek, no matter how good something is, and it is brilliant, there will be those (usually with nothing to show for themselves mind you) that will not like something about it.


  2. Andrew,
    You can add as much modeller's license as you like. Pick and choose what did occur and what might have been. Call you layout Werrima and build it as your extension.

  3. Andrew,

    I must admit that for some reason, Merriwa has never really grabbed me in the same way that Grenfell does. The other thing is the viability of any of the pioneer branch lines termini as a viable long term model. The locos that ran on Merriwa ere pretty limited - 30T, 50, 48 + CPH probably?.
    While it would still be a lot of work in P87, will it really hold your interest operationally? I have sort of come to the conclusion that a secondary or cross country line has the best of both worlds and modelling a junction on one (such as Koorawatha) gives one more variety in locos and stock.

    The other possibilty is modelling Merriwa and another station on the line with reasonable goods facilities. But I would go the secondary line route myself. I am not really sure if Bowen Creek is meant to be a station on a branch line or a station on a secodary line (strikes me as the latter) but an arrangement of a BC type station and maybe a simlar one with a Silo would be interesting.

    Not sure if I have helped or confused myself here!

  4. Andrew I too have a great liking to the Merriwa Branch especially after a visit with Geoff back in 2008. Ian also has an interest and may be able to add some very good input. The line between Muswellbrrook to Cassilis via Merriwa and the line between Singleton and Cassilis via Merriwa were mooted between 1889 and 1895. In the end the line as we know it today won out. This could be an option for prototype freelancing giving you the option to have Merriwa in the format as needed but then add in the other items like the Howe Truss to cross the Hunter or Golburn rivers. The branch suffered from not much traffic and trying to add interesting traffic to host operating sessions is one thing also I have been trying to consider. Anyway enough of my rambling. Darren

  5. HI Guys and thanks for your input. I think all of you have suggested things that are in my head, it is really nice to hear it from you guys.
    Darren, when you mentioned "I wonder how many people have fixed their layout plans based on replicating the real thing only to finish it and be slightly underwhelmed". You couldn't have been more on the money. This is whats worrying me, I will no doubt enjoy building Merriwa, but when its done will the joy then be lost.

    Craig (Cassino), You mentioned another name, well I have one, Gummun, which is the earlier name. Maybe a bit like Lambing Flat (Young).

    Craig W, Yes the secondary line is what has been floating in my mind. BTW Bowen Creek is based on a secondary line. The idea of running point to point I think is good, or hidden staging to hidden staging. It works for Ray Pilgram, I think, I enjoyed myself there anyway. James McInerney has been doing it for a long time.

    More thought will happen but I am happy I asked the question and your input has been valuable, I am a step closer for your input.

    Many Thanks


  6. Andrew, I must admit I can see a few trains (in my mind) for Bowen Creek... a late 70s mail train and a livestock train are two that come to mind.
    What period are you looking at for your home layout?

    Dont forget that many of the country branches lost passenger services in the mid 70s - and quite a bit of goods traffic (and infrastrcture!) around this time which buggers things a bit

  7. Darren,

    Rambling is good, it may save me.

  8. Craig w,
    I am thinking of Austrains new FS,BS coaches for BC.
    I had planned for 1969 for Merriwa but the thing about Branchlines is they didn't change much in their life time. So I did think of running different periods. I know colour of buildings changed but there is the compromise I guess.

  9. Andrew, as Darren said we visited the line a couple of years ago. I liked the fact that the line and facilities were 'just enough' to get the job done, a very good example of a pioneer line. I suppose like everyone else you need to balance 'likes' with realities of what the line was. The half howe truss bridge, I would think would not have been a cheap option for a pioneer line. I do understand wanting one as they look fantastic, and modelling one would be a challenge also.

    I would probably put together a list of what you want on the line, and i must agree with Craig, the idea of using Koorawatha or a station like it, may give you the opportunity to have the features you're after.

    I haven't added anything that you wouldn't have already thought of yourself. A great question, not real easy to answer, but I think putting the idea on the Blog is well worth it!


  10. Hi Geoff,

    It is hard to answer, I really only have one shot at it. It is hard not to start thinking of building "the Empire", but really I like shelf type layouts with detailled scenery so maybe its just a matter of getting my head right. Its funny Koorawatha was brought up because I am a Cowra kid and was going to do the Eugowra branch which does have the half howe truss on it. Hmmm need to ponder a little more but we will chat about it at Armidale.


  11. Andrew,

    Not to discount 'your' Merriwa layout, but I concur with Craig W comments regarding Grenfell and Koorawatha.

    An article I keep returning to to re-read is in AJRM No.4 on "Tumut to Batlow - A complete branchline in HO Scale" layout proposal.

    Not that I am overly interested in the Tumut to Batlow branch, but more so the article generally because of the design principles set out and the scope for prototypical "operation".

    The layout as proposed is essentially a point to point type, well (fiddle yard to terminus x 2)

    There is a good synopsis of a typical day of operation on the Grenfell Branch and the interaction of trains on the secondary line at Koorawatha in "Days of the Goods Train" by R Preston that might be worth a read

    As for loco hauled passenger / mail trains for Bowen Creek my thoughts turn to MCE-ACS-MHO or CR-ACM-EHO. The former would be easy to obtain running on P87 disc wheels, the latter train would best be seen to be running on spoked wheels and well.....were still working on that!

    Am enjoying your blog


    Tom R

  12. Hey Tom

    Don't forget issue two, Bob Cooke did an article on Greenthorpe which is the intermediate station on the branch. A nice photo to be found on page 41 issue 7 for the passenger cars as well as some dude talkin about a truck. :-P