Saturday, 23 December 2017

Christmas time, planning time


Ah, Christmas. That time of the year where one year ends, family takes over, goodwill runs merry, good food and drink abound, we exchange gifts, well wishes and long goodbyes with relatives we haven't seen since last Christmas, if we're lucky we get what we wanted, if not the Mother-in-law will blame that extra piece of Christmas pudding for it not fitting, and then just like that it's all over. It's Boxing Day, the cricket is on, the yachts are sailing out of Sydney Harbour and our thoughts turn to the model railway projects we're hoping to finish before we have to return to work for another year. Its called Christmas, and in the blink of an eye it seems another one is upon us.

Gifts and in-laws and pudding aside, it is the most optimistic time on a model railway calendar. A million thoughts of building a model layout are spawned, thousands of rough plans are sketched, hundreds of track plans are drawn on plywood bases, a few hundred less will see track nailed down and fewer still will actually be completed before next Christmas rolls around. It's just the way it goes. Ahead of an end of year holiday, I thought I would get the jump on drawing some plans for a new staging shelf to be constructed in the new year. I'll have a clear weekend calendar come January, so I wanted to be ready to go.

This 900 mm x 320 mm plan will replace the 2 track staging shelf on my layout.

Plans to replace my simple 2 track staging shelf with a 3 track staging yard complete with a pair of crossover switches to run a locomotive around a short train soon got me thinking. Did I want a staging yard, or could I turn the staging shelf into a fully detailed extension of my existing layout? And instead of a run-around switch, could the inclusion of a 3 way turnout turn this short extension into an Inglenook shunting puzzle? They were all good questions. So after weeks of playing around with life-size cutouts of Peco's HO scale track templates, I came up with the above 900 mm long x 320 mm wide extension that still allows for a 600 mm long central track to park my 2 car Xplorer train. The plans are only 160 mm longer than my existing 2 track staging shelf.

While still in its early design stages, what the above plan does offer is for a run-around access point on the two outside tracks. One for the existing cement plant siding, the other for the planned third track that will lead through the mouse hole to serve the new wheat silo that I will add to my layout in 2018. Fanning out the track closest to the bottom of the photo by swapping a right hand medium point for a left hand medium point, also allows for an island platform similar to the one I had originally planned for my now discarded upper level expansion, (see link below). By including a wide overpass at the end of the layout on the right hand side, I can disguise the lack of platform length by making it appear that it continues beneath the road bridge. Steps could then lead down from the roadway to the platform below. This simple track plan could then operate as scenic staging for my layout, or the layout could also act as staging for the new extension. Or I could just call it what it is. An extension for my layout that would give Philden two very different scenes. Country and city, or rural and port. I haven't decided. But suddenly I have options.

42109 takes a breather by the platform at Philden with a short string of PRRY container flat wagons.

For some, the thrill of model railroading is in the planning. I do know that once you cut that first piece of timber, it does become a little more difficult to alter the track plan. So this is the part of the planning that I like to think through from all angles, not only drawing up a 1:1 size layout plan on paper with a permanent marker and stuck-on printed track templates, but drawing in what structures I am picturing in pencil lines. Erasing, and erasing again until I come up with a blueprint that works.

I think the above staging extension has potential. Maybe my post-Christmas down time will enable me to tinker with this a little further. Maybe then I'll draw the plan onto a new sheet of plywood. Maybe the track will get nailed down. And maybe, just maybe, I'll have all this finished in time for Philden's first appearance of 2018. In May, not Christmas next year.

Until next year, have a very Merry Christmas, be nice to one another. And try to go easy on the Christmas pudding...

See also; A Merry Philden Christmas and Philden's HO track plan and Visualising the upper level

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil