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Ersatz Ground Signals







The Operating of the Layout...

My layout represents quite a few miles of main line, two end stations, a branchline, two loco depots and ... well it is all in my imagination just as many larger layouts need a bit of imagination to cope with the selective compression needed. A mile long (1.6 kilometre) passing siding for example would need 66 feet of length (about 20 metres) alone and most of us cannot operate in an aircraft hangar. I operate alone a lot and it is just  great to be able to set a train going while doing other tasks in the shed, or just when I am in need of a bit of stress relief.

I imagine the main station(s) as a division point where cars can be marshalled into trains similarly to that when I lived in Peterborough in South Australia. There were no online industries there and there are not any in my layout yard either but there was a lot of activity including splitting of trains to take into account ruling gradients and "branch traffic" which would probably take a bit more to explain. 


The actual layout (while not quite to scale) looks like this


The stations run like this

ST AGNES  - Trains are made to run "Eastbound"  through A usually after having crossed an inbound train. You will note that to progress to the mainline it will have to go through B then to D to get out to the main line. I use shorter trains hauled by my steamers or trains such as passengers or transfer freights. Once out on the outer line which becomes the main, a train will do 10 laps or so before coming to Redwood Junction ...

  This is the only spot on the line where "local" switching can take place and the short siding to the right of "D" will "disappear" soon when a new actual branch is built. The physical half lap between "D"and "C" is run before the train "branches off". Trains for Ridgehaven proceed through another 10 laps to Banksia ...

BANKSIA  is simply a passing siding for the passenger trains etc to provide a stopping point for the passenger trains. There is a water tower on the layout where the steam locomotives "take water". The mainline trains then run another 10 laps to Tea Tree


Tea Tree -  Some trains notably some of the shorter ones out of St Agnes, run transfer cuts here exchanging cars which the yard switcher at either St Agnes or Ridgehaven (take your pick) then switches into further "Eastbound" trains which the returning train will cross back at St Agnes. Or they can proceed onto Ridgehaven 10 laps further.

RIDGEHAVEN  - The opposite end of the line.  What ever locomotives and cabooses arrive from the West end (B) must  return to St Agnes and vice versa.  However simulating loads can continue in one direction while empties could travel the other if you had a lot of ore cars for example


Heading back through Redwood Junction, the transfer runs involve the train running into a  "cleared" passing siding between B and A, uncoupling and running around the train through C and D before fetching its caboose. There should be cars switched into the middle road by the local switcher or shunter (depends on your vernacular) while the transfer has been out on the main line. These cars are then returned to St Agnes while the cars "delivered" by the transfer run will be made into the next East Bound run which the transfer train will "cross" on its arrival back at St Agnes.

Passenger operations

At St Agnes, when a passenger run takes place, the incoming freight is held at point C (or St Agnes East) while the passenger train loads on the shorter passing siding and departs for a very short run also to St Agnes East where the freight takes the main line into St Agnes. The Passenger will then make its run to Ridgehaven and the switcher has a tight timeline to position the remade up freight on the other track, change over the motive power and cabooses, all at scale operating speeds. 

TO CONCLUDE   -    I hope you have not been too confused by all this doubling and tripling (five or ten "plicating"???) of functions of my track. My idea is to replicate operations as I have observed over many years. OK, the trains are not as long as I would like ( my longest is usually 13 cars, the transfer runs or the smaller steam engine through runs etc run 8 or 9 freight cars but it does well for what it is. In fact I believe it does a lot more than many layouts much bigger. 

Hope you enjoyed all this and please feel free to write if you need clarification

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