Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Passing Wind: Something for the Wellingtonians

DB finally reveals:

So you have a 12 foot long wall to spare huh?

Way back in 2008, I suggested the Ngauranga gorge might be a good subject for a stand-alone module or "as part of a larger Wellington Harbour layout (more on that later)". Well, "later" is finally here.

About 16 years ago I lived briefly in Sydney and for a short time was domiciled in a small house with a small spare room. It didn't take me long to begin thinking about what I should do with the unused wall of it, and having left NZ from Windy Wellington, that seemed like a logical choice of subject.

In due haste, two main 4x2 foot modules were whacked up from 1x2 pine plus a thin ply top; and a pair of (almost) 2x2 end pieces from less-hardy materials (foam board and balsa if I recall!) to support the return loopy tracks.

The track plan was quite clever if I might quite unhumbly say so, and although I considered several options, I 'think' (memories of 1997 being a little hazy at this point) I ended up with this pile-o-spaghetti mobius strip design. A train headed out from the yard track beside the loco depot and up the left hand rising main up to T1. It then came around and back from Petone and into the yard, then around out the passenger tracks to head out through Kaiwarra, under the bridge and out to the Hutt valley, it then climbed around and returned via tunnels 2 and 1 and back towards the station to emerge in the yard again. Genius.
Vague recollection of the track plan...
Omitted for clarity, so you could follow that journey, were a pair of crossovers (included in the plan  below in red, which gave more flexibility for mixing things up a bit. As would have replacing the diamond crossing with a double slip, but at the time I was worried about having to wire DCC reversing loops, which the clever-ish design here avoided. If the layout was a long termer, the end modules would have been replaced with separate loop/fiddle yards each for Hutt, Porrirua, Welly Station and Welly Yard. The intention was to have a 9vDC powered J'ville unit run up it's isolated track into a tunnel and then reverse back down to hide under the motorway on a timer.
I bought my Digitrax DCC set specifically for this wee layout and remember sending an email to Rhys (not knowing at the time of course that one day he would head the worldwide Motorised Dandruff media empire) to share the thrill of running my recently-decoderised DXR out of the yard and up the hill with a long train, only to have it stall on the sharp return curves while lugging its load up the grade to Tunnel 1. I pulled a couple of locos out of the depot and ran them up to the tail of the train, MU'd them with the DXR and successfully bought the train home via the Hutt 'in' track. At the time, that sort of operation was quite the novelty 'back in the day'!

Every few years I uncover a few blurry prints of the layout and say to myself "I must post that on the walls of Chateau Dandruff one of these days" and upon seeing a few pictures today I'm doing just that to clear my conscience. These are bad pics of crappy, blurry originals but they convey the gist of it I hope.
Overall view of the 'right hand end' as scenicking begins. I don't seem to have taken any pics of the yard end, which was never scenicked except for a removable card and balsawood motorway view block with blue sky board attached.  Catenary poles are sections of brass rod, soldered to a brass base. 
T1 and T2 portals are visible here, as is my feeble depiction of the motorway. That and the houses were necessarily in extra-small forced perspective scale and reduced scope.
A blurry pic of an almost-sharp pic taken at a later stage when the hills had been bushed up, the motorway had fine sandpaper added, there is a bridge over the Hutt rd and a pseudo-fascia was installed in the foreground to tidy things up. Note Ian Athfield's house up on the hill, and a green weatherboard number on the ludicrously steep road to Khandallah. I still have both those houses for some reason and enjoyed making Ian's especially.

While the layout was never finished, and only had a 9 month life, I always thought that with a bit more room (even four 4x2 sections would do in a pinch) that this would make a neat modular home layout that would be a real winner at Welly area exhibitions.

Although my Windy Wellington layout has long since passed, over the years I've not let this concept die, and one day it might rise, Phoenix-like (the mythical creature, not the rusting EE units), from the ashes:

So even if you only have a 12 foot wall, don't let that stop you using NZ120 to put a lot of action into a small space!


beaka said...

Nice to see something i never knew existed, which in reality it doesn't anymore.I especially like how you have done the scenery.I bet Russell would be interested in how you were going to model the Johnsonville units

NZ120 said...

Very well thought out design I must say. Took me a minute to follow the design & am quite taken with it. All the bush is definately looking the part! Thanks for sharing!

Kiwibonds said...

Gracias, hombres.

I just remembered one other design 'feature' - you can run a train out of the yard up to T1 and back onto the yard again. You can run a passenger train out of the station via the hutt valley and back into the station again.

I vaguely recall I had a short siding between the station tracks in the hidden area that would have allowed the latter which I hoped to use for EMUs. Or did it rise up and have a turntable/sector plate over the loopy tracks that could turn a loco and three wagons and have a spare track for EMUs? I don't recall...)

It was electrically isolated with 4 fishplates and could be connected to one track or the other via a dpdt switch to avoid having a live reversing loop/wye which was a bit scary in the brave new the DCC world.