The short version
Wonderful News! At long last, work has commenced on the construction of the engine shed and storage facility for Pete’s Hobby Railway. Following the levelling of the depot site and the approval by Council of structural plans, initial construction of the 14m long by 10m wide concrete floor commenced on Friday 8th February with the boring of foundation holes, the delivery of the first concrete and the re-enforcing mesh for the inspection pit construction.
The longer version — Part 1!
Approval for the structure had been included with the original Development Consent from Junee Shire Council dated 28th June 2016 (See Progress Report No. 10).
However, it had first been necessary to lay the initial lengths of track for the Railway and so it was not until mid-2018 that real steps were taken for its construction. That’s not to say that nothing occurred over the previous years about the shed facility!
As the plan below indicates, the original track layout intention for PHR was really simple – a single loop around my 1.01ha block, together with a two track engine and carriage shed, 12m in length and 10m wide, located between the rear of my dwelling and the garage/archives building. This would have accommodated my two working locomotives on one track, and the four 4-wheel carriages on the other.
Over the course of the next year or so, the site of the proposed shed moved around as Josh attempted to convince me that the branch line to the shed could be redesigned to incorporate double balloon loops – one at the front of the house and the other at the rear, replacing the simple boundary perimeter route. However, ground levels were not suitable (requiring excessive excavation or filling), not assisted that the required points were not available.
Josh went so far as to prepare a scale plan, incorporating curves of no less than 20m radius, my desired operational minimum (although currently some parts of the track currently have a sharper radius).
Using a minimum of a single junction point, one proposal had the shed moved towards the western boundary, accessed by a small turntable. (See Plan 2). It incorporated some interesting ideas, including a specific track off the turntable leading to a loading bank for roll on / roll off movements of rolling stock on to road transport. There was one major operational flaw however – getting non-self-propelled vehicles in and out of the shed. Although I did have three converted standard gauge points, we had discovered that only one right hand point was complete, the other two were made of the necessary parts, but of lighter weight rail and not considered to be usable in their current condition.
I continued with my own ideas, retaining the simple circular track, but with access to the shed in its near original site, from the western side. Undeterred, Josh came back with a further alternative, returning the proposed shed to its original location and accessed from the eastern side. (See Plan 3.) While still incorporating a turntable, one track could be accessed directly across the turntable without the need for rolling stock to be turned. Only locomotives (or vehicles) entering the servicing track would need to be rotated on the turntable.
In all, six proposals were circulated amongst the active volunteers for their feedback. After much deliberation, I have gone with the last-mentioned proposal from Josh, but with the addition (hopefully!) of the cross-over between the inner and outer tracks.
By returning to the original proposals with the shed located between the back of the residence and the existing double “garage” (actually now used as an archives storage facility) and working on a 20m minimum radius curvature on the main line, we have been able to come up with a most interesting “dog-bone” layout which would initially only require the use of one (right hand) point – that giving access to the proposed shed facility.
This approach track would lead to a short turntable – the through road leading to No1 track within the Shed (and suitable for stabling the full four-car passenger train), while the other road (requiring the turntable to be activated) would provide access to No. 2 track into the Shed. A third track could later be added if desired, to the eastern side of the house, for storage purposes or to house the Ruston diesel locomotive.
No. 2 Track is to incorporate a six metre long inspection pit, 1.2m in depth and wide enough for ease of working from pit level to the wheels and motion of locomotives, as well as easy under access for brakes adjustments and internal lubrication, etc. The reinforcing required to meet current engineering specifications has added considerably to the estimated overall cost.
The beauty of this latest proposal, which has been fully scaled out, is that it allows for the trackage between the “garage” and the back fence, through trees which we have called the Row of Honour, towards the western fence, then would swing around on a 20m radius around three-quarters of a circle on a low embankment, past the western end of the back veranda and left again to pass between the “garage” and the Shed, to link up with the inner track at the depot junction point.
For all intents, the shed will be totally hidden from public view from the street being located behind my dwelling, while to the rear, the existing garage and a row of tall trees obscures the view from the residence behind, some 50 metres or so distant from the rear boundary fence. Overall, the location is at a maximum distance from adjacent residences, with sighting minimised by existing foliage and is no different to similar style farm-style sheds located on surrounding properties.
The end result is a layout providing for a double dog-bone design, with one loop at the front of my house (already constructed), together with a second one at the rear, and will go close to doubling the length of main line track. While the turntable will permit the turning of locomotives and rolling stock, I would like to see the installation of a set of cross-over points on the eastern side where the two tracks are very close together and identical heights. There is a dream for a signal box / control office at this which would not only visually control this crossover and the admission of locomotives etc to and from the depot precinct, but also be able to manage departure of trains from Loftus station and any signals erected there.
The cross-over points could double the length of each “trip”, with the first run being made anti-clockwise and the second, after traversing the cross-over, would return to the main station (Loftus) travelling in a clockwise direction. At the conclusion of each double trip, a second engine could drop on to the western end of the train standing at Loftus platform and depart anti-clockwise to repeat the journey. The original train engine, now detached, could follow and proceed into “Loco” to await the completion of the passenger train journey when it would drop down onto the western end of the train and so repeat the process. Of course, this operation could only be undertaken when two locomotives were available for use.
Part 2 of this Report will cover the practical works undertaken to get the shed site to the construction stage. Other Reports in gradual preparation will cover the continuing restoration of the Fowler back to working order, another will delve further into the identity of the Fowler (which could be even Innisfail Tramway No.1!) and yet another to discuss maintenance problems with the Hunslet and now the Ruston diesel. Watch these pages!
[END OF PART 1]