Progress Report 60: Turntable Access to Shed

Short Version

Physical turntable installation completed. Basic track access from main line laid and connected. Initial track laid from turntable into Storage Shed laid over servicing pit. Hunslet steam locomotive now stowed under cover. Very temporary additional tracks off turntable for rolling stock storage. Additional works in progress prior to completion of project. Turntable tracks numbered.

The More Informative Version

Following the commercial major overhauls of the Hunslet steam locomotive and the Ruston diesel, it had always been my desire to provide suitable under-cover and maintenance facilities for these items — the sooner the better! The latter was achieved with the construction of the 14m long by 10m wide Storage Shed containing two rail tracks, complete with an inspection pit under part of one of the tracks.

Image 1: CAD (computer animated drawing) prepared by Josh Burke, showing the intended completed track layout around the turntable and Storage Shed precinct. The current stage will have the main line leading directly on to the turntable. The point allowing for the main line extension will be installed at a later date. At an even later date, two additional points could link the inner and outer tracks at this point, thus allowing for a reversal of train direction.

As has been covered in Progress Report 54, the turntable itself was constructed off-site and delivered to Pete’s Hobby Railway in July last year.

Subsequently, Progress Report 56 reported on the commencement in February of this year of the building of the pit itself to house the said turntable. At this stage, I don’t propose to go into detailed coverage of the construction process as I hope that Phil and Josh will in due course produce an illustrated manual for inclusion on the PHR webpage on “how to build your own narrow gauge turntable in a few simple lessons”! I will however place on record here that Phil and Josh have single-handedly designed and undertaken the construction of a facility which would be the envy of many commercial undertakings! To which I can only say – congratulations on a job very well done. I look forward to its final completion and (COVID-19 permitting) an appropriate official commissioning.

Image 2020.0812: Josh and Phil spread the cement for the base of the bull-ring. Note the temporary timber forming to maintain the correct borders. Friday, 19th June 2020.

Image 2020.1053: Lowering the turntable into its final resting place. Friday, 24th July 2020.

Image 2020.1105: The greatest of care was taken in the construction of the circular wall around the turntable. Note the spirit level! Heights were critical in order to obtain the correct levels for the ten tracks which will finally radiate from the turntable. Saturday, 1st August 2020.

In accordance with tradition, I have renumbered the various tracks off the turntable clockwise from the Arrival/Departure Road. As this Arrival/Departure Road leads directly into one of the two tracks within the Shed, this has been numbered as 1 Road. Thus the second track within the Storage Shed becomes No. 2 (Pit) Road. Hopefully, Josh’s CAD above will explain this more simply.

The shed construction has already been covered in previous Project Reports. However, it remained to provide the actual rail access from the operating portion of Pete’s Hobby Railway into the said Storage Shed. This was finally achieved on Saturday, 5th September, with access being available under construction conditions (ie, prior to all works being completed). However, this allowed the Hunslet steam locomotive to be placed inside the Shed over the servicing and maintenance pit. With a boiler inspection forthcoming, access to the servicing pit will be of considerable advantage!

Between the pit and the turntable, 2 Road will have a de-ashing and blow-down facility. It has already been partly constructed, with waters discharging into a pipe leading to a sump located in the turntable, then to a discharge point some distance away on the front lawn. Adjacent to this facility is to be a coal stage (shown on the above plan), with the floor at cab floor height, thus making it easier for manual re-coaling of locomotives. Finally, a watering facility is proposed between 1 & 2 Roads, although only supplying water at normal main pressure. Finance is simply not available at this time for a small elevated tank which could otherwise be kept full using a ball-valve or cistern (such as in a home toilet).

No. 1 (Shed) Road has approximately 13m of space within the Storage Shed, while No 2 which runs right through the building and out the other end, has 14m within and approximately 6m beyond, to a dead-end.

Rail access into No. 1 Road within the Shed still has to be undertaken as PHR awaits delivery of a specially designed hydraulic rail bender. At the present time, the Fowler frame and separated driving wheels occupy this track, and they will be going “no-where” in the immediate future!

The turntable is of five metres length, capable of holding any PHR locomotive; in fact, it has been found that the Ruston diesel together with one four-wheel carriage can also be accommodated.

Three external storage roads (3, 4 & 5) will be parallel, each approximately 12m in length. At some future stage, covered shelter could be provided over these tracks and/or the tracks extended by a further 12m. On the opposite side of the turntable, each track is to have an extension, No. 6 Road about 6m in length, which would allow for rolling stock to be pulled from No. 6 Pit Road on to the turntable for turning while No’s 7 and 8 will be limited in length so as to stop short of the future main line. No. 9 Road is likely to be extended at a later time to run parallel to the southern side of the Storage Shed. These quoted lengths do not allow for clearance needs. All these external tracks will be covered with road base so as to form a hard level surface which will also allow for vehicular access. No decision has been made as to where the traditional palm tree should be located! Readers’ input is invited!

Image 2020.1346: Ben on the Ruston powers up to gently propel the Hunslet on to the turntable. Rhys is riding the Hunslet in order to activate the handbrake if necessary.

Image 2020.1351: Once on the ‘table, Josh and Phil manually commence turning the Hunslet. At a later stage, a concrete rail-level pathway will be provided, together with pushing arms to facilitate these manoeuvres.

Image 2020.1355: Almost fully turned, the Hunslet is lined up with future 9 Road. I am at the front, Josh in the cab and Phil standing at the rear, adjacent to 2 Road.

Image 2020.1356: Another view of the Hunslet on the turntable, with Rhys still in the cab. Phil, Nick and Ben look on. Behind the three is the future sites of 3, 4 & 5 Storage Roads, each 12.2m in length.

Image DJI_0205: The Hunslet is safely within the Shed, over the pit. On the right, Josh is driving his drone to take this illustration. I’m sitting down (partly obscured) outside the shed. While Ben, Rhys and Nick look on. (Photo by Josh Burke)

At a later stage, a right-hand point will be installed to provide a permanent access to the depot and storage facility while the Main Line will then be able to continue to form the top “dog-bone” of the circular track (see previous diagrams). Planning provision has been made for the insertion of two points the link the inner and outer portions on the main line — however, this will require a relocation of part of the inner track to widen the existing sharp radius curve so as to accommodate these points. Installation of same would allow for main line trains to reverse direction, doubling the length of operation to around 1½km.

This external turntable area can be illuminated during night hours by a floodlight located high above the roller doors at the eastern end of the shed.

Image 2020.1428: View showing the newly installed turntable. Arrival/Departure track is in the lower right, two passengers carriages are sitting on very temporary timber tracked 4 Road while the Ruston diesel is standing on No. 2 Road. Eventually, all external tracks will be covered with hardened road-base as are the two tracks in the lower foreground.

As I prepare this Progress Report, the turntable tracks apart from 2 Road into the Shed are in the process of being laid, then back-filled with hardened road-base so as to provide a level walking area. First use is being made of recently obtained (recycled) plastic sleepers on these tracks. Unlike the traditional dogspikes to hold the track to gauge on wooden sleepers, large diameter screws with large heads are used. An image has been included to illustrate this form of attachment.

Image 2020.1416: Close-up of Josh screwing in the dogspike into the plastic sleeper.

Until construction of the external three sidings has been completed to an extent where they can be of use, an extremely temporary timber rail siding was laid to accommodate the four-wheel carriages. This may well be replaced by the “permanent” track before this Progress Report even appears. Accordingly, an illustration is included in this report to record its temporary existence!

Locking devices are to be installed so that the turntable cannot move unless these are released. Provision is being made for the installation of portable bars to facilitate the manual rotating of the turntable from an external walkway (still to be constructed).

Work never ceases … while construction of the external turntable tracks continue, the Hunslet has to be prepared for its annual boiler inspection, preceded by some minor maintenance.

Image 2020.1403: First maintenance work using the newly accessible pit … Ben attempts to extract the blowdown cock for replacement while Rob looks on. Monday, 7th September 2020.

An Appreciation

The design of the turntable facility, including calculations of numerous height levels, was fully undertaken by Josh Burke. In conjunction with his father Phil, they also liaised with several Junee and Wagga companies for the supply and/or construction of the various component parts. The whole installation has been constructed to the highest standards which would equal any professional undertaking. It is envisaged that a suitable maker’s plate and/or signage will be displayed so as to record with appreciation the import by the various parties. Phil and Josh are being encouraged to prepare a suitable “How to construct your own narrow gauge turntable facility” segment for inclusion on the Pete’s Hobby Railway web page. In the interim, Pete’s Hobby Railway wishes to place on record the expertise of Phil and Josh in the whole of the turntable precinct works — which would not have been possible without their heavy input and the co-operation of the local Junee and Wagga industries. Thank you!!!!

2 thoughts on “Progress Report 60: Turntable Access to Shed

  1. I have to say I am overawed by the work that has been done there. Makes me wish I was a neighbour and could do something to help.

  2. Thank you for your kind words, Leon. Goulburn is “just down the road” from Junee! (For overseas followers, in Australian talk, “just down the road” can be anything from less than a kilometre, to several hundred. Junee is a little under three hours’ drive away from Goulburn.

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