Sunday, April 2, 2023

Introducing the Buckland Branch

A rough drawing of the track plan of the Buckland Branch

It has been awhile since I have updated the blog. After the disaster of having the train room flooded, it has taken quite a bit of time to reignite the enthusiasm. The room sat empty for too long as I lost motivation and struggled to restart the build. Thankfully after a holiday mid last year where I decided to build a simpler one level track plan, the enthusiasm is back. 

This layout's name is "The Buckland Branch". It is again a fictious Victorian Railways narrow gauge branch that connects with the broad gauge at a town called Burford. The broad gauge is continuous run with staging under the town of Geehi on the narrow gauge. The narrow gauge is point to point branch servicing small rural communities. It will pass through farmland and forest and carry things like timber, butter, cattle and supplies for the towns along the line.

Since the beginning of August I have completed the benchwork, Installed a backdrop along the centre peninsula and have gotten nearly all the broad gauge track laid. I still have some sidings to lay and point motors to install before the broad gauge track laying is complete. While I have concentrated on the broad gauge the narrow gauge is also progressing. I have the track laid between the interchange town and the first town up the branch. I had the pleasure of running the first train along that section during a visit by Mark & Angela Fry.

I have also started on the scenery at the end of the peninsula. I am keen to get the scenery completed on a small part of the layout, so that visitors can see how it will all look when it is finally completed. 

I still have over half of the narrow gauge to complete the bench work for and then lay the track. I am hoping to have all the track laid and trains running over the whole layout by the end of June.

Next weekend ( Easter 2023) is the Australian Narrow Gauge Convention. I am looking forward to catching up with lots of friends, make some new ones, learn some new skills and get some motivation. I hope to see many of you there.
Burford on the left and the first town on the narrow gauge on the right (still deciding on a name!)

Monday, May 23, 2022


I am very excited that Australian Model Railway Magazine has the Bogong & Geehi Railway as their feature layout for the June 2022 magazine. I would like to thank John Dennis for taking the photos and for Scott Fitzgerald and the team for showcasing my work. I am very happy with how the article came up and it is great way to remember the old layout. I have been doodling trackplans for the rebuild and I think I have come up with a plan that better suits my goals for the hobby. I have laid it out on the floor with masking tape and it all seems to work. I look forward to sharing a preview with you soon.

Monday, April 25, 2022

One step forward, three steps back

The broad gauge yard starting to come together

The farm scene was the only sceniced part of the layout

 Time for an update on the new layout, and the news is there currently is no layout! I had been making good progress with about 60% of the track laid, when disaster struck at the end of January. We had over 100mm of rain in a 24 hour period, and the water just couldn't get away. I had around 50mm of water over the floor for about 12 hours. There was no damage to the layout itself but I did loose some magazines and other stuff that had been stored in boxes on the floor.

I had a builder look at the room and the consensus was the only way to stop it happening again was to lift the floor level. I had been having an ongoing effort to keep the room waterproof, and thought I had succeeded. The storm showed that not only had I not, but I had failed in a big way. The damage is very minor compared to what so many have suffered in this extremely wet summer, but is still very frustrating.

The layout is in the back of our garage  

So the decision was made to pull down the layout and lift the floor level by 100mm. Better to do it now while the layout is unsceniced and in such an early phase. It would be a much harder decision if this had happened in a few years time. This has now been done and the room is close to being finished with the floating floor back in and a new door etc. I can recommend hybrid flooring if you are concerned about your floor getting wet. I was able to reuse most of it and the most damage I had was a bit of mustiness.

I have used the enforced break from layout building to finish a number of model railway projects unrelated to the layout. It is also an opportunity to reevaluate what was working well with my design and what I could change to make it better. I suspect that when construction restarts in the next month that there will be a few changes.

Getting the concrete to the garage was a challenge

Tuesday, September 21, 2021


 I am making good progress on the new layout. I have about a third of the benchwork up and I have been able to reuse two yards from the old layout. It has saved quite a bit of work even with modifying them. This has allowed me to lay track between the two and run a train.

This layout will differ from the old one, in that I am also going to have some broad gauge trains running on the layout and interchanging with the narrow gauge. In a new layout I saw the opportunity to add some of the things I like about trains, that the narrow gauge doesn't give me. The layout will still be modelling the Victorian Railways, sometime after 1945 but the interchange and branch will be freelanced. I gave serious consideration to modelling the Walhalla line, but in the end my desire to include elements from the other 3 VR narrow gauge lines as well as buildings I like from my local area won out. 

 I have plans to have a roundhouse & turntable similar to Moe. I will also have a number of sidings with industries that will give me a variety of wagons that aren't used on the narrow gauge such as tank wagons. There should be a role for someone to be the broad gauge operator when I get to being able to hold operating sessions. Their role will include shunting both the interchange and the sidings and maybe running the passenger train. I am getting ahead of myself here, and all of that is a long way into the future.

This is the concept drawing I did to see if the design would work, for both the train and operators. I haven't drawn the interchange station and the yard layouts are a simplified attempt to see what fits. The aisles are also drawn with straight sides because that is an easy way to draw it. In reality the aisles will have curving flowing edges and the track will also wander and not be parallel with either the walls or the aisles. The 32mm gauge track does chew up a lot of space with its 1800mm minimum radius. I have kept it to the outer walls with staging under the first town on the narrow gauge. In reality only the interchange town part of the broad gauge will be visible with the rest hidden. I will also need a lift up gate for it. It isn't ideal but visiting a friends layout where he has successfully used a lift up section has shown it to be a viable option. 

As I have a smaller space for this layout, I needed to make it multi deck to be able to fit all that I wanted. I have tried to minimize how much the second deck covers and the terminus is over an area that doesn't have a yard underneath. It will be a tall layout with the terminus set at 1500mm above the floor. The interchange station is at 1000mm, so the narrow gauge has quite a climb. The highest point of the layout will be a nod under at the entrance door at the top right of the plan. The layout will be around 1650mm high here so most people should be able to get in without any issues. 

I am really happy with the design that was developed with the input of a number of friends. Their help has given me a much better design than I had come up with by myself. I am excited about the scenery and structures that I will be able to build on this layout.  I haven't been able to save any of the scenes from the old layout, but I will be able to reuse most of the buildings and scenery items like the trees. While part of me is sad, I knew from the beginning that I didn't have the room to move any of the layout without compromising the new layout. I see it as an opportunity to build it better and create new scenes that I like just as much as the old.

As for names, I am still working them out. I know the new layout won't be called the Bogong & Geehi. I will retire that name as a recognition of the old layout. I am pleased with what I achieved on that layout and I hope I can do just as well if not better on this new one. I haven't even decided on town names, but they will come in time

Saturday, August 21, 2021

All good things must come to an end...

 So all good things come to an end and so it is for my layout. For reasons that I don’t want to go into here, the Bogong & Geehi is coming down. It isn’t all bad news though, as it will be reborn in a new layout. 

There’s some lessons that I have learnt building this layout that will hopefully help me build a better and more satisfying layout. 

The first is finishing the room housing the layout before starting layout construction. I have a new space that is fully insulated, has a ceiling, floating floor and reverse cycle air conditioning. 

The new layout has been started, and I am planning to reuse as much of the old layout as I can. It will still be the Victorian Railways narrow gauge but with more of the broad gauge 

I am hoping to provide more updates as construction continues

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A quick update

 I know its been awhile since I have posted an update. Work is still progressing but at a pace slower than I would like. Life keeps getting in the way it seems.

I have completed about 25% of the layout now and here are a couple photos to show you the completed work