October 2019






Nothing to show this month. During recent operating sessions C501 has been unexpectedly dying. I have been blaming, dirty wheels, dirty pick ups, dirty track, overheating but have not been able to solve the problem until this last month when I decided to bight the bullet and take the top off of C501. I then discovered that a wire had broken away from the decoder, one of the wires to the capacitor, this being a sound decoder, an N scale one at that. I had to peel back some of the plastic shrink wrap that covered the decoder then look through a magnifying glass to make sure that I found where the wire came from. I also compared it to X49 which has the same Digitrax decoder. The wires on these decoders are quite stiff so I expect that is why it came off also I had curled it round a tight bend. I tried resoldering the original wire with no success so I found a piece of more flexible decoder wire and was able to reconnect the capacitor with that. I test ran the loco with the top off and it ran fine but after I put the top back on it still stopped. So I removed the top again and found the other capacitor wire had come off. I then replaced that wire with more flexible wire resulting in problem being cured and I can report that C501 ran fine on Tuesday night.


There was six of us at this session. Road crew 1 was Sol and Paul, road crew 2 was David, Kanunda Yard master Rod, Hostler John, and myself Train control.

The session got away quite promptly. Almost immediately Sol and Paul found a problem with the paperwork. Their train 313 the down Mt Gambier goods had S301 in front yet their timetable said BL29. It turned out that the pack for 313 had two time tables in it, the correct one saying that the lead loco was S301 and the time table for the last session saying that the lead loco should be BL29. I thought I had lost that time table during restaging. So it did turn up. Once again the superintendent has managed to confuse the operators.

David’s first train was the up Overland which derailed on Sandiman switch. Perhaps X49 was not on the track right from the start and decided to finally derail at that point. Any way the result was that the up Overland arrived at Cooper four minutes late.

During the session the comment was made a couple of times that Sol and Paul were getting all the “easy trains” and David was doing all the shunting. To me it is interesting to see how each session pans out. I think that most times whoever starts with the down Mt Gambier goods will get most of the through freights. These trains are easy but can be somewhat boring. The crew who takes the up Overland at the start of the session will almost always then get the up Myrtle springs goods followed by the down extra grain or stock to Maranalgo. And who ever gets the Maranalgo extra will usually end up with the Maranalgo goods. Some operators enjoy the puzzle shunting at Maranalgo is others seem to stress out when they get those jobs. From my train control desk near Maranalgo it is interesting to see the different approaches to shunting there. You would not believe how many ways that small area can be shunted. I think it is great for an operator to get to work there because Maranalgo is at the end of a short branch where they will not be disturbed by passing trains. From then the crew who selected the up Overland usually get the roadside goods both down and up.

The crew who takes the down Mt Gambier goods as their first train usually takes the Stonie which will involve shunting at Penstone Quarry Emu Flat. Then they take some through trains before taking the extra grain or stock to Emu Flat with involves picking up or setting out at Kanunda, Wooldowie and Emu Flat.

So I suppose that if you want a lot of shunting take the passenger train (up Overland) first up. 

John seemed to struggle as hostler. He was “volunteered” into that job by train control he not having done it since November last year. It is a job that one needs experience to really do efficiently. Also it did not help that the superintendent decided to change the line up in staging tracks seven and eight placing two trains in each of those tracks. John was already under the pump when David arrive at Foster with an unusually long down Roadside goods. When shunting at Emu Flat David picked up all the ‘pick ups”. His instructions say to only pick up wagons going down (to Foster). This meant that when he handed the train over to John, the hostler, John had to send three cars back to Cooper on the up roadside goods. To help John out the controller took on the job of shunter at Foster but while he did some good work and saved some time he put the brake van in the wrong spot resulting in a couple of extra moves causing much hilarity among the onlooking road crews who were being held up.

This hold up altered the normal flow of the session. Usually the crew bringing the down roadside goods into Foster takes the up roadside goods away from Foster. This time after David brought the down roadside goods in the up roadside goods was taken out by Sol and Paul who still did not get a lot of shunting because David had done all the pick ups at Emu Flat so the up roadside goods had an express trip all the way to Kanunda.

The hold up with the roadside goods also caused the last train of the night, the up Mt Gambier goods, to run 30 fast minutes late.

After an interesting and enjoyable session we broke for tea or coffee and home made biscuits.


Above: 846 with the two carriage Emu Flat passenger train is in track seven of staging and is one of the trains assigned to a different track this session.

The goods wagons in track 6b are from the transfer goods and arrived via Cooper. The wagons in track 5b are from the roadside goods and have arrived via Foster.


Above: For some reason I was unable to get the photos I took during the session off the camera’s SD card. So I posed all these photos after the session. Here 930 class Alco 949 travelling B end forward is arriving at Cooper with the up roadside goods.



Above: BL 29 and 940 pass over the upper Bindieye Creek bridge as they arrive at Kanunda with the up Mt Gambier goods.


Above: C501 and G511 lead the Melbourne Jet across Five Mile creek.


Above: Wednesday, during re-staging the Stonie has been re-staged. The loaded hoppers have been placed under the stone bins just as they were shunted during the operating session. Now 705 and 938 will be ready to depart Cooper with the empty Stonie next session.

Cheers Ken.

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