Samstag, 28. Februar 2015

Track plan: Valkenveld extended

I came up with a plan to extend the Valkenveld module which is currently under construction. I am very excited about it as I can now incorporate my vision, an "Inglenook"-style switching layout. Inglenook is a switching puzzle (all information on "Inglenook" which was invented by the late Alan Wright can be found on Adrian Wyman's site: here). The purpose is to form a freight train of 5 cars out of 8 under strict rules and with limited track lengths.

In my world, Valkenveld is still a junction where a double-track mainline and a shortline meet. The shortline has a small yard in Valkenveld. Freight trains are classified to serve the various industries on the shortline.

Of course I had to swear an oath that construction will only start as soon as the first module is nearing completion. Otherwise I am destined to start all sorts of projects without finishing anything properly.

Here is the track plan for the layout that will ultimately be 150 x 30cm. In red the tracks of the Inglenook puzzle. In the background I will incorporate an engine facility. This will allow storing and displaying a number of locomotives and use different ones to complete the switching in the yard.

The mainline tracks on module 1 are in principle operational, but will be used for "decoration" purposes only as the tracks will "end" in a mirror under the road bridge.

The modules will be divided by a backdrop. Module 1 having a more natural feel to it as it represents the entrance of the lines to the city of Valkenveld. Module 2 will be more industrial with the yard, engine facilities and various industrial buildings.

The era is modern and the location is The Netherlands close to the German border. Freight trains pulled by big Diesels rule. From time to time the "Valkenveldse Spoor Vereniging (VSV)" runs excursions on the shortline with their NS 2297.

The track plan with the "Inglenook" tracks marked in red.

Here more information on the classic Inglenook switching puzzle which was an inspiration for the above track plans (source: wyman):

The trackplan is deceptively simple, consisting of only two points and three sidings.
As with most shunting puzzles, the length of the sidings is determined by the operating rules.
In the case of Inglenook Sidings, the longest siding holds 5 wagons, while the two others have a capacity of 3 wagons each.           
The headshunt allows for the engine plus 3 wagons (when operating, a total of 8 wagons plus one engine will be used). Even as the lead track on module 1 is much longer than a locomotive plus three freight cars, the operator will not be allowed to run longer trains.

The object of the Inglenook Sidings shunting puzzle is fairly simple, the order for the shunting crew being:
"Form a departing train consisting of 5 out of the 8 wagons sitting in the sidings."
In addition (and this is where the "game element" of the puzzle comes in) the shunting order states:
"The 5 wagons are selected at random."
On the original Inglenook Sidings, Alan Wright employed what he called the "Tiddlywink Computer" for this task, i.e. distinct tokens for each wagon drawn from a mug. No matter how these 5 items of rolling stock are determined, the order in which this happens is important because:
"The train must be made up of the 5 wagons in the order in which they are selected."

Once the train is formed it will "run" on the shortline to the right. The consist can "come back", a new order is determined and the switching fun can start again.
I am also planning to serve the engine facility with Diesel and maintenance cars to add some more operational extra's.

Freitag, 20. Februar 2015

Inspiration: Dans le gorges de l'Allier @Rail 2015

One of the many great model railroads from this year's "Rail" train show in Houten, The Netherlands. For more photos see my flickr stream (here).

Dienstag, 17. Februar 2015

NS 2200 from Piko

I could not resist the temptation to buy Piko's wonderful model of the NS 2200 in the original red-brown livery. I know it doesn't fit the brief of modern Diesel traction. So I fell back to the old model railroaders' trick and founded the VSV, the "Valkenveldse Spoor Vereniging" that runs specials with their restored NS 2297.

The looks and details of the model are very convincing. I am not so sure about the driving characteristics though. Once the 2200 gets going all is fine. But starting off with slow speeds is most of the times not possible. The model requires a substantial - and not realistic - opening of the throttle to get going. Could it be the Uhlenbrock decoder that causes the trouble?

Information (in Dutch) on the 2200 series can be found here.

Visit Nico Spilt's site for old images of the 2200 (here).

Information on placing the decoter here.

Piko's NS 2297

NS 2219 in Hilversum, 5 april 1969. Source: nicospilt

NS 2216 in Amersfoort, 22 september 1969. Source: nicospilt

NS in Hilversum, 9 april 1969. Source: nicospilt

Three 2200 lead a train through Hilversum, 8 september 1969. Source: nicospilt

Sonntag, 15. Februar 2015

Valkenveld bridge nears completion

The bridge stone bridge in Valkenveld is a famous railfanning hot spot with lots of Diesel and freight action. DB Schenker 6427 does her regular appearance serving the Valkenveld yard while ACTS Class 66 513-9 passes by with a container shuttle.

The bridge is almost finished. Only more weathering and "planting" of bushes and trees needs to be done.

Samstag, 7. Februar 2015

Valkenveld goes digital

Valkenveld entered the DCC era with the installation of the Roco Multimaus system. Kato's Class 66 and Piko's G1206 locomotives are already equipped with decoders.

Roco's Multimaus

For a while I was undecided between the Multimaus and Z21 systems. There are some advantages to the Z21 tablet-based system like no cables to the layout and easier addition of more engineers. However, the haptic experience of the Multimaus convinced me personally more. And it is a proven, reliable and simple throttle.

On the fiddle yard section, the switches are still thrown in the existing analog system. On the Valkenveld micro-layout, the switches are anyway hand-thrown.

Pay attention with the decoder installation in Kato's Class 66 model. The decoder might block the headlight and needs to be pulled up a bit. A good article (in German) can be found here.

Decoder in Kato's Class 66. Source: 1zu160