Timetabling (part 1 – setting the stage)

This can be done without causing the chaos currently evident on Northern and GTR! The starting point is to draw a diagram of the layout showing locations where a locomotive, train or freight car can be held without blocking the main lines.

The sidings (A-F) are only for individual freight cars and cannot be used to isolate a loco or full train. Not all the red berths can isolate a loco, some are used to stable trains while the loco is held elsewhere as listed below.

  1. San Fernandez staging – loco and train.
  2. San Fernandez staging – loco and train.
  3. San Fernandez staging – loco and train.
  4. Cuarto platform 1 (main) – loco and train.
  5. Cuarto platform 2 (loop) – loco and train.
  6. Grande middle road – loco and train.
  7. Grande end of track – loco or train.
  8. Grande carriage shed A – train only.
  9. Grande carriage shed B – train only.
  10. Grande loco shed A – loco only.
  11. Grande loco shed B – loco only.
  12. Grande loco shed C – loco only.
  13. Grande loco shed D – loco only.
  14. Grande fuelling point – loco only.

The next step is to “stage” the trains. I use the American terminology here because I think it best describes the way the FCPyF is operated. With the exception of autoferros running from and to San Fernandez the trains are all in position ready to run at the start of an operating session and only reversed once the session is completed. Only one train is “fiddled” during an operating session, the Grande to San Fernandez mail has its loco placed at the other end at San Fernandez, ready to return to Grande.

The Autoferros (railbuses) are “fiddled” of stage in the more traditional British operating manner and can be taken off or put on the track (but only at San Fernandez) between loco hauled trains. This enables the capacity of the staging yard to be increased as the railcars do not occupy track berths when not in use.

OK, the scene is set, now for the trains. At the start of play the berths are occupied as follows, and the trains will be back in the same places when the running session is completed. The exceptions to this are the autoferros 27 and 28, which will have swapped places.

The diagram is duplicated to save scrolling so far up and down the page.
  1. Passenger set 1 and loco 7 (San Fernandez Mail).
  2. San Fernandez freight and loco 2.
  3. Vacant berth.
  4. Railcar 30 and trailer (passenger).
  5. Railcar 21 (mixed passenger/freight).
  6. Grande station shunter.
  7. Passenger set 2 (San Fernandez Mail).
  8. Passenger set 4 (Cuarto local).
  9. Passenger set 3 (Cuarto Mail).
  10. Loco 58 for San Fernandez Mail.
  11. Loco 14 for Cuarto local.
  12. Loco 42 for Cuarto Mail
  13. Autoferro 27 or 28.
  14. Vacant berth.

You may notice that there is no longer a regular freight service on the Cuarto line. LCL for Cuarto is handled by railcar 21. Mineral traffic from Rio Paleta siding and additional freight for Cuarto is dealt with by freight extras, run as required overnight to keep the line clear for daytime passenger traffic.

Part two to follow.


Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat


I’ve spent some time over the last couple of days looking at photos of Sentinels on passenger trains. The browsing started after I’d read a post on the NGRM forum which mentioned a Muir-Hill passenger tractor on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, I looked for a photo of the prototype and there was another miniature railway’s Sentinel on the same search page.

I thought that looked really good so I then progressed from there to searching for full sized, but narrow gauge, Sentinels on passenger duties.

When a British railway modeller thinks of Sentinels it usually means a railcar like the ones on the LNER or the neat little boxy locos on shunting or local goods train duties but colonial railways, like the ones in these photos, used them on passenger trains.

The geared steam engines could shift pretty impressive loads.

But they were also used on shorter trains, more suited to a model railway.

Trains of just one or two coaches are perfect for most modellers… Hang on a minute, let’s just take another look at that last photo!

Yes, it’s FCPyF #14 at Ciudad Grande.

The gradients on the FCPyF are considerably stiffer than those on the railways in the prototype photos and #14 can’t pull the full scratch set up the hill to Cuarto de Pulgada, but it can cope with the two coaches if the caboose is switched out.

Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Taking a big hammer to the loco shed

Diesel #58 followed the mid-day San Fernandez train hauling a freight extra this afternoon. The two cars were loaded with hardcore, the result of twenty minutes’ work with a hammer and chisel at the loco shed at Grande.

Not quite as drastic as it sounds, to be precise it was just one of the two existing tracks in the loco shed that was dug up.

The library photo above shows what it looked like before work started. The one below shows its current state.

Spot the difference (as a clue the turntable is pointing at it). The shed track nearest to the station needed lifting so it could be slewed over slightly, making room for the new middle road. Both tracks will be buried in concrete once they’ve been wired up and tested.

Posted in FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Timetable changes

Readers in the UK will, no doubt, be aware of the monumental cock-up with the new timetables on Northern and GVT. These are not the only railway companies with diagramming problems, the FCPyF introduced a new passenger service at the weekend using a “scratch” set of coaches including the railway’s large caboose. This vehicle had only been used to provide passenger accommodation on the rear of freight trains previously and had not been required to access the middle road at Grande. However, the new timetable entails the set being stabled on this siding, which is where a problem arose.

The caboose has a low-slung battery box which fouled the loading gauge in the siding, so some ground needed to be dug out to provide clearance.

It is fairly well known that the railway’s management frowns upon wastage so the material removed was loaded into one of the MoW department’s side tippers and dispatched on the San Fernandez freight this afternoon.

On arrival at Bodjio the tipper was set out in the siding, pending a decision upon where the material is to be used, then the freight continued on its way. The unscheduled shunt at Bodjio meant the train was now running late and, on a single track railway, this inevitably has a knock-on effect.

In this case the mid-day mail train from San Fernandez to Grande was delayed, so it missed the booked connection with the afternoon railcar to Cuarto de Pulgada. Unlike Northern’s “emergency timetable” and having to wait until July to see if they can get it right, things should be back to normal on the FCPyF tomorrow.

But normal on the FCPyF usually means haphazard running anyway.

Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat

Going postal after another bridge bash

The bridge connecting Cuarto de Pulgada to the rest of the FCPyF has just taken another bash. The impact lifted the bridge off its footings and tilted it sideways by about 45 degrees. Luckily there were no trains running at the time.

Only when I’d put the bridge back together again did I realise that there was a bit missing. No wonder it hurt so much!

The damage is not structural, the outer woodwork of the bridge is there to hold the lattice girders in place but they in turn are only to prevent trains falling off the bridge in the event of a derailment. The structural integrity of the bridge lies in the main timber beneath the track, which is undamaged. As for my head, I had been hanging laundry out to dry in the garden so I was wearing a hat, which cushioned the blow slightly.

And now for something completely different…

Mention on the MTI forum a couple of days ago of an old Tri-ang mail coach reminded me that I’ve got one stored in a box. It was damaged in so much as the setting out door had come detached from its operating wire, which in turn had come loose from the trip lever, the trip lever for the pick up basket had also come loose from its respective operating wire. After fiddling about with the mechanism for a while I pieced the setting out side back together and attached the door to the wire with a blob of Bostik. The pick up side took a little longer but eventually slotted back together in the right order.

Not a lot of point to this exercise, as I don’t have a suitable layout to run the coach on, but there was nowt worth watching on telly and I’ve finished the puzzles in yesterday’s paper.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, My trains, Narrow gauge, Retro modelling, Standard gauge, Toy train chit chat

Derailment at Bodjio

Held at Bodjio to allow a Cuarto de Pulgada train to pass, #58 then continued its journey to Grande where the regular station shunter, #10, assisted in reversing the train after the passengers had alighted.

With the shunting completed #58 was ready to depart, only about 40 minutes late.

The train made good time and pulled back a couple of minutes on the  run to Bodjio.

But here things went seriously wrong.

The Maintenance of Way crew were called and arrived from Rio Paleta after about an hour. Nothing hurries in Sierra Oculta, the derailed train was late anyway so what’s the rush?

The MoW made short work of re-railing the coach so #58 could be on her way.

Nobody seemed bothered when the San Fernandez train arrived at Resurreccion, about two and a half hours late. There’s no point being bothered, it won’t make the train any less late if you are!

On a more serious note. There have been quite a few problems with the junction at Bodjio, especially with trains taking the sharper radius San Fernandez route. The cause is combined curvature in both the horizontal and vertical planes as trains crest the hill from Grande.

Hopefully the issue has now been solved with a slightly easier gradient achieved by raising Grande as much as possible using the adjustable feet at each of the six support points under the baseboard. If the problem persists I may need to add some packing to further raise the baseboard.

As a last resort there is the option of moving the junction closer to Grande so it is on a constant gradient, instead of at the crest, but this would involve quite a lot of work, both structural and scenic, in the area between the Bodjio and Grande.

EDIT – 22:10hrs 1/6/18

The junction at Bodjio is going to need more work over the weekend.

Shovelnose #29 has just derailed while working the last train of the day from Grande to San Fernandez, blocking both the San Fernandez and Cuarto lines.

Posted in Bodging and Kitbashing, FCPyF 2016 rebuild, My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat


Since the Seaside Line was converted to 2’6″ gauge the opportunity has arisen for Muston Sands to play host to locos from other railways in the manner that tourist and heritage lines so often do.

All from Sierra Oculta, FCPyF #1 is working in Yorkshire for the summer season this year.

Posted in My trains, Narrow gauge, Toy train chit chat