Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ray Pilgrim, is noted for his modelling works & provides a lot of great information & challenges on his blog Its rare that there is a post that he puts up that does not have us putting our thinking caps on, especially in trying to create some new challenges, sometimes I think Ray has too much time on his hands & its not going to change now that he’s retired.

His latest post has an interesting read on the topic of train loads, for the modeller along with a spreadsheet he has created to assist in the working out of them for the modeller. As a result of his thread I tried to put a comment to help with some areas he raised, trouble was that I had to severely cut that back owing to the limits you are allowed in the amount of Characters in a comment.

With that I suggested that I put a post on my blog & he will also post it on his blog, this may help others as well in regard to this topic.  For non followers & followers of my blog, I refer you back to my post of 26/4/2013 that has some Teleprinter loads & other details on train composition to save repeating what was said there.

So, the aim of this thread is to look a bit more at the composition of train loads for the modeller in order to gain some better understanding of them & suggestions for working them out for the layout, as far as possible for prototypical working.

To begin with it really is not possible in the modelling scene to be totally prototypically correct, at least that’s my opinion if for no other reason than the constraints placed on us regarding layout space, & the many compromises needed to be made.  Looking at loads, who would have a big enough layout with say a long enough grade of 1:40 that would allow you to run a train that ran almost daily from Sydney to Port Waratah (PTW). That was 58 empty S trucks & Brake Van for a load of 486tons, which was hauled from Gosford by a garratt. The load is 170 under the full load for a garratt, but over the load for all other steam loco’s unless double headed. The problem is not as far as a model garratt may not have any problems pulling it but, no one that I know has layout that even comes close to the short Fassifern bank in distance wise, but also on an HO layout, it would look out of place & far too long.

Train loads on the railways were determined on what was deemed “through loads” that is for working over set distances, usually depot - depot or yard –yard, such as Enfield – Goulburn, Lithgow – Orange/Wellington, Enfield – BMD, & Enfield – Thirroul/Port Kembla. The through load is based on the steepest continual grade & the associated curvature/track conditions. The short south to Glbn the loads were based on 1:75 which was the primary grade between Enfield - Glbn, yet a very short section of 1:40 was had at Picton station to the Hume Hgwy bridge, also Exeter bank had 1:66.

The western line from Lithgow – Orange/Wellington (main line) was based primarily on the 1:66 grade at Locksley with rear end banker from Georges Plains to mileage 161-45 allowed that load to be hauled all the way to Orange without need to change engines.

While the actual tonnage bears the greatest consideration in regard to the grades, the other primary factor is the curvature of the track, this has the limiting affect on how many wagons are hauled, a long load of empties were taxed the engine just as much if not more than the actual load, the example of the 60 in length of S trucks, when compared to a load of petrol or wheat, shows a very short train by comparison. 7 loaded BWH & van = 463 tones, room for say a loaded S as cover truck then the load comes to 10 = 21 for 485 tones.

Also, just to confuse things, not all grades are the same, especially when it comes to the steeper grades of 1:40, a standard goods engine was allowed 360tons Enfield Hornsby, then 390 to BMD, for Tumulla, & IIRC Ardglen on the down was just 330tons, the sharper reverse curves were the reasons.

Looking at the goods load (in tons only) for other 1: 40 grades on the west, 36cl & the standard goods loco’s trains, we find the following. Down Orange – Borenore, 36 = 325, 50 = 385 UP Molong Nashdale 36 = 295, 50 = 385.  Light type garratt both directions 575, & heavy 600. Down; Blayney – Lyndhurst 36 = 275, 50 = 325.  Up Mandurama – Blayney 36 =310, 50 = 320. Comparing loads for grades as shown by the examples here shows differences in them all & each would have special conditions applying to these loads as shown in the WTT’s.

Single engine & double loads. As mentioned single loads were primarily based on both load & length, but when it comes to double headers, the load as well as the length becomes a becomes a balancing act, with the length often exceeding that of the single engine, which usually meant at best 5 extra S trucks could be taken on a double load, instead of 55 as per the Short south, it would become 60 in length, with heavy load & long length the double load in itself was quite taxing on a locomotive. The last consideration was the engine type, if both engines were of the same type, eg, freighters, or 36, 38, or a combination of the types, there was need to consider the lowest haulage speed of the engines & base the loads on that.

Freighters usually slogged at a max grade & load at around 8-10mph (1:40) closer to the 10 or a bit more, on 1:66 & greater depending on curves, a 36cl was usually around the 12-15mph, with a 38 around the 15-18mph, this can be seen in the running time sections of the applicable WTT. The mixed engines of passenger types were pretty easy, while a combo with a freighter often had a detrimental affect on the passenger engine as they could get slower than their loaded speed, meaning careful driving was needed, especially with 35 & 36cl as they could readily slip, & if you missed the tell tale exhaust talk warning you, it was possible for a bad slip pulling the fire on the pax engines, meaning big time trouble, bad on the pig, worse on the nanny.

75% loads.  These were common on the southern division in the pre exp goods train days, & generally confined to fruit & perishable expresses & stock trains, these were usually limited loads that ran to accelerated times, primarily on the grades though as the R/S & use of freighters limited the flat terrain speeds, balanced wheel engines excepted.

However, as freighters were withdrawn from the western division & replaced by 36cl, a lot of adjustments were needed. One being the tabling of all west bound through goods services to 75% loading & conditions. As single 36cl load on Tumulla was 285tons, but could take 485tons from Lithgow, doubling them with another pig banking at Tumulla load permission was given to run the through 900 ton double load assisted in the rear for 3x36cl, owing to the max length of 60 not being exceeded.

The 75% load was, as found in my comment on Rays blog, allowed for a standardised load to be applied to trains west of Lithgow, be that a single or double header  they being 485 tons single & 900tons double (the double load also was worked by heavy garratt) all taking the same length. This created an easy means for both train timetabling as well as making up of the loads at Lithgow or Wang as was the case for some trains especially for Cowra. As 36cl running times were generally applied the running up grades was faster than the slow full load slog of a freighter. These trains were simply called “three quarter runners”, & ran on accelerated timing.

The usual slowest speed that freighters were loaded for was app 8-10mph, the 36cl was 15mph, 38cl 18. In the above western sections, interesting that freighters hauled a heavier load than 48/49cl they were limited to 500 tons single over the same section & only 45 in length.

The other primary area to work the ¾ loads was on the south during the steam days, these were generally fruit, meat & other perishable trains that ran to the ¾, or accelerated running schedules, often the domain of the big engines.

How can the modeller work out what to do with obtaining a prototypical load?  In the end each individual will do his own thing, & work on more than likely what looks right in his eye’s which is not too bad of an idea at least to start with anyway.  For the modern era modeller, I have no idea of the way things work these days, loads length & even running times, so I will leave that to others.  I model as most would know a limited era time frame 1955 – 1957, a bit before my time but one that I know was not much different than the middish 60’s & pre the Mk2 44, & 48’s, except for big engines I worked on most steam in service in my chosen era.

The issue of load & lengths really only comes into play for the modeller who has grades on his layout, I have one section of 1:40 on a 28” radius curve facing up trains, thus it is the limiting load factor for my loco’s. The benefit of course is that it by its grade & curve is a limiting factor for modelling purposes, & each should look at his layout & any grades on it & make allowances for them.

The basic length is based on the humble S truck (those from the current Austrains releases are the same as an S truck for length purposes) all train loads & compositions (again see my previous blog post) were governed by that length, to complicate things, wagons like the K were 1.2 in length, some early bogie wagons were 2 while others such as the BD was 1.8, while later from the BDL onwards they were 2.3, a notable exception being the CG wagon that was only 1.7 in length.

For the modeller buying closed type vehicles such as BWH, & later wheat hoppers, along with other closed vans, its not really possible to work out a correct method for them, such as the difference mass, when empty to that when loaded.

The method that I have used to determine that situation is to simply take those wagons on down trains to be empty, while up trains are loaded. That means any loaded wheat train that consists of BWH only, will have 9 + Van, that equates to a train composition of 10 = 20 for 586 tons, which is the load for a light type garratt on 1:40 grade. That also comes close to what I have set my crossing loops to a general length of 2metres clearances, although 2 have another 200mm to play with, which helps with the garratt & big engines.

To simplify, the length situation, remembering that I model an earlier period, I make the K & RU & equivalent wagons as being 2 = 3 S wagons, for those modelling periods with the longer than 2 equivalent bogie wagons, a similar idea could be adopted such as 2 bogie wagons = 5 S trucks.

Short loads can be easily dressed up to give them the appearance of weight, I have some Aluminium square tube left over from my Sydney layout, very light & fit perfectly into S & K wagons, covered with tarps, means the train is loaded, so 8 tons becomes 23. With several of our RTR steam loco’s having pulling power problems, they struggle with any decent train length without some simple mods being done like adding weight, so they are great for the empties but not so for loaded, without the mods.

Some photo's here indicate the difference of loaded & unloaded trains working over 1:40 grades.  First loaded & where short trains can look ok behind steam & 1st generation diesels.  Even when empty, a model train does not have to be long & loaded to look right.

 Morriset. The mixed load of LCH/CCH, & loaded K wagons along with van brings the load to 598 tons, app 60 tons light, length is 23 =24.6

Same location, & same day, a 36 + 35cl have a full load of coal in LCH & CCH wagons, 16 CCH & 8 LCH + van 590 tons, length is 25=26, a full load for both engines.

 Tumulla. a 50 class is banked by a 36cl on a basically loaded mixed goods train working on the wagons & their loading the approx. load of the train is 20 wagons = 28 for app 615 tons, that would be the combined total tonnage allowed for a 36 & 50, 285 + 330 tons.
3811 being banked by 36cl a primarily loaded train 19 = 22.8 the tonnage of the train would be the same as the 36 & 50, as a 38 had the same load as the 50's

3630 on up goods from Cowra with a full load,10 wagons, 2 loaded BSV, 2 x loaded BWH, 2 empty RTC, K wagon & loaded MLE with tractor being transhipped + van 11=18.2 tonnage very close to the 310 ton load for the section.

 Empty bulks hauled by 3614 & banked by 3615 the loaded S is used as a match truck. 25 = 40.6 the tonnage would be around the 570 tons the load for two single 36cl.
An up goods near Nashdale hauled by 6015 32 = 47.  While much of the loading would be empty, with a couple more bogie RTC's & the van to come, it would have been close to the full load for a light garret 575 Tons
6011, on another general goods, with Molong in the background. Owing to it being an old slide & grainy, needing another scan done of it, its hard to pick the length of the train however given that the rear vehicles are empty flat wagons, with wool & other traffic including other empties, I would say the train would be very close to max length of 60 with a load of 575tons. Taken in 1966 entering into Spring with the drought broken.
Ourimbah in 1963. Here is where length & load greats a struggle the load would comprises petrol & a bitumen Tank wagon 2 loaded  S trucks & the stock wagons are likely loaded owing to train marshalling, the remainder are empty S & K wagons, load would be close to max tonnage & length for a single garratt.


  1. Hi Col, Nice informative post, when I trying viewing the images individually only 6 of the 9 open in the separate window. Oh and can they be made a tad larger, it's very hard to see what you're trying to describe with their smallish sizing. Darcy.

    1. I don't know what happened nor why only 6 are opening but will delete them & reload see how that goes.

      The problem with the size aspect is that the scans of the originals were done probably 20 odd years ago, & were not saved in large files, even though I saved them in BMP files to preserve them they have still degraded further. As they are JPEG files that are used for the blog owing to size limits, increasing them may well make them worse.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have increased the photo sizes but some are worse, hopefully they all can now be viewed.

  4. Hi Col, Thanks for increasing the sizes, I can now identify most of the wagons and the differences you so kindly point out. I never realised before the difference in length of a loaded to an unloaded train on Tumulla Bank was so apparent. In the last image Ourimbah appears to moved several hundred miles west. Cheers, Darcy.