Exhibition Layout


As Murranbilla is aging momentum has been building to replace it with a new exhibition layout. This area contains articles covering the development of ideas and plans for the new layout.

Ideas 8, 9 & 10, Further Designs

Written by David Head. Posted in New Exhibiton Layout

Idea 8

We had a good discussion last night regarding layout size and construct. All ideas so far show the layout will be too large. - how to reduce the size yet keep what we wish ?

One idea was the paper-clip, or inverted oval construct shown here:

This construct is based on the idea of smaller scenery with staging on the same baseboard. Rather than having staging on one side, and scenery on another, this construct has about 90% scenery on the outside with all staging on the inside. That 10% is unnatural crossing of the lines. Have a look at the cross section A-A.

There would be no operable triangle.

I have reservations on this construct as it is limited by the width of the baseboard, more staging means less scenery, and obviously more scenery means less staging. To do the coal sidings you need at least 3ft wide baseboards, leaving no room for staging on the back.

To me it limits the amount of train we wish to run. This construct is too limited and is not a improvement over Murranbilla in any way.

However it has in the process got everyone thinking, including me. enough to share this. This Sketch is just that, and it shows probably way too much staging.

And there will be more to this process I'm sure.....that what these pages are, "out loud thinking". 


Idea 9

After being disappointed with Idea 8, I thought of this construct. this one is a little more difficult and challenging. 

This construct is based on the idea of two diorama type scenes, one being the bridge, one the coal sidings. At each end a spiral staging yard that gains height to the bridge scene. the triangle is one level. that change of height is not visible "on-stage"

These spiral staging would have say 6 tracks, 3 for each "gauge" at each end. that would allow 4 train per gauge on the layout (since one line at each end has to be a express road). They would be a challenge to construct, being curved and on a grade as well. when pulled apart they would be easy enough to store. Those spiral save all the space for storage.

I'd estimate this layout to be 32ft long by 15ft wide.

This in theory would produce a layout a lot smaller than the other ideas to date. It still keeps the yard inside.


Idea 10

This construct took the same boards for the scenic area as in plan 9, and joined them together, and has put loops at each end. Even though looking massive it isn't when you think that the staging yards are those specially designed curved trays/troughs, that fold and hinge to make for easy transport. 

The railway becomes "end to end" with return loops at each end. Like Idea 9 there is a express road at each end. Because there is a limit to the roads, there would be 5 tracks for each end. But there would be ability for single ended staging as well. So ' say each line has 8 trains in the main continuous staging.

You can see the efffective space taken as shown with the green border. I'd estimate this layout being 50ft long by 16ft wide. yes it is long, but not that complicated really. Yes a lbit of walking if you follow your train. And because od the return loops, litle time for one train to arrive and another to go the other way.

What will be challenging is not to gridlock one end ! And if needed we can set up a auto run circuit that will allow you to leave a train going by itself, even through the reverse loops ! Though the normal practice would be to drive the train to you from the other staging yard (like we did on the old club layout).

There is the issue of the staging yards fully visible at each end. I would simply have some screen made up to hide each end. you could go clear perspex - but we all know how dirty and bad that gets!

Idea 7, Refining The Detail

Written by David Head. Posted in New Exhibiton Layout

As many saw with my first paper construct of Idea 1 it is a large layout. Here is a rethink based on Idea 4.

Idea 7

This construct that places the coal siding on the inside of the layout. This would allow easier shunting for our member behind the layout. mI has the curve between the coal siding and the bridge in the right way, and that curve also hides the bridge scene from the coal siding.

In this orientation, the back scenes can be mainly country. The other way some townscape is required.

The triangle is handled with a non-scenic trough taking the train off the scene. It does mean the Bandiana branch also heads off the staging rather quickly.

The non-scenic trough may or may not have a lid. I would suggest a lid, even if it is clear perspex, for security reasons - this layout is big and it is really will be an area we will not watch a lot. At first I thought this may be a unsightly area, but I have since reconsidered.

This should not be as big as the paper plan many members have seen.

Ideas 1 to 6, Starting the Design Process

Written by David Head. Posted in New Exhibiton Layout

There are many elements in the Wodonga area, including:

  • Wodonga SG loop and Uncle Ben'sSmall scale map of the Wodonga/Bandiana/Albury rail lines
  • Wodonga Station & yard
  • Triangle, one side to Albury, the other to Bandiana/Cudgewa
  • Coal Sidings
  • smaller channel crossing between the coal sidings and the main bridge
  • Murray Bridge - this WILL be on the layout
  • Oil siding this side of Albury
  • Albury itself

To combine these elements, or some of them is not easy. There is lots there !

So I eliminated Albury and ruled out the Oil siding, though it could make an appearance. At the other end Wodonga and the SG loop have also been rules out of most plans. As has Bandiana & Cudgewa. Also the minor bridges between the Coal Siding & the main bridge also ruled out.

This left us with three key areas: The Triangle, The coal sidings, and the Murray Bridge itself.

For the end of the scenic portion North of the bridge is really just trees and a dirt crossing. You might get adventurous and put in the oil siding there. Or simulate the start of the Albury Yard with some od the staging starting "early".

The Murray Bridge was to be the whole reason for the layout. So it had to be in. and not in any short measure. For we want the full two main spans. On the north side there are 12 steel trestle spans, on the south one. I would skimp on the 122 and put in 3 or 4 one end. this will mean the module for this will be only for the bridge, and thus dictate a lot of the module placement.

Between the coal siding and the bridge there is a fair bit of rail. a smaller bridge, a level crossing all probably skipped in our rendition. With most ideas shown below, the broad curve is there to separate the coal sidings visually from the Bridge scene. How we scenic this areas will suit that goal. 

The Coal sidings have both SG & BG track. I'm looking at modelling it in a variety of eras. In fact the 1944 track arrangement I have used is the best for us as modellers as it easily allows off mainline shunting. I would have preferred a mix with the 1980-2000 arrangements where there were more factories on the Easter side, which were not there prior to 1979.

Scenically the coal sidings has an oil siding on the mainline, which depending on layout topology could have a back scene only representation with only the track and unloading hoes visible. There is the signal box, still standing I hope (it was a few years ago) - and the goods shed in the middle. A Road used to cross near the Level crossing, Huon St. By looking at the Googlemaps.com overview it indeed used to cross. a new level crossing at Osburn Street exists today. I do not think this level crossing would be made to be working, as it would be closed for 98% of the time anyhow !

the triangle will be interesting as we will have the full BG triangle and the New SG alignment through Wodonga represented, along with the SG to Bandiana. Depending on topology I see this area being treated easily. I also wish to introduce some temporal manipulations (changing history) to suit. I wish to surmise that there was a far seeing council in the 1950's-1960's who foresaw the bottleneck of High Street and the busy level crossing in the shopping area. I'm saying they decided and built a overpass at Hovell Street as a town bypass of sorts for the then Hume Highway. For us this means the train disappear under the overpass and out of the scenic area.

Bandiana branch will really depend. I see Bandiana as such never modelled, just the railway passing though some residential areas as all that is needed. The track will actually be gauntlet track, stopping any change of gauge, since the real track is 3 rail duel gauge. By using gauntlet track it makes that area more accurate in a operational sense - no point blades etc.

Now in terms of design there were some things I decided on:

  • 3ft radius curved minimum, for the kinks I would use 10M Radius, and then elsewhere use 4ft radius. The only place that 2.5ft may be used may be the triangle,the Wodonga to Bandiana leg
  • Each board will be a maximum 6ft long, so they can be put into a trailer laterally. The exception may be the module the bridge is on.
  • The bridge must be on it's own module with no joins. For this reason I also wanted this module to be the smallest in width,I think 2ft wise is more then enough for double track and bridge.
  • I'm going for 3ft width modules for the coal siding and staging yards.
  • Ideally we should use code 80 for mainline & 70 for yards
  • Where there are curves for back scenes, they too should be curved. This can be made to be free standing almost by making a two spline sandwich of ply/masonite.
  • I would put in curved edges for the outside. Spline fascia can handle this. While this makes nonstandard modules, the storage system can be designed to handle this.
  • I would keep the same height for the layout as Murranbilla.
  • Ensure the layout cannot be placed against another, to prevent viewing of the areas we want them to see.

These ideas are developed in a series of plans beginning at No:1 to 6.

(Editor: The ideas have been relabelled from 6 to 1 to 1 to 6, as there are more plans following. As a result the images no longer match.) 

Idea 1 Large Rectangle construct with a scenic peninsular for Bandiana

This is a bad design as it is too ambitious.It is really three layouts in one. It has everything, the SG loop south of Wodonga, the siding there, Wodonga right through to the Bridge. It also allows us to do something more with Bandiana - one could even have a shortened Cudgewa as well, which would add to the shunting and rolling stock use (for the VR stalwarts !).

The design could allow the branch to still take SG traffic, and BG stuff to Bandiana - via a hidden track that heads under Wodonga back to the staging yard. Hidden track is bad even on a permanent layout let alone a exhibition layout.

It would be a HUGE layout. Basically a huge rectangle in the main layout space. So much space operators could easily run the layout. But it does have the same disadvantages with it's size. It is just too big, imagine a train running around. It would take AGES.


Idea 2 A True Right Angle Triangle

This construct is not that large, as it is almost a true right angle triangle.

It's not that bad, but it is has an effect on a exhibition being a triangle - we are using up a lot of space with the angle, hard to put other layouts next to it.

Idea 3 Coal Siding Inside the Layout

This has a lot of complexities. It is the only construct that places the coal siding on the inside of the layout.





















This would allow easier shunting.

But the big trouble is the triangle. The orientation of the triangle to Wodonga is a troublesome area since it heads into the viewing area. The Bandiana branch heads into the back scene. My assumption is that the Wodonga leg heads into a non-scenic area trough out of sight and winds back to the staging.

This really limits the inclusion of the triangle. If this construct was considered I would remove all triangle parts from the layout. 

Idea 4 Getting Close

Now we are getting close. We have turned the curve between the Coal Siding and The Bridge back in the correct right turn as per the prototype.

The construct I call more of a boomerang shape.

The bend in the staging keeps the internal layout space tighter. It also allows the staging to be segmented to increase the number of staging track verses length of staging.

The main trouble is with the yard on the outside, and the fact the layout would be about three foot - makes reaching impossible. Shunting would be best on the outside - some may try this, other may prefer more electronic uncouplers.

The Bandiana Branch can have several possibilities as the next two constructs share. 


Idea 5 Getting Closer

Now we are getting closer. The curve between the Coal Siding and The Bridge heads in a left rather than the correct right turn as per the prototype.

The construct I call more of a boomerang shape.

The bend in the staging keeps the internal layout space tighter. It also allows the staging to be segmented to increase the number of staging track verses length of staging. This construct saves a lot of space compared to the next one.

The main trouble is with the yard on the outside, and the fact the layout would be about three foot - makes reaching impossible. Shunting would be best on the outside - some may try this, other may prefer more electronic uncouplers.

The Bandiana Branch can have several possibilities as stated in the next construct. 


Idea 6 The Last Construct

This construct is my most favoured so far, but probably unlikely it will be the last one. It is a good size outside and inside. It is large but it does allow us to do the area justice.

I have already done one paper drawing using this construct.

The basics is that the has the coal siding and the bridge on the same side, with a broad left curve separating them. Each end then curved to form a third leg, of a very shallow triangle. That curve will give a lot of room inside the layout, which will allow many operators some room.

The main trouble is with the yard on the outside, and the fact the layout would be about three foot - makes reaching impossible. Shunting would be best on the outside - some may try this, other may prefer more electronic uncouplers.

Staging has a lot of space. Both SG & BG are side by side. I have planned to have two "interchange track where you can "re gauge on the fly" - a lot easier to re stage a train (if suitable). The broad gauge trains will have in fact two staging areas with a bypass track to allow more trains, but shorter ones compared to the SG.SG will have longer roads buy stil have the same concept to allow long trains and a very short train compared ot the two almost equal length BG ones for the same length.

The Wodonga end will have some complications depending if the Bandiana Branch comes back into the layout.

Bandiana is shown only as the track heading in that direction. This could have variations, the main one is that it could be left behind for longer trips.



Further Ideas




Questions about the subject area (Wodonga)

Written by David Head. Posted in New Exhibiton Layout

There are many questions regarding Wodonga and they are listed here. As answers are found this page will be updated.

If you know any of the answers please kindly let us know using the Contact Us  link above.

Coal Stage 

  1. What date did the old coal transfer crane cease being used?
  2. What date was the old coal transfer crane demolished?
  3. What happened to coal, was it railed down to Melbourne on the SG?? (though the coal would I assume be a very small amount as steam traction was 99% gone)
  4. What date was the old Coal siding-Bandiana leg BG of the triangle removed ?
  5. What date was the old Bandiana-Cudegwa removed/cease use ?
  6. What date was the old Bandiana-Wodonga leg of the BG triangle removed?
  7. What date was the Gauge Transfer station built and first used?
  8. What date was the Gauge Transfer station building pulled down?
  9. What date was the Gauge Transfer track not used at all?

Other Freight

  1. When did the logging start?
  2. What Date was the Oil siding on the BG main just north of the Signal box no longer used?
  3. What Date was the Oil siding on the BG main just north of the Signal box removed?
  4. Do we know who/what company used this Oil siding on the BG main just north of the Signal box?
  5. When was the coal siding signal box last manned, or was it always switched in as needed?

Tracks and Level Crossing Changes

  1. When was Huon/Bradford St. abolished as a level crossing?
  2. When was Osburn St. made a level crossing?
  3. What is the industry on the other side of Osburn St. today and in yesteryear?
  4. When did the industry on the other side of Osburn St. loose a rail siding?
  5. What rail traffic went to the industry on the other side of Osburn St.?

Siding Changes

  1. There is evidence of two sidings where the scales were on the BG. Any idea re the industries they served, and what dates they ceased being used?
  2. When was the cement plant built and first served by rail?
  3. The siding going off at an angle, what did they serve and when were they pulled down?
  4. We assume the small creek at the Albury end was not always the three girder bridges? any idea re their former bridge type and replacement date?
  5. When did the Victorian locos shunt on the SG?(did NSW engine ever shunt the yard and to Bandiana?)

Traffic types - what went into the yard (any era)

  1.  SG & BG coal (assume S trucks and GY's near the end)
  2. Transfer wagons to Bandiana
  3. Transfer wagons to Bandiana for the snowy mT. scheme to be trasnferred to BG
  4. New locos for gauge conversion at Bandiana
  5. Oil
  6. Cement
  7. Container wagons for transfer to Bandiana
  8. Log traffic
  9. General goods for the industries unidentified at the moment
  10. GM,S,B,X ,T,Y ,a W, L class all were gauge converted on their delivery run south and west. what other locos were there?


Track Plans - The Coal Siding Mockup

Written by David Head. Posted in New Exhibiton Layout

You have seen the link HO scale dimensions over the full size aerial shot as another aid to plan this layout.
I had started on a paper plan using some dimensions of the aerial photos as shown in the link above. I wanted to do a mock up in full size of the layout from the level crossing to the signal box.

To aid this I re sized the aerial shot, grey scaled it and rubbed out the dimensions. I then used good old MS PAINT to print it out so I got 25 pages of it blown up. This was almost scaled to my normal paper plan scale. Yes it was very blurred but enough detail to draw lines on it. It took a bit of jigsaw skill to patch the paper together.

Mock track layout, using HO track pieces.With this I then checked the distance from the road to the signal box - 8ft. On this blown up plan the dimension was 7ft - a small reduction in size. This would not be a bad thing. However my main concern was the width of this layout.

I wanted to make a mock-up on a roll of paper. My intentions was to narrow up the layout. To do this I drew in the two mainlines. Then using #7 point angles placed the two points into the yard. Next I took a rough width from the BG mainline to the track with the double slip. This was transferred to the paper roll. I then got curve templates so I could make a "S" curve.

This has resulted in the distance from road to the signal box to be about 6ft. I have saved 2ft on the length. width wise is still an issue (and always will be) - I have track centres in the yard at 45mm. If I we planned the width to have the oil siding just on the edge , so we had room for the signal box as one end, and then had the cement road as the other 'main' extreme - we ended up with 3ft. That means little scenery on the board, and does not account for the angled industry sidings off the double slip. To me a all track layout is a problem.

We could cut a few roads out of the layout. This may compress the width by about 3/4 of a foot. I haven't drawn this up yet to see what real width I'd come up with.

The Industries off the double slip are a problem. If that side of the layout is the public side, it means a angled peninsular, or somescenic area which is good for front railway area but means more bench work. I do not think we can have the yard side at the back for the same reasons.

For a larger view click on the image.

Mock up using HO track, reverse angleMock up using HO track, reverse angle


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