The layout of the sidings beyond the station at Little Bazeley is a variation of Alan Wright's Inglenook Sidings shunting puzzle. The choice of a very loose 1964-1969 modelling period, being the very last years of the British steam/diesel transition era, just about allows for comparatively short standard wheelbase stock of 10'-0" (3m). Scaled down to 4mm scale / 00 gauge, this translates into goods wagons about 3,2" (8cm) long, i.e. short enough to allow for the capacities needed for an Inglenook Sidings setup within the given space of 4' x 1' (120cm x 30cm).
The warehouse setting is left fairly unspecific as to who exactly receives and ships what, further disguised by the very general signs reading "Sussex Storage". This also allows for a fair variety of freight stock to be used. The shunting puzzle is fully workable within the limits of the baseboard on the basis of the original Inglenook rules.
Shunting Order for Little Bazeley Sidings
1. Form a departing train consisting of 5 out of the 8 wagons sitting in the sidings
2. The 5 wagons are selected at random
3. The train must be made up of the 5 wagons in the order in which they are selected
However, a couple of possible complications can be introduced on this layout:
Complication I - Overly long freight stock
The lenght of both sidings (5 and 3 capacity) is based on standard 10 feet wheelbase stock (3m), i.e. goods wagons about 8-9 cm long in model terms, such as the standard 12t ventilated van (Bachmann) and the fitted engineer's van (Dapol) illustrated below:
[click for larger images]
There is at times, however, one piece of rolling stock which is overly long, such as the lowmac (Hornby) carrying a crate load, which has a length of around 13,5cm:
[click for larger images]
This complication adds to the complexity of the game because the overly long wagon effectively reduces the capacity of the siding it is on by one unit, i.e. a 5 car siding will then only take 4 items of rolling stock and a 3 car siding only 2. This reduces the space available to move around stock (in fact it means you are no longer able to park all 5 items of rolling stock on the two lower sidings without fouling one of the two points) and makes additional advance planning necessary if you don't want to find yourself clogged-up after a short while...
Complication II - Brakevan
In order to be able to perform shunting moves at Little Bazeley Sidings, a train will have to depart from the station of Little Bazeley with the locomotive pushing the consist, because there are no run-round facilities at the sidings. This means that there needs to be a brakevan up front from which a guard can oversee the line and communicate with the engine driver.
In operational terms this means that the there is, in any case, a brakevan between the locomotive and the freight stock which needs to be picked up. Therefore, prior to any actual shunting moves, the brakevan needs to be dropped off. As there is no spare track for this, the brake van becomes a part of the consist of freight stock which needs to be moved around in order to put together the outbound train according to the rules of the Inglenook Sidings puzzle.
Hornby ex-South Eastern & Chatham "dancehall" brakevan in BR (Southern Region) grey
The complication is that the brakevan eventually needs to be attached to the end of the departing train. One way to ease this complication a bit is to consider the brake van to be one of the 5 cars on the train. However, it is also possible to treat the brakevan as extra,although this can prove to be a real challenge, as you will, at times, hardly have enough room to move your elbows...
Making up the shunting list
There are many ways to make up a random list of wagons and the order in which they are to be shunted, ranging from Alan Wright's original "tiddlywink in a cup" to a computer generated list. On this layout, I use a set of cards especially made for this purpose where each wagon has its own specific card. You can put in as much information and artwork as you like, but since I've included a picture on the card, most if not all additional information is not required in order to identify a piece of rolling stock. In the end, as with all things model railways, it's a matter of taste.
The cards (which are laminated for better protection) are shuffled and five cards drawn. This gives you the wagons to be shunted, and the order in which the cards are drawn is taken to be the order in which they are to be shunted (with the first wagon drawn being the nearest to the locomotive), according to the Inglenook rules.
One essential aspect of operating a shunting layout is the choice of couplers and the uncoupling system to go with them. Since the late 1990s manufacturers have acknowledged the importance of reliably working couplers by either having their products factory-fitted with such couplers (as in the US, where magnetic couplers in the mould of the Kadee system are now standard fittings) or by providing coupler pockets in accordance with the NEM 362 norm, allowing modellers to substitute the factory-fitted couplers with a different coupler of their choice by simply plugging this into the pocket. However, NEM 362 allows for certain tolerances regarding coupler height, and experience has shown this to vary greatly even on stock from the same manufacturer. This can result in new problems, because some coupler systems (e.g. Kadee) tolerate little or no misalignments in height between two couplers.
The big bonus with magnetic couplers is their ability to provide delayed uncoupling, i.e. an uncoupled item of stock can be pushed away from the uncoupling device without re-coupling. Most non-magnetic coupler systems, such as the standard UK tension lock couplers, do not allow for delayed uncoupling because once they have cleared the uncoupling device the couplers will recouple when being pushed against each other.
One big advantage of the Inglenook concept is that uncoupling moves only take place in one direction as all of the sidings point in the same direction. Therefore, delayed uncoupling is not a necessity. This is why, for the time being, the standard British tension lock is used on Little Bazeley Sidings - not precluding a change to magnetic couplers at a later stage.
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Page created: 07/JUN/2004
Last revised: 06/MAR/2006