Main North Layout, Track Plan & Operations.  A rough line drawing in Paint shows the three Decks of the layout.

Main North HOME 


The Main North layout is located in the downstairs part of the house, in:


12 x 10 feet Trainroom (previously a Bedroom),

22 x 20 feet Hobby Room (previously a Double Car Garage) with the Floor 300 mm lower than in the Trainroom, &

11 x 6 feet area adjacent to the Hobby Room (previously under house storage).


The Main North is a walk around layout on mainly two levels. To provide the longest “run” possible without having a Helix, there are two Peninsulas in the Garage. The track follows the walls and the two Peninsulas, from Sydney Staging 110 mms, below Broadmeadow and slowly climbing to Werris Creek and West Tamworth, 410 mms above Broadmeadow. There are many hills/grades on the real Main North. I was able to model 2 of the 3 “prototype” grades I wanted to model – Fassifern Bank and the 12 km 1 in 40 climb from Murrurundi to Ardglen.


The track from Sydney to Broadmeadow is dual main line. From Broadmeadow to Werris Creek, it is single main line with this 40 metres of track signalled with Lower Quadrant Semaphores complete with Occupancy Detection for the 4 Blocks – Broadmeadow to Murrurundi, Murrurundi to Pangela, Pangela to Ardglen & Ardglen to Werris Ck, allowing bi directional running, if the Operators obey the Semaphores, without any “head ons”. Click here for Signalling details.


The mainline length 115 metres (380 feet) excluding the 4 Staging/Storage Sidings and the 2 Return Loops. The two Return Loops at the layout’s extremities at Tamworth/Armidale & Sydney Staging, makes the Main North, a “Dog Bone” style of layout, providing continuous running if desired & easy turning of trains.


For a Sep 2017, 10 minute video of the Main North, click here.


For some photos taken in 2015 & 2016 of the Main North, click here for my Main North Flickr Folder.


For more information on what’s happening click here for the Main North Blog.


Track Plans. 






December 2013 saw some major changes on the Main North, shown on the above Track Plans:


1.  The home of the Main North has been sealed up. The 5.5 m Garage Door being replaced with a Stud Wall & 800 mm Sliding Door. A double car Carport has been built for the Boss.

2.  A severely compressed 4.8 m Gosford with accompanying Sidings has been built over the previous Garage Work Bench, complete with the Station including the Island platform, a 75’ Turntable Coaling tower, Electric Sidings at the south for the 46s and Interurbans, and the Garratt Sidings at the north.  

3.  A 1.8m x 3.3m area under the hose, adjacent to Gosford has been secured for the railway to fit the Gosford UP Refuge Loop and the Garratt Sidings, around the Peninsular. This extra trackage allowed me to locate Ourimbah and eliminated the shunting of Coal Trains from/to Newstan Mine, entering Gosford, that was not very prototypical.

4.  The Gosford UP & DOWN Refuges are 3.5 Metres long, allowing the main line to be clear while changing engines.


Sydney Staging has 4 x 3.0 – 3.5m Loops, long enough to store my double 46s hauled W44 Concentrate Train (15 CGs and Van), is located 110 mm under Broadmeadow Station, with 22 inch Balloon Return Loop under Broadmeadow Yard. The Return Loop provides a “to Sydney and back” operation of Passenger and some Goods trains. For example the Newcastle Flyer is “staged” at Newcastle Station. On arriving back at Newcastle, 3801 is “light engine” to Broadmeadow for turning/servicing then “light engine” back to Newcastle and is attached to the front of the HUB Cars, ready for the next run (no need for me to re-position trains). This type of operation extends the operator’s running “experience”.


Operating the pre 2014 layout, there was an “Operator Bottleneck” in the aisle way at Broadmeadow Station/Sulphide Junction where there a 300 mm high x 300 mm wide Platform built to operate Gunnedah and Willow Tree. With the Sulphide Works finally being built at Sulphide Junction, where operators can spend half an hour, shunting “trains” added to the congestion. From day one of the layout, Gunnedah was a “priority” location on the Main North, with the industries including the Black Jack Coal Mine, providing lots of shunting etc. but due the location and use of the 300 x 300 Platform (above), operations were limited, especially during Operating Sessions. The 300 mm Platform was removed. Gunnedah was now operated by “remote”, from standing in the Trainroom.


With the introduction of 4 “signature” Main North Passenger Trains - the Northern Tablelands Express using a 7 Car DEB Set, the Glen Innes Mail, the North West Mail and The Brisbane Express via Wallangarra, the section of track “north” of Werris Creek, previously Gunnedah, has now be renamed West Tamworth/Armidale and I “reversed”(in mid 2016), the platforms at Werris Creek making the Rear Platform leading into the 3 track 1.5 metre North West Staging and the Front Platform the continuation of the Main North line to West Tamworth/Armidale. I also replaced the Black Jack Coal Mine with a Loading Bank, Stock Pens and the Werris Creek Coal Mine south of Werris Creek Yard (above Broadmeadow Station).


For the layout changes and the run of the Northern Tablelands Express DEB Set, see:


Operating Session on the Main North.


Central to operating on my Main North layout is the “rear end” banking of Down Trains from Murrurundi to Ardglen and the Engine Changes at Gosford etc.


The Ruling Grade from Broadmeadow to Werris Creek was the 1 in 50 grade at Murulla, the Maximum Load for a C36 was 385 Tons but for the 12 km 1 in 40 climb from Murrurundi to Ardglen, the Maximum load was 255 Tons. Many down trains needed rear end banking over this section of track. Note: Steam engine hauled Down Goods trains could not be double headed through the small bore 500 metre Ardglen Tunnel due to the risk of engine stalling. Done by two Operators (see my Banking Video).


The overhead in 1965 only went as far as Gosford. Trains to and from Sydney were hauled by the 46 Class Electrics. Engine Changes were necessary at Gosford.


There are 29 staged” Trains ready to be operated at the start of an Operating Session, located at the below locations.


3       Sydney Staging - Under Broadmeadow Station, R/H side of the Aisle to the Garage.

1       Gosford Station - L/H side Lower Deck out in the Garage.

2       Sulphide Junction – L/H side of the Aisle out to Newcastle & the Garage  

2       Broadmeadow Yard – Lower Deck of the Train Room.

5       Port Waratah - Back wall of Broadmeadow Yard Lower Deck of the Train Room.

4       Newcastle Station – At the end of the Aisle out from the Train Room.

3       North Coast Staging - Under Murrurundi in the Garage R/H side Upper Deck.

1       Ardglen Mine – Behind Ardglen Station on the Upper Deck, in the Garage.

3       Werris Creek Yard including Loading Bank – Upper Deck in the Train Room & Aisle.

2       North West Staging - To the right of Werris Creek Station (Upper Deck).

3       Armidale Staging - L/H side of Upper Deck in the Aisle to Newcastle – not easily operated, use the stool or the milk crate.


Operating Sessions are usually run in a Sequence without the use of a Timetable.

Each Train has an Operating Card, explaining what to do.

Cards stored in a “Trains to Run” Pocket above the Workbench adjacent to the Mill.

Take a Card & attach it to the Clip on the Throttle. “Find” the train at the location shown on Card & operate the Train as explained.

When finished, return the Card to the Finished Box. Take another Card etc.

Semaphore Signals are installed on the Single Line from Broadmeadow to Werris Creek.

Please OBEY the Signals. Do NOT PASS a Signal at STOP.

Control Panels at Murrurundi, Pangela & Ardglen with One Slide Switch at Werris Creek

The Semaphores “mimic” the position of the Points.

Set your appropriate road/route. Your Semaphore may still be at STOP.

Block Occupancy is active in the 4 Blocks from Broadmeadow to Werris Creek South.

Semaphores are only set to “Clear” if the “block” ahead is Clear (NOT occupied).

Other Points operated by the Index Finger.

It is the responsibility of the train Operator to set the Points for his route.


Click here to see how I operate the Main North 1965 style.