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AFK A room sized layout that hosts intensive operating sessions.


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The AFK: A room sized layout that hosts intensive operating sessions.


One recurring theme throughout the Layout Topics section is many members' wish to read, see, hear about or actually build a large layout.


As my main modelling activity is the construction of a large continental narrow gauge layout I initially posted elsewhere. I then discovered the Overseas modelling section of this website and posted there as well. I have noticed, however, that some foreign layouts use this forum to drum up interest. I have decided to follow suit and hope that this posting may be of interest to a wider band of modellers who might otherwise be unaware of the layout.


I appreciate that my preferences may not be to everyone's taste as this is a scratchbuilt freelanced continental narrow gauge system in O scale. It contains over a dozen stations spread along a mainline that extends for nearly one and a half scale miles arranged as a helix around the room.


Although everything is scratchbuilt the modelling standards are fairly basic and the emphasis is on operation. A variety of landscapes are modelled to increase the impression of making a journey along the length of Altonia canton. Trains run to timetables (actually sequences) and wagons are distributed using consignment notes rather than at the operator's whim.


45539098321_a97d650ffd_c.jpg001 (4) - Copy by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


This is an older photo that gives some idea of the size and complexity of the layout. Half the layout is visible here. There is another aisle to the left. The right hand margin of the photo is double decked and the left hand side of the aisle is triple decked with a seaport barely visible underneath the cantonal capital (centre left with the glass roof).


45539102291_9e469022ab_c.jpg009 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


An AFK railcar crosses the Altingablecautoj. This is a fairly typical indication of the standards achieved. Being critical you can see commercial track, dodgy off the shelf fir trees, a lurid background, replete with a large crack in the cosmos, and a railcar bodged from the prototype running on the wrong gauge. (The railcar is now knocking 40 years old by the way.) Alternatively you might like to take the overall view that it is a fair representation of  a railcar running on a remote upland stretch of line providing a service between two far flung settlements (both of which are modelled).Take your pick.



The layout is has just commenced another operating session after a long interregnum for construction. If there is sufficient interest I will post updates here as well as the other regular spots that I use.


Forum posts usually include a small selection of photos and direct readers to the layout's website which is available at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


As I will now be posting in three places these messages will most likely be brief and identical between the sites.


Ian T



Edited by ianathompson
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The operating session is now well under way and a selection of photos is shown below. 


As |I pointed out the full set can be accessed on the website at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


44876568814_dde2191f2a_c.jpg4-11 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


11. The following Fenditavalat goods crosses the Kasatritikakamparoj in the early morning darkness. It too has a number of SG wagons in the consist including a bogie flat to take away some of the forestry products backed up in the upper reaches of the line. Control have insisted that a large diesel is turned out for this train due to the snow in the high passes. The rabbits give an indication of how the local ganger supplements his income.


44876570354_5ee11b2af8_c.jpg4-12 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


12. The cement train marks time at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol. There is supposed to be two or three feet of snow at this location but it is not possible to change the scenery to reflect the winter season so this area is modelled in high summer. The train is being held here as the station is a block post, although there is no loop. It is waiting for the snowplough to clear the line to Ospicio. It eventually left 20 minutes behind time with the engine and transmission screaming as it restarted the heavy load on the stiff gradient so there will not have been too much sleep for the station staff tonight! The train faces the prospect of losing more time waiting at Ospicio for the plough coming up the Orbon valley. This is one of the operational problems that I wanted to simulate in running a busy railway over a high Alpine pass.


44687337245_fa0eb3e5d1_c.jpg4-14 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


14. In a well tried and trusted set of moves the motive power from train 2401 runs round its train before the ferry is "pulled". This provides the station with motive power at both ends and helps to avoid too much congestion. As I have remarked before, these sort of working procedures were carried out every day and railwaymen knew what was required to get the job done. It is often difficult to replicate this on a model, especially if it operated infrequently. The 0-8-0's engine has put the reverser across and is about to back down onto its train. The pilot's crew have wasted no time in pulling the wagons up the steep slipway into one of the loops.


31742811418_74c79d5ce6_c.jpg4-19 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


19. The congestion in the Lower Market at Fenditavalat is such that the railway would most likely have been removed during the 1960s. On the right the cement train has just arrived, in the middle the loco and part of the Relforka goods stands in front of the pilot whilst the remainder of the train stands in the loop at the left. The three phase wiring shows up nicely. Having assembled the train in the yard there was insufficient siding space to pull it clear of the yard points hence the convoluted manoeuvres necessary to re-assemble it.


31742812428_b353cc43c6_c.jpg4-23 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


23. The crew have cut their losses and have opted to go into the goods loop to fish out the van of cans. This will make working at Glissent slightly more difficult but there is still the Co-op siding to shunt and time is getting short. There is also little chance of pulling some time back at Sojonno today because there is traffic into and out of the factory there. The crew have cleared the main with more than the 5 minutes to spare, as recommended by the Instructions, replaced the point lever keys into the locking frame and worked the block instruments before clearing the signal to give the railcar a clear run. The chances are that they will already be over the main road with the loaded van before the railcar leaves.


I hope that any new readers will find something of interest here. The photos have also been posted in two other forums. (Fora for those that took Latin at school?)


Ian T

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Around about twenty new photos have been posted at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4

A small selection is included here.


45645433882_3dce9c24d5_c.jpg4-32 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


32. ...As a result the train is piloted from the front. I am unaware of any banking operation where NG locos attached to the rear of trains carrying SG wagons. It would seem likely that all such trains would be double headed as appears to have been the case on the Bulgarian and Polish NG. With no DCC the train engine had to reverse about three inches onto a separate electrical circuit to allow the pilot to attach. This is an 'uncharged technical timeout' where the clock is not moved. All moves are recorded against a click clock and charged at three minutes, as outlined in the Operating articles on the website. The legitimate moves have taken so long, however, that departure will be roughly ten minutes behind that shown in the WTT.


45645436642_679bd1f1d2_c.jpg4-35 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


35. Needless to say the ERO-URT train gets checked as the distant is "on". The distant, barely visible in this photo is the yellow diamond. The curate is assiduously doing his rounds in his cassock before 7 in the morning. Perhaps he has a service in a remote chapel if he survives crossing the rickety bridge over the drainage ditch. He doesn't look too sure on his feet!


45645444712_e8503e13b3_c.jpg4-43 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


43. The RFK-FDV freight labours heavily as it enters Tunnel 231 on the Vulpafaŭkangulo. The train is the longest permitted by the Instructions, and with the two locos drawing power on straight DC the voltage is such that it isn't going too fast. The far side of the tunnel (right) has had rock inserted because it is visible from normal viewing angles. The near (left) side will not receive attention. Only the bottom end is finished but once the top is completed the ballasting will be finished. This is not the 231st tunnel by the way. It is just that all the infrastructure, bridges culverts etc have been included in one numbering scheme. There are plenty of gaps in the sequence to allow for the unmodelled parts of the railway.


Ian T

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  • 2 weeks later...

It has been a relatively routine session so far but one or two operational problems are starting to rear their heads as outlined in the short selection of photos below.

The full set can be found at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


45784521922_8c64fe57bd_c.jpg4-51 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


51. Having taken the wagons into Gasworks Street yard and retrieved some others out of the sidings, there is some debate as to how much of this it will be possible to forward on the two trains booked to forward traffic from Lacono. The Urteno train is running near capacity and there may not be too much space on the FDV-RFK goods either. Whist it is standard practice to hold some wagons for afternoon services this quantity of vehicles will overwhelm the yard. It may yet be necessary to run another special.



44920826685_d13a4be3a0_c.jpg4-54 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


54. Cadsuiane-Fabhuidol is one of those minor places on a large layout that just seems to get overlooked. As was noted in the last session an attempt to isolate a locomotive in the siding failed and a new section had to be put in. In this session my main concern was that the transporter would ground on the siding but this did not happen. Instead the SG van caught the overhanging side of the station building which surprised me as I remember testing it for clearance against the big Co-Co. The building was removed and slightly repositioned to allow the SG vehicle to pass. Thankfully the scene is not completed and the exercise did not create too many problems although a clean up will be needed. In the past wagons for the siding have been placed at the front of the train so the Instructions might need altering but then again they may not.


30894020967_80fc47a06f_c.jpg4-58 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


58. The problems with the blocking of the LAC-RFK local goods have come home to roost. Quite often slight problems become major complications if not attended to. In an ideal world the hopper of limestone (for the glass factory) and the grain hopper should have been on the rear of the train but, as was noted, there was insufficient time to block the train correctly before it left Lacono. The heavy workload at Boursson and the need to drop off and pick up wagons at Sojonno have resulted in the train arriving at Glissent in a less than ideal condition. Often an early arrival gives  some spare time to sort out these problems but the train arrived on time today, leaving no leeway to deal with the problem. Ideally the Glissent drop offs should have been at the rear of the train but they are mixed into the consist. The grain hopper, bound for Eromarbordo could then have had a quick transfer on the back of the railcar and the limestone hopper could have been taken around to the glassworks. The need to propel for just under a mile to reach the glassworks mandates that no surplus wagons are taken along the siding and so the bogie hopper will have to be detached from the train whilst the rest of the wagons are put back onto the train. The grain hopper will have to wait until the loco returns before it can be forwarded along the branch.

45833673321_0c3fc2c83d_c.jpg4-64 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


64. There is some latitude in the timings and so the train is instructed to 'lift' the colliery traffic. Unfortunately the heavy loadings will exceed the limits prescribed for safely braking a train down the Vulpafaŭkangulo, even with the retainers turned up, and so one wagon will be left behind. Both the hoppers at the uphill end of the siding are due to replenish the bunkers of the AFK's ferry on the Spegulalaguno but there is no question of working them as a pair. This is a mountainous railway and trains must work to the maximum tonnage as far as possible. It is not quite an American drag freight, especially at only 14 axles (less the brake) but it is as close as I can come!


Ian T




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No. That will probably go against the trajnacefo of the URT-RFK goods, if control even notice it. 


If he is smart enough he can pass it off to the bridge having been open for the ferry. Even I draw the line at shunting onto the approach span whilst the bridge is open!


Still thinking about implementing your suggestion to protect the home signal at Ithilarak.


Could be a plastic shield (made from the sheet intended to glaze the block instrument if I ever get round to it) or it might possibly be a masonry extension.


Time will tell!



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This week's photos are now available at  https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


As usual a selection is shown below to give a flavour of activities.


44996576085_b7a671f2c3_c.jpg4-65 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


65. The express rolls sedately through the upper reaches of the Kasatritikakamparoj as it approaches Boursson with the signals "off". I hesitate to use a verb such as 'rushes' because that is something that train 11005 certainly does not deign to do. The well heeled passengers in the Pullman car are unconcerned however. They have comfortable individual seats. a copious supply of coffee and are waited on hand and foot.


44996577995_045d139652_c.jpg4-67 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


67. The local, following the express, pulls out into the RN424 at Breĉo de Glissent. Road vehicles are few and far between in this isolated province during the 1960s and the few in the vicinity will have been expected, upon hearing the loco's whistle, to have made themselves scarce from the bridge over the Ero. The trains do not take prisoners! The train is passing in front of the Co-op where the top end of the siding is now empty. The hopper wagons that were parked here were removed by the Eromarbordo railcar, which acts as a station pilot as required. The road signs beside the engine show, from the bottom upwards, 30 kph speed limit, main road diverges to right and tram pinch, where the train will sideswipe any unwary vehicles driven too close to the track. The indifferent road surface helps to explain why the railway maintains its superiority as the transport of choice.


44093241520_9566d310df_c.jpg4-77 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


77. The FDV-RFK goods is running cautiously down the Aepto Gorge with the maximum weight of train allowed for an unassisted engine. This view is taken from the opposite side of the gorge and the stream is invisible between the rocks. The scene is directly below the preceding one and would be compromised if the rack branch was not straight. The loco has just crossed the electrical boundary between Ithilarak and Urteno. It will be left here for some time before running down to Urteno on local control.


44093243450_0fbd451ee9_c.jpg4-83 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


83. The extra goods train was checked outside town before receiving clear signals. The 0-4-0TT casually stands in the middle of the canton's main thoroughfare to let the extra pass before it resumes its work. By chance, almost everything in this scene is complete, giving a good idea of how the finished railway might look, but the observant will notice that the brake van has no roof and the diesel needs minor attention to finish it..

44093243990_7b67b3a952_c.jpg4-88 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


88. The up express is the first train to pass the new signal at Ithilarak with the distant in the 'off' position. The Bavarian Railways chose to give a positive indication to the driver rather than use the standard continental format of making a clear signal invisible to the driver. The distant normally stands in the 'on' position as in photo 9. I have had it suggested to me that some form of protection should be provided for this signal as it is placed in a vulnerable location next to the aisle, so I am contemplating a plastic shield.


Ian T



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A request for information.


Can anyone tell me roughly when these long wheelbase sliding door wagons were introduced please?


45983775831_28035f6241_c.jpg4-96a by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


96a A couple of transporters have become available to make a quick test of the layout's latest acquisition, a modern long wheel base van. I think that these sliding wall vehicles were introduced onto the German railways during the 1960s but I  am open to correction about this. Anyway if I am wrong I will once again claim modeller's license because a couple more are on order. They need painting and finishing but come ready assembled with flexible axles so this was the first attempt to see how they performed around sharp curves. The wheelbase is so long that they cannot be accommodated on a single transporter but the first attempt to offset the wagon towards the right hand end resulted in the left hand end of the transporter to the left raising into the air! This obviously isn't viable (!) but I suspect that two of these vans could be carried by three transporters. Time will tell.




Ian T

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This week's selection of photos is now available at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


44200829700_1bdf8c4069_c.jpg4-92 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


92. The 0-4-0TT backs down to the extremity of the Co-op siding at Ithilarak to collect a van converted into a hopper. the siding is rather rickety so the move was performed slowly. Locos do not usually run this far along the siding as the common practice is to use a 'handle' of wagons to drag the wagons out.



45104833245_9ebe975a72_c.jpg4-95 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


95. I suppose that I set up this shot earlier with my comments in photo 66. The express has circumnavigated the room and is now passing directly above the site of that photo. Our Lady of the Snows chapel, at Ayleha, is just visible between the trees. The train is unlikely to have to stop as this is one of the minor halts provided for schools' trains. Cross bucks are still needed here for the Long Distance Footpath which runs along the side of the chapel.


45292178764_923da3f15a_c.jpg4-98 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


98. The RFK-FDV goods arrives in Fenditavalat. As there are so few vehicles today the train crew are instructed to place the wagons in the yard rather than leave them for the shunter to deal with. There is an hour's gap before the arrival of the express but....


45292181534_eee515059b_c.jpg4-102 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


102. The car train crosses the viaduct over the Orbon at Caladonno during the late morning. This is another seasonal service that only runs when the high passes are blocked.


45292183094_5772258cda_c.jpg4-107 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


107. The railcar shuttle from Lacono is extended to Varden at this time of the year for the benefit of skiers. It is at the extremity of the (currently non existent) colour light signalling system installed in the pre-WWII era.


Ian T


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This week's photos have now been uploaded and are available at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


A small selection are shown below.


Incidentally, I noticed that I failed to include a location map with the last batch that I posted.

I have remedied this but would like to know whether people find this feature useful or not.

It takes quite a bit of fiddling with the web site package to put these diagrams up.

I'm quite happy to do it if people find it useful but if not.......


46077632802_551d840d28_c.jpg4-110 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


110. The banker finds plenty of work at Ithilarak. Having removed a couple of hoppers from the mine and attached a couple of vans it restarts its uphill shunt from the top of the Vulpafaukangulo. Whether it would be advisable to go onto such a steep gradient to perform shunting moves is a moot point but, as with many model railways, lack of space prevents.any choice. The observant will note, as well, that the shunt move is outside the protecting home signal, which would never occur in reality.


45403795804_b4b9dfbc5f_c.jpg4-118 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


118. Running as train 0001 the loco from the car train has returned to Cadsuine-Fanhuidol to pick up the log load in the foreground, as seen from the balcony of the station house. The train number was generated from the standard sequence for identification. 0 indicates light engine and the second 0 indicates "other destination" (not included in the list of stations) whilst the 01 indicates its position in the sequence. It will return as train 9602 propelling the wagon, as allowed for in the instructions. This number was generated as: 9 extra goods, 6 Ithilarak destination, 02 position in sequence.Quite how the wagon was loaded is a mystery given the lack of a fixed crane in the yard and the restrictive nature of the low bridge across the only road into Cadsuiane (see photo 12). It is, of course, yet another model railwayism.


45403796534_4683fdd189_c.jpg4-130 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


130. On the other side of the summit the afternoon FDV-RFK goods has reached Caladonno, where it makes the station stop. The view is taken from the road bridge where the RN 424 passes over the railway. Unfortunately the University buildings from the lower level intervene but the brain usually 'airbrushes' them out. This is perhaps the first photo to capture the 'sparkle' of the ice crystals. This effect was created by mixing silver glitter into the Woodland Scenics snow. The track brake on the loop is just visible inside the right hand rail.


Ian T

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  • 2 weeks later...

This week's photos have now been uploaded and are available at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4

A small selection are shown below.


46247899231_c31b1859d0_c.jpg4-135 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


135. Shunting completed the goods makes its way across the valley bottom having left Breĉo de Glissent. Close inspection of the WTT shows that this train is booked to wait at Glissent for the local and express to pass but it is standard practice for the train to run early hence the pressure on the railcar crew to do the dirty work (see photo 110). With a mere "110 tons" on the drawbar this will be an easy ride today. (Tonnages are calculated by counting wagon axles, excluding the crew van.)


46247902561_e1f223c23d_c.jpg4-140 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


140. The local goods has arrived at Eromarbordo and has begun shunting. The first job is to push the grain hopper into the silo unloading bay so that this can take place during the remainder of operations. The empty hopper can then be ready for picking up before the train leaves. The low level of the lighting is obvious in this picture and has been previously remarked it was not possible to place it at the front of the layout in this location.


31308730837_050f647e8f_c.jpg4-146 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


146. Once the shunter has taken the car train down to Rivaboro for unloading the schools' railcar runs up to the Basabazaro to wait for departure time. The ungainly loco (a I-B-B-I) waits to return to the depot. The railcar will run onto the CFS trailer which has been uncoupled from the electric railcar and push it beyond the points. This is another that has been in abeyance for some time and could do with some atention. The signals wiring could be covered for instance and I discovered a few days ago that it is still not fixed down!


46197138662_8d8c8f67d4_c.jpg4-149 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


149. The mixto pulls into Caladonno under clear signals, where it meets the schools' railcar. This is the only crossing of the day scheduled for this short loop. As has been noted elsewhere the loop was an afterthought and serves to allow trains too long for Fenditavalat to cast off extra wagons before returning to trip them in to the city. The railcar crew will be reminded to display a tail lamp before leaving!


Ian T

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Another batch of photos form another week's operations are available at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4



46317130761_1b1a7cc27e_c.jpg4-157 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


157. The moves in the Basabazaro have to be carefully choreographed. The shunter will pull forward with the two vans to remove the vans at the rear of the train. These will then be shunted into the dairy.


46317134571_7f551b98ec_c.jpg4-168 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


168. The down mixto pulls into Ithilarak's PFT. The gradient over the viaduct is clearly visible in this shot. There was also a rock face which fitted above the tunnel but that seems to have gone walkabout as well.



32445141928_9a1f01870a_c.jpg4-175 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr



175. The up "railcar" pauses at Boursson where it crosses the KTT goods. The railcar was checked by the distant being "on" as it approached but by now the goods loco is in the clear. It is on the wrong end of the train at the moment but all the set outs and pick ups have been made and the van for Sojonno is correctly positioned so it should recover time once it departs the intermediate halt, unless there is a glut of traffic.


32445143238_69a2f779bb_c.jpg4-182 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


182. A similar photo taken fifteen or so minutes later shows that the shunter has attached the inbound wagons to the outbound ones so that it can push them onto the ferry. The poles on the reach wagon have been disconnected as the inbound wagons will act as a 'handle'.


Ian T


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Thanks. It helps to keep me out of mischief!


The layout was designed from the outset to provide these sorts of operational opportunities.


I suppose I have looked at too many copies of Model Railroader!


The website does contain some insight into the design process for any-one interested.


Ian T

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  • 2 weeks later...

The session has now finished and around thirty odd photos have been posted on the website at https://myafk.net/operating-session-4


A small selection of these is shown below.


Most of them try to convey operational problems faced by the AFK.


31508066057_bfe43b63f0_c.jpg4-185 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


185. The late evening RFK-URT goods stands in the platforms at Relforka, ready to leave. Rather unusually this is not totally formed of SG vehicles because there is a shortage of equipment at Boursson, which will be addressed by dropping NG wagons from this train. In addition the first van has been transferred from the Eromarbordo goods as it is full of fish bound for Lacono. The transfer has put the goods 10 minutes behind schedule. Control has a decision to make. Is this train let out late, running against the mixto, or is it held to ensure a clear run for the mixto? The Narnian railways, rather like their Thalnian counterparts, are not noted for their speed or promptness and three times out of four the FT train that the mixto connects into is late. Feeling lucky? Do you twist or do you stick?!


45534831105_e5a2fd408f_c.jpg4-191 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr



191. Having been tipped the wink by Glissent, the mixto moves along the short loop at Boursson because the freight is too long to fit into the loop. Once this has cleared the south end, and the signal clatters to the near vertical 'clear' aspect and the mixto wastes no time getting onto the move. As it happens the crew and AFK Control need not have worried because Nerv FT Control have rung through to say that the connecting train from Beruna in Narnia is running 15 minutes late. (This was divined from the dice throw.) Nerv is the FT junction between the Ruritanian and Narnian lines and oversees all SG running in the province whilst liasing with the respective countries' railways. The standard practice, in any case, is to hold theSG train at Relforka for the AFK connection, although the AFK management try to avoid the opprobrium that follows this necessity. A large number of Provincial functionaries and politicians use the mixto to connect into the sleepers added at Gascari (the border station) to reach Sarip on the following morning. The FT HQ would never hear the end of it if these connections were missed!


45724598614_68ba7c550d_c.jpg4-193 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


193. As the evening draws in snow is falling over the high passes of the Marronĝaco Massif and it is necessary to plough the route between Cadsuiane and Calodonno. The plough has been coupled to the front of the RFK-FDV freight for the run down the north side of the Hecaraxë pass. Here it has been uncoupled to allow the plough to run into the loop. I am considering altering the profile of the watermill, which has remained untouched throughout the session despite good intentions, so that it does not obscure the (eye level) view of the line on the shelf above the village.


45534837735_c9ce00709d_c.jpg4-202 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


202. It is 20.40 before the pilot can begin to contemplate breaking down the long goods train brought in by the afternoon KTT goods. This was last seen in photo 170 and arrived at 18.20 but other duties have called. The shunter discusses the moves with the loco crew having written down the destinations of each wagon onto a sheet of paper. This is what our American cousins refer to as a switchlist, but I am sure that there was an English equivalent name (shunt list?). This is the first time that I have followed this procedure but the reasons for doing it are the same as those used on US layouts. All the wagons are listed on one sheet of paper rather than fumbling roughly a dozen consignment notes around on the edge of the layout. It seems likely that this will become a standard procedure in the future as similar ideas would have benefitted the chaos at Urteno. At one point there were twenty plus wagons to keep track of. The eagle eyed will have spotted that van 222 has been carried past Boursson and will need to be sent back. Jasmond will be on the case in the morning!


45534842565_ac58c2d203_c.jpg4-215 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


215. The log train is finally ready to depart. In the light of experience I would try to avoid assembling the train so early if the situation recurred. It would have been easier to hold the wagons in the sidings rather than to take one loop out of the equation for most of the evening. To be fair when the original decision was made to form the train there seemed to be a real possibility that it could leave shortly afterwards. As I have remarked before, the AFK is only one bad decision away from tying it in knots, as the real thing often was.


45724606064_ea5f3487f1_c.jpg4-224 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


224. Urteno is still busy as midnight strikes. The railcar needs to run round the Post van and the shunter still needs to sort out the wagons from the ferry as well as pushing SG wagons into the furniture factory. The cement train (FDV-LAC) has been held because no path was available but it is now running through one of the loops.


The railway has now closed down for maintenance. During the interregnum certain items will need attention as noted below.


Some point microswitches are not activating as they should do, but it came as a shock to realise that some have been in place for almost twenty years!


The Billard railcar needs attention. That is now forty years old.


The 0-8-0 performed in an acceptable manner so that needs completing, as do various diesels.


The 0-8-8-0T mallet performed reasonably well but still needs some attention.


There are plenty of wagons awaiting paint and many coaches want roofs.


That is before any work is done on scenery, building new stock and carrying out an in depth survey about whether, where and how to add a paper factory. It has become noticeable in recent sessions that traffic has grown in the last twenty years and that many trains now run at or close to capacity.


I hope that this is of interest in this particular forum. I am now posting the same messages in triplicate and seem to get more interest elsewhere.


Ian T

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  • 3 months later...

The AFK is once more in harness and the latest session can be found at https://myafk.net/operating-session-5


There is  a selection of twenty or so photos on the website of which two are shown below. I think that Flickr have started blocking some of the ones in earlier posts, although many were included on the website.


46648262385_5b325cd2fb_c.jpg5-6 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.6 The fireless runs over a previously little used connection and hides under the signal box.. Drivers of fireless locos were industrial workers not necessarily trained in railway rules (no pun intended!) so it is open to debate as to how far the loco would be allowed into the station. I have assumed that the AFK has only authorised it to run along platform 2 and into this siding, or the adjacent one, without a conductor on the footplate.


46648262995_e17784b2e1_c.jpg5-15 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.15 The paper train is the first to pass the new ES (home) at clear. The indication tells the driver that the route is set into the RT (main) but that the FS (starter) is at danger. There are three arms on the spindle allowing four aspects to be shown. As it is still dark the driver would simply see a yellow as he approached. No more alarums and excursions have been experienced with the transporters but their progression around the curve at Sojonno has almost ensured that the rule book will stipulate that these long vans must be treated as bogie vehicles (i.e. travel on two transporters apiece).


Hope that you find something of interest.


Ian T

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Is there dome reason why this benighted website refuses to acknowledge that this thread exists?  I am getting more  upset by the minute as this site refuses


(a) acknowledge that there is a thread called AFK.


(b) refuses to post to this site once found


(c) Repeatedly operates some kind of defective editor that deletes everything in front of the cursor




Minor illnesses have restricted activities of late but he recently posted set of photos can be found at https://myafk.net/operating-session-5

As usual a couple of shots are shown below.


47632150711_03fa874aba_c.jpg5-22 by Ian Thomhttps://myafk.net/operating-session-5pson, on Flickr


5.22 Although the line was cleared at midnight there is sufficient snow by 4am that the two rotaries are required to plough the route again. The plough has been through the loop before returning to clear the main at Caladonno. The signal is off for a departure down the remainder of the Orbon valley where there is less need for snow clearance.


47632151991_f0014f0932_c.jpg5-28 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr



5.28 Fenditavalat's alarm clock pulls into the small yard at 5 o'clock. The busier nature of the yard is apparent here as all three roads are full, reflecting the introduction of the paper factory and the attendant rise in wood traffic over the northern half of the line. The yard has quite a long history for a model I suppose. In its initial incarnation the central road, somewhat improbably served a (low relief) loco shed, the pit for which still remains and need removing. This was supposedly justified by the cramped nature of a hilltop city and was just about tenable when traffic levels were much lower. Even so the yard had to be extended by eight inches within a short time. Inevitably the locos were relegated to a specialised off scene depot as traffic grew and much transfer traffic now avoids this cramped location. The hopper was brought in yesterday and will be taken to the blanket factory once there is time and space for this.


47579340682_2e4388a850_c.jpg5-35 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.35 The early morning railcar from Urteno gets the green indication from Breĉo de Glissent's ES showing that the branch service from Eromarbordo has already arrived and is standing in the loop. The service splits here with the front half running on to Urteno whilst the rear set acts as station pilot and provides connections along the branch to Urteno.


Ian T


Edited by ianathompson
Once again this website now refuses to connect to the website page. Why do I bother?
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The carefully laid plans of the AFK are beginning to unravel.


Unlike most model railways where everything is properly choreographed and works like clockwork this layout is based on my experiences of the real thing.

Late running SG connections, heavy traffic and snow fall are all affecting timekeeping in this session.


As the operating plan heads for meltdown the latest batch of photos can be seen at https://myafk.net/operating-session-5


46761893525_8dfc28073d_c.jpg5-40 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.40 Shunting the Eromarbordo goods often provides a relaxing counterpoint to the problems encountered on the mainline. The train arrived with three wagons and will most likely depart with a similar number today. Shunting here is never easy however due to the complex track layout and it is easy to reach an impasse if future moves are not considered. All three roads are blocked as the crew take a breather and water the loco. The cramped nature of the site is evident but it repays this in the additional interest provided.


46761894705_b1fe6911db_c.jpg5-51 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.51 .... after much toing and froing the passenger departs almost quarter of an hour late. The train is incorrectly marshalled as the Post van and ambulance should be on the rear so this may have repercussions further along the line. If it had not been for the availability of the new short loco built with this duty in mind the departure would have been delayed even more.


33800317868_ebeaf69c6a_c.jpg5-56 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.56 Another traditional photo shows the express and the following local standing at Relforka. Today the express is pulled by the I-D-I and the local is taken by the 2-6-6-0T mallet. There is trouble brewing in that Nerv FT control (the (Thalnian Railways centre of operations in the province) has phoned through to say that the connecting services from the capital are over half an hour late this morning which will involve holding the express at Relforka to make the connections. (This is the result of a dice throw. The lateness is varied for each connecting train. Unfortunately the 100 sided dice threw up a 94 which denotes big trouble!)


Given the extra traffic due to be carried today this involves a hasty remarshalling of the sets at Relforka and a revamped plan for transferring the hockey players and crowds to Caladonno. The plan is to run the local on the express schedule without waiting for a SG connection and to run the "express" as a sort of de luxe 'sweeper' train stopping everywhere. The original intention was to terminate the local at Urteno but it looks as though it may have to run through to Fenditavalat now. This is promising to be a real mess! Looking further down the road the spare set held at Fenditavalat to provide a prompt connection at Relforka when the express runs late is out on the road deputising for a railcar (see photo 51). There might be a need for a piloted railcar later today.


33800318778_fdde086b8d_c.jpg5-57 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.57 Things go from bad to worse as the schools' train stalls in the cutting at Lamassco. This is not a result of a dice throw but reality. The AFK is not an easy model railway to work. The line is steeply graded and the stock (and locos for that matter) are heavy items. Unfortunately a combination of a tightish curve and, I suspect, a slight steepening of the ruling 1 in 36 mean that this area is a well known black spot on the layout. It is, I suppose, the antithesis of those layouts beloved by the magazines with their beautifully delicate details accurately modelled and never a curve or grade in sight!


It would be possible to give the train a prod and ignore the big finger from the sky but that's not how I prefer to work if I can avoid it. The 0-8-0 from the early running URT-RFK goods is waiting at Boursson. It is instructed to go down to the stricken train and assist from the front. This all takes time of course and puts 40 minutes into the schedule. These things did happen on the prototype, and as a signalman I often had to deal with them. Reality was somewhat at variance with the perfectly choreographed world of many model railways!


33800319438_24660308cb_c.jpg5-66 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.66 The local, using the stock from the express, finally gets the road from Relforka at 09.00. This puts it 35 minutes behind the local's scheduled departure and 50 behind its own. Once the path has been lost the delays begin to compound and it can be expected that this is only the beginning of the time losses for this train. Of course TDA, if it had ever existed on the AFK and Thalnian networks in the sixties, would be rubbing their hands at the amount of time that could be charged to the mainline network for a late arrival at Fenditavalat.

Ian T

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  • 2 weeks later...

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since I lat posted.

Thirty odd new photos can be found at https://myafk.net/operating-session-5


47714374382_77d405ae14_c.jpg5-70 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.70 The express, seen in the background behind the medieval tower, has lost its path and control decides to run the URT-RFK goods through the section rather than hold it at Boursson. The train sees the "take siding" indication as it arrives at Breĉo de Glissent, putting a further 5 minutes into the express.


47714376202_f384ec73d1_c.jpg5-72 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.72 Journey's end at last (see 5.57).The extended schools' train terminates at Varden today where the tobogganists have parked a couple of sledges on the 'ice'. The access tunnel is the concrete bridge in the background which is at the end of the run. The Urteno banker has run up the hill behind the train and coupled on to return the stock to the station. The train loco will remain coupled onto the train to save a path. The ice is not an ideal solution to providing a wintery atmosphere, which is best done in a permanent scene as at other locations on the layout. It will probably stay for the remainder of winter and might well attract some skaters and a hog roast.


33889833638_7beab18d66_c.jpg5-92 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.92 The loco and van for the new train associated with the paper mill run down into Lacono at 10.15. The timings of this train are extremely tenuous beyond a nominal 10.30 departure. In effect this is an institutionalised unscheduled train running to an unspecified destination as required. I did make a serious attempt to base this train at Fenditavalat as it could have collected full wagons on the way down to Lacono and returned with empties from the factory. An initial look into the timings suggested that it would be difficult to find a path up the hill for this train in the late afternoon. The upshot of this is that the current extra goods is covering some of the work intended for this train. I will review what happens in this session and may look at some possible retimings so that this train can run from Fenditavalat, which is what I would prefer. The brake van was purloined from the Relforka drawer so there is obviously a need for a few more of these.


46977689514_be83d052ee_c.jpg5-103 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.103 The extra has already put time into the express at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol, where there was a four minute delay until the section cleared. The extra's loco is now running round its stock when the express arrives. The express's loco is just visible under the snowshed in the background waiting for the signal to clear. Up trains usually receive priority at this signal but not today. The express will be held at Ospicio for the late running car train in any case and the load is light compared to the power of the loco.


I hope that you find something of interest.

Ian T

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The latest photos are available at the usual site https://myafk.net/operating-session-5


32903854177_99f41247a9_c.jpg5-106 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.105 The AFK control's day takes a turn for the worse, just as it seemed that everything was being straightened out. Nerv control ring through to advise that the connecting service for the mixto will arrive 25 minutes behind time! (Once again this is a result of a dice throw.) This will have severe impacts on the whole railway as this train is on a very tight timing to return and make a connection (see 4.191). Having just congratulated itself for solving Fenditavalat's surplus of power there might now be a shortage! This is the impact of connecting with a SG system with its own agenda.


40881073853_774e877239_c.jpg5-116 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.115 The Jakarutu branch train backs into the oil siding at Gysmorabu to collect the tanker of crude oil. This is an occasional traffic offering and in real life terms it is probably over a year since a train entered this siding! Contrary to expectations everything went smoothly and no problems were encountered, except for the dust on the tanker!


40881075263_05d44d9f06_c.jpg5-120 by Ian Thompson, on Flickr


5.119 The railcar leaves for the shed. This will allow the passenger loco standing on platform 3, which has dealt with the Post vans (at the right beside the train shed wall) to run down onto the ambulance. The railcar has been signalled by a ground signal alongside platform 1 and the two reds in the heads on the gantry do not apply to this move. As much as anything this picture was included to show the importance of the click clocks and to show that multiple moves can be carried out simultaneously. There are currently three independent sets of moves taking place and a freight train is approaching. These are obviously not carried out simultaneously in real life as I only have one set of eyes and arms! The rule of thumb is that these moves are carried out on one 'click' providing that they would not interfere with one another.

Ian T

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