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SARail - Freelance Model Railway

South Australian Railways


Commonwelath Railways Australia


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This page shows the development of my first attempt at a model railway. It is a freelanced model based on the South Australian Railways in the period between 1950-1970 but shows the influence of the Webb 'Superpower' era and the Commonwealth Railways.

Layout in

Layout Plan

An 8'x5' layout with 24" radius curves - 

As this is my first layout I started with a design from Model Railroader Magazine called the 'Atlanta Central'. Although this was intended for a US prototype in the 1940s and I am intending to freelance a layout for the South Australian Railways in the 1950-1960s I thought that the basic plan offered a high degree of operational flexibility and some interesting scenery without crowding the board too much.

This design was one of the few that also included an interchange and this was an important feature as I decided to build this as a DCC layout from the beginning and needed a programming section and also because I intended to make this layout a part of a larger overall layout later on (see below).

Consequently I will be including South Australian like scenery and prototypical buildings which will result in the layout taking on undulations to add visual variety and greater relationship to the original.

I have also decided to redesign and add additional sidings to act as an on site 'fiddle yard' and storage while also adding to the amount of shunting that can be accomplished!

I initially decided upon a basic 8x4 layout size partly because I wanted to be able to finish the model to a reasonable standard without locking myself into decades of work and more importantly because this layout has to be highly portable as we are trying to build a home and are currently renting a small house which can not house a large sized layout.

While the original was based on 18" radius curves and lighter code track to be true to the era, I decided to opt for Peco Code 100 and 24" radius curves in order to reduce potential running problems. 

This necessitated changing the board dimensions from 8X4 to 8X5 to allow for the wider curves, which has been a good long term decision. While I have left the length unchanged I can already see that the layout would benefit from being at least a 10' long to allow greater distance between the components. 

I wanted to include some features of the now defunct McLaren Vale to Willunga line as this area is one of our favourite places in Australia but the topography is only suited to a long narrow design and not a rectangular styled 8x4.

So the design has become freelanced and will include some aspects replicating the 'feel' of rural South Australia. A later planned extension will hopefully introduce aspects of the McLaren Vale to Willunga line.

It has quickly become apparent that no matter how much you plan, the reality is less often than anticipated! I can now see why some modellers prefer just to plan - dreams layouts in the mind have a lot going for them.

Two lessons have already become patently obvious - I have seriously over engineered the base and you simply need big spaces to do justice to the flat open terrain I am trying to incorporate. 8X5 simply does not allow it. Nest time!

Layout in construction

The Plan

atlantacentral2.jpg (452460 bytes)

The Base

The Top

My layout board showing a mock up of the track

Click images to see a larger view

DCC control

Lenz Set 100

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Last modified: June 05, 2004