North Shore Railway Modellers' Association, Inc


The model railway club for Sydney's North Shore and Northern Beaches


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Page last modified 19 October 2018

Club Layouts Members' Layouts
Dungog St Enodoc
Mainline Mark 2 NSW Main Line
Kidz Power Railway Bridgewater, Yorton and Garstang
Blue Mountains Valley Central
Bullo Pill

Club Layouts


This layout, modelled to a scale of 1:87 in H0 gauge, represents the station of Dungog on the North Coast line between Sydney and Brisbane. Dungog is a small quiet country town, located  about 80 km (50 miles) north from Newcastle's main locomotive centre of Broadmeadow. However, its geographic position allowed efficient crew and locomotive operations to be made for the heavy express passenger trains working the North Coast Railway, as it was called in the 1940s.

Most of the layout is constructed from blocks of High Density Foam sandwiched between two panels of 7 mm plywood, this providing very strong and extremely lightweight units joined and aligned by aluminium dowels. Code 75 Peco trackwork is rubber glued to the foam.

Uncoupling is achieved automatically via electromagnets laid under the tracks and operated by a timer and push button on the control panel.

The trees, scenery and buildings are the work of our members and the backscene is made from actual photographs of Dungog.

A lot of the rolling stock has been either scratchbuilt or kitbuilt, with a good percentage of quality proprietary products altered to improve their appearance and to represent the types of trains typical of the area. These include timber from mills on the North Coast, fruit expresses, and daylight and overnight passenger trains. Trains are both steam and diesel hauled. Although the AD60 Beyer-Garratts only worked as far North as Martin's Creek quarry, through the use of modellers' license they may be see on our layout.

The layout can be operated either using DCC or conventional DC control, and can be changed from one to the other within minutes.

Dungog won the trophies for "Best Model Railway Layout" and the "Best Australian Prototype Layout - Club" at the AMRA Exhibition, Liverpool, October 2011.


Mainline Mark 2 (retired and sold)

This 00/H0 gauge layout, which consists of a double-track elongated cross-over figure-of-eight, was constructed in modules and was intended to show off trains of all nations in a continuous "main line" setting. It was improved and enlarged over the years, like Mainline Mark 1 before it, but the decision was taken to dispose of it to make room for other, new, layouts. Consequently, the layout has been sold and has a new home in Tasmania.

Trains operated on the layout were H0 or 00 gauge from many eras. They were mostly British, American, Continental and Australian. Steam, diesel and electric are featured hauling all types of rolling stock.

A new module, incorporating a model of an iron foundry from the Forest of Dean on the border between England and Wales, was completed before the sale.

The layout allowed DCC operation on one track with conventional DC on the other.

Here is a short video of Mainline Mark 2, made in 2006 by Terry Smith.

Kidz Power Railway

In 2009, Kevin Phillips of the Central Coast very generously donated a single track L shaped terminus to fiddle yard layout, in working order with basic scenery complete. This has been taken on by our youth group as its development layout called the Kidz Power Railway.

The under-18 team, one of only a few in local clubs, has been planning, building and operating the layout since the beginning of 2010.

The current group of six, which comprises of members aged between 7 -13 years,
have been completing tasks such as:

Before the layout's first display at the 2011 exhibition we achieved

The youth group meets fortnightly on Fridays under the supervision of senior members. If you are under 18 and wish to participate please contact Michael Grey via

Below are some photos of the layout as donated by Kevin Phillips.

The Junior Group is now building an extension to the current layout to teach members about the importance of joining a layout in a modular form and further developing skills in track laying and scenery.  The proposed track plan is shown below:

It will be interchangeable between being a U Drive layout and a Club driven layout depending on the needs of the exhibitions attended.

The Junior Group is also grateful to a kind donation from Keith Hayes of Beecroft of track, points, controllers and some building kits, which will be put into good use on the layout extension.  The donation could not have come at a more welcome time.

Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains is our new HO Layout, which will be making its debut at Forestville Exhibition 2018.

We decided to build a new layout quite different from most of the club and exhibition layouts, one with hills, valleys, cliffs, heavy earthworks and rugged scenery, rather than the more usual flat, rural layout.

We’ve chosen to build a layout around the final years of steam operation (and start of diesel running) on the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, from 1950 to 1956.  This was one of the most extraordinary railway operations, anywhere, with frequent train operations, steep grades, double heading of most west bound trains and delays while goods trains were stopped to set and release brakes - and while goods trains ran slowly, passenger trains operated smartly on the steep grades. Again, most westbound passenger trains, even when hauled by the popular 38 class, required a bank engine. Star of operations is the use of double headed 57 and 58 class locos on 1500 ton coal trains.

We will be showing a range of trains which ran on this line:

and a succession of other trains.

The real operating constraints meant short trains and we can come close to running full size trains!

The layout is built on a flexible modular basis, so we can swap and add modules to expand the layout, and add members’ modules. The baseboards are designed to fit into the two trailers owned by the Association, and are 2300 mm long and 900 mm wide, or fractions of these dimensions. The baseboards are primarily manufactured from 7 mm plywood, including the main longitudinal front beam and, in some cases, the rear beam as well. The top sheets of ply are cut and set at varying levels for the trackbed, scenic levels and roads. Full ply cover means greater strength and a solid base for scenery. The ply has proven to be quite flexible, for example for roads. The rear beam and backscene are formed of 3 mm ply with 19 mm square edging. This saves on weight and adds considerable rigidity to the structure. Where needed, the backscene is curve to avoid ugly corners in the sky. Integral folding legs are included in place of the more commonly used trestles, which have a habit of collapsing.

This method of construction results in relatively thin baseboard, which maximises space for scenery and facilitates hilly construction.

The first stage covers five geographical areas:

The westbound (inner) track is DCC and the (eastbound) outer track can be operated as DCC or DC. Code 83 track has been used as the point work accommodates fine scale wheels better. An 18-road fiddle yard with automatic track selection via rotary switches and diode matrix has been developed.  There are also eight ancillary sidings.  The modules are designed to fit into Mainline or Dungog trailers for transport.  An access drawbridge is provided to save the creaking knees and backs from the trauma of a duck-under.

We will be building more modules! The subsequent stage will be for a major station with stabling sidings and goods yards together with a turntable, then future stages could encompass a loco depot, expanded scenic sections and Zig Zag track. Being modular, a mix and match approach is the aim, and perhaps one day a Mega Layout of all modules will be at an exhibition that has plenty of space.

Further assistance will be gratefully received. This is an opportunity for new members (or older members) to become actively involved and learn a lot about layout construction very quickly. For example, many volunteers will be needed to make a “forest of trees” to finish off scenic aspects of the layout.

Here are some photos of the layout under construction.

Bullo Pill

This 0 gauge point-to-point shunting layout is based on the docks area of a 'pill' (the word Pill being Welsh for tidal inlet) off the River Severn in the UK. It is based loosely on the real Bullo Dock. The principal activity in the docks is that of transferring minerals from rail wagons to canal barges.

The layout consists of two modules made of foam boards and plywood. Track is mainly Peco with mechanically-operated, handmade points. A number of mechanical devices adds interest to operation including a loco turntable, three wagon turntables, a loco/wagon traverser, two mineral tippers and a lifting bridge.

Here is a video of Bullo Pill in operation:

Members' Layouts

St Enodoc

St Enodoc represents a station on the British Railways Western Region Newquay branch in Cornwall in the 1950s, modelled in 4 mm scale 16.5 mm gauge (00). It is the third layout to bear the name St Enodoc - the first was a simple branch terminus, and the second a double-track main line junction. St Enodoc was in reality a Cornish saint whose church lies half-buried by sand dunes opposite Padstow on the Camel estuary, and which is the resting place of the late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman.

The layout is based on the real-life Bugle station, with its passing loop and branch to the local china-clay works. This is one of those relatively rare locations in Great Britain where express passenger trains can be run legitimately over a single-track branch, Newquay being a popular holiday resort with through trains on summer Saturdays to and from all parts of England and Wales.

At the back of the layout are two dead-end fiddle yards linked by a single through track for continuous running. The entire layout measures 2.8 m x 2.2 m with a central operating well and can be dismantled, which allowed the room in which it used to be sited to be used as a spare bedroom.

Baseboards are made from ply, with 1/8 inch cork as a trackbed. The track itself is SMP, with hand-built points using printed-circuit board timbers and operated by SEEP point motors powered through DCC Concepts Masterswitches. The ballast is from Chuck’s Ballast.

St Enodoc is fully signalled with the signals being built from Ratio kits fitted with Scalelink etched brass arms. All the signals, including the ground discs, are operated by memory wire actuators built using Bic Clic ballpoint pen parts. St Enodoc signal box lever frame is made up from 30 ex-Post Office key switches, which provide full electrical (although not mechanical) interlocking between points and signals.

The rolling stock is a mixture of kit built and modified ready-to-run items, and is fitted with DG delayed-action autocouplings. These are operated by home-made electromagnets consisting of fine enamelled wire wound on sewing machine bobbins.

Structures and buildings are made from plastic kits or scratchbuilt from plastic sheet, but landscaping is yet to be started. 

The layout is operated by DCC using NCE equipment, allowing the roles of driver and signalman to be separated. Operation follows a sequence timetable derived from the real-life working timetable for a summer Friday in 1952. Goods trains are run using a system based on playing cards and dice to determine the destination for each wagon on the layout.

Following a house move, a new larger layout including the main line junction and branch terminus is being built. In due course, St Enodoc will form part of that new layout. In the meantime, here are some photos of the layout in its original home.


NSW Main Line

The builder of this layout, a long-standing member of NSRMA, passed away in early 2012. This description reminds us of a good friend and fine modeller.

This H0 layout is built in the basement area of a Federation bungalow and extends through three separate rooms. From the main terminus, the main line passes through the suburban junction of Slobston before heading out into the country through Bunyip Lakes and climbing through the mountains to Nulla Nulla. The line then returns to the terminus, or on to a continuous run, via storage loops. A branch from Slobston runs through Willow Creek to Nulang.

CCTV allows a single operator at the main terminus to see what is going on in the other two rooms.

This layout was featured in the NorthSide newspaper, published by Cumberland Courier Newspapers. Click here to see the article and a video, and here to see some photos.

Bridgewater, Yorton and Garstang

This 0 gauge layout is located in the basement of its owner’s home.

The fiddle yard is entered through a two-road tunnel and is assumed to lead to a large station such as Preston. There are eight storage lines about 12ft long and the yard pivots at the right hand end so that two of the tracks line up with the approach tracks at the left hand end most of the time.

The first station, Bridgewater, is double track with a bay road entered from the left therefore one is able to terminate a short train and send it back round the layout without using the fiddle yard. The through roads and bay are the only part built at the moment.

The double track (now entering the scenic area) continues three quarters of the way round the room to Wolvercot Junction. After this one track curves sharply left. We will follow the other single track as it swings slightly right and crosses a 7 arch viaduct curving left into a tunnel. This is the end of the scenery at the moment.

Leaving the tunnel there are a few sidings on both sides and then we enter second station, Garstang, which has an island platform. This station is directly above the fiddle yard where we started. The single line continues round a corner on a narrow shelf and then opens out into a small halt with one siding and no passing loop, which is above and behind Bridgewater.

After leaving the halt we keep climbing at about 1:100 and then enter a short tunnel at the summit. When we come out of the tunnel we are dropping and curving left through about 180 degrees and after crossing the double track (and back into the scenery) on a plate girder bridge we enter the third station, Yorton, with its passing loop. There are several sidings and the remains of a derelict branch line here. The line leaves Yorton on a sharp curve to reach Wolvercot Junction again, and continues back to the fiddle yard.

Valley Central

Valley Central was the club’s N gauge layout. It was donated to the NSRMA by David Hulme and family in 2011 and had previously been seen at many exhibitions in the late 1990s. After having a prolonged period of storage in a basement and having unfortunately suffered extensive water damage, it has been a major restoration project for the club, led by Alby Anderson. In 2018, following a decision by the Association to dispose of the layout, Alby Anderson's tender was accepted and Valley Central is now Alby's private layout.

Valley Central is an American layout, set in the 1970s, depicting a very busy industrial area based around Black Rock coal mine and Hinton Chemical Plant, located on the North Eastern border of Utah. The layout features extensive bridges, river valleys and waterfalls as well as a town, the coal mine and chemical plant.

During the restoration of the layout, the modules have been made into similar widths and fiddle yards added to the rear of the layout. Most of the trackwork has been re-laid and aligned across module boundaries. Several operating features have been added to provide interest for exhibitions.

The layout is based on three tracks :

The West and East tracks are formed into a double mainline on the layout.

Most of the lines are directly connected to power buses under the layout fed directly from each of the three controllers fixed to Module 3.  However, there are some sections of track which may be isolated and these are controlled from the switches on each module control panel. A fourth controller may be optionally plugged into Module 3 or Module 1 control panels and used for shunting local sectors on those modules, or for independently operating passenger services to shuttle workers from the station to the Chemical Plant or Coal Loader.

In addition, an auto reversing controller is connected to the Valley Floor track (laid on the floor of Module 4), to have a small engine such as "Thomas" appear and return to amuse younger viewers.

Valley Central made appearances at several Forestville exhibitions and the 2013 Liverpool Model Railway Show, where these photos were taken by David Taylor.

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