At our most recent AGM, the members voted unanimously on embarking a journey to modernise and convert the whole of the main layout in the club rooms to DCC, with new branch lines, sidings, scenery and controls.
The changes will enable our main layout to be able to run DCC operating sessions, with full sound, lighting, signals and smoke. The club is very excited about the plan to soon have two fully operational DCC main lines and 6+ branchlines/yards.
Just over two years ago, Sydney Model Railway Society decided to convert one of the mainline to DCC for members to start using their newly acquired or re-wired DCC locomotives at the club. With members often queuing up to use the DCC mainline (and the DC mainline being under-utilised) and manufacturers bringing out more DCC locomotives, discussions moved to full conversion of the main layout to DCC.
The club will embark on the plan to convert both mainlines and most yards to DCC, but we are still going to retain a DC layout available. We all still have some DC locomotives and passenger trains that won’t be converted to DCC.
The plan will take up to 2 years to complete, and is split into 5 phases:
1. Pre-work – centring on rectification works and documentation requirements for power supply and components. This phase will be relatively short and commence now. Our caution here is the need to understand the existing wiring required (see below the example of what wiring is in place).
2. Down Main line conversion to DCC – (Upline is already DCC) and this will include new bus lines and droppers, point conversions to electrofrogs, removal of old wiring and switching boards (see below), and reinstalling cross-overs between mainlines. This will be the major phase of the project and take a lot of energy from the members to complete.
3. Upgrade of Wits End Branch – considering that many members still have DC trains, the Wits End branch line will be upgraded to be DC and DCC (interchangeable). When it is DC, members can shunt and run point to point, and when DCC, members can use it as a staging yard to run out onto the mainline. This will be run in conjunction with phase 2.
4. Scenery, branch line and yard upgrades – with 6 major yards and branchlines, it is a great opportunity to require, repurpose and re-scenic each area. This will include a DELEC type locomotive area, and refashioned steam engine house, revitalised Central station and more.
5. Block detection, signals and control panels – this technical phase requires significant scoping work will commence when the other phases are complete or nearing completion. This phase of the plan is intended to use the latest in train control technology to bring the best experience possible for members and visitors.
We are very aware that with all of us being volunteers, our timelines are a little fluid, however we are intending for all the major works to be completed by the end of 2023. We also have other things like Covid to navigate in this process.
If anyone is interested in finding out more or helping out, please send us an email or contact us on our website. We will post regular updates if you are interested in keeping an eye on our progress.