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Thread: Darn Aussies ... Solar Commuter Train!

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    Default Darn Aussies ... Solar Commuter Train!

    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    That is so cool. Thanks for sharing.
    Keep those trains rolling.

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    Interesting to read the owner of the restored solar powered trains made his fortune in coal mining.

    Thanks for sharing Moose,

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    Going down there on the 13th Jan on a bus trip organised by the Gold Coast model railway club. Will report on what I see.

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    That'll be one for the "good guys" - yu gotta luv us Aussies

    I wonder how long it will now be before "Solar Power" is used for all trains, passenger/metropolitan trains at least.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Better than a long drop any day there mate.

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    This morning 26 of us met on the Gold Coast and boarded a chartered bus for a ride south of just under an hour to Byron Bay, a trendy coastal resort in northern New South Wales and the easternmost town in Australia to check out the Byron Bay Railroad Company.

    The operation runs over two miles of the abandoned line from Casino to Murwillumbah from North Beach station near the owner's Elements Resort to Byron Beach station on the edge of downtown. The original Byron Bay station is about a block further on but would have entailed reinstating a grade crossing over the busy main street. Motive power is a two car ex New South Wales Government Railways 660/720 class railcars made up of cars 661 and 726, originally diesel hydraulics the engine has been removed from one car and replaced with motors drawing power from batteries charged by solar panels on the roof. The solar panels are curved to match the roofline of the cars and are almost unnoticeable unless you are looking for them. The crew said they could get four round trips or 8 miles from a charge of the batteries, under normal operation the top speed is only around 25-30 mph so the solar panels usually keep a charge up. In the servicing shed where we were shown around by the crew there is battery charging facilities so the day's runs can be started with fully charged batteries.

    There is an hourly service with a one way trip lasting about 7-8 minutes with a layover at North Beach where the batteries presumably get a bit of a charge before the next run. Both trips we travelled on had a reasonable number of passengers but a fly in the ointment is legal action to have the operation stopped by a group of about twenty local residents living next to the track who claim the trains are hindering their access to the beach but the operators seemed confident of winning as the tracks have been there since 1894 and the residents in question are effectively trespassing across the tracks to get to the beach.

    At North Beach station.
    Attachment 93717
    Inside the servicing shed showing the battery charging apparatus.
    IMG_3510.jpgIMG_3512.jpg

    The solar panels on the roof of the cars.
    194567_n.jpg

    Some interior shots of the train. They have refurbished the cars but otherwise kept them in pretty much the condition they would have been in in service.
    IMG_3518.jpgIMG_3523.jpgIMG_3535.jpg

    At Byron Beach station.
    DSC01315.jpgIMG_3526.jpg

    Looking towards old Byron Bay station.
    DSC01316.jpgIMG_3529.jpg

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    @westfalen
    Would it be hard the make a model in N scale?
    Are the cars a unique design or are they a mass manufactured European or North American design? A cursory look says the train could be built from round end observation cars.

    Does anyone know if you can get car roof mountable solar cells that would work to make a realistic model? Otherwise an off track "solar farm" could provide power. Fake on-car cells would be a decal, you can find them at spacecraft model specialty shops on the web.

    It might make a neat exhibition layout. With solar power, no extension cord needed!
    Last edited by ChicagoNW; 14th Jan 2018 at 06:04 PM.
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    The cars were a unique to New South Wales design. Someone more into Australian modelling than I am might know for sure but as far as I know there is no N scale model although I believe a HO version was made a few years ago. For an American layout I suppose you could substitute an RDC.

    My club actually ran our N scale layout with solar power for a year or so. About eight years back when we were in an unused building at the local railroad shops thieves stole most of the copper power distribution cables from the building one night leaving us without power, a bit suspicious we thought at the time as they had to know where to go and how to do it with live 415V AC and not get fried. Anyway, when the railway told us they would not reinstall power to the building we got hold of a portable generator for general use which the HO guys used but being in a separate room with windows on the sunny side we opted for solar panels and batteries to successfully operate the large N-Trak layout we had at the time. Around a year later we were suddenly told there was asbestos in the building and given three days to get out putting an end to our environmentally friendly model railroad.

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    This shot at North Beach station got left out of my original post.
    IMG_3539.jpg
    Last edited by westfalen; 22nd Jan 2018 at 12:11 AM.

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    The line would be easy to model with only two turnouts, one for the servicing shed and another closer to Byron Bay leading to a small shed housing a 4 wheel Simplex industrial diesel switcher. The small diesel was used for a time in the mid 2000's to haul an old streetcar along the disused siding seen in the photo of its shed but is unable to haul passengers under present regulations as it only has hand brakes.

    DSC01318.jpgDSC01321.jpg
    untitled.jpg
    (Photo by Bob Merchant)
    Last edited by westfalen; 22nd Jan 2018 at 12:13 AM.

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    There is a replacement shell for this 2 car rail-motor set available from Peter Boorman's http://www.peterboormansworkshop.com.au/catalogue.php?c=1&t=4
    It runs on a Tomytec chassis.

    tim

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    @westfalen, your pictures show "Invalid Attachments".

    Too bad about your N-Trak solar layout demise. Did you happen to take any pictures of hte setup? No up close typical layout pictures, but wider angle showing the layout in the building with solar hook ups, etc.?

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    Glad to hear someone has made those cars. They are quite elegant. @tim

    Cool to hear about the solar layout! Sorry about it's demise. I too cannot see your latest attachments. Would love to see more. @westfalen
    Last edited by ChicagoNW; 14th Jan 2018 at 07:13 PM.
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    This style of two car diesel unit used to run between Newcastle and Maitland, and I think onto Kurri Kurri and Cessnock. I'm not sure if they still do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    @westfalen, your pictures show "Invalid Attachments".

    Too bad about your N-Trak solar layout demise. Did you happen to take any pictures of hte setup? No up close typical layout pictures, but wider angle showing the layout in the building with solar hook ups, etc.?
    Strange, they were visible when I posted. I'll edit the post and have another go.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Realwally View Post
    This style of two car diesel unit used to run between Newcastle and Maitland, and I think onto Kurri Kurri and Cessnock. I'm not sure if they still do.
    Replaced a few years ago by these I believe.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_So...Hunter_railcar

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    Quote Originally Posted by westfalen View Post
    Strange, they were visible when I posted. I'll edit the post and have another go.
    They are visible now.

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    Well, that switcher/tram combo isn't too hard to simulate. A Model Power "Birney" trailer with an Arnold/Rapido four wheel steeple cab with the pantograph removed. The TGW steeple cab is much too tiny.
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