Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

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Andrew
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Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by Andrew » Tue Jan 11, 2022 2:44 pm

Hello all,

As I mentioned on my railway thread, I'm working on reviving "Shuntomatic System 3000", the name my children gave to my attempt (some years ago now...) at randomly generating goods trains and traffic on my railway. Since then the children have lost interest (in fairness, going to University didn't help...) and the railway's developed, including gaining enough Welsh highland and Ffestiniog wagons to make it worth trying something a little more realistic.

So, the aims of the exercise are:

1) To create interesting (and not entirely predictable) operations.
2) To recreate aspects of historic Welsh Highland operations.
3) To have fun.

Not all of those things are entirely compatible with the others, but I'm hoping to find a good blend...

It's occurred to me that I can "desktop" this without actually running trains, by simply developing a system and testing it with the cards that will represent the wagons. A good proportion of the (WH)WHR's trains only run in my head anyway, so it won't really be any different. I can test it out, changing and tweaking it as necessary to get something that works in theory before I try it out in the garden. A couple of you have expressed an interest, so I thought I'd conduct my experiments in public...

First of all, here's an updated plan of the layout:

(WH)WHR plan.jpg

As you can see, lack of siding space is a big problem, but not one that's easily resolved. It might stop the whole thing working terribly well, we'll have to see how it goes...

A brief overview of the line and its traffic flows goes like this:

The line to Clarach is a three mile branch of the Welsh Highland Railway, from which it diverges at a junction between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert. The branch passes through Trefechan before serving a granite quarry and timber yard in the village of Penlan, then continues on to Clarach. The main traffic from here is slate, from the Clarach Quarry, but the railway also serves the small village which gives the quarry its name.

There is sufficient slate traffic to warrant the running of trains specifically for this purpose, with other loads catered for by a daily pick-up goods train. As well as bringing granite and timber down the line to be carried further afield by main line railway or by sea, these trains carry coal, flour, meat and other essentials to the communities served by the branch. Beer and wines are conveyed to the public houses and hotels, including the popular Black Lion Hotel in Clarach, which also receives occasional deliveries of Porthmadog sea water for those of its guests wishing to partake in a reviving salt water bath. Other loads include gunpowder for the quarries and manure for the farms, brought from the streets of the cities.

Steep gradients, sharp curves and short loops mean that trains are limited to just seven wagons and a guards van, with further restrictions being imposed by the poor unloading facilities at Clarach which, due to its location on thin rock shelf on the side of the valley, can accommodate just four wagons.


Timber and granite traffic did feature at times on the WHR (and more so on its predecessor, the NWNGR), and the other loads are all genuine too, with the exception of brine, which I pinched from the FR - the brine wagon did end up perched on a tower of sleepers as a water tank at Pont Croesor though! I don't know whether the real thing ever did, but my version of the WHR will borrow the FR's hearse as required, and a gunpowder van too - I believe gunpowder travelled in normal vans on the real Welsh Highland.

Slate wagons aside, those currently available (including two I've not actually built yet but which will be necessary for operations!) are:

WHWHR Wagons.jpg

Apologies, that table didn't reproduce very well, but you get the idea...

The WHR and FR had separate sequences for numbering their wagons (in fact the WHR appears to have had several), but for simplicity's sake I've been able to give each wagon a unique number so far.

More next time! I might be ready to run some imaginary trains by the end of the week...

Cheers,

Andrew.

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Lonsdaler » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:21 pm

Wot? No fish? :lol:

I'm interested to understand the thinking behind not having the gunpowder van next to the hearse? And I love the name, it's suitably Wallace & Gromity :thumbup:
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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Andrew » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:28 pm

Lonsdaler wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:21 pm
I'm interested to understand the thinking behind not having the gunpowder van next to the hearse?
That was an afterthought! It occurred to me that if the risk of explosion is too great for living folk, getting blown to bits might be a little disrespectful to the dead ones too. Although I guess, being quarry workers, that might be why the poor souls are in the hearse anyway...

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Lonsdaler » Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:49 pm

Andrew wrote:
Tue Jan 11, 2022 5:28 pm
That was an afterthought! It occurred to me that if the risk of explosion is too great for living folk, getting blown to bits might be a little disrespectful to the dead ones too. Although I guess, being quarry workers, that might be why the poor souls are in the hearse anyway...
:shock: :lol:
Now, if it was a crematory van... :bom:
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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by ge_rik » Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:21 am

Fascinating stuff. Really looking forward to seeing how it will work in simulation and in practice. Basing it on loads rather than wagons (as with my system) makes it a lot more realistic and creative. Presumably, empty stock may need to travel to a destination to pick up some waiting goods if no relevant wagon is already there.

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Andrew » Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:26 am

ge_rik wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:21 am
Presumably, empty stock may need to travel to a destination to pick up some waiting goods if no relevant wagon is already there.
Yes, that's the idea. A load might be "Granite from Penlan", which will require an empty wagon to be sent up the line if there's not already something suitable sitting in the siding. I'm hoping to finish the "paperwork" at lunchtime today so that I can try it out later in the week...

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by ge_rik » Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:51 am

Further thought.... Will your system allow for mixed loads in a wagon? Eg could half a load of flour share a wagon with a quarter load of booze?
I assume you're not going to use the hearse for mixed loads .... :shock: :? :D

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Andrew » Wed Jan 12, 2022 9:30 am

ge_rik wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:51 am
Further thought.... Will your system allow for mixed loads in a wagon? Eg could half a load of flour share a wagon with a quarter load of booze?
I think that might over complicate things, but most of my traffic (including the deceased...) is probably only suited to full wagons anyway. Most small general goods would probably have gone in the guards van (WHR goods brakes were "road vans", with space for goods and parcels as well as the poor guard), but I will have some "general goods" loads, which would be a mixed wagonload.

I haven't decided yet whether bogie wagons will be assumed to carry a double load. I think they will where coal or granite are concerned, because they take up two wagon lengths in the train or sidings, not sure about timber or general goods yet, may have to see how it pans out...

Glad it's exercising your brain as well as mine - although I should be thinking about something else entirely right now (ie the stuff they pay me for), so I'd better get back to it!

Andrew.

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 style!

Post by Andrew » Wed Jan 12, 2022 12:46 pm

Here are a few further "behind the scenes" preparations for the new version of Shuntomatic...

Firstly, the overall idea...

The 2022 edition of Shuntomatic System 3000 will control goods movements (other than slate trains) between Clarach, Penlan, and the rest of the Welsh Highland and Festiniog Railways. For these purposes, no traffic starts or finishes at Trefechan, which instead represents all other destinations.

Loads are represented by cards, which are drawn at random to determine the traffic requirements for that operating session (representing a day). Wagons are represented by a further deck of cards, from which suitable wagons are chosen. Empty wagons should be sent to meet a traffic need at stations where no suitable vehicles are already available. If suitable wagons are unavailable, the load will be noted as "pending" and handled as soon as possible on a later day.

All wagons will start each day at the place they finished last, and most will require an additional day at their destination to be loaded or unloaded.
The locations and current situation of each wagon (eg awaiting unloading at Penlan) will be probably be recorded by positioning wagon cards in labelled wallets in a folder, but for initial (theoretical) testing I'll use labelled piles on my desk...



And secondly, the instructions:



• Check the lists and place wagons in the sidings at Penlan and Clarach as required.

• Change the note on the cards for these wagons to indicate whether they are now being loaded/unloaded, or are ready for collection.

• Roll the dice to determine which brake van will be allocated to the train:

4 = WHR Van 4
5 = FR Van 5
Any other number = WHR Van 2

• Check the “Pending” list for loads awaiting a suitable wagon. If wagons are now available, add these to your train.

• Roll the dice again to see how many other wagons are required.

• Draw that number of load cards to determine which cargos they will need to carry.

• Check against available wagon cards to choose suitable vehicles. WHR wagons should be allocated ahead of FR ones where possible. Where empty wagons are already available at a station, and are suitable for the load required, these may allocated.

• If suitable wagons are not available, or if the train will consist of more than 7 wagons, loads should be added to the Pending list as appropriate. Note that bogie vehicles count as two wagons when calculating train length.

• Any load cards not in the Pending list should be returned to the pack.

• Assemble the train, noting any special instructions on the wagon cards.

• Run the train, dropping off wagons as required at Penlan and Clarach. Add wagon cards to the appropriate lists to indicate that wagon’s correct location and update notes to indicate they have arrived.

• Pick up wagons which are ready for collection, up to the maximum permitted train length. Prioritise returning those belonging to the FR, or those required for “Pending” loads.

• Due to the track layout, Penlan should be shunted in the “up” direction if possible. If necessary, and if no passenger trains are running, wagons may be left in the loop to be collected on the return journey.

• Wagon cards for returned vehicles should be restored to the pack.



Whether all of that works, of course, remains to be seen...

Lastly, for now, here's how the number of load cards has been decided - essentially a number to represent the wagons available for a particular traffic multiplied by another number indicating the frequency that load might be required. The latter number is influenced by an attempt to recreate historic traffic flows combined with the desire to keep operations interesting and enjoyable. Again, we shall have to see if it works!

WHWHR Load cards.jpg

I think that's all for now. Tomorrow I'll print some cards, and then I can start playing...

Cheers,

Andrew.

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by BertieB » Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:58 pm

The nuances and subtleties of all this go way over my head — but I enjoy this sort of detailed back story / justification for why the railway is the way it is — let alone that it organises what trains to run today.

Title’s terrific. Shouldn’t it be: Shunt-O-Matic’? (in an agreeable 50s script)

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by Andrew » Wed Jan 12, 2022 2:03 pm

BertieB wrote:
Wed Jan 12, 2022 1:58 pm
Shouldn’t it be: Shunt-O-Matic’? (in an agreeable 50s script)
You're right! Let me work on that...

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Re: Shunt-O-Matic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by Andrew » Wed Jan 12, 2022 6:24 pm

Just for you Bertie...

Shuntomatic.jpg

That's the best I can do with Word, Paint, a clockwork robot and the 1951 Eagle Book of Trains...

Cheers!

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by BertieB » Wed Jan 12, 2022 7:55 pm

Brilliant! Love it.

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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by Soar Valley Light » Wed Jan 12, 2022 8:50 pm

HI Andrew,

This is great stuff! I love the idea of being able to run the system on paper. It's coming on a treat.

Just a though about bogie wagon loads. Although the wagon counts for 2, the load may only be a single one if it is a long load (timber, steel, etc) that is too long for a single wagon.

Counting a wagon length as more than one mirrors the national network. A book was issued when the Standard Loading Unit (SLU) was introduced, detailing the number of SLU's a wagon counted as in, I believe in 0.1 or 0.2 increments (1.2 SLU's or 1.8 SLU's as appropriate).

I'm looking forward t o giving this a go myself.

SVLR Andrew
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Re: Shuntomatic System 3000 - 2022 edition

Post by Phil.P » Thu Jan 13, 2022 7:09 pm

Of course, you realise you will have to make (and wear) the robot outfit, when you come to make the instructional video?

Will it be available on Philips, as well as that new-fangled VHS?

:thumbleft:

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