'twas a particularly boring morris practice last night: they're working on some new dances and want only fragments of music so I get a minute's playing, a minute's rest, then have to be ready again as soon as asked. A friend has a tee-shirt with the standard symbols for Play - Stop - Rewind, and in letters underneath 'official morris practice musician'.
Anyway, I got some time to think about operating the layout. Let me add that this isn't all original thought from ninety minutes playing and forty minutes or so in the pub, hence the post title - Breakwater Point is the tentative name for our Jaywick project; the name of a cottage backing up to the sea wall on Meadow Way.
The original plan, using a version of Arue, was to run two-coach trains as standard, with up to three wagons attached to each train and three outgoing, the difficult bit being that the wagons need to be at the back of each train.
Here's the layout with the minimum of gaps inserted:
However, this allows only one loco, so the 'wagons at the back' trick isn't possible (without a third track it needs two locos).
Sketching on the back of a piece of manuscript paper suggests that (as with Arue but in a different way) it's possible to run the following sequence:
outbound trucks are in top siding; train arrives with inbound trucks at rear, parks coaches at platform; inbound trucks are placed in lower siding; train leaves with outbound trucks at rear.
I deliberately haven't put in all the detail in case anyone wants to try it as a puzzle. I found two solutions (meaning of course that the puzzle isn't at its most devious yet)
and I think that my shortest is eight moves - haven't checked this morning. What should make it good for exhibitions is that the two locos have to co-operate.
(The back-story we devised is similar to that for Sutton Wharf - originally the track layout was simpler but when the operation changed no more space was available so buying a second loco was the only option.)
To make this work, I needed to add two more gaps:
Of course, when the train is gone, you have a neat three-from five/six Inglenook whilst the spare loco prepares the new outbound trucks. This is possible with Arue, but makes more sense with this layout, with the added advantage that one can add a cassette to the top siding, so swapping coaches and wagons in and out.
For Ian's benefit, here are my calculations on layout length. The passing loop needs to hold two coaches or a loco and three wagons (these decisions, made for Breakwater, were not arbitrary). My GVT-ised Swee'Pea is 75mm long over couplers, so the obvious is that coaches are 150mm over couplers, wagons 75mm, giving a minimum layout length of 675mm plus three times the allowance for clearances at points. Bringing the coaches down to 100mm makes the wagons 45mm and the layout 475mm plus three point allowances.
This latter, for reasons of variety, was the approach we settled on for the Gn15 version, but the settrack radii will probably make the former look better.
Just for luck, in the pub, I proved that one can actually turn a three-coach train, and/or swap a coach in or out. If you've solved the first puzzle, this will either be obvious or not depending on which solution you found. (Natch, I found the solution that doesn't make it obvious first).
Given that there's a real excuse for the Inglenook in sorting wagons into the 'correct' drop order, and the passenger running is pretty protypical, I think this has a lot of potential. And since there are at least two soutions to the two-coach problem, there's at east one trick I haven't found yet.