Dutton Bay Tramway - Description



Anunaka Station The Dutton Bay Tramway is a freelanced HO scale 2'6" gauge railway based in South Australia's Eyre Peninsula. The layout represents a mythical narrow gauge railway extending across the lower peninsula, connecting Port Dutton on the west coast Mount Dutton Bay with the coastal communities of Anunaka and Port Neill on the east coast. A branch north from the headquarters of Port Dutton runs through the salt and gypsum mining locality of Kelvin to meet the SAR Mount Hope line at Kalanda.

The line conveys passengers, general goods traffic, plus the daily "Flying Fish" each morning from the wharf at Anunaka. In addition there is quite heavy salt/gypsum traffic from the salt pans to the wharf at Anunaka.

The line is set in about 1970. Although there were no common carrier narrow gauge lines in operation in Australia by then, there is a huge amount of sugar carried on 2' gauge railways in Queensland, and therefore there is a readily visible prototype of modern image narrow gauge.

Note that in the context of the Dutton Bay and this web site, the term "Narrow Gauge" refers to less than 3'6". There are many examples of modern 3'6" gauge railways in Australia, perhaps the most significant being again in Queensland, where 140-wagon coal trains are hauled by powerful electric locomotives, where a "tilt" train runs at 160 kilometres/hour, and where the latest build of diesel-electric locomotives generate 4,000 horsepower. Heavy duty, modern image "narrow gauge" indeed.

The Aim

In order to provide a degree of realism and coherence we have spent many hours (days/weeks/years) planning the various aspects of the railway. Before a new item of rolling stock is added, a new structure built, or a new locomotive ordered, the place of the planned object is considered in great detail, and if it doesn't fit, even if it is a "favourite model" it is not incorporated. In order to assist this planning process, although the line is most definitely freelanced, the decision to set the railway on the Eyre Peninsula sets the scene, and long ago we decided to model the railway virtually as a 2'6" version of the South Australian Railway's 3'6" gauge division operating in the area. Consequently many of the items on the railway have the clear characteristics of the Eyre Peninsula Division, and although locomotives and rolling stock are unique, they certainly fit the scene.

Image of Kelvin and Gypsum Bins The salt and gypsum traffic is interesting, being the staple of the western-end of the Eyre Peninsula, and providing three or four trainloads of the white mineral daily to the port of Thevenard. The latest module of Kelvin has a similar trackplan to the prototypical station of Kevin, a salt and gypsum loading facility about 100 km "beyond" Ceduna. Kevin has a remarkable moonscape appearance with heaps of sparkling white salt and gypsum stretching as far as the eye can see; Kelvin attempts to duplicate this scene.

The Model

Tractor and Derrick Crane, Anunaka The whole idea of Anunaka and Kelvin is to provide a spacious, wide open arrangement, rather than the rabbit warren, minimum-space style of narrow gauge, quite common until recent times. Consequently we probably have less track than many standard gauge models would have in the same space. In its current form, as exhibited in October 1998 at Liverpool and Easter 2000 at Hobsons Bay, the layout appears as a "J", stretching over 5.1 metres (more than 16 feet) on the Anunaka side, and over a slightly shorter distance on the Kelvin side. Of this distance the stations of Anunaka and Kelvin each consume about 9 feet, and the remainder contains the single track main line. Similarly, within the station area tracks are laid to spacious 2" centres, and in a depth of 530mm (1'9") Anunaka has just four parallel tracks. Kelvin has an even lower density of track, with never more than three parallel tracks in the same length and width as Anunaka.


The original trackwork laid at Anunaka used code 70 handlaid rail, with a mixture of Peco 009 and Bemo H0e points (turnouts). Some additions have used the track marketed by Peco as "Crazy Track", which uses code 80 rail. Kelvin and the Salt Pan module use Micro-Engineering code 55 H0n30 flex track, unfortunately no longer available. The points at Kelvin are mostly Railway Engineering #6, with a couple of BK Enterprises #4 points. Interestingly, when the track is ballasted and painted the difference in height is not noticeable, to the extent that I would be surprised if any of the spectators who view the layout at exhibitions even recognized that there were three different tracks in use. Surprisingly, from above (an operators perspective) the Peco code 80 rail head has a much finer appearance than the original hand laid code 70 track.

The permanent layout under construction will see a reversion to larger rail. The H0n30 Mail Car, a mailing list for modellers in that scale, arranged for Micro-Engineering to produce code 70 flex-track, and a supply of that will be used for the new stations of Warunda, Wepowie and Port Dutton. Pointwork will be Railway Engineering #6 code 70 to match, but there are plans to handlay some turnouts and track with code 55 and possibly even code 40 rail.


Operating at the Fiddle Yard The DBT is operated (even at exhibitions) to a timetable sequence, and a full day's workings include gypsum and salt block trains, passenger and general goods trains, a mixed (conveying perishables, commonly referred to as the "Flying Fish"), and a railcar. With Micro-Trains N scale couplers and strategically placed magnets, most shunting takes place "hands off" and at scale speeds. At Kelvin the magnets are rare earth magnets from S&L Enterprises, hidden under the track. Those on the mainlines are hinged to avoid any possibility of unexpected uncouplings.

A variety of analog controllers were used over the years, but most recently a unit based on the Tractronics' Cooler Crawler circuit was adopted as standard. These give superb control of the small locos. In the months leading to the Hobsons Bay exhibition the layout was converted to DCC. After an extensive evaluation, the EasyDCC system was chosen. The locomotives have been fitted with decoders, mostly the small DZ121 from Digitrax but some have larger. Some locomotives have Lenz decoders installed, and we have a number of their new small sized decoders on hand waiting for locomotives to be made ready.

DCC changed the operation of the layout totally. Three operators are normally occupied running the sequence, and in analog days they generally operated with one based at each of Anunaka and Kelvin and the third operator "roving", although any operator could control a train anywhere on the layout. Digital control has modified things considerably, and now operators drive their trains from one end to the other, shunting en-route as necessary. The trains are being driven rather than a station or yard being controlled.


Gypsum train on wharf at Anunaka Our locomotive stud was once the weakest link in the attempt to construct a reasonable and believable Australian narrow gauge system, however quite a great deal of effort has gone into producing a fleet of locos which at least have an Australian appearance.

The locomotives in use are generally "Australianized" versions of readily available European H0e locos, mainly from Bemo, or kit-bashed bodies running on N-scale mechanisms. Some of the modifications made include new cast cabs fitted to the Bemos, cabs to a typical GM outline.

There are some "genuine" Australian locos in the fleet. An ex-New South Wales standard gauge 73 class, running on a Roco H0e mechanism, is currently in regular use. An ex-Queensland Railways 3'6" gauge DH-class, produced by Far North Hobbies is expected to make its welcome debut shortly. In recent years, both these classes of locomotives have been converted to run on the extensive 2' gauge lines of the Queensland sugar industry, however the inroduction to service of our 73-class predated the prototypic conversion by some years. They are giants on the narrow gauge.

The newest loco is an EIMCO 720 hp unit, used by sugar mills in Queensland. This locomotive runs on a Bachmann mechanism, and whilst really too modern for the layout, has been "backdated" so thaty the details better suit the correct era.

There is a set of photographs illustrating the locomotive fleet

Rolling Stock

Much of the rolling stock in use is derived from SAR prototypes: passenger vehicles are heavily modified to a similar appearance to that of a short tom and scratch built guards vans match the "End Platform Goods Brakes (EPGBs). A more detailed description, with a selection of images, of the Passenger stock is available.

Goods stock consist of scratch built bodies - open wagons, vans, covered "gypsum" hoppers, flat wagons, cattle wagons - mounted on shortened Kato "N" gauge underframes, all painted in a typical SAR grey colour scheme.

More information on our Goods fleet can be viewed, as can a detailed description behind the use of the Kato underframes. Finally, a description of the techniques used in building the bodies of our fleet of wagons can be studied.

There are a number of images available, showing both the modelled Anunaka and Kevin along with the prototype of Kelvin.

Return to the DBT Home Page

Last Modified June 21, 2000