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Headshunt length

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:17 am
by Lachute
what's the right length for a headshunt: just one loco, one loco and a wagon or more ?
Thanks for your help.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:45 am
by stuartp
As long as it needs to be, or as long as it can be depending on what it is constrained by and what exactly it is the headshunt to.

Ideally it should be longest loco you expect to shunt with + longest rake you expect to shunt. If it's only loco plus half a rake you're going to have to do the shunt in two parts, (not unprototypical but the shunter wont thank you as it means more walking), if it only holds ─║oco plus one wagon you're going to find shunting very tedious (shunting puzzles excepted).

So for a goods yard, as long as you can fit in, up to longest loco + longest rake etc. For the end of a run-round loop just longest loco as you won't normally be takjng a wagon with you. For something which only sees use by a couple of wagons at a time - eg parcels/horse/cattle/end loading dock, you can get away with loco plus one or two wagons.

I have an end loading dock labelled on the ratings plan for the real station as 'horse dock' and the longest thing I've seen in it was a 57' BG. The head shunt just holds a Mk1 BG plus a Black 5, which is about half the length the real one was, but it works on the model.

If you make it a litle bit longer than it needs to be you can use it to dump odd wagons out of the way and still use it - brakevan waiting for its next duty, engineers Grampus wagon being used as a skip (they were g***ers for that), something put off with a hot box or dragging brake waiting for the C&W to come and inspect it etc. The goods yard headshunt on my prototype seems to have been used to collect condemned wooden bodied wagons, which was a very common sight in the 50s and 60s.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 12:57 pm
by Lachute
Thanks for your answer. Very interesting and very helpful.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:04 pm
by Dad-1
Hi lachute,

As stuartp says, as long as you have room for is best.
However there are some cases, as in shunting puzzles where the
headshunt limits are what makes the puzzle.

Geoff T.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Sat Aug 29, 2020 3:23 pm
by Lachute
Thanks for your reply Dad-1. The length of my headshunt will be a loco and a wagon because I don't have enough room for more. I also found this nice video where the length of the headshunt loco and one wagon:
00 gauge shunting layout - branch line terminus

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 3:59 pm
by luckymucklebackit
Possibly the shortest headshunt I have ever seen was at Partick Central Stanton in Glasgow, follow the links for pictures and maps

I think I have worked out how the branch (which went to a shipyard) was worked. Wagons going into the shipyard branch would be propelled into the upper headshunt, where they would have been collected by an 0-4-0 pug (Probably the prototype for the Hornby "Smokey Joe") and hauled round to the yard. Leaving the yard, the pug would either propel the wagons back into the longer headshunt or if it was hauling, it would bring the wagons into the lower line, detach and run round via the short headshunt then propel into the longer headshunt!


Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:28 pm
by Lachute
luckymucklebackit wrote:Possibly the shortest headshunt I have ever seenJim

OMG ! This headshunt is very very short !Image

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:42 pm
by stuartp
Agreed Jim. The short headshunt is long enough to run a pug round but not much else !

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 3:39 pm
by Mountain
Don't forget. Some headshunts would not have even taken a loco. They would just have taken a single short wheelbase wagon. Things changed after British Railways took over where horse shunting and rope shunting (Where a loco was used to pull wagons on a parallel track either directly or via the use of a capstan (Those things similar to the things they tied ships to in a harbour. The use of a capstan would enable the ropes pull to be used in an opposite direction).

Such seemingly impossible track figurations (Impossible if one was going to use a loco) were common on earlier track formations but almost impossible to find in track formations after the 1960's came along when great changes took place where the idea of small businesses just having one or two wagons was no longer catered for. The new nationalized railways now concentrated on large block working of trains, and from this point onwards, it brought about the demize of many small rail based companies. (To be fair, Beeching and his team "Invented" about the Frieghtliner concept where large containers which could be used by road, rail and ship. The concept was not new, but the new container sizes which were stackable was new... No doubt the concept had been thought about before but it was Dr Beeching who brought them in so smaller companies could use them instead of their little companies needing direct railway connections. The reality was that if the freightliner container could be used by road instead, why bother taking them by rail at all? and so most of the smaller "Private" goods traffic (I.E. not a government owned company) then went by road instead. Oddly the government owned industries like coal or steel still sometimes ran very short trains on occasions. Example, at one time, once a week they ran just two coal wagons (Usually a 16 ton and a 21 ton) behind a class 47 all the way down to Milford Haven from the Llanelli area which has to be a round trip of well over 100 miles which can't have been an economical operation, and some of the military based transport freight operations were very short formation of just a few vans which hardly justified the expense of keeping some of the lines open in the first place).

But going back to the concept of short headshunts. There were also short lengths of isolated lines alongside the main track system which also had a use. Some were due to crane operations to load ships where wagons would be needing to stand prior to being lifted into coal hoists (Or need to stand just after being lifted and prior to being put back on the main sidings when there was sufficient space). Other such isolated lines were used for shunting only, where some sort of rail based mechanical shunter was used for parallel shunting purposes. Also a few isolated tracks were for cranes to move back and fore on their own independent systems. It is a fascinating subject which varies from place to place according to the needs in that area.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:02 pm
by Bufferstop
That little branch line terminus is a great blend of the shunting puzzle with the fully scenic model. Two loco's in steam as well. If it wasn't DCC then it would have been a wiring challenge as well to make it work so seamlessly. Not difficult wiring but needing some deep thinking about feeds and rail gaps.

Re: Headshunt length

Posted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:09 pm
by Lachute
Many thanks for all your inputs. :D