Monday, 30 July 2012


One of the tasks defined for phase 2 of the Garden railway was to " provide a method for easily loading and unloading trains from the railway. This should allow for trains of up to 12 coaches and two locos, though a train of this length may need to be split."

Some time ago, I purchased some 3/4" L-section aluminium and some 1/2" MDF. From these materials I fashioned two trial cassettes, one about 18" long and the other 4'. The current abrupt "end of the line" was given the necessary facilities to allow this cassette to be used.

The preliminary trial with the short cassett and a lashed-up support showed that alignment with the rails and successful transfer is possible.

Preliminary trials with a short cassette.

The initial trial with the 4' cassette and a "pre-production" support was also successful, showing that the cassette could be loaded on  the workbench with a train up to 4' long, carried without mishap to the railway, the cassette manually aligned and electrically connected, and the train driven away. An incoming train could be stopped on the cassette, which could be turned round and the train despatched back up the line. The cassette could also be left in place with no electrical connection, so that trains running on to it would stop automatically. This is particularly useful when young children (or forgetful adults) are driving.

A full cassette waiting to be uploaded onto the railway.

The cassette in place, ready to upload.

The cassete-to-railway interface, showing the electrical connection bulldog clips.

... and the train is driven onto the railway.

(more photos and text to come)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

The garden railway in context.

Here are a few pictures of the railway and the garden around it.

The lowest point of the current line is at the foot of the pond, beside the bean wigwam. Here, a train starts the ascent of the 1 in 50 bank, passing the Head Gardener at work behind the wigwam.

The train continues past the site of the garden seat, which has been temporarily removed by the civil engineers to improve access for track laying. A severe speed restriction is in force until this section is ballasted!

Just before the start of the single track section at the viaduct, our train passes a track-cleaning unit propelled by a class 59 diesel.

This is the view from above the quarry, looking over the tunnel to the construction site for the southeast extension. Behind the fence on the right, in a deep cutting, is the real railway.

Extension work beyond the tunnel.

... and this is the view from above the quarry, looking along the wall, with the line from the quarry curving in across the viaduct and down a series of reverse curves towards the bean wigwam and the lawn. Every curve on the railway has a reason; for example the curve of the viaduct and beyond is to clear the circular level area reserved for our hexagonal gazebo, used as the bar at the annual garden party!

The railway along the line of the wall.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

To the End of the Line.

Here's today's progress on the Garden Railway.

The new section of track is almost complete; the cant (superelevation) on some of the curves needs increasing, and when we have a few consecutive days of good weather, the track needs ballasting. Most of the curves are of 7' radius, a few lengths are 5', and there is a short length of 4' radius. The picture below shows why the reverse curves are needed. To the right of the trackbed in the foreground is a path, to the right of which is a 5ft high earth "hump" between two trees, then the pond. The trackbed (and path) then has to get round the step in the fence, and be in the correct place at each end of the garden seat to allow the seat to stay parallel with the fence, before the track curves right again to avoid the vegetable bed and arrive at the lawn.

An elderly 3F has been taken off shunting duties to assist 34067 up the 1 in 50. The pacific can only manage 7 unassisted.
My interim scheme for "installing" trains on the railway is to use "cassettes". The design I have chosen is a strip of MDF with two strips of aluminium angle attached 16.5mm apart. The second picture shows a cassette on a trial lashup to keep it at the correct height. The "production" version should look a bit more professonal!

The cassette in the photograph uses "Tardis" technology to save space, and as you can see, although it is only about 18" long, it is in the process of unloading a 10-coach train with two locos.

A trial lash-up to support a train cassette at the lawn end of the current line.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

More Progress

I've made some more progress in the gaps between the showers. Another 9' of track is laid, electrically connected, and test-run. All this section now needs is a few tweaks to the superelevation of the curves as a result of the testing, and ballasting.

A test train, ready to run over the newest section of track, not yet ballasted.

A test train runs down the new track (not yet ballasted) over the reverse curves.

In the first picture above, the continuing trackbed is just visible, protected from the rain by green plastic sheeting and wooden offcuts. To the left of the loco, and to the left of the first rain sheet, two concrete rectangles are visible on the ground. These are the bases for the back legs of a garden seat (temporarily removed during tracklaying), under which the track will run. This, along with the "kink" in our garden boundary at this point, is the reason for the fairly complex series of reverse curves in the area.

I now only have another 9' of track to lay to reach the lawn, which marks the end of permanent trackwork at this end of the line. From here, there will ultimately be a removable section across the lawn, then the permanent trackbed will continue up the other side of the garden to complete a circuit.

BREAKING NEWS 15/7/12: A dry, sunny day provided the opportunity to lay the final 9' of track to the lawn, adjust the cant (superelevation), and run a test loco over it. I still have to solder the electrical connections on this section, and ballast all of the latest 18' of track. I can then either do the reballasting necessary on Quarry Bank, or continue work on the extension at the other end of the line. Or both. I just need some dry weather.

While I was working between rain-showers on the new track, the previously completed trackwork was good and wet, and made an ideal thoroughfare for the numerous gastropods with which we share the garden. If any gastropod is reading this, please be advised that trespassing on the railway is dangerous and can result in death or serious injury. As soon as I find someone who speaks Sluggish, I will get some warning signs put up.

A trespasser on the main line.


If you wonder what I do while it's raining and I can't lay tracks, one option is to watch the real trains at the end of the garden. I must admit that it's an option I don't often take up, but last Monday was the 45th anniversary of the last steam-hauled public-service train on the Waterloo to Weymouth line, and an excursion train was run over the route "in memoriam".

35028 "Clan Line" on a Cathedrals Express excursion to Weymouth, 9.7.12.

35030 "Elder Dempster Lines" leaves Dorchester with the last steam train to Waterloo, 9.7.67

If anyone from Network Rail is reading this, please note from the above picture that the undergrowth on your land is getting out of hand again, and is starting to intrude on my photographs!

And finally ....

The fireman of a 3F mops his brow after a gruelling ascent of the Mendip hills.