Sunday, 3 August 2014

Ready for the Masses.

23rd June 2014

In a week's time, our garden will be open to fifty or more friends and neighbours for our annual garden party. There has been a concerted effort over the past months to complete all of the track-laying, and that has been achieved.
Last year, the railway provided a bit of an attraction in the sidelines, but now there is a viaduct right across the middle of the lawn, on the route from the house to the bar! I have done a few things to avoid the need for stepping over the viaduct:
  • The removable section will only be fitted at quiet times and for a demonstration run including two trains crossing on the viaduct.
  • At the end of the viaduct, where the ground rises, I have raised it a little further to provide a "step-over" crossing.
  • A couple of well-placed signs will send people in the right direction.
The first picture shows a train with its rear three coaches on the crossing. The grass on either side is new turf laid on top of a pile of soil from elsewhere in the garden. The brown pole above the engine is support for one end of a handrail. The 00 scale fencing is intended to discourage stepping on the rails!
A train at the "step-over" crossing.

Since all track has now been laid, I have been running various types of train and loco to find and eliminate any problem, and provide a reliable railway. The next pictures show two of the first complete circuits of a loose-coupled (hook and chain) freight train.

We do freight, too.

A freight train hauled by an S&D 2-8-0
Incidentally, you may wonder why I have paired a set of GWR Centenary coaches with a BR standard 4-6-0 in the first picture. Well, the coaches belonged to my father, and I wanted to give them a run. However, I have no GWR express passenger loco capable of running on the garden railway, so I chose one with at least a semblance of a GWR livery.

The garden party went very well, we had about 70 people there, and there was a continuous demand for "driving experience", especially among the ladies (of all ages from 4 to 88). We had trains going in opposite direction around the circuit, each with its own driver, and passing at speed. Any conflict for occupation of the single-track section were resolved amicably without any input from me. And the locos, stock and control equipment all operated reliably throughout the afternoon.

When most people had left, the "lads" took over, and their driving was gradually turning into a speed trial. I was just considering whether to leave them to it or be a spoil-sport when one of the trains left the track at quarry junction. It may have been the uneven track at this point due to the oak tree, or it may have been one of the many large wood-ants found there, but Pacific loco 34041 Wilton" and 4 of its 7 coaches ended up on their sides in the bottom of the quarry.

Later analysis of the lap times indicated that the train had been averaging between 90 and 100 scale MPH, though I am assured it was going much more slowly at the time odf the derailment. Surprisingly, I could find no sign of damage to the loco or coaches. The cut weed trimmings I had forgotten to remove from the quarry may have helped. The train was soon back on the track, but now running at a lower speed.

To avoid any future risks to my Bulleid pacific, into which I had just installed YouChoos sound, I dug James's old Lima IC125 out of the loft and fitted a decoder so that it could run in the garden. Its running is a bit rough but it's improving.

And finally, another freight train, this one hauled by a rather mucky Stanier 8F.

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