Chronicling the development of my Cambrian and Narrow Gauge 4mm scale model railway

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Small but perfectly formed

Module 3: Arlesdale Railway

Possibly the first new build preservation loco, although since the chassis already existed I think the Square holds that title

Possibly the first new build preservation loco, although since the chassis already existed I think the Square holds that title

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ratty. Ever since we went to the Lake District for “summer” holidays as kids. We always climbed a lot of mountains in the rain but on a sunny day we’d go for a trip on the line. It helped my Godfather was Vicar of Gosforth, Nether Wasdale, and Wasdale Head. We used to stay with him but most of the time camped, sometimes at the farm at Nether Wasdale IIRC- unpasteurised milk on cornflakes nigh on straight from the cow – yum! Proper green top. (Remember those days – silver top, red top, blue top, gold top, and green top). The food at the Wasdale Head Inn was always good too especially after a day in the fells.

Anyway back to the railway. Of the locos, ‘Rock was always my favourite although I quite liked Mite too.

It occurred to me that I could include the Ratty in my railway using Z gauge. Just recently I picked up a z gauge loco cheap at Wheels of Steel behind Bond Street station in London. When he heard what I wanted it for I got an extra fiver off. Too banana! It is a 2-8-2 tender loco so Mite it will be. I got hold of a copy of the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association drawings and scaled them on a photocopy to 4mm. This allowed me to measure up the models against the drawings.

7mm Association R&ER Drawings

7mm Narrow Gauge Association R&ER Drawings

The tender is bob on dimensions wise and the front and back end of the loco is spot on too. Unfortunately the coupled wheelbase is too long so to keep the appearance right I’ll boost the diameter of the boiler so it looks the right diameter for its length.

The ever popular opens. Home to lovers of cinders in hair and ash in eyes.

The ever popular opens. Home to lovers of cinders in hair and ash in eyes.

For stock I intend to use a Parkside Dundas FR carriage 38 as the basis for some bashing to make a semi open. I’ll probably also do a couple of opens and a saloon with a bit of scratch building / more bashing all of which mounted in z gauge bogies.

The Parkside Dundas model of this will form a good starting point for some semi opens

In the model the railway will be short- just the terminus and a short bit of main line. Passengers for the MSR will have a short walk from the Ratty terminus, which has swung off the old formation to the right, to the MSR station which will be on its original trackbed.

I’ll probably look to automate this section to try and keep it simple…!

As you can see I also haven’t decided whether it’ll be Arlesdale Railway or Ratty. Probably a mixture. It’s my railway after all.

Next up – the Rail Research Unit…

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Hill start

Module2 : Kirk Machan

It may be helpful to remind yourself of the map of the line, see here.

The dual gauge section which starts in Peel Godred runs through a single bore tunnel to Kirk Machan.

Here the narrow gauge splits back off from the standard gauge at the station throat and they both run into separate platforms at an interchange station with the Culdee Fell Railway.

There will be some form of stabling for the narrow gauge here as it is the terminus. How much of the mountain railway is modelled will depend on the final location of the railway but the idea is the mountain may well sit above the balloon loop of the standard gauge mainline to save space. As a minimum it is intended to include the mountain railway climbing from Kirk Machan station and crossing the standard gauge / narrow gauge on a viaduct and then disappearing up the mountain.

Culdee and Catherine cross the viaduct - courtesy of

Culdee and Catherine cross the viaduct – courtesy of

The gauge of the Culdee Fell Railway will be 10.5mm (HOn3) which scales to 2’7.5” in 4mm: 1 foot scale which is the gauge of the UK rack railways (Culdee Fell and Snowdon Mountain). However, modelling it won’t be easy. I’ve thought about it a lot and I think the answer will be to get a 10.5mm gauge power bogie with traction tyres (or a regauged 9mm bogie – more below) and mount it as the rear bogie in the carriage of a standard loco-pushing-single-carriage mountain railway train. The lead bogie of the carriage and the loco will then provide pick-ups.

The loco will probably be a freewheeling chassis of a 9mm loco regauged. When doing research for this part of the model I found an article in a magazine which championed the idea of regauging 9mm (N gauge) rolling stock for HOn3 uses. It is said (!) to be quite easy as N gauge axles are normally long enough for the task. We shall see!

The two types of mountain locomotives ( © Denis Egan and AM Hurrell)

The two types of mountain locomotives
( © Denis Egan and AM Hurrell)

The loco will be one of the early type locos as the more enclosed nature of the valve gear  is helpful for modelling (and looks much more aesthetically pleasing in my mind). The body of the loco will be an Ertl model of Culdee. A quick run with a tape measure over one of these confirmed they are surprisingly accurate. Swapping the face with a smokebox door and some tidying up of the less well cast parts of the bodywork will be the majority of the make-over. Getting the valve gear sorted will be the interesting bit!!

Ertl Culdee Fell locomotives

Ertl Culdee Fell locomotives

I had come across the concept of using Ertl models before for 009 modelling and I have an Ertl Skarloey kicking about somewhere with a 9mm Arnold chassis ready to be married up. There is an Ertl Lord Harry available (one of the later locos) but it really isn’t as good.

Ertl Skarloey

Ertl Skarloey

Unfortunately the quality went out of the window for the Ertl carriage (Catherine) which is poor. Therefore the carriage will probably be a Parkside Dundas Welsh Highland Railway ‘Bro Madog Eisteddfod’ Bogie Coach or similar with a Guard’s compartment added.

Time and a lot of experimentation will tell whether I can get enough tractive effort to mimic the gradients of a mountain railway without putting a real rack in. I haven’t yet decided how I will replicate the rack but as it will be cosmetic there may be some options using different plasticard profiles.

Next up – Arlesdale Railway…