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

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Making a Z turn

Well it isn’t really a U turn. A U-turn means you go away from your original decision. And I’m not.  It’s just for some time I’ve been pondering my z gauge module mimicking 15″ gauge.

Although the plan was OK to use Dalegarth and have it as an interchange with the the 2′ Mid Sodor Railway, the idea of an automated scene with a loco arriving, uncoupling from its train, turning on the turntable, running round, coupling back on again and then leaving just seemed a bit difficult. A bit!

Then the other week Phil Parker on his blog showed the Sgts Mess kit for the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway armoured train. I’ve always liked it. Firstly as a NG fan but also for the sheer audacity of using everything possible for defence in WW2.

RH&DR Armoured Train

So I asked Phil a question. Which he answered.

Soooo, what does that mean? Well, it is slightly too big.  The wagons are way too wide for a start so I may need a cut and shut but I reckon I can make it work with the chassis I was going to use for River Mite and some z gauge bogies so I’m going to go for it.

The bogies themselves took some sorting. when the wagons were originally on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway as granite hoppers, they had a very English looking bogie. However, the photos of them on the RH&DR show them with something very similar to a Bettendorf bogie.

R&ER bogie hopper

Further, the photos of the tender of Hercules in this period suggests it has got the bogies from the granite hoppers. Which makes me wonder if the bogies under the RH&DR tenders were Greenly designed and so were the ones on the granite hoppers or whether the RH&DR swopped the bogies when they realised the R&ER ones were superior than the ones they were using under their tenders.


Either way Micro-trains do a “passenger truck” which is suitable to go under the tender and a Bettendorf “truck” which can go under the wagons.

The automation will be easy because it’s just an out and back so even the facing points at the entrance to the station can be faked making it all a lot easier and a lot cheaper.

I might build the open passenger cars as originally intended and use them as troop carriers or ammunition carriers or some such.

I’m also quite tempted to do it as a Box File Railway using 2 box files plus one for a fiddle yard so I can make it with no space required. A good week’s planning!

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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…