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

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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…