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

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Stairway to….

It’s been a bit thin on the railway modelling front recently as I’m a bit busy at work. 

Our company had a team building overnighter yesterday and today at Taplow. 

At Paddington, having last week paid my respects to the bear, this week I went to see the legend. 

Having got a class 165 in its redone exterior (but not interior) I set off up the Thames valley. 

Taplow station has all the hallmarks of a GW station with lovely station building here being modelled by two of my colleagues awaiting the train to Reading. 

Unfortunately the electrification of the route has caused the removal of the original footbridge with devastating results for anyone who wants to climb it….

Such is the result of the progress the GWR wanted to instigate in the late 1930s and has only taken 70 odd years to appear…! 


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Baby Riggen

With the mountain railway coming on great guns, it’ll shortly be time to lay some track on it. With that in mind I’ve started manufacturing the Riggenbach rack. As previously discussed this is Evwrgreen corrugated sheet cut into strips sandwiched in between channel sections. 

There is a fair amount to make but it is quite simple to do and Snoopy seems to enjoy having a dangling companion. 

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Well after a bit of a break I managed some time at the railway yesterday. The mountain railway viaduct has been fixed and a start made on modifying the road to curve under one of the viaduct arches as per Victoria Terrace in Llanberis. 

The viaduct is screwed to the baseboard rather than being fixed to the wall which was another option. This is because in the long term house plans my office and model railway room relocated from a bedroom into a downstairs office space so the railway needs to be built so it can be later moved. 

The curving wall shows how flexible an inflexible laminated length of cardboard actually is. The piece is one of the straight sections from when I inherited the railway. Gentle bending between thumbs over the course of about 20 minutes instilled a curve into the wall without causing it to crease. Once the wall has new capping stones and a road I think it will look the part. 

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A question of standardisation

I have written before about the standardisation of the GWR locomotives. That is probably one of the great legacies of the railway. 

This was demonstrated to me by a number of things last weekend during a visit to Didcot. 

I had spent the previous week doing an intensive training course and my brain was quite broken by Friday so I took myself off, staying the night in Reading and then spending the day in Didcot on the Saturday. 

One of the reasons I wanted to go to Didcot was to see progress on the County. With my particular favourite flavour of GWR being Hawksworth I was intrigued to see the new build project. It is starting to look a mighty impressive machine and with a tractive effort comparable with a Castle is really was the ultimate 2 cylinder 4-6-0 of the GWR. 

Unfortunately for the casual visitor the loco is stuck at the back of the workshop and is difficult to see but the accommodating volunteers of the GWS gave me a quick tour so I could see it and then shows me into the lifting shed where, apart from the 50 ton lifting crane which in itself is impressive, there was the new Saint, Lady of Legend. 

Both these locos exist due to standardisation of the GWR where the Saint started off being Maindy Hall and then was reverse engineered back into a Saint; the County uses the frames from Modified Hall, Willington Hall, and the tender components from the Hall’s Collett tender and the firebox has been donated from an 8F boiler. Impressively, the loco will be fitted with an original County chimney from 1006 County of Cornwall which was sold to the project “for a couple of hundred quid” from an old boy who had kept it in his shed. 

Back in the running shed I was having a good look at Modified Hall, Button Agnes Hall, (which is a stately home a few miles from the Patriarch and Matriarch’s house), and particularly looking at the rods – I tend to do this because you get to see what else the components have belonged to with the railways’ habit of stamping the loco number of the components. 

In this case the LH connecting rod had the numbers 6998, 2887, and 7815 stamped on it. 6998 is Burton Agnes Hall, 2887 was a Churchward 28xx 2-8-0 goods loco, and 7815 was a Manor Class, Fritwell Manor. 

So here is standardisation to the level where the distance between the cylinders and the driven axle is the same on 3 very different classes of locomotive. 

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Wheely good

One of the keys to my mountain railway section looking the part is the use of HOn3 track which is 10.5mm gauge which equates to 1’7.5″ gauge in really life which is what narrow gauge rack railways usually are. 

HOn3 isn’t all that common in the UK and coupled with me being a skinflint I have set about tackling the rolling stock in the most cost effective way possible. 

Ad part of their expanding range of 009 products, Peco now produce ready to assemble bogies in “passenger” style and arch bar style. I decided that my carriage will be slightly industrial and run on arch bar bogies so I procured a set of them and then a set of HOn3 wheels. 

Despite there being only 1.5mm between the two gauges, the treads of HOn3 wheels tend to be larger than 009. Thus the wheels wouldn’t fit in the bogies. However with judicious use of a file to file the inside faces of the moulded plastic bogies, and a 1mm drill to deepen the axle boxes, the bogies can be made to accommodate the HOn3 wheels. 

With this hurdle out of the way I can move on to other things. Track, loco, build the carriage,….

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The family and I are on holiday this week so no modelling to talk of. We did manage to get a trip in to the Welshpool and Llanfair railway though which I was glad of as Countess was the first NG loco I ever fell in love with back when I was a small spotty teenager so it was nice to have a ride behind The Earl. 

On a walk yesterday I came across a few buildings which I took photos of for reference. I love a good delapifated building. The colours, textures, and shapes are just all so much more interesting than a building with straight lines. 

First this wonderful barn being used to store wood. Note the discoloured wood and the sagging gate all adding to the atmosphere. (Also note the guest appearance of Hils, guard dog and all round softy belonging to the Matriarch and Patriarch)

Secondly this wood and wrinkly tin shed:

Finally, this fantastic building covered in moss and with the tree behind resting on it. No apologies for taking so many photos of it; I just love the atmosphere oozing from it. Maybe I’ll get one or more of these buildings into my model somewhere or other. 

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Well as predicted, instead of concentrating on one thing I concentrated on two, or maybe three. 

I had an idea to make Abt rack track with guides as per Snowdon using “metal siding” from Evergreen plastics cut into strips, glued offset, and then use C channel to form the guides. 

I did  a trial which looked good…

…apart from being way too wide. 

And even using a jig to cut the metal siding sheet I couldn’t get the strips the right thickness – either too thick or inconsistently thin. 

This has meant a rejig in the history of the mountain railway which now dates from the late 1880s and uses a variation on the Riggenbach rack (single rack with guides) which I will be able to produce in consistent lengths. 

(L-R) Riggenbach, Strüb, Abt, Locher

Riggenbach rack