Fifty years on …

Very briefly, before the month closes, fifty years ago in August 1967, the Railway Modeller published an article by Bert Groves, about the “experimental 9mm-gauge layout in his garden” (Railway Modeller, Peco Publications and Publicity Ltd, August 1967, page 232 to 236).

August ‘RMs’ were associated with garden railways, and back in 1967 it was no different, with the Reverend Denny’s narrow gauge outline to 10mm scale, N F W Dyckhoff’s EM (18mm) gauge – where he cut OO gauge nickel silver railed track through each sleeper and widened it – as well as adverts for Cromar White ride-on garden railway equipment.

The Groves article also mentions that there would be a further discussion on the September 1967 RM – we may have one in our collection, but that’s for another day.

Remember, Bert Groves ran N-gauge in his garden over 50 years ago. So far all Recreational Railways has done was show that track could survive, and the over-centre springs in points will work if coated in petroleum jelly. What we haven’t done is create anything yet.

Similarly there is little on the charity shop model railway front either.



1116 Letting nature takes its course

Report from N gauge Ireland.

From last time, we left the two boards outside with all three point springs covered in petroleum jelly. After a month, there had been some heavy rain, frosts and a mixture of dry and wet atmosphere. The petroleum jelly remained intact, the track had lost its shine and thus would need treatment from the PCB cleaner, but the wood of the board and of the platform looked too damp. These will need wood treatment before we build anything substantial.

After ten days. Frost and animal debris.

Furthermore the wooden board did not dry quickly enough, remaining moist. We suspected this; we now need to test whether a treated board would possess greater resilience to rain and how quickly it would dry, such as if we would need to mop up any water or if it would drain naturally, even with a moist atmosphere.

Light frost on points and on the petroleum jelly covering.

We recognise that we need to cover those areas of any layout that possess points. Longer stretches of plain track could remain uncovered. We could use old roofing felt as a cover for the timber, and track laid on top. The disadvantage of that is how it looks and if it has small flakes of stone: from experience these can interfere with OO gauge, let alone N gauge mechanisms.

Glue a hard plastic block underneath two sleepers and then pin the middle of it.

We also need a better means of fixing track – Peco N gauge sleepers are quite narrow, but the Peco track pin looks to be too thin and probably steel, and might not endure outdoors. Examples of other manufacturers’ track in our possession have slightly overscale width sleepers which can take a wider steel – or even brass – nail. We haven’t checked the width of Peco ‘crazy’ track yet, as we don’t have any. Our idea is to glue plastic between two sleepers and fix the nail into the plastic.

We think we know what track layout to pursue, but now it’s deciding now to wire it, finding the wood and testing means of point operation. We ought to make a class 80 unit first, and the repository of model railway magazines here located a splendid series making one in OO  gauge, and the internet found some N gauge Ireland too.

Charity Shop OO gauge.

There’s been next to no progress. We monitored the web auction sites for OO items, and there has been some interesting stuff, but we haven’t bid yet. There have been plenty of small light railway style steam locos, other Lizzie examples, and in one job lot a loco which would not be out of place in Scotland, a class 25. There was another class 29, but ideally we’d like some N gauge.

We still have not repaired Stepney’s buffer. We have some useful tubing from lollies that we had for our SU2C fundraising, so they should help with providing a shank. Neither have we made a normal smokebox door for the loco. We also have not amended the 06’s buffers to ovals, we have not tried our 155 again to see why it ‘sat down’ in September.

Our shop did extremely well for SU2C. Next to no credit due to this blogger, though.

We also sold an ‘EFE’ lorry. I had my eyes on it, but thankfully someone else bought it first. We’ve had two good railway books donated recently, with some photographs of local interest: one of those books sold the next day.

Winter weather and other work commitments makes garden railway work less likely, but we may write something around Christmas. Please have a look at the Little Melton site if you can, as ‘Recreational Railways’ placed a priority on completing that work, and there’s a Christmas based recollection on there from 10th December.


Our picture this week is to show what we’d do with a spare class 25: we converted a Hornby class 25 to a class 24/1 by inserting a cut out along the cantrail, and by filing down the warning horns alongside the headcode box, and then adding some filler inside. It’s yet to be re-numbered, but we also performed surgery to simulate the cabside recess to hold a token catcher. Here it is alongside our 33 to 26 conversion, with two freight trains. These are simulating near simultaneous departures of Scotland to the south goods trains, with short wheel base Hornby wagons. Most of these we donated to the charity shop to sell. There will be another release of such wagons to the shop in time for Christmas.


Similarly such a conversion can regress a Hornby class 25 to a class 25/0 as well. Yes, I know the 24 has an express passenger reporting number.

0816 Summer Saturday services

Why isn’t the concourse packed?

August news –

  • Increasing the ‘legal’ rolling stock (as in the initial premise)
  • Summer Saturday Service – running session – can model trains be fun? YES!
  • The car packed with 5” gauge track
  • Photos
  • Archive spot


The big news this month was the running session on Saturday 27th, when a friend came along to help run a shuttle service using the existing terminus layout that you’ve seen on previous blog entries, and some track laid loosely on fencing boards. We had three hours of sending short trains out behind a variety of rolling stock, found what needs changing and what’s good, but answered the question: can model railways be fun? YES!

We also found on-line selling from charity shops, and will look occasionally to see what’s for sale. If we already have it, or similar, we can use our version on the ELMLR, but if not … perhaps we might buy it, even though we’re supposed to be  giving up. We’ve had no model railway equipment in the shop recently, but Princess Elizabeth had a good run during the running session, and passed as working well for it’s age.

Leaving work one night, we spotted a car in our area with some 5” gauge track in it. We had a chat with the owner, and he has a 45mm gauge garden railway on a much more permanent base than the ELMLR.

There are photos of the running day in the text of the account of a really enjoyable time, as well as an archive garden railway shot with a comparable archive view.

That’s the summary, the rest of the blog has pictures and more detail. We hope it conveys the fun of playing trains, but if you can’t spare the time, scroll through the text and enjoy the pictures. Thanks for reading!

Increasing the ‘legal’ (as in ‘can you build a railway using charity shop items’)

It came to our attention that some charities have official on-line shops selling items, both new and donated. We had a quick play, and to our delight, found one that had a Hornby B12 (we have a green one and a wartime black one), three GWR coaches (1920s style, that we don’t but we have similar), Hornby 1980s train set goods wagons (similar to ones we sold in the shop as well has still have at home), and a Hornby green class 29 (we have two – blue and green).

Our class 26 from Saturday.

The 29 is useful because they served in Scotland, and that means we could operate the light railway using our converted 26 (because I want to show off my skill at doing things 30 years too late – 33 to 26 conversions were necessary in the 1980s as there was no 26 available), my nephew’s 06 (needs to be painted rail blue and detailed) and short trains. However, someone reminded me that the 29s were West Highland and the 26s were Far North lines, so meeting was unlikely unless around Glasgow.

(Feb 2017 – I need not have worried – a blue class 06 appeared on the British Heart ebay shop site.)


But it would be good fun running the two classes together – or perhaps make the 27 from a 33!

Summer Saturday Service

Recreational Railways noticed that despite the warm, dry summer, the temporary garden railway had made no progress. The visit of a friend rather prompted a morning’s timber-work endeavour with saw and hand-drill, and although there’s not much permanent, we had the railway out in the garden, had a really good running session and spotted the problems that need to be overcome.

06 on a service, 150 on the shuttle, 37 awaiting to back on to the next departure.

This picture shows the idea: we use the work-in-progress portable layout as the terminus.

Instead of using the central road as the entry exit, we used the outer lines as the mainline and the preserved line, the central line being used as a loco spur and headshunt.



Some Peco n/s track was laid loosely for about 5 metres, used like a siding but as the route to another station where we could change locos, coaches and wagons. The mainline was not extended, and the Dapol class 150, as in the picture above, ‘acted as’ a shuttle service from another part of the main network. The picture on the right shows the rough alignment of the fencing planks to form a bed for our temporary track. The plan is to fix battens to the base of the panels, and then fix the track to the top.



As is convention, the first train was our Hymek, with an engineers’ train carrying rail joiners for the temporary extension. Other trains were mainly items bought in charity shops, existing items similar or identical to charity shop items, but then we threw out the rules and ran what we wanted.


Coaching stock was absolutely representative of charity stock items – two mk1s in blue grey livery (although ours were Lima rather than Mainline), a Triang mk1 in ersatz Great Western, and a Dapol (rather than the Farish one we sold) part of a B set, and two ancient and too light Triang compartment coaches.

Stepney powers by on the exhibition goods train. ‘The good Doctor’ was at the throttle and he thinks freight should move quickly.

We operated a goods train using short wheel base wagons similar to those we sold earlier this year, but with a fairly recently made Hornby brake van bought at a car boot sale. The ‘toad’ was Triang rather than the Mainline one we sold.


Charity shop locos in action were Stepney, Thomas, Princess Elizabeth (which ran faultlessly, but perhaps a little underpowered) with similar loco being a Warship (Lima). We threw out the rule book and ran a class 31 (Airfix, so a similar mechanism to Mainline, as ‘Recreational Railways’ had a ride behind one on the only diesel gala sampled this year), Hornby Railroad class 37 (car boot), our conversions (33 to 26 and 25 to 24), a nephew’s 06 (given to me as he didn’t use it anymore – and see the note earlier in this blog post), and there were other items – such as two class 47s.

‘Lizzie’ waits departure having ‘backed’ (OK, we cheated), on to 37 414’s arrival.

A train left the main terminus and ran to the end of the track, where it ‘completed its journey’. The loco was removed and another one (or maybe two) added to the former rear, now the front, and took the train back. Occasionally we changed rolling stock at either end of the line.

Back at the main terminal, in most cases the incoming train had the loco isolated electrically, and the loco in the central road backed on to the now outgoing service. We cheated often, as passengers would probably want a variety of traction, and maybe steam. We also ‘assumed’ we had a turntable at each end, so Princess Elizabeth (missing a front coupling) could haul trains in both directions.

End of the line – the ‘sky hook’ (hand) acted as fiddle yard. Heljan 47 806 arrives and parks next to ‘brother’ 47 721/761 (Lima – we gave this repaint a different number on each side)

That was the detail, and the detail can be part of the enjoyment, but did we achieve our objective of having fun?

‘Lizzie’ passes with two Lima mk1s in tow.

Might have … three hours’ worth until it was home time. The weather treated us well, most of the locos worked immaculately (except the R1, Jinty and Triang A3, all need some work). Princess Elizabeth ran well, surprisingly considering age and probable lack of maintenance – this shows the importance of clean wheels and clean track. This now means that after a little more ‘tlc’ we’ll have to sell it.

Double heading for the Southern fans (Terrier and E2) – 06 waits in the headshunt.

Locos that had very little use recently ran without much intervention, and it was part of the joy to see which loco the dispatcher at either end of the railway kicked out on a train: we had a 26 and 06 double header, an 09 (needs work on its electrical pick-up), and 05 and 06 (all shunters), Thomas hauled a goods train with Stepney ‘banking’, and those ‘Okehampton boys’ sent the class 150 on an excursion on the preserved line.

Okehampton influence. 150/2 on the light railway. 47 761 and D814 await coaches.

We found problems with clearance (rolling stock to platform), the track layout and wiring at the terminus (so we’ll build a new one), and that we must avoid sudden changes in height. In principle, the former fence panel planks on the one inch by quarter inch battens form a useful base, as it’s quick to build and isn’t designed to last forever – and it’s cheap and immediately available, as we have old fence panels to hand.

Stationmaster Mr Dog watches our class 05 shunter out for a jaunt.

Finally, the dog liked watching the trains, but didn’t want to wear his Station Master hat. You can see him trainspotting here. We’d like him to become the ELMLR ‘Tama’, or ‘Nitama’, as Japan Railway Journal on NHK World told of the tale of a local railway in Japan that increased it’s ridership by effective marketing; one method was adopting a cat and making her the station master. ‘Tama’, was a cat, so it’s no wonder why our dog doesn’t want to be ‘tama’.

It’s on days like these when you know that it worked, and a bit more effort will make it easier to repeat it.

The car with the 5” gauge track

It was splendid to meet another enthusiast, and when the ELMLR team realised that we read his website (which was why the ELMLR couldn’t have its original name, so good job we checked online first), we were thrilled. The other railway is a proper light railway on narrow gauge terms, using 45mm track and looks fun. There’s more building of rolling stock and infrastructure (buildings), but at least we know that railway continues, even if infrequently.


Here are a few more that didn’t fit the text from the Summer Saturday session. We include a picture from the ‘Spa Valley Railway’ which suggested we run the class 31 despite it not being a charity shop machine.

Hymek on the goods, Stepney waits to take the return. 150 pretending to be somewhere else on a shuttle service.
Mid 1970s designed Airfix – late 1950s designed English Electric


Exhibition goods train – shows how banking locos provided a push up hill.
The ‘end of the line’. RES liveried 47 (repaint) awaits departure.

Archive spot

As we had class 47s in our news section, here are two views. One is of our Heljan 47 (here renumbered as 47 854 ‘WRVS’) on a cross country service on our previous garden railway (c2000-2002), the other is of 47 814 Totnes Castle at Dawlish in September 2001.


The previous railway was on piers about 3′ above the ground, with battens covered in scrap roofing felt. The line was a single track which had a continuous run, but with a spur to ‘Penzance’ and sidings to receive trains returning north.

Next month – who knows? However there were some lanterns that took candles in the shop over the past few months, so we might might just have some evening running, weather permitting.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please consider making a donation to charity or perhaps bid on some railway items on one of the official charity on-line shops.