Light Railways were designed to be built cheaply?

A railway from charity shop items.

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This blog is to show that model railways can be fun and relatively inexpensive – and maybe contribute to something good.

It started when, while volunteering at a charity shop, a large box of assorted OO gauge railway items arrived. Having been a ‘modeller’ of less than average capabilities for (coughs discretely) years, I took the box home, with permission, cleaned the track, cleaned the wheels and gave the locos a quick ‘A exam’ (repair if necessary, clean the wheels, test on a still to be completed layout).

The public reacted very well: the shop sold all the track, wagons (including some of my surplus), and all locos except one. I liked the mechanism, so I bought it. Here he is.

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Photo – when testing the locos before placing them for sale, ‘Stepney’ (a former LBSCR A1x ‘Terrier’), posed with a much earlier (long, long ago) charity shop purchase of a certain tank engine, also based on a LBSCR loco (Southern Railway E2). Please don’t look too closely at my wiring – it’s a work in progress.

Only then did I have the slightly mad idea: I had two fruit boxes, and having seen a micro layout in one of the railway modelling magazines, I reasoned that a small layout could be made from the items that we sold.

That was the initial challenge: “Can you build a fun, cheap, quick railway layout from items acquired in charity shops (and maybe car boot sales, as I acquired a Hornby Railroad 37/4)?”

And then the sun shone, the dog loved being outdoors all of the time, the days lengthened, the garden flourished and I had some OO gauge track from a previous layout suitable for outdoors work. The loco I ‘rescued’ from the shop was a Terrier 0-6-0. The micro OO layout could wait for the autumn.

Could I create a ‘light railway’ style outdoors railway mainly from charity shop items?

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Photo – to test the idea, on a dry, warm Saturday, here is a temporary length of about 8m of Peco made n/s track in the garden, and had ‘Stepney’, ‘Thomas’ and my long possessed ancient Triang Hymek, on shuttle runs with a very old Triang compartment brake. Next will be making the line a little more permanent, and then designing a station complex.

This blog is mainly aimed at friends and also colleagues at various charity shops, but for those of you who aren’t railway enthusiasts you’re welcome to read and see that it is possible to have fun with model railways. We’ll aim to keep it simple, safe, and not too serious.