Friday, 9 January 2015

Garden Railway: A Late Revival...

Hi everyone. This week I've been on afternoons again and with little to do in the workshop have found myself finally reviving the garden railway. Started in 2005, the 00 gauge tracks have been snaking their way around the garden for almost 10 years; celebrating its 10th Anniversary this coming June. The railway was the brainchild of myself and my late grandfather in late 2004, when the prospect of building an indoor layout on which to run my 00 gauge collection proved almost impossible: we just didn't have the room. After checking out several options we built an oval of track which we began operating trains over in 2005. Using a simple wood base as the trackbed, we drilled and plugged our way along the main garden wall. The track would thus leave the shed via a portal, cross an alley whilst curving right, climb along the wall above the flowerbed then turn right again over another bridge back into the shed. This basic set-up did allow for the collection of locomotives to run, though it soon got fairly boring. One of the main loco's at the time was LNER B12 No8578, seen here heading through the station at Sutherland (above the flowerbeds) in June 2005 when the line first began operations. Ps - the quality is poor!...

In 2006 the railway was further extended which, unlike during the first stage, would require some major earthworks. Slabs had to be dug up and removed, walls had to be built in Cotswold stone (to match the other garden wall) and more track bases and track had to be put down. Over the course of a few weeks we had built a brand new route to my own design and it did work in fairness. However, in the early days of the extension it wasn't that refined shall we say: all this came later. Later additions included a turntable spur, run round loop and shed roads; arriving in around 2007. Since then the line has operated on regular occasions and has been featured on both this blog and on Youtube. In recent years however it has fell into a little disrepair as lack of maintenance has caused damage to both wiring and trackwork. However, this week, with the materials to hand, all that was about to change. This was the scene on Monday just after I'd ripped all of the wires out...
On Thursday I began track renewals. The section crossing the flowerbed on the curve near the old Sutherland North Jnc is seen here with brand new track..
Starting at the turntable spur which now includes a brand new express point, the track has been 80% renewed all the way up to the shed. The 2006 extension's main straight is seen here fully renewed...
Below is the site of track renewal at the location of which the above video was shot in 2005. The track here was well worn, having been languishing here for nearly 10 years. Over the last decade we have been spot renewing track panels during maintenance but this section has always been left out as it was always a popular section and ran well. However, with new track to hand this week, I decided it deserved replacing...
The curve and straight is seen below with all brand new track fitted. The straight is seen heading up the bank along the wall through another brand new point and then curving around the North Jnc curve (also all new)...
Today I continued replacing track. The 180 degree curve near the house was replaced with brand new track and the two brand new express points for the run round loop at Chilvers were also swapped. The track was then cleaned heavily to remove probably two years or so of associated garden grime. Now it was time to start wiring up. As the weather was beginning to turn and I was running out of light, I decided that I would just rig up 2 or 3 feed points so that I could run a train to test the new track. Wires fitted, the first train along the old Sutherland Steam Railway metals rattled up the bank behind my Bachmann GWR 0-6-2 No6600. The loco was pulling my stalwart set of four LNER Teak-style coaches...
"The First Train in 2 Years" - GWR 6600
The trains ran: though not smoothly as the wiring isn't 100% yet: for an hour or so, with one of my Pannier's and Prairie 4560 making their way outside too. The new track is settling nicely and the run is fairly smooth. Naturally there are still a few modifications to make and several improvements but that's all as & when. At least the railway is now operational again and hopefully in June we can celebrate 10 years. I can't believe it was 10 years ago that it all began as one of those 'spare time' affairs. Long may it continue. All the best, Sam...

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