Sunday, 6 March 2016

16mm Live Steam In The Garden...

Hi all. 16mm is perhaps one of the most popular scales for a garden railway. Modelled on narrow gauge practise at a gauge of 32mm, the scale offers a wide range of locomotives and rolling stock from battery operated to live steam. Today I had kindly been invited along to a steam up at a friends garden railway in the Midlands. I arrived a little before 10am and immediately found myself in awe of this quaint back-yard set up. This garden railway makes its way down either side of the garden, looping around at either end. There is a steeply graded S-bend on the up line, peaking at around 1 in 37, which certainly makes the little engines work. At the foot of the bank, before the forest area, there is a large marshalling yard and preparation area. One of the engines in steam today - "Merus Potentia" - is seen being prepared in the yard (note the traditional tea-pot for the water tanks)...
The trains leave the preparation area and steam around a climbing bend to the left. There is then a 'passing area' (which has three roads) before the line goes back into single track formation for the steepest section of the climb. The summit is heralded by a very clever tunnel which has been fashioned from a cut-away in a large bush. Leaving the tunnel, the engines reach the top of the bank and drop downgrade whilst curving left before passing through the very quaint station area. The gradient then drops more suddenly back towards the preparation yard, thus completing a full circuit. Throughout this mornings antics in the cold wintry gloom, trains were simply whizzing round and round. The station area is seen below: I love the buildings...
The first engine out, whilst the little blue 0-4-2 was raising steam, was a Vale of Rheidol inspired tank. This engine has a pot boiler and thus is externally fired by burners positioned underneath the barrel. The burners are fed by Meths and here is the engine making short work of the steepest section of the climb, hauling passenger stock...
"16mm Live Steam In The Garden"
An engine on display (it would run later on) was 2-8-2 "Don Carlos". Built by the railway's owner and finished in an attractive lined green livery, "Don Carlos" is coal fired, well detailed and even includes a working Klien-Lindner front axle. The original engine was built by Manning Wardle in 1916 and worked in Paraguay. I was very impressed with this beautiful model but it was then pulled to pieces (metaphorically) by its builder. I fear this is a worrying lack of self-confidence as "Don Carlos" was a very impressive little engine that required by far much more skill and knowledge to make than I harbour...
A later view at the steaming area, showing "Merus Potentia" and the Rheidol engine...
Another addition later in the morning was Steve Bell's very impressive Ffestiniog Railway Double-Fairlie. A pot boilered engine once again, this one really wowed me...
The coal-fired 0-4-2 emerges from the tunnel, nearing the top of the climb...
A side-view of the recently painted "Merus Potentia". Note the fire-glow in the ashpan from the roaring coal fire on the grate...
The Double Fairlie is seen in some brief sunshine, hauling a typical Ffestiniog Railway train which includes the traditional Bug-Boxes. She is just arriving back at the preparation area having descended from the country station...
The coal-fired engines are steamed up in a similar manner to that of a 5" gauge example lets say. The fire-grate is first covered with soaked charcoal before an electric blower is used to assist the draw of the embryo fire. With the fire roaring away, (very small) coal is added with a (very small) shovel, as per usual practise. Apart from their small stature, they are the real thing. Here, "Merus Potentia" is stoked up ready for a few more laps hauling a hopper train...
The Rheidol loco was also out and about later on...
In quite a rare move, I took a short video clip. Here is the blue engine storming up the steepest part of the line with the safety valve feathering. I was very surprised at the bark of such a small engine...
Finally, here is a capture of the engine climbing up through the passing loops on her way towards the tunnel. We didn't get much sun, but we did get some...
"A Final Attack On The Bank"
I must admit, I was quite taken with this garden railway. 16mm live steam has everything but the stature. They look right, smell right and sound right - they are lovely things. I must thank my mate for his invitation and for the company of the other operators who had brought engines along to steam. We were also kindly kept warm with good supplies of piping hot tea which is always a must when steaming on a very chilly morning like this. I had to leave at 12:30 to get home as, being Mothers Day, the domestic authorities would not have been pleased with my lateness. However, my visit had been great and the railway is most impressive. In case you haven't guessed - its JB's place. All the best guys, Sam...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A nice report Sam. I have to ask, as you mention it was JB's garden railway, where were the Garratts?
CMES is building a 16mm line, you should get yourself a 16mm loco and join in the fun, I love 16mm stuff.
Keep on writing!
Emma-claire.

Sam Brandist said...

Ha! Good question, Emma! I was actually wondering the same thing myself but as the run was organised for the other chaps to bring their engines along I think JB felt he'd leave it to them. "Don Carlos" was the only JB engine seen. I'll have to go again to see the Garrett's in flight! Sam