Sunday, January 26, 2014


In my previous post I gave you some idea of the theme of my next layout; a 4mm to the foot model (OO9 gauge) of a narrow gauge industrial railway. I also showed you two kits I'd like to build to provide locomotives for the layout and given that one of these was for a Quarry Hunslet you could be forgiven for assuming I was going to go for the classic Welsh slate industry layout. You would, however, have been wrong.

The Quarry Hunslet classes of locomotives got their name because they were built by the Hunslet Engine Company and could usually be found working in a quarry, often a Welsh slate quarry. While there is nothing wrong with modelling a Welsh slate quarry I decided I'd go for something closer to home and look for some form of Yorkshire industrial setting given that the engines were all built in Leeds.

I'm not sure if there is a sensible prototype from the late 19th century, but there is a modern prototype I'm going to use for inspiration. The Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills, which is only 2.5 miles from where the Hunslet Engine Company used to be, includes a narrow gauge railway on which a Quarry Hunslet called Jack runs. It's been a long time since I've been to the museum but fortunately Reinhold Behringer has been more recently and posted this excellent photo on Flickr.

Unfortunately the narrow gauge line was only ever built to exhibit the museums locomotives and wasn't present when the mill was a working woollen mill. As such the track plan isn't particularly interesting, as you can see from this plan I've put together from some 1990 Ordinance Survey maps and a satellite image from Google Maps.

I've had a look at other works where I know there used to be old railway tracks but so far the lines don't seem to show up on the old OS maps so I'm struggling to find a nice example track plan. Mind you given the space constraints (remember the complete layout can be no larger than 1135mm by 232mm) a single line through some mill buildings may be enough. Given the problems I had deciding on the track plan for Jerusalem I know it's worth taking my time to get it right, and that sometimes less is more, so I'll keep thinking about the track plan while I start building the rolling stock.

I mentioned in the previous post that the layout could support different time periods based on the locomotives and other detailing items; I'm currently thinking that there are at least three obvious periods I can model; two with the mill in use (one steam and one diesel) and then a modern day museum setting (just like Armley Mills) where I can run anything I want. I think this should give me lots of flexibility and allow me to build almost anything I want to.

One other thing I need though is a name for the layout, and here I'm hoping for some help. My current thoughts are around doing something related to the fact that it is being built to fit a specific box. So my ideas so far revolve around things like like "77 Box Lane" or "Box Street Mill". Any ideas are more than welcome.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A New Scale for a New Layout

Before I go any further let me clear up a possible confusion from my last post. Jerusalem is "gathering dust" as it is uncovered, not because it isn't being used or enjoyed. I was just making the point that I should probably have thought about how I was going to look after the layout long term, before I started building it rather than afterwards, and that I wasn't going to make that mistake again. So having cleared that up let's move on to a bit of planning for my next layout.

If you've followed this blog for a while then you will know that Jerusalem was an N gauge (2mm to the foot) model of a standard gauge railway running through a mostly rural scene. For my next layout I'm intending to go for the exact opposite; an OO9 gauge (4mm to the foot) model of a narrow gauge industrial railway. Firstly while N gauge gives me more railway in a small space, I do find the 2mm to the foot scale very small compared to the modelling I did in OO gauge at 4mm to the foot (for example the 3D printed wagons I designed). Having now built a continuous run model, where I can sit and watch the trains go by, I'm happier with the idea of a more interactive railway, and so the end-to-end nature that going up a scale will necessitate doesn't worry me as much as it did before. Having said that the dimensions of the layout, dictated by its storage box, are just 1135mm by 232mm (or a little less to make sure it fits). At 4mm to the foot this allows me to model, at the most, 283 feet by 58 feet which isn't actually very much. Given the space constraints narrow gauge seems a good idea as the track will still be just 9mm wide (the same as in N gauge) and will require less clearance and allow tighter curves than modelling a standard gauge line. The choice to model an industrial railway is simply that I fancy doing more building construction rather than focusing on the landscape as I did with Jerusalem. Of course describing the layout as being a narrow gauge industrial railway still doesn't give you any idea of what I'm planning.

One thing about modelling in OO9 is that I'll need to build most of the rolling stock, including the locomotives, as there is currently very little available ready-to-run and there are been a couple of locomotives I really fancy building.

Firstly we have a Quarry Hunslet locomotive from a kit by Brian Madge (although I'm having problems contacting Brian to order one). I've always liked the look of these narrow gauge locomotives and the kit looks like something I should be able to handle; the chassis comes part assembled and the whole kit can apparently be assembled with super-glue if I don't feel up to soldering it together.

As most of you know I definitely prefer my locomotives to be steam powered, but I've been fascinated by the Narrow Planet kit for this small Baguley-Drewry locomotive since it was still in the design stage. The main body shell is 3D printed and then augmented with etched metal parts and was being designed at the same time as I was designing my first 3D printed wagons. Again it uses a pre-built chassis so should be within my capabilities to build. My thinking is that with these two locomotives I could run the layout in a number of guises covering a number of time periods, which would extend the interest both for me building it and for anyone who gets to see or operate it.

So that's the locomotive power sorted (when I actually manage to order the kits), in the next post I'll give you more details on the setting for the railway and some possible track plans.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember that when I started building Jerusalem I went through a few track plans and a badly built baseboard before I settled on a simple rectangle of MDF and a straightforward oval with a siding. One thing I didn't consider at all was long term storage. As a result Jerusalem is now quickly attracting dust. I'll probably have to build it a box as I've so far failed to find anything that it will fit in. I did order a box, but due to a slight miscalculation Jerusalem turned out to be about 1cm too long to fit and I'm not about to hack into the layout to make it fit. The moral of this story is of course to think about storage before building the layout, and so...

I've started work on designing a new layout. So far I have a general theme and a few track plan ideas floating around in my head, but the only concrete thing I have is somewhere to store it. What I've bought is a 77 Litre Really Useful Box, with insert trays; although when I opened the parcel today the trays are missing about which they were very apologetic and replacements should be on the way. According to the website the internal measurements of the box are 1135mm long, 232mm wide, and 285mm tall.

This box is technically designed for storing a fake Christmas tree along with the baubles and lights, but I'm hopping that I can use the storage trays to hold the running stock, controllers etc. above the layout. If this all works, then not only will I have a great storage solution, but it should make the layout easily portable. At least that's the plan and only time will tell how well it works out.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Station Ale

For my birthday last year I got quite a few railway related presents, including the excellent Mk 1 57ft suburban brake coach and the 1863 copy of Bradshaws Guide both of which I blogged about. I guess most of my relatives decided therefore to avoid the railway theme when buying Christmas presents, but the one related present I got is certainly worth a short post.

I've noticed over the last few years that railways seem to make a good theme for marketing ale. First up I came across Flying Scotsman and then more recently the Mallard ale, and now we have Station Ale from the Richmond Brewing Company. As I mentioned all the other railway themed ales have been mostly a marketing exercise, but the Station Ale is a little different as the brewery is actually based in the old Richmond station buildings.

So what was it like to drink? Excellent!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Loss Leader

In the UK we are lucky in that we have such a wide range of model railway magazines available. Not every magazine is to everyones taste, and in a given month there is often quite a bit of overlap between the magazines as they review the same releases etc. When I first got back in to the hobby I was buying most magazines each month, which was an expensive outlay, and money that I could better spend on doing some actual modelling. I eventually settled on British Railway Modelling as the magazine I preferred and so subscribed to save even more money (and got some weathering powders as a free gift). I now buy the other magazines when either the content looks interesting or if I'm travelling and want something extra to read.

On Thursday I couldn't resist picking up a copy of the February issue of Railway Modeller. As well as a number of interesting layout descriptions, there is an intriguing article on making coaches by printing the full colour coach sides, and then there is the free gift: an OO gauge Lineside Hut kit from Ratio. Now I know that the magazine is published by Peco who own Ratio and so they won't have been paying full price for the kits, but I still think they must be losing money on each magazine sold. According to the website of my local model shop the lineside hut kit costs £5.50, yet the magazine only costs £3.95. If they are making any profit at all it has to be just a few pence!

While I'm not currently modelling in OO I also haven't built many plastic kits in a long time (as a kid I used to build Airfix aeroplanes, and I've recently built two Parkside Dundas wagons), so it will be a fun diversion, and I can try out some new painting and modelling techniques without worrying about making a mess of a model I really need. All in all I think buying the magazine this month was money well spent.