Archive for the 'Narrow Gauge' Category

Most countries have had narrow gauge railways at one time or another and these railways have their own charm and style. If you’re pressed for space, then a narrow gauge model may be of interest to you as the locos and rolling stock can usually handle much sharper curves and gradients than the standard gauge models in the same scale.

"Tree Roots Estate Rly"

Posted on April 25th, 2004
Click to enlarge
© Emrys Hopkins

The idea behind this layout dates back to the start of Carl Arendt’s Micro Layout Design Gallery and his ‘Layouts with 1 turnout’ category (although this category has since been dropped from the Gallery).

I started wondering how extensive a layout could be built with just one turnout and, being fond of ’stretching the rules’, allowed myself to use a three-way turnout for a little extra possibilities.

At six feet by two feet, there’s plenty of room for imaginative scenery - disguising the simple trackplan would be a good idea! I imaging a small passenger station at the front of the layout, on the long straight, but I’d probably be wise to leave these sorts of decisions to you …

"Kickback Quarry" by Iain Climie

Posted on January 31st, 2004
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Kickback Quarry © Iain Climie

A popular small space subject in GB and Europe is the small branch line, light railway or narrow gauge terminus, serving a small town or large village. A typical example is shown above (ignoring the heavy broken line). Entry from the hidden area is often under a road over-bridge, with a scenic block along the long siding to the left e.g. a bank, trees, buildings.

Traffic is light, with domestic and rail coal in, agricultural produce and livestock out, passengers, parcels and occasional other items going both ways. The Western end of the run-round loop is within the hidden area itself, allowing a sector plate or similar to be used. It’s very quaint, but could easily reach limits of operation and interest quite quickly, for builder, exhibition operator and audiences at exhibitions. So consider the effects of a quarry (or possibly factory or other plant) opening somewhere to the NW after the station has been built. An extension now comes in as shown by the broken line, and operating potential could increase significantly.

Firstly, the separate line may use its own stock, including workmen’s carriages as well as mineral wagons.

Secondly, there will be significant extra traffic to a quarry, including explosives, occasional coal wagons and other supplies.

Thirdly, unravelling a fairly long loaded train from the quarry (to allow it to proceed back along the branch line) could take some time, particularly if other sidings are occupied.

Fourthly, there will be far more scope for mixed trains of carriages (including main company and workmen’s coaches) and wagons.

Lastly, additional equipment such as signals, would now become a requirement, not just an optional extra.

To be fair, I don’t know whether this set up is prototypically realistic, and it is only intended to be a starting point for thought; considerations of scale and size are left to the reader. The layout itself could be very compact (e.g. in H09) or stretched considerably if space permitted.

The junction of the mineral extension is a little contrived (for space reasons), so would need some sort of geographical justification e.g. a hill or river. Yet it does seem to allow much more varied operation, perhaps in a little more space. My hope is that such a scheme could increase public interest in small layouts at exhibitions, and bring new recruits (especially younger ones) into the hobby.

Possible train movements on this layout include:

  • normal passenger services in and out,
  • empty stone wagons to quarry,
  • full stone wagons from quarry,
  • workmen’s carriages between quarry and station (some in place at start),
  • workmen’s carriage(s) to and from main station,
  • empty quarry wagons to station from rest of world,
  • full quarry wagons to rest of world,
  • van or similar to and from quarry,
  • livestock in and out,
  • other agri-produce (including wood) in and out,
  • coal in for domestic and railway use,
  • empty coal wagons out and
  • explosives and other supplies to quarry with empty van(s) in return – specialist wagon may be needed for explosives.

Plenty there to keep an operator or two busy!

"Cokerville Central RR" by Carl Arendt

Posted on December 29th, 2002
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Cokerville Central RR © Carl Arendt

Carl wrote:

“The CCRR was designed for a friend who plans to build a portable layout in a very large scale — namely 7/8″ to the foot, about 1:13.7. These are BIG trains and he plans to take them to schools for kids to have fun and learn about the model railroading hobby.

“The layout is built on three 2×4 foot panels that can be connected to form a 2×12 foot layout. Two unconnected levels are both built from G-scale track (1-3/4″ gauge, representing a prototype two-foot narrow gauge line in this scale). The upper level is a back-and-forth shuttle line, under automatic control, that ducks through the Candy Factory on its way from the Lollipop Mine to the Gnomy Station (serving all of Gnome Land). Trackwork on the upper level is standard G sectional track (designed around Aristo-Craft geometry). The push-pull train will include both passenger and freight stock.

“The lower level represents a hard working industrial railroad, hauling candy-making ingredients to the Candy Factory, and bringing finished candies to the tip, where they’re poured out into a myriad of waiting hands. Hand-bent 10-inch-radius end curves (about the minimum possible for small 7/8″ scale rolling stock) form a continuous oval, joined at the back where cars are reloaded and replaced with surreptitious finesse (much to the glee of the children who figure out the trick!). Lots of different trains are seen running on the lower level, and every so often one of them backs up to the tip….

“There’s lots of fun to be had in a layout like this! Not the least of it is the fact that ALL the railroading activities — from coupling and uncoupling to throwing the switches (points) and tipping the candy cars — will be done by hand, just as it is on full-sized railroads. When the models are this big, it’s natural that the train crew does the same chores as the real-life crews. And some of those crew members could even be young (and carefully selected) members of the audience!

Carl Arendt

Although this plan was designed for 7/8 scale, it would also be ideal for a small, narrow gauge line (though its attraction to its intended audience might diminish in the size also!).

"Dolly Varden Mining Co" by Lennart Elg

Posted on September 28th, 2002
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© Lennart Elg

Lennart wrote:

“This is a small spare-bedroom sized layout inspired by the Dolly Varden Mines railroad (see Darryl Muralt´s 1985 book “Steel Rails and Silver Dreams” for more info on the prototype - if you are lucky enough to have it, Caboose Hobbies sell used copies at 190 dollars). The room size is 7ft 4 inch x 11ft 8 inch.

“Given the prototype´s location on Observatory Inlet, British Columbia (not far from the Alaska border), it should make an ideal home for Boulder Valley Models enclosed cab version of the Dunkirk, or 0-4-2 Bachmann Porters dressed up in Bill Banta´s “All weather cab”. If you do not want to wait for the promised dump cars from Bachmann, Grandt Line has several suitable models, with a supporting cast of 16-20 ft flat and box cars from Chivers, Foothill Model Works, Design-Tech etc. (You can also use a broken Bachmann Mogul rusting on a siding. The company bought a Mogul which was too heavy and rigid to handle the grades and trackwork..).

“Minimum radius is 22″, I needed the spiral to gain enough elevation for the dump track leading to the ore bunker. The small sawmill making props for the mine is not prototypical, but was added to give more operation opportunities.

“Also, note that after unloading ore trains must proceed down to the yard before the locomotive can run around its train - backing the train up the hill would be cheating.”

Lennart Elg

Although this plan was designed for On30, it would also be ideal for an HO scale standard gauge line.

"Apple Valley Light Railway (extended)" by Ian Holmes

Posted on June 26th, 2002
Click to enlarge
© Ian Holmes

This plan was devised for the first layout design competition on the small layout design forum on Yahoo! for a layout in 3′ x 1′. This is a slightly larger version, proving that you can benefit from adding a couple of inches to any plan!

The main feature of the plan is the hidden rotating turntable. This can be lined up with all exit roads and rotated through 360 degrees. This removes the need for any complicated pointwork for sidings and run round loop. In addition by having interchangeable cassettes on the traintable you remove the need for a fiddle yard too.

The traintable will take a 12″ (305mm) cassette that is long enough for a loco and 3 skip wagons in the chosen scale of Gn15.

Gn15 is LGB scale 1:22.5 using 00/H0 track and mechanisms to represent a 15″ prototype, though this plan would work in any narrow gauge combination.

Ian spent his early railway modelling years pouring over the plans of Roy Link in Railway Modeller. Years of living in small bedrooms in houses, student dorms, bedsits and flats ingrained the practice of small layout design in him.

Ian now lives in America and has a large basement, but still only designs small layouts.