We moved into our new house at the beginning of May 2010 having dismantled my old railway in March. Since then, all the stock has been in store on my Dad's Dow Valley Railway so I was keen to get things started on the new line as soon as we moved in.
The new house is two years old and has a pretty standard "new house" garden. It is roughly square, about 30’ by 30’ with a fence all the way round. There are no trees or plants of note and the ground slopes about 2’ into the far corner. The garden is laid to lawn with a small patio and a handy 6’ by 6’ concrete base in one corner.
The concrete base was an ideal size to put a shed on to house my rolling stock and when I saw a 5’ x 5’ shed in the bank holiday sale at the local DIY store I had to have it. This will be filled with sidings and used to store all my rolling stock to save me having to carry it all out of the house. The locos however, live in the garage which is far more secure.
Once the shed was in place, the track was un-packed and I started to lay it all out on the lawn to get an idea of what would fit. I had plenty of track from my old line and I didn’t want to buy any more so any plans had this in mind. After a few attempts, I settled on a plan that used up most of the track, all the points (11 x R3) and would be interesting to operate. I laid this out on the lawn and ran a battery loco around with a few wagons to see what it looked like and get an idea of the gradients. It was clear that the gradients were far too steep for a steam engine and that there would need to be quite substantial earthworks in places to keep the line level.
The final plan is essentially a simple oval around the garden with a branch heading back into the centre of the garden forming an alternate loop. There are also two return loops allowing trains to travel in either direction and a branch going up to the shed.
The first stage of construction took place whilst the in-laws were inside painting the upstairs so the garden was the safest place to be. I sprayed around the outline of the track and then took it all up, this made it much easier to dig and it was clear where the route went. At one point a trench approximately 300mm deep had to be dug to maintain a level permanent way which created a large amount of spoil which has been retained for use elsewhere.
The trackbed is planned to be a layer of rammed hardcore to a depth of about 60mm with the track laid on top floating in ballast roughly held together with a light mix of cement.
I have run Elsa around part of the track with a heavy train full of bricks and it managed it so things are ok so far.
The first steam engine around the full circuit was Superior but unfortunately I didn't take any photos of this. The honour of hauling the first passenger train fell to Elsa and it is seen here drifting down the bank to the main station passing under the shed branch.
This is the inner loop prior to any planting or landscaping.
A view from the main station showing Elsa on the inner loop
This view shows the branch heading up towards the shed. There are now quite a few sidings here to store stock and a hole in the side of the shed to allow the stock to be driven in and out.
A shot of my W&L train running into the main station
A busy day at the main station with my scratchbuilt garratt and diesel alongside my Accucraft Caradoc
Accucraft Superior emerges from the new tunnel which gives access to the decking
My scratchbuilt diesel now with a few embellishments takes a mixed train through the concrete lined cutting. This was done as the original earth walls just kept collapsing.
A repainted Bachmann Porter takes a freight through the shrubbery.
The 32mm Meiros tramway, just a very simple loop at the moment but next year should see some work done on blending it in to the rest of the line.
Accucraft Leader with a rake of Accucraft wagons
My now departed Merlin Hunslet on a train of LGB zillers
The same loco on a train of IP Engineering Vale of Rheidol stock
Accucraft Countess simmers in the sun
Caradoc on a mixed train before the spark arrester chimney was fitted and the loco was lined out.
Piko BR199 Harzkamel with my scratchbuilt rotary snowblower
The Harzkamel and appropriate stock
Countess and train out on the line. It's nice to see how the shrubbery has grown and therefore provides a bit of background. I should have picked the weeds before tasking the photos though!
The Meiros tramway's new loco, rebuilt from a Lima 0 gauge diesel.
Countess on the S bends
Caradoc on a freight passes by the Accucraft Baguley Drewry diesel.
The new chord which allows me to reverse a train twice each circuit.
The first train on the new chord
A few videos of my the line