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The Takasaki Light Railway

by Matthew Foster

    In August of 2005 I could be found either crawling around my garden tamping hardcore or with my bottom in the air laying 32mm track.  With little left over from buying the track I was forced into making locomotives, rolling stock and buildings, all from scratch.  Early locos were battery-powered and built from wood, plastic and cardboard.  I suppose I've learnt a thing or two about the scratch-building side to our hobby.  What will survive the heat & humidity of the Japanese summer and what won't be ruined by the frost of winter and heavy rains in between.  As I wanted to reflect the Japanese narrow gauge light railways of the past I didn't want to buy things ready made, rather find suitable prototypes and have a go at reproducing them in miniature.  For me the most satisfying side to garden railways is building all the things I need for the railway.  I love running trains too, but there's nothing quite like setting out a newly built building, positioning a freshly made figure or test running the latest piece of rolling stock.
    I shall give a taster of my railway here and those that wish can amble over to my website if they like. 
This a Japanese railcar (8 passengers max.)  in the spring sun.
The back view of 'Kazan' (volcano, in English) which is a Vincent class Regner loco.
This is 'Cognac' (like the spirit) with some scratch-built wooden coaches.  Looking back one can see the station (top right).
This is plum the diesel (or ume in Japanese), which is half a can of pork luncheon meat, some plasticard and wood skirts with an old IP Eng. budget chassis for power.  The driver is taking a couple of Imp trucks down the line.
Sedum does very well on my railway.  It needs to survive the scorching summer sun and resist the winter frosts, too!  Moss won't grow and I've only just found some baby's tears so this is the main groundcover.
Tucked away in a corner is this thatched-cottage.  The thatch is bristles from a garden broom, walls are wood and cement.  (must make another one for this year).
This is a very simple solid scratch-built concrete hut which cost me about 100yen (80p) in bits.  The firewood shelter is bits of wood and a corrugated plastic roof.
The firewood is real wood, of course!
Much more to come later on...