Wetton Gooey Light Railway - the 2010 re-build

by Mel

I suppose the WGLR (Mk 1)'s zenith was appearing on the cover of the March 2010 edition of Garden Rail.
But the truth was that the town section of the railway was always built as a temporary measure. I always had it in mind that the time was fast approaching when I would attempt a major re-build of our garden focusing on the area that included the town section. Also (partially as a result of the bodged building of the temporary baseboards), the running qualities of this section were never good enough for my liking. The bend on the town side of the girder bridge did not flow properly (it always reminded me a bit of a tame version of The Mouse big dipper at Skegness), the little kink in the track at the end of the road crossing caused problems (ironically with the smaller 0-4-0 loco's) and the bend leading to the junction for Gooey Station caused many derailments (especially for trains running anti-clockwise). Another problem was that the right-hand side of the railway (as seen in the accompanying track plans) was in the shadow of a large apple tree. This led to a number of problems namely, sap on the track during the blossom season, the town section getting "bombed" to destruction when the apples dropped in early Autumn and the usual issue of a massive leaf drop a few weeks later.
The plan
And so it was decided that 2010 would be the year of the big re-build. This would involve demolishing 2 of our 3 aviaries (some of the birds would be housed together, some would need re-homing), having the apple tree cut down, the building of a very large new flower bed/rockery and a complete re-design of the Gooey town side of the railway.
Here is the old track plan;
The new track plan would incorporate a new Gooey terminus station, a repersentation of the "real" Welshpool narrows section, a set of sidings serving a (yet to be decided) industrial or military site, a section of track running in a rural environment (through the rockery) and one of Cain Howley's brilliant concrete viaducts.



Starting work / demolition
Having sorted out the needs of our birds, work could start on the re-build. Of course, before you can build things, you have to clear the site. First job was to clear the track. Remember the cover picture of Garden Rail with the Spreewald crossing the bridge? Well here it is with the track lifted.
RAF Ffynon Garew also lost it's rail connection.
The former site of Gooey Station.
And the old town section with those dodgy temporary baseboards.
Of course, in one way this was all very sad seeing a couple of years work being reduced to a box-full of bits and pieces ...
....... but the prospect of a new, bigger railway is good motivation and it did result in some pleasing improvements to the existing Wetton side of the railway as the buildings that used to make-up Railway Terrace to the rear of Gooey Station were re-located to the rear of Wetton Yard.
I should point out that I have contemplated re-building the Wetton side of the railway with it's loop, maybe getting rid of one of the links to the main circuit to change the station into a terminus (which is what it should be really), but I've decided to leave it as it is for the following reasons;
1) The loop was the only railway I had when I first went out into the garden nearly 4 years ago, so it has sentimental memories.
2) If I changed Wetton to a terminus, I would need to put a passing loop in somewhere else in order to allow trains to cross - which would mean that one of the other features that I wanted to incorporate would have to be dropped.
3) When I run trains "realistically", Wetton also becomes the through stations at Pant-Glas Road and Cockshutt Mortimer. Over the years this has become a very useful operational feature on a railway which is built in such a small area.
And finally,
4) I really like it - which is perhaps the most important thing IMO.
One other big advantage of this decision is that I'm still able to run trains while the re-build is going on. OK, only in a very limited way, but that's still a means of keeping your spirits up when the building work seems to be an uphill struggle.
With all the track lifted, the baseboards were next to go and then it was the big job of demolishing the two doomed aviaries. Hard work, but a bigger reward as the garden suddenly appeared to grow. Getting rid of all the rubbish was the next hurdle. Skip hire quotes proved to be ridiculous (I wanted to borrow one, not buy it outright), so a day had to be set aside to load all the remains into the car for repeated runs to the local tip.
Here's what the garden looked like after a weeks hard graft.
The dark gravel bed to the left is the former site of Gooey Station. The lighter gravel in the centre used to be under the town section. Immediately behind these two beds can be seen the footprint of one of the demolished aviaries. The other one was to the left of the shed/bird room. The remaining aviary (which will be re-built next year) is in the background.  Wetton is just out of shot to the right.
And here is how the new plan fits into things. Please note, this is looking in the opposite direction to the previous track plans and is very much a mock-up and in no way accurate!

Hopefully the planting will be a little more subtle than allowed in Paint!! The track from the South of Wetton to the start of the new sidings can't be seen as they pass under the deck that can be seen in the foreground. Also the apple tree still exists in this photo, the next job being to have it cut down (and shredded - I'm not taking THAT to the tip!!!). Then it will be a case of re-arranging some of the paving and building the low walls that will contain the new bed. Plus a trip to Back2Bay6 for the viaduct sections.

Well, if you read the above, this week has been spent doing most of the jobs listed. The apple tree is no more, the paving has been re-arranged and the stone blocks for the walls have been salvaged and the old cement dressed off. The trip to get the viaduct hasn't happened as Steve had a day off on the day that we'd planned to visit (luckily, I read this on his website), so that will be one of this week's jobs.

As you can see, I've managed to salvage enough stone blocks to almost complete the walling. Just needs cementing into place.

More progress today. The walling is now complete, just requiring cementing in place. I've also been heavily involved in digging, starting to get that grassy knoll (used to be the rabbit run) leveled out to fill the bed. However, this can't be done properly until the walling is finished and I can't do that until I've got the Cain Howley viaduct to make sure I get the levels correct. So I'll be on the phone to Back2Bay6 ASAP in the morning.

I even got a bit of track out to make sure that it would fit inside the walling. If you check out the new trackplan, you will recognise that this section will lead into the road crossing and Welshpool narrows - which ran through a coppice of trees ........... now there's an idea????

Well, we picked up the CHS viaduct from B2B6  on Tuesday and trains were running over it by Thursday afternoon (by means of a loop of temporarily laid track). I really can't recommend this viaduct enough, the casting is absolutely superb.

Hopefully, the cement foundations will gain a nice coat of moss with time. We still have a couple of piers on back-order, hence the reason that the girder bridge (the LGB one that featured on the cover of GR with a new coat of paint) is temporarily resting on bricks. With the viaduct in place, the rest of the walling around the new bed can now be cemented in place.

If you look at the new track plan, you will see that a series of storage sidings was included in the far corner of the garden. The original plan was to build a wooden deck type baseboard for these sidings, but the completion of the paving resulted in 5 2 foot square slabs being left over. So I came up with this idea. Very much a mock-up at this stage, but it will certainly be strong enough, won't rot and cost absolutely nothing. I'm hoping that the finished base will be 4 slabs long rather than 3..

The long term plan is to make a frame or legs for my engine shed diorama so that it fits over these sidings. This will provide storage space for both trains and locos. I may also build a roofed pagola over it in case of sudden showers.

Went a long way to completing the new bed today (May 24th) ready for track laying. All the walling is complete, just needed all the soil digging out, mixing with the contents of the compost bin (which had to be emptied to be moved anyway) and levelled.

A real light at the end of the (metaphoric) tunnel moment.

Another big step today (26th), the start of track laying. In fact were it not for running out of ballast and the on-set of rain, I would probably have completed it.

The track bed starts off with a shallow trench which is lined with weed membrane (as much to keep worm casts away as anything) and then filled with a mix of equal parts sand, cement and ballast. The track is not secured other than by the ballast. The reason that I have gone for this method is that I know from experience that the made up ground in the bed will settle and sink. When this happens (not if)  I just have to lift sections of the track and add another layer of ballast. The whole lot was given a very light watering via a garden sprayer, bit of a waste of time as it then rained.

Well, having taken up much of the track of the old WGLR on April 28th, the new WGLR was all joined up and capable of running trains again on May 27th.

The straight section at the top of the picture is still not ballasted. That will be where the Welshpool Narrows will be situated. It's great to be able to run trains again with a decent run.

After an early start, I even managed to lay the private sidings.

I had expected this project to take at least 6 to 8 weeks, but the decent run of weather has really allowed me to crack on. I feel that I can now take my foot off the gas to a certain extent. There is still masses to do, but nothing that won't wait while I run trains. Having said that, a recent day's rain caused me some concern with the big mound of soil on the outside of the double R2 bends. Inspired by the run down into Beddgelert on the Welsh Highland Railway (where there is a fabulous slate cutting) I split a large lump of slate that I've had for a while (an ex house sign) and built a retaining wall to keep the soil back.

I also found a new plot for my Cain Howley concrete cottage which was barely visible in it's old position, a shame as it's a superb moulding. Plants were "re-cycled" from our garden and chosen mostly to provide ground cover. The fence posts are bamboo barbeque skewers driven into the soil. They will rot after a while, but are easily replaced.

And so we reach the last day of May. What a month it's been for the WGLR.

Almost all of the hard landscaping that I've used in this build was re-cycled from the old garden. No stone, rock, half house brick or lump of old concrete was thrown away and today this collection of rubble was used to create a rockery which incorporates the old apple tree stumps.

Of course, the permanent way team had to check clearances. At long last that blasted membrane is disappearing a little at a time.

Many plants have also been moved from other parts of the garden, but I had to go to the garden centre for some alpines and while I was there I picked up this smashing looking tree. The area on the inside of this curve will eventually be quite densely forested.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not 100% sure what will come next, although I do need some grass - question is, will it be real or false?????

The grass question remains unanswered pending the reply to a recent email. In the meantime planning of the town section has begun and a couple of building kits have been obtained. But the main thing is that the railway is fully operational. Here are some photos from a recent running session.

Recent work has included building a small terrace from Pendlebury kits for the town section .......

.......... and dealing with an increasing weed issue around the factory and private sidings.

Some of the weeds have been left. They will get the occasional trim, but left to provide some greenary.

As we have a couple of visitors coming next Monday (including Bram and Whatlep), I thought I should get on with the storage sidings. So today was spent laying slabs to make a 2' x 8' "baseboard". This was originally going to have 4 sidings until I unearthed a forgotten right hand point, which allowed the inclusion of an extra kick-back siding which is ideal for the track cleaning loco ............ or maybe for getting steam up???

This marks yet another landmark to the new look WGLR, the last section of track laying.

A video ride around the new WGLR behind Heidi.

YouTube Video

I'm on a role, so here's a trip in the opposite direction from a goods train.

YouTube Video