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My garden railway (The Apple Valley Railway)

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 8:01am
My garden railway (The Apple Valley Railway)

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I have been keeping a log of the development of my (very small) garden railway here:

gardenrails.myfreeforum.org/about3763.html

(please ignore the pages of 5" gauge - i'm back to 7 1/4" now!)
 

Replies To This Post

Xz

Joined: 1-01-92

Topics: 17

Replies: 244

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 9:42am

I certainly don't think your post is inappropriate in this section but if you think we should have extra sections in the Forum then please suggest them and they will be considered. The 5" Gauge bit is still of interest to many as well.
 

franksidebottom

Joined: 1-01-95

Topics: 4

Replies: 28

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 10:48am

Back to 7 1/4", eh? Quite right too!
Anyone reading Nomis' exploits on the gardenrails link provided would surely gain inspiration from his ability to achieve so much in limited space, in challenging terrain and with miserly economy to boot! Could Nomis consider submitting his story to our News Editor (with resulting fame, of course!)?
By the way - anyone thinking of approaching Nomis with a view to requesting possible 'trackbed clearance services' - join the queue!!
Best wishes for the future of the 7 1/4"g Apple Valley Railway.
Frank Sidebottom
(Committee Member)
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 2:51pm

Thanks for the kind words!

I have already roughed out articles on the building of the railway, the loco, and the passenger carriage, and was planning on submitting them to gardenrail magazine (the editor lives locally, and is interested in popping round for a look).

Being naiive in such things, is there a society policy for "sharing" articles with other publications?

I think that a "members projects" section of the forum could be useful. I certainly find it encouraging to post up pictures of railway progress after a weekend of hard work!

It would be good to see a couple of detailed build threads for steam locos too.

As it happens, I have recently sent a letter in to the editor of "The News" pointing out how useful the forum could be to the society if more people were to make use of it.
 

colinedmondson

Joined: 9-08-09

Topics: 3

Replies: 82

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 5:19pm

Can I add to Franks comments, welcome and good luck with the challenges. I will keep an eye on your progress. Colin Edmondson, High Legh
 

Xz

Joined: 1-01-92

Topics: 17

Replies: 244

Posted: Thu 1st Sep 2011, 7:15pm

As Xz I can say with certainty that where you place your article is absolutely at your own discretion. I also doubt very much that David N. will at all be concerned that it has also appeared in another magazine, and if you want, you can always put a slightly different slant on it for the different audience. I think the expression is "It's your bat and ball". Please do!
 

Narrowgauge7.25

Joined: 1-01-94

Topics: 16

Replies: 107

Posted: Fri 2nd Sep 2011, 5:25pm

Glad you saw sense and put the extra 2 1/4 between the wheels.
 

johnnicholson

Joined: 1-01-77

Topics: 12

Replies: 68

Posted: Sat 3rd Sep 2011, 11:07am

Well done! I have been following your exploits on miniature railway world forum.
You can always rely on narrowgauge7.25 to give us a smile.
Romulus
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 5th Sep 2011, 9:36am

Let's see if I can post images;

[IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/simonmace/afe150e8.jpg[/IMG]
 

Xz

Joined: 1-01-92

Topics: 17

Replies: 244

Posted: Wed 7th Sep 2011, 9:16am

Hopefully 'attached images" to posts is something we can add to the forums at a later date. It was left out initially to save cost.
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 9:27am

Lets have another try at some pics:

[IMG]http://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh19/simonmace/1359ec1e.jpg[/IMG]
 

Mike

Joined: 18-07-06

Topics: 2

Replies: 20

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 12:03pm

Nomis.....

That's a wonderful line! Keep up the good work.

Best,

Mike
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 6:18pm

Another go
Another go
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 6:18pm

Passenger wagon
Passenger wagon
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 6:19pm

A visitor
A visitor
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Mon 21st Nov 2011, 6:19pm

An overview of the garden
An overview of the garden
 

nomis

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 2

Replies: 17

Posted: Sat 21st Jan 2012, 8:31pm

I have started a thread over on the miniature railway world forum, lots of pictures:

http://s9.zetaboards.com/MRW_Forums/topic/7322843/1/#new

[A question for the moderators / webmaster - Is it possible for the forum to be upgraded to allow pictures to be remote hosted? I think it would really attract more people to use the site.]

 

gavinfdavies

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 0

Replies: 4

Posted: Thu 24th Jan 2013, 9:17am

NOMIS - I wondered if I'd find you in here! Sir, I owe you a lot. It was your article in GR that opened my eyes and promtped me to join the Society. Thank you.

The down side is of course that my local group of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers (which I set up) was rather upset to learn that I am now 'having an affair' with 7.25, and that my 32/45mm back garden layout will never be. It has been suplanted by a planned 7.25 line, similar to your own.

I know Tag as well, through the 16mm lot (I'm just starting out as their Publicity Officer).

All the best, thanks again, and maybe we shall compare notes one day!

Gavin
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:26pm

It's been a long time since I updated this thread, so I should really catch up.....

I wrote some short "articles" on the building of the railway and stock but never got them published. I posted them over on the garden railway forum; they might be of interest to a few on here too.

P.S. If they are any good for "the 7 1/4" news" please consider this my contribution :)





So, back to the beginning...............



Building the Apple Valley Railway

In the summer of 2010, my wife and I finally purchased our own house. Being on a corner plot, one of the main attractions of the property was the large (and very overgrown) garden. Even on the first viewing, hacking through the undergrowth had me imagining the possibilities for railway building!

As a youngster, I had built a couple of 16mm scale railways in the gardens of my parent’s houses, as well as helped out with friends lines. I had also been exposed to large scale railway building through my father’s 15” gauge Woodlands Light Railway (now dismantled). As school years gave way to university, and university moved on to a career, regular house moves prevented the building of a permanent track of my own (although there were a few temporary layouts). Having a “green field” site to transform was an exciting prospect.

Being in Cornwall, the garden is far from level - it had also been liberally planted with shrubs, trees, and pampas grass. Clearly a previous owner had taken great pride in their horticultural efforts, but years of neglect had left me with a jungle to tackle. The most promising area for railway building was a flattish space, about 20’ by 40’.

Interestingly, undergrowth clearing revealed a few sections of concrete blocks laid on edge, with what looked like track imprints in mortar on the top. Chatting to the neighbours revealed that the previous occupier (now deceased) had “A train in the garden”! I wonder if this type of accidental redevelopment is a first for garden railway building?

By winter, a G scale line had been completed. I was pleased to have my own railway, but somehow it had all been too easy.

Some on-line research turned up the fact that rail for the “ride on” scales is surprisingly cheap, a 9’ length coming in at about £10. Some quick calculation showed that (assuming timber could be scrounged for sleepers) track could be built for about £7 per yard. That was less than I was paying for G scale!

Over the next few weeks, much time was spent pacing around the garden, measuring out possible curve radii, and calculating gradients. Imaginative use of a spirit level, and bits of string proved that by use of 8’ radius curves, and some steep 1:30 gradients, a ride-on sized line could be built.

With the logic that getting the hard part over with would prove that the rest was possible, I started building at the lowest point of the route. In order to maintain a manageable gradient, the track at this point needed to be about 2’ above ground level – and deep into a bamboo thicket. January found me digging out foundations for concrete block piers that would eventually support the full sized railway sleepers that make up the trackbed at this point. This was a long way from building in G scale, and my poor old VW golf was starting to feel the strain of carting the building materials home from the builder’s merchants (the combination of railway building and Cornish hills may have led to the new clutch that was needed a few weeks later).

With the high level section complete, I was away. An 8’ long timber bridge leads onto a low embankment that marked the start of the ground level track building.

At this point I should probably mention the trackwork itself. Much of my railway is laid with 16mm (5/8”) tall aluminium alloy rail, purchased from either Maxitrak, or The Miniature Railway Supply Co. Later sections use 21mm rail, the heavier section being easier to bend smoothly, and more resistant to an uneven trackbed. I am very fortunate in that my father works at a local college that teaches roofing, resulting in a regular supply of 3” x 2” timber, of odd lengths and full of nail holes. When cut down to 14” sections, and treated with wood preservative, this material makes excellent (nearly) free sleepers. Rail is screwed down with M6 x 25mm coach screws (obtained in bulk from Screwfix), using a cordless drill.

It is surprising how quickly the construction materials needed seem to multiply, even on a very small line. Each 9’ length of track on my railway needed 2 rails, 4 fishplates, 15 sleepers, and 60 screws. That’s a total of about 1200 screws that needed driving.

The ground level track is constructed much like a smaller scale garden railway. First, a trench is dug, and lined with landscaping fabric to deter weeds. Concrete blocks are then laid crossways to form a substantial “path” for the trackbed (more heavy loads for my poor car). Track is then laid directly onto this, with ballast added afterwards. Naturally in this scale, thetrack does not need to be pinned down in any way, its natural bulk is adequate to prevent excessive movement. More recent sections of permanent way have done without the concrete blocks, a shallow layer of 20mm granite chippings providing a quick and easy base instead.

I started out unsure of whether to use 5” gauge, or go for 7 ¼”. I initially decided to go with 5” due to the better, and cheaper, availability of ready to run rolling stock in this size. However, as I have become more confident with building my own stock, and after a couple of close calls with visitors overbalancing on the narrower gauge, I have decided to go with the extra stability & peace of mind that 7 ¼” offers. Either way, the scale is unchanged, as I have stuck with 1:5 to give a 3’ gauge prototype on the 7 ¼” track (2’ gauge on the 5”).

It was about this time that I started building my locomotive. This was completed for about £300 expenditure, with no use of machine tools (but that, as Rev Awdry would say, is a story for another day).

As the trackbed slowly grew, the big obstacle of the project was reached. In order to ensure an acceptable curve radius, and to avoid the larger trees in the garden, a cutting had to be dug. The finished excavation is about 15’ long, and up to 3’ deep, dug entirely by hand. Later calculation indicated that about 4 tonnes of earth & rocks had been moved; a good portion of it being transported in a wheelbarrow perched on a 5” gauge wagon!

I was assisted in this part of the work by an old university friend, although I’m not sure he realised quite what he was getting into when I described a bit of model railway building to him….

One “highlight” of the dig was discovering a telegraph pole buried just below the surface. This was removed by shaving & splitting vertically with a hatchet and club hammer until reduced to matchsticks. The last inch to trackbed level was burnt away by building a small bonfire on top of it.

After the cutting, track laying at ground level proceeded rapidly. One section passes very close to some apple trees. In order to prevent damage to the trees, I was forbidden from digging through any roots in this area. Instead, I dug a minimal depth trench (approx 2” deep), and laid the track straight onto ballast, with no blockwork, for about 8’. I will keep a close eye on this section to assess long term stability, so far it seems to be holding up as well as everywhere else.

An embankment was built using the spoil dug from the cutting. It is retained using discarded scaffold planks, arranged to make a wooden wall that faces onto the lawn. The finished appearance, once stained, is surprisingly attractive.

The final job was to construct a point to close the loop. Commercial point kits in this size are (justifiably) very expensive, so instead I went for a simple “stub” design. By purchasing a commercial cast aluminium frog (about £20 from The Miniature Railway Supply co), the construction of the whole point can be completed with nothing more technical than a hacksaw and tape measure. I made up a simple lever mechanism from scrap steel strip, and the loop was complete!

The finished track plan is an irregular oval approx 120’ long with a long siding back to a raised decking area (approx 40’ long). Curves are sharp, but speeds are low. Keeping all rolling stock fixed wheelbases below 12” ensures that derailments are rare.

Trains have been run at a few barbeques, and for visiting friends and family. I have been amazed at the positive reaction that I get from people when they see the railway, far from getting the expected train spotter accusations, most people are pretty keen to have a ride, or a drive, themselves.

Current projects on the railway are the building of rolling stock, and the improvement of lots of small details. There will always be something to do – a single carriage is 5’ long, 15” wide, and weighs enough to be a 2 person lift, small projects rapidly grow into big projects in this size
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:27pm

Some pictures!

Some archaeology;


Evidence of the previous railway in the garden. This is a section of block wall that once supported a return loop on a G scale line operated by a previous owner of the house  8)
Some pictures!

Some archaeology;


Evidence of the previous railway in the garden. This is a section of block wall that once supported a return loop on a G scale line operated by a previous owner of the house 8)



 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:39pm

A significant photo in Apple Valley history:

An LGB porter standing on the first length of (G scale) track laid in the garden.
A significant photo in Apple Valley history:

An LGB porter standing on the first length of (G scale) track laid in the garden.
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:41pm


A couple of shots of the garden as I took it over, and the small scale line that I first built

A couple of shots of the garden as I took it over, and the small scale line that I first built

 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:48pm

A works train:
A works train:
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:49pm

And a passenger
And a passenger
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:51pm

It may just be me, but does Flickr not work here?

This is going to be tedious if I can only upload a single image at a time....
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 6:53pm

jumping ahead here, but a quick test for photo quality:
jumping ahead here, but a quick test for photo quality:

 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:32pm

Ok, so track building:

The first track goes in, at the lowest point of the railway
Ok, so track building:

The first track goes in, at the lowest point of the railway
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:33pm

Transitioning to solid ground....
Transitioning to solid ground....
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:34pm

And not so solid
And not so solid
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:34pm

45mm gauge gives way to 184mm
45mm gauge gives way to 184mm
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:35pm

Past the apple trees
Past the apple trees
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:36pm

how to build a 180 degree curve on a constant level (radius approx. 8' at this point)
how to build a 180 degree curve on a constant level (radius approx. 8' at this point)

 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:37pm

And with track in place
And with track in place
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:37pm

Work train?
Work train?
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:39pm

came across a stubborn base of a telegraph pole while digging out the cutting
came across a stubborn base of a telegraph pole while digging out the cutting
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:39pm

An overview of the garden
An overview of the garden
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:41pm

Building the Apple Valley Railway no1

To set the scene for the requirements, my railway is very small, with a “main line” circuit of only about 120 feet, including 7’ radius curves, and 1:30 gradients. Also, I have no machining facilities, but do have a small workshop (garden shed) containing a welding set, angle grinder, power drill, and the usual hand tools available to most budding locomotive builders.

Clearly, this loco was not going to be any great work of model engineering.

I decided on a scale of 2.5” to the foot (or about 1:5), to give something close to a 3’ gauge prototype on 7 ¼” gauge. This would allow for a chunky loco of short wheelbase that had some chance of coping with my railway.

After some on-line research I discovered the Kauai Plantation Railway in Hawaii. This newly built line has been installed to give tourists a ride around a working farm, with stops for interesting & historical displays. Amongst the rolling stock is a small Whitcomb switcher, to my eyes this machine is too attractive not to model, and so it became the inspiration for the general appearance of my loco.

Probably the most extravagant purchase happened early on in the build. Four, 6” diameter, plain disc wheels were ordered from PNP railways. These are CNC machined, and were absolutely perfect as delivered. The size and weight gave me a good idea of what I was getting into – this was a lot bigger than G scale!

I already knew that the PNP wheels came with 1” axle holes, so appropriately sized black bar was bought from a local steel stockist to use for axles.

Now, the one thing that really made the project possible came into use, the wonders of on-line shopping, in particular eBay. A quick trawl of the millions of items for sale quickly turns up some interesting finds. Amongst the star wars memorabilia and used rope (!), are a number of businesses distributing light industrial components in small quantities. Suitable pillow block bearings, sprockets, and chains were purchased to construct a reduction drive system.
As I have no lathe, axles were matched to the pilot hole sizes of the sprockets where possible. This left 3 sprockets that needed boring out to 1”, fortunately my father works at a local college, so these parts were left with him for turning (this task could have also been carried out by a local engineering firm for a small fee). Sprockets and wheels were then drilled and bolted together, finally being welded to the axles.

The wheels were initially secured to the axles using grub screws (similar to roundhouse steam locos). This enabled the gauge to be altered by sliding the wheels into position and re-tightening the screws. Once I had made the decision to stick with 7 ¼” gauge, the wheels were tack welded for security.

A sturdy chassis was welded up from 50mm box section steel, 30” long by 18” wide. The bearings were bolted directly to this, without any springing, at a 12” wheelbase. To this inner chassis, the outer frame plates & buffer beams (3mm steel) were bolted. Fortunately my steel supplier was happy to cut all of the plate to size for a few quid.

Incidentally, I find that the most useful tools for a small railway workshop (apart from the usual hammer, hacksaw, screwdrivers, kettle, & tea mug) are a decent power drill, a good sized metal working vice, and a hobby grade MIG welder. I know that many people are intimidated by the use of a welder (I know I used to be), but it really is nothing more than an oversized glue gun, most people should be able to pick up the knack of making a decent weld after a little practice. For an investment of maybe £150, a basic machine really opens up the possibilities for the home workshop.

The, now very heavy, steel chassis was topped with a rectangular piece of 18mm plywood, to which the two drive motors were attached. The motors were another eBay purchase, rated at 250W each. They are a standard design, as used in a large range of electric scooters, buggies, and ride-on toys manufactured in China. At an individual cost of under £30 (including delivery) they have proven to be just the thing for a small locomotive.

The drive is via a 2 stage reduction, giving an overall ratio of 11:1. The motors are connected to the first sprocket using 3/8” pitch chain. The final drive, and connection between axles, uses heavier ½” pitch chain to cope with the greater torque involved.

The speed controller used is designed for radio controlled helicopters and boats, and is produced by Dawnmist Studios. Although only a very basic unit with no re-generative braking, it’s extremely low price (under £30!) has helped to keep the project within budget.

A recent improvement has been to switch to a different model of speed controller, which connects to a standard radio control receiver. This allows the loco to be driven remotely, either sitting further back in the train or standing nearby – especially useful for shunting.

Power is supplied by a pair of used car batteries, connected in series to give 24V, with an appropriate fuse for protection.

The bodywork is simply made using 3mm plywood, with sheet steel bonnet and cab roof. The radiator was made by laminating up a number of sheets of MDF, and sanding to the correct, curved profile. All of the woodwork received a number of coats of varnish before painting to give a degree of weather proofing.

The distinctive radiator grilles were cut from plastic sheet, as sold in most model shops. You have probably already spotted the aluminium bonnet vents, used as purchased from the shelves of my local B&Q.

The batteries sit inside the cab, below the window level, whilst the space under the bonnet is filled with concrete and lead sheet for extra adhesive weight.

The completed loco suits the needs of my small garden railway well. Top speed is about 4-5mph, the tight curves are negotiated with ease, and there is plenty of power to pull 3 adults up the 1:30 without any trouble. If held back there is enough torque to produce wheelslip, despite the heavy weight construction.

For two years, the loco has run without any form of springing or compensation built into the chassis. This has not really caused any problem for my small line, as long as attention is paid to cross levels on the track work, de-railments are rare.

I am planning on taking the loco visiting to some larger 7 ¼” gauge tracks next year. It will be interesting to see how it performs when allowed to properly stretch its legs.
I estimate that the whole project has cost me less that £300, and progressed from bare wheels to regular use in about 4 months, despite most of my spare time being absorbed with other railway building. Not bad for 7 ¼” gauge!
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:43pm

Building the chassis
Building the chassis
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:43pm

the oily bits
the oily bits
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:44pm

bodywork taking shape
bodywork taking shape
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:45pm

Finished!
Finished!
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:46pm

After a few years the wooden body was suffering (no proper engine shed). So I re-built the loco as a roughly 4" scale Ruston LAT
After a few years the wooden body was suffering (no proper engine shed). So I re-built the loco as a roughly 4" scale Ruston LAT
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:47pm

pretty solid!
pretty solid!
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:48pm

And finished (for now!)
And finished (for now!)
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:49pm

Building a passenger carriage for the Apple Valley Railway

One of the most challenging projects (so far) in building my garden railway has been the development of an appropriate passenger carrying vehicle. A quick study of carriages in use on miniature railways shows an amazing variety, everything from heavy duty sit-astride benches to perfectly detailed scale models of luxury Pullmans.

The first thing I came to realise was that the design of the carriage must meet the needs of the railway. This may seem to be an obvious thing to say, but coming from the G scale world, where rolling stock is likely to be selected more on the basis of appearance than function, this was something that required some thought.

For the Apple Valley Railway, the list of requirements went something like this;

1) Must be able to carry 2 adults in relative comfort
2) Must be stable
3) Must be cheap
4) Must be able to handle 7’ radius curves
5) Should appear “railway-like”

A short series of basic wagons gave some useful experience of what would work, and what wouldn’t.

First up was a simple 4 wheeled flat wagon, used for construction of the railway. Although extremely quick and cheap to build, and capable of carrying a loaded wheelbarrow, this wagon showed up the shortcomings of 4 wheelers. The 18” wheelbase was too long for the tight curves, and the bearings were simple holes drilled into the chassis timbers (with plenty of grease added). Still it proved useful for a while.

The next attempt was a flat wagon on commercial bogies (5” gauge). This was much better, gliding around the curves with ease. After attention to the position of the rubbing blocks between the bogie & chassis, it even stayed on the rails! Gliding through the garden, with a proper “clickety clack” over rail joints confirmed that bogie vehicles were really the best way to go. The top of the flat wagon was 15” wide, by 4’ long. This was ideal for one passenger, but too small for two. Also, being seated on a flat deck meant either being cross legged (with the risk to knees from lineside objects), or sitting a long way back from the loco.

Although not a problem for me, visitors often had trouble balancing on the 5” gauge, leading to a couple of “near miss” accidents. Undoubtedly 5” gauge ground level carriages can be made safe and comfortable (the Strawberry Line in Bristol uses them for heavy commercial passenger hauling), I decided to go for the alternative solution of stepping up a gauge.

I now felt that I was ready to build something more engineered. The basic idea was to get as much weight as low down as possible. To this end, my carriage is really a form of well wagon.

Heavy chassis rails are made from lengths of 4” x 2” timber, on edge, running the length of the carriage. These are joined to buffer beams, made of the same material, using steel angle brackets. The added advantage of this arrangement is that not only are moving parts hidden away from little hands & feet, but if there is a derailment the carriage just parks itself onto the rail tops - supported by the buffer beams.

The finished chassis is 15” wide, by 5’ long. This allows for two (friendly) adults to sit facing each other, or for the driver to sit facing forwards, with their feet on the footplate. Alternatively, small children can be safely sat in the well.
At each end of the carriage is a sturdy “deck” made from scaffold planks. The chassis rails actually hang from these planks, supported by coach bolts. The bogies are mounted underneath the “decks”, so that the buffer beams are about ½” above the rails.

The central well is 11” wide; enough for most adults to comfortably get their feet in. The floor uses yet more scaffold plank timber, partly because I had some (it’s available for next to nothing once “condemned” for its original purpose), and partly because it adds useful additional weight at the lowest possible point. A floor made from thick steel plate would be even better.

The bogies are home built, using wheels from Ride on Railways. I have used self aligning pillow block bearings, bought via eBay, on the inside of the wheels in order to keep the width down and allow the bogies to turn inside the chassis without fouling. The inner mounting bolts for the bearings double up as bearers between the bogie and the chassis.

The bodywork is intended to resemble an open wagon, with a hint of the elegant vehicle typically used on Edwardian miniature railways (well that’s what I like to imagine anyway!). Nothing clever here - just common planed planks from the DIY centre, cut to shape on a table saw. The semi-scale planking effect was achieved by setting the blade with only a couple of millimetres protruding and passing the timber over the top. With a coat of black paint on the chassis, and some walnut varnish on the body, the whole vehicle started to look quite presentable. The addition of homemade seats and couplings finished everything off.

In order to increase carrying capacity, I later added footboards to the outside of the chassis rails, and a full length seat – effectively making the carriage a “sit astride” design. This allows more people to be carried, and gives a greater feeling of stability, but produces a considerably larger overhang on curves.

The completed carriage is quite a heavy lump, necessary for good track holding. It is really a two person lift, but I can handle it myself by removing the bogies first.

More engineering minded readers will have noticed that there has been no mention of springing or compensation. My own experience has led me to believe that such things are a non-essential complication on a small railway such as mine. Speeds are low enough that the ride is not rough, or jarring, and arranging the bogie bearing points to be within the line of the rails ensures that there is always some load on every wheel, keeping it on the track. The trick seems to be to make sure that there is plenty of “slop” in the mounting pivots to allow the bogies to find their proper place on the track – that, and plenty of grease.

So there it is; my attempt at a practical, 7 ¼” gauge, garden railway carriage. Total expenditure was under £200.
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:50pm

Coach chassis
Coach chassis
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:50pm

And body:
And body:
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:50pm

painted and varnished
painted and varnished
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:51pm

now with footboards
now with footboards
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:51pm

now with footboards
now with footboards
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:52pm

5' long coach on a 9' radius curve
5' long coach on a 9' radius curve
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:53pm

Building No 2
The second locomotive for the Apple Valley Railway is actually a re-build of a very unusual 5” gauge machine. This was built by my father many years ago for a friend as an experiment to see if it was possible to build a “sit inside” loco for such a narrow gauge.
The chassis is constructed from solid steel bar, and was originally 18” wide and 36” long. A motor from a Sinclair C5 is positioned, driving the wheels via a worm & wheel gearbox and chains. The axle boxes are mounted in vertical slides, with springing provided by rubber blocks.
With the original loco, the driver sat low down, with his knees up under the bonnet, and his feet either side of the motor. The body was hinged so that it could be pulled down over the driver. The loco worked, and proved the concept, but was always quite unstable and eventually fell into disuse.
Once my railway was built, the chassis was very generously donated to see if it could be made into a useful 7 ¼” gauge loco.
The first task was to widen the gauge; this was relatively simple as the design of the wheels enabled them to slide on the axles (once the locking screws had been loosened). I also took the opportunity to shorten the chassis to 30” overall length, to better match the other stock on my railway.
As my line is very short, with steep gradients, I decided to reduce the overall gear ratio. To do this I purchased a small sprocket of the correct pattern from bearingboys.co.uk, and had it bored out at a local engineering company to match the output shaft of the worm & wheel gearbox. The sprocket was then welded to the output shaft.
The original body of the loco was constructed from sheet plywood. This was long gone, so I decided to build something more in keeping with my line. I work to rough scale of 1:5, giving a 3’ gauge prototype. In order to provide plenty of internal space for batteries etc, I chose a 23ton GE boxcab as the inspiration for my design.
Although the overall shape of this loco is very simple, it features a large number of cut outs for windows, which would need to be accurate and consistent to capture the feel of the prototype. As I wanted this to be a steel body, cutting these openings by hand would be difficult.
A friend recommended a local firm that offered laser cutting services at good rates, that he had recently used to produce components for a number of bridges on his gauge 1 garden railway. All I had to do was provide drawings of what I wanted, and they would do the rest. Advanced CAD skills were not necessary (I sent them a drawing that I made in about an hour on MS paint!), the important thing being to include all of the dimensions that will be needed.

The body parts were cut from 2mm thick mild steel sheet which was welded together as shown in the pictures. Sections of steel angle were used to reinforce the corner joints.
In order to achieve a good solid construction, I decided to seam weld the four main body joints. This allowed me to grind the joints down to a neat corner. A word of warning here, don’t underestimate the effect that the heat of welding can have on sheet metal, I was lucky to spot the first joint creeping apart due to expansion before any harm was done. The best approach is to make a series of tack welds, spaced 2-3” apart to hold everything together, then fill in the remaining gaps once you are happy that everything is square and true.
The window frame sections were tack welded into the body from behind, taking care to ensure that they are correctly positioned first. I held them in place for welding using normal DIY masking tape. I find this holds things long enough to get a few tacks in place, and as long as only a small quantity is used, it burns off harmlessly if exposed to direct heat.
The roof panel was made by cutting a length of 4 inch diameter steel tube lengthways using an angle grinder to create the curved edge sections, these were then welded to a rectangular plate, and small pieces of angle iron welded inside to locate the roof on the body. As the roof is made from thick (3mm) plate, it is heavy enough not to need any further attachment.
The body is painted using rustoleum spray cans. I find this particular brand to be very easy to apply, and a satin finish is available – far more suitable for railway models than high gloss car paint.
The buffer beams are lengths of stained 2x4” timber, bolted to short lengths of 1” steel angle, that are welded to the main chassis.
Control of this loco is via a speed controller produced by dawnmist studios, this is a heavy duty unit, capable of handling up to XXA continuously. As the motor is rated at 250W, and I use two 12V car batteries in series for power (giving a 24V supply), this is plenty for my needs.
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:53pm

The basic chassis of No2
The basic chassis of No2
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:54pm

welding up the body
welding up the body
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:55pm

Finished! (for now....)
Finished! (for now....)
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:58pm

Home made points (cast frog from miniature railway supply co). Blades shaped with an angle grinder.
Home made points (cast frog from miniature railway supply co). Blades shaped with an angle grinder.
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:58pm

An observer
An observer
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 7:59pm

A old domestic water tank makes an ideal water tower
A old domestic water tank makes an ideal water tower
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:00pm

Cornish barbeque scene
Cornish barbeque scene
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:01pm

A weedkiller wagon, based around a calor gas bottle
A weedkiller wagon, based around a calor gas bottle
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:01pm

It works!
It works!
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:02pm

simple flat wagon
simple flat wagon
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:03pm

less simple but much better
less simple but much better
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:03pm

varnished
varnished
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:04pm

Simple bogies
Simple bogies
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:05pm

for an open wagon
for an open wagon
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:05pm

long overdue shed upgrade
long overdue shed upgrade
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:06pm

very smart :)
very smart :)
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:06pm

steam comes to the apple valley!
steam comes to the apple valley!
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:07pm

looks right at home
looks right at home
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:07pm

motive power line up
motive power line up
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:08pm

visiting Plymouth miniature steam
visiting Plymouth miniature steam
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:09pm

And the bath & west railway
And the bath & west railway
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:10pm

how do you move a loco when your railway is up a flight of steps?
how do you move a loco when your railway is up a flight of steps?
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:11pm

ready for the road :)
ready for the road :)
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:11pm

wildlife?
wildlife?
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:13pm

for anyone still with me, there are videos too!

A steam powered trip around the railway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkkD5aX73bE




 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:17pm

Bath and West Railway open weekend:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0tQGrrqEtQ&t=383s

Kensey Valley Railway steam-up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-IzP5NutXU

And a full lap of kensey (with captions):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX3gVpA5Af4&t=191s
 

nomis

Joined: 17-08-16

Topics: 2

Replies: 67

Posted: Tue 7th Nov 2017, 8:19pm

Is it possible to embed YouTube videos here?

There are quite a few more on my channel.....
 

colinedmondson

Joined: 9-08-09

Topics: 3

Replies: 82

Posted: Thu 9th Nov 2017, 10:32pm

Thanks for sharing, a good read. Worth thinking about publishing a little book, on the lines of Charles Carson's 'One man's garden railways'?
 
 
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