ROLLING STOCK


building a model railway

This website is dedicated to the late P.D.Hancock who inspired many of us

a surviving part of Hancock's ground breaking Craigcorrie & Dunalistair Railway

'It's my railway and I will do what I like'

There  is not a truer word spoken!

These pages are no more than a sharing of concepts that may be helpful to anyone who decides to build a model railway. We all put a unique stamp upon our miniature creations and and long may it continue! There is never an absolute right and wrong with some obvious exceptions such as our trains must be able to run well.

This website concentrates on modelling narrow gauge but most of the content applies to model railways of all gauges.

Many of us have been captured by the allure of the narrow gauge railway for much of our lives. Characterful little trains with rich histories winding their way through sylvan countryside or hanging on the side of vertical cliffs prompt some of us to model them in miniature as a way of bringing the experience home.

Narrow gauge railways have been around for a long time. They started out as small horse drawn or hand propelled trams, usually serving mines. In the early days of the steam railway a controversy raged between Stephenson's standard gauge and Brunel's broad gauge. Many 'experts' believed that it was impossible to build viable steam locomotives for narrow gauge; that is, until 1864, when small steam engines were delivered to the Festiniog Railway.

early days at the Festiniog Railway

This line brought slate from the mines of Festiniog down to the harbour at Portmadoc. It was wonderfully engineered to give a constant gradient so that loaded wagons could run using gravity alone. One mountain, Moelwyn, was in the way. Balanced inclines were used to haul the wagons over the top. A small bore tunnel was finally built and this opened the way for steam power.

The success of the Festiniog Railway resulted in narrow gauge railways being exported throughout the world. In no small part, this was due to a remarkable family, the Spooners, who had so much to do with the development of the Festiniog.

World War 1 brought a boost to narrow gauge, where portable railways were used by both sides to transport troops and munitions to the front.

The advantages of narrow gauge include a huge reduction in construction cost and the ability to navigate much tighter curves, along with reduced operating costs. As labour costs increased after the Great War, their main disadvantage, the cost of trans-shipment to standard gauge become more and more apparent. Many lines had disappeared by the Second World War but we have been left with a fascinating legacy which still fires the imagination of many of us.

atmospheric freelance in 7mm/ft by Nicholas Brown

Narrow gauge railway modelling will always represent a specialised sector of the hobby and as a result, much more material has to be scratch or kit built rather than bought ready to run, commercially. Nevertheless, most of what follows is equally pertinent to those modelling in standard gauge.

These articles describe methods favoured by the author but it should be emphasised that he does not for one minute assert that these are the only or necessarily the best ways of doing things. because we all have different specialist skills and as a consequence, some methods work well for one modeller while others may be disappointed.