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Andrew

the Dorking Garden Railway

268 posts in this topic

The Dorking Garden Railway has been a few years in the planning and has now started to take shape on the ground. Plan A was to have involved building a double track oval in the garage last winter, but when Spring arrived and no work had been done, it was obviously time to forget Plan A and focus on the garden side of things - Plan B.

A foretaste of the real garden railway has been provided by various photo sessions involving mock-ups. The first session was precipitated because, having talked about a potential garden railway at work, my colleagues announced that my leaving present had to be a loco for the layout. So I was duty bound to show at least the spirit of what was afoot, and some temporary track was put down one sunny afternoon in December for a photo-shoot. Here's the result - a Bachmann 9F heading a passenger train in the East Midlands in the early 1960s.

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Before the 9F, my daughter had announced that she wanted to give me a loco as a birthday present. Once the Jubilee arrived, it too required some photos to show my gratitude. By this time the Bamboo Curtain in the garden had become the obvious backdrop, and another sunny day saw "Hong Kong" given the treatment - and an attempt at smoke and steam - as shown here.

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Here are another couple of mocked-up photos (we get on to some real construction progress later!). First, a nostalgic pose with the Hornby Dublo 3-rail "Bristol Castle" heading a Western region express, and second a BR Standard Class 4 with a Guildford to Redhill train seen near Dorking West station in winter sunshine in the late 1950s.

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To show a wider perspective, the next mock-up marked the 150th anniversary of the Great Locomotive Chase on 12 April 2012. This commemorated all those involved in the epic event, and shows an almost correct period 4-4-0 locomotive by Rivarossi. The Andrews Raiders are running low on fuel and have just uncoupled the first of their three boxcars.

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At last, a length of timber base was installed for one side of what is intended to be a double-track oval, and the first six yards of track were laid. Although amounting to little more than a test track, this stretch did give an authentic garden railway feel. The first powered train was this Alco diesel, seen running on Burlington Northern's rarely photographed Bamboo Curtain subdivision.

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This was soon followed by a vintage Hornby Dublo freight, headed by an 8F loco.

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Work is now under way to extend the first straight into Sycamore Curve after which the far side of the oval will see the line leaving the staging to contour at ground level along a currently weed-ridden bank before curving round to rejoin the Bamboo Curtain straight. Talk is cheap!

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Nice to see another Railway taking shape. Seems like you have it all planed out already. Look foward to reading more!

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Welcome Andrew. It's good to see the Dorking Garden Railway joining the forum.

It's amazing how even with just a few mock up shots a garden railway can be brought to life and that curtain of bamboo makes a very effective and realistic backdrop. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of that in the near future. I've just added some bamboo to an area at the side of my newly installed pond. Looking forward to it filling out like yours has done if this wet weather doesn't kill it off first.

I'm interested to see how far you've progressed with the outside trackwork and keen to learn of your plans for an indoor section in the garage. I think your photos go a long way to showing that outdoors can certainly look much more natural and with a greater sense of realism - if only it would stop raining!

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A nice selection of trains you have there. I'm always impressed when I see some American trains on Brit layouts; a Virginia and Truckie steam engine and what looks to be a BN Uboat. Very nice.

So how much footage of your mains is down at this point? Can we see a wide shot?

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Hi Andrew looks like you have the makings of a great garden railway there. I have heard that it's pouring with rain in the UK at the moment. I've been thinking of taking some photos of my line and adding smoke and steam. I guess it's not easy to do to have grey smoke at the chimney with billowing white steam over the train it's hauling.

I for one am really looking forward to seeing more photos of your progress.

Roy.

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Its just a wicked rumour about rain in the UK, more like monsoon season here, it hasn't stopped for the last 2 days here in the south west. If the carries on the GGR will float away, time to get the boats out I think.

Ian

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Welcome to the forum Andrew. I hope the weather hasn't damped your enthusiasm, and you are making progress with the Dorking Garden Railway.

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Welcome Andrew.

Watching another railway take shape will hopefully get back to work on mine, weather permitting!

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Many thanks to all for such a warm welcome and for those supportive and encouraging remarks.

Having started with the 'easy' bit of joinery, namely the long Bamboo Curtain straight which used decking boards, the next section - Sycamore Curve - has proved more tricky. For a start, the hoped-for minimum curve radius of 6 feet has had to be sacrificed: it starts out at that, but then gradually sharpens to 5ft and finally 4ft to clear the sycamore trunk. The deck is cut from whitewood timber planks (discarded bookshelves) which I had available.

This curve is not envisaged as being a strictly scenic section of the line - pier one of the viaduct has a scale height of 150ft above ground level - although it may look quite dramatic. The challenge is to get and keep the roadbed level, and to this end (following sage advice from O gauge modeller Philip Morgan), the piers are being made to allow for height adjustment both at the construction stage and to cope with any future subsidence. This is achieved by using two different diameters of uPVC waste pipe (32 and 40mm) which will then slide on the telescope principle and be pierced by screws to lock them at the right height.

Here's a shot of the timber temporarily laid in situ:

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Meanwhile, now that I seem to have got the hang of inserting photos, here's a picture taken this morning of a Southern Railway class 377 Electrostar. These look quite good - for electric multiple units - and are comfortable to commute in, but not yet seen in model form. That small patch of blue sky in the photo was about all we saw today.

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Here is a test train on the newly-built Sycamore Curve viaduct, so far just laid with single track. A feel of Scotland in the 1960s perhaps, at the transition of liveries from green diesels and maroon coaches to the blue & grey era, with this heritage train of Tri-ang stock.

Many thanks for those tips (in another thread) on track pins, gentlemen.

Which prompts the observation that there don't seem to be any lady members of the Forum. Railway modelling is clearly a man's world.

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Andrew,

Are you using peco's brass track pins? I've tried a few different pins but the brass ones are the only ones I use outdoors now.

I also have a cheap small Archimedes drill with a 1mm bit in which I use exclusively for drilling holes in sleepers.

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There are several lady railway modellers!

Jennifer Kirk ( Jennyemily667 ) is just one. She was once considering a garden extension to her indoor layout but I don't think she developed it. She posts a lot of videos on YouTube. One example is at

I can think of at least 4 other female modellers but I can't name them.

My wife is quite hands-on and knowledgeable about model railways.

Riddles

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Love that close up of the train on the curve.

Some questions:

How are you protecting your base boards from humidity?

I noticed that slope back behind the retaining posts. Looks like a tough place to get into for track laying. Is it a pain to get back there and work on that slope?

I may need more photos soon. :D

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Thanks for the comments and questions.

The Peco track pins used so far are those with a dark matt finish, suitably close to invisible against the sleeper if you can get them right home. Seems like steel pins would be easier to drive in, and natural rust or a touch of dark matt paint would reduce their visibility.

There are indeed lady railway modellers (and some of those videos by Jennifer look nice), but as I said, there don't seem to be any on this forum.

All my baseboards are treated with something called Creocote, which I'm hoping has similar preservative properties to the now unavailable creosote. I like the colour, and may try adding ballast later - although getting realistic looking colouring seems hard. Proper ballast up to the tops of the sleepers does help to give a more realistic appearance.

You should see more of that slope in due course. To be known as Foxdale Bank, the 'back straight' of the oval is planned to contour along it, giving some gentle reverse curves. Still pondering what foundation to use, as I'd prefer a natural looking cut ledge appearance on the steep slope of the bank which a concrete base might provide, whereas shaped timber would be easier to make but would be harder to bed-in to the landscape to prevent it looking like an artificial shelf. Either way, there could be problems with the track getting splashed with mud and a timber trackbed becoming a playground for slugs and snails.

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I used some coated tacks, which I picked up from a hardware store nearby. I clipped the round tops into rectangles, which were then hidden on top the sleepers. I too pre-drilled the sleepers before putting pins in.

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Know doubt in the future lady outdoor modellers will join this forum and we can help them develop their garden lines and they can help us with the flora side.

Liking the photos and the mock ups. The 9F 92185 is just one loco similar to 92085 that didn't make preservation. It was cut up at Woodhams.

Do you have trouble with bamboo spreading out of control? Here it can take over very quickly with loads of underground runners.

Roy.

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Thanks for those observations, Roy. Yes, I gather that bamboo can be pretty assertive, but fortunately the previous owners of our house planted it in large plastic buckets. Here's hoping that the buckets don't rot or split enough to let the marauders escape, in which case we might be completely bamboozled!

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cleanerg6e said:

...Do you have trouble with bamboo spreading out of control? Here it can take over very quickly with loads of underground runners.

Is that right? I've just planted 2 specimens at the bottom of the garden alongside the pond, although with the wet weather they've been very slow to take hold. Mine are the black stemmed variety and the details suggest they're not quite so invasive. Never thought to put them in large tubs although I did do that with the Christmas tree to keep that in check. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

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Made a bit of progress on the line today, completing the transition stretch from Sycamore Curve viaduct to the start of Foxdale Bank, which will be crossed on a disguised timber shelf. The contour curves should look good, but may be a pain to construct as each section will have to be completed and bedded in (screwed onto preservative-treated timber pegs driven into the ground) before the next one can be designed and cut. Today's progress saw just two yards of track laid.

Here's today's inaugural train, with a BR Standard Class 4 loco running off the viaduct with a local passenger service in the mid-1950s - definitely needs some super-elevation adding in due course:

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Starting to get some mountain atmosphere - the West Highland Line, perhaps? Still looks a bit like a railway on a shelf, but no doubt nature will weather and stain that timber soon enough so that it blends in better.

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Finally, we see the Class 4 paused at a signal. Just as well really, as the track goes no further today.

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Looking good Andrew, 2 yards is 2 yards further than yesterday. Keep doing that and it will be done* in no time.

* for a given definition of done, of course

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