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Andrew

the Dorking Garden Railway

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Great scenery beyond the railway Andrew, especially the final 2 photos which certainly resemble the West Highland, but it won't wash down onto the tracks/board during a downpour will it? The ground does look rather dry - is it protected from the elements? I'd love a backdrop like that to my layout and it's something I've been trying hard to work out how to do it. You've got me thinking again.

I have days myself where I manage only about a couple of metres of track or so but it means it's a couple of metres closer to completion. I've developed a bit more patience with this second attempt at building a layout.

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I had the same thought about washouts. i guess we just wait and find out how it goes. :)

I have days where progress is huge and days like today where all I did was felt up about 9 feet. But in the end progress is progress. Your layout looks very good so far

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The photos look great Andrew. Whether or not you have problems will depend on the type of soil, and whether you have allowed places for water runoff to get past the trackbed. Our soil is sandy and dusty, which gets blown around and also splashes with every raindrop. Yours looks like clay, which should be better.

As an offshoot from the "Open Days" thread, I note that (assuming you are actually in or near Dorking), we are only half-an-hour's drive apart. (I'm in KT13 postcode.) So you are more than welcome to come and play trains in my garden one day, and if I were to do the same with yours, we might both pick up a few useful ideas.

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Thanks for those positive comments, folks. Sorry for the delay in replying – currently on holiday in Yorkshire.

You are right to raise the drainage/geology issue. The trackbed should be relatively immune to flooding, but of course rain is likely to splash some soil around which will require pre-operation brushing. However, since Foxdale Bank is well sheltered by a couple of large trees, it doesn't seem to get a lot of direct rain. But I've left a cess of a couple of inches on the uphill side of the track to play safe.

As for the geology, we are located just off the North Downs, a ridge of hills created by the surfacing of a subterranean chalk layer. So the soil is chalk, which is good for producing wine and I hope garden railways. The other end of the chalk layer emerges on the other side of the English Channel in somewhere called Champagne, but I'm told the wine here is better value for money.

Box Hill is very close to Dorking and featured in recent Olympic cycling events. Stringent security precautions were taken to safeguard the Olympics, and our neighbour Martin gave me the following photo which clearly shows the grape vines, Box Hill and some of the security measures.

Many thanks, Ian, for your kind offer of a visit to Danes Wood. I'd be delighted to see it, and to show you the DGR – and anyone else who might find it convenient. I'll try emailing you via the facility on the website.

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Not exactly mine, but this is a Black 5 loco on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway running northbound towards Newtondale on 20 August 2012. Very realistic.

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Sometimes it's good just to be playing trains in the sun. An excuse was provided by the recent arrival from eBay of a tender for the Tri-ang Princess Elizabeth loco that I inherited through my wife's family a year ago.

Being a well-worn toy, the Princess had lost a buffer as well as her tender. With both now replaced, she has regained her 1950s dignity. Mind you, the front bogie absolutely dances along the track, betraying bent axles which might be worth attention at some stage.

So today it was just fun. The photos show Princess Elizabeth leading a rake of quality blood-and-custard coaches off Foxdale Bank onto Sycamore Curve viaduct.

Sharp eyes will notice the displaced 'coal' in the tender in the first picture. You can't re-shoot after the event!

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Spurred on by those recent generous comments (thanks, gents), after a few hours of woodwork earlier in the week, today I was able to install about 15 feet of preservative-treated timber trackbed running across Foxdale Bank. Here's a shot from the end of the new extension (left) looking back.

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This photo below shows the method of construction, using timber wedge-shaped pegs banged into the ground and then screwing down the trackbed. Afterwards, the gaps underneath have to be filled with 'boulders' and rubble.

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Finally, a shot from the 'buffers' at the current railhead showing the extension work.

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Now for some tracklaying...

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Very impressive. My only advice is that you should consider planting that upper bank, so as to minimise slip. That Surrey earth looks typically fine and chalky, and you'll need to find a way to bind it as much as possible.

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It doesn't look as if drainage will be a problem if the make-up of that soil is anything to go by - in fact it looks very much like an old disused railway track bed. You sure there are no sleepers under there? I'm amazed that you manage to work on it without sliding down to the bottom all the time - is it really as steep as the photographs make it appear? That said it really is a great backdrop for a railway. There's going to be no distractions in the background and you should get some excellent images once you commence running.

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Yes, the chalky nature of Foxdale Bank does mean that rockfalls will be a hazard especially in rain, but being under trees, it is hard to plant with anything other than the current ivy (and I discourage dandelions and sycamore seedlings). An attempt has been made to build a short experimental retaining wall of chalk boulders and in the long run this might be extended. Next I need to get some precautionary slug pellets strewn around this stretch.

With the single track now 5 yards longer, the photo below shows a Redhill-based standard class 4 hauling a short local train along Foxdale Bank near Dorking West station. The second photo shows the return working later that day.

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The Fat Controller was impatient. He wanted faster progress on building the railway. He had seen several other railways recently, and realised that a short end-to-end line was not what he and many visitors wanted. The Danes Wood chairman McBogle had shown him a long and beautiful railway winding its way round a picturesque garden, as well as the wonders of digital control http://fungusmodels.blogspot.co.uk/'>http://fungusmodels.blogspot.co.uk/. Summer had gone in Dorking and leaves on the line were about to become a problem. The Fat Controller had a long wish-list that included double track, points, sidings, loops and ballast (and perhaps one day even signals), but what he wanted first was a continuous run, a joined-up railway.

So the Fat Controller gave an order. The continuous run was to be completed by his birthday, when coincidentally various items of new rolling stock might be expected to arrive at the railway. This put the Chief Civil Engineer and the Permanent Way Department under the cosh. A new and slightly shorter route was devised to link the northern end of the Foxdale Bank traverse with Bamboo Curtain Straight and complete the circuit. Initially known as the Temporary Viaduct, this concept acquired a degree of permanence as is the way of such things and came to be called the Northern Viaduct.

The Civil Engineering and Permanent Way Departments rose to the challenge. The Director of Planning turned a blind eye as other targets slipped. By dint of weekend working, the new trackbed of the Northern Viaduct was completed on time (and to budget). But laying the track itself was slower, and on the evening before the deadline, work had to be stopped while there was still a two foot gap between the ends of track waiting to be joined. The missing link would have to wait for the following day.

Birthday dawned. It was raining. The Fat Controller was disappointed, as some of the new rolling stock had arrived and he wanted to try it out. As the day wore on, the rain abated. The Permanent Way Department inserted the missing link. The milepost had been reached. The sun came out. There was no time for a Golden Fishplate ceremony. The Fat Controller had his continuous run – slightly longer than a cricket pitch (that's 22 yards, for heathens) – and spent a happy couple of hours testing it. Even the Director of Planning was impressed. The railway board marked the grand opening in the traditional style with a celebratory dinner.

Earlier in the day the PR Department, noting the wet weather but mindful of the need for media coverage, had insisted on a locomotive and some coaches being positioned on the approach to the new viaduct for some mock-up photos, even if real running were not to be possible.

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The first picture shows Foxdale Bank and the approach to the viaduct:

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Second, we see the viaduct approach and its supports (one is an A-frame, one is a telescopic pier):

Once the rain stopped and the track dried out a bit, a test train was successfully run. This also demonstrated the novel technology of wireless operation of an overhead electric loco. The PR Department enthusiastically shot a couple of experimental videos which were duly put on YouTube. Here

Finally a commemorative inaugural train was run. The photos show a BR Standard Class 4 loco running onto the Northern Viaduct from Foxdale Bank. New vehicles debuting in the consist (Who let that American intern into the PR Department?) are the crimson ex-LMS parcels van and an ex-LMS blood-and-custard first class coach (fourth from the engine), both by Hornby.

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At the end of the day, the Fat Controller is sceptical about elaborate post-project evaluation procedures. His key concerns for any project are: Was it on time? Was it within budget? and, Is it any good? For the answer to that last question, watch this space.

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Congratulations! Great to see something running. Two very nice video clips.

After my first summer with my old layout I too decided on a temporary structure in order to get something running. Mine was nothing more than some scrap timber propped up on some old housebricks but it worked reasonably well. Looking at your 'temporary' structure, it's going to make a great scenic area when it's completed and the sunshine (you've had sun?) really makes it stand out. You've got the makings of a stunning looking layout.

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