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A hidden gem in Norfolk.

We were delighted to receive this write up from one of our customers in Norfolk. We are sure that you will enjoy reading it:

 “Although the railway is still very much a work-in-progress, all the PNP parts are fitted, and I attach a few pictures which have particular reference to the trackwork. Most of the re-planting has yet to be completed.

The total length of the line is approximately 600 feet, all in 7.25″ and includes a main loop, passing branch extension, triangular run-round enabling trains to run both clockwise and anti-clockwise on the line, and a two-road engine shed. All trackwork is on the PNP system. The steepest gradient is 1 in 20, the sharpest radius 15 feet, and there are seven sets of points. The line was laid on an existing mature Edwardian woodland garden, with MOT type 1 hardcore and 14mm Montsorrell granite ballast kept in place with boards. The PNP system meant that track could be produced very quickly and easily (using a rail-bender and a custom-made jig). The permanent way and trackwork was all down and operational within six months of starting.

Current motive power is provided by two Station Road Steam built 0-4-0 locomotives: a ‘Feldbahn’ which served as the firm’s demonstrator in Germany; and ‘Tihany’, an early ‘Stafford’ saddle tank with a distinguished history. Rolling stock consists of two driving trucks and a four-seat ride-in carriage by Paul Williamson, plus one three-seat ride-on convertible bogie truck.”

 Please do keep sending us details of your projects. We really do enjoy reading them and seeing your pictures.

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PNP bar rail chairs survive -20C

We recently received this from a customer. Interesting to note the temperature range that the bar chairs are subjected to, especially in relation to our recent post about their use in Canada. Many thanks for sending this in.

“My son’s garden railway is in Northern Italy close to the foothills of the Alps. It is, at the moment, an end to end run of about 155 yards in length with a passing loop of about 15 yards, but there is ample space to extend this to a continuous loop of about 400 yards. Family matters are ensuring that progress is very slow, but I know that I have taken out enough of your bar stock chairs to get at least 2/3 of the track built! Initially the track was laid on homemade concrete sleepers, but these were very time consuming to cast and have had a small mortality rate over the years. Following a rethink about half the track has been laid on plastic ‘timber’ purchased locally.

The track bed under the sleepers is at least 4″ deep, sometimes in a trench, sometimes on hard core, with about another 1.5″ ballast around the sleepers. In 10 years since the first lengths were laid nothing has moved significantly despite temperature variation from -15C to 35C regularly and -20C to 40C in extremes. Just for your interest the long straight is 70 yards long with the bottom half on a 1 in 50 gradient and the top half at 1 in 40. 

The blue loco featured in one of the photos is my Phoenix Locos Titan 5 “Alpine Courier” which I have taken over there on 3 occasions to give it a change of scenery. Purely for you own amusement in these rather boring times, if you look up ‘Alpine Courier’ on YouTube then find the one labelled Bellaria Alpine and Northern, this was filmed over the full length of my sons railway one lovely afternoon when we had nothing better to do than play with trains and cameras!” 

We really do enjoy reading about your installations and projects and seeing your photos, so please do send them in or post on our Facebook page. And we look forward to being able to sit in the sunshine and play with our trains again.


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A Mountainous Engine Arrives

Sometimes I think we live in an engine shed rather than a house. We have only just waved farewell to Sir Percivale, our 10¼” gauge King Arthur class as it head’s north for a paint job and further boiler tests prior to running, then we hear the distant rumblings of the arrival of MOUNT KILIMANJARO.
I thought Sir Percival was big, but by comparison this 7¼” gauge Beyer Garratt is huge. It arrived on a 27′ trailer, a long streak of majestic maroon and a perfect replica of those unusual locomotives supplied to East African Railways by Beyer Peacock and Co. Ltd between 1955 and 1956. As with all these duplex engines they were designed and built to provide extra power, speed or traction, sometimes in areas of steep, unyielding, terrain.
The first thing I did on spying the uncovered locomotive was to count its wheels. 4-8-2 + 2-8-4. I have seen “Kili” as we affectionately call it, before. It has been at Weston Park for the past three years and may be heading off to Rugby next year. Take a look at this youtube clip.

Aesthetically this engine is not very attractive, to my mind it is rather ungainly, looking like a conventional steam locomotive with a great big box stuck on its front with one huge Cyclops eye in the middle. Still beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am none too pretty myself.

The original full-size locomotives of the class 59 were all oil fired, probably because the sheer effort required to feed these hungry beasts with coal would have been too great for their human operators. There were 34 of these metre gauge locomotives built in Manchester for the East African Railway. Nearly all were named after a mountain in Africa, a few after extinct volcanoes, and they were the largest, heaviest (252 tons) and most powerful locomotives to operate on any metre gauge railway in the world.
Designed to haul up to 1,200 tons on a 1.5% gradient they became the mainstay of freight transportation on the 330 mile run between Mombasa and Nairobi. They operated well into the late 1970’s. The last full-size locomotive being withdrawn from service in 1980. One preserved engine, MOUNT GELAI, remains in the Nairobi Railway Museum.

Our model MOUNT KILIMANJARO (5928) has livery representative of the characteristic traditional E.A.R. colours, maroon with yellow gold inlay, however the model is designed to be coal fired. This Beyer Garratt is a type of steam locomotive that is articulated in three parts. The boiler is mounted on a centre frame and the two engines are mounted on separate frames at either end of the boiler. This articulation permits the huge locomotive to negotiate curves and run on lighter track than a similar sized rigid engine would be able to do.

To give an indication as to the sheer size of these locomotives, here are the measurements of the model Mount Kilimanjaro:-
 Overall length :  19’4″
 Height from rail:  31″
 Width:  24″
 Boiler unit and front engine:  14′ 2″
 Boiler unit:  9’1″
 Total weight fully coaled and watered is a mammoth:  4,400lbs (1995.806kg)
 Approximate axle load:  314lb (142.428kg)
The model (miniature) is 5.430 scale of the full-size engine, or 2.209inches per foot, so it is evident how huge these great heroes of the E.A.R. were. Trevor Heath has set up a good website. Click here.
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A Visit to Burghclere

It was a really dreary Saturday morning in early December. We were heading down to Burghclere in Hampshire to meet up with a very good friend of ours who is also a very clever and talented engineer.

For some months he has formed part of a small band of volunteers who have been constructing a light railway around the soccer pitch in the village of Burghclere and they were celebrating the start of the venture with a Christmas fair and running day.

We arrived in the early part of the afternoon to find stalls and catering facilities set up around the club house. The volunteers and stall holders were doing a marvellous job of keeping their wares dry in the pouring rain.
I was particularly impressed with the ladies on the catering stand, who were valiantly keeping mince pies dry with cling film whilst serving an endless stream of customers with hot beverages whilst also manning a barbeque. Inside the club house we found Santa in his Grotto, a large tombola stall, a raffle, guess the name of the teddy and many other attractions.

A local church choir arrived and performed a lovely medley of Christmas carols before heading off down a small path to the engine shed/workshop that masquerades as a very pretty station to partake of a ride on the 7¼” gauge railway.
The young cleric himself even straddled the small carriage, cassock billowing in the wind with choristers seated behind him thoroughly enjoying every moment of the experience.
The track is as yet is only partially laid around about a third of the field. It will eventually totally circumnavigate the soccer pitch.

A water tower has been erected alongside the facade of a station. We were told that it had only just been put up, one of the volunteers had made it using an old drum that they found on site which he had very skilfully mounted onto the plinth that he had also constructed.

The train itself was utilising two engines (so double the pleasure and interest for the enthusiast) both beautiful models of Great Western Railway engines. At the far end of the push me pull you line up, I found a beautifully executed model of a Great Western Railway 14XX class tank engine, in traditional G.W.R green. These wonderful standard gauge (4′ 8½”) locomotives were originally built at the G.W.R. Swindon works between 1932 and 1936, a total of 75 being produced. Their design is accredited to Charles Collett, however the original design dates back to 1868 with the introduction of the George Armstrong 517.

Burghclere Miniature Railway
Burghclere Miniature Railway
Burghclere Miniature Railway
Burghclere Miniature Railway








True to form the model has an 0-4-2T wheel configuration, twin internal cylinders and slide valves. Sadly, they were withdrawn from service between 1956 and 1965 although four full sized preserved locomotives survive today.At the other end of the consist, in black livery, I found another G.W.R locomotive. This beautiful beasty was a 15XX 0-6-0 pannier tank engine.

This is a perfect copy of one of ten locomotives also built at the Swindon works in 1949. It is an unusual design having external cylinders (17.5″ x 24″), Walschaerts valve gear and a very short wheel base of just 12′ 10″ which allowed it to navigate curves of 3.5 chains (231′ ). The full-size locomotives were quite restricted by their weight and wheelbase rendering them unsuitable for fast running.

The majority of their work was confined to stock movement and they were often utilised at Paddington station. The originals were withdrawn from service between 1959 and 1963, however one working preserved locomotive can be seen at The Severn Valley Railway.

The two 7¼” gauge models complete with three coaches gave us a very smooth ride down the newly laid stretch of track and back.

After our small excursion we were shown the workshop, including some ingenious pieces of equipment that had been personally designed by our host to aid track laying (which utilises PNP Railways PNR-5B bar rail chairs) 

Rail Chair for 10 x 20mm Bar Rail
Rail Chair for 10 x 20mm Bar Rail


I must say we had a lovely afternoon with the trains in this very picturesque village, and we look forward with anticipation to the completion of this wonderful project.