BLOG: The great outdoors


In the latest issue of Hornby Magazine – HM146, August 2019 – I introduce my new ‘O’ gauge garden railway layout in the Staff Projects section. Since completing the issue I’ve been making the most of the good weather to complete the circuit allowing trains to run.

With a weekend set aside at the end of June, I steamed through construction of the remaining internal baseboards in the garage to make the return loop and storage yard and completed laying the track outside. At the end of the weekend I had a fully working railway, though one which still has a lot still to do to make it match my designs.

A Class 45 stands at the head of the first internal storage loop for the garden railway.

The first trains ran around the full circuit on the evening of June 30 consisting of a Heljan ‘Western’ at the head of a rake of Mk 1s and a Heljan ‘Warship’ with a set of ‘Catfish’ and ‘Dogfish’ ballast hoppers. It was a great moment after all those months of ground preparations, construction and track laying. I’ve since been running the layout regularly to iron out any bugs in the trackwork and, more importantly, the rolling stock and control system.

In terms of the stock, I’ve found a couple of wagons need extra weight adding to them for stability while I also need to adjust the approach to the exit from the garage to smooth out the gradient transition between the indoor and outdoor sections. To drive the trains I’ve settled on the Gaugemaster Prodigy base station with the Prodigy Wifi adapter plugged in. This communicates with smartphone and tablet devices which use the WiThrottle App to control both trains and accessories and it has given me the range I needed to cope with the garden railway. I’ve been impressed with its capabilities, even over a couple of weeks of short running sessions.

With the railway now up and running I’ve also put together a short video showing one of the first test trains from April as well as more recent footage following completion of the circuit. To round things off there is a sequence of clips featuring a sound-fitted ‘Western’ D1013 Western Ranger fitted with a Zimo MX699KS decoder and Class 25 D7527 fitted with a Zimo MX696KS decoder. Both use Digitrains Active Drive sound files and you can read the full installation for the Class 25 in HM139.

I hope you enjoy the video and I’ll keep the updates coming on the garden layout in both the magazine and online. And if you haven’t already got the latest issue, there’s much more than just this garden layout to inspire your modelling including a stunning model of Bournemouth West in ‘OO’ gauge, new products from Hornby and Heljan, step by step guides for weathering, scenery, sound and much more.

To get your copy of the latest issue visit the Key Publishing Shop or your local newsagent. Alternatively, you can download a digital edition from – simply search ‘Hornby Magazine’.


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