BLOG: Running season

Photo: At dusk a Heljan Class 31 leads a pair of new Ellis Clark Trains/Darstaed BR Mk 1 suburban carriages along the line.


It’s a couple of months since I last provided an update on the ‘O’ gauge garden railway project. As the sun is still shining I thought I’d take the opportunity to put together an round up of the latest progress outdoors.

To be perfectly honest, I have been waylaid by running trains! Having completed the circuit at the end of June I’ve been making the most of every spell of good weather to get trains running round the garden and even on the baking hot August Bank Holiday weekend I had trains running smoothly with only two small sections of track requiring adjustment.

Making progress with the railway isn’t just related to the track as I’m gradually landscaping the garden around it too. I’ve had to learn a lot about tending to plants and also how to choose what goes where. Weeding has been a perennial job, but it reaps the rewards by keeping the garden looking neat and tidy.

A Class 40 leads an oil train behind the newly completed retaining wall made from slate sections and Noch hard form walling.

One of the biggest landscaping jobs I’ve tackled so far, after planting that is, is the construction of a slate wall on the section before the tunnel. This has been built up by breaking spare stone from a patio project and stacking it to create a wall below the trackbed. At the top, I’ve used Noch hard form retaining wall sections to blend the miniature and real world together and the effect is just what I wanted. There is a little bit of finishing off to do, but as you can see from the first two images in this blog it’s looking smart now.

Noch hard foam walling has been used to tidy up the railway frame across the decking. The Class 45 exits the short tunnel which is now framed by a pair of repainted Peco plastic tunnel mouths.

I’ve also been gradually installing the Noch hard form retaining wall as a finishing touch to the trackbed face where it crossing the decking in the corner of the garden. This has cleaned up its appearance significantly and I’m now working on a long planting bed behind to allow this area to be further landscaped and developed as part of the overall scene.

On the otherside of the garden I’ve now added the two point motors to control the loop points on the climb back to the garage which means slower goods can now be held without the need for manual changing of the points. Moreover, by using DCC Concepts Cobalt IP digital motors frog switching is provided too which increases the reliability of the track system.

In the garage, the internal storage lines are taking shape. The ‘Warship’ is at the head of the passenger set on the outer while the Class 45 is on one of the goods trains on the inner loop. On the left is the first of dead-end sidings for additional train storage.

Talking of track, the garage-based internal storage yard is developing too. There are now two full-length loops which can accommodate two trains in each as well as the first of two long sidings for extra train storage. The standard formation for the loops is to have the passenger and parcels set in the outer loop while a 30 wagon mixed goods and a 15 wagon hopper train fill the inner loop. More track laying is planned indoors to offer maximum storage capacity, but there are other elements that I want to work on first.

The return loop at the end of the line has resembled a building site more than a garden railway. However, this will soon change as work starts on a water feature next.

The primary project, which I will be starting this weekend, is the addition of a pond and fountain inside the return loop in the garden which will lead on to the addition of the second circuit around the return loop as well as next year’s plan to develop a station scene to give the railway greater purpose.

As you might expect I’ve also been working on more locomotives for the railway. My main focus has been on adding decoders and sound progressively with the latest additions being a Class 55 ‘Deltic’, a Class 31 which now has a Hornby Twin Track Sound decoder connected as well as a high power motor decoder and a Class 40. There is a queue of locomotives waiting for numbers and the transfer sheets are already on my workbench waiting for a time to be available to apply them along with a list of rolling stock projects for the winter.

As always I will keep you posted with further developments as and when they happen. I’m just hoping that the good weather holds for another few weeks so I can enjoy more running sessions!



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