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An interesting weekend

I had a very interesting weekend well Saturday anyway touring layouts at an informal American Railroaders convention in Auckland. We visited four layouts including our hosts N gauge.


Second: A double and treble deck GNR layout in a converted double garage.

The government owned NZR was very slow in completing rail links in Northland ferry sailings on Kaipara Harbour ceasing in the late 1940s when Dargaville was finally connected to the national network.


Finally: How many modellers can fit into an isle on a classical multi-level American layout? [attachment=:name] Built on the ground floor of a split level house it almost qualifies as the classical American basement empire, while scenery is reasonably complete in the main area, the layout has extended into an adjoining workshop and into the area underneath a raised deck. Track is mainly handlaid.


Smoothness of running without lurching through pointwork without hesitation or lurching was the most noticeable contrast between the two HO and the NZR layout thanks to matched NMRA track and wheel standards, in contrast to the Peco Universal points and wheels made to different manufacturers standards.


The tour gave me a lot to think about including whether to build an American N gauge or Irish Narrow gauge layout in the garden shed as the space available is tight for a realistic Irish broad gauge layout in 21mm or 00.


After an almost classic tailchaser with Patrickswell I looked at Fenit as a sleepy branch line terminus. I initially looked at including Spa with its beet siding and treating the Harbour Commissioners line as part of the hidden staging, but eventually decided to omit Spa and include a representation of the pier and its railway.




The layout is a lot more challenging in terms of trackwork and operation compared to Patrickswell, with little in the way of structures, the footbridge and lifeboat station weer the most prominent structures on the mainland & a rather plain looking warehouse on the quay. The backscene would be a challenge a panorama including the Dingle Peninsula and Tralee Bay.


The layout is essentially a scenic shunting plank, with operation mainly around shunting wagons between the station yard and the Pier. Traditionally small tank locos were used for shunting the pier, the Harbour Commissioners bought Hunslet industrial saddle tank which was passed on to the GSWR as 299, an ex MGWR J26 from the Waterford & Tramore was the last steam loco used until replaced by G & D Class diesels. The small rail mounted steam cranes used into the 70s were probably the most distinctive part of the operation and a challenge to model.


Locos and stock used seems to have been mainly restricted to standard small GSWR types in steam days, there is a photo of a J15 with a train of 6 wheel coaches in a photo before passenger services were withdrawn in 1934. CIE provided seaside trains on Summer Sundays running the Sunday Tralee service through to Fenit.


Traffic from the harbour mainly appears to have been spasmodic coal and timber for Tralee and presumably other destinations in Kerry. The harbour struggled financially, the Pier was closed to commercial traffic during much of the 1949s & 50s due to structural problems with the causeway which connects the pier with the main land.


The final traffic on the Fenit branch and Western end of the North Kerry was sugar beet from Fenit, Spa, Ardfert and Abbeydorney to the Tuam factory during the 1977 campaign.


For a modeller starting in 21mm gauge the Murphy Models B141 and DC Kits G Class with a 28:1 Blackbeetle Motor bogie would be a good option to get things running before venturing into kit or scratchbuilding.


The main purpose of the planning exercise was to see if it was feasible to fit an American style walk around design layout inside an 11'x17'6" garage. The idea definitely seems feasible in N and just about possible in OO though probably better off in American N or HOn3 given the amount of rolling stock building required for an Irish layout of this nature.


In 21mm gauge it seems to be basically own to a simple through station on a continuous run or a U or L shaped terminus to fiddle yard effort, the larger radius curves required by the finer scale standards basically eat up space. It is sometimes said that it is easier to build a double than a single track layout in a small space, I have slightly modified Patrickwell as an example of a small but operationally interesting station for a continuous run layout in 21mm gauge.




The station was on a gentle curve in a plain but visually attractive setting with a natural viewing point from the south with the station building and signal cabin in the background. Patrickswell was the junction between two single lines where the line to Croom and Charleville (The Cork Limerick Direct) diverged from the North Kerry. The two single lines ran side by side westwards from the station for approximately on mile giving the impression of double track, at the eastern end of the station a headshunt to the goods yard trailed back on the up side towards Limerick also giving the impression of a double line.


The track layout was extremely simple with 3 points a crossover between the Croom line and The North Kerry and a siding trailing back from the headshunt to a loading bank, in later years the home of a crippled CIE brake van and an ex GNR covered goods wagon.


In GSWR days the signal cabin was on the South side of the line opposite the junction crossovers, but replaced with a standard GSR concrete hipped roofed cabin further west on the platform following Civil War damage. At some stage a second crossover existed which allowed trains from the Croom line to run directly to the headshunt and the goods yard also had a second siding. These appear to have been lifted at some stage before the Croom line closed in 1967.


Although simple a layout based on Patrickswell could be interesting to operate mainly for through train operation than shunting, with trains operating along the single line from Limerick in prototype fashion before diverging onto the North Kerry or Croom lines or even using the double crossovers to allow double line operation between Limerick and Patrickswell or watching trains go round on a double line.


In the diesel era the Croom line was an important freight link between Cork and Limerick for a regular overnight goods and cement specials until Limerick Junction was re-modelled in 67, Patrickswell seems to have been busy as a block post and used for crossing oil and mineral trains during the Foynes freight boom era of the 60s 70s closing in 87. Although no loop was provided the layout was signalled to allow trains from Limerick to run directly onto the stub of the Croom line or from Ballingarne onto the headshunt at the Limerick end. The first train to arrive would presumably do the shunt, with the second running through.


Modelling the steam era would involve a lot of scratch or kit building the SSM GSWR 101, 6w coaches and whitemetal wagons would be a good start, the pre-amalgamation era has developed something of a cult following in the UK with Paul Greenes S Scale GSWR layout and the WLWR in 7mm with Richard Chowns Castlerackrent system and David Walkers Killanney.


A pre-amalgamation Patrickswell with GSWR green locos and purple lake coaching stock contrasting with WLWR Crimson Lake and well maintained infrastructure, would make an interesting contrast with contemporary gritty reality of modelling.


The final instalment of the saga will look at a number of options for a model based on Fenit hopefully including the pier line possibly with a little touch of Torpoint or Craig.


I drew this one up mainly to see if it was possible to fit OO gauge E shaped block plan into a single car garage, rather than a more traditional around the walls effort. It just about fits in with a reasonable aisle width by reducing the minimum radius on the turn back section on the peninsula section to 2' radius.




The scheme is just about workable in OO though would look a lot better visually in a wider room or in N or perhaps American or Continental narrow gauge in either HOn3 or HOm.


This time I have included one medium and two small stations on the section between Barnagh and Abbeyfeale with staging on one side of the room. It might be worth designing the staging as two side, by side yards representing Careys Road & Tralee with a linking track to allow through running. Each yard would have its own run round and spurs for storing locos to allow for a more interesting timetable operation than tail chasing. Ideally Barnagh should be modelled as a summit section rather than on a flat baseboard with trains climbing from Abbeyfeale and the Limerick end of the staging.


I have been getting to grips with Templot a track template design software for a small EM layout before I try my hand at serious planning for a broad gauge layout.






Although I have tried to be faithful to modelling Irish railways mainly GSR & CIE in 4mm scale, I had various flings with British, American and even freelance modelling in scale and had a long and sometimes stormy relationship with N American gauge.

I first tried N in the late 70s frustrated at trying to fit a OO gauge layout into a box room and even more so with my efforts to kitbash and scratchbuild Irish stock. A nice scenic N gauge layout with repainted or slightly modified rtr stock seemed a good idea and I even ended up with a reasonable U shaped shelf layout around the walls of my teenage bedroom with stations based on Ardfert and Foynes.

The layout was scrapped following a house move, in the late 80s I seriously caught the American modelling bug while living in the UK and built up a collection of American N gauge locos and stock to get something running quickly while I tackled kit building and modifying Irish 4mm stock.

Having a 17 X11 space available I thought I would look at a N gauge North Kerry layout based on American “walk around” principals.

Typical American style operation involves operators walking around with their trains crossing opposing trains and switching sidings and industries. Movements are usually controlled by a dispatcher or train controller sometimes in another room using radio or telephone communication, rather than a signal man at each block post typical of traditional UK & Irish operation.

I though it would be interesting to see if I could fit in an E shaped baseboard arrangement in combination with a looped 8 arrangement to achieve a maximum length of run. Given the available space I have planned for a minimum isle width of 700mm.

The main idea is to slow down the operation by a combination of maximising the milage between stations and operating the railway in accordance with the rule book. Visually the layout keeps to the idea of “sincere” design with only a single main line visible in most scenes with a view blocker down the middle of the peninsula and curved backscenes and layout fascias.

The Limerick & North Kerry section of the line between Barnagh and Abbeydorney appeared to be the best choice to model a section of the line in station order with two medium sized and two small but interesting stations.




The main potential drawback of the design is the length of hidden trackage and the use of hidden staging is more suitable for fixed formation train workings rather than traditional loose formation passenger and goods trains.

The goods loop at Barnagh was mainly used as a refuge to for the crossing of goods trains and to allow shunting to take place clear of the main line. Baragh was also a cumpulsary stop for pinning down the handbrakes of loose coupled goods trains before descending the bank to Abbeyfeale or Newcastle slowing down the pace of operation. I have squeezed in both Abbeyfeale and Listowel on the peninsula both stations are long and narrow and seem to have been reasonably busy with freight up to the early 70s. Up to the ending of through freight operation, goods traffic seems to have mainly between Listowel and intermediate stations to Limerick with lighter traffic westwards towards Tralee, with Listowel, Newcastle and Abbeyfeale most important in terms of traffic.

In GSR days Abbeyfeale was the terminus of a mid afternoon passenger working from Limerick and the terminus of a three times weekly pick-up goods from Tralee after the line over Barnagh closed to regular traffic. The distance between Abbeyfeale and Listowel could be extended by stopping a train in section between the two stations. Listowel was the most important intermediate station on the Western part of the line and one time junction with the Listowel and Ballybunnion monorail for someone wanting an extreme challenge. Shunting both station could be quite involved with in each one long siding used for all goods traffic. While the yard was not modernised as part of Railplan 80 block fertiliser trains operated from Tralee to Listowel and forklifts would have been used for unloading. Although regular passenger traffic was light and ended in 1963 specials operated for the Listowel Races, Knock specials and other events into the early 70s.

I have included Abbeydorney as I griced the station in 78, it was the terminus for beet train operation in the lines final year and used as the run round for Westbound traffic from Ardfert which did not have a run round loop. It might be possible to squeeze in a siding between Abbeydorney and Listowel to handle the tar traffic for the Kerry County Council depot at Lixnaw.


In order to maximise the length of run the main line is essentially a combination of the folded figure of 8 and dogbone, with a flyover arrangement with the line between the Tralee end of the hidden staging and Abbeydorney crossing over the Abbeydorney-Listowel section rather than by a grade crossing more typical of the American Mid West



While there are no rtr Irish N scale models reasonable 3D printed A, C & 141 diesels typically used on the north are available through Shapeways. The models appear to be designed to fit on the excellent Lifelike EMD Switcher and SD9 chassis, repainted BR Graham Farish or Peco rolling stock would pass muster for passenger and goods trains, personally I use Microtrains (Kadee) couplers in preference to the typical Rapido N gauge coupler though the conversion may be something of a mission given the size and amount of goods stock needed for a layout of this nature.

At this stage I am not sure whether or not I would opt to model an Irish railway in N, working in 21mm gauge a less ambitious scheme possible a small portable layout may be more realistic, though its mighty tempting to dust off the American N Gauge and use the basic layout plan for a railroad into some County in a remote part of upstate New York or New England with mill towns and lake resorts called Abbeyfeale and Listowel..


The tendency for modellers to organise conventions rather than exhibitions is probably the greatest difference in the way the hobby is organised between the UK and Ireland on one hand and North America, Australasia. The local model railway clubs hosted this years National Convention over 180 delegates attended with American guest speaker Lance Mindheim http://www.shelflayouts.com/, together with workshops and clinics on various aspects of railway modelling including layout planning, operation, scenery, 3D design, and the old stalwarts of scratch and kit building in styrene and metal.


Along with demonstration layouts, numerous trade stands the highlights of the convention included a modelling competition with a special section for the local fauna and bird life. .


Curiously Irish railway modelling got a look in I volunteered my American-ish garden railway to represent large scale modelling, and with Keadue my Cavan & Leitrim layout moved out to the garage in case the weather broke.


The forecast for the weekend was bad with a storm hitting on Wednesday evening finally clearing around dusk on Thursday followed by a frantic track clearing session removing a dustbin load of palm fronds and fallen branches.


Friday turned out good with guest operators running steam and on board battery power while I acted as tour guide. Sunday was challenging running a combination of battery and DCC outside between the squalls and running a tour of the workshop and demonstrating Keadue.




In all we had something like 150 people view the garden and workshop. Somehow or other I felt going back to work on Tuesday very relaxing


As we have looked at most of the main line stations on the North Kerry, I thought we might as well look at the North Kerry Yard in Tralee and the Fenit branch, both were important in terms of beet traffic and the North Kerry yard continued to handle keg and container traffic after the main line closed.


The GSWR and the North Kerry originally had separate stations on either side of Edward Street the connecting line and level crossing was a late addition, the North Kerry station closed several years after the GSWR absorbed the WLWR.


Apart from the ESSO sidings and the private siding into the mill there seems to have been little change since WLWR days.


The WLWR engine shed and turntable appears to have been on the north side of the line on the western side of Edward Street.


There appears to have been a large goods shed on the loading bank that was later used for loading sugar beet traffic a 16t gantry was installed for container traffic in the 1960s. I griced the year with my brand new Instamatic camera in 77or 78. Rock Street cabin was still manned although traffic to Fenit and Listowel had ceased.


A couple of flat wagons with keg containers and a CIE Insulated container were positioned on the gantry road, a large number of H wagons were placed on the sidings on either side of the running road and loop. Interestingly a couple of wagons were on the mill siding.


I checked out Fenit, Ardfert and Abbeydorney the following day, when got back the yard was largely clear of wagons. Heuston-Tralee was the last freight service to go over to Liner Train operation in 79 or 80. A coupling broke on the last loose coupled goods out of Heuston with most of the train running away down the Gullet into the passenger station.




The Fenit branch was sponsored and built by Tralee interests as an alternative to the Ship Canal, before the opening of the Leibherr crane factory the port was never very successful depending on coal and timber traffic for local merchants. The port struggled to raise capital to maintain or renew infrastructure, the port closed to commercial traffic due to structural problems with the pier causeway and was famous in the 60s for using steam cranes to load Leibherr Tower Cranes for export.


The line was originally worked by the W&L using a contractors tank loco that was re-gauged from standard gauge, the Harbour Commissioners later bought a standard Hunslet industrial 0-6-0ST which became GSWR 299 which was later used on the Cork Harbour sidings and the Timoleague & Courtmacsharry in West Cork.


CIE looked at using 299 or No90 or 100 but used an ex MGWR 0-6-0T 560 surplus from the Waterford & Tramore. 560 was used up to 1963 after which a G611 or E401 was used from Tralee. The G appears to have been used to move cuts of wagons between the pier and station for collection by a C Class or other loco sent from Tralee.


Rail traffic from the pier seems to have got sparse the last train is said to have been for a ship load of starch diverted from another port in the early 70s.


The line seems to have been busiest for beet with most of the traffic from Spa the wagons would have had to be brought to Fenit to run round.


The buildings at Fenit appear to have been similar to Ardfert and other smaller North Kerry Stations, the station building appears to have been demolished following the end of regular passenger services, the goods shed later demolished to extend the beet loading bank. The loco shed and turntable had gone by the 1970s, but the footbridge with very attractive stonework and the base of the water tank survives.


Fenit was famous for its self propelled steam cranes which were used into the mid 1960s, I am not sure if they were capable of moving wagons, but one of the photos in A J O'Rourkes North Kerry book shows a crane parked at the end of the platform road by the buffer stops with a number positioned on the pier.


The pier would make an interesting tabeau especially with a small tank loco or a G and a couple of self propelled cranes scuttling about. Perhaps the Jordan Steam Shovel (rigged as a crane) on a Black Beetle motor bogie.


My interest in Irish railways was pretty much ingrained in childhood experience, my grandfather on the mothers side was a driver on the Midland but had died before my time, in the 60s railway did not exactly have a positive image breakdowns and line closures, a sunday afternoon walk over pat of the Meath Line before it was lifted. Ours was very much a car family but got the occasional squint over the railway wall when we were driving somewhere, despite this I got interested in model trains, and persisted even if my parents hoped I would grow out of it


The thin end of the wedge was when I persuaded my mother to buy a copy of Model Railway News in 66 or 67, there was no putting the genie back in the bottle.


The first Irish Layout that really inspired me was Malahide and Dromin Junction it was on display in the Kilkenny Shop in Nassau Street, around the same time I started reading the works of Iain Rice I could not et anything to work but his writing as like a breath of fresh air


Around the same time an article on Castle Rackrent appeared in the Modeller a minimum space WLWR broad gauge layout, which later morphed into something much bigger about 100'. I even got to see the original while living in Scotland.


A couple of years ago I was surprised that 30 years later he layout is still going strong and regularly operated


Time I stopped musing and did something to get something running I have a trio of Murphy Models B141s an AEC railcar set built from Worsley Works parts and a few kit built coaches, wagons and vans.


Looking at steam the Lines North & West of Limerick were mainly worked by J15s with small 4-4-0s & MGWR locos appearing North of Limerick.


I have a pair of J15s, a Midland Tank, some GNR locos plus some kits stashed away. All need some work control will probably stay analogue. Most of these kits were assembled 15-20 years ago the dilemma is whether to concentrate m energies on building new models to current best practice design or my existing loco stock.


Although Abbeyfeale was a much smaller town than Newcastle or Listowel the station seems to have been reasonably important in terms of traffic serving as a railhead or a large area of North Kerry and West Limerick, at one time there were even plans for narrow gauge feeder lines to serve the town and villages south of the man line. During GSR days in addition to the three daily through passenger trains Abbeyfeale was the terminus off a daily passenger train from Limerick. The working was unusual by GSR standards worked by a tank loco and involving bunker first running as Abbeyfeale did not have a turntable.


Abbeyfeale again acted as a terminus for a short while in the early 70s when regular operation over Barnagh ceased and the Limerick-Tralee goods trains were replaced by trice weekly trip workings from Limerick to Newcastle and Tralee to Abbeyfeale. Operation over Barnagh resumed and Abbeyfeale was served from Limerick for a short period following a bridge strike at the western end of the station. There is a photo of a supertrain livery B201 hauling one of these trains through Ballingarne in AJ O'Rourke's North Kerry book. Traffic to Abbeyfeale appears to have ceased with the ending of sundries traffic some time before official closure.



The buildings and structures at both stations appear to be to a standard design for small stations on the North Kerry, including, Barnagh, Devon Road, Lixnaw and simply shouts out North Kerry. Abbeydorney originally had just a single siding the goods loop appears to have been added in GSWR days to break up the long section between Listowel and Tralee.


Loads were restricted to 25 wagons between Tralee and Ardfert with heavier loads allowed westward to Tralee. A high beet loading bank appears to added in CIE days allowing beet to be tipped directly into wagons, Abbeydorney a loading ramp and possibly a mechanical shovel may have been have been used for loading beet from ground level bins. The ramp could only be used by one vehicle and was too steep for a truck or tractor and trailer.


Signalling at Abbeydorney was interesting, while most of the shunting signals from the loop to the main line were probably the original with an upright revolving lamp housing, movements from the yard to the main line were controlled by a modern(ish) disc signal on a standard GSR/CIE galvanised steel post. from memory the disc was a disc rather than the square pattern often used by CIE.


Next episode I will look at my most likely 4mm plan a simple U shaped design with two stations and an N gauge double decker walk around design to fit a similar space.


A brief look at the eastern end of the "main line" the busiest section of the North Kerry between Carey's Road and Ballingarne. Definitely worth including this section of the line possibly including both Patrickswell & Ballingarne in an American style possibly two level "walk around" style layout.


The stations buildings on the original Limerick & Foynes line at Patrickswell, Adare and Askeaton are to a common attractive cut stone design, the track layouts very simple. Patrickswell and Adare closed to freight in 1974, the signal cabin closed in 83, Knock Pilgrimage and GAA specials continued to call into the late 1980s. A crippled CIE 20t brake and a GNR standard van with one end pulled out seems to have been permanent features until the siding was removed in the early 1980s.




Adare looking west.


Patrickswell was the junction between the North Kerry and Croom Branch or more grandly named Cork-Limerick Direct Railwayt line from Charlesville originally a GSWR stalking horse to access Limerick the CLDR had running powers over the W&L to Carey' Road Junction where the GSWR had its own separate goods yard which handled freight traffic for Cork and Kerry, Guinnes, Grain & catte until the end of loose coupled freight.


The station layout at Patrickswell was odd in that the Croom Branch and North Kerry were worked as two separate single lines through the station, no crossover was provided at the western end between the two lines, crossing two North Kerry or Croom Branch trains involved a shunt.


The Croom branch lost its passenger service in the 1930, but the line remained an important freight link until Limerick Junction was re-modelled in 1967. The Croom Line had a nightly freight service to and from Cork, plus Castlemunget-Cork cement specials. Patrickswell closed






The platform is a good example of Irish railway approach to regulation low and without ramps.




A glimpse of Newcaste with the one time rather church like entrance to the station platform




View along the platform from the stop block, difficult to guess what is original & what is re production. Terrance of houses on the right are on the site of the Goods shed and yard. North Kerry Yard was on the left hand side behind the station building.


Next piece we will look at common features among larger North Kerry & Burma Road stations and a possible design for the layout.


Well David got me thinking. Newcastle West another station with an unusual track layout, there are a number of photos in A J O'Rourke's book and the news section of the IRRS Journal from the early mid 70s I had a look around but did not take any photos before the track was lifted in the 1980s.



Originally built as a simple terminus by the Rathkeale & Newcastle Junction Railway in the late 1860s, it became a junction when the Limerick & North Kerry opened its line to Tralee in 1880.


The original station appears to have been a simple single platform branch terminus with a turntable and loco shed at the end of the running road and a single siding serving the good shed and loading bank. The single platform appears to have been extended and a second loop added for the opening of the Tralee line. This would have allowed two passenger or mixed trains to use the platform in a similar manner to Waterford. The diamond crossing arrangement across the down? running line to the goods yard was a fairly common W&L arrangement, Listowel had a similar crossover from the Up Main to the goods yard up to closure.






The "North Kerry Yard" with a second platform road run round and turntable appear to have been added in the mid 1880s to allow longer trains to cross.


The layout was later simplified with Up & Down main running along the platform and the diamond crossing and second loop removed, the down Home Signal from Limerick is now the down Home at Dromad on the C&L.


Some re-signalling may have been carried out when the wooden signal cabin was replaced with a GSR/CIE hipped roofed block built cabin in the mid 50s.


In CIE days the running line on the East side of the station appears to have been treated as the main line with the North Kerry Yard as a bay platform. The crossover near to the twin bridges at the Limerick & Tralee end of the station was laid out for reasonably high speed running, the crossover at the end of the platform much sharper.


Passenger trains continued to run over Barnagh up to 73 with specials from Dublin & Limerick to the Listowel Races and Knock and seaside excursion trains. One special was made up to 14 coaches double headed by B141s with a relief loco sent to assist the run round at Abbeyfeale.


The line had a brief resurgence in freight before closure Newcastle was the railhead for steel traffic for ESB in connection with transmission lines from Tarbert Power station. ESB leased the North Kerry Yard and both yards are chock full of open wagons in photos from that period.


The final traffic appears to have been meat in containers from Rathkeale, cement and fertiliser to Newcastle. A couple of Back to Back fertiliser specials operated in the last few months, before closure. The last train delivered a H van of cement and returned with 55 empty wagons to Limerick.


I haven't space for Newcastle but it would make an interesting major station on an American basement empire style layout with Abbeyfeale or Listowel or maybe both as secondary main line stations. Richard Chowan did much the same with his Castlerackrent, Moygraney and Western an O Scale WLWR broad gauge modular layout with models of several North Kerry & Burma Road stations.


I have been kicking around ideas for a layout for a good few years, but always seem to have moved just as I got things started. I have reasonable space in a convert garage 18X10 for a layout in OO or N, but a bit tight for anything other than a small terminus to fiddle yard effort in 21mm gauge.


Having dabbled I American modelling I wanted something interesting to operate than watching trains go round and round or a loco shunting a small terminus. Although I prefer the Midland the Burma Road & North Kerry keep cropping up.


If I was still working in N I would probably go for an American style walk around possibly multi-level scheme with several stations modelling the main line from Patrickswell through Newcastle to Abbeyfeale.


Given space and time working in 4mm a remote county station with a simple track layout would be a better proposition, Barnagh fits the bill in terms of simplicity and remoteness with a few interesting twists that lifts it out of the ordinary.




Barnagh was the highest point on the CIE system at the summit of a steeply graded (by Irish standards) sections from Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. Train loadings were severely restricted over Barnagh a J15 was allowed 40 wagons from Limerick to Newcastle but 25 Westwards to the summit with similar restrictions on East bound trains from Abbeyfeale.


The yard at Barnagh was designed so shunting could take place clear of the running line and allow loose coupled goods trains to be remarshaled if it as necessary to divide a heavy goods train and "double the hill" if a banking locomotive was not available.


Curiously the A, B & C Class diesels were similarly restricted to 25 wagons but this was eased with the introduction of the 30T brake vans in the 1960s.


Run-aways were a potential problem and all loose coupled goods were required to stop and "pin down" the brakes on at least 10 wagons (more in bad weather) before descending the hill in either direction.


The North Kerry line seems to have been reasonably busy up to the Emergency with 3

Limerick-Tralee, 1 Limerick-Abbeyfeale return passenger trains, a daily goods, plus overloads and specials. Through trains were worked by J15s with ex WLWR & GSWR 4-4-2T & 0-4-4T on the Abbeyfeale service.


Most passenger trains on secondary lines conveyed urgent van traffic, the Abbeyfeale passenger train may have acted as an overload for the daily goods moving traffic between Newcastle and Abbeyfeale and saving on the cost of having a banker and loco crew available in Newcastle.


Next step might be to look at some of the bigger stations on the North Kerry


During the past few weeks I have mainly been catching up on a backlog of other projects mainly loco work in various scales before starting work on the layout as such.


Keeping to a Midland or GSWR secondary line theme a dozen yards of Code 70 fb rail, wooden sleepers and spikes arrived, followed by a session of pretend cresoting using Carr's sleeper stain before reaslising an acrylic wood stain would be more effective and economic.


The sleepers are 1.8mm stripwood rather than ply which should give an interesting full depth sleeper effect, I am planning to follow American practice and spike down the fb rails rather than solder and printed circuit board, bullhead will be on Carrs chairs of course.


I also framed the baseboard on the opposite side of the workshop which gives me a u shaped area approximately 17'X11' for the railway.


The shed is a converted garage with a roller shutter door at one end which I hope to replace with a wall and doorway when fund allow hopefully at some stage next year.


I have actually managed to do some work on the layout building a traverser for a fiddle yard at one end using plywood and drawer sliders from the local DIY shop.


I am starting to re-use track from a 21mm gauge layout I started a couple of years ago for the traverser and hidden trackage with the fancy stuff on the visible sections.


I am looking at two single lines one in bullhead the other in fb running from the traverser into a station to give the impression of a junction between two separate companies as an excuse to mix GNR and CIE locos and stock.


Nothing much to physically show at this stage I looked at the pros & cons of most Burma Road stations on Waiheke Island ferry shortly after Easter http://www.waiheke.co.nz/ I basically had a 10 minute job on the Island but it took most of the day to get there and back.


I have had a play with Templot tried some of the tutorials before having a go at Ballymoe on the Mayo Line before starting serious track planning.




All I can say is that the programme takes a bit of getting used too! I once started a layout based on Ballymoe the main advantage was the simple tracklayout and its on a straight. The programme is intended for producing templates rather than layout planning as such. I will draw out a basic layout plan on Cad then import it into Templot then prepare the templates which will be used for building the actual track.


Rail is in stock, a shipment of C&L chairs have arrived from the UK, and plywood sleepers are on order, so I better get cracking.




I have finally started work on the new layout, maybe it was because of Patricks Day :cheers:maybe it was the end of the drought, anyway apart from listening to U Tube clips of Sharon Shannon most of Sunday was spent framing and setting up baseboards, I had already set up the board for the backscene at after Christmas.




Having got so far I threw down some ply on top of the framing to get a feel for the first stage of the layout. I looked initially at Kiltimagh compact and family connections, but Tubbercurry with the line curving away towards Sligo looks tempting.


The trackbed will be supported on risers above the main basebord framing with the line curving away on a low embankment posssibly across bogland towards a bridge with low hills in the background.


The Railcar is basically standing at the platform the goods on the main line with the goods yard in the middle distance behind the loco.


I had a play with Templot next stage is to do a rough sketch of the layout and transfer it to Templot. Things are looking up I have been promised a 3 Point track gauge & I have ordered some chairs from C&L




An interesting couple of weeks converting the office to a guest room served as a spur to get things sorted out on the Narrow Gauge layout and move most of the work shop items out to the work shop strange that ;).


Some interesting things turned up long lost drill sets and other tools together with odd pieces of rolling stock.


The Narrow Gauge layout originally ran across the top of a computer desk and scanner printer.


Eye level is great in theory but it was difficult to work on and you could not see the trains when they passed into the cutting beside the engine shed.


I dropped the layout down cutting a recess in the baseboard for the printer, replaced and painted the fascia.




We might even have a C&L engine back in service soon No 8 can manage the curves on the Tramway after modifying the bogie to a swing link arrangement, she is a tad faster than the Dingle locos having the same drive but larger driving wheels.




One of the next jobs is to motorise or at least get the turntable working, it started life 9 years ago as a Peco N Scale table was converted to 3' gauge then got a replacement Peco HOm deck. The signal is built from Model Signal Company then Sprat & Winkle parts bought at the Brighton exhibition after my first week working in London in 1986.




Cattle special leaving town the buildings are built from Wills material packs, the shed roof is from a Ratio coal shed kit, the signal cut down SSM.


I have used Micro trains N Scale couplers but I am looking at Kadee HOn3 as the operation is not reliable enough.




I had great plans to strat building baseboards and finishing various modelling projects over the holidays but ended up painting windows and making a set of doors for a shed started over a year ago.


The modelling highlight was testing out some 21mm stock over the Christmas mainly adjusting Kadee couplers and getting the AEC railcar set running.


Having gotten over that bit of excitement there was a major move in shifting the 4mm dock layout to the shed and moving the N Scale American from storage in the shed into its place in the office.




This was intended to be a temporary set up but could make a nice layout with some tweeking, I never got to properly display the diner and filling station on the old N gauge in Ireland.


Then move some of the 4mm stock into a new display case (Christmas present from wife) in the office.




I am not sure how this will fit in with the idea of a small station on the borders of Mayo and Sligo, a bit too similar to the American layout, possibly a scenic fiddle yard?




The fit out of the railway room/workshop is going well with most of the trackwork complete to the G Scale storage sidings and the 21mm test track.


The 21mm test track is basically a section of double track with a crossover and a short section of track with a reverse curve to detect buffer/gangway locking locos and bogie coaches.


The curved track varies between 2'6" & 3' and the crossover is an A5 (approx 3' radius) which would generally only be used where space is tight.




The test of the pudding pushing a rake of wagons through the crossover The track is a mixture of Atlas Code 82 and Peco Code 75 flatbottom rail soldered to copper clad sleepers. Next stage wire up the crossover and try out with a loco :trains: hopefully everything stays on.


The wagons are a mixture of scratch and modified Parkside kits




Standard CIE covered H Van (red oxide) and ex-GNR Bagged Cement (dark grey) both from the Parkside BR Plywood sided van kit.


The CIE van is supposed to be a fitted van hence clasp brake shoes and should have handwheels to apply the hand brakes.


The CIE van body were subtly different to the BR version with plywood ends, different strapping and self contained buffers (MJT).




Not my best efforts :o scratchbuit CIE 20T brake and KN long cattle both overdue for replacement. The brake is mainly plasticard with whitemetal Kenline strapping which is alas no longer available.


I am getting to the layout planning phase I am looking more at the Burma Road than the T&C both because of greater variety of stock and operation and I probably have enough suitable locos and stock to model both steam and diesel operation, though I need to add some Midland locos.


The stations tend to be more compact with less sprawl and simpler buildings and structures than the Midland, I am thinking in terms of fitting in two stations possibly based on Kiltimagh and Charlestown with end to end or continuous run operation, but I need to do some thorough testing of locos and stock first.




Home for the Railway 3

The building work is nearly complete I fitted a pair of windows, finished most of the internal capentry and painting the walls over a long weekend last week. There is still some external work to complete but at last we are getting into longer days drier weather.



5:37 pm 3X2 treated framing in place.



8:30 pm tracks 1&2 fixed in place 3&4 roughly in position.


The Irish layout hopefully will be U shaped with the track approximatley 4' above floor level to give a partial eye level view, the big question is whether to continue in 4mm on 21mm gauge or try 7mm Scale those Tirconnell loco and coach kits are mighty tempting.


I am planning to carry out trials in the next few weeks to see how my locos cope with curves and grades, 3' is probably the minimum for 21mm tender loco with bogie stock though I dont know how my kit built locos will handle grades.


If its successfull I am thinking in terms of a multi level layout to get a decent length of run.




This week was mainly spent preparing and lining the walls on two sides. While there was little sign of rot or insect attack I got a nasty shock when one side of a stud broke away while I was nailing in bridging or nogs to support the bottom edge of the plaster board. Treated the area around the affected stud for borer (similar to woodworm) but otherwise very little sign of attack. My basic reasoning is that if the garage has survived for 80 years it will probably last longer than a modern building with a design life of 15-20 years.





Ready for lining the timber is probably rimu a very slow growing hardwood that was once widly used for just about everything, very durable unless subject to constant damp.


The garage probably dates from the 1920 no bridging, I installed nogs to support the edges of the sheets.




Sunday Afternoon GIB fixed and joints taped two sides. Fixing the boards horizontally is a good time and timber saver for lining older buildings with framing at imperial centres and cuts down on the amount of taping and jointing.


The square opening in the far end is for the connecting track from the garden railway, the Irish Layout will be based out immediately above basically along the horizontal joint in the plasterboard. I am looking at a metal stud shelving system

with adjustable shelf brackets.




Next weeks challenge to clear this and get ready for wall lining. Its mainly a mixture of baseboard framing, G Scale track, fixings and goods knows what.




New Home for the railway

Despite a burst of activity in May and June I have done very little on the modelling front in recent months, not sure whether or what but things were just not conductive to modelling.


When we moved to Hamilton I initially concentrated on the garden railway to get something running but had no permanent home for my Irish Models.


We initially planned to build a new hobby room/studio as the garage appeared to be in poor condition and all the rooms in the house in use.


I set up a temporary storage yard and shelving for the G Scale in the garage and negotiated a space for my workbench in a spare bedroom and eventually the office.


I unearthed and started to work on a narrow gauge layout started in Auckland and to build a broad gauge layout on a bookshelf.


The narrow gauge occupies two sides of the room above a computer desk and you neary need scaffolding to access the storage/display shelves above the layout.


So maybe the problem was more to do with the lack of a proper layout room than anything else Kirleys shed inspired me so maybe it was time to have a close look at the garage.


Although the garage was leaning over at an angle and the floor was damp, most of the framing and weatherboard was sound, my tools and electronic equipment stored there were showing no ill effects of damp


The big advantage of timber over brick and block is that its easy to level and repair an old structure.


The wooden piles that supported the framing had rotted away causing one side to sink and the whole structure to lean over. Levelling the garage and replacing the piles was fairly simple, the biggest problem was that the ground was waterlogged after two months of heavy rain (St Swittan?) when I was replacing the piles it was basically a race against time to dig out, install and concrete the pile before the hole filled up with water.


The repairs were simple enough the biggest job was moving everything out and putting it into storage.


At this stage I have installed a false ceiling and started to line the walls with plasterboard, with 3-4 weeks work to complete.


This should give me a room approximately 17' 6" x 11' mainly for railway use and a workshop.


The basic idea is to have the G Scale storage sidings on one side with a U shaped Irish layout on the next layer at a height of approx 4' and storage shelving display cases above and a workbench in the middle.


I hope to base the Irish layout on the Burma Road or North Kerry from early CIE days up to closure/end of traditional freight working, getting some track down should be a good incentive to sort out the running with my locos and stock.


The only confounder is to find a space for ladders, powertools etc without having to build an extra shed ;)


I tried to bore everyone to death on the old Newsgroup with a series of threads about a small Narrow Gauge layout I started eight years ago as "quicky" project to maintain interest when we first moved to New Zealand.


I have been working on the current phase for two years and last night I finally got something moving :banana: my little Bemo Tractor http://www.bemo-modellbahn.de/produkte/schweizer-bahnen-h0m.html?tx_userbemocatalogue_rubriclist%5Bitem%5D=182&tx_userbemocatalogue_rubriclist%5Baction%5D=show&tx_userbemocatalogue_rubriclist%5Bcontroller%5D=Item&cHash=d92143e96b8cec56fbf9375ebd7b014c




The basic idea is to model a fictional extenssion of the Cavan & Leitrim in its final years complete with decrepit locos and stock.


The mainstay of the loco fleet are a pair of Dingle 2-6-0T and a pair of C&L 4-4-0T backed up by a pair of Donegal railcars and said Bemo Tractor.


Before leaving Ireland I had fitted the two Dingle engines with DCC Decoders which seemed to work fine, but prooved too unreliable so back to DC control on this one.


I finally finished the wiring on the two station sections plugged in the controller and action, the Dingle engines made it from one end of the line to another but for some reason would only push not pull a train. Time to have a serious look at the pick ups.


The railcars faired even worse, one an Anbrinco whitemetal model of the final Donegal caars 19 &20 with a butchered Fleischmann drive refused to run at all, so I have placed an order for a new Bull-Ant drive from Australia.


The motor of the other car a Backwoods Miniatures model of the earlier No14 literally went up in puff of smoke, which did not appear to bad after nearly 20 years, but the replacement motor was nearly 1/3 the cost of a Bull-Ant.


All appeared well when I fitted and tested the replacement motor, but later noticed the drive would sometimes jam.


The Backwoods chassis is similar in principal to the Bull-Ant and old Minitrains OO9 drive a near bullet proof system, where with spur reduction gearing between the motor and a layshaft that transmits the final drive to the wheels.


On closer inspection the lay shaft was flapping around between the frames, one of the bearings that supports the shaft had come loose and wore an oval slot in the ssupporting frame spacer, maybe I wouldd have been better to order another Bull-Ant or take up stamp collecting.


At thiss stage the tractor is the only thing that runss reliably I am not sure to dresss it up as one of the GSR Drewry Railcars http://www.worsleyworks.co.uk/Image-Pages/Image_NG_Irish_WCR.htm or possibly something like Phoenix http://www.madeinpreston.co.uk/Road/atkinsonsteam.html


Modified RTR Dapol/Mainline Tank Wagon


Probably the crudest conversion I wanted a couple of traditional Private Owner tank wagons the only problem was the need to cut the chassis in two!




Crude as ! runs fine not sure what i will do with this one.


Parkside wagon Conversions


SSM & the S4 Society introduced W irron assemblies suitable for 21mm gauge in the mid 1990s together with frets for the traditional Irish single shoe wagon brake.



Cattle wagon chassiss with SSM W Irons & MJT axleboxes and springs.


These wagons are permanently coupled in pairs with automatic couplers at the ends, due to their short length these wagons have a tendency to accidentally uncouple when propelled over an uncoupling magnet, coupling these wagons together in pair with 3 link couplers basically eliminates the problem.



Ian Suter MGWR Open


Ex GNR Bagged Cement Wagon all went to CIE the main difference between the British and irish vans was the absence of end ventilators on the Irish wagons and different brake gear, the Irish wagons were unfitted with independent either side brakes.



The Pallet Wagon CIE last new traditional wagon design used for sundries traffic, a lot of detail difference between batches in door and end design



GSR/CIE 10T Open

Scratchbuilt in plasticard with etched brass and whitemetal strappings and angle iron details. Built around 93-4 the body is basically an open topped plasticard box, with the planking scribed using an Offra cutter, after nearly 20 years there is no sign of the plasticard warping or twisting, but the superglue bond between the brass and plasticard parts are breaking down.



Hornby bogie with plasticard bolster

Probably the simplest and most effective flexible bogie. The bogie performs in a similar manner to the BR Loadmaster and American 3 Piece bogie in that the bolster takes up the movement between the side frames.


The plasticard bolster has stood up to about 15 years use, I have also converted Lima MK3s to 21mm using KS Metal brass strip as a bolster.


I have never attempted a blog before, GSWR101s thread seems to have stirred up considerable interest in the practical side of 21mm gauge modelling so I though I would write up my experience with rolling stock conversions and leave the locos to a later date.


I first tried my hand in 21mm in the early 1980s but it took about 10 years to develop the necessary experience to achieve half decent results.



I was an MRSI member, some of the more influential members were starting to modify or scratchbuild Irish locos and stock but most of the more senior modellers were interested in the Big Four, American or Continental railway.


At the time the standard of British rtr just did not compare in detail or running quality with Fleischmann, Trix, Liliput, Marklin or even Athearn.


Having a contrary nature scratchbuilding and doing your own thing appealed more than following the crowd and my pocket did not stretch beyond buying plaasticard and the odd Lima Loco.;)


There was very little information or models available at the time Tim Cramer published a series of articles and drawings in Model Railways, the occasional drawing and article appeared in the Modeller and Constructor.


Around this time articles on Richard Chowns O Scale WLWR layout, Iain Rice's series on Tregarrick and the original Advaoyle prompted me to have a go in 21mm.


Little or no information was available on wheel or track standards at the time Tim Cramer quoted a 19.5 wheel B-B dimension in an article in the moddeller in the 1970s, David Malone produced a detailed how to article on modelling to S4 Standards in Practical Model Railways.


I work to use a set of TMD 21mm gauges with a B-B of 19.5 with EM profile wheel sets although 19.3 is recommended to deal with Romford/Jackson and other coarser wheel profiles allowable in EM.


There were few suitable kits and no rtr models available, Terry McDermott introduced a MGWR tank loco kit and the Model Wagon Company Ardrossan a GNR(I) cattle wagon. Des McNally started to introduce the range of MIR whitemetal kits of then contemporary wagons a bit modern for the late 1950-60s period.


My first train was made up of an ex MGWR Achill Bogie with a Lima 4F tender drive, & a pair of ex MGWR coaches all in plastciard very pretty but it did not run very well or even stay on the track.


Suitable axles and suspension units were not available at the time, wheel sets ran in home made inside bearings, wheels were simply pushed out on their axles to the correct Back to Back.


Most of my locos and stock are fitted with EM or NMRA RP 25 profile wheelsets, however, I have a few vehicles with the very good solid brass Jackson wheels supplied with Parkside kits, Bachmann and an odd profile brass wheel supplied with PC Coach Kits, thanks to John Rednup I cleared out Puffer's stock of these wheels at a substantial discount in 1988.:D


For me the big break through was Mike Sharmans huge range of loco, bogie and tender wheels all supplied with extended axles which the user cut to length.


I could at least build 21mm locos that could run even if they looked pretty bad :banana:


Suitable coach and wagon wheels were still a major problem although Alan Gibson advertised 21mm wheel sets with 28mm axles, he does not appear to have been prepared to supply, however Ultrascale supply their excellent wheels in 21mm to S4 or EM tyre profile.


Another way around the problem is to cut and sleeve a standard 26mm axle with 2mm ID brass tube from Eilleen's Emphorium.



Hornby Stanier bogie with .060" bolster, PC wheelsets axles sleeved with 2mm brass tubing



The nasty bit Dapol solebars packed out with 1mm plasticard



The break through in 21mm modelling came with the introduction of by the S4 Society and Studio Scale Models or suitable W Iron assemblies.


MJT produce a very usefull inside bearing unit originally designed for fitting compensation to RTR Models http://www.dartcastings.co.uk/mjt/2291.php




Ratio LNWR open converted to 21mm with MJT inside bearing units I think the wheelss are Gibson or Magib OO or EM wheelsets pushed out to a 19.5 Back to Back


MJT also produce a coach compensation unit that can be adjusted out to 21mm gauge.



MJT CCU packed out to 21mm

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