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The delights of 7mm narrow gauge

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David Holman

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Following Tony's requests in Q&A recently, I promised to share some of my earlier narrow gauge stuff. Though the theme was Kentish, quite a bit of the stock was Irish inspired, though almost all of it was actually freelance. The High Weald Light Railway was created as a 'common carrier', very much on the principles of the Donegal, West Clare etc. It was built to 16.5mm [00] gauge, using hand made points and Peco plain track. There was also a 9mm gauge feeder line, representing 18" track.

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The pictures are all 'photos of photos', so apologies for the quality, as the layout was built in the early 1990s, indeed it featured in Railway Modeller a couple of times, including June 1991. The first picture was my first 7mmNG engine, based on a Clogher Valley tank. This was because I used a Lima 08 diesel shunter chassis [with the pancake motor], so the boxy outline covered the mechanism nicely. Being outside framed, the chassis leant itself nicely to narrow gauge & by undoing the middle crankpin nut, I was able to add outside cylinders and piston rods. Bodywork was all plastikard, with the chimney made by sawing a 4mm scale chimney in half and extending it with brass tube. Couplings, as per the rest of the stock were Kadee number 5s.

The second photo is of the Sierra Leone Hunslet 0-6-2T that ended up on the Welshpool and Llanfair. A Vulcan etched brass kit, it was my first attempt at outside valve gear & taught me a lot. Lovely kit and with a Portescap motor it ran like a dream.

The third loco was an 0-6-2T, loosely based on Irish outline, though I forget which, that used another Lima chassis, this time the GWR 2-6-2T. Plastic body as before.

Picture 4 shows my first NG coach. Plastic sheet and strip on a Wrenn parcels van chassis

 

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Picture 5 shows the second coach, again a tramway balcony end, but this time a bogie, using the Ratio bogie ore wagon chassis. The sides weren't wasted, I got two open wagons from them! Next comes the 9mm gauge engine, a Peco white metal kit based on one of the Horwich Works locos. It ran on one of the Ibertren Cuckoo chassis - though never very well, it must be said. There a second photo of this tiny engine, as well.

The other pictures show Anchor Wharf 1, which was built for a Club layout. Based on a Castlederg & Victoria Bridge style, it used an old Hornby 0-6-0 chassis, hidden under the skirts. In the photos, you can also see some of the wagons. These mainly used Ratio chassis and simple bodies built from plastikard, though note the transporter wagon, based on the Leek and Manifold examples & carrying my first standard gauge 7mm wagon.

I had a lot o fun with this layout, but the baseboards were terrible & after a few years on the local exhibition circuit, it ended up in the rubbish recycling centre, though all the buildings were saved for a later project.

The point of all this is to try and show that 7mm NG is well worth a go. It can take up no more space than a small 4mm layout and by going freelance, you can gain plenty of experience building stuff which nobody can say is wrong - because it never existed in the first place. Commercial chassis are so much better than we had 25 years ago [b****R, is it really that long??], yet can be found cheaply second hand. Not sure we've had much narrow gauge stuff on the website [Mayner excepted], so maybe this might tempt one or two of you to have ago?

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  • WOW! 1
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Thanks Tony and fear not, there are diesels in the follow up layout I built. One based on the then newly released 08 shunter, the other a railcar from an MTK El Crappo (yes, really) kit. Will post in a couple of days as my laptop is having a service.

No problem, I can not wait to see your newer layout with all these! :D

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From my first 7mm NG layout, I then ventured into 7mm standard gauge, with a roadside tramway, based on the Wantage Town track plan. This by the way, scales out at just 7'2" long, full size, in 7mm. However, still had all my NG stock, but with the standard gauge bug well and truly biting, I decided to be quite mercenary and build a small, portable layout that I'd exhibit for a while, then sell, fully stocked, to create space for a new project. The result was Cranbrook Town. A sort of twig off the original Hawkhurst layout, it was much better built. just three baseboards at 3' x 18" [one of which was two thirds fiddle yard], it still holds my personal record for being in the car and on the way home after a show - just 15 minutes!

 

The concept was as before [after all, the stock was largely the same], but used Peco NG track throughout, so was quite quick to build, not least because I re-used several buildings. The layout was set in spring time, enabling me to have a go with a bright palette of colours, including a bluebell wood on the backscene.

New items of stock included a Branchlines Clogher Valley etched brass bogie coach [just bought a new one to go with my new Ragstone loco kit], plus the El Crappo railcar mentioned last time. The latter was a fairly basic set of etches & white metal castings, but being single ended, it needs something else to run with it as there was no room for a turntable on the layout. A new book about the Colonel Stephen's railcars provided the solution. The Selsey Tramway's first railcar ran back to back with a 'rail lorry' - very much in the style of the Clogher's later 'unit'. I made mine from a Corgi Lipton's Tea van, by removing the boxy body and building a low sided replacement. It was unpowered, but did have pick ups to spread collection to the motorised railcar.

The new loco was built around the then just released Dapol [now Hornby] 08 diesel shunter. Remember upsetting the local model shop by saying I didn't care what colour it was as I was going to saw it into pieces when I got home! Splitting the bonnet from the cab & re-arranging things gave a model a bit like one of the West Clare Diesels, but 0-6-0 not bogie. It ran superbly & was a delight to work the pick up goods with. You can also see a further steam loco - this was a Wrightlines kit of a Baldwin 4-6-0T

For me, both layouts sum up the fun that can be had with 7mm NG. It is small enough to fit most places, but nice and chunky as well. Go freelance and you can have a great time using up all those bits and pieces lingering in the spares box, so is about as cheap and cheerful kind of modelling as you can get.

The layout was indeed sold after a couple of years exhibiting & I moved on to standard gauge for the next 15 years before going 'broad' with Arigna Town. However, the wheel is turning again & I am quietly planning a small layout based on Clogher Valley practice to use the new loco kit available & because I also want to have a crack at Railcar 1 [Donegal 10], but not just yet!

 

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Edited by David Holman
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  • 2 months later...

Hi David,

Great to see the High Weald light layouts again, and good to hear that you have come back to 7mm narrow gauge.

You may be interested to know that your original Clogher Valley coach eventually found its way to me and was rebuilt into a pair of brakevans.

All the best,

David Taylor.

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Would I be right in thinking these vans are therefore on the wonderful Charmouth, or is this another DT?

Either way, good to know the coach has found new lives. One of the many joys of 7mmNG is the fun in adapting things.

Planning for a proper Clogher Valley layout is well under way and hope to start building this summer.

Heard a couple of years ago that the standard gauge follow up to High Weald, a roadside tramway called Loose End (also Kent based) found its way to France and the same barn where Ditchling Green resides. Whether they are still there, I have no idea, but it was nice to think the layout was in such good company!

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Would I be right in thinking these vans are therefore on the wonderful Charmouth, or is this another DT?

Either way, good to know the coach has found new lives. One of the many joys of 7mmNG is the fun in adapting things.

Planning for a proper Clogher Valley layout is well under way and hope to start building this summer.

Heard a couple of years ago that the standard gauge follow up to High Weald, a roadside tramway called Loose End (also Kent based) found its way to France and the same barn where Ditchling Green resides. Whether they are still there, I have no idea, but it was nice to think the layout was in such good company!

 

Guilty as charged! Yes I am the DT of Charmouth and Bridport. Not really Irish layouts, but more than a little Irish influence.

The first brakevan is a little way down this page: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/35253-dlts-ng-workbench-upgrading-an-old-hunslet/

 

The second one (supposedly a later rebuild of the first) starts halfway down this page: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/35253-dlts-ng-workbench-upgrading-an-old-hunslet/page-4

 

Hope I will get to see Arigna Town some day.

 

All the best,

Dave.

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Splendid to see my old coach recycled in such a great way, Dave and rather sobering to think that I originally built it over 25 years ago, yet still available today! Those pics on RMweb will be more than useful when I start the next one. Hopefully will make a better job of it this time too. Rumour has it they are selling as well as ever, no doubt due to new Ragstone kit.

For those of you who have not come across Charmouth or Bridport, then pay careful attention. This is 7mm NG at its very best!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...
Hi David,

Great to see the High Weald light layouts again, and good to hear that you have come back to 7mm narrow gauge.

You may be interested to know that your original Clogher Valley coach eventually found its way to me and was rebuilt into a pair of brakevans.

All the best,

David Taylor.

 

... And Cranbrook, with its stock is living with me in Staffordshire.

 

Paul.

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Hi David, Nice to eventually catch up with you.

 

Yes - I have been following your CVR stock build - especially after seeing the Ragstone Models loco advertised. Those coaches are always very nice and look good on any layout.

 

The HWLR now has replaced the coach with two CVR longies and one CVR shortie. However, these are mounted on Bachman On30 coach bogies and have no celestories.

 

It was really nice to see those photos of the stock when 'new'.

It's suffered a little bit over time - especially the locos and I have been sympathetically restoring it.

 

Likewise the layout has needed some work to bring it back up to scratch and reverse some of the other owners' changes.

It still needs some work.

 

I would be interested to know where the SLR 2-6-2 and Baldwin ended up. (Replacements are in hand).

 

 

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More info at http://ngrm-online.com/forums/index.php?/topic/7743-cranbrook-o-165-re-visited/ . You'll have to get an ID to log in.

 

Regards,

Paul.

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Thanks,

I can't lay any claim to the layout - that's David.

 

...but I do have a keen interest in 7mm models of the Indian narrow gauge.

 

The latest model is of a Western Railway 'W' class 0-6-2 Tender loco.

 

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(Ignore the round weight - it's for balancing the overhang with the lack of trailing truck.)

 

Paul.

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You have certainly enhanced the stock Paul. Some lovely stuff there.

I think the Hunslet went to a former Chatham club member, but not sure about the Baldwin. The former was very much my favourite loco. First effort at outside valve gear(all 14ba nuts and bolts) and with an RG4 it ran like a sewing machine.

Anchor Wharf number one was the other end of the spectrum, with a scratch built plastic body on a second hand 0-6-0 chassis. The chimney was from a 4mm GWR King, sawn in two and with a bit of brass tube to keep the bits apart!

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