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The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:20 pm
by toxation
My endeavour to build a narrow gauge layout got a decent boost over the weekend with the acquisition of a Colonial Models (Chivers Finelines) HOn2 ½ nA kit, unbuilt and ready to be tackled. So over the past few weeks I have been planning and deciding what this railway will be a feature of, what trackage it will utilise and where it will be located.

Rather than style it on one of the VR's existing narrow gauge lines, I've decided to create a fictitious railway in a real world setting.

So, onto the nitty gritty...

Motive Power

To begin with, the railway will be powered by a lone nA class locomotive. Most likely 7A.

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Rollingstock

Rollingstock will consist of a variety of ILM kits I have waiting to be built. These are really nice kits, and my first attempt went together rather nicely;

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I'm going to use Microtrains N scale knuckle couplers for the stock, which are actually a former Kadee product, but the operations were spun off in about the 1960s or so (which is why the N scale coupler by Microtrains features the patented "Magnematic" feature).

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Location

I've given this some long thought. I really wanted this to be somewhere close and familiar so that I'd have ease of access, and at least have an idea as to how the surrounds would have looked in virtually untouched (at least, by Europeans) form at the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, there aren't really a lot of mountainous locations around here, and only one was built across pretty flat ground... So I thought about what other aspects in this area influenced railway construction, and how a 2'6'' railway might come to be built on flat ground. Immediately, tramways came to mind, in particular Katamatite and Koondrook. These were lines built by the local community when the government wouldn't. So a private railway company seems like a nice excuse to have a (seemingly cheap) 2'6'' railway built. It can then default like the rest of them and the VR can take the reigns.

The location is a timber tramway from the broad gauge rail head at Picola across to Barmah, where it diverges into two routes, one north into the Barmah Lakes for red gum harvesting, while the other meanders southward into open fertile farming land with a terminus at Lower Moira. Pioneer timber industries have a good association with the rustic feel of narrow gauge railways.

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Track

Based on the knowledge of a couple of friends, track will be hand-laid in code 40 and code 55 rail. Points will likely be handmade using a #6 Fast Tracks point jig in code 40 rail, and I want to try and maintain a minimum radius for curves of about 20".

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It's going to be a long work in progress, but it'll begin in a big way tomorrow when I get stuck into this loco kit. To test some of the things I want to do, I'm going to build a small shelf diorama, to get the hang of hand-laying track and other bits and pieces that I come across along the way. I'll be posting progress shots of the nA as it comes together. =)

It's going to be an interesting project...

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 8:57 pm
by Ollie
Nick,
Looking forward to each update as it might get me motivated to start my layout, well finish the shed first. All the best with your project.
Regards

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:14 pm
by Glenn H.
Sounds interesting, I like the setting - similar to the Whitfield line and more like a roadside tramway than the stereotype mountainous terrain normally associated with VR narrow gauge. BTW in the Barmah forest near Picola is a locality named Tram Swamp, a legacy of an early sawmillers log tram operation; this adds plausibility to your freelancing. Also note that the Forests Commission considered purchasing an Na for the Tyers Valley Tramway, you could assume they did and finding it unsuitable for the curves sent it north to haul redgum.
Cheers, Glenn H.

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:00 pm
by VRfan
I'm assuming those Colonial Models NAs are not readily available?

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:03 pm
by toxation
It's pretty much like its namesake. But I now know of three unbuilt kits including mine. I'm very grateful to Ian for it :D.

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:05 pm
by K160
I can remember they used to be advertised in AMRM, but that stopped about 10 years ago IIRC.

Nick, it sounds like a worthwhile project and I am very interested in any progress you make with it. 8-)

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 10:15 pm
by AndrewCudgewa
G'day Nick,

An exciting road :!:

Good luck starting the layout, and I also look forward to your updates.

Cheers, Andrew

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:08 pm
by james13
Nice area that Nick, I spent a lot of time at Mathoura when I was younger, and a lot of time fishing in the Barmah forest, we also got a lot of bunnies in there as well.

For the couplers, I'd look at the Mc Henry N scale couplers, they look a crapload better and they are compatible with the MT ones. Also a lot easier to put together.

Mc Henry site

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:51 am
by Buninyong
Very good location and concept!
I will enjoy your progress reports and look forward to seeing your layout develop,
Cheers Mark.

Re: The road to narrow gauge...

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:44 pm
by iansvr
Let me know when its operational, as i know someone that has some brass HOn30 Na's and Garrat, plus rollingstock that are dying to have a good run ;)