Owning a steam engines does not mean you have to have deep pocket, read on. In the past couple of years an increasing number of club members have become interested in 16 mm:Imperial foot scale locomotives which can be gas fired, coal fired or battery powered. These locomotives and rolling stock are based on narrow gauge railways such as the Ffestiniog railway in North Wales. 16 mm trains (also called garden rail) run on 32 mm (0 Gauge) or 45 mm (Gauge 1) gauge track and being based on narrow gauge railways
lend themselves to scratch building especially for the wagons and carriages. The locomotives come in a wide range of prices to suit all types of pockets from ‘build your own’ very cheap battery powers runners to very expensive and detailed radio-controlled gas or coal-fired models.
In 2015 the Weymouth club built an outdoor track (see picture) and with its core of keen 16 mm modeller is always readily and willing to welcome new members and to offer help and advice. If you would like to find out more about this scale of modelling then please look at: http://www.16mm.org.uk/
In addition to activities at the Weymouth club, there is a Dorset Group of the 16 mm Association. This Group meet regularly in the private garden of their members for running trains and socialising. The beauty of 16 mm scale is that the locos and rolling stock are easy to transport and quick to get running.
Track Construction – Phase One
The motivation for a 16 mm outdoor track stemmed from the fact that track built in 2011 was not a practical solution as a ‘turn-up and run’ facility, which took a considerable amount of time to set up, assuming a suitable location was available along with the need to be able to access the school.
The committee recognised this short coming and after suitable lobbying, allocated a sizeable sum of money to construct an outdoor track. There then followed a protracted period of meetings of small groups generating lots of diagrams and notes on methods of construction but a reluctance to set the building process in motion. In late 2014 the committee let it be known that if the funds set aside for the new facility was not taken up in early 2015, they would be reallocated. This galvanised the 16 mm members into action and following a meeting held in November, an action plan was drawn up and despite another lull in activity a small group decided action was needed and set about finally building the track. The desire by some members to have the track go through the small garden area was resisted on the grounds of the level of maintenance that would follow. The decision was to go for an oval-ish track set inside the small loop of the ground level track and weave as necessary around the trees and bushes that were there. The plan was for a track of around 39 m in length with the 32 mm track on the outside and 45 mm on the inside. The construction technique used was 110 mm soil pipes filled and set into a concrete base. A timber framework was fabricated on the posts, with the roofing battens laid on top to form the track bed. An ambitious 5 weekend build schedule was proposed but many doubted it could be done especially as most members were usually only on site for 3 hours on a Saturday morning. A few optimists believed it was just an issue of organisation.
Construction began on 21st February 2015 with the first Saturday being a flurry of activity and set the tone for the rest of the build, with no protracted discussions about the route, position of posts or how deep holes should be. The strong turnout also allowed for self-forming groups to establish route surveyors, hole diggers and bush-clearers amongst the skill sets. A small group of members communicated by email during the week to resolve any potential technical problems with the work for the upcoming Saturday. Great efficiencies were achieved as the gang became expert at various tasks. This led to rapid progress being made with production line efficiency. Members could see progress and through good communication knew what tasks they had to undertake when arriving on site. The same team working ethic continued as we moved into the woodworking phase. The sounds of busy chopsaws rung out across the site, and very quickly the trackbed started to take shape. By the close of the 4th Saturday the trackbed was completed and the first sections of track were beginning to be laid. The club were amazed and immensely proud of the speed at which the structure had gone up. The doubters finally accepted that the schedule was achievable.
The final stage was completed on the 5th Saturday as the two tracks were finally completed – On Saturday 28th March 2015 the track was formally declared open.
Track Construction – Phase Two
Due to the small number of active 16mm members in the club at the time of the initial build, it was judged prudent to see what the level of interest the new track would generate before committing additional money on the layout. However, the outdoor track was an instant success and drew in new members as well as seeing existing members switching or adding this gauge to their repertoires. The original circuit design only had one passing loop and this was for the 32mm gauge.
Our idea was to improve the track by add a passing loop to the 45mm gauge track, this would be achieved either by building it on the inner side of the circuit or putting it where the 32mm loop was and build a new 32mm steaming bay. A request was put to the committee for a small sum of money to complete the task. As often happens in these cases ideas and options began to develop with increasingly grandiose solutions involving 5 x 32mm steaming bays being proposed. To sort out the solution, a 16mm sub-committee was formed and they came up with the design to be adopted. This design had 5 steaming bays and was going to cost double the original figure agreed with the club committee, as a compromise, they eventually agreed to fund a reduced 3 bay design. Phase 2 commence on Thursday 18th February 2016– this being the school half term so we could get on site during the day. The built technique was the same as before, with a group of 4 members working over the Thursday and Friday to complete the basic structure (posts and lateral) thus allowing woodworking to start on the first Saturday.
The completion of the trackbed structure occurred on 27th Feb with the final stage of the 2 lifting bridges to allow entry into the area between the steaming bay and the main track being constructed . Installing the track gave a heart-stopping moment when the designed alignment did not go quite to plan, resulting in one point ending up on the lifting bridge. However the problems were quick resolved and a slight readjustment of the points on the inner two steaming bays allowed us to move the point off the bridge. The original funding was for 3 steaming bays but the 16mm sub-committee thought that it would make sense to attempt to complete the original design of 5 bays.
A quick calculation of the extra cost was undertaken and divided by the number of likely responders, a call was sent out of members asking for those willing to contribute £15 towards the project.The response was overwhelming and the required additional funding achieved.
The 5 steaming bay extension was finally completed on Saturday 12th March 2016.