Monday, January 01, 2018

Introduction to the blog


This blog describes ongoing progress in the development of a G gauge Garden Railway from its inception to the present day.

NEW - Loco No.1 gets sound

When I became interested in building my own garden railway I spent a considerable amount of time (and money) on books, videos, DVDs and scouring the internet for information, ideas and inspiration. When I eventually started construction I used some of the ideas I had discovered, but also experimented with my own approaches. This blog outlines how I have gone about constructing my own garden railway. My aim is to provide the sort of information I was looking for when I was getting started and also to share what I've learned (or 'borrowed' from others). I've tried to include a few 'How I ........' postings interspersed with occasional 'Progress Reports'. I do not profess to be any kind of expert - what I offer here is an opportunity for you to metaphorically look over my shoulder to see how I have gone (and am going) about this fascinating hobby.

As this is a blog, the various posts are presented in reverse chronological order (ie the most recent first). To see a categorised list of contents go to the Blog Contents Page.

If you are thinking about building your own garden railway then why not join the 16mm Association or the G Scale Society - you'll get plenty more advice and opportunities to visit other peoples' garden railways
. Alternatively, browse through the G Scale Central website - there's plenty more guidance here and an opportunity to sound out the views of others through the G Scale Central discussion forum.

The Blog

The advantages of blogging are that it is immediate and uncomplicated when creating and uploading information. The other, of course, is that with Blogger it is free. The major disadvantage is that I have minimal control over how the postings are presented. The blogging system adds the most recent information to the start of the blog, hence the postings appear in reverse chronological order (most recent first, oldest last). Whilst there is a list of postings on the right hand side, it's not particularly easy to see what is there. This introduction is an attempt to provide you with a contents list of the postings organised into categories so, hopefully, you see if what you are looking for is presented in this blog. To ensure that it always appears at the start of the blog, I update its content and set its presentation date into the future each time I add a new posting.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Progress Report 71


We don't seem to have had much of a summer in terms of fine weather - and it also seems that when the weather was good I was elsewhere. We spent a long weekend, for example, in Yorkshire where I drove a steam loco on the Elsecar Heritage Railway as part of my birthday present.

However, I have managed to complete some projects and engage in a few operating sessions since my previous Progress Report, and also hosted a visit from another of my Antipodean friends.

Permanent Way

Apart from ongoing maintenance, the only significant development in the Permanent Way Dept has been to iron out a hump in the track just outside Bulkeley station. 

Many moons ago, when I first built the railway, I constructed a wall from breeze blocks and bricks to support Bulkeley station. I wasn't entirely sure at that time where the tracks would run and it turned out that the wall cut across the track leading from Bulkeley down towards Bickerton. Over the years, the trackbed at Bulkeley has dropped by around 1.5" but, of course, the wall has remained the same height. Last week, I decided this hump also had to go and so the brickwork on top of the wall was attacked with a cold chisel and angle grinder.

Once the hump had been eliminated, a layer of concrete was put down to smooth out some of the irregularities in the underlying blockwork. I find this is easier than lifting the blocks, tamping down the soil and relaying the blocks - only to find they will sometimes sink again as the soil settles.

Most of the stock had little problem negotiating the hump previously, but occasionally a wagon might become derailed passing over the point leading to the Copper Mine branch. Time will tell if this has solved this particular problem.


 Refreshment Room

To fill a gap on the approach to the station building at Beeston Market, I decided to construct a small refreshment room, based on a building which used to stand beside the overbridge below Beeston & Tarporley Station on the Crewe to Chester mainline railway between the two world wars.

Using dimensions derived from the photo, plus a modicum of modellers' licence, I drew up a sketch plan and constructed the building primarily from plasticard.

It is still awaiting interior detailing and needs to be sited on the vacant plot beside the station at Beeston Market, but I am pleased with the result so far. For more information on the build see How I constructed the Refreshment Room.

Water mill

Another vacant plot on the railway is in the process of being occupied. For a while, I have been planning to construct a water mill to sit beside the stream near Peckforton (eg see Progress Report 41). Over the past couple of months, this building has slowly been taking shape.

The first stage was to remodel the stream to create a mill stream (see How I revamped part of the stream). Once that had been done, the area between the stream and the mill siding was landscaped.
Meanwhile, the building itself was slowly taking shape. I used PVC foamboard for the main structure - a new material for me and one with which I am most impressed.

The building and its location are taking shape - more work is required on detailing and a sluice gate needs to be constructed to control the flow of water under the wheel.

[Awaiting photo]

For more information see How I constructed the mill - pending


Market Day

A few minor operating sessions have taken place since the past progress report and one full scale operating session. In this session, I imagined it was Market Day and so extra trains were laid on to accommodate the increase in passenger numbers and the additional livestock and farming related traffic.

The Up Market Day Mixed passing the Copper Mine hauled by Bagnall 0-4-2T No. 11 Bunbury
Down Special Market Day Goods approaching Beeston Castle with Beyer Peacock(ish) 0-4-0T No. 12 Tiverton
The Up special goods returning passing the River Gowy
The Down Market Day Mixed arriving at Bickerton
The scheduled midday Up passenger arriving at Beeston Market
The Up pickup goods approaching Beeston Castle with Black Hawthorn 0-4-0T No. 14 Burwardsley
A short video showing some of the Market Day Train movements

Visitor from New Zealand

During one of my operating days, I was ably assisted by Andy Murray (the other Andy Murray) from New Zealand who was over on a family visit. He took charge of the pickup goods, carrying out shunting duties as it passed up and down the line.

Many thanks to Andy for his company and his patience.

Post Script

I received a request from a fellow modeller for assistance in setting up his MyLocoSound steam sound card - particularly regarding the settings for getting a loco to coast when slowing down. I felt the easiest way to demonstrate this was to make a video.

This video now also features on the MyLocoSound website.

I am hoping to take delivery shortly of the latest version of the MLS soundcard which incorporates brake squeal when the loco comes to a halt.
<< Go to Progress Report 70

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

How I constructed the Refreshment Room



When I remodelled Beeston Market station (see How I extended Beeston Market), I included a forecourt area in front of the platform and station building with a view to modelling some suitable buildings. As it turned out, the area was too small for anything but a single representative building. I scoured the internet for photos of buildings which were originally located in the immediate area of the original Beeston & Tarporley station (on the Crewe to Chester mainline) and discovered an interesting picture of an inter-war period refreshment room which was situated beside the railway overbridge on the main road beneath the station.

This wooden structure looked ideal for the intended location but, even though it was fairly small, I needed to reduce its size to fit the available space.

The dimensions for the building were determined by assuming that the female adults in the picture were 5' 6" tall and extrapolating from that. Of course, the dimensions were approximate, but I figured that a building such as this would have been a one-off and hence, so would mine!

The structure

The dimensions for the walls were transferred to 2mm plasticard.

I opted for plasticard as it is a material with which I am already very familiar and I felt that representing the planking would be easier.

At this stage, I did not cut out the roof as I knew from experience that it would have to be tailor-made for the structure once it was assembled. I know my limitations and no matter how carefully I measure something, I find there is always some tweaking required to make things fit - especially on a structure of this size.

Although the photo gave me no clear idea about the dimensions for the sides and rear of the building, I figured that it would have been fairly basic in design (ie a large shed) and so I sloped the roof downwards towards the rear of the building, and provided a small kitchen area at the rear.

The principal dimensions I decided upon are:
  • Front - 295mm x 150mm
  • Right side - 310mm x 150mm (sloping down to 125mm)
  • Left side (1) - 180mm x 150mm (sloping down to 140mm)
  • Left side (2) - 130mm x 140mm (sloping down to 125mm)
  • Rear (RHS) - 150mm x 125mm
  • Rear (LHS) - 145mm x 140mm


The windows at the front of the café are 72mm x 100mm, those at the side are 62mm x 80mm and the window at the rear is 42mm x 65mm. They were all made in a similar way.

Firstly, the main frames were marked out and cut from 1.5mm thick plasticard. The panes were fixed at 5mm in from each edge with 10mm bars middle on the front windows and 5mm bars on the other windows. The frame pieces were made 10mm wider than the window apertures all round to enable them to be glued on.

Once each frame had been cut out, 4mm wide battens were cut from 2mm thick plasticard. These were then glued to centres of the middle glazing bars.

The frames were then glued behind the window apertures and battens fixed around the outside of each frame.

 This process was repeated for all the windows.


 The front door is 60mm x 120mm, while the rear door is 40mm x 115mm. The doors were cut out from 1.5mm plasticard and, as with the windows, the frames were made 10mm wider at each side and the top so they could be glued into place. Apertures for the windows and the lower panels were cut 5mm in from the sides and 10mm from the top and bottom - the upper windows being 75mm tall for the front doors and 45mm tall for the rear. The rear of the lower panels was blocked off with a sheet of 1.5mm plasticard .......

 ..... and a decorative panel cut slightly smaller than the aperture and then bevelled for the front doors.

The doors were then glued into place behind their apertures and a 5mm wide door frame glued around.

The rear door was less decorative with a 2mm wide frame and no additional lower panels.


A step was constructed for the front door from pieces of 2mm plasticard, projecting 15mm from the front of the building.

 Rainstrips were also added to the base of each door.

The portico

 The portico at the front of the building was quite prominent and so I wanted to make this a distinctive feature.

7mm square pedestals from 2mm thick plasticard were glued to the front corners of the step.

2.5mm wide strips of 1.5mm plasticard were glued around two pieces of 5mm square Plastruct tube, 25mm from one end. These were deliberately made too long so they could be trimmed back once the solvent had set.

Once trimmed, a ring of 1mm square section was glued beneath them.

These posts were then cut to a length of 120mm and 10mm wide pieces of 1.5mm thick plasticard were glued to the lower ends.

..... being trimmed to size once the solvent had set.

The posts were then glued to the pedestals on the step and a 75mm x 15mm piece of 1.5mm plasticard glued across the top.

A template for half of the crown of the portico was cut out from card and applied twice to an offcut of 2mm thick plasticard to ensure it was symmetrical.

3mm diameter holes were drilled at the ends of the curly decorations ......

..... and the crown filed to shape with half round, flat and round needle files.

The crown was then mounted on top of the portico and a piece of 5mm square Plastruct tube was placed beneath to square off the top of the frame.

Filigree panel

I toyed with all sorts of ideas for making the filigree panel, including printing it on to clear acetate - however, as it is white, this idea was a non starter. I then happened to come across a fellow modeller who has access to a laser cutter which can cut into plastic sheet. I had already ordered some bespoke Peckforton Light Railway monogrammed seats from him (see Progress Report 69) and asked if he could make the filigree panel for me, if I provided the artwork.

The artwork was duly created in a draw package .....

..... and after some experimentation and a fair bit of tweaking, the laser cut plastic version arrived.

After a coat of primer and a couple of coats of white enamel, it was eased into place above the doorway.

Many thanks to Charles Mawer of Red Star Steam Packet Co for his patience and also his care in producing the panel from my initial drawing.


10mm wide strips were cut from 1mm thick plasticard ......

..... and scraped with the blade of a razor saw to simulate woodgrain.

Starting at the bottom of each wall, the planks were glued on with solvent, and overlapped by 2mm.

To ensure the planking was horizontal, a square was used, particularly for the small sections of planking either side of the windows.

Once the front had been completed .....

.... the same technique was used for the rear. The planks were left overlapping the ends so they could be cut flush with the sides when the building was assembled.

Similarly, the planking was applied to the side walls.

A 3mm strip of 2mm plasticard was glued on to the RHS rear short wall 

..... and the planking taken up to it. This was to provide a flat surface for the planking for the rear-most short side wall to butt up against.

The overlapping planks on the front-most short side wall ........

...... were trimmed off so if could butt up against the short rear wall.

I had to decide which wall would butt against the inside of its adjacent wall and make sure the planks were trimmed flush, while the walls which were to be butted against needed to have their planks left overlapping. That sounds more complicated than it actually turned out to be.

Decorative panel

Above the front of the building was a decorative vertically planked panel on to which the signs were mounted. The base of this panel was sculpted in a similar way to the valance on a station canopy.

A line, 40mm from the edge was drawn on a piece of 2mm thick plasticard. This was then sub-divided with marks 7.5mm apart.

1mm diameter pilot holes were then drilled at each of the marks .......

..... and then these holes were opened out to 4mm diameter.

The strip was then cut out across the centre of the holes .......

......... and was scored vertically midway between each hole, .......

..... before woodgrain was simulated by scraping a razor saw blade across the strip.

The strip was then mounted on the front of the building, just above the top of the windows.


 A 10mm space had been left beneath the lowermost plank to leave room for a brickwork base. The bricks were marked out on to a piece of 1mm plasticard, 4mm x 12mm.

Once they had been cut out .......

.... they were each rounded slightly at the corners on a piece of emery paper.

The individual bricks .........

...... were then glued into place .........

..... to make two courses of brickwork with mortar courses between.

My apologies to all bricklayers out there for the slightly haphazard nature of my bricklaying but the building was now ready for assembly.


The walls were glued together with a 10mm wide strip of 2mm thick plasticard glued on to the lower inside edge - to ultimately support the floor.

The floor was trimmed slightly in places to ensure it was a good fit .......

.... and then scribed at 10mm intervals and 'textured' with the blade of a razor saw to represent rough wooden floorboards.

The floor was glued into place .........

.... and the building left for a day for the solvent to harden off

Window sills

In the meantime, I cut out some 7mm wide strips of 2mm thick plasticard for window sills.

Each end was made 3mm longer than the windows and notched to overlap the planking either side.

 They were glued into place below each window frame.


The whole structure was initially given a couple of coats of Halford's grey primer

 The windows and portico were then masked with tape .....

........ and the building given a couple of coats of Halford's Satin Black.

The window frames and portico were then picked out in white acrylic and the brickwork in reddy brown acrylics with creamy coloured mortar courses between.


1mm thick clear acrylic sheet was cut out for each window and fixed in place with Evostik (superglue tends to cloud the acrylic sheet).

A simplified stained glass design was created in MS PowerPoint using the Draw tools and then printed out on to self adhesive clear sheet.

The individual panels were then cut out .......

...... and glued behind the door windows.


Another distinctive feature of the building was the signs and the enamel advertising boards which adorned the building. I was particularly anxious to make this aspect of the construction as realistic as possible.

For the main sign, a cardboard template was cut out for half the sign.

This was drawn around twice on a piece of 2mm thick plasticard to give a symmetrically shaped signboard.

The board was then cut out roughly .......

...... before being filed to shape

A 3mm wide strip of 1.5mm thick plasticard was cut out and then bevelled with a file .....

..... before being glued to the top and straight edges of the board.

 The two smaller boards were similarly marked out ........

..... and then cut ........

..... shaped and edged.

The signs themselves were created in PowerPoint using the Text Tool. The signboards and Players Country Life signs used various fonts as near as possible to those shown in the photo. The Lyons and Wills advertising signs were tracked down on the internet. The signs were then adjusted for size in PowerPoint (using the sizing tools) and printed out on to self adhesive white vinyl sheet.

The café signs were then stuck on to the signboards ........

... which were then attached to the front of the building, and the advertising signs glued into place in their relevant positions.


The roof was then cut to size from 2mm thick plasticard taking the dimensions from the building itself.

Notches were cut into the edges of the roof to accommodate the supports for the vertical panelling.

6mm wide strips of 2mm thick plasticard were cut and fixed across the base of the roof to represent beams though in theory these would need additional pillars in the centre to support the roof - maybe this is something I could model when I do the interior.

I decided that the original roof would either have been clad in roofing felt (tar paper) or in corrugated iron sheets - I opted for the latter.

As my raw material for the corrugated iron sheeting I invested in a couple of aluminium foil baking dishes (for £2.99).

The foil was flattened out and cut into 4' x 8' (ie 64mm x 128mm) pieces.

These were then passed through a paper corrugator .........

 ...... to produce corrugated iron sheets.

The sheets were then glued to the roof using Bostik Clear adhesive.

I was in two minds as to whether to leave them untreated and let them weather naturally or whether I should paint them. In the end, I decided to give them a coat of red oxide primer .......

....and then weather them with diluted acrylics to represent rusting in places.


To represent the gutters, I used the sort of brass channel which is intended to be used by those making leaded windows. It is a lot cheaper than the U shaped brass channel sold in model shops - I got mine from Tempsford Stained Glass suppliers.

Once the gutters had been cut to length, the ends were snipped and folded over .......

... and a couple of brass pins were soldered to the base.

These were then filed flat to make them less obvious.

The downspouts were made from 3mm diameter copper tube. The brackets were made from copper wire flattened with a hammer .........

...... and then wrapped around the tube,snipped off to leave a tab, and soldered into place.

Towards the bottom, a nick was made in the tube with a triangular needle file and then the tube was folded through 45 degrees to make a spout.

A 3mm hole was then drilled into the bottom of the gutter near one end and the downspout soldered into place.

The completed guttering .......

....... was then placed against the building and the positions of the brackets marked. 2mm and 3.5mm diameter holes were then drilled in the walls to take the brackets.

Before fixing into place the guttering was given a coat of primer .......

..... and then painted with black acrylics.

The pegs for the guttering brackets were then inserted into holes and fixed with superglue.

The exterior of the model was now more or less complete. As the windows are so large, the interior will need to be detailed - but that job is being postponed for a dark and cold winter's evening.

By the way, the waitress (or 'Nippy' as those working in Lyons Corner Houses were known) is a modified ModelTown figure, given a hat and apron made from 'Greenstuff' epoxy modelling clay (see How I modified some figures for more information).


To be continued.......


The building techniques employed seem to have been appropriate for the structure of the building. I could have made it from plywood with coffee stirrer planks as I did with the engine shed (see How I constructed the engine shed). However, this is a smaller building than the engine shed and I also wanted to get some experience of making a reasonably large structure entirely from plasticard. Anyway, the windows and doors needed to be bespoke and so I would have had to use plasticard for them - the portico also was a lot easier to construct in plastic.

In addition to detailing the interior, I will have to site the building in its location. I am intending to create a cobbled forecourt for the station approach which I am planning to make from Jigstones moulded components. It is likely that this will be a springtime job. Although the entire station area is usually covered by some makeshift rainproof covers and so this building will not suffer the full effects of the weather, I intend to take it indoors during the winter months when all my buildings are given a refurb.

As with all my projects, I have applied some techniques used previously but constructing this building has also added to my knowledge and experience. One of the joys of garden railway modelling is that there is always something new to learn.