The Ash Hill Railway

Realism Not Required

Whilst most Garden RailWays strive for realism and attention to detail, with each phase of design a masterpiece of hand crafted deail, I did not.

I needed a layout that provided maximum enjoyment for my children. It needed to go up quick, be robust, and easy to play with. I needed to use the available track left over from the LGB starter set plus some other pieces we had aquired over a year or so with the minimum of wastage. I also needed to take up as little space as possible, so that the rest of the garden is available for playing with.

Here you can see the very first stage. The track is about 1 foot above the ground (about the right height for the children). It is simply mounted on gravel boards screwed to the top of 3 Inch fence posts that I cut to approximately 18 inches. The layout isn't planned in great detail in advance. As each piece of track is laid the rails are nailed down and the next section is offered up, leveled and bolted to the last. Since the gravel boards are quite narrow the track is quite exposed over some of the curves- adding to the exitement for the passengers no doubt. Note that this gets the track "playable" really quickly. Even the short stretch by the plum tree above was being happily put to good use!

Here you can see the same stretch a few weeks later. I've added an engine shed, and completed the loop round the plum tree. Actually the layout has changed a little bit since the picture was taken (it's quite quick to change the layout with this simple construction). The loop shown is using R1 curves, so I guess we'll not be running live steam on this line! As I said I wanted to use up existing track.

A couple of pictures of the engine shed you can see in the above shot. This is 1/8 Inch plywood with plastic radio control hinges for the door. I made it to fit the width of the gravel boards so it screws straight into them. This is of course, unrealistic! Far too narrow for a real engine shed!

A bit further round the line there is a tunnel! Yes it really is made of an old PC case!

Here is a shot of a turntable I'm making. It's a plant pot base, a piece of 12mm MDF and some old mechano. I wonder if it will work?

Here is the track so far - a complete circuit.

Shots of a train running, it was very dark, so yes they are a bit blurred. You can see that I've added a little signal box, which fits next to the engine shed. The train has been "decorated" by one of the children...

A couple of night shots, showing the effect of the lights built into the tunnel, shed and signalbox. The first shows the train emerging from the tunnel, you can see the hanging lights. The signal is showing red (as you might expect!). The second shows the train passing the engine shed and signal box.