16mm Projects

Mike Gray: Track in the Sky

I normally run my Roundhouse locos on the garden track (loops) at the Grimsby and Cleethorpes track at Waltham Windmill - with its large radius (~ 10 ft+) curves and with a choice of 32mm and 45mm Code 200 tracks I can run any of the locos without concern around minimum radius and so forth.

Naturally this has been out of bounds since early March. My home track is 45mm LGB style, electrified and not suitable for live steam, and with having access to the GCMES track I have felt, until recently, no particular need to build a home steam track. But with lockdown this changed - at the very least I wanted a track to help keep the locos in fettle. For several reasons (not least our excitable Westie) I couldn't install a simple (!) ground or low level track. Then a brainwave - what about inside my 8' x 10' shed. With nominal 30" radius curves, suitable for most of the locos, this could work, though I'd need to install the woodwork quite high above the boards recently built for another 45mm station.

This put the line at about 4' 6" off the floor.

Russell on the tight curve coming onto the bridge across the doorway.

The track is laid with Peco SM32 flexi and though the curves are all nominally 30" radius I found this difficult to achieve smoothly at this tight radius - it took a bit of pushing and pulling, and the curve runs onto the bridge because of the space constraint here.

Bundaberg coming onto the bridge. This is also the prep 'bay' because of the ventilation, so robust parapets to prevent any toppling off mishaps!

Russell with an appropriate nameplate, from the Fairbourne. Note also the safety walls around the outside of the curves, just in case.

Lady Anne beside the none too clean window.

Straights are not very long, as you can imagine.With the sharp curves and a few unintended changes of gradient (and a heavy train in tow) is actually quite challenging to drive smoothly - more fun than I expected. Also with the pressure and water level gauges at eye level its easier to observe and adjust the locomotive, and check the PRV lift pressure - surprisingly comfortable.

So my 'Covid-19 response solution' may be a tad unconventional, but it works, with most locos. And there is a possibility of a similar extension loop outside the shed with larger radius curves. Wood is on order!

July 2020


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