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Salfords Light Railway

The Salfords Light Railway diary

November 2002

Well, if all goes according to plan, by the time November arrives I should have my first delivery of track from Jeff Price at The Miniature Railway Supply Co. That will make it almost exactly 3 months since I placed the order. Pointwork should be arriving about mid-Nov.

It is truly a red letter day, I have track (rail actually). Doris was round for the weekend and we spent a lot of it making track panels.

The weather was pretty foul a lot of the time, so we made up 12 curved panels of track on my kitchen floor. With the 2 of us driving screws in to the sleepers at the same time it went really quickly. We are down to about 15-20 mins. for a 3m panel.

The pre-curved 10' radius panels fit in the trackbed pretty well and will not require much "tweaking". This is the overall view after a few panels were "test fitted".

After this shot was taken we extended the ditch from the shed to the rockery so that we can lay a complete circuit of track.


Here is a shot of me fitting a short straight section of about 18" (m) between one of the reverse-curves (this is proof that it is not just my girlfriend who does all the work).

I have 2 reverse-curves and it is a well known fact that you should not go from a curve in one direction straight in to a curve going the other way.

I fitted the sleepers after I had the straights cut to length.

The open wagon is already coming in handy for tools.


It may not look like much, but I have 3 curves down and bolted together. I started running out of time, but next weekend it should simply be a matter of bolting together the pre-made panels.

I need more ballast and then I can fit in the short straight in the lower-left of this view. In the distance you can see 2 panels overlapping - this is not me being sloppy, I just didn't get round to that bit - next weekend.


The reason I ran out of time is that Frank arrived with my loco, so not only do I have track, but a working steam loco too! It was too late for a steam-up though, so that will also have to wait for next weekend.

Until I get around to building a secure locoshed to put her in, I have a Hunslet in my kitchen. I tell you one thing, she looks a heck of a lot bigger in my kitchen than she did in the back garden!


I have "parked" most of the remaining panels in the trackbed - this is partly to keep the weed-control fabric from blowing away in the wind - so in this view things are not as they seem, only a few of the panels are actually bolted together, but you can see the shape of the full circuit.

I have ordered another ton of ballast, which should be about a week as the local builders yard have to order it in if you want more than a few bags. This will not be enough to completely finish the line, but it should be enough to see me running on the main loop.

I also got a call from Jeff Price who wanted to know if I received all the rail OK - which I did. I asked about the points and whether it'd be worth waiting, or whether I should fill in the loop and "cut in" the points later. He admitted that 2 weeks was probably a bit optimistic, so I will see if I can complete the circuit with plain track for now, after all, I want to get something running before the weather turns really nasty.

I have a very good friend of mine coming round at the weekend and I'll pull out the stops to try and get to a stage where we can run "something" - he's a railway nut too so that'd be good if I could get 50' or so down.


Pete from the railway club came round for a couple of hours and we managed to bolt together all of the track from where the grey open wagon is parked on the left, round to the bird-bath on the right, about 60% of the main circuit.

I don't really want to cut more panels of track than I have to, so I think I will just bolt the remaining curves on where the point for the station will go (i.e. where the grey wagon is). This will give me a long run, but not a circuit. I am concerned that if I cut a panel to make a circuit for now, it will be a few inches too short later on.

You can also see where the triangle ("wye" in the US) will be, though the edging is not fixed as I may have to move it a few inches here-n-there depending on how the pointwork goes together.


9th November 2002, 15:30.

The first train. Actually, this is me playing silly so-n-so's. I have put a bit of board on top of my bogie chassis and coasted down the track. The roller-bearings run really well until about this point where I have to "paddle" like a surfer to get round to the other side of the garden.

Self portrait on 9th November 2002 "Cyril" is in this picture too, a present from my girlfriend.

Considering the ballast was just dumped in the trench and the track is just sat on top, it is pretty smooth!

This is great fun, I can't wait to get a full circuit and the locos running!

Just got back from Maxitrak where PETER passed his (her?) boiler test with flying colours. I phoned Frank to let him know all was well. Whilst on the phone, Frank suggested a few revisions to my track plan. Essentially flip the loco shed and turntable over and have the station on the diagonal. This will make my platforms that bit longer and allow for a larger turntable. I could also avoid having the crossover by my shed if I moved the points to the station area (something like the pink track in diagram below). Umm, interesting........?

Or if I was to put the carriage shed alongside the fence, and put a water tower there too I could have most of the "facilities" all in one area. And perhaps re-instate the servicing track off of the turntable. Something like:

I like this idea, it also means if I do extend out to the front of the house at some time that the station would be in the middle of a long continuous run.

I need to get out in the garden and do some 1:1 scale planning to ensure it all fits.

The ballast has arrived, but the ground is so wet if I am not careful I will wreck what bit of grass I have got - tricky.

16th November 2002, 11:50.

I have run the first powered train on the Salfords Light Railway.

I rebuilt the defective axle on my Trojan, reassembled everything and she ran, so I took her out on the line, coupled up to my bogie chassis and open wagon #1 and had a ride round the garden.

The ballast is far from level but taking it carefully I went up and down a couple of times without incident. There is still some more work to be done on the loco (battery meter, max. speed control and "deadman" button, not to mention the side cranks, rods and a body), but she does run.

I also cut up a load of sleepers and put them in creosote for when the pointwork arrives. I need to put on another length of track just in front of where the loco is sitting (current "end-of-line") and then I *should* have enough to make it up to the other side of the triangle (wye). Only trouble is I don't have any pre-soaked sleepers. I may be able to "borrow" some from the off-cut of curved track just visible in front of the loco as I don't need that at the moment.

OK, I have sent off the definitive list of pointwork to Jeff Price. No going back now, I have committed my wishes to paper!


This is a sketch I made of how I envisage the station area will look when I am done.

Paul got the metal back from the laser-cutters and has put my body together. I am off to pick it up at the weekend.

I am really pleased with how she has come out, the proportions look just right. This view taken by Paul shows the body on a "normal" Trojan chassis with buffers, mine is a little different with the large central link-n-pin coupler.

I also managed to find some nice headlights for her at a bicycle shop. 6V halogens - should light up half the garden when I turn them on!

That tipper wagon behind looks good. I am going to have some of these - I think 4 would look good, and be practical too.

I went over to see Paul and picked up the loco body. I also got to see the tipper (nice and rugged).

Some weeks back I enquired whether Paul had ever thought of doing a turntable. It is one of those things that is easy to make if you have the tools, fiddly if you don't. Within in a few hours Paul emailed me some prototype drawings to ask if it was what I had in mind. To cut a long story short I ordered one and I picked it up at the same time as the Trojan body. As I am going to move the turntable pit anyway this seemed like a good idea. Another big plus-point is that the steel turntable is much shallower than my wooden one and won't need such a deep pit. I am Paul's "Guinea Pig" on this one. I have a pile of hefty 5mm steel and some steel rail, all I need is some 25mm angle iron from the local B&Q (hardware store). Watch this space for more turntable news and pictures.


It is not the best picture on the site (a lot of flash reflection), but here is the body with the vents and headlights on the chassis. Still a lot of little jobs to do but you can see the general form.

Doris and I spent all morning and most of the afternoon working on the track. I have assembled the remaining panels to come up to the other side of the triangle (wye) and she spent the time moving the ballast from the front drive to the back garden. I offered to help and moved about 3 barrow loads, but she was insistent that I get on with the track whilst she moved the ballast. In 3 hours, she moved 1 ton of stone chippings!

Anyway, I have to decide now whether to cut a panel to fill the gap or leave a hole for the pointwork. I think I will probably cut the panel and put it in temporarily. This means I can run on a continuous circuit! However, the weather forecast is pretty foul for tomorrow, so I might not even get the chance. I'd like to get something running tomorrow, I am cooking a meal for my parents, and my Father has recently come out of hospital so it'd be nice if he could have a drive in the garden. 

As British Rail used to say: We're getting there.


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