Thursday, 27 June 2019

Back to Planning

I mentioned the imminent arrival of goats in my last post. This has several implications for the railways in the garden.

Laurel is poisonous to goats, and currently, the "tunnel" largely consists of a large stand of laurel bushes. So that all has to be grubbed up. Superficially that is bad news, but in conjunction with having taken out some sycamores and elders last month it actually means I can plan a better alignment for the ELR on that side of the house, and perhaps even get an extension to the site of the planned main station finished in this year's campaign.

Laurel is bad for goats but they positively love vegetable beds, possibly even more than the chickens do. So I'm going to have to bite a rather large bullet and relocate my raised beds to their new location at the far end of the other garden. That is a real pain in many ways but in the long terms builds the business case for an extension for the yet to be built garden office.

The garden office will at some point be home to the Art of Compromise layout, and I'm still debating internally whether I build it as the original Roy Link plan in OO or as a slightly wider EM Tanat Valley version. I'm favouring the second at the moment.

Moving the raised beds to that part of the garden means losing the site I'd earmarked for the 7/8ths line but I already had a couple of alternative locations in mind.

So that just leaves finding somewhere to shoehorn in the 5" line...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019


Matt Acton of Berry Hill Works has finished the lining of my Accucraft Wren and I think you'll agree he has done a stunning job.

Many of you will recognise that it is named after the late great Peter Jones of Compton Down fame.
Peter must have inspired many many garden railway modellers over the year.  He encouraged people to have a go, whatever their abilities, and was one of the first to popularise the scenic "modelled" garden railway as opposed to trains running around a lawn or flower bed. He also had a 1:1 model of a Wren in his "greenhouse" so it seemed a particularly apt choice.

Whilst I obviously can't wait to get my hands on it, the Llechfan Garden Railway at Towyn, which has preserved so much of Peter's legacy, is holding a 70th anniversary celebration of the Compton Down, so I'm trying to arrange for the Wren to visit for the day, though sadly without me. I'll be collecting rescue chickens to replace our flock which a fox devastated whilst we were on holiday.

I did harbour plans to snap up one of the last Accucraft Bagnalls, but that plan has been compromised by finally losing patience with my ride on mower and deciding to replace it with something more robust. Oh and goats, my wife has decided we need goats which are arriving next month as well. The Eaugate Light Railway is becoming increasingly agricultural!

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Plans and more Plans

It has been a funny first half of a year. Whilst the Winter months were busy with work Spring was focussed on family and improvements at Elder Cottage, particularly in the garden.

That is quite significant for the Eaugate Light Railway, because as our plans become more concrete for the garden so do the plans for the extensions, and revisions, of the 7 1/4".

One of our local crafters made this rustic version of Elder Cottage
The trees on the left of the photo have now gone.
You can see how close to the house and the overhead cables they were

In the short term the biggest change is that we've taken out several of the mature self-seeded trees that had grown alongside the house, and the old apple trees a third of the way up the garden.

Now I normally hate having to have trees cut down, but I salve my conscience with the fact that we are still to count all the trees on our land, and the long term plans involve more suitable replacements.

The sycamores and elders were stealing light from one of the rooms, their roots were in danger of causing structural problems and their branches were dangerously close to overhead cables. It is pure coincidence that they also formed a major barrier to extending the line down that side of the house.

With them out of the way we can now plan what will be a short but significant new section of track that will eventually lead both to additional wood storage areas and a road-accessible terminus. The trees will be replaced by native hedging. One thing that is already clear is that I need to alter the alignment of the last 5m of the "tramway" section, so I'm glad I made the decision to lay the tramway as temporary track.

It was a tough choice deciding whether or not to remove the apple trees. They were very productive, in fact far too much so, giving us a massive glut of fruit and a major problem clearing away windfalls each Autumn. Visually we also found them a major barrier to us even beginning to imagine our vision for the garden. That eventual vision will obviously have a big impact on the big extension to the ELR and its eventual route to the garden office. The apple trees will be replaced by a more manageable and diverse mini-orchard as part of the redesign, which will also let us remove some of the other fruit trees that have also grown out of hand.

We are hoping to have the garden office built by the end of the year, and that will also give me more space for a modelling workshop and a more permanent layout. It is odd thinking about returning to 4mm standard gauge after what has been a four-year gap, but that is a story for another day.