When the subject of this magazine came up the other day, someone suggested that garden railways was, well perhaps rather a narrow field on which to base an entire magazine. It was actually an entirely reasonable suggestion from someone who knew little, if anything, about the subject.
In fact knowing this gentleman’s hobby, I quickly suppressed the unworthy thought that there were a significant number of periodicals based solely on hitting a little white ball into a succession of holes in a field with a selection of sticks – and had a think about it. In fact I did a little (not too much) research and there are some really esoteric publications out there – yes apart from those – stop sniggering at the back! Did you for instance know that there is a magazine devoted entirely to hair? I understand it is aimed at that section of the population that hail from Venus – something to do with different styles apparently…
As far as GardenRail is concerned it is, actually, entirely the other way around. The subject itself is almost too broad if one thinks about it – just as it is in the more traditional ‘indoor’ scales. Most model railway magazines for instance major on 00/H0 gauge with side dishes of N and 0 gauge and maybe just a smidgin of 009. There is also EM gauge, P4 and their derivatives.
After defining scale we are then looking at the different railways in various parts of the world. In GardenRail we are in the same boat. While we cover the big three of course, (in alphabetical order) 16mm, G1 and G scale, there are also an increasing number of people modelling in other scales in the garden and these modellers too should have a slice of the modelling cake in print. We major in railway modelling based on prototypes from the British Isles, but we also like to cover railways from other parts of the world as well.
The difference between the tabletop scales and our own is largely down to the fact that there are far more people who model in 00/H0 gauge than in say, 16mm or G1 – let alone 7/8ths scale or 1:20.3 – and one of the downsides to this is (as in all human areas of activity) the smaller the grouping, the more fanatical the following of each segment. Now I am rather lucky here in that I move in and out of the various scale groupings very easily and I have many friends in all of them. I am also a firm believer (as I should be) in garden railways – of whatever scale or gauge. I do think that if we automatically reject what others are doing then we restrict ourselves in our ability to modify and improve.
For instance there is a significant historical difference between live steam locomotion in the narrow gauge formats of 16mm and G scale and live steam in Gauge 1. Most G1 people do not consider
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Not so today. Modern burner/boiler systems cope very well with G1 requirements on most trains up to full expresses and I recently watched a couple of G1 radio controlled gas burners doing just that – whilst retaining the typical flexibility in terms of shunting and control. What is more, the locos also displayed the visible exhaust that is difficult to get on the hotter-burning traditional G1 locos. One could certainly use these engines on goods trains, secondary passenger workings or indeed as station pilots, making up and providing trains for the lordly spirit-fired express locomotives…
On the other hand, some of the larger US narrow gauge prototypes, currently gas-fired with twin burners, would I feel, be happier with spirit or coal firing and a full blown Stephenson front end – it is horses for courses here and I feel both groups of modellers, narrow gauge and standard, have a lot to learn from each other.
Indeed this has to be the case no matter what type of large scale modelling is undertaken. For instance, while I have attended many a G scale meeting, I have not used electric power through the rails since those far-off days when I modelled in N gauge, but I have definitely picked up on the idea of digital sound (particularly in diesel outline locomotives) – even if the power is stored in the locomotive rather than via the mains. Sound does add an extra dimension to locomotive working (which is why I love whistles on my live steamers) and it also improves running pleasure with my two diesel outline locomotives because, like the steamers, I can hear them working under load. When it comes to electrically powered locomotives however, my particular pleasure is a fully working catenary system. After all just how prototypical do you want to be? It’s difficult to get more prototypical than actually running under the wires and I would just love to see a fully working system such as this featured in GardenRail – so if you know of one do let me know….
SMALL AND DELIGHTFUL The ‘Small and Delightful’ show at Shepton Mallet is the first venue of the year for West Country exponents of the narrow gauge and I always meet lots of friends and acquaintances here. A very enjoyable day was had it seems by all and there was some seriously good modelling on show in the smaller scales. While not primarily a garden railway show, the local 16mm layout was, as usual, a popular and impressive exhibit and Back 2 Bay 6 was doing a roaring trade all day. I know this because I was detailed off by Steve Warrington to cover for what our cousins over the water call ‘comfort breaks.’ One disappointment was that there was this year no G scale layout at the show. Hopefully we will get one next year…
ARDEN G Rail