Adding interest... Extras that make the difference described by David Wheatley.
One of the things I enjoy about visiting other people’s garden railways is the variety that we have in our hobby. Even the smallest garden can have a most interesting and attractive railway in it, but sadly some are no more than mere test tracks for running in that ‘new loco’, and that of course is perfectly fine, if that is what the owner chooses.
But, and I am probably going to be committing heresy by saying this, in my humble opinion, a garden railway should look attractive and interesting even without a single loco or piece of stock in sight! Hopefully, some examples from my current project – the ‘CGGR’ – which is far from complete, will give encouragement to make your own railway a little more attractive.
Picture 1: Top of my list for making a railway really attractive, is neat well laid and ballasted trackwork, with ‘sweeping’ curves – you can judge for yourself whether I have got that bit right with this view of Avonmead station.
Picture 2: The main terminus ‘Avonmead’ in more detail. The track is ballasted, the railway is fenced in – a legal requirement for all railways in the UK – and the dead end tracks have home-made timber buffer stops. The fencing is actually lengths of old bullhead rail drilled in a jig, painted black and threaded with florist’s wire – garden wire is a bit on the thick side. There are bits of ‘greenery’ growing between the track and around the fence posts – small off-cuts of ‘Astroturf’ (or similar) glued down with builder’s PVA. There is a station sign – homemade from Plastikard/Plastistruct – with purchased letters. Seats are essential – but they need to be low enough so that passenger’s feet are not dangling off the ground.
The figures are in realistic poses – the porter is having a breather after carrying the heavy trunk, the man is with his dog, with his suitcase nearby. The young couple are off on their hols. The piles of newspapers are waiting to be put into the guard’s van. By the fine looking engine shed (complete with opening doors and mandatory fire buckets) stands a driver awaiting his turn of duty, with the black station cat.
A few old lengths of rail lie on the ground between two running tracks. By the side is a water tank, which was made from a piece of low-density breeze block, suitably scribed and painted, with a Plastikard tank – which actually holds water – painted and weathered. In the distance is the goods shed, with a fork-lift truck at work, with lots of bits and pieces lying around – mostly hidden in this view, but the oil drums can be seen. The area right at the back is to be a canal basin, and although the liner and water are in place much work remains to be done here.
ARDEN G Rail Picture 3: Many of the same points can be seen here too. In addition, the guy in the duffle coat is looking at the timetable to see what time the next train is due, and the business gent has his briefcase and rolled up newspaper. Notice too, how the addition of gutters and drainpipes enhance the look of the small station shelter, as do the flower tubs. The shelter is from the Modeltown range, and note the effectiveness of ‘picking out’ a few stones in different shades of grey. Communication is not forgotten either, with the pillarbox and telephone kiosk. Walls are a feature not often seen – the ones shown are very cheap to make, being scribed concrete.
Picture 4: This area is still being developed, but shows the zoo in the making. I had a zoo in my previous garden railway – which can still be seen at www.freewebs.com/fromesidegardenrailway -and it was a source of much interest to especially small children. The ‘cages’ are made from small animal netting. The animals are of German origin and available from some model shops and children’s shops such as Toys R Us.
The café, pay booth and gates are hand-made from Plastikard etc. The bridge pillars are brick columns, rendered and scribed – cheap but effective. The embankments are covered with ‘Rowlands mix’ – a cement mix containing peat, which rapidly gets covered in algae etc. A year on from when this picture was taken, the embankments are already quite green. Vehicles always help bring a scene to life. I have long collected 1:18th scale ‘classic cars’ and also have a selection of motorcycles – whilst not cheap, good deals are always around – especially on eBay. Whilst fractionally oversize, they do not look ‘out of scale’ alongside 16mm figures and rolling stock.
The area under the bridge is the zoo car park, and parking bays will be painted on in due course. The house in the foreground is from the Modeltown range, the greenhouse from Lineside Delights.
Picture 5: Adding roads and level crossing gates increases interest ‘beyond the railway fence’. My roads are all coloured concrete, using cement dye – so that any ‘chips’ will not show through a different colour. A farm scene is always a good focal point – hence the cottage, pigsty (scratchbuilt), milk tanker and animals.
Careful selection of suitable plants can also enhance. The specimen ‘tree’ beyond the cottage is a Lonicera cutting, constantly trimmed to keep it in check, as are also the several Box cuttings behind the horses. Several clumps of small low-growing perennials – such as ‘mind your own business’ – may be seen in the distance.
Picture 6: Adding livestock to appropriate areas adds extra interest – here on a hillside adjacent to one of many tunnels, ‘nibbling away’ at a very useful low growing perennial – Arenaria balearica which also has very attractive tiny white flowers.
Picture 7: Another view of the zoo area; notice how simple fencing ‘finishes off’ the lineside, as do pavements – these are made from thick Plastikard sheet, scribed and painted with grey primer. Walls, fences and gates are all easily made from Plastikard and greatly add to the effect. The main ‘grassed area’ is ‘Astroturf’.
Picture 8: Newly outshopped Minerva (an ex-Accucraft ‘Caradoc’) on the passing loop at Fromeside with a mixed goods.
ARDEN G Rail