Now is the time to go Large...
Chris Stockdale reveals the potential delights of stretching beyond 16mm scale.
Above: Kristina is a 7/8ths loco built by Harvey Watkins. Based on a small Bagnall saddle tank she uses Roundhouse running gear.
Above right: Clearly no one on Ferd’s line is going thirsty. And just look how those vertical planks fit neatly in their slots. The skip frame was cast in resin from Ferd’s own moulds. Both photos: Ferd Mels
ARDEN G Rail Now is the time to go Large...
Would you like a 40 per cent increase? Yes? How about 60 per cent? Are you kidding Mr Stockdale? Yes, and no. You see I am talking about size relative to 16mm and not, sadly, a humungous pay rise – those two percentages give a first indication of just how much bigger 7/8ths and 1/12th scale are over 16mm.
And yet, and this is the really good news, these models can be yours, large as life, running on your track (though it may be wise to quickly check clearances) because they are just as happy on 32 or 45mm as your present 16mm or G scale.
So how did these scales arise? It seems likely that, in the 1990s, a few modellers had similar thoughts to those pioneers of 16mm in the 1960s. “Hmm,” they said, “rather than use 16mm scale on 32mm track to model two foot gauge why not use 22.5mm scale on 45mm track instead? It would be usefully bigger and easier on the eye and should be easier to get scale live steamers to work a bit more smoothly too.” Having sat and thought about this a bit some other bright sparks pitched in with “and that would mean 32mm track nicely represents 18-inch in the real world.”
Even before this, however, those who liked their measurements to be of an imperial nature had realised that twelve times the 1.25in (32mm) of O gauge equals 15in gauge. And that is exactly the gauge chosen by Sir Arthur Heywood, baronet and engineer, for his estate railways. And so 1/12th scale, for model railways at least, was born.
But aren’t these models expensive, or far too big, or both? Well, no. If anything larger scale models are typically a similar size to their 16mm brethren. How so? Because many people modelling in these scales are attracted by small prototypes. And by using some of the basic steam or battery chassis provided by current 16mm manufacturers, costs need be no greater either.
All this is very well, but why bother? Why not stick with the tried and tested? I’m glad you asked…
BRAVE LITTLE ENGINES I came to narrow gauge via the Talyllyn Railway. I was 13 and had previously been in thrall to standard gauge and God’s Wonderful Railway. Then I discovered LTC Rolt’s Railway Adventure and nothing would ever be the same again.
The frontispiece to the book has a photograph of track wandering away uphill. It is overgrown and neglected; of proper ballast there is no sign, leaving the impression that only the soil and grass keep the rails in place. On the left is a buckled and broken wooden gate, whilst on the right and behind rises the steep slope of a Welsh hillside. It was about as far from a mainline as one could imagine, yet it was (and still is) a real railway.
It is thanks to these beginnings I have been having my own ‘Railway Adventure,’ albeit in model form, and often in pursuit of gauges narrower than the Talyllyn’s 2ft 3in, ever since.
ARDEN G Rail