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Base Infrastructure

The Elevated Railway.

The two above are examples of functioning railways and should be used for your simple "Russian Arithmetic" and "Ball Park" figures. The former used pressure treated wood planks and posts set into the ground using Metposts and Concrete. The latter uses steel posts set into concrete with a steel frame supporting a type of MDF sheeting.

Using pressure treated timber is slightly different to raw timber. It is a "wet" timber and will weigh far more than you expect as the pressure treatment may take up to two years to completely dry out. The main UK system is called "Tanalith <E>". This leaves a brownish green coloured wood, cut ends of the wood have to be treated with a coat of "Endseal" treatment paint. The treatment toughens the wood quite a lot so power equipment will have to be used rather than a panel saw. Use a power driver to put the screws in and these should be of the Saw Screw type. I would advise using screws with a "Torx" driver head as both Cheese and Pozi drive heads can split due the torque required.

The Ground Level Railway.

The Era of the Railway.

Reviewing the Questionairre you should now know what sort of railway you are going to build. If you have visited some of the Preservation Railways you will know that quite a few of them are a hodge-podge of things from all over time and space, as they have, quite rightly, grabbed what they could! This means that probably somewhere in their collection are the pieces that will help you "define" your railway era. The Big Four Railways had some very distinctive styles of building things and by simply adding these "touches" it is surprising how soon the railway travels back in time to the correct era.

A semaphore signal with a brass globe finial -says GWR. A signal made from left over rusting rail says Southern Railways. Anything Apple Green says LNER (a simpler EYE totem will do) and of course "Crimson Lake" is LMS.

Edwardian era railways are even more colourful and may take some "squinting" to get used to their colour schemes, The Great North Of Scotland used Salmon Pink and Emerald Green... There is a simple colour match chart elsewhere.

I would advise you to study prints and postcards of things that would have been found around the railway in the era that you have decided on. A horse and cart is fine up to the 50's but a Scammel is more 50's and 60's. A Silver Ghost cannot be found on your station before 1905 etc. The pillar box that says GR rather than ER is a safer bet for a station. Signs and such like are also a mental pointer to the era you are using. A cute "Miss Pears" advert is pure pre 1970's as Pears Soap stopped the competition then.

Pay attention to the "little things" that will date your railway to the period and area you want. Things such as conical milk churns would not be seen after the 50's, While a period platform bench in the curlicue GWR script is a great addition, it would only really fit in a GWR themed railway. Similarly poster frames painted red or black with LMS on them help fix the feeling. Several suppliers produce such dress up parts such as LNWR property markers. But I doubt anyone produces the "TIKKI Death Mask" marker that was used by NZGR to mark its territory on the South Island of NZ! I have an early 405line B+W TV ariel gracing the chimney of my station. Some of the asbestos corrugated sheets on the roof have been replaced with rusting iron.

Think about the colour schemes that would have been used to paint the buildings. Brilliant White has only really been around since the 60's. Formerly Cream coloured Lead and Tin based paint would have been used. The classic colour for the 20's is now called "Eau de Nile" and was pretty much the only green that they had. Victorian and Edwardian paints were based on metal oxides and were very bright to modern eyes. If you look at the "Smoothrite" paint chart you get some idea of what they would have looked like. "Rocket" was bright yellow because yellow lead oxide paint was common. Gloss paint is again a modern thing. The paints used would have been more "egg shell" than gloss, gloss finishes would have been achieved by layers of varnish -turning it slightly yellow.

Having asked a friend at a local paint laboratory the infamous question; "What is Maunsell Green?" the answer sourly given was, "Nobody Knows". When the Southern Railway was formed the CME went across the road to a grocers shop and bought a length of green ribbon which was duly cut up and dispatched to the various paint shops in the new company. The local artisans then matched the ribbon as far as they could with what they had at hand. Paint swatches of Maunsell Green for the mixers at Ashford, loving maintained there by the SECR museum, are now a strange collection. Not one of them is still green, similarly the Malachites are now a distinct purplish colour...

Up until WW1 it was common to cover everything made of steel with "Red Oxide" or "Zinc Green" protective paint, Grey Primer is more 50's.

Buildings, Stations and Sidings.

Walking into any old station nowadays then the colour and brickwork will tell you who were the original builders. Look at St Pancras and Kings Cross -both made by rival railway companies, and Victoria Station that used to have the "Chatham and Brighton" sides... Some Railway companies became famous for the colour of their buildings. The Great Central only used Terracotta and Cream for its "London Extension". Some railway stations were "statements" and the original GWR Snow Hill Station in Birmingham and the Great Central Viaduct across the Midland Station in Nottingham fall into this area. So quite a few of the older stations were quite flashy compared to modern ones. This was seen as "advertising and branding" as we would term it.

Building styles are one of the hardest things to "produce". Sometimes the station that you have travelled to looks subtly familiar but you cannot place why. There used to be four railways stations made by the Midland Counties that were almost identical in "feel" -these were Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Sheffield. All have red brick and porticos. This style was carried on to the smaller stations such as Loughborough. It is a simple two platform station but it has the feel of a major station because of the design elements that have been carried with it.

GRS and others sell resin based kits that may be classed as "Generic" and with the aid of a little imagination it is possible to move a station or building from another part of the UK to Home Territory and then Time Warp it to the correct era. However for some things you are just going to have to fudge. Fortunately the scale used by G3 is 1:22.6 and the scale used by LGB is 1:22.5. Thus quite a lot of "G" scale stuff is applicable with some inspiration. The ports of Dover and Folkestone operated a roll-on roll-off system with SNCF and previously NORD railways. Thus is would be quite possible to have a Continental drivers shed with a Southern loco and carriages parked by it with a SNCF or NORD dressed figures...

Sidings are stark. Whatever you do you will always end up with a mass of parallel tracks and points. Functionally there are only two designs for a yard. These are "King+Queen" and "Rightward". The former uses Y points to produce two sorted lines while the latter uses a series of RH points from one feeder line. K+Q produces a larger but more flexible system with lines always in an even number and is normally seen with "hump shunting". Rightward has any number of lines but is typically a smaller installation.

If you have figures around your sidings remember that the shunters had a special cap -it had no peak. This enabled them to see oncoming wagons without raising their head.


These are very problematical... I have a small "hedge" of Craneberries that were not supposed to grow more than 45cm tall. Now they are approaching 1.5m and I will have to "fell" them. Similarly the small "dwarf" maples favoured by my late wife! I have tried small dwarf "fairy" roses under my trackbed -only for the them to leapfrog their assigned places to nearly 2m high. If you are going to plant near your railway make sure that they "really are" going to be dwarf...

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Page last modified on January 20, 2018, at 09:40 AM