Railway Modelling

I have always been interested in railways and have been railway modelling since an early age. I started with the usual OO gauge system common in the UK (which I still have) and during my early teens, built an extensive layout in my parents attic. Things slowed whilst attending University due to time and money constraints, but picked up again afterwards. Today, I still have a small collection of OO locomotives with me in the US, many of which I’ve built from kits. The remainder of my collection still exists and is with my father in the UK.

I have also always had an interest in narrow gauge railways and started building various OO9 Scale narrow gauge locomotives from kits, primarily etched brass kits from Backwoods Miniatures, as well as scratch-aid kits from Worsley Works. OO9 scale is 4mm scale models (the same as regular OO scale model trains), but running on narrow gauge track (9mm gauge, same as N-scale). The nearest US and Continental equivalents are HOn30 and HOe scales. OO9 is equivalent to 2’3″ gauge, but is often used to represent railways systems with gauges of between 2 foot (such as the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways) and 2’6″ (such as the Leek and Manifold railway). (If built to true scale, 4mm scale models of 2 foot gauge railways would require a track gauge of 8mm – OO8. However, there is no commercial track system available in this gauge and so scratch building of the track would be necessary – a time consuming and tedious process at best. So we compromise by using N gauge (9mm) track geometry and mechanisms. To be honest, the discrepancy of 1mm is hardly noticeable and gives te modeler just a bit more space to squeeze tiny mechanisms into the tiny bodies).

OO9 is definitely a modellers scale and not shake the box modelling. There are very few ready to run items of rolling stock available. Most locomotives and rolling stock have to be built from kits or scratch. However, being 4 mm scale (the same as OO), commercially available scenic items can be utilized (though I mainly make my own). Due to the small scale and the focus on narrow gauge trains, these are small items and so it can be a challenge to build them to an acceptable standard. Diane thinks I’m perverse for working in this scale and should just work on something bigger!

Although I model narrow gauge, I prefer larger rolling stock such as those found on Colonial railways. The larger items are also easier to build! As such, there are no dinky little 0-4-0’s on my system!

When we bought our house in Maryland, it had a basement and I have started to construct a layout called Lientwardine to run the models I have built. To date the main baseboard structure is built and the main track laid. Some scenic and structure work has been started, but the next major job is to sort out the electrics. The system runs on DCC, which gives increased control and reliability. However, it is more complex, expensive and time consuming to build.

I am not alone in modelling OO9, though it is still very much a niche scale. Some of the major influences on my modelling have been John De Frayysinet with his County gate and Cliffhanger layouts, and Ted Polet with his Craigcorrie and Dunnalistair system.

Some of the models I have built are shown below. Most are built from etched brass kits and are of soldered construction.

Narrow Gauge Models (OO9)


This was my first etched brass narrow gauge model – a Backwoods Miniatures NGG16 Garratt articulated locomotive, modeled after the real loco # 153, now preserved at the Sandstone Heritage Trust in South Africa. Most people start small when they learn  new skills – I started big! She runs well, but needs some running in.


Another etched brass Backwoods kit – Russell from the Welsh highland Railway, now undergoing overhaul and restoration to working order. A nice kit to build and pictured in front of the scratch built station building on Lientwardine.

IMG_0130  IMG_0122_2

A pair of rebuilt Funkey Works Diesel Hydraulics, built from a Worsley works scratch aid brass fret and a lot of scratch-building. These locomotives are based on the rebuilt loco on the Ffestiniog Railway, although a built a pair of them and they are seen double heading on Lientwardine. A customized Hollywood Foundry Bull-Ant chassis powers each loco. They carry the names “Butler Castle” and “Norfolk Castle” respectively.

Completed NA

This is an Australian NA 2-6-2T locomotive # 14A, as currently running on the Puffing Billy Railway in Australia. This was an experiment that started with a 3D printed body. The designer rescaled the computer files for the body from HO (3.5mm scale) to OO (4mm scale) for me and I had it printed by Shapeways. Many of the details were replaced with scratch built items and a scratch built bar-frame was constructed from soldered square brass rod. The loco is powered by a Bull ant Power bogie to which external flycranks and rods are attached. This loco is almost complete and since the photo was taken, the front and rear bogie framing has been finished. This loco was a guest loco on Cliffhanger at Peterborough, UK in October 2013.


My current project –  a freelance Kitson Meyer articulated locomotive. The design is from John de Fraysinnet of County Gate fame and I was able to measure his locomotive whilst in the UK at the Peterborough exhibition in 2013, so that I can produce my own model. All scratch built from brass strip and sheet, apart from the upper cabsides, cab front and rear, dome , chimney, smokebox dart, cylinders and valve gear, and power bogies (that started life as Farish class 08 diesel shunters!). Nearly finished now.

I am also now the owner of a unique freelance diesel railcar built by John DeFrayssinett of County Gate fame, shown below whilst running on Cliffhanger


I also have a pair of South African Class 91 diesels in build at the moment (not pictured), along with a whitemetal body kit for the Sierra leone Hunslet #85, which is awaiting a chassis. Awaiting build are two more NGG16’s, two Polish Lxd2 Bo-Bo diesels, a Lyd2 diesel, a Vale of Rheidol 2-6-2T, a Lynton and Barnstable Manning Wardle 2-6-2T and a US Prairie locomotive. Plenty to keep my busy for a while. I also have a kit of the first ever garrat, K1 to build for a client which I really must get on with soon.

Standard Gauge Models (OO Gauge)


This is a model of the BR Standard 8P, “Duke of Gloucester”, built from a DJH Loco brass and whitemetal kit. I built this for my father, but have never quite gotten around to sending it back to him in the UK. A nice model, fully soldered together, it lives in my display case as I have nowhere to run it.


Another DJH kit, this time of the unique Somerset and Dorset 7F freight locomotives. This was obviously an older kit and it showed in the castings. A fair amount of work was required to get the castings up to scratch and build a reasonable model. The original tender was replaced by an etched brass version from Comet models. I have just noted that I still need to add the BR totem to the tender. This model also remains in the display case, partly because it isn’t that great a runner. i really need to rebuild the chassis at some point, but it can wait a while because as soon as I finished this loco, Bachmann brought out a ready to run version (which I have)!


Yet another DJH kit, this time of the WD 2-10-0. This one is still in build and will be finished as the Longmoor Millitary Railway #600 “Gordon” (now preserved at the Severn Valley Railway), because I like the colorful livery associated with it!. This has been on hold for a while, but I hope to progress with it soon.


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