Model Engineering / SR&RL(SD) Track Construction


A 5" gauge private railroad -- currently under construction

The Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad existed for a short time in Maine on the upper east coast of the United States. It was dismantled in 1935. As many of my current modelling projects centre around this railroad it is fitting to name the railroad the SR&RL, the Southern Division came about because this version is in the land down under! The layout of the mainline loosely follows that of the Kingfield area of Maine.

The mainline construction is in two, possibly three stages. Current trackage on the ground is just over 500 metres and thirteen switches. Stage 1 is a circular route of 206 metres with the remaining 300 metres in sidings. Stage 2 has been modified to take an easier route through another paddock and will increase the stage 1 mainline route to 500m. Perhaps I might one day extend the line from the western end of stage 1 to a dam about 10 meters below with a line, yet to be surveyed, of between 300 and 400 metres distant with a loop around the dam wall and return via the same line giving a complete run of about 1500 metres.

The first steam up and trail run of the track took place on 27 January 2007, a great way to celebrate on the Australia day weekend. A few friends and family came along to share the moment.

NEWS - July 2010

4 July: This weekend Garry and I laid 11 x 6m panels which makes 30 panels (180m) past the starting point. We are now roughly 75% along the route!

10 July: My wife and I finished off 3 more track panels. On 11 July the weather turned nasty and rained on and off all day, we set 4 panels out but was unable to weld them together. I was able to get the welded track curve for the road crossing completed in between rain showers.

18 July: Late in the afternoon as the sun was only moments from setting, the final weld brings tracklaying to a conclusion. Garry and I laid 4 x 6m panels on 17 July and 3 and a bit panels on 18 July. There was a fair bit of work re-aligning the road surface at the crossing to make it easy for vehicles to travel over the track. All that remains is to ballast the line. Don't forget to check out the ammended track plan below.

June 2010

After the susccessful steaming bay christening last September we have had a couple more runs and everything is working okay. Once the ground work for the mainline extension was completed in October 2009 we had to wait for the soft earth to consolidate. It takes a lot of rain to do that and we had to wait a long time for that to happen. In the meantime I finished off my Wife's GER electric powered Steam Tram just in time for Christmas. After Christmas I got stuck into the sleeper slotting machine to make the new track for the mainline extension (the orange line on the track plan). Once the slotting machine was complete things began to move again and the mainline extension had finally begun on 5 June! A few photos below will give you an idea of the progress so far.

19 June: Garry Nelson and I had a good session with the mainline extension track work today. It is now 72m past the starting point (12 x 6m track panels). I have updated the track plan and you will be able to watch the orange line gradually become a black line as the work progresses.

26 June: Garry Nelson and I worked on the mainline extension track work today with 7 more panels laid. It is now 114m past the starting point (19 x 6m track panels).

September 2009

The steaming bays are complete and operational! We had a special run on 20 September to "Christen" the steaming bays and just have an enjoyable day running on the track. We had two first time visit locomotives Ross Bishop's Fowler, Shane Mallitts Blowfly and George King's 9F with Garry Nelson's Cliff and Bunting traction engine. The unloader worked well, although I was a bit worried how it would handle Ross Bishop's BIG Fowler loco. No problem! We had many visitors enjoying the fresh country air and good company. See six new photos of the day below...

TRACK PLAN: you can see the revised track plan (pdf file - 29k) by clicking here. This was updated on 20/07/2010 and supercedes previous versions.

18 July 2010: This scene should give you an idea of the typical conditions most of the extension was made in. It was about -3 deg C when this photo was taken of the white frost while I was on my way to the railhead to continue work at 7.30am 18 July 2010: This is the second road crossing as shown on the track plan. I used a welded steel 40ft radius track panel across the road so it would be better suited to vehicular traffic.
18 July 2010: This is the virtual golden spike as the last weld is completed. A proper golden spike moment will be held after the ballast is laid. 18 July 2010: A small celebration was in order as a bottle of (very, very old) Champagne is poured over the last join. Next step is to complete the ballasting.
18 July 2010: This is the special tool to press the rail into the sleeper. It's made out of a bit of rail steel and angle iron. There is a roller that bears onto the track to negate the rotative forces. 18 July 2010: No Garry! This is not the way it is meant to go!
4 July 2010: This home-made portable rail bender was used on the original track I built around the house in Sydney. It was originally built for 20mm x 10mm and had to be modified to suit the current 25mm x 10mm rail. We found that even a small amount of prebending made a much smoother and natural looking curve than forcing a straight length around. 4 July 2010: The rail bender is cranked along the length of steel with a ratchet. This is neccessary on curves to maintain an even curve. One rail of three panels are welded together with the steel unbent. The 18m length is then pulled around to the desired curve. The second rail is bent and then pressed into the sleepers to lock the curve in place.
4 July 2010: A look along the new part as it enters another scenic bush section. The curve ahead is about 80ft radius.

4 July 2010: The track welding set up on the tractor carry-all. The right hand rail is clamped up just in front of the carry-all ready for welding. We use a couple of logs under the carry-all so it isn't resting directly on the rail. This is a nice shot of Garry Nelson.
The tractor is generally set up beside the track but in this section it was not possible.

April 2010: "Chrissy" (My wife's steam tram) out for a run on the track. It is based on the "Gerry" series that ran in AME. This version uses a 24 volt 300W motor and electronic controller. Power source is two deep cycle batteries. It is fitted with a "mylocosound" steam sound generator and Seuthe smoke generator. May 2010: The sleeper slotter has two routers fitted with 9.5mm diameter cutters. It can cut 25 treated pine sleepers (50x50x350) in one pass. An operational dust extraction unit fitted to the moving head removes the dangerous dust particles.
May 2010: The sleeper slotter showing the 12mm deep slots. Two passes of the cutters provides a good tight fit on the rails. June 2010: The first load of track panels for the mainline extension awaits departure to the railhead. The track it is sitting on is the first 50m of the 100m branchline to the "Saw mill", this line just happens to go right past the track assembly area. Only one rail is fitted to the track panels on the car at this stage.
June 2010: The rail ends are offset by 3 or 4 sleepers to provide a smoother join. You can see here how the rail sits about half-way into the slot. There has been no sign of the ends splitting off despite the very tight fit of the rail into the slot. June 2010: The old joins with the new. The main advantage of slotted sleepers are the graceful curves that can be achieved to suit any terrain. The mainline extension is finally under way! These four panels represent about 10% of the new line. It's a big job!
September-09: Ross Bishop unloading the Fowler. The support posts quickly extend to the ground to support the load until ready to lift. The roadbase has been spread around the whole turntable pit and on the road. My wife Sue with Garry helping shovelled all 12 tonnes into the barrow while I spread it around.
September-09: A view of the steaming bays. Ross brought along a string of scale narrow gauge wagons that looked well running around filled with ballast.
September-09: George King and Alan Dickson with George's 9F arriving from the mainline.
September-09: Shane Mallitt steaming up, he had a good run during the day..
September-09: At least Garry can raise steam anywhere!
(Tom Pall photo)
September-09: Ross trying his hand at the 9f.
(Tom Pall photo)
August-09: Looking over the completed service bays.
August-09: A bearing was added to the end of the turntable for vertical alignment with the mating track.
August-09: All the bays have this arrangement at the end to guide the turntable end to the correct height.
August-09: This view shows how it works with the bearing in the track guide.
August-09: Horizontal alignment uses this simple flap arrangement.
August-09: The departure road and the stairs to get out of the pit. All the service bay tracks are 50x12mm steel on 100x100mm posts.
August-09: A view down the arrival/departure road towards the turntable pit. Unfortunately the best grade I could get was 1 in 30 up to the mainline. Most locomotives running light engine should have no trouble running on this grade. The normal operation will have the locomotive entering the departure road tender first.
August-09: Early progress on the unloader traverser trollley. The parts are bolted together because it will be too heavy to lift into position when complete. The 7"x3"x5/16" channel is a remnant part of a scrapped NSWGR Signal post. The 100x50x3mm RHS will carry the Vee wheels. The lifting section is sitting underneath in this view, eventually it will sit on top of the channel and a 10ft length of track bolted to the deck of the lifter.
August-09: Traverser frame being assembled.
August-09: The scissor lift in place on the frame and running on the inverted angle iron rails. The long piece of RHS on top is one of the 10ft track rails to be secured to the deck of the lifter.
August-09: The scissor lift partially extended. The hydraulic ram is pumped manually but it is not too difficult. The lifter is rated for 500kg so it should handle just about any visiting equipment.
August-09: A general view of the loco service area. Next step is to complete and fit the running rail to the lifter deck.
9 May-09: John Oliver from Canberra brought his 12 class
along for a run.
9 May-09: John is trying out the new turntable access road and
he made it back up the grade!
9 May-09: Garry Nelson trying out the Cliff and Bunting
on a specially prepared track. The sun is setting in this
view and he kept going until dark! Our first visit of road steam.
9 May-09: The 9F made a return visit and it is seen here
posing on the new viaduct.
The viaduct has received a coat of liquid sandstone
An easterly view of the proposed station area.
A "golden spike" moment as the last section of track
completes the loop.
The trestle bridge will be located between the mounds of dirt.
The bridge will be 5 metres long and 500mm high on a
40ft radius curve. An embankment will be built up at each
end of the bridge abutments to level the track.
A south-easterly view of the completed bridge section.
The track on the left is the new branch line extension from the mainline to the shed. This is so I can steam up at the house and simply drive the train down to the main. Visitors with locos up to 6ft long can use this arrangement until the turntable and steamup bays are completed.
The new branch line to the shed with a secondary branch
that will take the firewood trains around the shed
to the wood pile on the other side of the house.
Thanks to the Wandong club for the inspiration!
The first passenger train prepares to leave the shed loco
on the new branch line.
The train continues along the new line towards the main line
The train finally got to try out the line.
Caboose 556 looks at home on the line!
The turntable under restoration. The side frames and bulkheads
were all that remained of the original.
The turntable pit cut-out with its 100 tonne of spoil in the background.
The turntable in place in the pit. It is a 10.5" scale NSW 75ft turntable originally built by Steve Cilia. The deck is 4m long!
A traverser is being built to roll out onto the road to unload
cars/trailers etc.
No, they aren't wombat holes! Getting ready for the service bays.
The ring under the turntable is to be concreted for a running rail
to support the turntable ends as it is an
authentic balancing turntable.
The mainline can just be seen above the turntable.
The handrails are modelled after the Moss Vale turntable.
The temporary loading facilities until the turntable is ready.
It works fine but suited to the smaller models only.
All the switches have been fitted with an American style switch stand modelled after a type found on the SR&RL. The red disc means you are taking the branch line.
When you switch to the straightaway, a white diamond is shown.
The beauty of these is that you can clearly see
from a distance
which way the road is set.
The turntable area showing the completed retaining wall.
The new branch line crosses the driveway to the quarry
(ballast pile). It is also the beginning of the 300m extension.
The triangle as viewed from the quarry line.
The triangle as viewed from the station end.
The triangle as viewed from the bridge. Compare this view
with the second photo above.
The station area is complete. Compare this view with the first
photo above. The line off to the lower left will be the other end
of the 300m extension.
Early work on the roadbed for the 300m extension.
Some action on completing the service bays.
The outriggers fitted to the turntable still allow a small amount of "balancing" to the deck just like the original version.
The concreting is finished now it just needs tidying up.
BEFORE: Cut along the dotted lines...
The turntable departure/arrival road cutting ready
for the mini digger. 08-03-09.
AFTER: The departure/arrival road is ready
for track laying. 13-03-09
The turntable departure/arrival road cutting ready for track.
The turntable departure/arrival road cutting ready for track.
It is a 1 in 30 grade. 13-03-09
The track work to/from the turntable is laid on 21-03-09 and...
ballasted on 22-03-09. It won't look so bad once the bridging road to the turntable is installed.
BEFORE: The long loop track lining up for the
ground levelling. 08-03-09.
AFTER: The long loop ready for track. 13-03-09
BEFORE: The loop will rejoin the main at the S-bend and
include a turnout to the centre of the main line loop
for storage roads. 08-03-09.
AFTER: The long loop ready for track. 13-03-09
The new loop completed. 04-04-09.
The long loop track. 04-04-09
A view looking east. 05-04-09.
A view showing the branch to the station and the
ground level turntable. 05-04-09
I decided that the layout should follow the Kingfield branch a little closer. This means that the station is a terminus off the main line. Here the track is just sitting for placement. 05-04-09.
Station siding complete. Temporary bump post in place until an authentic SR&RL version is made. 02-05-09
Another view of the station siding with the branch to the storage siding taking shape. 02-04-09
The traverser track taking shape. 05-04-09
Here's a different kind of sleeper under the track! Our new pup liked the soft earth for a bed as we were digging out the foundation for the new viaduct. 05-04-09.
The concrete foundation for the viaduct. 05-04-09
The viaduct is constructed of 16 Hebel blocks 600mm x 200mm x 200mm. I cut an arch in 8 of them. I know Hebel blocks are easy to work, but holding on to these full blocks in the bandsaw to cut them out, my arms were aching for a week after!! After the bandsawing I cleaned them up with wood carving disk in the angle grinder and then an orbital sander..12-04-09 A long shot of the bridge finally in place. This was the first fine weekend day since Easter! It has 2 rows of 8 blocks. Further to the left of the bridge the embankment was built up with stone edging and earth fill. 26-04-09
The ends of the blocks were cut to a 1.5 degree angle to eliminate any end gap on the 40ft radius curve.26-04-09 A closer view of the completed arch section to allow any water runoff to flow under the bridge. Once the Hebel Mortar had set the bridge was sealed with a diluted Bondcrete solution. I'll see if I can find a way to colour it as a sandstone structure. 26-04-09
The viaduct is coated with liquid sandstone.16-05-09 The roadbed for the new extension is taking shape and now extends for half the length of the extension.16-05-09
A 76m long trench 600mm deep to run power and water
to the turntable pit from the garage.13-03-09
The trench continues past the turntable
to supply water for the mainline. 13-03-09
February 2008: Scott Murray driving his Father's "Tinkerbelle"
with its narrowgauge rolling stock.
February 2008: David Lee and his Commonwealth Railways shunter making sure he cleared the turnout.
December 2008: Garry Nelson thoroughly enjoying an outing
on the track with his "Blowfly".
December 2008: This 9F is owned by George King but rebuilt by Keith Mears. Keith brought it along for a shakedown run after the rebuild and it performed faultlessly. The locomotive (with a full load) had no idea that there are inclines on this railroad!



Return to Home Page

Copyright 1999-2010, all rights reserved
Best viewed 800 x 600 with Javascript enabled