Bridging the Boltorr Brook

The dam complex is now hot-glue tacked in place, so the next stage is to blend it into the landscape and complete the permanent way from Boltorr tunnel to the Boltorr-Tavystock road bridge, then I can get on with laying the track.

The track levels should be in perfect alignment because I completed the track plane before sawing out the void over the Brook.

I had intended that the rail bridge be an open structure with gaps between the rails and the river below. However, this was going to be a modelling challenge, and besides, after thinking about it, I thought it unlikely that anyone, even Victorians, would allow a pristine water source to be contaminated by ash, cinders and grease dropping from a railway above. So, I’ve built a solid deck to contain the track and ballast.

Road bed set into the bridge before weathering and stuff
Road bed set into the bridge before weathering and stuff

The original bridge is a HO kit from The Micro Engineering Company – Single Track Thru Girder Bridge 75-520. Bollards are from Billing Boats and the railings are feed wires from various obsolete audio and USB cables super-glued into place.

The decking for the permanent way staff is made up from MicroMark Boat Decking and aged/weathered with Age-It-Easy. Yes. That’s what it’s called. Additional rivets are a MicroMark decal.

Final weathering and aging before being put in place.
Final weathering and aging before being put in place.

The rest is fabricated from styrene sheet and profiles from Evergreen and Plastruct, then “weathered” and further rendered with vallejo “rust” wash and varying degrees of acrylic washes from white to black from any craft store you care to mention.

Fortunately, there is a lot of leeway before you get the look right… But when it is, just fix with matt spray.

Next: blending the scenary or track-laying… Not sure what…

Peco code 75 FB v. BH

I’ve been asked more than a few times whether it’s worth going over to Peco BH track. FB being “flat bottom” profile rail, and BH being “bull head”, a profile found in the UK until the 80s.

Given that OO gauge is a fudge there is always going to be a compromise about track standards. But it has to be said that FB definitely looks superior, even given the restraints.

Streamline FB top; BH bottom
Streamline FB top; BH bottom

Peco Streamline Code 75 Flat Bottom was not designed for the UK market. The track is modelled on HO standards, understandable given the worldwide market for HO, OO being an almost exclusively UK peccadillo.

As you can see from the above image, the sleepers on the FB rail are correctly spaced for 1:87/HO rail, but look too close and narrow for 1:76/OO. The BH has correct spacing and width for OO layouts, given that the rails are too close together for a true scale model. Therein lies an interesting discussion on “gauge” v “scale”. But that’s for another day.

Getting closer to eye-level, the difference appears more like this:

Comparing Peco OO BH - left - to Streamline FB HO/OO - right
Comparing Peco OO BH – left – to Streamline FB HO/OO – right

On a practical note, Peco FB seems to be more fragile than Streamline, so that might be a consideration, and the range of turnouts is restricted at the moment, although given FB’s reception in the railway modelling world this should change soon.

I don’t know that I’d rip up a lifetime’s work on my model railway to install FB, but I’d certainly use it on any new project, even where, technically, BH wasn’t appropriate because its looks outweigh any conflict with FB rail being actually more authentic, and any compromise is far less than the HO/OO thing.

I have some original Streamline left, but in future it will be consigned to tunnels and fiddle yards

Where in the world?

As is obvious by now, this railway is in another – albeit very similar – universe.

And this is a map of my particular corner of the multiverse.

Tamerton Hinterland
The general location – in a galaxy far, far away…

While you’re reading this I am working to fit the Boltorr dam and rail bridge into the landscape before I can actually lay some track.

This involves making the contours look plausible and sealing the Brook so I can install “water” which will flow from the overflow outlet into the original watercourse. It’s not going to be a raging torrent. Just deep pools and appropriate rocks and plant life.

I’m going to have to make a slight permanent way realignment because, at the moment, Peco is only producing regular bullhead track turnouts.

Maybe I should get back to Kernow Model Rail Centre and see if they have any insight into Peco’s plans.

More Nostalgia…

A slideshow of images on the Marsh Mills- Launceston branch in 1962.

The Boltorr branch would have split off, north-eastwards across Dartmoor.

Around that time I was lucky enough to visit a few times the Tavistock Junction signal box. The signalman was Fred Morrish, a friend of my dad’s.