5.5mm Association

The Malcolm Savage Archive

Gwynant Valley Developments

New Narrow Gauge Stock in 5½mm scale

by Malcolm Savage

Photographs by the author.

Railway Modeller - May 1990

Reproduced courtesy of Railway Modeller

At work: the freelance shunter hauls the Cleminson 6-wheeler and the NWNGR brake composite.

This is the latest article describing the locomotives and rolling stock that I have built for the Gwynant Valley Railway. It contains details of a few items of rolling stock, for which there are as yet no suitable locomotives, and a freelance diesel engine. During the last few months while writing these articles I have acquired four GEM kits in various states of decay - two Earl of Merioneths and two Princes. Further articles will follow as these locomotives are rebuilt.

The Prototypes
The Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, which opened in 1898, was well equipped with 16 bogie coaches built by the Bristol Wagon and Carriage Works. Of these coaches only two have been modelled so far, a six compartment composite and a brake composite with observation compartment. The latter coach was also fitted with a dog box which was removed at a later date. All of these vehicles were substantially built with wooden bodies on steel underframes. They ran on massive plate framed bogies fitted with roller bearing axle boxes and running gear inside the frames. Lighting was by oil lamps and unlike many other railways of that time there was one lamp to each compartment. Of the three coaches that avoided scrapping two have survived intact, one in running condition on the Festiniog Railway.

The Lynton & Barnstaple observation coach.

In 1907 the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway (NWNGR) purchased a new brake composite coach, No. 4, to replace a similar vehicle that had been supplied in 1874. More luggage space was provided in the new coach which was finished in red with gilt lining. It was built by R. Y. Pickering and Co. Ltd. to their standard design for 60 cm gauge stock. Towards the end of 1876 or early 1877 C. E. Spooner departed from the NWNGR and James Cleminson was appointed engineer. He designed three six-wheeled coaches for the railway using his system of articulation and also a six-wheeled wagon similarly articulated. It is not absolutely certain that this wagon was built as no photographic or other evidence exists, but a drawing was certainly produced by the Metropolitan Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. Ltd. for such a wagon and it is from this drawing that the model was made.

The flexible wheelbase of these vehicles consisted of three sub-frames each carrying one pair of wheels. The end frames were pivoted and were linked by radius arms to the centre frame which was given considerable lateral movement. When the centre wheels moved sideways the end pairs of wheels were angled to follow the curve in the track.

The small diesel locomotive is a free-lance model and therefore there is no prototype information.

The Models
The two Lynton and Barnstaple coaches were built at the same time as the six Festiniog railway 'barns'. As the Festiniog buffet car No. 14 is an ex-Lynton and Barnstaple coach, I thought that it would be interesting to compare this rebuilt vehicle with others in their original condition. Hence the existence of two Lynton and Barnstaple coaches but no other rolling stock from that railway. Unfortunately when making these two coaches I forgot that the Festiniog Railway had reduced the height of their coach and I made the sides of the Lynton and Barnstaple coaches the same height. Rather than make the sides again, I added strips along the bottom which is not immediately obvious although the join does show on close inspection. The lamp tops and bungs were turned from plastic knitting needles using form tools. Care is required when turning plastic as excessive heat causes it to soften. The footboards and footboard brackets were originally made from plastic but as these were very fragile they were replaced with metal versions. Both of the coaches were originally fitted with plasticard bogies but these have been replaced by resin cast bogies with the wheels running in brass bearings.

A closer look at the NWNGR vehicle.

The freelance diesel has Airfix Drewry parentage.

The NWNGR coach No. 5 is a straightforward piece of plasticard construction and calls for little comment. The wagon also has a simple body but as it is a Cleminson vehicle the underframe is a little more complicated. Each axle is supported in a plasticard frame. The centre unit can move laterally between guides and the end units radially around screws positioned centrally under the axles. The end units have inward projections which engage with notches on the centre unit. Two retaining strips hold the centre frame in place. No provision was made for vertical movement of the centre axle and this has produced problems in running. It continually carries a heavy load to hold it down onto the track.

The small diesel locomotive is a conversion of an Airfix Drewry shunter. Very few modifications have been made to the body. The bonnet has been shortened by one panel, the cab has been raised by five millimetres, skirts have been fitted and metal handrails, bell, horn and exhaust have also been added. The mechanism is a GEM 'Prince' chassis and there is a large block of lead in the bonnet for added adhesion. The loco was intended to work the storage yard on my first layout but even then made occasional sorties out onto the main line. It now deputises for 'Kathleen' or 'Charles' if either should fail in service.