Roger Salisbury describes his Gauge 3 exhibition layout.
Chalfont represents a fictitious Great Western branch line terminus set in the Buckinghamshire countryside of the 1930s to 1940s.
The line is lightly used, with passenger services being handled by steam-hauled autocoach or diesel railcar. Freight traffic mainly serves the local dairy together with local coal and general produce requirements.
The layout was constructed to bring Gauge 3 to exhibitions, and to show that this gauge can be accommodated in a relatively modest area.
At the end of the layout, we find the coaling facility and an Emhar plastic kit for a Bedford lorry.
Perhaps I should explain why and how Chalfont was conceived.
Ever since I visited Bekonscot model village, I have wanted a garden railway. Fast forward 50 years or so and I saw a Gauge 3 Society display – there and then I knew that Gauge 3 was THE gauge for me.
I was quickly introduced to Garden Railway Specialists (GRS) in Princes Risborough and joined The Gauge 3 Society, following which my garden railway was started. As a society member, I met many like-minded friends at garden get-togethers where I soon realised that Gauge 3 rarely saw public exposure and that needed to change if the gauge was to flourish.
One of my new friends was building a Gauge 3 exhibition layout and asked for my help at a forthcoming exhibition. I realised that here was an opportunity to raise the profile of the gauge. The layout gradually grew over time with the addition of several modular sections, one of which was twelve feet long including a small station halt and goods yard on three baseboards. Although it worked well, it was rather cramped and some of the turnouts gave continual trouble – a rebuild was required!
After much thought, I decided to bite the bullet, strip the section right back to bare baseboards and start again. I wanted to exhibit the station area separately from the main layout, if possible, and to be able to show my layout in Southern guise when connected to the main layout, but also in Great Western guise as a stand-alone exhibit – quite a challenge.
Although you think of Terriers as Southern locomotives, the GWR inherited a couple when it absorbed the Weston, Clevedon and Portishead Railway in 1940.
Reconstruction started in November 2017. A fourth baseboard was first constructed from 3x1 timber, braced and topped with 5mm plywood to match the construction of the existing 3 baseboards. The scenic section would now be 16 feet long and should allow for better track formation even though I was following the original track plan.
At this point I decided to meet the next challenge – I would build my own pointwork (for the first time ever) which would require the construction of three standard turnouts plus one 3-way turnout. I used Cliff Barker stainless steel rail and ABS sleepers and chairs. After some initial tuition and a little final tweaking, I found this task very satisfying and not the daunting job I had feared.
All track work is built using Cliff Barker components, and points are manually changed. Being hands-on seems to work well at shows and doesn't look unnatural as it can do in smaller scales.
If Chalfont was to be exhibited as a stand-alone layout it needed two new ends. A small headshunt was required at one end and a further scenic section to hide a fiddle yard at the other. The headshunt is 36 inches long and was built using similar materials to the main baseboards, braced internally and plywood topped. The other scenic end was also constructed using the same methods, but as two 3-foot baseboards which top and tail with the headshunt for transporting. Chalfont was now 25 feet long and 3 feet wide – not very large in Gauge 3 terms!
With the track laid, my thoughts turned to scenic matters. General contours were created with polystyrene blocks, carved to shape and covered with plaster-of-Paris bandage. Once dry, the bandage was painted brown and a variety of scenic scatter materials, glued on with a dilute mix of PVA adhesive with the addition of a few drops of washing-up liquid. The track was ballasted with 3mm granite chippings glued in place with the PVA mix.
The layout is brought to life with buildings and scenic accessories. I have used proprietary kits for the station building, water tower and various huts. All other structures, including Chalfont Dairies, are scratch-built from a mixture of Plastikard or timber, covered where appropriate with embossed products.
Trees have been placed at strategic points and help to give height to the diorama and to disguise the exit to the fiddle yard. The station fences are proprietary products but the field fences are made from pre-drilled matchwood strung with thin wire. Use has also been made of various figures to bring focus to certain areas and include a 3D-scanned figure of myself on the platform.
The GWR "Flying Banana". The kit has a one-piece resin body shell with a plastic floor. Power is supplied using two modified RTR USA Trains power trucks fitted with stainless steel wheels. At 85cm long, you need to be careful moving it around.
My locos are all built from GRS kits, though some have been heavily modified, they are sound fitted and battery powered for radio control. The carriages and wagons are kit built from GRS and Williams Models products, many liveried for local businesses.
Prior to lockdown, I was able to take Chalfont to several exhibitions including those held at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre and the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. Then in 2020, with no exhibitions to attend, I had time to attend to a number of modifications including extending the headshunt from its original 12 inches to the 3 feet length described above.
The layout had its first outing since 2019 to the National Garden Railway Show in June 2021. Although successful, this showed that there is still work to do on the layout (isn’t there always with a railway?) so minor modifications and improvements will be added to the list of round tuits!
Finally, I would like to thank my friends from the Gauge 3 Society for their help and encouragement both in the development and exhibiting the layout.
Sixty Adams 02 Class 0-4-4T's were built between 1889 and 1895 first by their designer Adams and then by Drummond. The GRS kit is made up of three cast resin parts mounted on a steel footplate with brass buffer beams and valences. The chassis is laser cut steel and brass with Slater's wheels and GRS motor/gearbox.