Fairlight Works

Official blog of the High Weald Light Railway (1977) Co. Ltd.

The Minority (Scale) Report

5.5mm exhibition model-railways narrow-gauge

Yes, it’s been another one of those two-months-between-updates periods. Progress on the micro layout has been steady but slow, a lot of the ballasting is now done and thought is being given to the layout of the buildings. The layout has a tentatively possible invite to an exhibition in early 2008 so I’d better not think too long. Especially since our first baby, a little girl, was born on Thursday…

The Minority (Scale) Report

Meanwhile, a(nother) diversion. The dry-run above is most of a kit for the Ffestiniog loco Palmerston in the unusual scale of 5.5mm/ft. This scale arose in the 1950s when GEM produced a series of kits to take advantage of the then new TT (3mm) scale to represent 2′ gauge on 12mm track. Although the original kits are long out of production they have been taken on by Malcolm Savage who has upgraded and re-released them. This is an example of Malcolm’s kit, which is provided with a static chassis but a ready-to-run mechanism is available separately. Poring over the Railway Modeller articles on Malcolm’s 5.5mm layout Gwynant Valley in the 1980s was one of the main reasons I picked up such an interest in narrow gauge.

I’ve been thinking about 5.5mm scale as a diversification from 009 modelling for a little while, and joined the scale Association at the back end of last year. Initially I planned to work with either 9mm or 16.5mm gauge track to represent 18″ or 3′ gauge, respectively, but seeing Francis Stapleton’s excellent layout Ty Bach at the Amberley Railway Gala last month reminded me that really, 2′ gauge is where it’s at. The locos and stock have a very appealing size and weight in the scale and the sight of an armoured Simplex trundling over (deliberately) uneven track with a couple of slate wagons in tow was very evocative.

Ty Bach
A scene from Ty Bach by Francis Stapleton

It remains to be seen how far and how quickly I get anywhere in 5.5mm scale. My initial guess is “not very” considering how full my life is with other things and how much it necessarily has to be a scratch-builder’s scale, but for the long term it’s definitely something I want to pursue.

Back in 009 land, eBay has also just supplied a pair of Bachmann Spectrum N gauge diesels (an F3 A and B unit, both powered). I think one of these will prove to be a better length for the Indian ZDM5 diesel I’ve been attempting to build on a Fleischmann chassis and now realise I have completely failed to blog about so far. So more on that next time (which I promise will be in less than two months time…)