'N' Gauge Progress

 Chris is forced to scratchbuild, as he continues his project to recreate Staines West in 'N' gauge. CHRIS LEIGH

Chris is forced to scratchbuild, as he continues his project to recreate Staines West in 'N' gauge. CHRIS LEIGH

As I get deeper and deeper into my ’N' gauge project, I’m realising just how poorly catered for the ’N’ gauge modeller is...

True, locomotives and coaches are no problem, nor are buildings - unless you require something specific. It’s the details that are the problem. Fine, if you want just a station nameboard, lamp post or a water column. However, it’s a different matter if you want a specific lamp post, for instance, a GWR swan-neck gas lamp. In ‘OO’, specific pre-grouping accessories for the main companies are usually easy enough to find. You just need to look at ranges such as Scalelink, Springside or Mike’s Models and, provided your requirements are not too obscure, you’ll find what you’re seeking or something you can convert.

Not so in ’N’. I wanted a couple of classic GWR round cast iron nameboard posts. Nothing. Then I was looking for GWR swan-neck gas lamps. No joy... It was then that I realised that part of the reason such things are (or were) available to 4mm:1ft scale modellers, was because I made them. Way back in the 1960s, when I was faced with the same situation in ‘OO’, I set about making the basic items, initially for the GWR using cast white metal or etched brass, whichever was more appropriate. Once I’d done GWR and Southern station nameboards (running-in boards as they are known) it was logical to make something suitable for LMS and LNER, too. So the range grew, others entered the fray with products of their own and there wasn’t much by way of platform detailing accessories that you couldn’t buy.

That has never happened in 'N’ gauge, largely I suspect because the market isn’t big enough and because some items would be impossible to cast in the smaller scale. GWR swan-neck gas lamps, for instance, suffered a shockingly high failure rate in ‘OO’. The scale 1in diameter gas pipe that formed the swan-neck would be impossible to cast in 'N’ gauge. So, I’ve ended up making my own, and here’s the first. It’s half a cocktail stick, turned down in a mini-drill with fine sandpaper and fitted with a wire swan-neck. I’ve six to make but fortunately several of the real ones were just posts with totems, the swan-necks having long gone.

And the totem? Well, I used Scalescenes download initially, but my printer seemed unable to get the lettering in register within the totem shape in such a small size. So I took my real totem off the wall, photographed it, reduced it down on computer (slightly oversized - it should be 6mm long but I made it 7mm to give myself half a chance of being able to see it well enough!) and printed it out multiple times.  

Now I need a conical water tank and a square-post fixed distant signal... (CJL)