Layout – North Star Railway

The North Star Railway

This is a dual 32/45mm gauge ground level railway under construction in my (or maybe I should say my wife’s as she is the gardener in our family!) garden.


Tenmile gauge 1 (45mm) plastic sleepers are used. The rail is second hand code 200 (Bond’s?) brass bull head. A jig was used to drill the holes for the chairs for the third rail to permit 16mm motive power and rolling stock to be run.

Another jig was built to make it easier to slide the rail through the chairs. The 32mm track is used primarily for live steam so is not electrified. Digitalised LGB equipment is operated on the 45mm track so it is powered.

Base and ballasting

Being at ground level, the track is laid on top of the brick border of flower beds at the front of the house. An extension takes the line down the driveway still on brick especially laid for the purpose. The next challenge is to cross the driveway and enter the garden proper.

Ballasting of the track with crusher fines may be undertaken at some stage but only after the track has been (re)fastened to the brick. (Hint do not try and do this with a glue gun. The result is brilliant for a few days until the rain comes and moisture permeates under the sleepers and they detach from the brick. A silicon adhesive would be a much better alternative.)

Track Plan

There isn’t one! I am just making it up as I go along but I do subscribe to the philosophy of the late Bob Symes in a Discovery television series:

“A railway for me whether it is a model railway or anything else has to go from somewhere, it has to look as if it is naturally if you can say such a thing about a model railway, naturally grown. You don’t want to see a railway chasing its tail. You don’t want to see the thing running round and round. That I dislike intentionally. A railway is a line. It does a service.”


Ok there is a long term plan – the track is to circle the house. The problem at this stage is points. Remembering that they too have to be dual gauge, they would be too expensive to have custom made in the UK and I am still trying to have a go at building them myself. But watch this space!

Taking account of the length of the run and the fact that certainly on the 16mm track manually operated live steam will predominate, an end to end layout while preferred may not be that practical. At present a dogbone looks to be the favourite.

There has been a number of articles on the construction of the North Star Railway track in the North Star Chronicles. Please refer to the Index under the Chronicles section of the website should you wish to access them. In addition the Gallery section features a number of photos and videos taken on the line.