Narrow Gauge Railways

Building SM32 Narrow Gauge Model

Narrow Gauge Railways

I am personally fascinated by narrow gauge railways and the way that history has forgotten so many of them, particularly the small industrial railways that worked so hard and were scrapped to make way for lorry fleets with out being notices. In the UK there was well over 1000 railways that worked hard behind heavy industry that the public did not really see, hauling millions of tonnes of mineral freight in quarries and mines. Many people now only see narrow gauge as a small train giving quaint passenger rides on a tourism line for amusement. 

Any railway where the rails are less than 4ft8½ or standard gauge are termed as being narrow gauge, the most hard working narrow gauges tended to be around 2ft gauge, allowing them to haul massive loads round tight corners, up steep grades hugging cliff sides. A standard gauge could not have gone through the same places with out masses of earth works. 

My goal is to produce a range of narrow gauge models in 16mm scale running as 2ft gauge, termed as SM32. These type of models are aimed at the garden railway scene and will be battery powered with radio control. I have set out a storey line for my own imaginary railway that worked its way through from the 1930’s through to the current modern day requirements of a narrow gauge railway providing both freight and passenger services. 

I came up with a story for my own imaginary railway that grew from a small railway into a regional network based around the rural area of Devon. In the 1960’s the Beeching report had a devastating effect on the rural areas in North Devon with the only line left being the Barnstaple to Exeter line. Communities were cut off from their reliance on the railways and many of the lines were simply ripped up straight away without any chance of future reinstatement. 

My story line looked at the history of the Lynton & Barnstaple railway scrapped in 1935 and gave it a new lease of life then took it into the 21st century as an expanded network reaching around the region with new lines connecting up the communities. The planning behind my own railway allowed me to create a full range of locomotives and rolling stock that are designed to fit specific requirements, from small shunting locomotives, through to mainline freight and passenger services. 

Now that I have my basic classes of locomotives sorted out, I intend to start producing them as ready to run models to sell commercially. I hope to also be able to build a large garden railway layout that will then be able to share with other people in the 16mm scale community and the public to share in my interests. 

One of the major issues that held me back has been the 3D Printers available on the market currently using plastic filament to print plastic models. These are expensive to run and to print our large plastic pieces, as the reels are expensive for 1kg of wire. The new printers coming on the market that will use plastic pellets will change this as they will be able to run at a fraction of the price. I can then design parts up in CAD and print out the master components so I can make moulds and then cast parts in bulk. 

Once I have managed to do the CAD drawings for each of my locos and carriages, I will then be able to put them into Train SIM software to be able to produce some good visual effects and launch them for people to be able to actually drive them in a simulation. From the Train Simulator software, I can then produce some refinements and some good visual images for marketing and promoting my new models. The 3D drawings will then be used to print out the plastic components on a 3D Printer to build the masters so that production can start. 

Each of my locomotives will be powered by a rechargeable 12v battery pack and have two motors with a radio speed controller. This will allow the trains to be run on any ones railway regardless of the type of track they are using. 

Innovative Designs

Every aspect of my designs has been though out from scratch to meet the requirements of making an attractive model designed for a specific task, with locomotives for freight and for passenger service. I have designed two classes for both with Bo-Bo and Co-Co locomotives.

For main passenger services, I came up with a DEMU railcar using an articulated design, so the train is permanently coupled as a five-coach train with two carriages pivoted over one bogie. This has been done before on many railways but as far as I know has never been done on a 2ft narrow gauge. My prototype model has proven to be very impressive as far as how close the carriages can be and how it can snake round tight corners with out any problem. 

Building my models in 16mm scale will require putting all my specialist skills together for sm32 model engineering to get the right finescle details in place on the models for realism.

Production Models

As soon as I get started with creating the 3D CAD models and get them put into the train simulator software, I will set up a website to show off the designs and get feed back from people. I will then look at getting the production models produced and see what interest there is for them in the market place. I will then set the price and put them up on a retail site for people to be able to buy them.

If you are interested in finding out more information, you can contact me on or look at the website where I will be posting updates as I start working on my project.

Ineractive Web Site

When i have my models designed up in CAD i will launch a new website where people can view the models and rotate the images around in 3D as well as watch videos on the trains in operation.