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Sir Arthur Heywood's Duffield Bank Railway

1/12 scale : 32mm gauge - The Thursday Timpdon Team

Any self-respecting narrow gauge fan should be familiar with Sir Arthur Heywood’s 15” gauge estate railway at Duffield Bank.

Very few pictures of his railway survive and even less of his first home-made engine, Effie. However one photograph of his engine shed with a point leading down a steep bank, appears on many web sites and in most books of his work.

The team responsible for the 16mm scale layout Timpdon, which is well known on the exhibition circuit, challenged themselves with depicting this scene in 1:12 scale for the Telford Narrow Gauge Micro Layout competition in 2011. Only 300 square inches were allowed, so this layout is only 30" x 10"!

Of course the Timpdon Team wouldn’t be satisfied with a static diorama! Effie slowly shunts up and down the 30” of track all day, whilst a scale man switches the point for the engine to visit the sheds.

Watch the loco perform its routine on YouTube - scroll down to the bottom of this text.

Construction Notes

The basic layout design and infrastructure was started by Chris MacKenzie, with the intention of following the prototype as closely as possible. For example, even the garden brick wall was made from real brick slices, random cast, and laid in the correct bond of the period. Of course there were compromises. We don’t think this section of the railway had a white ‘level crossing’ gate – but it hid the backscene perfectly!

The locomotive Effie. This really deserves a book on its own. Maurice Rushby became a bit obsessive with the task and decided that he’d design and build the thing entirely from brass (it was the mention by Chris that he was going to do it in plasticard that sent a shudder down Maurice’s spine!). He studied every picture available, pixel by pixel, and drew out scale CAD plans in minute detail such was his level of perfection. Even the different sized rivets were individually placed in the correct position! [“Rivet Counter Alert!”].

Geoff Garside designed the electrics for the whole thing. The loco is powered by a standard radio control servo motor (I kid you not!). With a Timpdon Electronics AutoShuttle unit (which Geoff designs and builds in his shed), the 4 x AA batteries carefully hidden in the boiler power it at just the right speed.

Two magnets in the track at each end of the line tell the vertical reed switches on the loco to slow down and stop, then reverse after a programmable delay.

Geoff also designed the servo motor which powers the signalman. The two reed switches in the track to the right of the point are activated by a magnet on the loco (two are needed so that he’s only activated when the loco travels just the one way). These power up the servo which is linked to the point lever, thus pushing the signalman (wrong way round from real life!).

The signalman was built by Chris and started life as a 1:12 Tamiya Pit Crew man. However by the time he had nine working joints made from brass, there wasn’t much of the plastic body left. Two fingers from a surgical ‘rubber’ glove supplied the trousers and gave enough bend in the right places (but they are a swine to retain paint).

When this was all tested and working satisfactorily, and the Faller metal track tweaked and improved, the scenery commenced.

After Chris had done the basic wooden shell, including walls, backscenes, etc., Phil Sixsmith then took over. He has a perfect eye for capturing reality – and the skill to go with it. Several evenings with an assortment of mind-boggling accessories later, he transformed the setting into what you can see in the photographs.

I think that about covers it, except to also mention Nick Stott. Whereas luck would have it we had in our Thursday evening gathering an expert mechanical engineer, electronics engineer and scenery man, Nick tended to be an all-rounder, like Chris (not in shape – that’s only Chris). Thanks have to also go to fellow railway nut Howard Jones for providing the brilliant sign which hangs above the layout.

Would we build a working 1:12th scale layout only 30” long ever again? Definitely NO WAY! (but we wonder what the competition challenge will be next year….. Mmmm! What about if we just....)

If you want to book the layout for an exhibition, please contact Chris MacKenzie.