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Overview

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The Kyle of Auchendammit is a model railway loosely based on Kyle of Lochalsh, the terminus of the West Highland line that served Skye and the islands, and where passengers transfered to the McBrayne ferries before the bridge was built across the strait at Kyleakin. It will - eventually - reflect Kyle as a branch of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), and early British Railways at the end of the days of steam.

The scale of the layout is rather unusual for these days, in that it is 3mm to the foot! This scale has not been supported commercially since the mid-1960s, when the British firm of Triang, who had originated the sale in Britain, decided to concentrate on model cars instead.

The scale had been derived from American TT, which was built to the scale of 1/10 of an inch, or 2.5 mm to the foot. Unfortunately, British locomotives are much smaller than the American equivalents, and when the sale was introduced to Britain technology did not offer small enough motors to fit within a British prototype. As a result, Triang perpetuated an error that Hornby had committed before the Second World War! They increased the scale of the locomotives and rolling stock - but retained the track gauge of 12 mm. So, just as British OO runs on American HO 16.5 mm track, the British TT runs on American TT track, which scales at 4 feet, rather than 4 feet 8 1/2 inches!

overview 2 Nevertheless, the new scale had, and has, much to offer. At 3/4 the size of OO it offers a choice between building a 'typical' OO layout in a smaller space, or building a 'bigger' layout in the space available. As British houses became smaller following the second world war, the first option allowed hobbyists to fulfil their dreams of a model railway, where OO scale was just too big.

N scale had not yet appeared on the market. But, even if it had been available, TT3 -- as it was initially called - had the advantage of virtual 'heft'! Small though it is, it gives an impression of weight and solidity -- which N scale does not have, in my opinion. [N-scale has been described as, 'watching little mice running around on the carpet'!]

Strangely, N scale does seem appropriate in a North American setting, where long trains of freight vehicles are literally dwarfed by the surrounding scenery.

Within months of Triang introducing the scale small businesses such a George Mellor (GEM) were producing white metal loco bodies designed to fit on Triang chassis and other specialty products.

Triang gave up on the scale some forty five years ago, but small specialty businesses such as 3mm Scale Model Railways continue to provide the 3mm modeler with an amazing variety of bits and pieces such as all the GEM and BEC kits and many new kits and track for the scale.

The 3mm Society , who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in a couple of years, commission and provide high quality kits and other accessories to its members. The Society also supports an active members' news-group that provides a wealth of information on all aspects of railway modeling, including construction techniques, prototype information, and other generally useful 'stuff'. The knowledge and expertise shared by the group participants is second to none

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While many of the older members - both in years and Society membership - still stick to Triang-based stock running on 12mm track, the younger echelon are moving to more accurate, fine-scale engineering and producing exquisite, finely-detailed models that run on fine-scale 14.2mm gauge track.

Kyle has been exhibited at the annual Ottawa RailFair over the past few years. The fact that they invited me back must mean the some of the spectators like it. Or maybe it's because there are so few 3mm layouts - especially in North America.

Unfortunately the annual RailFair has, after thirty years of operation, fallen a victim to rising rental fees for accomodation, though it has been replaced by a Spring show that I hope to attend if I ever get the new layout finished.

Why a New Kyle?


The incentive for building a new version of Kyle of Auchendammit was the purchase of a new vehicle. It is a small, General Motors vehicle called the Vibe, their version of the Toyota Matrix.

Before I bought it I very carefully measured the length of the loading deck. It was just over 5 feet which meant that there was sufficient room to load the baseboards of my existing layout. Or so I thought! What I had forgotten was the fact that the drivers seat had a rake to it, as did the hatchback door! And whereas there was a clear 5 feet at the bottom, there was a bare 5 feet at the top.

Nonetheless, I was able to take the old layout to the Ottawa RailFair that year. Although it meant that the driver’s seat was in the fully forward position, and my knees were under my chin! Something had to be done. And the fact that I had decided to move the layout into a larger space in the basement meant that I was able to redesign the layout from scratch and thus ensure that the new baseboards would be a size that should comfortably fit within the vehicle. And, while the overall size of the layout was bigger, the volumetric size of the stacked baseboards was, if anything, slightly less than the old version.

The new beginning gave me the opportunity to build on experience from previous layouts and aim at higher standards. To begin with I decided to use code 70 rail in place of the “clunky looking.” Code 100 track that I have been using, on past layouts. A possible downside to this was the fact that my existing, 50-year-old, GEM point work was not compatible and I was faced with the prospect of having to build more than 30 sets of points. (Did I mention that I model in the somewhat unusual scale of 3 mm to the foot, running on 12 mm gauge track? And commercial, off-the-shelf, code 70 point work in that gauge is hard to come by, and expensive).

On the positive side though, it would give me the opportunity to build more flowing track work, not constrained by the limitations, and fixed geometry of commercial products.

I therefore invested in a copy of TemPlot < http://www.templot.com/martweb/templot.htm >, an extremely flexible and complex track planning program. I used the same basic plan from previous layouts, but the greater length gave me space for a better representation of Kyle of Lochalsh station and the slightly increased depth permitted larger radius curves. A representation of the final(?) layout is shown below.

Experience, and advancing years, have unfortunately shown that if I am to have any hope of completing the layout in the forseeable future my dream of beautiful, flowing pointwork will need to be shelved and some of my old GEM points pressed back in service and heavily disguised to improve their appearance. The components - frogs, point-blades and so on, are not the problem. These are readily fabricating using the filing jigs available from Fastraks. No, it's my apparent inability to assemble them into good-looking points, even with the help of some home-made jigs to try to keep the sleeper spacing neat and regular.

The new layout, like its predecessors, is laid on baseboards constructed out of 1/8th inch (3mm) plywood cross-braced in a geodesic manner. [Shades of the WWII Wellington bomber!] It stacks into three light weight, though unwieldy, 'packing cases' for transportation. Overview East

My ancient Triang TT3 stuff from the 1960s is still much in evidence, but progress is being made in fitting less coarse wheels, kit bodies on the Triang chassis, and - one hopes - better running.

Control is through Linked Section Control , where control is passed from section to section in accordance with the correct setting of the signals. The signal lever frames are correctly wired up, but the signals still need to be made. [It is STILL a work in progress, after all.]

The scenery is also somewhat sparse, except for the panoramic backdrop of the Cuillins. I have hopes that the Kyle Forestry Commission will plant a few trees, but time will tell.