Lion Tiles. Andy Anderson show just how small you can go.

Andy recounts the story of Lion Tiles:

Several models of miniature railways on 9mm gauge track were built and written up long before the term gnine was coined. I wasn't consciously aware of them, and first saw the idea at a Moors Valley Railway open day, probably in 2001. They suggested that anyone building such a layout could exhibit it next year. My modelling was in the doldrums and I did nothing more except to squirrel the idea away in the back of my mind. What you see here was never completed, but I present it as an example firstly of just how small a gnine layout can be, and secondly of the way topics, modellers and ideas interact on the Gnatterbox to give results no-one would, or perhaps could, have expected.

The initial spark for this layout, intended to be a tile kiln, came from a discussion on the Gnatterbox about the minimum gauge used on industrial prototypes. Somewhere we came to the conclusion that tubs as narrow as about eight inch gauge were used in mines where the seams were vertical, just as very low clearances were used for thin, horizontal seams. I remembered the miniature/9mm combination from West Moors and had to have a go at building one, and a short length of track to go with it.

The track and wagon were crude in the extreme in comparison with others' attempts, but I had fun, and putting the fun back into modelling has turned me from an armchair modeller into a builder once again. I also sparked off ideas in some others.

A couple of people from Gnatterbox, who were building Gn15 workshop layouts, added small sections of 9mm track for materials handling, and I built a model of a pushtruck to show how one might look. It used treadplate surfaced styrene sheet, for which I had developed a fondness.

Then the Gnatterbox discussion turned to traversers and shifted, as it often does, this time to transporter wagons. Out came my copy of Sidney Leleux's "Industrial Narrow Gauge Stock and Trackwork", great for when I need inspiration, and lo and behold, there was a wagon onto which smaller brickworks trucks were loaded, to save handling the bricks. Here was the ultimate way of having a traverser in full view.

The image must have been in my mind later that morning as I walked across town to collect a parcel and found a footpath through the intermodal area of the docks. I watched units being loaded onto flat wagons that ran in tight clearances between platforms providing absolutely level access. Fired up, I returned home and built a tiny transporter wagon using an SL100 underframe from Sidelines and some odds of rail and treadplate styrene sheet left over from the pushtruck. It looked surprisingly good, to my eyes at least, so I mocked up a traverser layout. The idea was a kiln, with three tracks, into which had to be sorted six wagons, two to each track in a specific order. This was a variant of a block-sorting puzzle beloved of my late friend David Pritchard, and I was quite pleased with the versatility of the idea.

The layout is no more, having lost a battle with gravity and a hard floor before I had time to build the wagon bodies, and the pictures you see here are all there?ll ever be, but the magic of digital allows me to show how the completed layout might have appeared. At 180x80 mm footprint, I doubt that an operating layout, even one where the trucks are pushed along, can be built in a significantly smaller space. Go on, prove me wrong: it's fun.

I'm building a fully functional and scenic version in Gn15, which measures 500x160mm, but could in fact be smaller. Now that I've built a gnine loco, I calculate that a locomotive-hauled version in gnine could be as small as 330x90mm, showing that you can't possibly 'not have room' for an operating layout. When I've finished a few of my current projects, I may have a go at rebuilding Lion Tiles. If I do, you'll read about it here shortly after it's posted on the Gnatterbox

  This is it. 7" x 3 1/4" Who says you have no room for a model railway?  This is a close up view of one of the wagons destined for the layout.


The traverser for the layout is nothing more than a Gn15 wagon running on some OO/HO track

  The parts used to make the wagon


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  Links (c) Ian Holmes 2006.