St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

NLSME G1 Track

I visited the NLSME G1 railway, it is BIG.   Fits in a 100' x 50' oblong with a 40 foot straight, the other side is a lazy 'S'.  The track is at a comfortable waist height, you could only comfortably reach across to the middle plus a bit.  It is about 10 years old.

Minimum curve radius is 15 feet with some curves greater. There are 3 running tracks and numerous sidings and loops.  The set of photographs is a clockwise series taken from the inside of the track starting and ending at the footbridge.

Construction is on posts in pairs and sometimes staggered they are about 8 feet apart and the structure is joined by 4 x 2 wood along the length and 2x2 across.  There is a special outdoor surface and the top width is 1200mm.  The cement/fibre boarding they chose comes in sheets 1200 x 800mm.  It is normally used as a back boarding for ceramic tiles in bathrooms and is 12mms thick.  It has a coating of various coverings to give a uniform grey small chips finish giving the impression of ‘ballast’ without the mess.

They have steaming bays and a couple of run-up lines and also spare sidings for cooling down.  Operation is from both sides.  Track is mainly Nickel silver and the ready-made points are stainless steel, the rails are to code 180, but might possibly be code 200. There are three running tracks but in places you can see up to 6 tracks across, the extra ones are sidings or passing loops where a station can be positioned.  There is provision to have stations / platforms which are all removed and stored.

Access to track is via a bridge at the far end and a dugout with 3 steps down that goes under the track at the other.  Ducking down and going under the running track is a No-No.

Most trains were steam and free running.  Others plastic/electric but all these were under RC control.  I am told there are some RC steam locos but none were in operation at the time of my visit. There is a trough running alongside to contain the covering material used to cover the track, when track is in use.  This avoids twigs and leaves and detritus laying on track and points.  Essential I would think.

From an operating point of view they use separate tables for locos rolling stock, carry boxes etc.  There is a good quality wooden building, better than a shed with windows, they have electricity laid on.  It is known as the 'Bothy' is very much used for refreshments or a place to sit out of the rain etc.  Talking to a friend up there he said that when they visit other clubs they have similar ‘accommodation’ usually with a gas ring to heat water for tea etc.

There is a dedicated Leader for each railway to make sure all is looked after and kept in order.  The site is locked securely and has CCTV throughout.

I would like to thank the club members of NLSME for their hospitality and Geoff Mogg in particular who was my guide for the morning.


Roy Verden

July 2020