Welcome to my site, here I describe the trials and tribulations of researching, building and operating a 4mm scale narrow gauge model railway exhibition layout.

The basis for the layout is a proposed line on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, which I found the plans for in the National Archives at Kew.

I have modelled the southernmost terminus, Isle Ornsay. From here the line would have covered a distance of 72 miles through Broadford, Portree and then on to Uig, with a branch from Portree to Dunvegan which I am currently working on a new model of.

If you want to see where my layouts are to be exhibited, or to see how you could book it to attend your exhibition please see my exhibition diary.  You can read progress on the construction of the layout on my blog, as well as railways and exhibitions I’ve visited.

The other aspect of this site is to collate information on all Scottish narrow gauge railways, be they proposed or constructed.  If you have any information that would be useful, please get in touch.

22 Responses to Home

  1. Robert Brown says:

    A great layout – I’m very interested in the performance of your locos. I’m trying to decide whether to build my next Welsh layout in 4mm (doubts about slow running etc) or 7mm (lack of space); your layout is making me think 4mm is possible. The Portescap like performance of your locos – would you put that down to DCC? I’d be very grateful for your opinions.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Robert. Yes, I do think DCC helps, but the chassis I’ve used so far are mainly from ready to run Austrian narrow gauge prototypes made by Bemo or Roco. They run well out of the box which is a big help. Chipping them makes the slow running much more reliable than it already is.

      If you’re worried about the space for 7mm then I’d go for 4mm, there are chassis out there which allow good running. It just takes a bit of cleaning and TLC to retain it.

  2. Richard Jones says:

    Hi Tom,

    We’ve just had a superb holiday on Skye – I spent my evenings working on my 1931 SR weedkilling train, looking out across the Kyles of Raasay, wondering what the projected railways for Skye would have been like. I think your layout gives a good idea of what might have been. Have you posted any system maps or track layouts anywhere?
    best wishes

    • Tom says:

      Hi Richard, thanks for the comment. I’ve posted a series of write ups of the route which include photos, maps, google streetview screenshots, and what I think would have ended up being built at each stage. The first instalment is here, with links to each following article: https://hlrco.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/hlr-route-part-1-isle-ornsay-to-broadford/

      I have only the branch from Portree to Dunvegan left to describe, which I hope to do in the next few months.

      I’m hoping to make another trip to Skye to take plenty of photos all along the route later this year.

      Best wishes,

  3. Anonymous says:

    We have a HO9 layout in the loft with a main line 37ft long (also branches). It travels from Cornwall to Germany via Buckinghamshire and Auvergne, but it has not done a lot since the proprietor married a railwayman. But you need have no fear that you cannot manage in HO9/009 scales. The scenery near the back of the layout is in N scale or smaller (try managing an Iron Age hillfort in anything larger) and that at the front is HO (some 00). People say ‘What is the gauge?’ and we say ‘Maybe metre at the back and maybe 600mm at the front….’

    Peter Jarvis (009 member no.621)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Peter Jarvis- what an incredible layout – any pics on the Net ? Also really inpressed with Skye HLRC at B&B exhibition – great layout !

  5. ken says:

    Hello, interesting site. I am 16mm scale myself, all stock scratch built. Can you point me to a drawing or picture of C&M railway brakevan please? Regards Ken

    • Tom says:

      Hello Ken, thank you.

      If you’re interested in the C&MLR get yourself a copy of the Nigel Macmillan book. From memory (as I’m away from my library at present) that has drawings of both the built and proposed brake vans. Essentially the proposed one would have had balconies at either end if memory serves correctly…


  6. ken says:

    Just been looking at your goods stock. Interested to see that you are a T&D fan. I have built loads of stock from that line over the years. I would add a picture if I knew how. Regards Ken

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Ken, not to worry about the photos, if you like use the contact form on the exhibition page of my website to get in touch, I’ll let you know my email address to share photos then.

      I have a few more T&D wagons to build, including a Paul Titmuss card kit for a bogie brake van, and some Parkside Dundas open wagon kits.

  7. ken says:

    I have managed to find two copies of the book you mention, for really silly prices. Any chance of a scan from your copy? Regards Ken

  8. Paul says:

    Very interested in the story of the light railway that was proposed for Skye. I am currently researching a television documentary about the hebrides and would love to know more. How can I contact you? What’s your postal address?


    • Tom says:

      Hi Paul, sorry, only just noticed your comment. If you use the contact form on the exhibition diary page of my site it will come through to me and we can discuss further. Sounds interesting! Cheers, Tom

  9. Pete williams says:

    I see from your replies on here, that you ‘chip’ roco narrow gauge.
    Any tips for chipping the latest roco non-dcc 0-6-0 for a beginner please? i would like to know, do i completely remove the two resisters that are in series between the pickups and the motor or do i leave them connected and cut between them and the pick-ups and leave them connected to the motor?
    I have the latest roco dcc starter set on order and would like to increase my fleet.
    (I have asked this question on a couple of forums, and so far, have not had a constructive answer)

    • Tom says:

      Hi Pete, yes I do. I’d suggest you remove the resistor and hard wire the chip between the pick up strips and the motor. If you want I can add some photos of the loco wiring, but mine is far from neat at present – they were done in a rush and i’ve never gotten around to shortening the wires to the chip.

      • pete williams says:

        thanks for your advice, tom – I removed the resisters and capacitor, soldered the relevant wires to the pick-up strips and the motor wires to the ‘L’ shaped motor contacts, that were then secured with a dab of superglue, to stop then turning.
        incidentally, when you did yours, did you notice the possible dry joint where the resistor was soldered into the rivet, but not to the pick-up strip ?
        I have informed Roco of this.
        I have also converted the little Feldbahn loco – simple – once you pluck up the courage to solder to the minute motor terminals- a lenz silver mini + was used in both cases.
        I now await the heljan yeo – I think that one will be the only one in L&B livery.

  10. Guido Blokland says:

    Tom, do you recall whether there were ever plans for a railway between Garve and Ullapool?

    • Tom says:

      Hi Guido, the short answer is, yes there were plans. I’ve never managed to find out much about them, though. I’ve heard scant details of both a standard gauge and a separate narrow gauge proposal. I’ve not added any info to this site because I’ve never uncovered anything to substantiate that the proposal was ever formalised for a narrow gauge line. The only point of detail I’ve heard was the suggestion that War Department Light Railway stock could have been used, so presumably it was promoted after WW1. I’ve not seen any details from the 1919 Scottish Rural Transport Committee proposals, so presumably it was a proposal in its own right. If I uncover any info I’ll write a blog post about it. If you find anything please let me know. Merry Christmas! Tom

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