|The Minature Railway is located in the Buckfastleigh Gardens and Picnic area.|
In common with the rest of the South Devon Railway, there has been considerable maintenance activity on the Miniature Railway over the winter period 2005 - 2006
The biggest, and most time consuming job, has been the renewal of some 300 yards of track from the Pond Bridge to the road crossing at Otter Halt.
The old and worn aluminum track has been replaced with steel rail; supported on heavier grade wooden sleepers. The finished product is a great improvement and also looks extremely smart with the new ballast.
Otter Halt has also seen some changes with a different platform layout and some slight changes to the track. There have been some repairs carried out on the crossing by the maze with damaged aluminum rail being replaced with steel and the concrete crossing extended in order to reduce further damage.
In the motive power department, the 0-6-0 diesel (which has been the main stay of traction for many years) has been undergoing maintenance. This loco has always proved reliable and has been seen in several liveries during its life and has only had one engine change.
For most of the winter it was used to haul the permanent way trains during track renewal, but once the bulk of the work was completed a period of maintenance was started. Gary Cooper decided on a repaint in blue with a restyled cab interior, complete with decorative dials, including a temperature gauge. The cab interior has been sprayed in matt black. The chassis has been painted black with red connecting rods and buffer beams, and the finished look is very smart. On completion comments were made that it ought to be carrying Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) insignia as there is a striking resemblance to S&DJR Prussian blue. To complete the job, all it needs is to be lined out in gold!!
At the same time as the 0-6-0 maintenance, the Roanoke 0-4-0 has been undergoing major surgery. Its somewhat unreliable engine has been replaced with a new 5.5 hp Honda unit. The body of this loco has been repainted in black livery with the yellow front and black grill remaining. It is due back in traffic very shortly.
The Romulus 0-4-0 steam loco is also expected to re-appear soon. There is some reassembly work to do both on the motion and the boiler. The final step will be the boiler test and all this should be completed soon.
The final announcement from the motive power department is that Gary Cooper is constructing a 7¼-inch gauge replica of a British Railways diesel locomotive. This will provide a powerful alternative to the current loco fleet. The power unit will be a three-cylinder diesel engine. It is anticipated the appearance of this loco will raise considerable interest. Watch this space for further announcements and progress.
The weekend before Easter saw test trains being run consisting of the main coaching stock hauled by the newly refurbished 0-6-0. All proved to be satisfactory and even a small queue of eager passengers appeared from time to time wishing to participate in the first weekend of running - despite not being officially open.
The yard, workshop and booking office have been cleared out and tidied and a large quantity of "spare material" has been removed. The whole site looks much better and in good shape for the approaching operating season.
Finally there are further projects in the pipeline including a possible rebuild of a further passenger coach from an existing chassis and even ideas such as some signaling.
Obviously, with the considerable variety of projects being undertaken there is always a need for more help from volunteers of all ages and experience. If you are interested please contact Gary Cooper via the South Devon Railway.