The Isle of Man is rather a special place, particularly if you are a railway enthusiast or motorcyclist. I'm both, so that's why this model really appeals to me. This article has been reprinted from Issue 38 of the Narrow Gauge and Industrial Railway Modelling Review.
When youve convincingly mastered 2mm modelling, to where do you turn for a fresh challenge? This was the question that faced Denys Brownlee a few years ago. Denys had regularly carried off top honours in the 2mm Scale Associations annual competitions for the best loco - the "Groves Trophy" - so often in fact, that it was half seriously suggested it be renamed the "Brownlee Trophy". He had built a range of locomotives ranging from a tiny Midland 0-4-0 to LNER A3 4472 Flying Scotsman, including a Metropolitan electric loco. His S&D layout of Burnham-on-Sea was a faithful replica of the real thing and was shown at many exhibitions throughout the country.It was a holiday in the Isle of Man that gave the answer. The Manx Railways may nowadays be only be a small part of their former system, but the preserved line is still powerfully attractive, so Denys was inspired to build some 2mm models, the results of which you see on these pages.
First to appear was Beyer Peacock No. 4, "Loch". Denys followed his usual tradition of building from scratch, in this case including the wheels, gears and coreless motor. The model is built to 2mm scale, to run on 6mm gauge track, using wheel and track standards of Denys own devising, about 60% smaller than the normal 2mm fine scale dimensions. "Loch" runs very well indeed and carried off the "Members Choice" award at the Associations 1995 AGM. It also won the Railway Modeller " Modelling Competition", earning Denys and his wife Jean another trip across to the island.
Denys intention was to build a small portable IOM layout on which to run Loch, so he set about constructing some matching coaches, made using home made polystyrene injection mouldings for the bodies, a technique which Denys often used to good effect in modelling, as in his professional life, he was the plant engineer for an injection moulding company. The coach underframes use home made etched bogies and some very delicate spoked wheels which again are injection moulded, this time in acetal - a close relative of delrin. His expertise allowed him to select exactly the right plastic for the application and his professional contacts often supplied some quite specialised materials.
Sadly and unexpectedly, Denys died at the end of December 1996. The respect and high esteem in which his friends held him was evident in the chapel being full to overflowing at his funeral. We were then faced with the task of what to do with the substantial legacy of his models. Some favourites will naturally stay with Jean and we have been able to place his model of Burnham-on-Sea in S&D days with a good home.
The IOM models are intended to go on display in the Island, but 2mm narrow gauge models are very small indeed, so it was decided to create a small diorama case in which to display them safely and securely. Tim Watson, Mike Randall and myself jointly constructed the scene shown here. It was a task we tackled with pleasure as Denys had been a good friend of ours for many years, generously giving us both valuable advice and invaluable components which aided our own modelling.
The case in fact has an interesting history in itself. It was originally made to house Tims 7mm model of "Sir Nigel Gresley" but the opening was put in the wrong place. At it is probably undignified to display an A4 on its side, it was surplus to requirements until we decided to use it for Loch and its train. Tim & I cut a plywood base, a track bed and some scenic profiles which gave a sort of "MFI" kit of parts which Tim assembled. In the meantime, I built some track, using shortened 2mm scale PCB sleepers and code 40 bullhead rail. This was laid upside down as it looks more like light section flat bottom that way. The former top surface was tinned and one rail was sweated onto the sleepers in a 2mm track jig. This created a "fishbone" which was then removed from the jig and the second rail was sweated into place using some 6mm gauges from Phil Copleston, allowing the track to follow a nice sweeping curve - so much more attractive than a dead straight line. The track was painted and laid, then Tim got on with the scenery, following some research in the MRC library to verify a suitable IOM backscene. Once this was complete, the diorama was put on display at the 1997 Model Engineer exhibition. Subsequently, Mike Randall made a nice teak surround (very appropriate considering the groups GNR/GER leanings!) and we had a small brass plate made to finish it off nicely.
One is left wondering what might have been. Denys had commenced a small portable layout of one of the passing stations (I believe it was to be either Ballasalla or Santon) which had reached the point where it was ready for scenery and was also well advanced on a model of the recently acquired Schoema diesel No. 17. Certainly, the whole scene would have been very attractive, knowing his style of modelling and his affection for the prototype. A keen ambition of Denys was to take the layout over to the Isle of Man to exhibit it on "home ground".
The small diorama is hopefully a fitting memorial to Denys and an indication of the potential of 2mm scale narrow gauge.