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Rebuilding The Fenland Light Railway


Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 9

Replies: 8

Posted: Mon 1st Jul 2013, 7:16pm
Rebuilding The Fenland Light Railway

Here at the Fenland Light Railway we have had to relocate just 100 meters away from our old site.
Having removed all the old track from our old site we are now looking at relaying this and adding to it.

I am asking for peoples experience on a few items so that we can get the best value for items we need to buy and do the best job we can for the budget.
So excuse the long list of questions in the hope that other peoples experience (good or bad) can help us.

Thanks in advance.

We are looking at using recycled rail ballast (40mm-75mm) has anyone any better suggestions and also does anyone have any good leads on a supplier for this ?

We currently have 27mm Aluminium flat bottom rail, we obviously want to use the same to match everything, does anyone have any good suppliers of this please (I have the obvious which is Cromer White)?

Sleepers, we currently use a 75mm x 50mm (47mm) wooden pressure treated sleeper. Does anyone have a good supplier for timber and also a good supplier for the equivalent in Recycled plastic.?

What are peoples experience with the recycled plastic sleepers ?

What are peoples opinions on laying the track as to how deep and wide you would lay the ballast ?

Would you edge the track bed with say a gravel board ?

Fixings such as penny washers, nuts, bolts and screws etc, Do you all use Stainless or BZP, again any leads on a good supplier ?

Again sorry for the long list of questions, obviously we are not look for someone to tell us how to do everything, but opinions and experiences can help to make a better job.
So thanks again in advance to anyone that replies

Chris Day
Secretary Fenland Light Railway

Replies To This Post


Joined: 9-08-09

Topics: 3

Replies: 96

Posted: Mon 1st Jul 2013, 10:25pm

One or two thoughts.
Ballast, if you have access to used ballast I would use this up to the last couple of inches, then switch to 20mm sharp limestone or granite, which is a better size for packing under the sleepers. For sleepers you need to ring round locally, make sure you specify pressure treated, as they may just be dipped otherwise. Ballast width, I would want at least 4 to 6 inches either side of the sleeper ends, as ally rail can move around a lot with temperature changes and a good shoulder will help retain it. Gravel boards in 4 x 1 are a great help if the track is likely to be walked on, as otherwise the shoulder gets disturbed. If the membrane is wrapped over the top of the board it also helps keep weeds and muck out of the ballast. As we (High Legh) use bar stock for rails I can't help much with the rest.
Good luck, Colin


Joined: 1-01-89

Topics: 10

Replies: 199

Posted: Tue 2nd Jul 2013, 6:10am

Hi Chris,
Perhaps you could look at the earlier post initiated by Dave Holden concerning plastic sleepers and fixings? Cheers, Mick.


Joined: 1-01-95

Topics: 4

Replies: 43

Posted: Tue 2nd Jul 2013, 11:43am

Hi Chr15,
Just to put in a couple of comments. I endorse much of the above, and would reaffirm the following old advice: the deeper you dig a trench, the more it is prone to hold water. A tried and tested method is to dig a trench about 6" deep, fill with, say, 2" depth crushed concrete ('crusher run'), making sure this is well tamped down. Then use a drainable membrane (several brands available), followed by 2" of ballast for the main bed. For our gauge/scales 20mm ballast is good, it knits together well and will form a good base which can be finely adjusted to requirements. The 75mm material may have a tendency to rise to the surface so perhaps the 40mm mentioned would be OK. After laying your track, ballast to sleeper top (say 2" of ballast) which should retain track well.
If it wasn't for having obtained treated softwood sleepers with the track we purchased years ago, we would certainly have adopted the recycled plastic type. Our wooden sleepers will be OK for a good while yet, and will be quick and relatively cheap to replace individually. Otherwise both materials are OK from what I have seen in practice. As for fixings, the larger the quantity ordered, the better price can be achieved. I strongly recommend investing in the slightly higher-priced stainless steel as it will always be clean to work with, and will be re-usable e.g. if sleepers need to be changed. Shop around your local fixings suppliers.
As for sourcing 27mm aluminium rail, why not simply put an advert in the 'Sales & Wants' category? - It might just be waiting for you!
Very best wishes for the redevelopment of your railway - don't forget to write up the progress for the 'Gauge'!
Kind Regards,
Frank Sidebottom (2283)

Simon J

Joined: 1-01-70

Topics: 9

Replies: 11

Posted: Tue 2nd Jul 2013, 2:02pm

Hello Chris,

The Cambridge Model Engineering Society have just completed a 1000 feet long extension using plastic sleepers sourced from Filcris ( in Bourn just outside Cambridge). We use their 50mm x 50mm x 2.4m (I think) posts and cut them to length.

We're not a million miles from Ramsey; if you pop down one Sunday I'm sure that someone will be happy to show you around.

Simon (3779)
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