Made in Britain
Tel 01708 374468

Cronk Aashen Railway

The 1st 4 motor Jasper      


   It all started around 8 years ago after a visit to the local ‘wildlife park’ where they have a multi gauge (3 - 7 ) railway, my dad decided he would like to have a train that he could ride on at home as well as all  of our 00 stuff. Quite by chance I spotted in the back of railway modeller an advert for a Maxitrak Ruston with two 4 wheel coaches and some ‘jubilee’ track with a point and we bought it.


 Having obtained stock and track we needed a suitable place to lay it which living on a hill presented challenges. After consulting with a neighbour, who as it happens was a heavy plant owner/operator a location was sorted and duly excavated and levelled. The plan was to have an out and back with a balloon loop an example of which is the Corris Hill railway prior to it’s latest ‘extension’. As mentioned previously we had ‘jubilee’ track, 5/8” high aluminium rail on stamped aluminium sleepers. Some of the sleepers were bent and the tags holding the rail fatigued. We were wanting a more narrow gauge look to the track to fit the look of the Ruston and decided to use 2 x 1 timbers about 12” long. It was also apparent that we would need about 8 times the amount of track we had to achieve our goal. After sending off for catalogues and comparing prices etc, it was decided to use 21mm aluminium rail and mothball the jubilee stuff. This would allow us to space the sleepers a little further apart, a consideration for me when needing to build around 500 feet of track. An order was placed with Mr Price at the miniature railway supply company and all duly arrived.

 The building of track panels began and a tipper wagon of ballast was piled nearby. We got about 1/3rd of the track built and laid before winter set in, this put us off being outside and it all got left as was. A job change and diversion of hobbies meant it was left as was for about 6 years until a visiting camper who was an active member of a the Wythall miniature steam railway rekindled interest in the forgotten project. With this new interest, new grander plans were conceived and more excavation was undertaken resulting in the track plan shown ( picture of plan here maybe? ). Obviously more track and points were needed and after talking to local club members I decided that the rest of the rail would be steel, a key factor in this choice was that these days, unlike 8 years ago, steel rail is only slightly more expensive than aluminium and it would match the rail we already had. Hello again Mr Price, remember me? eventually I worked out what I required and placed the order. I also placed a wanted ad for a Maxitrak Dixie or Sapphire on homeworkshop.org. I wanted a narrow gauge loco .I received a reply from Wiltshire and after looking at photo’s and chatting to the owner I bought Dixie


 I was also on the look out for some more stock and with the help of Google discovered Ride on Railways website. I also learnt that a local junior club member Toby Lampitt had a ROR Trojan and after seeing it in the flesh so to speak I looked at getting another battery loco from ROR. I decided after looking at the videos on the site that I would like a Hercules but finances meant that stock came first, what’s the use of 3 loco’s and 2 four wheel coaches? I ordered the relevant stock and sundry items and also a Hercules for another club member. The amount of goods I had in England and the carriage costs to the Isle of Man not to mention possible careless couriers meant it was cheaper and less stressful to go fetch it all myself on a long day trip.     Back home track building and laying began, our method was very simple , maybe too simple, time will tell. The ground here is quite hard, no clay or bog type areas so a simple foundation of a thin layer of ballast, followed by track and then more ballast was used. The only ‘snag’ so far was that the sheep ( we are a farm too ) decided that the track was their path and they tended to disturb the ballast and in the places below the small embankment where they jumped down, the track got seriously disturbed much to my annoyance. Since fencing off the entire ‘layout’ and banning the sheep the track has up to now stayed put.  


   With the new stock came the need for a combined carriage and loco shed, this has come in the form of a body off what was probably a livestock trailer of some sort. Waste not want not on the track front too, as this shed is not really running lines I used the 5/8” aluminium rail and point to do the track in here after replacing the sleepers for wooden ones.

   A lap of the mainline is about 1000 feet with a few slight gradients here and there. The loops have a radius of 15 feet with a widened gauge of 5,1/16”, this was the largest practical size for loops courtesy of the terrain without having to go down the road of retaining walls and amateur mining. the rest of the curves are 60 feet radius with 20 feet radius points on the running lines. The 15 feet loops do limit the loco’s and stock that can use the line, a six coupled Polly would not get round but a six coupled Sweet William probably would. this is an important point to consider during the purchase of stock, no Pacific’s for me. At present all running is done in a clockwise fashion, if suitable signalling is implemented? I may put a crossover in between the running lines near the station which would effectively ‘turn’ the train without the need for a turntable.


I have since then purchased my Hercules with industrial body ( thank you Paul ) a picture of which is on the this site, as expected it pulls all my 3 ROR bogie coaches fully loaded round my 15 foot bends no problem, a powerful loco with great traction and acceleration, acceleration that I need to curb slightly with the use of pots on the control board, Kids……..!

 Jobs left to do include the creation of a water tower with a mains connection or at least a hose pipe feed that can be connected as necessary, I’m fed up with walking up and down with watering cans. An ash pit on what is to be the steaming bay ( one siding ) off the station loop. When the grate is dropped from Dixie, you have to lift the loco over the dropped ash pan at present, another irritating task. I would like to sort out some basic signalling and get some seating in the station area, also some sort of coal bunker instead of a steel bucket would be nice. Scenic items around the track would also add to things.


Miles Shearman - Email - miles at manx.net

Copyright Ride on Railways Ltd