THE SLING AND LAVAN TRAMWAY
A 32mm Gauge Railway built by
Mike and Caroline Barton
The Latest News Update:
The Sling and Lavan Tramway is a 32mm gauge line with continuous running and shunting facilities. It is partly at ground level but with a steam up bay raised above ground level by approximately 1000mm, and other sections raised by between approximately 300mm - 1200mm above ground level. It has a minimum track radius on the main line of approximately 4 ft. and the loading gauge clearances are 150 mm width and 180 mm height. There is no track power on this line. The ruling gradient on this line is approximately 1:50.
THE FOLLOWING NEWS ITEM IS
NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED
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During the summer Mike developed sciatica and was convalescing during the exceptionally damp weather we had during the first half of August. As this weather provided some excellent growing conditions for various garden flora, he decided that some help with the lineside maintenance would not go amiss. Remembering an article about an Environmental Maintenance Vehicle (SMT No. 63 – February 1993) built by Mr Dave Watkins, Mike started to design a similar vehicle but thought that his would have powered bogies, the idea being that the device might just trundle around the line like a “strimmer-bot” taking care of any wayward plants that ventured toward the right of way. Not wanting to spend good money on the project until it had been demonstrated to be worth it, the Mark 1 version was built using the two old power bogies and some aluminium plate and angle found in the “useful bits and pieces” box.
The Mark 1 version was not successful and hardly cut anything, but the Mark 2 version was a bit more vicious. This had a better motor, plus the strimmer guard was cut away along the leading edge to better allow the plants to get onto the strimmer cord, and the nylon strimmer cord was replaced with a length of electrical wire. Although not entirely satisfactory, this worked well enough provide encouragement to continue with the project. Re-reading the 1993 article, Mike realised that the motor used by Mr Watkins had been an MFA/Como Drills 540 one, which was somewhat larger than the one used in the Mark 2 version.
For the Mark 3 version, therefore, Mike ordered a new beefy 540 motor which has a significantly higher RPM than the Mark 2 motor. The bodywork also needed to be altered to ensure the device stayed within the existing loading gauge, and for simplicity a decision was then taken to revert to a vehicle that would be propelled by a separate engine. In keeping with the original article Mike used an old Mamod open wagon suitably weighed down with lead. The Mark 3 version of the whining whizzer was then tested again to ensure clearance of those lineside objects that didn't need strimming, such as buildings and rocks. A few other adjustments have since been made to further refine the mechanical macerator.
Mike hopes that regular use of this vehicle will help to keep on top of summer growth along the lineside, although the older stems of the thymes and tough leaves of rhododendron, etc., seem to resist the effects of the strimmer cord and so a little attention by hand will still be needed from time to time. The herbaceous hacker will be subjected to full testing and trials along the Tramway during the autumn. If these tests prove to be successful the vehicle may be available for hire or contract work during the Spring of 2018, but only for 32 mm gauge lines! Enquiries from interested railway companies should be directed to the Tramway's Chief Engineer.
The sylvan strimmer wagon is seen, below, whilst undergoing tests on one of the welcome sunny days at the end of August and before transfer to the Tramway's workshops for a "cosmetic makeover".