The Gritty Oyster Railway Company

"Between the tear that falls and the smile that brightens, there is a domain I call my own. A realm of fantasy and freedom Where I can soar on a whisper of steam, and glide into my dreams, revealed"Anonymous

Looking more like a Gypsy caravan then a railcar, Sooke lumber combination car simmers in the heat of the noonday sun. This is one of the last pieces of rolling stock from the prosperous lumbering time on the railroad. The town of South Oyster was able to purchase most of the rolling stock from the floundering lumber company before most of the vehicles were cut up for scrap in 1908.

The Gritty Oyster Railway Company is now into its fourth year of operation and is far exceeding my expectations for both realism and play value. Although I like to build realistic models the whole idea was to incorporate the family not into just running an engine but also into the building. I have tried to make the railway fit into the surrounds and not take away the family’s backyard ...more on that later.

The idea of keeping things simple and the old phase "Less is more" is what the GOR is based on and is it hard to do. I get so carried away sometimes with the detail and lose sight of the whole picture. I am trying to capture the flavour, the essence of a small working railroad that looks like it has a purpose. To be able to cross over that line of a model railroad to a realistic miniature railway...to me there is difference.

Anya’s Oyster Process-ing Plant made a neat first project on the table saw. The structure is just a wooden box with thin strips cut up from an old fallen down cedar fence nailed on. Motor oil was used as a preserver and finish.

Not modeled on a particular railroad, the theme is an industrial short line designed to haul oysters from the industrial station at "South Oyster" to "Anyas" processing plant then onto the rail head at "Port Grizl." Designed as an end to end layout there is a sneaker line back in bushes (aka the jungle) so that continuos running can be had for times when I want to break in a new steam engine or just to relax with a beverage of choice and let the steamers stretch their legs.

The idea of putting the railway around the perimeter had two major drawbacks both of them involving egress to the lawn in the center. Much head scratching took place as how this was to be accomplished. The lawn had to be mowed and the idea of lift out sections and drawbridges certainly had me noodling. I wanted the trains to be running while we were out in the garden and the thoughts of forgetting to put the lift-out section back could spoil your whole day. The idea of making a level crossing let alone two before I could start to make the circuit of track seemed daunting ...and I wanted the track to be elevated.

Steps leading down from the back patio incorporates one of the two level crossings for human access to the back yard.

Both accesses had a natural slope into the garden. I split the Levels at a height using props made of shovels hoses draped across saw horses...all to get an impression as to how the railroad might look 3 feet up in the air. This was the first of many strange goings on in the garden that had the neighbours raisin’ an eyebrow... As these two massive stone undertakings took place The words of Peter Jones on "making a good sound base to build on" rang in my ears, or was it the sledge hammer that I was using to break up the big bits.

Small diesel shunter made from a Mamod guards van. An over night charge will power it for 5 hours of continuous service. The 5 foot long bridge is made from 1/2" flat and angled steel pop rivited together.

The Gritty Oyster on a frosty morning in October, the steam hangs in the air above a goods train about to enter the "Vale of Oyster". Just beond lies the station of "South Oyster".

<>I have not incorporated a map of the railway as it is no more that an egg shaped loop of 46 yards of track circling the lower garden. At one end the pier of "Port Grizl" is taking shape, but for the rest I have just been content to let the trains run and build some structures. This is one railroading project that I have taken a different pace than the other smaller gauge pikes that I have always completed at warp speed. Somehow the railway in the garden always felt right. Like putting on an old overcoat to go for a walk...comfy and warm, not knowing where the next turn may lead...and sometimes not needing to know.


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