Origins & concept

2007: Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Dec



Photo galleries


this railway currently has no name - because it doesn't exist yet

2' (60cm) gauge in the garden

Go back to the August 2007 diary

September 2007 diary

Second time round the Diema on eBay sold for US$2,900 (first time it went for $4,600, but that sale didn't complete)

I have received an email from Savona Equipment Ltd in response to my query on pricing:

30lb/yd rail. CAN$3.50/ft
There's 600 ft of rail, so CAN$2,100
10hp Jenbach "Loci". CAN$6,500
20hp Jenbach "Loci". CAN$9,500
140cu/ft Ore Cars CAN$4,500 each
30 – 40cu/ft Ore Cars CAN$1,800 each

Shipping and handling from Canada to New Zealand is estimated to be in the range US$7,000-US$10,000.

Then there's the Simplex for sale in the UK:

1946 plate-frame Simplex. Originally Arnold's of Leighton Buzzard number 21.

(Identical to loco number 27 seen here at Amberley)

There are also 12 ex-Ministry of Defence 2'6" gauge flat wagons for sale in the UK.
These are regaugable to 2' (the Bredgar and Wormshill have several).

Interesting, though they are probably too large for what I'll be able to use.


Shipping and handling from the UK to New Zealand is still an unknown. It'd be nice to be able to find some 2' equipment a little closer to home; it's the shipping costs to New Zealand that are the killer.

The cheap/free rail enquiry came to nothing, but hey, "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Essentially, a gold mine (honest, a real gold mine) about one hour's drive from me had torn out some old rail when they no longer needed it and offered it to the Department of Conservation for various projects in the Waihi area. In the end DOC ended up using the old rail on non-operating historic projects and there is none left over.

I went to the Ngongotaha Railway Park on Saturday. They have both 7.25" and 16" ground level lines all built on the old Ngongotaha station yard and are also hoping to get the 3' 6" gauge line to Putaruru reopened later this year. (For those who don't know, 3' 6" is New Zealand's "standard gauge"). What intrigued me was a pile of old 2' gauge equipment stacked up against a fence. They acquired some equipment from a drainage project in Wellington and are using the guts of the loco to build a 3' 6" gauge trolley (it had an hydraulic transmission that could be adapted to 3' 6"). I spoke to the main guy in charge and he suggested that they didn't have any firm plans for some of the rolling stock. They also had a pile of old lighter rail (certainly too light for 3'6" gauge). I didn't get a really good look at it, but they appear to have 3 or 4 dump cars. I am now in discussions with them to see if they'd be interested in parting with any of it.

11th September 2007
An interesting (and encouraging) email from Murray at the Ngongotaha Railway Park:

Hello John, Re rail etc,
The 2' loco is for sale at a price, the rail at this time is required for further expansion of the facility here and some of the wagons can be available. So we are open to further communication at this time.
Regards Murray

I hadn't actually thought about the loco as Murray had indicated it was to be cannibalised for parts for a 3' 6" project, so this is really interesting. Of course it depends on what it is, what condition it is in and how much they want for it. No rail is still a problem though, you cannot actually have a railway with rail.

A couple of locos have turned up on eBay in the last couple of days:

2' 6" gauge Motor Rail, works Number 9709 built in 1952. It is listed in the current IRS Handbook of Industrial Locomotives as No SO35, based at L & P Peat Ltd, Solway Moss Works, Longtown, near Gretna.

A 3' gauge loco from the 1939 World's Fair. Built by Vulcan and being sold by Kennywood Park.

15th September 2007
I went to the Ngongotaha Railway Park to have a better look at what they have available.

The loco is a bit larger than I'd expected and frankly has been mucked about with. It used to be a battery-electric and has been converted in to a diesel-hydraulic and had an extension on the back of the frames for a cab (a fairly major conversion if you ask me). I am a bit of a purist and these sort of conversions don't really appeal to me.

They weren't actually going to canibalise it, they were going to reguage it from 2' to 3' 6"; which gives you an idea of how chunky it is.

They want about US$14,000 for it, which is a bit expensive. I can buy the Motor Rail Simplex in the UK for about US$7,000; which I think is far better value (see photo on the July diary page). The only down-side is it'd probably cost about the same again to ship it to New Zealand.

They also have 2 or 3 dump cars with a hinged end door - which would be ideal for moving ballast in. I've asked them how much they want for them.
There are also 3 or 4 plain underframes burried in the grass which would be good source material for conversion. I've asked about those too.

Amongst all the other stuff they have buried in the grass there are some old wheels. These could be useful at some stage.

Generally, the dump-cars are a bit tatty, but if I got them shot-blasted and painted they should come up OK. I might look to re-axle them as they look to have been regauged at some time and the axles are a bit of a mess. As they also have plain, friction bearings this would be an opportunity to put roller-bearings on them at the same time. The 4 underframes appear to be pretty clean, though I think they also have friction-bearings. It all comes down to how much money they want for it all.

The 2' 6" gauge Motor Rail "Simplex" on eBay didn't sell. Its starting price was just over US$5,000 and received no bids. This seems odd, though it had been modified, the price seemed reasonable.

23rd September 2007
I was asked by the Victoria Battery Tramway Society if I'd like to undertake the training to be a driver on their 2' gauge railway. Silly question really.

The 3' gauge loco from the 1939 World's Fair sold for $7,125 on eBay.

28th September 2007
I have received a letter from the owner of the Bredgar and Wormshill Light Railway.

21st September 2007

Dear John,

Thank you very much for you kind words about our railway following your visit in July. As Bill Bowman has informed you, I am not computer literate and hence this letter. The best advice I can give you about building a 2’ gauge railway is – do not do it, unless you have a very deep pocket and masses of time and help. However, if you do decide to investigate costs, I hope the following brief comments will help.

Many people look at the cost of a steam or diesel loco and think that will be the major expense. It is not unless your track length is very short. Also it is probably difficult to discover the cost of a locomotive and you should make careful enquiries on that score and also rolling stock. Unless you know of something for sale, this will be difficult but it is where you should start. Do not purchase anything until you have costed a site (unless you have one), sleepers, ballast, rail and groundwork. All these items can be costed very accurately and I can give you quoted figures for such equipment in the UK – although this is of limited value and such items must be available in N.Z.

Full size sleepers can be cut in half for 2’ gauge; the depth of ballast should be 6" or so ideally; rail should be between 40-50lb per yard (we use 50lb rail); the groundwork can be costed accurately and will vary widely depending on gradients (max 1:50); do not forget to cost rail fixings (either spikes or Pandrol clips) and fishplates and fishplate bolts.

If you haven’t fainted by the time you have done these calculations, you must consider turnouts, track bending equipment and stations. Even the simplest structures are expensive.

All this sounds very negative but depending on your age and the number of helpers, it is all very worthwhile. You must realize that we are fifteen men and we have spent about 33 years building this railway. We are inclined to think that, if we were starting again, we would definitely choose 2’ gauge or even 2’ 6", not standard gauge. We would also look for a site of a disused railway. Not only are they more interesting but the groundwork is done.

I am sure that all the equipment you need can be found in N.Z. and, of course, there are preserved railways in your country. However, if you are serious and can consider a project like this, another visit to the U.K. may prove useful and we would welcome you here for talks.

Sincerely Bill

It does sound a bit negative, but I have built 5" and 7¼" gauge railways before so I know that the track is probably the most expensive item. I am not totally put off and am still investigating my options.

Go forward to the October 2007 diary



I have decided to put on hold any plans for a 2' gauge line here in New Zealand. It is not easy to source equipment from overseas and any line built to a gauge of 540mm or more requires an inspection every year by Transit New Zealand - just the same as the standard (3'6") lines.

I am not sure what I am going to do at the moment, but I am erring towards going 15" gauge and building practically everything myself.

Narrow-minded and proud of it!

this page updated: 28th September 2007 
this site last updated: 24th December 2007 
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