The March 2020 issue of Model Rail magazine is now on sale and, within its pages, is a demonstration of how I salvaged track materials from a demolished layout and re-purposed them as engineers' wagon loads. Tearing up lengths of finescale flexible track is a difficult job when it has been secured with glue and ballasted. The rails inevitably come apart from the plastic sleepers and it's tempting to simply throw it away. But I hate waste, so I often cut the rails into shorter lengths and the sleepers into individual units and use them as scenic props on other layouts and dioramas. Indeed, they're perfect for stacking in permanent way or depot yards.

The materials are also ideal for creating wagonloads. Steel rails can be painted and weathered before mounting to bogie bolster wagons for the steam and modern eras. Sleepers, be they timber, concrete or steel, are also great for loading into open wagons, suggesting either new or recovered materials heading to or from a worksite.

These Bachmann Branchline wagons have really benefitted from the addition of the loads, along with some bespoke weathering. I'm particularly pleased with the BDA bogie bolster (above), with the rusty rails and handmade restraining straps. I've also been meaning to build a couple of Cambrian Models plastic kits of BR 'Salmon' track panel carrying wagons, which I'm aiming to load with recovered track sections. But that's a job for another day...

While it's always sad to have to dismantle layouts - and I've had to break up a few recently - at least most of the scenic items and buildings have been saved for re-use. Finding a second life for the damaged track has been a real bonus, not least as it provides a free source of wagonload material!


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