Projects: Gauging the situation
When a lifetime’s passion for trains, seven grandchildren and a grand-plan for a garden railway come together, Steve Vick railway creator, advises Wessex Resins & Adhesives always has an answer.
As the managing director of his own company, Steve Vick International Ltd., making old gas mains safe for modern use, Steve Vick is used to getting his own way. But, he admits, he was so worried about what his wife might think, he had to wait until she went on holiday to start the excavations for his 65-metre-long small gauge railway which now surrounds his back garden.
“I was appalled after one day with a mini-digger,” he says. “There was a massive amount of excavation. There was so much earth. I couldn’t work out how to hide that from my wife.”
Given that the couple have recently returned from a six-day train journey around Andalucía in southern Spain on a luxury train, she appears to have forgiven him, particularly as the project now gives so much pleasure to the wider family.
“I decided to build it for my seven grandchildren,” Steve says. “When I realised I could buy replica Thomas the Tank engine and friends working engines, which they’re obsessed with, there was no stopping the project.”
Steve began construction in earnest in 2016 and he is now delighted with the never-to-be finished result. “It’s been great, an elaborate civil engineering task, getting the gradients right for the track and supporting the concrete as it set. All of the tunnels are concreted. We used an enormous amount of the stuff, tonnes. But I’ll never finish. Building bridges and people are next.
“Part of the project was making stations and platforms for the trains to stop at and of course they remain permanently in position. As soon as they were done I should have gone to Wessex for help,” Steve explains. “But I didn’t. I made the station buildings from wood, used a cheap coating and put them to work on the railway. But they got wet and expanded, and it was a disaster. I should have known better as I’ve worked with Wessex for 17 years and know that the company’s products are top notch.”
Steve’s business utilises Wessex Resins to help upgrade old metallic pipes laid from as long ago as the Victorian era, a process he’s specialised in for 37 years. His company inserts new plastic pipes into the cracking existing ones and then uses a bespoke expanding polyurethane foam productin between the new and the old, to seal the deal.
“Wessex is fantastic for that, so why it took me so long to ring and ask for help with the railway stations is a mystery.” But when he did, Steve says that, as ever, Wessex was fantastic.
“They knew exactly what would work best for waterproofing,” Steve says. “After I renovated the buildings, I applied WEST SYSTEM® 105 Resin and 205 Hardener. It’s made all the difference. The stations are now doing really well and as we live near Bath, we get our fair share of bad weather. Plus, Wessex was able to help me with adhesives. I’d bought some paving slab effect lining for the platforms and now it actually sticks where it should. For that I used the WEST SYSTEM G/Flex 655-K Repair Kit.”
Steve is keen to point out that the railway cannot be ridden, even though it’s outdoors, it’s garden scale, not human. He chose it because, at its size, the engines are easy for the grandchildren to handle, they can put them on and off the track without the danger of breaking anything. Plus, his wife was so delighted with the overall effect, when the garden had fully recovered, she entered it into a contest so that all the local residents could visit on an open day and enjoy it too.
“It’ll never be finished,” Steve admits happily, “but I’ve learnt two important things. The first is, negotiate with your wife before starting any groundworks and the second is, use Wessex for everything.”