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Flagg Fluorspar

By Brian Dominic
Scale 16mm/ft
Gauge 32mm
Size 4'3" x 2'8"

There is a myth that to model in 16mm scale, you need a garden half the size of [insert your county name here] and a 4-figure budget to buy at least one steam loco.

You don't.

In Flagg Fluorspar's space of 4' 3" by 2' 8"there is an oval of Faller E-Train track (available on your favourite online auction site from sellers in Germany) on which is operating battery electric powered TRAINS that mostly cost less than £100 (the cost of a good 4mm scale loco).

The line was inspired by John Rogers's Pigsty Hill Brewery Tramway which appeared at the 16mm Association Convention at Stoneleigh in 2010. I thought the concept was excellent and worthy of a wider audience, but had problems with storage and keeping the layout dust free. Thus I evolved the concept of "a layout in a box" which (just) fits in the back of a small family hatchback, together with the stands it stands on, a chair for the operator, a mains lead (for the massive THREE WATTS of lighting) and boxes of stock.

The whole can go from "in the car" to "up & running" in around 15 minutes (assuming the car can be got into the venue) and breaking down is equally rapid. The motive power and stock is mainly from IP Engineering, though on occasions bigger locos and stock do appear (just to prove that they CAN get around the corners). The layout first appeared in an incomplete form at the Exeter Garden Railway Show in October 2012, but has now had a Loco Repair Shop, Windmill, welder and various other bits of “junk” added.

Scenic effects rely on standard 4mm scale methods, with added fluorspar from a mine in Derbyshire and details come from a number of suppliers. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS LAYOUT WILL NOT GO THROUGH A STANDARD SIZE DOOR OR FIT UNDER A STANDARD SIZE CEILING!

A Little Background (fictional bits in italics)

Flagg is a small village in the White Peak area of Derbyshire – around 5 miles south of Buxton and a few miles away from the Monyash terminal of the (fictional) Mid –Derbyshire Light Railway. There was a Mineral Extension Line running from the head of steel at Monyash to the various fluorspar mines (which do still exist) on the plateau. Flagg is perhaps best known as the venue for the last point-to-point steeplechase races held over the stone walls of this part of the world - the races are on Easter Monday and the MDLR used to run trains up the Mineral Extension just for that one day.

Fluorspar is a halide mineral composed of calcium fluoride, CaF2

The mineral is used as a flux in iron smelting to decrease the viscosity of slags at a given temperature. This increase in fluidity is the result of the ionic nature of the mineral. The melting point of pure calcium fluoride is 1676 K.

In 1852 fluorspar gave its name to the phenomenon of fluorescence, which is prominent in fluorites from certain locations, due to certain impurities in the crystal. Fluorite also gave-the name to its constitutive element fluorine.

Fluorspar is a colourful mineral. both in visible and ultraviolet light, and the stone has ornamental and lapidary uses. Industrially, it is used as a flux for smelting. and in the production of certain glasses and enamels. The purest grades of fluorspar are a source of fluoride for hydrofluoric acid manufacture, which is the intermediate source of most fluorine-containing fine chemicals. Optically clear transparent fluorite lenses have low dispersion, so lenses made from it exhibit less chromatic aberration, making them valuable in microscopes and telescopes. Fluorite optics are also usable in the far-ultraviolet range where conventional glasses are too absorbent for use.

A well-known (and very rare) form is mined around Castleton, not many miles away - the famous Blue John.