Hi there, and as Chris says, welcome to the forum.
It makes a change to be greeted by a fully operational garden layout. When did you initially start? Has it been something you've wanted to do for some time?
I don't think a garden railway could ever be a place to recreate a scale model, it's as you say, about having fun and even if the plants and foliage are overscale it's still the best and most natural environment through which to watch passing trains. That last photo you uploaded is full of natural realism and something you could never recreate on an indoor layout. What a fabulous spot for capturing photographs and nothing appearing to be overscale.
Although many might see a single track layout as offering limited interest I've really enjoyed operating mine, more so than my previous double track layout. It's not always about filling the available space with as much as you can, in fact in my opinion it's better to start with a single track line because so many people set out on a quest to build a garden railway that never reaches fruition. They see a garden capable of accommodating double or quadruple tracks, along with stations, sidings and the works and it all becomes too much. Understanding the limitations of oo gauge in the garden is a must if you are to ever enjoy what you set out to create.
I'm still a firm believer in adding power along the rails and in all honesty I've encountered very few problems using DCC control. I wouldn't really know what voltage drop was if it slapped me in the face! Maybe I've had it, maybe I still get it, but I've never come across anything that's given me cause for concern. With a large collection of loco's it would be prohibitively expensive for me to consider any other form of control so it looks like I'll have to stick with what I've got until I've got it no more. But you're not alone on here as there are others on the forum who also use battery power and it's an interesting concept so I'm looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.
Looking forward to seeing more.
Thanks Chris. Yeah, I'm glad I've got it back up and running too, though even more pleased that I've been able to do it without needing to motorise the points. I'm sure the spring points idea has been done before and maybe even using the same method but it's nice to be able to say you've worked something out for yourself rather than having to Google the answers. It remains to be seen how the points cope in the future and I'm sure there'll be problems at some time (was going to put 'point' there) but it could be something garden railway modellers can look to implement on their own layouts to save motors, wiring, decoders, having to set points, and having to change those pesky little springs.
For sure there'll be a head on one day. I might forget, the points might throw a wobbly, who knows, but yes, I'm sure it will happen eventually unless there's a way to signal that they haven't set correctly?
I know it is nowt to do with me, but 'm really pleased the you have that twin track section back up and running. The spring points idea and implementation is genius. I hope you get a lot of enjoyment from the sight of trains passing in the garden and you ain't too hard on yourself when you crash trains into each other, cos it's going to happen, it always does.
I enjoyed reading your posts and seeing the photos of your railways. There are some wonderful creations, which are I am sure an inspiration to anyone contemplating building a garden railway.
Over the last few years I have been experimenting with a garden railway, and I thought some of my experience may be of interest.
It was to be ‘a bit of fun’, not a serious scale model, of course, since the plants and foliage are way too big. Against that, the space available means that the scale track length can represent a few kilometers rather than 500 metres at OO gauge. I chose OO for cost reasons, and because the family already had a selection of rolling stock at that scale.
The concept was to mount the track on sections of a ‘baseboard’ (not much wider than the track itself) which would be laid out in the garden for the summer and stored under cover for the winter. This would protect the track from the worst weather, and would allow most of the work of pinning the track down and wiring ‘off-site’ during the winter.
The first task was to make a detailed plan of the garden, including the locations of plants and other immovable features. I then decided on a track route, and began negotiations with the Authorities over demolition orders for plants which could not be circumnavigated! I kept to a simple single-track figure of eight, with a station, passing loop and siding at each end. For me, the attraction of a garden railway is in long sweeping curves, weaving amongst foliage, and dramatic bridges and viaducts. My garden, in a Manchester suburb, is about 18 metres long, and the track follows a bed which extends down one side of the grass.
The baseboard was cut from 5mm plastic sheet , sold as ‘foamed PVC’, which I found easy to cut using a jigsaw, and it will take screws like wood. It has proved durable and strong enough. The sections are 50 mm wide (for single-track) x 1 – 2 metres long, joined with a short lapping piece and stainless steel screws. During winter, the sections are hung up indoors on a couple of portable clothes-rails.
I used Peco Streamline track, code 100, pinned down to the baseboard by brass pins. For underlay/ballast I used the Peco product. The railway had been outdoors for 5 or 6 summers since 2011, and the basic track survived the elements well. However, the underlay disintegrated, or maybe it was eaten by slugs, stolen by birds for their nests, or otherwise vandalized. I replaced the underlay with roofing felt, which looks ballast-like from a distance, and weathers well, but does not conform to the sleepers like the foam underlay. The other track problem encountered concerned the points: there is a small over-centre spring used to hold the points set which is subject to corrosion and clogging with earth. The clogging can usually be cured by a water jet from a syringe. I have had to replace some of the springs (obtainable as spares from Peco) and it is, shall we say, a challenging task!
As regards the electric power supply, I initially used conventional pick-up from the track (not DCC). I bridged all fishplates with soldered wires, and ran a cable down the garden to avoid voltage drop problems. The result was satisfactory initially, but the track needed laborious cleaning before use, and the loco wheels needed regular cleaning. These problems led me to consider on-board battery power and radio-control. The modern Lithium Polymer batteries are small and lightweight, and I have converted four locomotives now to this system (obtained from Micron Radio Control). This gives a run time of 1 – 2 hours depending on the usage and the loco (different locos have surprisingly differing current draws). Of course it removes the need for any wiring and isolation switches in the outdoor environment, and several locomotives can be run on the same track, which is particularly useful on the long tracks available in the garden. The points (6 in total) are not power-operated.
The bridges I used are the commonly available plastic kits, and they survive well outside for the summers. For platforms and viaduct arches I used expanded polystyrene, recycled from packaging, cut to shape and painted, which survives surprisingly well considering the material’s low strength. Other buildings and trackside items are deployed when the railway is in use, but stored indoors.
All in all it has been a pleasurable hobby, and has been much appreciated by visiting grandchildren, but as with any outdoor activity, we are always at the mercy of our British weather!
Nice videos Iain - just been watching them both at the same time! I bet your neighbours love the sound of those diesel horns?
I see you've made a start on the ballasting - are you intending doing all the tracks? What are you using for ballast and fixative this time?