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Planning - Sorrel Haven Railway

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<Warning>Picture heavy post! </Warning>


I thought i'd detail my plans for the SHR, to get ideas and comments.

As I said in my intro post, I've got an area of the garden which I feel is a good place to have a railway. It is overhung by tall trees, so nothing much grows there, and its out of the way of the rest of the garden. 


This image gives an overview of the area that I'm planning to use. Specifically, the area along the fence to the right, and then along the rear fence, behind the trees. i plan to bring out a loop, to go around the trees.


a closer view of the right side fence.


a better view of the rear fence. 

As you can see, there is quite a bit of work to do, before I can think about putting a layout down there. So far on the list, is to clear the log/stick/leaf pile and to remove the tree stumps down the right hand side.

The land does slope away to the end of the garden, but I don't currently know the extent of it. I've got a string level on the way, so as soon as this arrives, and I've cleared the corner, i'll be able to make a measurement. I also need to measure the length, width and the location of the trees, so I can 'formalise' the plan, and the baseboard sizes etc. I've got a rough distance of 10m down the right and 12m along the back... but this was roughly measured.

58c274c5af096_Plan1-Mainboard.thumb.PNG.cac5aa0b77a05a91aa2532b53e4db0ef.PNG      58c274b86386b_Plan1-Extboard.thumb.PNG.74b66578706a7041e2be52aa483dbd15.PNG

The two images above comprise the 'first' track plan. I feel it's best to build in stages, so the blue line is stage one, red is stage 2, the orange stage 3, with the dotted areas being possible freight yards.


This is a second plan I've thought about. I feel it will give more opportunities for scenic work, and has a bit more operational interest as well. This plan would also change the order in which things would be built. In this scheme, the Red line would become stage one, Blue stage two, with Orange as stage 3 again. I've just noticed I've put the crossover between the branch line and the main line in the wrong direction! The ext board would not change in plan, other than the link line between red and blue to the south, which would be removed. 

I'd like to know which design people prefer. 

There are more planning items to mention, but I've run out of time this morning to detail them. More this evening! :)

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Wow, it looks like you've got yourself a nice gradient to contend with there. At least it looks fairly level along the bottom fence so you've got plenty to work with. I'm sure you're aware of the need to keep layout gradients to a minimum but I'll mention it just in case. Possible problems with overhanging trees would be leaf fall and bird droppings but perhaps nothing too concerning.

The idea behind planning my layout was not to have something that looked like a 'tailchaser' layout so in a way the addition of a tunnel area in plan 2 would help to provide a scenic break from the two circuit loops. However, with 12 metres or so along the bottom fence you'd probably not need to disguise it. What size radius curves are you thinking of? How wide can the layout be? I would advise having curves as large as possible but that's just my preference as I think it looks better. It all depends on the amount of space you have available.

I like the idea of the branchline which will give plenty of operational interest.

Do you intend having the whole layout in the open or is there the possibility of adding a shed or other covered area that could be used as storage? How do you intend running power to the bottom of the garden?

How much time do you have available to work on the construction and how quickly can you achieve it? I'm a very slow worker who spends more time thinking and planning than doing anything constructive but there are members on here who could have something running in a couple of weeks or so. It's nice to be able to get something running quickly so working in stages is a good idea. Try to complete a circuit at a time if it's not possible to do two at once. Don't rush it, and aim to get the baseboards or foundations perfectly flat and level before laying track. The majority of problems we experience, either through stock derailments or problems with couplings, can be attributed to the track we have laid and which we thought was level enough. It's important to get the track laid correctly.

And good luck getting those tree stumps out!

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Thanks for the response Mick.

The SHR is going to be more of a Railway in the Garden, rather than a Garden Railway, if you get the distinction. I'm planning on having the base raised up at the bottom end of the garden, and let it run level for the 'loop'. The extension will also run level as much as possible, but ensuring it can still raise above the main line.

For climate and leaf-fall protection, i'm planning on using a backscene on the boards on the fence sides. On the rear of these will be stainless steel press studs, with press studs on the front of the boards as well. I'm going to ask my lovely wife if she can sew me up some covers out of waterproof material. These should keep the worst of the weather out, and also keep things free from debris. 

I've thought about getting a shed, but I'm not sure I'll be able to justify the cost. For power, I'm planning to run a heavy duty extension lead from the house. 

it's going to be a long process, as I've only really got Fridays I can actually work on the railway. the rest of the time, I'll be at work or with my family.

I'm  leaning towards the 2nd plan, where I'll do the first loop, then put the extension on, then finish the second loop and extra other bits.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Another question for those experienced in this....

Has anyone used 50mm square Spike Metpost units to mount their railways?

I'm looking at ones with around 450mm of spike... have they worked in the medium/long term? are they firm enough?

Edited by Stese
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I've not used them for a railway, but have used them on a fence, never again. They just don't give you the strength of a post directly in the ground. If I was going down the post route I'd use downpipe (as in coming down the side of your house to take rain water away). The reasons for the down pipe are no Rot at ground level and no need to keep painting to preserve them, although you would still have to dig holes for them.

Simple round wooden plugs cut from thick ply / wooden planks inserted in the top give you something to screw the track boards on to.

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One reason for using these, is that I can't concrete into the ground... as i'm renting. (The plan is to change this at some point). I've thought about using down-pipe, but I've had experience of that and didn't find a really solid way to mount boards to them...

I think I'll do a test and see how well they hold up.

thanks, TheQ.

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Hi Stese

I completely take on board TheQ's comments regarding downpipe. I have the same restrictions.

For my layout I have used the 50mm ground spikes with the trackbead at a height of 2 foot or 600mm. For the baseboard I used the budget deck boards from Wickes diy as they have a plain side.

Have a look at new member new layout thread in this category.  Its been up for nearly a year and still solid.

When I joined this forum last year,  one piece of advice amongst many was to enjoy your adventure. It is brilliant fun this garden railway lark.

Cheers, Dave. 


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Hi Dave, 

Thanks for your input.. its good to know someone else is in the same situation.

I'm not really a veteran outdoor OO guy, but have been involved with this for a number of years :- www.adnalm.org.uk , more specifically in the recent rebuild. 

I'll have a look at your layout, and see what I can take from it. Due to the layout of the garden, i'm looking at close to ground level for one area, and possibly as high as 4 ft in another... I need to finish the clearing of the land, and do a proper survey. Once I know the actual distances, I'll start working on a to-scale plan.

Edited by Stese
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Hi Stese,

Yes l think your right there is a differance between a garden railway and a railway in the garden, like you mine is the latter. I leave it to others to sort out the differance, but l just wanted somewhere to play with realistic lenght trains as the house was out of bounds!

Mick bought up the problem of trees. The bain of my life. You may need to look at some sort of covering for the track during the autum/ winter time. As l have no trackside scenery yet its not a problem to just brush any leaves etc off but it it can be a pain when there wet as you end up picking them of by hand. Also sap from trees is a bugger to get of the track as well.

I agree with the Q, 50mm are a bit usless as fence posts but could be ok as supports if you have the right sort of ground for them. If you have soft ground they can wobble a bit in the wind etc. If you can't concrete how about concreteing the post into a old plastic ice cream carton, (you may have to double deck them to get the weight) and then bury them. If you move just dig them up.

Good luck l look forward to see it up and running.

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  • 4 months later...

Just a quick update...

I finally managed to get out and do a survey of the gradient down the garden... At the base of the first treestump at the top end of the garden, a taut string with a hangling level on it, arrives around 5 cm below the top of the fence panel at the bottom end... therefore, I'd have to have a gradient, and I beleive that gradient would be too steep in this gauge.


It's all for naught anyway, as last week we had a note from my landlady. She's moving back from AUS to the UK and wants her property back. I have to move by the middle of october.

As such, the SHR won't appear in this form, and will likely be renamed, if I get a garden where I can build something else.

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