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Hi all,

After a trip to Bekonscot last year (and multiple subsequent visits) my 7 year old has been obsessed with the idea of a railway outside, not helped by watching the entire series of the Biggest Little Railway several times over... He saved up for a OO set and yes OK I agreed I’d match fund it so I could play with him. Realising we’ve got the trains and the controllers and a vegetable patch that never grew any vegetables we figured why not, let’s do this, get some track and go outside! It gets the kids away from the TV and we might learn some engineering skills along the way...

I have done quite a lot of reading around the past few weeks and have lurked on the forum learning lots. As it’s our first attempt and experimental I guess our budget and methods so far probably reflect this. We’re going a loop with one junction taking a branch line up and over the distant straight with a view to extending to the other patch if it all works out. We laid the track out this afternoon to check my measurements and mark it out so we could begin to lay some sort of track bed.

Id really value some thoughts though as to the layout and whether the gradients from the pic look like they could work? It’s all radius 2. Also track base, initially thought a tube filled with sand/fine gravel but now thinking wood? Any tips on cutting out the bends though? This being West Wales with our incessant rain, is drainage an issue? Any other thoughts and tips gratefully received. 







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Hi Dave, welcome to the forum, you are doing fine so far, the most important thing watch those gradenance , 3 percent be ok for a small train and yes timber base be better for the track and locos , you need to dig more out in front and after the tunnel. West Wales shouldn't  be that hot in summer, not like it here in down under, low 40's and humidity the killer to most timbers, remember gaps, important as well when laying the track.

That doco  you talked about is there any links to it , I couldn't find any, be looking forward to seeing more pics of a new 00 scale garden railway with fresh ideas, great work.

Tony from sunny down under, in the mid 30's today, keeping on moving a head .


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Hi Dave

My advice would be avoid any gradients (unless very, very shallow) - disappointment in things not working, can easily kill off motivation to succeed - in both your Son and yourself!

Using wood posts in the ground, is a short term solution, unless they are very well soaked in a preservative.

I would be concerned by the low level of your tunnel. It could very easily flood and will be welcomed by all sorts of little creatures, looking for a home :-D

Anyway, welcome to the forum, learn from our mistakes and have fun!  

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Yes, even a simple oval is the key to railway happiness!  Now, the things to avoid are having your track too close to dirt. With the Garden railways it's really important to think in terms of platforms that the track sits on.  Sure some hide them by making them smaller, but you have to have a solid base for that track.

I am sure your son is beside himself over all of this new construction.

The gradient should not be an issue if you are running more toy train like models with shorter trains. i.e. not an American 150 car coal unit train with mid train helper engines. :P You can also make all gradients easier by lowering the far side straight section.  So between the two you are only having a mild grade all around.  i.e one goes down 2 inches, and the other goes up 2 inches.

It's really easy to find materials if you want to go cheaper. I built mine with nearly any investment in lumber as it mostly came from skips. I became an adept alley stalker for railway things.

Most of us are very partial to the Roofing felt technique. But you can also just use loads of creosote to soak the lumber. There's one guy who just brushes motor oil all over his baseboards, but he's doing O scale. 

Here is a sample of basic creosote style baseboards. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJid_633Abo&t=296s

Edited by traingeekboy

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Thanks for the tips guys. We’ve got a few old pallets around the place so was thinking about chopping them up and using them as bases after a good dousing in what we treated the fence with.

Someone mentioned “friends” moving into the tunnel, that hadn’t occurred to me really. My tortoise is just out of shot during the day in the summer and we know he tucks up with a little mouse. It might be worth some form of cap (or using it as an arguement for some form of cat for my other kid!). In reality I think it’s going to be a bit shorter,  that was the only length of scrap I had lying around up. 

Feels like my little one is just about hitting the right age to appreciate some of the technicalities (Brunel is his current hero), can see how it does hook you in. We’re already thinking about applying for outline planning permission from mum to allow a mainline extension in the future... 




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A new train will run along new track, however badly laid the track is. Two weeks, two, months and two years later, trains will refuse to move. Track needs to be well laid and have a good electrical feed. Both of these are a paint get right, sorry.

Painting your baseboards will help, but won't protect them. A covering in roofing felt will give them at least a 10 year lifespan. 

I alway thought the people on here warning against gradients on garden railways were over the top. 

You need to ensure that every length of rail has a reliable connection to your power supply. You can't rely on "fish plates" to do this. Each and every rail will need a wire soldered to it! I've written a guide here 


My more general advice is to get a train up and running as quickly as possible on a short stretch or loop, it's very exciting having trains running around in your garden. Here's my first train in May 2010.


Then get on with it and enjoy building a garden railway. The building is less exciting, but more satisfying.


One final piece of advice. Learn as you go along. Don't try too hard to get it right first time. Nearly everything I build in my first year of construction (2010) has been ripped out and replaced. That was over 10 metres of baseboards! Nothing I have build since 2011 has needed to be replaced.

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Right here we are a few weeks on. I think we’re using this very much as a test and to keep a 7 year old engaged I’ve got get a train going on bits of it every now and then. The tunnel and left side aren’t live, it’s just there to check our measurements but we did get one runnng up and down the bend on the right and over the bridge as they are so we’re calling this a success!

 I can see what you all mean about soldering, when I know this is permanent I’ll spend a few evenings out there,. We’ve got a massive plot off camera where we think we could build a mainline so I know we’re going to need some form of proper wiring scheme if we go down this route. Best get reading up! Gotta say we’re both quite enjoying the building, mud, electricity and train tracks! 


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Hi davethegooner, coming along nicely, how are you with electrics, I suggest you put in a WYE, it will give full access to your layout, longer running and do the same in the other garden.

Why not start a new post  Members garden railway thread where we all ar, see you there.


Keep the pics flowing , well done.

Tony from down under

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