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Clay Mills Junction

Hi. Thinking about putting a line around my garden.

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Hi,
I have a smallish back garden (about 23'x14' useable) that is mostly grass and is completely level. I don't have anywhere inside I could put up a permanent layout  so I was thinking about running a single line around the garden.
I'm in the Midlands, not far from the place I've used as a forum name and thought I'd say hi rather than signing up and lurking. I don't want to be the kind of person who asks loads of questions without ever getting serious about doing it as that wastes people's time and I know there are quite a few challenges to building outside. So I thought I'd sign up so I could have a good look at the forum and thoroughly research before I decide.

I'd be modelling 80's to 90's Northern Scotland.
Thanks,

Barry.

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Hi Barry, I'm pleased you've decided to join us so welcome to the forum. I'm sure we get plenty of people lurking around and many perhaps go away and build a garden layout for themselves after seeing what others have achieved here but it's much nicer when they choose to join with us and share their experiences through the forum.

As you'll probably have gathered, there's not a lot of us and sometimes you can be waiting a while before anyone responds to your posts but don't let that put you off - we are a pretty friendly bunch and there's rarely, if ever, any disagreements among us.

Lack of space indoors is generally the reason many people consider a garden railway although I have to say that I prefer an outdoor layout to the indoor one. It just seems so much more realistic when you're faced with similar challenges to the real world and natural scenery and lighting does take some beating.

There's lots of challenges outdoors and you'll probably see some people laying down a few decking timbers with track on and calling it a garden railway - if only it was that simple. If you're looking for a way to run a few trains for a few weeks then you could probably get away with doing that but if you want a layout that will last a good few years then you do need to think solid foundations from the start. I've gone through a few different materials for the track base but in my opinion nothing beats concrete and masonry. No matter which type of timber you choose it will twist and warp eventually and you'll end up with your railway looking more like a roller coaster - that's if it doesn't rot beforehand. The trouble with concrete and masonry type materials is they don't always look pleasing in the garden unless you can disguise them in some way and once it's in there's major work involved if ever you choose to remove it all. However, I would certainly recommend building with something solid and weatherproof.

There's nothing wrong with a single line either, I absolutely love mine, and even a single line can keep you busy. Northern Scotland in the 80's and 90's period is also a great choice in my view (though others may disagree) - it's an ideal combination for a garden railway. I'm just trying to incorporate more rockery to my lineside to give it more of a 'West Highland' feel but that's something best suited to a ground level railway as some of the the rocks are pretty substantial. The trouble with a ground level setting is it's not that good for the knees!

What's you're thinking regarding height of your layout? Although my garden slopes and I have ground level track rising to approx chest height (though the track remains level throughout) I find I spend more time at ground level, again because it just seems so much more realistic and there's more scope for natural scenery.

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Hi Barry.

23' by 14' turns out to be the size of my garden, once it's been converted into metric. Plenty of room to get some long trains running. Having build a twin track loop around the perimeter, I've started a second end to end one.

Its very easy to procrastinate about taking on a project of this scale. I recommend that you crack on with it. Work in phases, so you can get trains running, and recognise that it may take a few years to build your whole layout. Which is rather good if you like the construction side of the hobby.

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Hi Mick,
Thanks, if I can contribute any of my existing knowledge in any of the other topics I will do rather than just lurking :-) I've had model trains since I was 3, so I'm not new to things, just to outdoors.

Given my house is East Midlands, it isn't the wettest part of the country and the garden is sheltered by fences or walls on all sides. I'm not that keen on standard radius curves, I'd prefer much greater radii and that is only really possible by going outdoors for me. I'm also coming to the conclusion that less can sometimes be more, hence the single line around the garden and I already have an idea of track plan.
I'm not that interested in creating scenery if I am perfectly honest, hence thinking that outdoors there is lots of natural scenery, though the garden is a kind of blank canvas at the moment.
Height wise, as the garden is flat other than an area of decking outside the door, I was thinking of the railway being that height around the garden (15-20cm). I like the look of yours with the aerated blocks creating the raised trackbed. My initial thought was something like that to support the single line curved sections and removable boards that could come in over winter or when we get long periods where the weather gets stuck in a rainy cycle with the passing loop station and bridge over the path.

Chris,
I work in metric too. I converted to imperial for the post as most people seem to prefer it. I'm wondering about using whatever I can just to get something down soonish even if it doesn't go all the way around and is free old timber knowing it isn't going to last all that long then building up the permanent trackbed over a longer term.

Thanks,

Barry.

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Your thoughts and ideas are remarkably similar to mine Barry. I know there are garden railway modellers who have extensive layouts outdoors that operate successfully but they must take a heck of a lot of maintaining and I can't imagine how long it takes them to clean the track before a running session. It isn't just the track itself that needs cleaning but between the rails too where dirt, leaves and bird droppings among other things can all create havoc. I probably take around 15 minutes to go round my layout with the track rubber, taking along a toothbrush for stubborn bird deposits and a paint brush to sweep away debris. Occasionally I'll take the garden vac and hoover the dislodged dirt away. And that's just my single track line!

Scenery isn't my forte either so I prefer to leave it to nature but it does need a helping hand on occasions so I don't mind doing a little bit when I have to.

The aerated blocks are a good choice and being lightweight they are easy to handle, cut and carve. I'm also pleased to hear you're looking at incorporating larger radius curves which not only look better but also aid better running in my opinion.

Looking forward to seeing things develop.

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One advantage of a small garden, it is well enough lit that getting dark isn't a barrier to enjoying a model railway in it. 😀
I'm thinking that I'll put a temporary line around two sides for the moment.

There seem to be plenty of pallets around the place discarded outside people's houses I've noticed. I could collect a few and use the thicker parts as sleepers to support the Birch plywood boards I already have. Then I can think about how I can build up the other sides properly. Once they are in I can remove the temporary boards and work on building those sides properly.

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On 16/05/2020 at 01:11, Clay Mills Junction said:

Hi,
I have a smallish back garden (about 23'x14' useable) that is mostly grass and is completely level. I don't have anywhere inside I could put up a permanent layout  so I was thinking about running a single line around the garden.
I'm in the Midlands, not far from the place I've used as a forum name and thought I'd say hi rather than signing up and lurking. I don't want to be the kind of person who asks loads of questions without ever getting serious about doing it as that wastes people's time and I know there are quite a few challenges to building outside. So I thought I'd sign up so I could have a good look at the forum and thoroughly research before I decide.

I'd be modelling 80's to 90's Northern Scotland.
Thanks,

Barry.

if you own the fences you could put a viaduct up

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10 hours ago, Clay Mills Junction said:

One advantage of a small garden, it is well enough lit that getting dark isn't a barrier to enjoying a model railway in it. 😀
I'm thinking that I'll put a temporary line around two sides for the moment.

There seem to be plenty of pallets around the place discarded outside people's houses I've noticed. I could collect a few and use the thicker parts as sleepers to support the Birch plywood boards I already have. Then I can think about how I can build up the other sides properly. Once they are in I can remove the temporary boards and work on building those sides properly.

Temporary is a good idea. You will learn so much from building your first phase, you may find that your second build is much improved from your experience. I removed nearly all of my original baseboard after three years and rebuilt it to the higher standard I'd developed. The track was reused.

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2 hours ago, chris said:

Temporary is a good idea. You will learn so much from building your first phase, you may find that your second build is much improved from your experience. I removed nearly all of my original baseboard after three years and rebuilt it to the higher standard I'd developed. The track was reused.

Agreed, there's nothing wrong with temporary so long as you accept that's what it will ultimately be. It will give you the opportunity to get up and running pretty quickly, something that I find is important during any construction. Just be aware that temporary builds don't last, we've all been there and done it in some form or other.

As Chris says, the track can be reused so take care when fixing it down so that it doesn't get too severely damaged when lifting it again.

One drawback to a temporary set up is that you'll probably find yourself running trains when you really should be getting on with the permanent side of construction - be warned!

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I went to chop back some bushes to liberate a touch more space, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on if you are a twitcher) a blackbird is sitting on an egg in the Bush closest to the house. I seem to disturb her if I'm out working in the garden so I guess that is any thought of spending lots of time out there gone. 😔

Edited by Clay Mills Junction

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1 hour ago, Clay Mills Junction said:

I went to chop back some bushes to liberate a touch more space, unfortunately (or fortunately depending on if you are a twitcher) a blackbird is sitting on an egg in the Bush closest to the house. I seem to disturb her if I'm out working in the garden so I guess that is any thought of spending lots of time out there gone. 😔

They get into the most awkward places don't they.

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