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Should garden railways be simple layouts?


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I've been thinking about how I run trains on my railway and comparing that with how I thought I'd operate. 

I have a 20+ meter twin track loop. Off this there are two terminus stations, one inside the loop and one outside. They face each other so a train can run form one terminus to the other, either directly or by running round the loop as many times as the operator likes. There is a through station on the loop. This has a crossover and a siding to enable trains to terminate there and then get out of the way. My plan was to run my railway end to end as much as looping. However, as I have commented elsewhere, the vast majority of my running sessions simply have trains looping round.

I've come to the conclusion that garden railways are not about "operating" trains, but letting them run around and around and around. 

I'm interested in what other people think. Could we start advising people to keep their garden railways simple and recommend that they make themselves an additional indoor layout if they want operating kicks.

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Variety is the spice of life, as they say.

Everyone is different I suppose and will have different wants from a layout.

The only thing I'd say to people starting out on a garden railway is to go into it with their eyes open, research first and decide very carefully what they want out of it and how to achieve that.

Part of that can be advising on how experienced people use their own garden railway differently to how they envisaged.

A general point I thought about on the YouTube thread is that there is as much bad info in some sources as there is good and little to contradict or evaluate the advice. This form of forum has gone out of fashion, but I think it is still the best way of bringing experience together and putting information in a persisting, accessible and discussable format.

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I'm an advocate for keeping it simple which is the reason I chose to go down the single line route with a passing loop.  I added the terminus station later on but I rarely use it if I'm honest - much preferring to use the main loop. I could instead have added extra roads on the terminus boards and used it as a storage yard/feeder for the main part of the layout.

I often allow a train to run round and round for some time, even leaving it doing so while I go off and do something else.

Although there are garden layouts that obviously prove me wrong, I don't think the garden is the place for a 'railway layout' of the type more generally seen indoors. I think a lot of people have become disillusioned with garden railways because they were expecting to be able to build a typical indoor layout outdoors and underestimated just what a massive undertaking that can be.

 

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Keep it simple, but give yourself enough infrastructure to satisfy your own needs from running the railway!

Summer Hampton version 1 had 4 running lines (with a couple of fancy add-ons that I rarely used - that's the question answered!). 4 trains running at once, could sometimes prove to be too much, eyes being needed everywhere. But I did love just watching them run round and round and round.

Now SH v2 is multi scale / gauge, I have had to be happy with only a single line in each - and to be perfectly honest, I'm not as happy. Ok, I can run both scales at the same time, but something just isn't the same.

I will stop there - I'm already contemplating having a cull of OO stock to focus on O gauge 😮 - and yes, i've already worked out I could probably just squeeze in a double track O gauge circuit in, if I remove the OO 😆

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Is there a difference between having something complex by having multiple running lines (Thinking like Daws Heath with 4 running lines) and something complex through having a lot of operational complexity like an end to end or where trains have to be brought to a stop to allow others to cross?

It seems like the guy behind Daws Heath makes multiple running lines work. But then he'd probably find what I am doing too simple.

I can't keep track of more than a couple of things at my Dad's either to be honest. Trying to simultaneously be signalman and two drivers. If Dad was more computer savvy I'd have set up JMRI Panel Pro so I could route set and use technology to help.

 

 

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With DCC I can run more than one train per track. The max I've had looping a round Amblethorpe is 6. I think there were 4 drivers present at the time. Most of the time I'll peak at 3 trains looping. It adds a bit of fun when two people are driving trains on the same line and have to ensure that they don't catch up with the other train.

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1 hour ago, chris said:

With DCC I can run more than one train per track....

That's a good point Chris and something we take for granted nowadays. I do it regularly but just have to keep a careful eye out for any potential mishaps so that they don't end up running into each other. Does that count as a complexity?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was thinking, that the difference between most indoor and most outdoor (by no means all though). Most indoor and exhibition layouts I can think of need interest, so people model a station, a depot, sidings or a junction - somewhere there is some operation.

Outdoors, gives more opportunity to model the bits in between. Extended stretches of line with no interruptions, just letting a train get on with doing what a train does.

The other thing I was thinking about on the back of Mick's comment in Ken's topic was staring me right in the face. I was looking at my Dad's Bachmann calendar with a picture of a Northern 153 and 158 coming into Kirkby Stephen (I guess thats on the Settle line) past a semaphore signal and the signal box. You could almost take that contemporary train out of there, put a BR blue loco with blue grey Mk1 or 2s and it would not look a bit out of place. You could probably put a BR Steam loco on there and it wouldn't look wrong.

T get to a point, maybe the simpler things are, the more flexible they are in terms of time period or stock that can be used.

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I agree with all the comments above. I was planning on paper and in my little mine all sorts of this and that. But now the building of the boards is making a slow start with poor weather. I have come to realise that having multiple lines with stock on them is wonderful to watch. I would think a real headache if the weather suddenly changes trying to get ones stock back into the dry. Like most I enjoy watching the trains go by and passing each other as I did in my youth sat on an embankment outside Rugeley Trent Valley station on the West coast mail line. So for me simple is now better and allows me to relive my youth again.

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