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mick

Worsley Dale Garden Railway

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If I go with my current thinking then a small gradient to a terminus station wouldn't be such a problem. Being a branch off the main running circuit it would be reserved solely for those loco's/trains capable of working along it. If I decide to use the present indoor layout as the terminus station (current thinking again) then it has a maximum platform capacity of 5-6 coaches anyway so it would only accept short trains/diesel units.

I think a helix or similar would only be successful if sufficient space was given over to it. In a limited space, as seen in some examples, surely the gradients required for one line to pass over another are quite steep? A helix sounds good but I'd need to make some calculations.

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Once again there's been no progress with the construction of a garden railway but there have been changes to the garden since my previous post. I like to keep a record of the work done and as I consider the garden to be an integral part of the proposed railway I'll include the photos and notes here.

Firstly there's been a new fence erected down the right side of the garden. This area gets very little mention in my posts as there are no plans at present to use this section of the garden for the railway but it's always been very open and exposed and afforded very little privacy. Looking down from the house this is how it looked - that rickety fence was all that separated us from our neighbours.

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Looking back towards the house, this is how it appears now. Another one of those little jobs completed and it means we don't have to keep such a close watch on the dog as he's unable to get through the gate! Just got to tidy everything up.

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I've been able to lay a few more bricks to extend the retaining wall alongside the path and this will allow me to build a base for the railway around the perimeter of the lawn. I've also laid a few paving slabs in front of the shed door so that I'm not paddling through the mud but due to the frequent showers of the past 2 days it's covered with plastic sheeting until completely dried.

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At the moment the garden slopes down slightly towards the new retaining wall and so this should allow me to build up the borders where the railway base will be. It's also an opportunity to replant the borders so I'll be giving some though to that too.

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traingeekboy said:

The tulips look beautiful.

The tulips are just about past their best now and todays heavy rain has given them another battering. As the early ones fade they're being removed and stored in readiness for putting back into the ground when all the work around the borders is completed.

The other evening we were looking back through the photos we took late last year when the borders were almost bare. I'd just planted a collection of perennial plants in what I thought were empty spaces only to find most of them being uprooted by the emergence of all these spring bulbs. Since that time I've been going round constantly trying to put the perennials back into the ground as yet another emerging shoot pushes them out. I'l be glad when it's all over and I've worked out where everything is.

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We're expecting heavy rain overnight and into tomorrow but according to the forecasts that should be the end of the heavy stuff for a while as "the Jet Stream is heading northwards" so what better time to make a start on building a garden railway. I don't know how things have been today where you are but here in Conisbrough we've had a really nice day with no sign at all of the rain we were told to expect. It's amazing what a difference some settled weather makes and how it gives you the incentive to get something done and so I've finally ordered the plywood I am going to use as a base for the new layout.

I remember discussing a while ago the merits of the different types of plywood after noticing that it was being sold in a standard exterior type grade not suitable for structural use, as well as in an exterior grade suitable for structural use. I haven't a clue what that means but as both types are stated as being suitable for exterior use and the structural type is priced at 2/3rds the cost of the more expensive standard grade, I of course opted for the cheaper one and placed an order for 5 full sheets. Not much change out of that one. Ordered online this afternoon and informed by telephone just minutes later that delivery will be tomorrow morning - now that's good service.

With the order placed I went outside into the sunshine with a bottle of lager, some short wooden stakes, and 3 spirit levels of differing sizes. I did some work indoors recently using the larger of my spirit levels and wrongly assumed that because the level said it was 'level' that it would be so. It clearly wasn't, but it was too late to change things by the time I'd really noticed.

For the railway I wanted to mark out the level ground from the shed to the top edge of the garden using some wood off-cuts hammered into the ground. As the first two were put in situ I placed my longest spirit level across spanning the 2 pieces of wood and gently tapped one of them until the spirit level indicated that they were both at the same height. Leaving the spirit level in place I placed the next spirit level on top of the larger one and found that it showed them not to be the same. With another smaller level on top of the first two I got an entirely different reading again :? Perhaps I need to use a laser level?

I've decided that out in the open where the railway will be clearly seen I'll be going for curves with a minimum radius of 7 feet and so I've marked the first one out ready for excavation. I say excavation in the expectation of needing some concrete footings but I haven't yet firmly decided on what will support the plywood track bed. I feel that some kind of masonry construction is needed for the track at or close to ground level and stout timber supports for the elevated sections at the lower part of the garden.

I have an idea of how I would like the interior of the shed to be laid out. A station on either side (one of them a terminus) with a connection for through continuous running around the garden. I've certainly put aside sufficient timber for the interior track base having dismantled countless wardrobes since we moved in here.

I'm still busy trying to catch up with work on the garden itself and I'm in the middle of adding a stream to the still fish-less pond. Like everywhere else, all outdoor work has been on hold due to the bad weather so I'm hoping for a nice long relatively dry spell in order to get something to a finished state.

I know I've promised previously that a start would be made but having now shelled out a small fortune for plywood sheets things should start progressing and I'll be making some sort of regular contribution to the forum once more.

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We've got just light rain/drizzle this morning - I was expecting worse so that's some good news. Shouldn't take quite so long to dry out again.

I've now got five 8ft x 4ft sheets of 18mm plywood standing in my garage so I suppose I should start to compile some plan of work for the days ahead. I've had a think overnight and come to the conclusion that the initial work from the shed and around the section of garden that's closest to the house, will have the plywood track base supported on a masonry construction so that it can be set back into the border and appear to be on an embankment. I don't want the most visible sections near the house to be quite so prominent as the base back in Selby did so I'll be doing my best to hide all the lower masonry construction. There will be access onto the garden by the front of the shed so it may be that I require a removal bridge section there to allow for that if the 'step-over' proves to be too high.

I'm happy for overall progress to be steady and I'm not looking to complete the whole job in the shortest possible time. I have to fit the build in with completing the rest of the garden.

I've not made any significant purchase of stock for a while now (several weeks in fact) but it looks like my pre-ordered Bachmann V2 'Green Arrow' will be heading this way soon. Looking forward to that as I had one of the original Bachmann split-chassis versions many years ago before I had to dispose of my entire collection.

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I always put down my level, and then flip it the opposite direction, just to be sure the level is level. :)

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traingeekboy said:

I always put down my level, and then flip it the opposite direction, just to be sure the level is level. :)

I really must be getting old :oops: Just tried that a short time ago and the spirit levels seem okay but it looks like all the bubbles will need replacing ;)

Anyone seen any sign of the 'Jet Stream'? It's supposed to be heading northwards and allowing drier, brighter weather to make an appearance but it's done nothing but rain all day so far. I laid some carpet on the floor of the shed yesterday to give a bit of comfort and sorted through all those chipboard panels I've had stored in the garage. The ones I felt I wouldn't be using were sawn in half and taken along to the recycling point to make some space but I kept on thinking about Griff and what he could have done with them!

I'll be starting building just as soon as this weather lets me!

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SUNSHINE :)

I've just had a stroll around the garden and it's well and truly sodden out there. It's also amazing how many plants have apparently succumbed to the wet weather. Also, unlike previous years I've hardly had to water my potatoes and the bags are still saturated. The tops of the potatoes have already wilted and they look altogether in a sorry state. Yields so far have been poor but it appears that I've created a home for lots of slugs!

I hope to make a start on digging out some footings for constructing the first low level section from where the tracks will emerge from the shed and head on up and around the lawned area in front of the patio. Although it's always been my intention to keep things simple this time and lay just one single track I'm wondering whether I should to allow for the possibility that I may change my mind at a later date and build the base sufficiently wide to allow another track to be installed. That's something I'll need to decide before cutting any plywood but it's a good few days away yet.

Whether I get anything done today will depend on just how saturated the ground is. I don't want to create a muddy mess out there. I guess it's also about time that I started taking some photos of how everything looks now for the record - nothing stopping me doing that at least.

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I've finally made a start on Worsley Dale by clearing a narrow 50 feet strip of ground around the perimeter of the lawn starting at the front of the shed and running beyond the weather station in readiness for digging out the required footings. The following photos show a rough outline of where the track(s) will be located at this end of the garden. I've tried to keep everything nice and flowing without any dead straight sections but nothing's finalised until the ground is actually dug and concrete is mixed.

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The following photo gives an idea of the gradient I have to contend with. Just a few feet away the track closest to the house will be almost at ground level whilst that entering the shed is about 15 inches higher.

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Fortunately the ground has dried out sufficiently for me to be able to work and not make a total mess of the lawn. Now I need to work out how deep the footings need to be and how to overcome the gradient nearest the shed in the best possible way. More thinking time needed.....

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Looks good, Mick! Are you allowing the track to have a gradient, or raising it above the ground at one end to keep it level? I have found 1 in 50 ok, but it has similar limitations to a real railway, in that some engines cope better than others, and more than 8 or 9 coaches (sometimes less) need a pilot or banker. A maximum of 1 in 100 would be less limiting.

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I had a gradient on my previous garden layout in order to allow a figure of eight configuration, with one track passing beneath the other, and it gave me no end of trouble mainly with steam locos. I never did get round to accurately working out just how much of a gradient it really was but I swore at the time never to have a gradient on any future layout. The problem is that the real railways have to cope with inclines and I rather enjoy seeing trains climbing up 'banks'.

I hadn't considered introducing any gradients on Worsley Dale but in order to keep the track level throughout means that at the lower end of the garden the baseboards will have to be at a high level to overcome the slope of the garden. I'd love to see the track descending down the slope towards the bottom of the garden and watch trains hauling their wagons/coaches up. However, there's no operational benefits to be gained from having a gradient on Worsley Dale as it will, once completed, be a continuous running circular loop so any downward gradient would need to be compensated for by a similar one going back uphill. I'm going to try to keep the track base as level as I possibly can but that's not to say that my efforts at marking out and use of my dodgy spirit levels wont see a degree of undulations somewhere.

After marking out the proposed route of the track base earlier today and removing the layer of turf, later this evening I began digging out in readiness for some concrete footings. I'm still not convinced that my intended plywood base is going to be suitable fastened on top of the footings that run directly across the front of the house where it will be just a couple of inches from the ground. I'm pretty confident that the plywood, once properly sealed, is going to be suitable for the elevated sections which are well clear of the ground and not prone to getting splashed from below. I'm wondering if the ground level sections would be better with the track sitting directly on the concrete/brickwork?

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I agree, gradients are a hassle. I've reworked one section twice now because I didn't measure the gradient accurately enough and anded up with short steep bits that the locos couldn't cope with. But now it's fine, and I think it was worth the effort. It also keeps the track fairly close to the ground in our sloping garden. If ever I take a spur down to the house though, I'll use the slope of the garden to get the track up to table level. I'm about to post some more general pictures of our garden, which will help put the railway into context.

The advantage to you of using a plywood base rather than masonry direct is that it will be easier to use track pins, and will permit wiring under the board. If you are worried about rotting, surely a coat of preservative then a coat of something black and tarry like roof sealant would do the trick? I don't yet have personal experience of ply as an outdoor trackbed, but expect to use it for some sections down the other side of the garden.

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The advantage that I see with using plywood is that given sufficient care during construction, you're almost guaranteed to have a level base free of any unwanted undulations. In my experience it also tends to hold its shape much better than standard timber or the decking boards that I have previously used. As you mention it also accepts track pins easily. The disadvantages that I envisage are those cut edges and the need to ensure they are perfectly sealed and protected from moisture ingress. I'm sure it can be done. There are sufficient products available these days so I'll just have to find the most suitable one(s) for the job.

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Speaking of track pins, does anyone have any tips for preventing Peco ones bending when hammering them into softwood? I begin by gripping the pin with thin-jaw pliers, which tends to get it a good way into the sleeper without bending, but I often find even the last 2mm or so is enough for the pin to bend. Even thinner pliers, perhaps, or is there a better way?

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the more involved i get in the hobby, the more i realise its not Garden Railway. Its Garden Civil Engineering.

Those shed and loft boys have it too easy.

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doublecee said:

the more involved i get in the hobby, the more i realise its not Garden Railway. Its Garden Civil Engineering.

Those shed and loft boys have it too easy.

It's like the difference between owning a pet cat and lion taming.

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Andrew said:

Speaking of track pins, does anyone have any tips for preventing Peco ones bending when hammering them into softwood? I begin by gripping the pin with thin-jaw pliers, which tends to get it a good way into the sleeper without bending, but I often find even the last 2mm or so is enough for the pin to bend. Even thinner pliers, perhaps, or is there a better way?

I use Atlas pins. I use a small german made hammer to drive them in. If I bend a nail, i just pull it and use the same hole for a new one.

Also, I drive all the pins in half way and then if the track placement is too crooked i pull some and adjust the track.

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I just had to comment on this image here.

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Of note:

1. A slight bend in the straight section. imperfect track just warms my heart. Thank you for this design feature.

2. A windmill. Every garden railway has one sooner or later. he he he

3. Once the layout is in place, will you be removing the small patches of grass between beds and track. Seems like a lot of hassle to keep trimmed.

I look on in wonder and amazement. :)

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