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Hellidon Garden Railway

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All,

As I am designing my Garden Railway I am faced with a decision as to whether the running tracks will be completely flat or whether to have a figure of 8 with a flyover.

What should I assume to be the maximum gradient based on the following :

1 - Using Bachmann diesels pulling 8-12 coaches.

2 - Using Hornby & Bachmann steam pulling 8-12 coaches

3 - Goods trains as long as I can manage but would like 20+.

My garden plot is about 40 foot by 35 foot so if I assume a difference of 4 inches for the flyover and a max gradient of 1 inch in 10ft ( 1:120 )

I can comfortably arrange my figure of 8 to allow up and down gradients so that the track is elevated by 4 inches at the cross over point ( flyover )

Are my assumptions reasonable?

I attach a rough plan below :

I think the crossover point at the bottom will need moving further left though to allow for the 1:120 drop and rise of both tracks.

hellidongardenrailway2010.jpg

Grid is 5 foot to give an idea of scale and curve radii.

The railway will run through a basically U shaped flower bed planted with alpines to keep everything small. The higher elevation track at the back based on the view from the shed. The area in the centre will be a grass viewing area. I wll probably have to have a lift out section the the right hand exit from the shed to allow access into the central area.

Construction will be on blocks like Mike's, although not sure how high - trade off with working height inside the shed and amount of construction needed outside. I am thinking that 2 foot base datum would be Ok. This means the viaduct is about 2' 4" above the floor.

Haven't done any costing apart from the shed, so might give myself a shock when I do that aspect!

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Hi Martin and can I offer a somewhat belated 'welcome' to the forum.

I decided to move your most recent post to its own thread so that any responses can be kept together.

I'm impressed by your judicious planning and would suggest that if it's at all possible then you should choose to go for a figure of 8 with a flyover. There's just something visually attractive and appealing about trains passing beneath each other and it does give you a longer running length. As you mention, a height difference of approx 4 inches will be required in order to get one track above the other but of course, you can lower one track by 2 inches and raise the other likewise to lessen any gradients. With the space on offer to you that shouldn't pose any problems.

You've probably seen already that, contrary to some modellers advice, I choose to operate trains of realistic length with rakes of 50 or more 4-wheel wagons often being the norm for the Selby Garden Railway. The most recent diesel locomotives from the likes of Hornby & Bachmann have little difficulty in hauling such loads. Where any problems are found to exist it is generally down to the weights of the individual wagons - the bogied Bachmann HTA's in particular having two cast metal weights within that give the wagon a nice substantial feel but are somewhat excessive. With a bit of patience and some time, these can be reduced. In addition, the inclusion of some extra weight to the locomotives helps greatly with traction but I have found this to be necessary only with steam locomotives, as is clearly evident by the comparative weights of a diesel and steam loco model. You shouldn't have any problem with diesels and 8-12 coaches. You might just get away with steam loco's and 8-12 coaches on the gradients if you can add some additional weight. Goods trains you can take to the limits - as said already, 50+ 4-wheelers is easily possible and scale length modern day block trains are quite within grasp.

At 20 x 10 I'm sure that the shed will be your greatest single expenditure (although the forthcoming Bachmann Blue Pullman won't be too far off!) but even the general building materials and aggregates for your track base will soon start to mount up. I obtained my blocks from a local Jewson's yard and they worked out just over £1 apiece but then of course there's the cost of the track itself. Model railways certainly aren't cheap whatever the intended location but stick with it because it's certainly all worth it in the end.

Please keep us informed regularly of your progress and add photos of the construction as you go - looking forward to hearing all about it.

Mick

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Mick,

Yes, I am going for the multi level layout as I want to have a railway that runs in the landscape through valleys, over bridges and disappears and reappears from view. I will be able to combine gardening and the railway at long last.

At present I am trying to concentrate on how to build the low breeze block walls and get the gradients correct over their length. Plus the flats sections flat. Sounds a silly thing to be focused on but my testing ( and your own experience) shows that to run 10 coach trains the gradients have to be even and as gentle as possible. I am going for 1 : 120 max. And to achieve this accuracy I have determined to purchase a laser level and have a point in the centre of my layout that I will use as the datum point.

I have read that you can use the Roman method of getting things level : A garden hose with a plastic bottle at either end. Fix one end of the hose at your datum point and take the other end to where you want to mark the level. Make sure you fix this above ground level too. Fill the datum end bottle with water until you get the head ( height ) of water you require e.g 4 in above ground level. The water will fill the hose and the other bottle to the same head height. Voila you can check any point is at the same level as your datum reference. By adjusting the height of the datum bottle and filling as necessary you can vary the datum height. Clever these Romans.

From my Datum point I will be able to use the laser level plus a long spirit level to check that my flat sections are indeed flat and that the gradients are consistent and as planned. So if you look back at my rough sketch what I am going to do is prepare a slightly more detailed master plan with all the datum points plotted so that when start to construct the trackbed I can keep everything as per the design.

Probably sounds overkill but I know from making baseboards in the garage that even small height difference at the board joins plays havoc with the running. Si I feel that a bit of time spent getting the trackbed correct will pay dividents later. I read with interest that you had to plane a section of your decking boards as they had produced a "Hill" which was evident on the videos. My own test with 2 8ft boards produced a bump between the two boards so although the gradient was a nominal 1 : 120 the steam locos struggled with the bump! The diesels didn't seem to notice!

I am going to use the breeze block and decking board method, like you Mick. I will tack my DCC bus to the side of the decking board and use cable lock connectors to take the bus to the dropper. See pic below :

DSCF3025.jpg.c7d800ff932058c8144e6a497e1b165b.jpg

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All that pre-planning and preparation before construction commences is by no means overkill. It will help ensure you get it right first time and don't have to go back correcting any errors with all the subsequent disruption that can cause. I wish I'd had the patience to do things the way you describe but while I might have had a few years ago I find I just don't have that any more and hence there are some slight deviations to the levels on my outdoor line that my loco's have to overcome.

I have a 'cheapie' laser level which I have found to be extremely useful on a couple of occasions but I haven't used it extensively. In fact the dog has spent more time chasing around after the red dot than I have made use of it for checking levels. For your intended purpose a laser level would be ideal - I just didn't purchase mine until someone suggested getting one, by which time most of my breeze block base had been constructed.

I'd certainly think about getting the shed up while the weather is fine. I had my self-assembly shed delivered during winter with a good few inches of snow on the ground and before I'd had time to construct a shed base. It was so cold that the sections were frozen together on the back of the lorry. The bad weather prevented me getting out there for almost 2 weeks and all the time the shed sections were resting against the side of my house. Take advantage of the better weather.

It's good to see that an OO gauge garden railway can be built and operated successfully by almost anyone regardless of their level of skill and expertise and even on this small forum there are examples of several types. I think of mine as a bit rough and ready and in need of some inspirational landscaping but it works surprisingly well and is very reliable now that I've ironed out some of the unplanned problems. I sense that the Hellidon Garden Railway is going to be up there with the best but I wouldn't wish to put any undue pressure on you ;)

Mick

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Mick,

Thanks for confirming that my planning will stand me in good stead. In the past I have tended to rush into getting something up and running but with this project it is going to be a bit more paced as it needs careful construction to get the best from it.

I am trying to think through the building process so that I assemble the tools etc I need before I get stuck in, so getting a laser level and long spirit level are going to be needed at the outset. The shed will be used for storage of the felt and smaller stuff so that needs to be the first item to construct. I am hoping to get the shed up Aug or Sept and some foundation work started soon after, certainly before the weather gets too bad this year.

I will be documenting the whole project very fully as I want to create my own web site for it, with links to here of course.

I wouldn't agree that your SGR is rough and ready, in fact I have looked at several garden railways over the past few years and always wanted to do my own but was a bit put off by seeing completed and very complete examples. You inspired me to get started because I could see how you had begun and thought, Yes I can do that too. I think one of your strengths is that you have started from a simple begining and have grown into something fuller. Your explanations and pictures are great for the beginner like me as I was able to see how to make the first step and that I didn't need to be a Master Bricklayer to get a good job done. You have also blended in the garden aspect with the railways which really struct a cord with me. It is a Garden Railways and not just a railway in the garden.

I hope that my efforts will prove a success, but i suspect that as it is a first attempt I will learn much from it and that it will be added to and updated as a result of those lessons learnt. I will just be happy to get some trains running!

I have been impressed and encouraged by all the other garden layouts I have come across, but especially those featured in this forum. I really appreciate the encouragement and the advice from everyone - you will all be a part of my success.

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A quick update.

Sadly as of last October I was put under threat of redundancy and in Jan this was made official. As of 21st April I will be redundant.

So, my thoughts have not been on the garden railway of late and until I am back in employment the project is on hold.

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Sorry to hear that Martin :( I hope it turns around quickly for you and you're back in a job in a very short amount of time!

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That's not good news Martin but something that's unfortunately becoming all too common of late. I'm sure that a garden railway is the last thing on your mind at the present time but here's hoping you can get back to it in the very near future and that your circumstances improve in the short term.

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I hope things have improved for you Martin. I have just joined the forum, so to keep the "gradients" thread going I will add my own experience. My railway has a ruling gradient of 1 in 50. This is no problem for Hornby locos with rubber traction tyres, but metal-tyred locos are variable. One of the best is the Bachmann 9F, which will handle 10 average coaches (150g each) on 1 in 50. Less traction weight or fewer driving wheels means fewer coaches. I have devised a loco test rig using a level track on a shelf, a variable set of weights on a cord, and a spreadsheet to do the calculations. It is surprisingly accurate in predicting how many coaches the loco will actually haul up a given gradient.

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Sorry about the job issue. I am only partly employed now. My experience with not having a job is that it's easy to sit around and do nothing. It was sort of a, when I had a job I had no time to do things, when I had time to do things I had no money, type dilemma.

I would say that with lots of time on your hands the best thing to do is to keep busy. My best advice from having been laid off for a year or so, is to get out there and build a layout. I used found materials for most of my layout. It really cost me nothing except for the cost of track. It's actually fun to deal with solving problems on the layout and at the same time being constrained by the limitations of what you can actually do for zero cash cost.

Consider this unemployment stage as an exercise in retirement and have some fun.

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