Garden Railway Construction.

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Tony Bird

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Hi,

A lot of the models I make are for use on garden railways.

About 8 years ago my wife who rules our garden said that the garden needed to be made easier to maintain! As I contribute little other than help move things around I could not but agree. She also suggested that we might like to lay a garden railway! She had already designed what she wanted done and it was found that with little modification a garden railway could indeed be fitted in. Contractors were consulted and given the design and early in April 2010 work was started. The work that should have taken about a week to do took three! The weather was appalling! Thankfully we were very happy with the soggy results.

The original garden.
001 Old Garden LR.jpg

Surveying for the railway.
002 Start on Railway LR.jpg

One of the contractors at work.
004 Garden Construction LR.jpg

The finished results.
005 New Garden LR.jpg

Being of a sensible height so fairly close to the ground working on the garden railway shouldn’t have been a problem, but in recent years working close to the ground has been a problem, so it was decided to lay the track onto boards that could be worked on while standing. Then when complete the boards could be laid onto a prepared surface in the garden. The design of the track was to be a dumbbell shape. The track going around a raised flower bed at the top of the garden then with the help of two bridges cross a path and then run along the side of a wall to a removable circle of track just outside the house. The track which would be at ground level at the top of the garden would about 60cm (2’) off the ground at the house.

The track that was to be laid was Tenmille brass bullhead rail held in plastic chairs on wooden sleepers. This track looks very good but is labour intensive to lay. By choice I would have used Peco SM 32 track but the track was a swap for an electric locomotive that I rarely used. So, with 90 yards of new track and 4 points thoughts were given to the designing and making the track bed. It was decided to use sections of 20 mm (3/4” ish) exterior plywood for the baseboards. After sealing the boards roofing mineral felt would be glued to their tops for the track to be laid on, their undersides would be painted and their edges protected with a plastic strip.

At this point our son came into the act as he has access to CNC equipment; for my birthday he gave me the 8 baseboards needed to go on the raised flower bed along with the plastic plates that would connect them. So, the first six boards were assembled and placed on the raised bed.
The gift.
006 base boards LR.jpg

With glue applied.
007 mastic on board LR.jpg

The covering.
008  Mineral felt. LR.jpg

Held down with weights while glue set.
009 Mineral felt on base boards which are held down with weights LR.jpg

A finished board.
010 Mineral felt on base board LR.jpg

The first six boards in place.
012 Edged base boards in garden LR.jpg


I will continue the Saga of the garden railway build in further posts.

Regards Tony.
 

modeng2000

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Great to see you're keeping busy Tony.
Looks nice.

John
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

It was now time to start laying track. This circle of track would have two roads the inner dual gauges ‘G1’ & ‘0’the outer just ‘0’ gauge. I run only ‘0’ gauge but occasionally repair ‘G1’ locomotives so the inner track would be used to test them. There was to be two sets of curved points to connect the inner ‘0’ gauge track to the outer track. Because on the inner track there was a common rail with the ‘G1’ track a special point was constructed. The problem with ‘G1’is the different scales that use it G scale, G1, LGB etc they all have slightly different wheel profiles and axle measurements which can give problems with the check rails on points. Our model club that runs most scales have used a special point, which is based on old tin plate track points such as used by Hornby, these points require no check rails. The adaptation of this type of point I saw used on a layout some years ago so I claim no credit for the idea, though I might have tweaked it a little.

But first back to general track lying. The rails are curved using a home-made rail bender that uses a compound slide as its basis. Several track gauges both home-made and commercial we used along with a jig to keep the track parallel to the boards edge. After the track was held down on the boards a piercing saw with its blade fitted up side down was used to square the ends of the track.

Type of track used.
012 Sleeper chair & rail LR.jpg

Rail Roller in use.
013 Rail roller in use LR.jpg

Track gauges used.
014 Track gauges LR.jpg

Board gauge in use.
015 Track board edge gauge LR.jpg

Cutting track, the saw blade is upside down so the track is being cut upwards away from the base board.
016 Cutting track LR.jpg

Finished track on the a board.
018 Base boards with track LR.jpg


I will put the photographs of the point construction in the next post.

Regards Tony.
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

Making the points, first a scale drawing was made on lining paper of the track layout; which produced the compound curves for the rail along with the angle for the frog. A jig was made to hold the rails that would make the frog while they were hard soldered. Note for the running track the plastic chairs have spigots, which fit into holes in the sleepers and for further security pins to hold them down were also used. The plastic chairs used on the points had their spigots removed and were held in place with pins only. First the frog was gauged into place with one of the running rails and then the other running rail was gauged to the frog. A template was used to position the rails of the switching section of the point which were held apart by strips of brass hard soldered to them. The swivel section was gauged into place and its pivot point fixed. There is a photograph of top to bottom a conventional hand-built point my RGR point and a Hornby tin plate point. The check rails on the RGR point have no use they are purely cosmetic. Because of the points design its point leaver works better towards the frog end.

The last two boards were then added to the circuit, these boards had pull off’s where points were fitted to allow the track to cross the path. With these boards in place the first phase in the construction of the garden railway was completed. It was to be sometime before the second phase of construction would begin mostly due to the fact that I now had a continuous test track; gone the excitement of chasing hot locomotives across the workshop floor before a trip to the model engineering club’s garden railway.

Point plan.
020 Point plan LR.jpg
Soldering frog.
024 soldering frog LR.jpg

Track gauges in use.
026 track gauges LR.jpg

Rails for the moving section of the point.
028 rails for moving section LR.jpg

Using track gauge to line up moving section of the point.
029 using track gauge to line up moving section LR.jpg

Soldering moving section of point.
030 moving section soldering jig LR.jpg

Fixing running rail chairs with jig.
032 Fixing running rail chairs with track jig LR.jpg

Final sections of track fitted.
058 Last two circular boards LR.jpg

Finished circles of track.
059 Second stage circle 002 LR.jpg


Regards Tony.
 
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Tony Bird

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Hi,

We now have to move forward a year or so as no more had been done to the garden railway in this time, it was used as a test track. My wife in her pottery class had made some house shaped tiles to use in the garden and the railway had gone through its first winter.

With spring it was decided to get a bricklayer to construct the next stage of the garden railway; he was to build a wall and several piers to hold some more baseboards for the rails after they had crossed the path.

First some foliage had to be removed which my wife did, then bricks were laid. This done another year went by before a start was made on the baseboards to fit on the top of the walls. First templates were made from 12” wide hard board. to check lengths and fits. As each of the five boards was different they were cut by hand not by a CNC machine. Instead of plastic connecting pieces that had been bolted into recesses in the original boards these new boards used aluminium strips 1” x ¼” bolted to their underside with stainless steel bolts which held them together. These boards were placed on the brick work to see how well they lined up; the track was then laid on these boards in the same way that it had been done on the original boards. A pair of removable bridges to take the track over the path were constructed so the railway could be used in an out and back form. This is how the railway stayed until recently.

The walls and piers built.
060 GR extension boards with track LR.jpg

The hand cut base boards.
061 GR cutting extension boards LR.jpg

The new base boards in place.
062 Extension base boards LR.jpg

063 Extension base boards LR.jpg

Track laying.
065 GR extension boards with trackLR.jpg

Track in place.
066Second stage track laid 003 LR.jpg

The bridges.
IMG_6144 LR.jpg

My wife's ceramic tile houses.
IMG_6146 LR.jpg

Models of relatives that regularly use our garden.
IMG_6147 LR.jpg


That brings the construction of our garden railway almost up to date I will continue with progress reports.

Regards Tony.
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,


The original circles of track has now been in place for eight years and the wooden sleepers are rotten. So, instead of replacing them it was decided to replace the track with Peco SM32 track which has plastic sleepers. It had been suggested by SWMBO that wouldn’t it be a good idea to finish the railway? Though the original circle of tracks base boards were still in good condition the later boards that were out of the sun and were almost permanently damp had started to rot as well. So, it would be quite a long job.

So before replacing the track used as a test track which was still just about runnable; a start was made on the raised circular section next to the house.

I have made two portable exhibition layouts for my own use and been involved in making three garden railways at the Cardiff Model Engineering Society.

My second layout is modular so can be erected in several sizes up to 25 feet by 15 feet. All its base boards are bolted together and have folding legs which help reduce its size for storage. It was intended that the boards next to the house would also have folding legs so they could be stored in the garage over winter. On the portable layout it was found impossible two fit two folding legs to the curved corner boards so only one leg was used and the same system was used for the garden railway curved boards. The single leg was placed at the centre of balance of the curved boards. Its position was found by balancing the board length wise on a broom handle placed on the floor and marking the point of balance.

All the bolts and screws are stainless steel and aluminium tube is used as a bushes where the bolts go through the wood. The boards are constructed with 9 mm exterior plywood tops screwed to 2” by 1” baton edges, the boards and their edges are covered by roofing felt and the edges have a plastic strip screwed to them over the roofing felt. The boards are held together using 1” by ¼” aluminium strips which are bolted to them on their top. The track is laid so its joints are over those of the boards. The track outside the house has a main line with a passing loop for steaming up. There will also be a lifting bridge to give access to inside the track.

Except for the access bridge the garden railway at its house end is finished. I am writing this while return home to South Wales from the last exhibition of the year for our model railway layout which was in the North of England. When home and the layout in its winter storage I hope to continue working on the garden railway and if the weather is kind I hope to finish it for Christmas. The photographs that follow is the progress to date.

Rotten sleepers.
000 Rotting track. LR.jpg


Portable layout at full size.
001 Rhydypenderyn Layout LR.jpg


Portable layout folding legs.
002 Rhydypenderyn folding legs LR.jpg


Garden railway boards legs retracted.
003 Legs retraccted LR.jpg


Legs erected.
004 Legs up LR.jpg


Stainless steel fittings.
005 Stainless steel fittings LR.jpg


Aluminium tube bushes.
006 Aluminium tube used as bushes LR.jpg


First three boards erected.
007 First 3 boards erected LR.jpg


View from house test track in back ground.
008 View from dining room LR.jpg


Checking levels between base boards.
009 Checking levels LR.jpg

A few more photographs to follow.

Regards Tony.
 

ShopShoe

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Well Done Tony.

The railway certainly adds interest to your garden.

Thank You for posting,

--ShopShoe
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

With the exception of the bridge all the new work on the garden railway is finished so the original track has been lifted to be refurbished.

Lifting in progress.
IMG_6198 LR.jpg

All boards removed.
IMG_6204 LR.jpg

A board ready for stripping.
IMG_6199 LR.jpg

The board with track and edging strips removed.
IMG_6200 LR.jpg

IMG_6201 LR.jpg

The eight boards will now be left for some time possibly weeks to dry out before they are sealed and painted before the edging strips and new track is fitted.

I have a question: What kind of engine do you use ?

The track is 'O' gauge and I make and run 16 mm scale steam locomotives to run on it. If you are not familiar with the scale it is based on full size narrow gauge engines running on 2 foot gauge tracks hence the 32 mm model gauge equals 2' gauge full size or 16 mm equals 1'. This makes a small full size tank engine about 10" long and 4" wide as a model. They are quite heavy which is the reason they haven't been run over the temporary bridge of track held in place with four fish plates and much lighter R/C modified children's toys being played with instead.

A start has been made on an aluminium bridge which might get completed today.
101 IMG_6202 LR.jpg

102 IMG_6203 LR.jpg

When the lift bridge is finished and played with, the raised section of the garden railway will be stored over Winter in the garage. It is rather optimistic to hope that the pleasant weather being enjoyed at the moment here in Old South Wales will continue long enough for me to refurbish and replace the boards that I lifted the day before yesterday.

Regards Tony.
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

Well I didn't get as far as I hoped with the bridge as the relaying the track took longer than expected and by 5 pm though it had been a sunny day it was starting to get cold. The bridge now will work but the track hasn't been secured to it and its sides need finishing.

The bridge raised.
IMG_6208 LR.jpg

The bridge lowered.
IMG_6212 LR.jpg

The hinge and stop.
IMG_6209 LR.jpg

Locating cheeks.
IMG_6210 LR.jpg

Buffer stop awaiting my wife's paint job.
IMG_6211 LR.jpg

New Track work.
IMG_6215 LR.jpg


Well that's it for a few days as we go to foreign places well England to visit friend and relatives.

Regards Tony.
 

ddmckee54

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Tony:

Do you have interlocks to keep an engine from approaching the opening if the bridge isn't down? Or is everything beyond the bridge powered through the bridge?

Don
 
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Hi,

We now have to move forward a year or so as no more had been done to the garden railway in this time, it was used as a test track. My wife in her pottery class had made some house shaped tiles to use in the garden and the railway had gone through its first winter.

With spring it was decided to get a bricklayer to construct the next stage of the garden railway; he was to build a wall and several piers to hold some more baseboards for the rails after they had crossed the path.

First some foliage had to be removed which my wife did, then bricks were laid. This done another year went by before a start was made on the baseboards to fit on the top of the walls. First templates were made from 12” wide hard board. to check lengths and fits. As each of the five boards was different they were cut by hand not by a CNC machine. Instead of plastic connecting pieces that had been bolted into recesses in the original boards these new boards used aluminium strips 1” x ¼” bolted to their underside with stainless steel bolts which held them together. These boards were placed on the brick work to see how well they lined up; the track was then laid on these boards in the same way that it had been done on the original boards. A pair of removable bridges to take the track over the path were constructed so the railway could be used in an out and back form. This is how the railway stayed until recently.

The walls and piers built.
View attachment 104497
The hand cut base boards.
View attachment 104498
The new base boards in place.
View attachment 104499
View attachment 104500
Track laying.
View attachment 104501
Track in place.
View attachment 104502
The bridges.
View attachment 104503
My wife's ceramic tile houses.
View attachment 104504
Models of relatives that regularly use our garden.
View attachment 104505

That brings the construction of our garden railway almost up to date I will continue with progress reports.

Regards Tony.
 
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Tony, quite an improvement over the setup when I was there. Your ability and creativity never cease to amaze. Don't forget a place on the line for SWMBO's ceramic village! The Dragon Lady said I could use a portion of the backyard to build my own, we have a beautiful area, but I have never had the nerve to get started on it, now it's probably too late. Though I am starting on a Dribbler"?" engine, good to see you back on HMEM, I have been missing your articles. Regards DW
 

Tony Bird

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Hi Don,

Do you have interlocks to keep an engine from approaching the opening if the bridge isn't down? Or is everything beyond the bridge powered through the bridge?

There is no track power. The engines are either steam or battery powered both of which can be radio controlled. Thomas the Tank Engine is a child's toy bought from a charity shop for a £1 or so fitted with an inexpensive can motor and powered by four AAA cells and controlled by a radio control usually used in 'OO' model locomotives. Regarding the bridge we are just careful to keep it closed. The modified toys are used to entertain children at model exhibitions while the large kids play with the steam powered ones. Following is a video of my portable model railway in action which I hope you enjoy.



Regards Tony.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi David,

Good to hear from you. Yes not a lot of postings this year as we have been away a lot. So, I really started on the GR too late in the year but have done better than I hoped, the work on the original track can continue in the shed and with help I might get it back down in the New Year.

Yes Gaynor's tiles will be in place on the GR when it is finished, her models of our relatives cost a lot less to feed than the live one ones.

I would like to see your progress on the Dribbler is there a post of it? If you want simple construction designs for a raised GR let me know as a friend of mine has made in my opinion a very good one and other that the track quite cheap.

Regards Tony.
 

Tony Bird

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Hi,

As the weather remains kind instead of taking the raised part of the garden railway apart for storing in the garage along with the original test track which is drying out prior to being painted and having new track laid it was decided to run a steam model. The model that came to hand was a gas fired VB locomotive with oscillating cylinders designed by Dave Watkins way back in 1996. It is a model of George Henry a De Winton quarry locomotive this particular model is a modified version , I have two other models of with different engines all of which run well. I hope you enjoy the video.



Regards Tony.
 

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