Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

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Chuckman
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Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Chuckman » Sun Oct 15, 2017 8:53 pm

Hello everyone!

I need a bit of guidance and advice regarding long term track laying and ballasting. I built a ground level SM32 track around the garden four years ago and since then, I've had many attempts at ballasting, non of which have stood the test of time (and inclement weather). These have included scale ballast from Swift Sixteen - secured using weatherproof glue (lasted around 2 weeks before breaking up, cement powder wouldn't hold as the ballast rocks are too large), miniature slate (again, weatherproof glue gave up after a couple of months) among others. I find the problem to be where the soil meets the ballast at the side which moves around and loosens the glue.

Which ballasting materials and techniques do you find work best for outdoor use?

As for the track bed, this was my first attempt at laying track outside and 4 years later, it's in dire need of some attention/ relaying. At the time, I used 1.5 foot wooden stakes, drove them into the ground and attached the track to the top which was the easiest way to ensure the track was level. In between the stakes, I dug a trench, filled it with a mixture of sand and stone, tamped it down and covered with concrete mix to keep it all together and prevent foliage growing underneath. Now, the track has settled over the 4 years and the elevation is all over the place.

Which method of ground level track laying do you find to be the best which withstands the test of time?

I have attached photos for reference.

Given the state of the track at the moment, running our locos is no longer as enjoyable as it once was so any advice on which steps to take next/ suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Chris
Attachments
20130717_194141.jpg
4 years ago - Swift Sixteen ballast when first put down - non remains today
20121027_165258.jpg
4 years ago - Stone & sand mix, tamped and awaiting track
20121027_165201.jpg
4 years ago - Wood support on top of stake & cement covering stones displayed
20120707_153258.jpg
4 years ago - Track and cement when new
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4 years ago - Soil liner, stones and stakes awaiting sand and tamping.
IMG_20171015_165112.jpg
Today - Slate and glue test
IMG_20171015_164929.jpg
Today - Track removed showing current base/ supports
IMG_20171015_165124.jpg
Today - Slate and glue mixture
IMG_20171015_165034.jpg
Today - Concrete track base showing track separation

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ge_rik
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by ge_rik » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:49 pm

Hi Chris
I suspect no one has replied as yet, because .....
a) there is no one guaranteed solution to ballasting
b) there are multiple possible alternatives

I'm not saying this approach is THE solution, but I discovered that mixing horticultural grit with BAL waterproof tile adhesive seems to have worked for me. I apply the mix dry and then water it in with a drop of washing up liquid in the watering can. As an extra precaution, I dribble some SBR adhesive over it while it's still wet. The tile adhesive seems to be more effective than cement (it smells as if it has some sort of PVA included).

Alternatively, you might find that SBR is all you need - on the station areas I've used various dry mixes without the tile adhesive and dribbled SBR on (following Peter Butler's advice) and that seems to have worked well.

Check out Peter's thread (https://gardenrails.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6537 ) - his ballasting (using SBR) is very impressive.

Rik
PS I did try using a cheaper tile cement than BAL but it was resistant to water no matter how much washing up liquid I used.
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bazzer42
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by bazzer42 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 5:05 pm

I think you are experiencing what I feared and so opted fore breeze blocks underneath everything and then loose ballasted. What I didn't anticipate is what a pain loose ballast is either gumming points or disappearing (or being used as a canine litter tray) so may come back to either glue/sbr in the future. No help sorry but will watch the replies for tips...

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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Dwayne » Wed Nov 08, 2017 2:21 am

My method follows prototypical practice... lay ties and rails directly on the dirt. Instead of using ballast I just use dirt for a neglected, narrow gauge appearance. I initially install 4" long J-shaped anchors made from old metal coat hangers every couple of feet to keep it all in place until it settles. I have about 100 feet of track, all of it handlaid. Anything more in my opinion is likely to become too much to maintain in the years to come.

The caveat is that I live in a climate that sees mild winters and only about 36" of annual precipitation spread across 84 days on average. The most destructive force the track endures are if my two dogs run across the layout (something they rarely do as the hilly topography discourages this behavior) or my five chickens scratching around on the layout in search of insects. Fortunately the nearest tornado back in 2013 was a mile away...

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tom_tom_go
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by tom_tom_go » Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:45 am

Coat hangers as anchors, brilliant!

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Dwayne
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Dwayne » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:04 am

tom_tom_go wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:45 am
Coat hangers as anchors, brilliant!
More so my being cheap! My co-workers go through a million wire coat hangers each week from their uniform vendor (I work at a Freightliner dealer with about 50 mechanics) so I have an ample supply. I prefer using the brass colored hangers as they will rust and "disappear" into the track in short order. The stainless coat hangers don't rust but they do eventually turn a dull grey but are still visible.

I cut each hanger into about 5-inch length pieces. The top 1/2-inch is bent with pliers 90°. The bottom 1/2-inch is bent about 135° to form a hook. I push these down beside the tie between the rails until the top bend is resting atop the tie, alternating their placement to prevent back and forth movement of each section of track. The lower bend hooks into the soil and once the soil settles and roots from the groundcovers and other forms of vegetation take a hold, they hold the track down extremely well. On curves I'll use a few on the ends of the ties to control side to side shifting of the track in those places where I curve the track a bit more tighter than initial curve I made when running the rail through my railbender.

Abiogenesis
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Abiogenesis » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:47 pm

Building an elevated garden railway to ease my old bones required some lateral thinking. There are few perimeter areas where access is easy & I needed a prefabricated, maintenance free set of modules that could be clipped in place along the fence line, ready for immediate running. I decided that brown square Floplast gutters 114mm wide x 60 mm deep, sourced in 4 metre lengths, clipped to hangers at 1 metre intervals & fastened onto 75 x 75 mm posts, would suffice. I drilled drain holes along the underside.

My original idea was to place wood blocks inside the gutter, then lay lengths of galvanized steel reinforcing mesh on top, then strips of weed suppression membrane & secure track to the mesh & membrane with cable ties & finishing off with horticultural grit. Whilst in a supermarket, I gazed at garlic bulbs in a white plastic net & realized that if I filled a few nets with pea gravel, I could secure the track to them with cable ties. I figured I needed a small quantity netting in 2 metre lengths, but could not find a source at reasonable cost as it’s sold in lengths of miles. Another way was needed.

Using heavy duty weed suppression membrane, I double wrapped pea gravel to form 4 sausage shaped bags about 2 metres in length & secured the ends with rot proof string. They were of a size sufficient to fill the gutters to within 15 mm below the top edge. I secured the Peco SM32 track to the bags with suitable cable ties & packed the track flat & level inside the gutters. Once locked in place the track became impervious to the vagaries of the weather. To complete the track laying, I then poured & tamped horticultural grit to prototypical depth along the sleepers. The grit does not require adhesives to stay in place & the trains run smoothly.

Transitions could be accommodated by multiple slitting inside the curve & bending the gutter, but I’ve not had the need to try that. The track can be lifted without damage by snipping the cable ties. The grit does not mingle with the pea gravel & even the gutters can be reconfigured for use elsewhere. This method could work with the wrapped pea gravel bundles with track attached, laid into a groove dug in the ground, but without a retaining edge or sloping earth banks covered in Soleirolia or similar, then the grit would most likely migrate.

To secure Peco set track curves to wood, I have used black 4 mm cable clips that just fit over the plastic webbing below the rails & these hold the track in place, yet allow expansion & contraction of the rails.

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tom_tom_go
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by tom_tom_go » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:57 pm

This sounds interesting, can we see photos of the track in place please?

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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Abiogenesis » Thu Dec 28, 2017 4:56 pm

Tom Tom,

Photographs, needs must, wait for now. The layout is to be modified & as mentioned previously, it's very easy to dismantle. The 2 lengths of 4 metre gutter are unclipped & stored , the long sacks of pea gravel & the horticultural grit are in a wheelbarrow & the support posts are stacked on top. I am having to make do with winter running sessions with the 16mm Association West Herts Area Group.

On another subject, I was the only bidder for a Service Railway Express Radio Control Train Set in G scale. Cost me £12-70 including delivery. I was interested only in the wagons & gave the loco & tender & track to the young daughter of a friend. I purchased 3 pairs of 32mm standard bogies from Swift Sixteen & drilled out the pivot holes to 6mm to accept the plastic pivot posts of the original 45mm bogies.

The bogies would not pivot very smoothly, the wagons rocked & 2 posts quickly cracked, so I looked on line for tiny ball bearing races. I purchased 6 Shielded 693ZZ Miniature Bearings 3x8x4mm for £1.45 each from Wych Bearings. With VAT & postage I paid £12-24 & they arrived the next day.

I carefully opened out the holes in the bogies to tightly accept the bearings & pushed 3mm diameter bamboo kebab sticks into the bearings to protrude from the bottom of the bogies. These I cut flush & sealed with hot glue. I cut the bamboo sticks to a suitable length & inserted them into holes drilled in the wagons & sealed with more hot glue. The bogies spin freely & the wagons no longer rock from side to side. I have an open wagon, a tank wagon & a coach to add to my collection. I salvaged the loco red headlight & rigged it up as an illuminated tail light. All in all, I'm delighted with the results & can recommend the bearings..

Happy New Year.

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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Abiogenesis » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:25 pm

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Please ignore the camera date. Resetting it would require me to read the manual & I cherish my ignorance of matters electronic.

When the warmth came, I decided to build a new dual circuit garden railway at 900 mm elevation. There's a pond to be spanned with an 8' trestle bridge, linked to 6 other trestle bents.. I'll take a picture tomorrow. A lifting bridge shown upside down whilst being painted in the second photo, will give access to the centre. There are 2 "Earth Islands" (one shown, painted in Cedar Red) that will be planted with Chives, Rosemary & Parsley. The tracks will be laid through them & ballasted. Another already constructed third bridge will complete the circuit towards the composting bins. They'll be moved elsewhere. There'll be 3 steaming bays & a Turntable on a spur running to the right of the draught beers bar.

I've been putting in 9 hour days over the last 2 weeks & it's been very enjoyable. The rain over the last 2 days should improve the grass & I'll be out there Gandy dancing again tomorrow morning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3r_cI3kYYhM

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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Abiogenesis » Mon Jul 30, 2018 12:00 am

S2020072.JPG
This is an example of the manner in which I load my locomotives. The red loco is an SL1 Mamod, but only because it retains the original frames, smokebox & drawbar. Silver soldered boiler, wheels, connecting rods, pistons & cylinders, lubricator, regulator & 40 psi safety valve are all RWM. Judicious metal hacking produced the time worn appearance of a "Janet". Again, ignore the date.

bazzer42
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by bazzer42 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:14 pm

A railway with draught beer...... :thumbright:

Abiogenesis
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Abiogenesis » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:53 pm

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Reasonable progress today. Lifting suspension chain bridge completed. Two coats of Wickes Sherwood Green applied. Trestle bents ready to erect. End wall of garage due to be rendered sometime soon.
S2020024.JPG
Trestle bridge to cross pond receiving extra coat of Sherwood Green
S2020026.JPG

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Peter Butler
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by Peter Butler » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:58 pm

bazzer42 wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:14 pm
A railway with draught beer...... :thumbright:
Truly 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'.... after Hieronymus Bosch!
The best things in life are free.... so why am I doing this?

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IanC
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Re: Track laying and ballasting with photos - advice and suggestions please!

Post by IanC » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:59 am

That is some impressive carpentry. I look forward to seeing pictures of it all completed and in situ.

Ian
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