Time to build a railway...but where?

A place for the discussion of garden railways & any garden style/scale portable layouts
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Peter Butler
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Time to build a railway...but where?

Post by Peter Butler » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:26 pm

I have been building 16mm stock for over 35 years now, firstly for indoor exhibition layouts but more recently for outdoors.   I have never had a garden railway of my own and thought I never would.
However, with time on my hands and the opportunity to go for it I thought I should make a start.
BUT..... where to put it?
I live in Wales, and as everyone knows, Wales was Mother Natures practice site for the Himalayas!
My 'garden' lies on a fairly steady 30(ish) degree slope, is always wet underfoot and has water running through it.  There are trees and other natural obstacles everywhere.
But I have bought boxes of track and a few points to make a start and I am determined.  I will succeed.....
This is probably the wrong time of year to put shovel to earth but I should not use it as an excuse not to plan the line.   All I want is a circuit with storage sidings and an area to put some buildings and backscene to give a sense of scale and realism.   Not too much to ask, it's been done before.
Last edited by Peter Butler on Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Peter Butler
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Post by Peter Butler » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:38 pm

Items removed.
Last edited by Peter Butler on Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by hussra » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:40 pm

Looks like a classic case for using the slope of the ground to have a raised area at the main station/sidings for ease of handling. Other than that, would it be a case for a dog-bone type line (or an end-to-end line with reversing loops at either end) running across the hillside?

What would you plan to run - battery or live steam, manual or RC. And would this be for yourself, for large-scale meet-ups, or somewhere in between?
Richard Huss
in sunny Solihull

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Post by tom_tom_go » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:12 pm

Your garden (and dogs) look great :)

Why are you not building in a larger scale!?! ;)

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Post by Peter Butler » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:19 pm

Because of my location I have discovered an almost complete lack of 16mm modellers. I know there are several in the North of Wales (That's where the real thing is!) but in the South West, nothing!!!
I have only one colleague who does 16mm in the garden and he is a great supporter of my madness. He is unfortunately about 35 miles distant.
Also, due to my earlier excursions into exhibition modelling, I have to change all of my experiences from 12v track power to battery power. My preference would be to have radio control which my colleague has already achieved. I could then have more variety in railway planning.
Steam does not appeal to me, again having no experience in the past and no local support to offer advice.
I am a founder member of our local model club where we encourage modelmakers of all descriptions to enjoy the hobby. I would hope to have open days for them to enjoy the community aspect of a garden railway which I fear is lacking in many other forms of modelmaking.
Time will tell!!
By the way, I am originally from the West Midlands and still a member of Warley MRC, who also have little interest in this subject amongst their membership!

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Post by tom_tom_go » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:23 pm

Your garden is crying for a large scale railway.

Check out http://www.maxitrak.co.uk/ to change your mind :)

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Peter Butler
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Post by Peter Butler » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:27 pm

Hi tom_tom_go, thanks for the comment, the dogs are just the best English Springers. (not Welsh!) As for building in a larger scale, I would have to start all over again and life is just too short.
If you have seen my previous posts you know I work to 16mm as well as my Emett items, but all on 32mm gauge.
If I was 20 years younger I would consider it maybe?

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Post by tom_tom_go » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:31 pm

Sorry Peter I had not seen your previous posts so I understand now.

Well, you have a great piece of land to work on.

Have you tried the railway design software www.anyrail.com as this would help with your planning.

It's free providing you limit your design to 50 pieces of track, however, I bought a licence for the software years ago and it is great for all scales.

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Post by Keith S » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:38 am

You'll have to use cuttings and raised sections. I don't know how big you want the railway, but that little brook and pond sure make me think about bridges and scenery!

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Post by TommyDodd » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:19 am

What are you talking about? That site is PERFECT! Obviously you're not going to use every inch of space because that would be far too much track to maintain, but what you have will be wonderful. Don't fight the natural slope, USE IT! If you follow the contours like a real full-size railway engineer would you'll have a line that looks just like a real narrow gauge railway from any angle, for the very good reason that it will be a real narrow gauge railway. I would suggest you pick a level, and lay a plain single line at that level for as far as it will go, only coming off the contour for return loops and/or termini at each end.
Well, now we know the buffer-stops work! (Heard at 2013 "Longest Day" solstice steamup)

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Post by Narrow Minded » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:26 am

As T.D. says, you have a magnificent blank canvas there (and to not use the "water features" would be plain sinful!).
The only area to stay away from is where those apples fall!! ;)
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Post by Mr. Bond of the DVLR » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:29 am

Coor, to have a meandering single line wandering lonely through a vast landscape, a slow train of mixed goods potters along, rattles over a large cast iron bridge over an impressive river and disappears around the next contour out of sight. YES! Please make good use of the ideas and comments above, so MUCH scope for that plot of land! The forum will be behind you all the way!
Good luck
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The railway which people forgot
(to build)

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Just do it

Post by steamie1 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:37 am

One can think, draw think draw, but in the end you have to just do it! My garden is sloped too. So I started flush one end with concrete blocks sunk below the soil on a small foundation, laying track, to give me a result quick. Then these blocks became a small wall which rose to 5ft one end. It took 3 months and was hard but worth it. KEEP IT LEVEL in case you have an open day or go to live steam (it is easy don't be put off) and avoid tight bends, my one regret. It will all be worth it..Incorperate a shed for shelter on showery days..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Mfg-kaSmc8

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Peter Butler
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Post by Peter Butler » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:26 pm

Mr Bond, you are so poetic.... your dscription of a 'meandering single line wandering lonely through a vast landscape' is impossible to resist.
I am so impressed with the supportive nature of all the comments and have tried to visualise them in practise.
One of my first ideas was to have the line in the orchard area underneath the trees. This location would give a raised area for train preparation, wind throught he trees in a loop and continue along to the ground coming up to meet it before looping back again. Advantages... 1/ Raised for easy accesss, 2/ Close to shed for shelter and storage, 3/ Near to main house for coffee.
Disadvantages...1/ Apples falling,2/ Not a great length of line to run on. (70ft approx)
So..... I have just returned from my walk with the dogs and looked at the potential elsewhere. It would be nice to incorporate a water feature but not risk anything falling in. There is a site which is suitable, again near to the shed (see photograph 9th down) and which would span one of the waterfalls (photograph 7th down) on a huge metal arch bridge, a great engineering project but may look out of place on a narrow gauge line?
Still early days and plenty of thinking time yet.
All the ground is so wet after the persistent rain we have had. We are also on heavy clay which traps the wet and the ground stays soft and sticky.
If they can do it on Snowdon, I can do it here!!!

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Post by Peter Butler » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:35 pm

I don't know how well I can do with this (or any other) project when I have just discovered I am unable to count correctly.
The photographs mentioned above have been incorrectly numbered, so to understand the proposal they should read:
Shed for shelter etc... Photograph 10 down.
Waterfall for arch bridge and potential disaster...Photograph 8 down

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