The First Great Project...

What is your latest project?
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Petersfield
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The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Sun Mar 31, 2024 4:46 pm

G'day all.

Following on from various preliminary posts, I felt it's time to get a move on with a few things. I'm not new to modelling but I am new to garden railways, hence the thread title. I've signed up to the 16mm association and done a lot of reading but think it's high time to get my hands dirty and actually do something. Even if it's in a small way. The first of these is to have a serious sort out of the material I've been 'bequeathed' and the second is to have a survey of the potential site for a line.

Firstly, well, I've had a good hard think and there are a few items which I can't see fitting into anything I'm likely to build, so I will be using the 'for sale' section shortly.

Secondly, I've a reasonable size back garden to play with, neither a field or the half a table-cloth which many house developers think is sufficient space for today's householders. It's slightly sloping and on a variable soil, so drainage is something I want to consider fairly actively. I don't need to worry about a SWMBO or children's competing demands on the space, though I don't want it to dominate the garden and do want to keep the garden available for use by [well-behaved] dogs.

So - surveys... especially the vertical element. I have an outbuilding I can keep the stock in and build a fiddle yard (probably based around a traverser) and plan to have an over-sized 'cat-flap' installed in the wall of this - but what height to put this in at? It's going to depend on the datum level and to establish that, I need to see whether the front of the lawn is 12" or 24" lower than the rear.

Having a mooch around online, there seem to be all sorts of things available - but how much use are they? I have a long spirit level and plenty of string and long timber sections, so am reasonably happy that I can get something within reasonable tolerances with some thought. However, to mark measurements, I need some means of marking locations and heights. I was thinking of using stakes (nothing fancy, just old broom handles or scrap timber banged in the ground) with (probably) six inch measurements marked on them using spray paint so I can calculate the height differentials.

Any thoughts?

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by philipy » Sun Mar 31, 2024 5:36 pm

All sounds very reasonable. Using stakes and marking the level between each one sounds good, although I'd use a felt tip marker rather than spray paint. You want as precise a mark as possible, not the inch or two which is the best you'll get from a spray can.
Your outbuilding for stock storage needs to have a fairly reasonable temperature range summer to winter, and needs to be reasonably damp proof.

Just my initial thoughts from what you've said. :D
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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Phil.P » Sun Mar 31, 2024 8:37 pm

I suggest you try to keep your track on the level. - Gradients tend to be bad-news, especially if you end up with a grade on a bend.

Keep curves as generous as you can.

If you have an idea of what you want to model, we can be a little more specific. - Narrow gauge, short-wheelbase loco's, you can go tighter radius. Larger mainline express, and you need wide sweeping curves.

If you can keep the railway 'up', away from the dogs, it will probably be a good idea?
Also, as you get older, dealing with a raised-track is easier on the knees and back.

Enjoy!

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by ge_rik » Mon Apr 01, 2024 9:37 am

I'm in favour of stakes to mark out the track-bed. I drove them into the ground, so their tops showed the intended track level around the garden (except where there was a below ground level cutting.... :? )

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:00 pm

Thanks for the replies - re stakes and painting, I was planning on using masking tape for marking out the divisions when painting, so I hope to get down to a fraction of an inch accuracy. Probably use black and white or black and yellow paint, we'll see what I have in the cupboard. Stock storage, yes, I have a basic shell, some builders are coming tomorrow to start some work which will include improving it, putting in a damp course and making it fully weathertight. After they and a sparky have done, I can do some finishing work myself and turn it into a decent den/workshop/store.

Modelling ambitions - bucolic branchline narrow gauge SM32, smaller/shorter trains, locos, carriages. The VoR pair I have for sale are too long, I have my eye on Brandbright's two and three compartment coaches, they could be this winter's building project. I'm not against bogies or six wheelers but any of the former would have to be shorties, I have two which will look good. I have enough space to work on using an absolute minimum of three foot radius (PECO's small radius points) but will try and go for five foot and use medium radius points for the main circuit at least.

I am very impressed by the likes of Garratts - but they really are big beasts and I'd want several times the space to have anything which wasn't too hemmed in. Max useable dimensions of the slightly irregular shaped garden are c 45' x 30'. The garden slopes up away from the house, so rather than have gradients (which would probably be too steep), I plan to have a thigh-hip height bit near the house for a station and steaming-up siding/loop and some scenic/artistic sections near/at ground level along the sides and rear. I also have some old sofa cushions and bases, so in due course, will use those for running sessions and when building, will put some stone 'bastions' into a wall for easy leaning on. And a few small flags for putting operating miscellany on.

I will post a photo or two sometime (later this month?) but right now a fence is waiting installation and until it is, our neighbour's house and garden are rather exposed and I don't want to intrude into their privacy. Next step is to acquire some stakes and do some surveying, then some more thinking... :idea:

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by philipy » Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:10 pm

That all sounds fantastic. Can'twait to see it underweigh.
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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Peter Butler » Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:15 pm

If it's short, four wheel coaching stock you have in mind, you have up to eight in your hands already. Your four bogie coaches have the potential of being cut down and modified whilst improving your scratch building skills at the same time. If it is possible to re-gauge the wheelsets, axleguards could be your only expense.
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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by drewzero1 » Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:50 pm

Peter Butler wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:15 pm If it's short, four wheel coaching stock you have in mind, you have up to eight in your hands already. Your four bogie coaches have the potential of being cut down and modified whilst improving your scratch building skills at the same time. If it is possible to re-gauge the wheelsets, axleguards could be your only expense.
That's a really good idea, especially if the stock was bequeathed by someone special to you... It could allow you to retain the connection to that person which you wouldn't have buying replacement stock.

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Tue Apr 02, 2024 8:41 pm

philipy wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:10 pm That all sounds fantastic. Can't wait to see it underweigh.
Thanks - hope it won't be too long, though plenty to do getting things ready for the line. I may break off from the groundworks stage occasionally for a brief excursion into 'fun' things, like building a wagon or a building...
Peter Butler wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:15 pm If it's short, four wheel coaching stock you have in mind, you have up to eight in your hands already. Your four bogie coaches have the potential of being cut down and modified whilst improving your scratch building skills at the same time. If it is possible to re-gauge the wheelsets, axleguards could be your only expense.
True but I do have some material and spare axles already. The coaches are also relatively flush sided and not what I had in mind re a 'house' style. Thanks for the suggestion though.
drewzero1 wrote: Mon Apr 01, 2024 3:50 pm That's a really good idea, especially if the stock was bequeathed by someone special to you... It could allow you to retain the connection to that person which you wouldn't have buying replacement stock.
That's a fair point ... but in this case I have a couple of locos and other stock (perhaps 3/4 of the total I was given?) which will retain the particular connection and there's a couple of other things I plan to do which will also preserve a connection/memories. I also think that the gentleman in question would sooner any unwanted items went intact to 'a good home' where they will be appreciated, rather than used as a source of material. Thanks for presenting an alternative option, but (this time anyway) it's not for me.

Scratchbuilding, I would like to start with some freight stock. I'm used to working in 4mm scale with plasticard, so adapting to SM32 and timber could be something of a culture shock! That was one reason for thinking about building two or three of Brandbright's, to get me used to the size and material. Then I think a simple four wheel wagon - maybe a rectangular tank as I don't have one of those in the freight stock inherited and I've not seen one available as a kit - then if that's gone OK, I think I'll probably have a play with a six wheel tank.


ION...

The builders turned up punctually and made a good start. Still plenty to do round the house and garden but we're getting there. Some works are being done 'in contemplation of' and it'll be a few months (or maybe a year+? - sorry philipy!) before they see any railway related activity. But if I can get the heavy civil engineering work done and ready for me to do my bit, then I can do that in my own time and without being under pressure. Assuming it stops raining. I don't fancy modelling the Brighton and Rottingdean!

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by philipy » Tue Apr 02, 2024 9:14 pm

Petersfield wrote: Tue Apr 02, 2024 8:41 pm Some works are being done 'in contemplation of' and it'll be a few months (or maybe a year+? - sorry philipy!) before they see any railway related activity. But if I can get the heavy civil engineering work done and ready for me to do my bit, then I can do that in my own time and without being under pressure. Assuming it stops raining. I don't fancy modelling the Brighton and Rottingdean!
Well we all have to suffer this rain... and the long range forecast isn't good for a couple of months at least.
However, we count pictures of water filled foundation trenches as being railway related! :lol: :lol:
Philip

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by FWLR » Fri Apr 12, 2024 6:09 am

Hi Simon,

Great to hear from you. Were does one start on his /her journey into our garden railway hobby ;)
It's something most of us can relate to making huge mistakes and then regretting what we have done. You however seem to be ahead of most of us with the early planing of your line. You are one of the many who are lucky enough to have their own garden with which to start your journey. I on the other hand only rent unfortunately, so the idea of making more permeant like building brick retaining walls and things like that are out for us. The flooding of our lawns is a major problem for us in the UK just right now especially with all this blooming rain we are having for the last 6 months or so. Our lawn is soaked that much and just like your's on a slope, but even at the top of it and the middle it's far to soaked, our shoes just disappear into water. So for what it's worth I would consider having some decent drainage put it, so has to be able at least run and build you line when you want to and not have to wait for any resemblance of decent warm weather.

That's great about getting the line level, I have never been able to quite get it perfectly level, but then again I have one live steam loco and I find that driving it far better with radiants is brilliant, rather then just turning something on and just letting it run away on it's own accord. But that's me, other members have their own thought on that, but we all enjoy what we do and that's the brilliant thing about this forum and our hobby, people will always be very helpful and none critical to be nasty with it, it's all there to helps us.

The main thing is to enjoy yourself and hopefully it will bring you so many rewards. and maybe lots of friends through this forum and when you meet other like minded garden railway enthusiasts.

Blooming heck I don't usually write such long posts nowadays..... :lol :lol

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Fri Apr 12, 2024 10:04 pm

FWLR wrote: Fri Apr 12, 2024 6:09 am Hi Simon,

Great to hear from you. Where does one start on his /her journey into our garden railway hobby ;)
.....

The main thing is to enjoy yourself and hopefully it will bring you so many rewards. and maybe lots of friends through this forum and when you meet other like minded garden railway enthusiasts.

Blooming heck I don't usually write such long posts nowadays..... :lol :lol
Hi Rod,

Re starting points, I'm reminded of the old joke about asking for directions and being told, well, you really shouldn't start from here. And then there's the one (usually told by SWMBOs) about 'sometimes I wake up grumpy, other days I let him have a lie in...' ;)

Yes, I can sympathise with those who rent. Discussion of the state of the UK housing market is probably something best avoided in these pages but let's just say I am fully aware of various 'issues' and the problems it causes many of us, directly or indirectly. At the risk of provoking Fate, I hope this place is the last house I will live in and that does give me some confidence to build a permanent scheme. Because of my inclination to be artistic (no sniggering at the back, purr-lease...) then there's quite a bit of P-Way to do. And yes, given the way it's piddled down over the last few months, some (possibly OTT) drainage and earthworks is top of the agenda.

Re gradients and curves - pre-Covid I used to commute into work via the train. 40 minutes from hand on door to bum on desk seat (vs well over an hour of much more fraught time spent driving in and paying [how much!] in parking fees). The line's electrified, the bog-carts are somewhat soulless but mostly reliable and go like stink. One day when on a late shift the unit failed and we had a 158 substituted. It was late in the evening and quiet and I had a four seat window bay to myself, above the motors. Listening to them, I was very conscious of the gradients and how the driver had to put the power down in certain places, something I'd never picked up on in several years of EMU commuting.

I never passed out as a driver but have driven some steam engines (the ones you sit/stand in rather than our sizes) in preservation and that really gave me a sense of how you have to plan ahead. And the teamwork between driver and fireman. I know people have advised me to avoid gradients (and with good reason) but dealing with gradients is certainly one of a driver's skills.

Anyway, enough musings... here at least, the sun shone today and I had a day of gardening, including some preliminary poking about along the route of the line. Hopefully I will have some stakes tomorrow and can start on the maths of how much higher the top of the garden is to the bottom.

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by GAP » Sat Apr 13, 2024 12:23 am

Petersfield wrote: Sun Mar 31, 2024 4:46 pm G'day all.

Following on from various preliminary posts, I felt it's time to get a move on with a few things. I'm not new to modelling but I am new to garden railways, hence the thread title. I've signed up to the 16mm association and done a lot of reading but think it's high time to get my hands dirty and actually do something. Even if it's in a small way. The first of these is to have a serious sort out of the material I've been 'bequeathed' and the second is to have a survey of the potential site for a line.

Firstly, well, I've had a good hard think and there are a few items which I can't see fitting into anything I'm likely to build, so I will be using the 'for sale' section shortly.

Secondly, I've a reasonable size back garden to play with, neither a field or the half a table-cloth which many house developers think is sufficient space for today's householders. It's slightly sloping and on a variable soil, so drainage is something I want to consider fairly actively. I don't need to worry about a SWMBO or children's competing demands on the space, though I don't want it to dominate the garden and do want to keep the garden available for use by [well-behaved] dogs.

So - surveys... especially the vertical element. I have an outbuilding I can keep the stock in and build a fiddle yard (probably based around a traverser) and plan to have an over-sized 'cat-flap' installed in the wall of this - but what height to put this in at? It's going to depend on the datum level and to establish that, I need to see whether the front of the lawn is 12" or 24" lower than the rear.

Having a mooch around online, there seem to be all sorts of things available - but how much use are they? I have a long spirit level and plenty of string and long timber sections, so am reasonably happy that I can get something within reasonable tolerances with some thought. However, to mark measurements, I need some means of marking locations and heights. I was thinking of using stakes (nothing fancy, just old broom handles or scrap timber banged in the ground) with (probably) six inch measurements marked on them using spray paint so I can calculate the height differentials.

Any thoughts?

A way to get levels is to set a datum point (eg the highest point on the block or the side of the out building wall where the "cat flap" is going to be)and bang in a peg.
Next get a length of clear plastic hose that will reach out to the maximum distance from the datum and fill it with water (add food colouring to aid visibility) and attach it to the datum peg.
Then put in your stakes in their places.
Put loose end up of the hose against each stake and mark the level on the stake.
That will give your level with reference to the datum.
Saves a lot of messing around with spirit levels and string lines.
Graeme
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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Sat Apr 13, 2024 6:33 pm

GAP wrote: Sat Apr 13, 2024 12:23 am A way to get levels is to set a datum point (eg the highest point on the block or the side of the out building wall where the "cat flap" is going to be)and bang in a peg.
Next get a length of clear plastic hose that will reach out to the maximum distance from the datum and fill it with water (add food colouring to aid visibility) and attach it to the datum peg.
Then put in your stakes in their places.
Put loose end up of the hose against each stake and mark the level on the stake.
That will give your level with reference to the datum.
Saves a lot of messing around with spirit levels and string lines.
Thanks. I do have some transparent piping but unfortunately it's only a few feet long. Today I dismantled a garden trellis which has some useful pieces of timber which I will use for the survey. I think I'll start at the highest point, sink a short stake in low and use the longer pieces for the lower points. I think the 16mm association handbook also suggests such a technique, so I'll have a look to see if I can find a long length of clear tubing. I'm all for KISS.

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by FWLR » Sun Apr 14, 2024 6:15 am

Petersfield wrote: Fri Apr 12, 2024 10:04 pm
FWLR wrote: Fri Apr 12, 2024 6:09 am Hi Simon,

Great to hear from you. Where does one start on his /her journey into our garden railway hobby ;)
.....

The main thing is to enjoy yourself and hopefully it will bring you so many rewards. and maybe lots of friends through this forum and when you meet other like minded garden railway enthusiasts.

Blooming heck I don't usually write such long posts nowadays..... :lol :lol
Hi Rod,

Re starting points, I'm reminded of the old joke about asking for directions and being told, well, you really shouldn't start from here. And then there's the one (usually told by SWMBOs) about 'sometimes I wake up grumpy, other days I let him have a lie in...' ;)

Yes, I can sympathise with those who rent. Discussion of the state of the UK housing market is probably something best avoided in these pages but let's just say I am fully aware of various 'issues' and the problems it causes many of us, directly or indirectly. At the risk of provoking Fate, I hope this place is the last house I will live in and that does give me some confidence to build a permanent scheme. Because of my inclination to be artistic (no sniggering at the back, purr-lease...) then there's quite a bit of P-Way to do. And yes, given the way it's piddled down over the last few months, some (possibly OTT) drainage and earthworks is top of the agenda.


Anyway, enough musings... here at least, the sun shone today and I had a day of gardening, including some preliminary poking about along the route of the line. Hopefully I will have some stakes tomorrow and can start on the maths of how much higher the top of the garden is to the bottom.
Love that old joke, reminds me of my Anne telling me to have a lie in this morning.. :lol :lol


I think there are a lot of members who live in rented property of some kind or another, and they have been there for donkeys years. I myself know that this is our last place of abode for us. :thumbright:


That little short break in the clouds didn't last long did it.... :sunny: Oh well, best get the wellies out again.. :lol :lol

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Phil.P » Sun Apr 14, 2024 11:19 am

If you only have a short length of clear hose:

With Garden-hose, a short length of copper plumbing pipe will often fit inside, or you can buy a pair of hose-joints. - The repair type are normally cheaper..

You can cut your clear hose in half, and join these to your regular garden hose.
Voila! A 30m water-level.
:thumbleft: :geek :thumbright:

Phil.P

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Re: The First Great Project...

Post by Petersfield » Sun Apr 14, 2024 3:22 pm

Thanks Rod & Phil.

Cloudier here than yesterday but dry so far, fingers crossed...

I'm muttering away to myself here because I had a good length of garden hose, inherited from my mother - and gave it away as I could see no practical use for it. Hindsight, ehh... [grumble, grumble...]

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