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SM32 Garden Railway Trackplan advice and suggestions please


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Posted (edited)

Hi all,

 

After years of procrastination - I have been a member of the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers for five years - work starts on the trackbed next week.

 

I have constraints, the main one being that garden has to double as my children's playground, as well as this big kid's playground!  As such, construction will be at ground level and a combination of concrete blocks and paving/bricks laid on concrete, and concrete channels formed in shuttering on the curves.

 

The curves are mostly 4', although they shorten to 38" on the reverse loop (top left) and station points.  I cannot see a way around that, unless I want to start a civil war somewhere near the trampoline.  So I can watch trains go round in circles without having to drive the locomotives too much, there is a 4' radius chord bypassing the shortest curves and terminus, which also completes a turning triangle, should I want to run snout first out of the station.  The Peco SM32 track will be laid without any significant gradient.

 

I am aware that there will be limitations stock wise and will be looking at a Roundhouse Katie, Billy or Lady Anne or maybe a Russell or Alco.  I do like the look of Taliesin and Beddgelert (although I might have missed the boat), but imagine the throw might be too much on the curves.

 

Train leaves the terminus, goes round in circles either via the loop or chord (or both), then comes back on itself via the reverse loop and returns to the terminus.  There is the potential for future expansion.

 

The pool (metal framed and disassembled in the Autumn) will be moving 2' closer to the house from next year, so will be at least 3' from the track.

 

The grid is 12" by 12".  If only the real thing was as easy as drawing it out on paper and then a computer...

 

49976688832_4b127b3cd2_b.jpg

 

Does anyone have any comments, advice or suggestions?

 

Many thanks,


Alun

Edited by YK 50A
There's always a typo...
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Posted (edited)

From my experience of garden lines and live steam, do not fall into the trap of thinking you are going to be running the line like an indoor model railway.

 

Simplicity of the track plan  is a far better approach. Just look at the majority of narrow gauge railways.

 

Live steamers have a habit of requiring stops at the most inconvenient times for fuel or water. Even the most experienced operators get caught out, so a line of that size with a minimum of a passing loops on each side of the garden might be a better option.

 

The reversing and avoiding line complex is not going to be the easiest of operations, so why not get rid of it and just have a large circuit.  you'll probably find as I did that even with the option of radio control, once the trains are going, you'll just let them run.  Have an open day with a bunch of other live steamers, and you'll find that invariably the trains will tail chase around the circuit.....probably anticlockwise!

 

Your large station might be better served as a through line with two loops and a couple of sidings for loco steaming up off the outermost loop.  you can add more sidings off these loops as your stock and traffic increases.  The loop on the other side of the garden ought to have the siding you've drawn in further down the line, running off the loop and not as a separate siding out of 'station limits'.  Likewise if you have the space then another siding at the other end of the loop for storage might not come amiss again if you make the trackbed wide enough for double track, then that is all you will be adding so it will not infringe further into the garden space.

 

I've just realised that you have a birch tree.

 

They have the surface roots of the devil so you'll have a tough job trying to put in the foundations for a  concrete circuit around that.  You might even get ground heave caused by the roots: Certainly on of the local cycle tracks I use that runs by a load of birch trees has become very bumpy due to root incursion.

Edited by Happy Hippo
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Thank you very much.

 

The reason for putting the main station top left is that it is an unused bit of the garden.  It's very pretty (and will remain so until next week) but people don't use it.  It's out of the way and I can mess about without getting in the way of children performing amateur gymnastics or whatever else.

 

If I was to have a longer curve at the top of the garden and a through station further down, coming into the main garden 3.5' plus the associated greenery, might make it difficult for me to "work".  As I wrote, I do have constraints.

 

The out of station limits siding is actually based on a route I sign (I work on the big railway).  In that case, it is a double track going to three lines (one bi-directional) and continues to the next station, before the loop returns.  There is a disused siding beyond the loop, the remains of works sidings.  I think you're right that it would look better with the siding off the loop, but again, it gives me some out of the way space to water and refuel a locomotive.

 

You're quite right, I need to avoid DCC 4mm practice, but the suggestion for the chord came from a long standing 16mm Association member, so I could watch trains go round without any trouble.  A simpler layout does appeal, though.

 

Please don't think I am discounting your very helpful and useful post and I am going to play around with your suggestions, but I suspect the main station becoming a "through" will be vetoed by the "planning department".

 

Alun

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41 minutes ago, Happy Hippo said:

I've just realised that you have a birch tree.

 

They have the surface roots of the devil so you'll have a tough job trying to put in the foundations for a  concrete circuit around that.  You might even get ground heave caused by the roots: Certainly on of the local cycle tracks I use that runs by a load of birch trees has become very bumpy due to root incursion.

 

I've just read your edit.  It's an ornamental Birch, we've had it 5 years and it's small.  Thanks for the warning though, very good point, I'll have another look when the light comes up.

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1 hour ago, Happy Hippo said:

From my experience of garden lines and live steam, do not fall into the trap of thinking you are going to be running the line like an indoor model railway.

 

Simplicity of the track plan  is a far better approach. Just look at the majority of narrow gauge railways.

 

Live steamers have a habit of requiring stops at the most inconvenient times for fuel or water. Even the most experienced operators get caught out, so a line of that size with a minimum of a passing loops on each side of the garden might be a better option.

 

The reversing and avoiding line complex is not going to be the easiest of operations, so why not get rid of it and just have a large circuit.  you'll probably find as I did that even with the option of radio control, once the trains are going, you'll just let them run.  Have an open day with a bunch of other live steamers, and you'll find that invariably the trains will tail chase around the circuit.....probably anticlockwise!

 

Your large station might be better served as a through line with two loops and a couple of sidings for loco steaming up off the outermost loop.  you can add more sidings off these loops as your stock and traffic increases.  The loop on the other side of the garden ought to have the siding you've drawn in further down the line, running off the loop and not as a separate siding out of 'station limits'.  Likewise if you have the space then another siding at the other end of the loop for storage might not come amiss again if you make the trackbed wide enough for double track, then that is all you will be adding so it will not infringe further into the garden space.

 

I've just realised that you have a birch tree.

 

They have the surface roots of the devil so you'll have a tough job trying to put in the foundations for a  concrete circuit around that.  You might even get ground heave caused by the roots: Certainly on of the local cycle tracks I use that runs by a load of birch trees has become very bumpy due to root incursion.

 

Do you mean something like this, @Happy Hippo?

 

49978447641_e37842cdac_b.jpg

 

Thanks again,

Alun

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The money wasn't lost on me - 300 quid closer to a decent steam locomotive!  It will probably save me a day or two in the garden, as well.

 

I'm not happy with the layout of the main station, but I threw the plan together when I should have been blowing zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's and I can work on that.

 

Thanks again and I'll have a think.

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One thing to remember is that you do not have to build it all at once, start with the very minimum you need to enable you to steam up one locomotive and enable it to chug around the garden, making sure that you have provision for adding and expanding up to the final desired layout.

 

Do you intend to have open days when you invite other members of the association to run? I never had my own garden railway so was very grateful to those that did.  If so then plenty of steam up/disposal/storage area would be good for when you have visiting locos (and trains!). looking at the original plan, If the birch tree area is for exclusive railway use I would be tempted to have another terminal station alongside the trampoline instead of a reverse loop. Would probably have to be curved/angled to get the length in, but I think a curved station would look good and quite prototypical. That way you can have one station and sidings for steam up, and the other side for disposal.  It will also mean that you could depart from one terminal station and arrive at a different one for added realism.  Another passing loop would be good on the main circuit, again don't forget you can have passing loops on corners!  Does not have to be a station present.

 

This of course would require extra expense on track, and a lot more work so perhaps is a bit more aspirational, but might be worth thinking about for future expansion once you have a ciruit up and running.

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36 minutes ago, Titan said:

One thing to remember is that you do not have to build it all at once, start with the very minimum you need to enable you to steam up one locomotive and enable it to chug around the garden, making sure that you have provision for adding and expanding up to the final desired layout.

 

Do you intend to have open days when you invite other members of the association to run? I never had my own garden railway so was very grateful to those that did.  If so then plenty of steam up/disposal/storage area would be good for when you have visiting locos (and trains!). looking at the original plan, If the birch tree area is for exclusive railway use I would be tempted to have another terminal station alongside the trampoline instead of a reverse loop. Would probably have to be curved/angled to get the length in, but I think a curved station would look good and quite prototypical. That way you can have one station and sidings for steam up, and the other side for disposal.  It will also mean that you could depart from one terminal station and arrive at a different one for added realism.  Another passing loop would be good on the main circuit, again don't forget you can have passing loops on corners!  Does not have to be a station present.

 

This of course would require extra expense on track, and a lot more work so perhaps is a bit more aspirational, but might be worth thinking about for future expansion once you have a ciruit up and running.

 

Hi,

 

Absolutely and there's a 101 things I would like to do.  I have never finished a 4mm layout, I doubt I will finish this once.  There will always be a tweak, extension, scenery or for that matter rolling stock.  Signalling is a bit of an obsession, so that will be a project in itself, although I need to investigate prototypical narrow gauge practice.  I had intended to spend a long weekend at my Father-in-laws caravan in Porthmadog, this month.  Maybe next year; first world problems...

 

My plan had been to put the foundations in as per the track plan in my opening post, then go in stages, proving the reliability and aesthetics section at at time, before I do too much damage, possibly starting with the through station and simple garden loop.  Again, my initial plan (actually the result of several drafts handed around 16mm Association members by email) includes potential future expansion: a raised section, up and under, another station and more sidings.

 

However, I have  to be sensible and there are a couple of thoroughfares in the garden, one at the bottom and the other below the trampoline.  If I put more than a simple trackbed there (along with bricks to stand on) I am asking for trouble.  I am not wishing the time away and will happily wait many years until I get full use of the garden.

 

There are reasons for keeping the "stuff" around the Birch tree and sides of the garden.  It is safe!  I am not sure there is the space to fan out to another terminus by the Birch tree - without removing said tree or encroaching into the main garden.  I will have another mess about with pen and paper, then AnyRail.

 

Regarding open days, if and when the pandemic ceases, all will be welcome and I have included track centres which will allow much bigger locomotives than I intend to own.  As I say,  there are limitations to what I can sensibly achieve on day one (or two or three), though.

 

I would have done a tour of other members railways, if the situation were different.  I have, however, done a virtual tour of sorts.

 

Thank you and let me have another think!


Alun

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Posted (edited)
On 07/06/2020 at 12:20, YK 50A said:

 

Signalling is a bit of an obsession, so that will be a project in itself, although I need to investigate prototypical narrow gauge practice.  I had intended to spend a long weekend at my Father-in-laws caravan in Porthmadog, this month.  Maybe next year; first world problems...

Not wishing to decry the Ffestiniog or their Welsh Highland line to Caernarvon, but it's more typical of a full blown modern highly commercial money grabbing tourist attraction than the more gentle and probably impecunious narrow gauge line which was far more typical.  (It has to be to survive, but I think it's now a far cry from the original preservationists ideas.)

 

Perhaps one of the other, smaller Welsh NG efforts might be a better starting point.

 

Also a look through JIC Boyd's various books on the subject is well worth the time spent.

 

The majority were built for freight or mineral work with passenger hauling coming as an afterthought.  And there are those that never carried pax at all. 

Edited by Happy Hippo
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36 minutes ago, Happy Hippo said:

Not wishing to decry the Ffestiniog or their Welsh Highland line to Caernarvon, but it's more typical of a full blown modern highly commercial money grabbing tourist attraction than the more gentle and probably impecunious narrow gauge line which was far more typical.  (It has to be to survive, but I think it's now a far cry from the original preservationists ideas.)

 

Perhaps one of the other, smaller Welsh NG efforts might be a better starting point.

 

Also a look through JIC Boyd's various books on the subject is well worth the time spent.

 

The majority were built for freight or mineral work with passenger hauling coming as an afterthought.  And there are those that never carried pax at all. 

 

Yes, I know and have had family trips to both the Ffestiniog and WHR over the past couple of years.  The signals are more modern than some of the routes I sign with line speeds of 70 mph.  However, Porthmadog is in driving distance of lots of the others, not to mention the other WHR in Porthmadog!  The last time I was there on my own, I took in the Bala, Llanberris and VoR as well as the museum at Betws-y-Coed and SG at the Llangollen, but ran out of time for the Talyllyn and W&L.

 

I read a couple of Boyd's books (amongst others) years ago and have a couple more waiting for spare days at work.  Some had no signals at all, but that isn't how I want to play.  Part of the joy (for me) with 16mm NG is that rule 1 applies.  I never quite got rule 1 when I was trying to model the ECML circa 1978.

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1 hour ago, YK 50A said:

 

Part of the joy (for me) with 16mm NG is that rule 1 applies.  I never quite got rule 1 when I was trying to model the ECML circa 1978.

Although I can be quite pedantic at times, there is no substitute for Rule 1.  I use it frequently to explain anachronisms in locos and rolling stock on my line.

 

From a signalling standpoint, I always consider the W&LLR has struck just the right balance.  GWR style lower quadrants might just sway it a bit.

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5 hours ago, Happy Hippo said:

Although I can be quite pedantic at times, there is no substitute for Rule 1.  I use it frequently to explain anachronisms in locos and rolling stock on my line.

 

From a signalling standpoint, I always consider the W&LLR has struck just the right balance.  GWR style lower quadrants might just sway it a bit.

 

Yes, I was disappointed to have missed out on the Talyllyn and W&L, and along with the Fairbourne, are the only ones I haven't spent time at in recent years.

 

Regarding rule 1, I was obsessive and rarely happy in 4mm.  For some reason, I don't give 2 hoots (pun intended) in 16mm.

 

...but the signals will work!  :D

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  • 1 month later...

 If you havnt yet joined the 16mm society id advise you to do so and obviously when things open up visit as many steam ups as you can. Plenty of ideas etc and obviously  advice without making costly mistakes [time and money]

. The one thing i would say is if you do have steam ups and invite visiting locos etc you will need siding space .They need parking space while waiting to have another run or a cuppa and  a couple of passing loops this will ensure you can have 2 or more running at anyone time A steam up bay off to one side will help so  that preping a loco will not interfere with running . points are expensive and i run on 45mm track but the peco  track i have has been outside 20 years with minor problems, so no complaints. I found when i built mine as soon as i got a circuit that was it for a while i was too busy running trains:D Ive still got a lot to do but you are never finished out there + I rebuilt mine so i could get my garratt round the curves and raised it to save bending down

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On 18/07/2020 at 16:48, 77philg said:

 If you havnt yet joined the 16mm society id advise you to do so and obviously when things open up visit as many steam ups as you can. Plenty of ideas etc and obviously  advice without making costly mistakes [time and money]

. The one thing i would say is if you do have steam ups and invite visiting locos etc you will need siding space .They need parking space while waiting to have another run or a cuppa and  a couple of passing loops this will ensure you can have 2 or more running at anyone time A steam up bay off to one side will help so  that preping a loco will not interfere with running . points are expensive and i run on 45mm track but the peco  track i have has been outside 20 years with minor problems, so no complaints. I found when i built mine as soon as i got a circuit that was it for a while i was too busy running trains:D Ive still got a lot to do but you are never finished out there + I rebuilt mine so i could get my garratt round the curves and raised it to save bending down

 

Hi,

 

Yes, first line of my opening post, I've been a member for 5 years. It was actually an email conversation with Alan Regan, the Chair, that gave me the encouragement to get going. Alan suggested the chord off the reverse loop, so that also functions as a passing loop.

 

The bigger consideration is the garden is used by children of different ages and interests.

 

Have a look at what we've done so far, here...

 

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmNEqUW5

 

We've deviated somewhat from the original plans. Looking forward to your visit one day!

 

Alun

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I’d definitely support the “keep it simple initially” recommendation.

 

In fact, under pressure of trampoline, football goal, ever-bigger paddling pools etc, my current garden railway has remained small and very simple, and very robust (9” engineering brick wall about 1ft high as track-bed), because a football at high velocity will demolish anything fancy, like signals, which no decent minor railway bothered with, so that’s OK.

 

But, the positive message is that a garden railway can survive children and dogs!
 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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You have got quite a bit done and with those footings  if you need to[ as you get older] you could raise the track up . YEP love a visit in the future   nothing like a good steam up  phil

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I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who replied to this thread.

 

The railway is taking shape and I'm already learning from mistakes. If I was to concrete again, I'd do it differently. The recently laid track is neater than the first lengths laid, etc. That said, 4 wheel and bogie wagons hauled by my Little John and Ragleth negotiate what has gone down without mishap and that's before most of the unintentional camber is levelled up. Also, an error in measuring the radii around "Pool" means a meandering alignment, which might be nicer anyway, if I can hide the concrete (my Wife's department). Regarding signals, it's an obsession from my job at the big railway. I can get away with operating Token Block at Sutton (Terminus) and Birch (Reverse Loop / one of the Passing Loops), before switching to some form of Permissive where the railway is at risk from projectiles and children.

 

A longterm plan is to have a website and in part list the mistakes and how we rectified them. Much of what is written assumes the reader has some degree of building knowledge. We had little to none. The likes of Alan Regan, Cliff Barker, Tom @ Locoworks and Tony @ Rhos Helyg stepped in with sound advice.

 

The website comes after the rest of the track is laid, ballasting, platforms, a visit to "the works" for motive power and an attempt at some rolling stock kit building.

 

Anyways, thank you again. Onwards!

 

Alun

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