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25th August 2007

With approval from my gardening wife that the garden railway should go ahead I have made a start. The total overall estimated length is 70m which at a scale of 1:20 give a scale length of a little less than a mile.

Above is a set of 6 piece of Peco Track that make a 180 degree turn. Radius of the centre line is 600mm I was loaned a long truck with two bogies and they fitted the track with ease. So I can now make a start on surveying the ground.

This is a garden before anything is started.

The red pipe across the centre of the picture is a water level. I was able to determine that the ground end to end of the garden is within tolerance for slope. I have set a max gradient of 1:25 - most of the ground does not exceed 1:40.

A rather grotty end of the garden where nothing seems to grow well so the railway line may well enhance it.

The permission was for the line to follow the edge of the lawned area and be supported on decking. NO concrete No gravel clippings.

This runs from the initial piece which is right at the top of the picture.

This is to the left of the original piece.

I have set the minimum curve radius to 600mm - which is the smallest standard track from Peco. This will upset some Garden Railway friends as their large loco will not go round the corners. As I shall be scratch building most of my locos ALL will goes round the bends - and any way this is being built for the benefit of the grandchildren!!!!

The setting out stick is marked with the width of the decking and its centre point and then 600mm 700mm 800mm 900mm 1000mm, 1100mm in radius that I get some idea as the how tight the curve will be.

Click for more information on the curve and angles of the jointed pieces.

Here is where the hard work is done cutting up the decking. I was offered the loan of a CHOP SAW but as I was also told not to make the joint in the timber tight the hand saw has proved to be just great.

A biscuit

Each section of decking, whether curved or straight, when cut had a recess cut into it for a biscuit joint. The biscuit joint ensures that the surface of adjacent pieces of decking remain in line with to each other. Then decking screws are driven in on the inside and outside of the curve to secure both pieces together and sometimes also through the decking surface into a base piece for additional stability. By doing this even if the decking is hit by a lawn mower the track remains undamaged.

A Biscuit joiner is a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. It uses a small circular blade to cut a suitably shaped hole in each of the adjacent ends of the decking. An oval shaped wooden biscuit is covered with glue, placed in the slot, and the two decking boards are brought together. A biscuit joiner is simple and quick to use. You can create joints in a fraction of the time it takes using more traditional woodworking techniques.

26th August

The photos which follow show the progress in the day.

The construction of the bridge and slope down to grass level from behind the shed was a great construction project and reminded me of my days as a training Chartered Surveyor setting out curves on a playing field.

27th August

All the track base that was currently laid was linked up and ready for a coat of preservative especially for the exposed ends.

I have decided to lay the base on wide plastic DPC, to give some protection to the timber base from the damp ground beneath!!!

28th August

The remaining sections of track base were laid leaving just a short section to link up.

The final joint is made and track laying can commence.

The track, is Peco G-45 Code 250 rail, which I started laying behind the shed with a 600mm radius curve and then proceeded with a 4m straight run to the bridge. The track sections are joined by Peco conductive rail joiners code SL-910 which can be purchased in packets of 18 units. The slope down is 1:40. I shall be trying out the track tonight in darkness . Well what time is best !!!!
The test of the track went very well but did show that the loco needed a little more weight to stop the drive wheels slipping - or the slopes need to be reduced !!!!

29th August An afternoon start !!!!

The above photo shown the track from the section after the bridge we arrive at this relatively level section.

From there into this tight bend

From the tight bend it straightens up before the hair pin bend.

This was to position at 18:00 but I did lay 5m more after supper but it was too dark for photos.

The little loco did some more test runs and all seems well. Where the ground is slightly undulating there will be soil etc packed under the track - after the underlay DPC barrier has been put in place.

30th August Morning start

Working on from yesterday the picture above shows the track stopped at the paving slab which is pictured bottom left hand side of this picture.

The complex 600mm radius corner which whilst it limits the track's use to locos with a small wheel base make an interesting turn !!!!

At the point to the left of the picture I have run out of track but hope more arrives in stock tomorrow !!!!

31st August late afternoon start

More track arrived and b y 18:42hrs the last piece of the track was laid and the loco put on the track for a test run. This was completed successfully and now the final tidy up has to take place and attention given to the section behind the shed. Leaves on the line will be a big problem so some sort of brushing loco truck will be need soon!!!

2nd September

Live Steam Edrig loco arrives at the track and has a very good run .

5th September

The Home Planning Authority (my wife the keen gardener) has approved development of the railway. One corner of the garden has always been grotty which I called "Grotty Corner" but my wife has asked that it is developed as a "Fairy Grotto"

The start of the installation of a level crossing

A second area for development where a passing loop will be built "Jungle Junction" with station, church and possibly other items !!!!

September 11th

After a weekend without any attention to the track I decided to make a start on "JUNGLE JUNCTION". The turn round in the corner will just allow a 600mm radius - the minimum I am allowing for the track. I hope that I will be able to pre bend the flexible track before laying else the stress trapped will be great !!!!

The area is very tight to work in so it has to be done in short bursts!

The turnout into Jungle junction

The return Turnout from Jungle junction - BEFORE excavation

The return Turnout from Jungle junction - AFTER excavation

Lawn mower step over !!!

A simple stop go light signal was found on the web when a search was done for Model Railway Signal.

It uses a 555 timer chip and two reed switches.

When the loco with magnet under it passes over the first reed switch the light changes to red as the loco is already passing through the signal then and little further on down the line another reed switch triggers the led to change back to green.

The circuit could also include a relay to isolate a part of the track so that two electric locos could not run into each other !!!!

Ok so I have the Green at the bottom and Red at the top ... Well it is only a first effort !

The start of the construction of a non scale "Look a like" Bailey Bridge. My father in WWII built several of these bridges whilst in the Royal Engineers. Sadly neither he nor my mother will see the bridge I am building but it is a fitting memorial to both of them. However a test piece let out in the rain resulted in all the timber joints falling apart .... so an alternative is planned for 2008 ..I hope !!!
September 13th

Finally more decking arrived this afternoon and I could continue with the JUNGLE JUNCTION corner.

The first piece of decking cut was to support the point. They are an expensive item and need looking after !!!!
The tight 600mm radius curve similar to all the other tight curves was created in the decking using the 600 template that I had used previously. I cut 5 sections - 6 section make a full 180 degrees but I noted that the corner took in an bend the other way and thus found that a longer straight piece of decking could accommodate both turns !!!

You can see the track disappearing behind the pile of soil which gives you some idea of the amount of soil / stones / bricks I had to dig out with a small fork on hands and knees. Still my wife approves and has plans for the shrubbery in the area.

Here is a shot of the complete corner - now I have to tidy up the tools ...

When I am running my live steam loco I will prepare it on the main track and make what ever else is running go on to the passing branch line !!!

Here you can see where the branch line rejoins the main track.

My wife has agreed that this is an area where I can develop the scenic part of garden railway on my ceramics.

There are plans for a station and a church .... I am to chat to my local vicar and seek agreement to make a "look a like" church to the local one.

So that completes all the planned track laying until at least after Christmas 2007 when we have track to use in side and it may then by used outside with two more points and agreement with my wife as to where it can go !!! Some ask why does my wife have a say in the track. Well for 21 years she and she alone has tended the garden making it what it is today. My efforts with the railway have only taken 20 days.

The story continues here