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Beginning a first garden railway

5349 Views 50 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Christine Brooks
I hope this will be of interest to people. I have always wanted a garden railway and until recently haven't had the time, space or money. I thought it would be 0 gauge having had a quantity of Basset Lowke coarse scale stock in the past. I sold all this several years ago as it was deteriorating and I was unlikely to be able to make use of it.
A chance buy on ebay about 6 years ago was a Bachmann G gauge 4-6-0 in Durango and Silverton Bumblebee colour scheme. Another club member had some European outline G gauge items. We had a test track at the club for a while so I was able to run locos from time to time.

Being retired and haveing completed most of the projects in the garden I now had time to start. At the end of 2019 we had a sun room extension built and I asked the builders to dump the spoil where I wanted the railway. Last year I built a brick retaining wall using old reclaimed bricks, a lot found in the garden which came from an 18th Century house which stood on this site until about the 1930's. The wall is 2 feet high and the raised bed is approximately 27.5 feet by 13 feet which will be enough for a start. hopefully I will be able to extend further into the garden at a later date.
I spent the rest of the year filling it with soil and compost and left it over the winter to settle, I hope it has settled as much as it will by now.

The line will be US outline and also freelance UK narrow gauge. This is loosely based on the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. The US is mostly Denver and Rio Grande Western.


The picture shows the first track laid at the begining of June. I dug a foundation trench about 9 inches deep and filled this with building ballast ( sharp sand and stones mix) which was tamped down with a large block of wood. The track is a mix of Piko ( the point and 4 foot radius curved sections ) and Tenmille ( long length in fore ground ). I preformed teh 5 foot lenght of track and fastend it to treated tile batten which is embedded in the ballast. At present it is temporarily wired without sections just to test the track for reliable running.
More by accident than design I managed to get a small amount of superelevation on the curves whihc looks good. The station area in the background is laid in Thermalite blocks and the track will be screwed to them.

After a couple of weeks I found that some of the curved track had settled and caused a derailment of my Railcar in one direction only. On checking, I found the track changed from having a cant inwards to level or slightly outwards at on joint. This was enough to let the outside wheels lift over the outside rail due to centrifigal force. Repacking the track carefully cured to problem. AS Emily has a fixed wheelbase I can see that she will be a useful test vehicle. Being battery powered I aim to make a track cleaning van to be pulled behind to clean the track before a running session.

This pictue was taken last night and shows some of the planting now in place.
At the moment I am waiting for some more track from Tenmille and some adapter rail joiners before anymore track can be laid.

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Latest Progress.
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This is not to scale plan of the line. It is built on a raised bed 2 feet high and 27.5 feet by 13 feet. I drew this up with AnyRail software but i haven't really got to grips with it yet hence the passing loop not being parallel! Trackwork is complete around 3 sides but at the top of the diagram the track shown is only a rough idea at present. I will make a small pond and stream in this area and will decide the exact route of the line when the pond is completed. I am not sure if the line will run alongside the water or if there will be enough room to curve the line so that it can cross the water on a bridge which will look more interesting.

I may have enough track to make a temporary straight run along the top so that trains can be run round the complete circuit in the interim. I tested the track yesterday late afteernoon between heavy rain showers using the battery powered railcar "Emily". She ran along the entire length without derailing, so far so good. I will have to leave the top right curve to settle for a few days as this is laid on a foundation of sharp sand and stones so will settle a bit. The station and freight yard is laid on thermalite blocks plugged and screwed.

I have also made the station building from a Pola kit, this is waiting to be installed, I had varnished the station name board which have been printed on the computer and some parts I painted with acrylic paint to tone the "plasticness" look down. This is the roof and the boardwalk platform. If it is dry later on this will be placed by the passing loop.

I will take more photographs soon.

Hello Christine Your Garden layout is really coming along well. I note you said you used ( Anyrail ) for your planning. I have anyrail but could not find any Lgb G scale track system on there I am also planning a Garden layout along the Harz & Rhb which is my big interest. Thank you Babs
Hi Christine Thank you for your reply, Mine definitely does not have any LGB or G scale track libraries and i have an up to date Anyrail6. I have just sent an email to David at Anyrail as i appear to have a Glitch. Thank you for alerting me. Babs
Ps Since my above post Anyrail have replied and it it appears i had G Scale Turned off in settings all has been resolved. Thanks Babs
What a lovely collection you have.Are any live steam? What is your next plan after you get the Bridge.I am looking for a Truss bridge in Metal 2 track about 4 feet long Yours is very nice indeed. Babs
Hi Christine My railway will only be Electric per say. I did have a couple of Gas fired steam Roundhouse loco's and they are impressive but I am scared of Gas ,and my interest changed mainly to Swiss as i find them very Interesting in many ways. I am not sure that my bridge will be that impressive we shall see. I add a few pics of some ofmy collection Thesteam one is a Cog mountain Engine from the Ballenberg line near Interlaken Switzerland.The other two are from the Rhb. I hope you like them. Babs
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Hi Christine Hope you are well and still doing your Garden Railway. Just thought I would share my latest purchase secondhand. For my Swiss Rhb collection. Merry Christmas to you and a Better New Year. Babs


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Hi Christine Sorry to hear about your Cat. I am a cat lover myself they make me smile everyday I see them on FB. Take care of the kittens. My favourite is a dark Grey British short hair. TTFN. Babs
Hello Babs, I know this is off topic but we have a nice oriental blue tortie who will be looking for a home soon!
Oh Christine Thank you for the kind offer but we truly could not cope with a cat due in main to looking after Ourselves. I hope you get a lovely Home for the cat.Babs
I thought I would share a little of what of have been up to over the last few months ( not that much )! I made up some covers to go over the track where the squirrel had been shovelling the stone onto the track. This seemed to work and by the Winter he had gone and so far hasn't come back (yet!). I also had a rat who burrowed under the track at one point but that dissappeared after I put bait down in the chicken run. The joys of living in the country!
Recently I have made a water tower from a Piko kit. This made up very easily although the instructions are just a set of exploded drawings. Once I got the hang of them it was plain sailing. They even supplied to small tubes of UHU. You can seal the tank with the silicone sealant provided so that it can be filled with water and emptied through the delivery pipe. Why would you want to do that with an electric loco underneath? I didn't bother with that. The only real problem was putting the metal rings around the tank to hold it together, There are 9 of them of 3 different sizes. Not much between them so it was a case of trial and error. Here are a few pictures.
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I gave it a coat of matt varnish to tone down the glossiness a bit and here it is outside in teh sunshine yesterday.
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Hi Chris Love the way you dealt with the Garden Wildlife. We have Squirels and Hedge Hogs we probably have a visit from Mr Fox. Keeps us entertained.
We have been sorting the Garden out for building the track bases have had to prune a few areas and move the odd thing as well. We have been here for 40 years well matured but getting there.
Like your water tower obviously American theme. I do know of a few G Scalers who have proper steam Engines, but for some reason they do not run Electric loco's.. Just maybe because of the oil residue on the rails
Nice to see your's.
Christine, You have a very nice Garden railway and i love the Southern train
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