Alternative track bed solutions

  • Thread starter Wobbleboxer
  • Start date
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Wobbleboxer

Er, trains! And caravanning (hence the sign on)
27 Oct 2009
699
3
Northants, UK
I had to pull up my previous garden railway about 5 years ago due to a major remodelling of the garden, but like a few others in recent threads I am feeling drawn back by all the spare time I seem to have on my hands at the moment. I have all the rolling stock and track work ready to go.

The old line was about 12 inches above ground on wooden posts and boards because of the uneven ground and although most of the boards were OK, the posts were beginning to rot after about 5 years. The new line will be a loop to loop with a single track between and will only be about 100 feet or so of track (DC with reverse loops, single train, nothing fancy). The upper loop (red on the picture below) will be at ground level dropping at 2% to about 7 inches above ground at the lower loop. The lower loop and about 20 feet of track will be off the ground (the yellow bit in the picture).

9BF299B6-021A-41DB-9F1E-22CAB57556DC_1_105_c.jpeg


Because a large part will be on the ground, wood is out of the question. I like the idea of keeping the ballast separate in the way that Scot Lawrence has on his Stonehedge Railway (see picture) and was considering using Filcris, but the cost to do the whole line would be too much and I have been looking at alternatives.

Screenshot 2020-04-29 at 13.29.56.png


So, I have come up with the following.

C8A22265-E6FE-4F2D-ADF8-9BFD4F31FA5C_1_105_c.jpeg


Take a 65mm square brown drainpipe and cut into 2 “L” shapes to act as side frames. These will be notched along the bottom to allow them to be bent for the curves. The trackbed will be 1 inch thick polystyrene sheet cut to 6 inches wide (not quite that in my mock up) with a hot wire to the required curves and construction adhesived to the plastic edge frame. The track will be laid on top secured with adhesive or wired to the poly’ and ballasted. None of the curves are too sharp to hopefully the track will hold shape, the loops will be done with Peco R1s. Holes will be made in the poly’ for drainage. This whole setup will be either buried so that the track will be at ground level or sitting on the ground. From the point where the track rises higher (the yellow bit) I may swap the polystyrene for wood unless the poly proves to be rigid enough. Posts on this section will either be more drainpipe or a smaller plastic pipe.

What are your thoughts? Does this sound feasible or have I been in lockdown too long? I'd be interested to know if anyone has done anything similar or found any other alternatives to wood.
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

A gentleman, a scholar, and a railway modeller....
26 Oct 2009
33,338
839
59
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Interesting idea.

Only alternative to wood is Filcris or similar but it is expensive....
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
17,257
1,811
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
I had to pull up my previous garden railway about 5 years ago due to a major remodelling of the garden, but like a few others in recent threads I am feeling drawn back by all the spare time I seem to have on my hands at the moment. I have all the rolling stock and track work ready to go.

The old line was about 12 inches above ground on wooden posts and boards because of the uneven ground and although most of the boards were OK, the posts were beginning to rot after about 5 years. The new line will be a loop to loop with a single track between and will only be about 100 feet or so of track (DC with reverse loops, single train, nothing fancy). The upper loop (red on the picture below) will be at ground level dropping at 2% to about 7 inches above ground at the lower loop. The lower loop and about 20 feet of track will be off the ground (the yellow bit in the picture).

View attachment 265661

Because a large part will be on the ground, wood is out of the question. I like the idea of keeping the ballast separate in the way that Scot Lawrence has on his Stonehedge Railway (see picture) and was considering using Filcris, but the cost to do the whole line would be too much and I have been looking at alternatives.

View attachment 265659

So, I have come up with the following.

View attachment 265660

Take a 65mm square brown drainpipe and cut into 2 “L” shapes to act as side frames. These will be notched along the bottom to allow them to be bent for the curves. The trackbed will be 1 inch thick polystyrene sheet cut to 6 inches wide (not quite that in my mock up) with a hot wire to the required curves and construction adhesived to the plastic edge frame. The track will be laid on top secured with adhesive or wired to the poly’ and ballasted. None of the curves are too sharp to hopefully the track will hold shape, the loops will be done with Peco R1s. Holes will be made in the poly’ for drainage. This whole setup will be either buried so that the track will be at ground level or sitting on the ground. From the point where the track rises higher (the yellow bit) I may swap the polystyrene for wood unless the poly proves to be rigid enough. Posts on this section will either be more drainpipe or a smaller plastic pipe.

What are your thoughts? Does this sound feasible or have I been in lockdown too long? I'd be interested to know if anyone has done anything similar or found any other alternatives to wood.
Nice concept, once you get to the above ground section I have long considered Brown Square Drainpipe to be the thing. For the Post supports cemented into the ground with a lump of any old rod inside and filled with Concrete will make a sturdy structure. Leave the top few inches up unfilled for Screws/Bolts or whatever you use for the height level. The top could even be wood at least the posts will not rot. Roofing felt on the top will give a very long life indeed. I think someone in 16mm or Garden Rail Mag did just something like this so it is a viable system that you propose.
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,809
386
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
Dig a shallow trough to a width to match or exceed your loading gauge a little. Line each side with lawn edging material, metal or plastic, to act as a means to retain your ballast. Just use a spade or lawn edging tool to create a slit to embed the edging strip into. Line the trough with some porous weed barrier material. You can then add bricks, rubble or whatever to build up to just below intended sleeper/lawn edging height and then lay on your track. Now infill with granite chippings or horticultural grit to act as ballast and get it all levelled up. I spiked my track at around 3' intervals with 5" nails driven through holes drilled in sleepers and then piercing the weed barrier membrane and into the soil below to keep it all in place. I have also used "rice krispie" blocks or breeze blocks laid in the trough to keep formations stable where points are laid and also where the line needs to rise a little above the level of the garden soil in a couple of places. It's worked for me the past 15 years my line's been down. :) Max
 
A

adverse camber

Registered
2 Dec 2009
210
2
East Anglia
I had to pull up my previous garden railway about 5 years ago due to a major remodelling of the garden, but like a few others in recent threads I am feeling drawn back by all the spare time I seem to have on my hands at the moment. I have all the rolling stock and track work ready to go.

The old line was about 12 inches above ground on wooden posts and boards because of the uneven ground and although most of the boards were OK, the posts were beginning to rot after about 5 years. The new line will be a loop to loop with a single track between and will only be about 100 feet or so of track (DC with reverse loops, single train, nothing fancy). The upper loop (red on the picture below) will be at ground level dropping at 2% to about 7 inches above ground at the lower loop. The lower loop and about 20 feet of track will be off the ground (the yellow bit in the picture).

View attachment 265661

Because a large part will be on the ground, wood is out of the question. I like the idea of keeping the ballast separate in the way that Scot Lawrence has on his Stonehedge Railway (see picture) and was considering using Filcris, but the cost to do the whole line would be too much and I have been looking at alternatives.

View attachment 265659

So, I have come up with the following.

View attachment 265660

Take a 65mm square brown drainpipe and cut into 2 “L” shapes to act as side frames. These will be notched along the bottom to allow them to be bent for the curves. The trackbed will be 1 inch thick polystyrene sheet cut to 6 inches wide (not quite that in my mock up) with a hot wire to the required curves and construction adhesived to the plastic edge frame. The track will be laid on top secured with adhesive or wired to the poly’ and ballasted. None of the curves are too sharp to hopefully the track will hold shape, the loops will be done with Peco R1s. Holes will be made in the poly’ for drainage. This whole setup will be either buried so that the track will be at ground level or sitting on the ground. From the point where the track rises higher (the yellow bit) I may swap the polystyrene for wood unless the poly proves to be rigid enough. Posts on this section will either be more drainpipe or a smaller plastic pipe.

What are your thoughts? Does this sound feasible or have I been in lockdown too long? I'd be interested to know if anyone has done anything similar or found any other alternatives to wood.
 
A

adverse camber

Registered
2 Dec 2009
210
2
East Anglia
I like the ide of using cut in half square drain pipe. This is quite easy to do, I have used some as flashing on the end of a shed roof and it works well.
I think you in the ground track will definitely need something on the sides to retain the gravel and stop the earth spilling onto it. I use old bits of paving stone. I managed to pick up a crate of assorted bits years ago from a stone merchant but no reason why the plastic should not do the same job.
I would line the trench with polythene or a ground works type permeable membrane (from you garden center) this keeps the weeds down and the soil and ballast separate if you need to move the track later.
I have found having a reasonable depth of ballast is important, it works better if not too shallow. Assuming that you making a trench in the ground for this track bed then I don't think you need anything holding the sides apart, apart from the ballast itself. The sides of the trench stop it expending the weight of the ballast from getting too narrow, though if this is of concern some short transverse wooden battens (suitably treated) would do the job.
Important the ballast is sharp stones that lock together and not standard gravel which is too smooth, rounded and large. I have used "grano" which is perfect but horticultural grit is I think the next best thing and can be bought in less than 1 ton bags and is easy to find.

Track laid on a system like this does not need fixing down. The ballast holds it in place nicely especially if worked in between the sleepers with a stiff brush and a bit of water and if it needs to come up it is very easy to do.

Happy building

AC
 
kedwards

kedwards

Caving, Garden Railways
I really like your idea and I will be trying it out on my new railway. I've get lots of bricks out of old storage radiators and I my plan is to set these into the ground at about 2' intervals and secure the track to them. In-between the bricks I intend to use either pea gravel of a very weak mortar mix. I would like to use loose ballast and will definitely try out your idea to retain it. Thanks for sharing.

Keith