Best track base?

melph1

Registered
30 Jan 2021
68
5
UK
I'm another breeze blocker - mainly because I had some left over after I'd built our lean-to.

Advantages
[*]quick and easy to lay[*]can be readily relaid if/when you change your mind[*]not majorly expensive[*]good for fixing down flexible track which likes to straighten itself out unless you use a rail-bender (which I have not got)[*]If the ballast becomes dislodged, the blocks look at bit ballast-like[*]won't rot Disadvantages
[*]Not as realistic / prototypical as floating ballast[*]No matter how well they are bedded down, some blocks will sink over time as the ground settles (probably be OK if they were laid on cement foundations)[*]Need to be drilled and rawl-plugged to fix rails
I've laid all mine on their side
IR114725024.jpg


Here you can see how easy it is to add a station beside already-laid track
IMG_1328.jpg


I shove wet cement in between the blocks after they are laid to discourage weed growth (I use hands clad in rubber gloves, missus!).

My concern about bricks would be the difficulty in keeping them level over time - unless they were bedded into a goodly cement foundation. I'm assuming you're opting for bricks as you have already have a load lying about. Otherwise, I'd reckon breeze blocks would work out cheaper in terms of cubic footage and the lesser need for a bed of cement (unless you're sure of your track plan).

Anyway - that's my two penn'orth. Highly doubtful you would find any two garden railwayers agreeing on this topic.

Rik
Resurrecting this thread from 7 years ago!
Ge_rik.....how have the breeze blocks / track combo worked out? I too had considered this idea, then found your post. Here's hoping you are still registered in the forum!
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
Breeze blocks and concrete ones are almost indestructible, I have had them on my line now since 2012 with no issues. Look at your builders to see what come out at best value and use them. Though has to be said that concrete are harder to work with being so heavy, Celcons or other similar names are much easier to work with. Light and you can cut with a saw but tend to be more expensive. But again last well. Had them for the 12 years that I lived at my last house.
 

philg

Registered
28 Nov 2009
106
6
Country flag
Filcris and the like is excellent stuff - it's recycled and it cuts, shapes and takes screws like wood.
It does have one serious drawback however. It has an enormous coefficient of expansion. Where I have used it in parts of the garden which get sunlight it has worked its way loose by constant expansion and contraction, and being brown doesn't help as it absorbs heat quite quickly.
My railway is almost entirely on concrete foundations now, which was a lot of work but has paid off. It doesn't move even around a mature willow tree. In my experience, if you want to use flexible track to obtain smooth curves, it's virtually essential to have a very solid trackbed.
I've used a fair number of lightweight concrete blocks too and these have also proved durable. I use cheap hacksaw blades to cut them.

Oh,and don't use log roll.
Phil
 

melph1

Registered
30 Jan 2021
68
5
UK
"Don't use log role", but you don't rule out using Yule log? :)
 

David1226

Registered
24 Oct 2009
5,184
6,290
71
Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Country flag
Here's a Yule log I made earlier (Christmas 2016 actually).

dig 161223001.JPG

David
 

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
28,345
2,911
Tamworth, Staffs.
Country flag
Mm mm! Cake!

Log roll, whether half or whole, does not last well..

I think it must be made from fast-growing 'rubbish' lumber?
Even the heavier, denser Woods the professional's use, do not seem to last very long.

I also worry about the 'sleepers' that you can get these days..
I wonder about their longevity as well?

PhilP
 

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
24 Oct 2009
25,618
3,745
63
Nr. Ashford, Kent. England.
Country flag
Celcon blocks here - had some down now for 15 years - still perfect. Laid on a thin base of sharp sand - just like paving slabs.
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
Filcris and the like is excellent stuff - it's recycled and it cuts, shapes and takes screws like wood.
It does have one serious drawback however. It has an enormous coefficient of expansion. Where I have used it in parts of the garden which get sunlight it has worked its way loose by constant expansion and contraction, and being brown doesn't help as it absorbs heat quite quickly.
My railway is almost entirely on concrete foundations now, which was a lot of work but has paid off. It doesn't move even around a mature willow tree. In my experience, if you want to use flexible track to obtain smooth curves, it's virtually essential to have a very solid trackbed.
I've used a fair number of lightweight concrete blocks too and these have also proved durable. I use cheap hacksaw blades to cut them.

Oh,and don't use log roll.
Phil
I concur with all you are saying, where I have built solid rockeries or parts of my line on blocks there have been no problems. However a lot of my line is on 8”x2” planks of fence panel sticks planted in metposts with concrete to keep in place in the dug hole. This again has given me no problems, but then my line is 3-4ft from ground level.
 

melph1

Registered
30 Jan 2021
68
5
UK
My station area, when built this spring, will be raised on breeze blocks then capped with paving slabs. Tracks leading away from the station, i am inclined to use breeze blocks as per the suggestions

Yule log has not been ruled out at this stage
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
My station area, when built this spring, will be raised on breeze blocks then capped with paving slabs. Tracks leading away from the station, i am inclined to use breeze blocks as per the suggestions

Yule log has not been ruled out at this stage
That will work just fine, I did the same at my Magdesprung Layout (2 x 18” 3 tracks and scenics) also on the Ruschbahn where we used 2 x 2ft panels to get the required width to include Station Building and Dockside. Tracks were 4 wide and a platform equivalent to 5 tracks, just about reachable across for a short arm like mine. I used to walk over the tracks to get to do scenics, clean up and repairs to the overhead. Don’t ask about the complexities of walking over tracks with overhead installed, but with great care is a statement that needed to be headed. specially as I i stalled and had to repair any damage to the overhead.
 

melph1

Registered
30 Jan 2021
68
5
UK
You bring ip a good point that Ineed to take into consideration....how to reach far corners of layout where access will just be from one side. Umm. More to think about.

That's what i like about this forum. You post one comment but the replies spark more things to consider!
 

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
6,949
1,119
58
Royston
Country flag
I also worry about the 'sleepers' that you can get these days..
I wonder about their longevity as well?
I built a pond that was supported by "sleepers" laid on the ground and half buried in earth, they were still strong 10 years later
 

Gavin Sowry

Garden Railroader and Raconteur
27 Oct 2009
7,023
2,257
67
Hutt Valley, NZ
Country flag
I had the line surveyed out, and put in a formation of properly compacted earth, crowned at the centerline to allow good drainage to either side. Then had a barrier fabric put on top to stop mud and weeds sprouting up into the ballast. I laid, and aligned the track, which was then ballasted and tamped.
Then I let the Signals and Traction boys loose on the wiring etc. That's how I did it in 1:1 scale. I followed the same principles with my G scale.
As an aside, we are now using 'plastic' sleepers (even in Main Line applications) here in NZ, made from recycled material. They are euphonisticly called PECO sleepers. So don't worry about plastic sleepers on your garden line.
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
You bring ip a good point that Ineed to take into consideration....how to reach far corners of layout where access will just be from one side. Umm. More to think about.

That's what i like about this forum. You post one comment but the replies spark more things to consider!
Yes access into corners can be a problem, in one area rather than kneeling on track (hard on the knees) I have a piece of old Chipboard that I put on the track. You do need to think about this and either ensure no flattenable bits present or if they are can be removed.
 

Northsider

Registered
3 May 2012
1,000
314
Country flag
I have now removed almost all my timber sections (see post#7) and replaced them with breeze blocks. The original blocks are still doing their job perfectly, whereas the timber rotted. Even the elevated section (the garden has a helpful slope so I have a terminus/steam up bay at waist height :) ) has needed some decking boards replacing.
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
I have now removed almost all my timber sections (see post#7) and replaced them with breeze blocks. The original blocks are still doing their job perfectly, whereas the timber rotted. Even the elevated section (the garden has a helpful slope so I have a terminus/steam up bay at waist height :) ) has needed some decking boards replacing.
Did you use good quality felt on top of the wood base? I have and extended it over onto the concrete an inch or so with some black roofing glug to stop dampness creeping under the felt. This is also done at felt joints for the same reason, down thicken the covering a little but nothing that G trains cannot cope with.
 

Northsider

Registered
3 May 2012
1,000
314
Country flag
Did you use good quality felt on top of the wood base? I have and extended it over onto the concrete an inch or so with some black roofing glug to stop dampness creeping under the felt. This is also done at felt joints for the same reason, down thicken the covering a little but nothing that G trains cannot cope with.
Yes, I used felt, and laid pea shingle in a trench below the (tanalised, 3 x 2) timber sections to encourage drainage, but they still rotted. The elevated sections also have decent roofing felt on, but with a wide, flat area water always seems to find a way through. I have plans to replace the station 'deck' anyhow this summer -a revised track plan and integrated installation of my lever frame and rodding point control -it was an after thought last time, and the station grew piecemeal, too.
 

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
19,943
3,951
73
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Country flag
Yes, I used felt, and laid pea shingle in a trench below the (tanalised, 3 x 2) timber sections to encourage drainage, but they still rotted. The elevated sections also have decent roofing felt on, but with a wide, flat area water always seems to find a way through. I have plans to replace the station 'deck' anyhow this summer -a revised track plan and integrated installation of my lever frame and rodding point control -it was an after thought last time, and the station grew piecemeal, too.
Ah yes wood will always rot at ground level but you were certainly unlucky for it to do so at height. My mate wanted a ground level line and we used Filcris so that there would be not rottingbto worry about even though it was laid on bricks to keep off the ground. I have some boards on my line that came from a friends line when he moved. They have now been in 2 of my lines and I think he put them out before 1994 so very long lived. Wicks tantalised timber gravel boards (6”x1”) 2 of used made into U shape by cutting one in half lengthways to be a tight wad! Yes a bit on the narrow side for 1 track but does work.
 

melph1

Registered
30 Jan 2021
68
5
UK
I'm going with brick / slabs etc when i start building this spring. My late father-in-law used wood covered with felt on his garden layout. Mainraiance and replacement was ok when he was younger, but as he got older it became impossible which impacted his enjoyment.

I have a 20yr plan for my railroad which involves allot if work now which will hopefully payoff in my "later" years.