Raised outdoor layout

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Raised outdoor layout
Posted by Mr Ron on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 12:15 PM

I am new here and have been involved in model railroading for most of my 82 years. I started, like everyone else with the Lionel around-the-tree train set and progressed upward through the scales, from HO, O, G, 1-1/2 and 3/4. As my eyesight started to fail, I went to a larger scale. After lens implants 20 years ago, I am now in the position to work with the smaller scales once again. I really don't have the room for an inside layout and I would really like to go outdoors. I have spent much time examining outdoor layouts and designing for outdoor use.

Obviously a ground level layout is out of the question, so I am looking at building a raised level layout. I have 8 acres of land so my layout can be as small or as large as I want it. At my age, maintenance is an issue. I can build all the supports needed for a raised layout as long as I can design an easy means to implement the design. Woodworking and metal working is not a problem and I have all the machines and tools needed to build just about anything. It's just where hard labor comes in that I have a problem.

My design for a raised layout would be a series of "trays" set on posts in the ground. The use of "grey" PVC conduit for legs as discussed in another thread sounds like a good solution, one that I will seriously consider. The "trays", mentioned would be approximately 24" x 96" x 1-1/2" high. They would be made of plywood with a raised edging all around forming a tray. The trays would then be filled with a landscaping material, (dirt, etc) and track set into it. The trays could be of any shape and size as required. Some trays could be deep for plantings. A feature, like a stream or pond could be incorporated within waterproof boundaries. Small hills could be incorporated and tunneled.

I would like to hear your comments and recommendations, based on your personal experience as to what works and what doesn't. Also I envision this layout concept could be used in any scale. What say you?

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Posted by ttrigg on Thursday, July 20, 2017 1:29 AM

You did not mention a moisture between the plywood and the soil to protect the wood from rotting.. I'm sure this was just left out of your post to shorten things up a bit. Other than that, it looks like you have covered the issue pretty well. You seem to have your modules (trays) developed for a variety of landscapes. The only issue I would have is with your closing. As I understand what you have said, you believe this method could be used for other scales. If you are talking about a modular system, well that has pretty well been mastered in all scales from G to Z.

If you are talking about outdoors, then not so much. Once you go smaller than O, you start to find it harder to locate supplies that are UV proof. Prime example would be my attempt to put a garden railroad inside my garden railroad. After 'building' a Z track system in the backyard of the GRR president's house I noticed some warpage to the passenger cars after a few very sunny and hot days. Cars warped so bad that the wheelsets no longer made contact with the rails. I had UV proofed the track by several spray coats of paint then scraping clean the railheads for elec contact. Things worked well until the rails rotted through from the underside. The GRR within the GRR was rebuilt atop a rather thick piece of plexiglass with fabric 'lawn' and other Z scale scenery details. It rest comfortably in the shed until special run days when it is brought out and put into operation.

I think you have a well thought out plan to begin construction.

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Posted by Svein on Thursday, July 27, 2017 12:29 PM

I'm a little sceptical about using plywood outdoors, but the "tray" idea sounds very interesting. I'm curious though; how do you plan the track connection between the trays?

I also have a raised garden railway, but I built the framework with treated lumber, with roofing felt on top, and steel post anchors driven into the ground. There have been quite a few comments about the framework not being able to stand up to the harsh winters up here (I live in Norway), and the ground frost pushing the anchors upwards and distorting the framework, but after 5 years I still haven't experiencenced any such problems!Smile

Anyway, there's more info on my homepage, and please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, August 12, 2017 5:59 PM

I also moved up to G scale to better enjoy modeling with eyesite that is not the best.  I still am working on a small HO layout but G scale is my prefered size now.  My railway is elevated to the height of my deck railing, I can sit on my deck and enjoy the trains, fire my live steam engine and such.  I am now getting ready to expand past the little table set up I have now.  I will be building a larger loop that ties into the exhisting layout.  My trains run on onboard battery power that I installed, and I have one that runs on live steam, burning butane gas to generate steam.    Mike

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Monday, August 14, 2017 4:29 PM

Coarse hardware cloth, covered with finer screening and/or that black woven landscape cloth... this will drain.

96" long is quite ambitious considering the weight of the dirt, I would think.

 

Greg

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Posted by emdmike on Monday, August 14, 2017 6:27 PM

As long as there are support legs every so often, it should be fine.  Even my little layout has legs under the middle to support the weight.  Yes the weed barrier plastic has drainage slots in it and even right after a "gully washer" rain, there is little to no standing water in the layout.  I have yet to finish filling in the middle where the waterfall fountain is, so I can see if the layout fills up.  Plants that will be going around the waterfall will be in pots to keep growth down, and surrounded by mulch to hide the pot.  This means watering daily, but that gets me off the couch and spending time with the railway!      Mike

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Posted by ttrigg on Monday, August 14, 2017 7:45 PM

emdmike

 Plants that will be going around the waterfall will be in pots to keep growth down, and surrounded by mulch to hide the pot.  

 

 

Several of my 'trees' are double potted. Tree (plant) in a clay pot sitting inside a large plastic pot. Pea gravel is used as 'balast' to hold the clay pot off the bottom of the plastic pot. Many advantages to this technique. It is much easier to sit at a potting table to trim than crawling on hands and knees to do the trimming. After trimming the pots are put into a tray containing Mirical Grow fertilizer. Primary watering is my sprinkler system. During the heat of summer pots are given a 'big drink' every two weeks by putting the pot into a bucket of water that covers to top of the pot by about an inch. The pots have a single stripe on the side so that I can rotate the plant by 90 degrees to promote even growth on all sides. When the roots begin to grow thickly outside the hole in the bottom is a sign that the root ball inside the pot needs a slight trim. After a root trim fresh potting soil is added with care taken to insure that the trunk soil depth is not changed. During the winter when we have the rare frost warning it takes about 10 minutes bring the freeze sensitive plants indoors for the night.

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Posted by emdmike on Friday, August 18, 2017 10:04 PM

The only two that will be going on that part of my railway will be a couple dwarf alberta spruce trees.  I know being evergreens they go dormant thru the winter months but can get wind burnt if it gets super cold.  I could either put them in the garage where they can get light and will stay "cold" thru the winter to keep thier normal cycle, or I could cover them during really windy/super cold snaps.   Not sure yet which will be best.  So far I just have a ground cover that is doing ok up at the end farthest from the camara in my pic.  There is a silver maple tree that is growing like a weed and keeps most of that end of the line shaded all day, in another year or two, the whole railway will be in the shade all day.  Then I can get moss to overgrow the right of way in places.  The other plants I have planned will just be flowers that get replaced every spring.  Mike

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Posted by ttrigg on Friday, August 18, 2017 10:38 PM

I have a friend in Ohio that has built individual 'greenhouses' for his trees. Simple PVC box construction covered in heavy clear plastic. During sub-freezing weather he hangs a black plastic curtain on the inside of the south facing side. He used a two hole paper punch to put several holes in the black plastic fed a 1/4 inch dowel through the holes and rests the dowel on top of the PVC.

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, August 19, 2017 9:03 AM

unless we get a wierd wind directly out of the north/south or east, my layout is sheltered by the brutal west and northwest winds we normaly have during the winter by our house.  Its only when we get some really brutal 20-60 below zero wind chills with air temps just below the 0'F mark that I worry. Some winters we never get that cold, then we get the freak winter where the frost line got down deeper than most water pipes are burried a couple years ago.  I lost a few of my long established bushes around our house that winter!   Mike

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