How Much Trouble Is An Outside G Scale Layout?...

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How Much Trouble Is An Outside G Scale Layout?...
Posted by marksrailroad on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:44 AM

I've always admired these guys with the garden layouts but have been concerned about how much trouble they are to maintain and keep running smoothly...

Anyone out there with a garden layout and if so what all is involved such as keeping your tracks clean and all ?.

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Posted by CGW121 on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 7:17 AM

I looked into G scale. I have the yard space so that was not an issue. The track was kinda expensive which set me off. What stopped me from pursuing it further was when I heard from other g scalers that you spend more time gardening than on the railroad. I do NOT like gardening at all.

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Posted by marksrailroad on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 8:34 AM

CGW121

I looked into G scale. I have the yard space so that was not an issue. The track was kinda expensive which set me off. What stopped me from pursuing it further was when I heard from other g scalers that you spend more time gardening than on the railroad. I do NOT like gardening at all.

 

I hear you. I don't have much of a green thumb either. I built a small G scale layout about twenty years ago out in my shop but quickly grew bored with it and tore it down. I still have the loco and most of the freight cars. It all came from a set that someone bought for me at Walmart around Christmas time. The thing that gave me a renewed interest in the scale was a 2-8-8-2 that I saw at one of the train shops in Houston a while back but it was priced at around $1,000.00 which is out of the question right now. There are much cheaper G scale locos out there...

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Posted by Steven Otte on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 8:57 AM

You'll get more and better responses on the Garden Railways forum. I'll move your post there so more people with garden railroad experience will see it.

--
Steven Otte, Model Railroader associate editor
sotte@kalmbach.com

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 9:35 AM

 

Mark
 
I went with G in our garden in 2004, it was a blast!  Lots of fun at first.  The thing I didn’t count on was varmints.
 
Here in Bakersfield we have dozens of little creatures that took the fun out of our garden railroad.
 
1)             Ants, they use the rails as freeways.  If crushed and left on the rails their internal acids will eat the brass rails.  That means running a track cleaning car in every consist.
 
2)             Spiders, we have an abundance of Black Widows that simply love G scale buildings.  I even found a dead frog in one of my buildings that got in and couldn’t get out.
 
3)             Birds do their thing on everything, don’t need to say much about that.
 
4)             Pets, my grandsons Lab loved the taste of wires.
 
5)             The Bakersfield 110° Sun did a bang up job on pretty much everything exposed in the first year.
 
6)             Your health, I have Arthritis and by the fourth year crawling around repairing varmint damage finished our garden railroad for me.
 
It was super great running my Bachmanns 4-6-0s, 2-8-0 and Shay.  With everything lit up in the summer evenings it was a model railroaders Heaven!  It was a blast building it.  Even knowing the six things listed above if I was younger with out health problems I’d do it again.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
Modeling the early to mid 1950s SP in HO scale since 1951
  
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 

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Posted by nycmodel on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 10:28 AM

Just like an indoor model railway a garden railroad should be planned around what you think you can accomplish and maintain. I always had an indoor HO layout and often thought about building a garden railway but it wasn't until I retired that I had the desire to do something with my leisure time. I started out small with a cheap Bachmann Big Hauler set and a loop of brass track around my patio. No digging or anything like that. The bug bit hard and I was soon planning a more ambitious layout that ran around the entire backyard. I like gardening so that helped. I did the research into the do's and dont's and must say I am happy with what I have accomplished. I would follow many of the same rules that apply to indoor layouts.

1. Good benchwork (in this case what you support your track with in the garden) and good trackwork are essential. My railway is ground level. Some will advocate for raised track on some sort of wood or stone base. That's easier on the back. Just take care to do either one with the proper materials and techniques. Climate in your area will have an impact.

2. Cleaning track must be done more frequently when outdoors. There are motorized track cleaners available but they can be pricey.

3. While proper electrical feeders are essential on any model railroad, they can be critical outdoors where the elements take a toll on track joiners and such.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

 

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Posted by ttrigg on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 11:45 AM

Mark

Before we can give any specific advice to your questions we are going to know a bunch more about where you live. What is your micro-climate like? Are you subject to ground freeze-thaw upheaval? What type soil do you have? Clay? Sand? Loam? How much rain? Do you have large puddling after rain storms? How level is the area where you plan on building your empire? These answers will help us give better hints for your construction. 

Routine maintenance like weed control and plant trimming are much the same as you already do for your lawn. Do you plan on ground level or will you build an elevated area for the trains? An elevated empire has the advantage of better drainage and a place to sit while building and maintaining your empire. 

Do you plan on using sectional track or longer 'flex track'? Unlike the indoor smaller scales where you glue cork to plywood and then add a few screws to hold the track in place, outdoors you will be building a subroadbed from crushed stone just like the real thing. Your track will 'float' atop this roadbed allowing it to contract or expand with the weather. The standard slip joints that work fine for years indoors will not fair so well outdoors. Over time they will fill with dust and debris and you will lose conductivity. Slip joints will over time slide apart giving your trains the opportunity to 'pick a joint' and derail. Rail clamps solve this problem very well, I have some in place that have not needed maintenance in over 15 years, the drawback is that they are expensive. Not in the price each, but in the number you will need.

Wiring, we all bury our wires, some in a simple trench a couple inches deep, others use thin wall PVC 1/2 inch piping. Getting power to the rails: You will be running a main power line along side your tracks with 'feeder wires' branching out to the rails. I recommend feeder wires at every fourth joint, to allow for power loss at the joint as they work apart (slip joints). In my case most of my track is 5 foot 'flex rail' where I soldered them into 10 foot sections. In that area my feeder wires are at 40 foot intervals, in areas where I have sectional track the feeders are about 3 or 4 feet apart.

Start small with plans for future expansion. I began with the primary oval (around my Koi pond) with switches in place for future expansion in mind. They all served as stub end sidings until needed for planned expansion. In 10 years I went from about 150 feet of track to over a thousand. Spreading the construction costs over time makes it more enjoyable.

I would ask that you never ask "What is best..." Over history that question has started some rather heated discussions. What is best for me may well be the worst possible choice for you. There are some good books available on this site for beginners in the garden, as well as many members have construction logs posted here with their successes and failures. Now go get a starter set and a few additional sections and start playing in the dirt.

Tom Trigg

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Posted by ttrigg on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 11:51 AM

Track cleaning cars need not be so expensive. Cut a piece of wood to fit under a box or passenegr car. Drive a couple of long nails through the wood, and some small finish nails at each end. Stretch a green scouring pad across the small nails. Drill a couple holes in the bottom of the car and let the 'cleaning unit' float under the car. After a couple laps stop the train and let the cleaning block drop away and put the car back into normal service.

Tom Trigg

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Posted by NORCAL LOGGER on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 6:48 PM

Mark,

You don't have to play in the dirt on hands and knees to have an outdoor railroad. Consider a raised table top layout, it eliminated almost all the negetives listed above plus a few others.  As far as track cleaning and rail connections there is always on board battery and RC control.  

Check in at "Large Scale Central", look and ask, you will get plenty of answers from all corners of the large scale hobby.

https://www.largescalecentral.com/members/home..

 

Below is a link (you tube) to my last railroad 2005-2014 it was torn down because of a relocation, I am now building a new one using the same, but improved, methods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPx0oKfQCMo

If you decide to jump, you will have a blast.

Rick


 

 

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, March 01, 2018 1:27 AM

Mark,

I want to echo Tom, "Now go get a starter set and a few additional sections and start playing in the dirt."  You can really get a sense of what you want to do by just letting a train loop around the proposed area.  That is what I (we) did over a couple Christmases before I got CINCHOUSE permission to break ground.  By that point, I had a rough vision of where I wanted to go, what I could spend, and how fast I wanted to get something up and running.  Were I to do it over again, I would've kept the trains out and tinkered with simple loops for a few months rahter than boxing them up on the first day of Epiphany!  

I would also splurge and buy a couple books on the subject.  There is great advice on the forums, and, unlike some hobbies in which I participate, to date it has all been constructive.  I just work better off of books.  They also have a nice sampling of possible "strategic direction," to include plantless.

For what it is worth, I have a near-black thumb that a few design flaws made worse.  I still managed to get some greenery going in my "raised bed gravel pit with train."  Stick to cheap plants until you find stuff that works.  Through trial and error, we now have a few areas that, dare I say it, look good! 

I also cannot echo Tom's points on tracks loudly enough. Ours is a small layout, so I bought bunch of clamps, and I just install them as joints simply get too nasty.  It spreads out the cost over time.  And as for track cleaning, on our little road, a greenie weenie on a "swiffer broom" works wonders.  I can usually ge the Triple O up an running in under 15 minutes.

The final thing I might add is consider who will help you with this project.  I have young children, and I want them to be involved.  This meant getting something - ANYTHING - up and running and keeping it running has priority. The second priority is that they have full access to the railroad.  This precludes, for the moment, any really detailed scenes or buildings.  All kidding about my skills aside, I could have slowly built a semi-scale representation of a Hawaiian sugar cane road, but I would be alone in the hobby and, at this point, would maybe have a semi-functioning mill section working.  Maybe, as the rest of the family would've lost interest in "Dad's Folly," costing me access to the time and resources to tinker.

Somewhere, there is a starter set with your name on it!

Aloha,

Eric

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Posted by fiatfan on Sunday, March 04, 2018 8:17 AM

One thing I haven't seen mentioned.  What's the purpose of the railroad?  In my case, it's an excuse to sit on the patio with my wife late in the afternoon and have an adult beverage or two whilst watching the train slowly patrol the back yard. 

In fact, the whole idea was hers.  We were walking through Hobby Lobby one day and found a G scale train set on a clearance rack.  Took it home and set it up in the living room.  Decided to take it to the back yard.  Wife says "we need to do something more with this." 

Fast forward past the expanded patio, privacy hedge, lawn shed, assorted flora, and a years worth of patience while the plants grew (or didn't) and track was laid.  As far as maintenance, I put a red 3M scratchy pad on an old Swiffer handle and psuh it around the track (about 140 ft) before each operating sesssion.  Takes about 3-4 minutes.  The only other maintenance is in the spring when I have to put down new pea gravel (for ballast) in some areas of the track.  Also need to re-ballast sometimes after a heavy rain.  I used to have to repair the track on the west end where the deer would walk on the track.  Since I built the bridge last summer I haven't had that problem.

Best of luck in whatever you decide.

 

Tom

Life is simple - eat, drink, play with trains!

Go Big Red!

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, March 10, 2018 8:47 PM

My first few garden lines were ground level, track powered with mostly LGB equipment.  But as I get into my mid 40's, I decided now that ground level will only get more difficult to maintain, and add to that, the new family Beagle liked to dig up stuff and leave his calling card on the rails.  So up it all came.  Right before that happened, I converted everything over to onboard battery power to better get along with my live steamer.   We have a small raised line that is built like a planter box with some live plants but that is about to change as I have gotten into gauge one trains on the same track, but they need broad radius curves.  So a new raised line will get built this summer with 8' radius curves(16' dia circle) to suit gauge one live steam.  I plant to recess several planter boxes into the benchwork to have live plants, and the track will be ballested.  So while it will be a raised set up, it will maintain the look and feel of a garden railway.  One area will have a shelter built over it to give a shady spot to raise steam and seek shelter from a shower when we host steamups in the future.       Mike the Aspie

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Posted by emdmike on Saturday, March 10, 2018 8:49 PM

Our roster includes 2 LGB engines with onboard battery power, an old 2080d and 2073d, an equily old Kalamazoo 4-4-0, 2nd generation Bachmann bug mauler(Big Hauler) an old Hyde Out Mountain live steam Shay(my wife's engine) and my pride and joy, an Aster Southern RR(UK) Schools class 4-4-0 live steamer.     Mike the Aspie

Silly NT's, I have Asperger's Syndrome

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Posted by JJ33 on Sunday, March 11, 2018 12:06 PM

emdmike

Our roster includes 2 LGB engines with onboard battery power, an old 2080d and 2073d, an equily old Kalamazoo 4-4-0, 2nd generation Bachmann bug mauler(Big Hauler) an old Hyde Out Mountain live steam Shay(my wife's engine) and my pride and joy, an Aster Southern RR(UK) Schools class 4-4-0 live steamer.     Mike the Aspie

 

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Posted by FXguy on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:40 PM

Amen to that, aging ain't for sisses

 

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