Gravel Glue

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Monday, July 03, 2017 3:58 PM

I hope you did notice you replied to a 6 year old thread. Good news is Tom is still here. Normally instead of dredging up an old thread, a new thread is in order.

In your case you are asking a different question. Do you have some base under the track, and the ballast seems to grow? That is normal if you are trying to keep a board under the track. No way to stop it.

Also, over time, you will find the expansion and contraction will slowly work the track upwards too. Stomp it down every so often or pull some ballast out with a thin stick under the ties.

Greg (Carlsbad)

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Posted by ttrigg on Monday, July 03, 2017 7:27 PM

JDow
Hi Tom, I live in North San Diego County. Tried ballast method (but no stabilizer) but track seems to always elevate out of ballast requiring more, and more, and more. What am I doing wrong? Do you attache the track in any way except the ballast?
 

JD
Going to need a bit more info. What is you track on top of? Greg talked about wood roadbed. Let's begin with my theory, ballast is 80% decoration and 20% functional. Besides looking good the only real function of ballast is to fill the void between the bottom of the ties and the roadbed. Here in North San Diego our soil is mostly clay with decomposing green waste debris. As the green matter decomposes the soil will subside leaving the rails 'hanging in mid air'. 
 
Back to the base question: What do your rails sit atop? Wood? Wood will warp buckel and twist over time causing a miriade of track alignment problems.
 
PVC? Much the same as wood but much, MUCH slower.
 
Brick? Some folks use bricks on edge as a sub roadbed. As the soil subsides it will appear that the bricks will lift up from the soil. A real problem where folks suffer a ground freeze thaw every year.
 
Trench with crushed rock fill? In my case I found that the crushed rock was migrating through the dirt away from the sub roadbed causing the track to sink below the dirt. Re-trenching with a garden fabric liner for the crushed rock worked well, until the soil around it subsided and the roadbed seemed to rise out of the ground.
 
Soil subsidense is an issue for all of us who run trains in the garden. Rebalasting the rails every spring seems to be a natural part of garden railroading. Just as is the issue of pulling weeds and removing wildlife deposits.
 
Heat expansion/contraction of the rails is another issue to overcome. This is a real issue for very long straight runs. In short runs the curves will tend to slide a bit allowing the track to expand/shrink as needed. I had a 280 ft straight as an arrow run that did all kinds of strange things with the alignment. One year I re-laid the track with some 'offsets'. A 10 ft section of 'flex track' with small curves I moved the track centerline 4 inches to one side and 50 ft later brought the rails back into the original center line. These 4 'curves' slid sideways a bit but the track remained smooth and even.
 
Hope this gives a bit of help. If not, fill in the info gaps and we can posibly give a bit more help.
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Posted by ttrigg on Monday, July 03, 2017 7:37 PM

JDow
Do you attache the track in any way except the ballast?
 

 
I use mother nature's adheasive to attach rails to garden, gravity. Fee floating rails will tend to smooth themselves out in most cases.
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Posted by JDow on Monday, July 03, 2017 8:59 PM

Thanks for the advice.  I do not have any actual base to the track.  I trenched the place about 3'' and put some edging designed to keep pavers in place to keep the ballast in place.  Filled the trench, which had the edging on the side and the base of the edging on the bottom (lots of cutouts on the bottom as part of the design of the edging) and put the track on top and then put more ballast to fill in around the ties.  I was pretty diligent with tamping it all down.  The ballast is a rock that I got from KRC but it is possible the rock did not have the needed sharp edges.  

That was about 10-12 years ago and since we are gone a lot the trains only run when the grandchildren visit.  I find that each time I have to add more ballast because the rails and ties are above the ballast.  I tried jiggling sideways to push it back down but it just pops up again.  I read that someone uses a concrete base with what they felt was good success.  I am in process of redoing a lot of the landscaping around the track and replacing a lot of the plastic tie sections because many of the lips that hold the track in place have deteriorated and the track does not keep the proper interrail distance.  While doing all this I thought I could improve the base and ballast to prevent the continual rising up of the track.  Sorry for such a long explanation.

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Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 6:52 AM

Ah, more info, I love that. 

Your roadbed construction technique sounds as if you did everything correct and you have a very solid foundation for the rails. 

You may have what I call "mature garden syndrome". As plants mature the fine hair sized 'feeler roots' they send out as young plants 2 to 6 inches below ground level grow to 1/2 inch diameter or larger. As the roots grow in diameter they push up the ground level in that spot while the neighboring area subsides a bit. In my case the wife brough home what we called 'elephant ear plant'. It started with about 5 leaves about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. As the plant matured over the next eight years those leaves grew to nearly 4 ft long and 3 ft wide. I began to notice that the track ends of my 4 track stub end yard were sticking out of the ground by about half an inch. Several buildings had started to tilt. In a string of 4 houses, the center two had tilted up where the 'floor plate' edges were nearly an inch higher than the rest. Then she found that there were some fine roots reaching over the edge of the Koi pond and into the water. Following those 'drinking roots' about half inch below the soil (under two inches of crushed rock over garden fabrick) I found a 2 inch 'trunk root'. Following this trunk root back (and all its branches, it had found over half of the sprinkler heads in the garden) to the elephant ear plant. We dug a narrow trench between the plant and the railroad about two ft deep and cut all the roots. Then following a gardening trick my dad did in the 1960's I went to a 'pottery craft shop' in Vista and picked up 4 one gallon earthen ware jugs (think mooshine jugs) I carved a half inch hole in the top side of the jugs and had them greenware fired. The gal said if I didn't glaze them they would leak. I told her that was the idea. I dug the jugs in on the opposite side from the trench we had dug and hooked up the jugs with PVC pipe. I cut the sprinkler pipe and rerouted it through the jugs glueing the pipe to the jugs with a quick druing tar. Water in through the side hole, as the jug fills with water it flows out the top into the side of the next jug and so on until the last jug returns to the main line to water the roses. Now the elephant ear plant has all the water it can use and the leaves are 6 to 8 ft long and 4+ ft wide and the railroad is root free. The trench, we filled it with several bags of 'quickcrete'.

A friend solved his garden upheaval problem slightly differently. He picked up some 4 inch ABS (the balck PVC), both straight pipe and drainage pipe. The one with all the holes. He dug an 18 inch deep trench through the centerline of his garden with branches to the major mature plants. The pipe connects to an 18 inch secton of the drainage pipe (wrapped with two layers of garden fabrick) at each plant. The branch lines are capped at the ends. At each end of this system the pipe turns up and reaches 4~6 inches above ground with a threaded cap. (The caps prevent small wildlife from getting in the system.) Once a week removes the caps and uses his garden hose to fill the system with water (sometimes he also adds fertilizer to the water). This tends to keep the roots in tact. 

You mentioned a concrete 'curb' as a subroadbed. Do not use untreated rebar. The concrete will wick moisture from the ground and the rebar will begin to rust and cause fracturing over time as the rust expands. Keep your sections 4~6 ft in length with expansion joints else the concrete will break due to temp expansion/contraction. That should serve well for 6~10 years before you notice any upheaval. A similar, and easier method would be using regular 'red bricks' on edge. You should do fine for 4~6 years before upheaval is noticable. Working with 2 red bricks to solve the upheave is much simpler than a 6 ft length of concrete.

If I understand your situation correctly, your problem is not so much as a track problem, but rather a root control issue. I would be interested in hearing your soloution to the issue.

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Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 9:21 AM

JDow

  I am in process of redoing a lot of the landscaping around the track

I missed this bit in the first read (and second). You may well be on your way to solving the problem. As you remove the older plants and pull out the roots from under the track, walk on the rails to force the roadbed and your subroadbed back into it's original position. I would suggest saving time and money, keep your original subroadbed in place. It was well designed and well built, keep it. Focus your efforts into root management.

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Posted by Greg Elmassian on Tuesday, July 04, 2017 1:33 PM
I'll share my early experiences. When I first got into garden RR, the "wisdom" was to secure the track so it would not move. Seems logical, like other scales, right? As more and more people relayed their experience, it became clear that trying to glue or screw track to ANYTHING would eventually rip the ties from the base and/or the rails. Eventually people have learned to free float the track in ballast. Now, about 10 years later, this is the current wisdom, and you will notice it parallels the real thing. Now, another thing that sounded right but did not work was putting a base under switches. Since people have the most derailments under switches, it only seemed logical to put a large flat board or surface under the switch, to keep the switch flat and level. I did this with cement board (Hardibacker) and it was fine just laying there. But then I ballasted the track.. and the track over time rose up by itself. I eventually figured out that the expansion and contraction of the track and ties, allowed, or almost forced, the ballast to work underneath the track. Think about it, if you were moving ballast under the track, the track has ony one way to go for least resistance, and that is up. Even though you have gravity, it's nothing against rocks moving back and forth under the ties. I found that if I put a board under a switch and ballasted it, I got at least (approximately) three "thicknesses" of ballast... at that point, I considered screwing the track to the board to stop ballast from working under it, but realized that would also be a losing battle trying to lock the track from expansion and contraction. Bottom line, the action of heating and cooling will often make the track "rise" up out of the ballast. You can just accept this movement and reballast, or you can work it back down. I hit mine with a hose nozzle set on a sharp stream... that sort of washes it out a bit under the track... then I stomp it down where needed, and then lift and brush the ballast back over the rails. The wet ballast seems to move a bit more freely too. Greg

Visit my site: http://www.elmassian.com - lots of tips on locos, rolling stock and more.

 Click here for Greg's web site

 

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