Borracho Springs & Angry Beaver Garden Railway

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Borracho Springs & Angry Beaver Garden Railway
Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:27 AM

Borracho Springs & Angry Beaver Garden Railway

 

Well let’s try this one more time…

 

This thread will be chronicling the building of my new layout, outdoors this time. Seems like every other layout I’ve tried building gets going well enough, gets stalled and dies a slow tragic death. Such is my indoor Gotham layout, which is still there! It lies behind a wall of clutter that I have been unable thus to render into the nearest Salvation Army, despite my best efforts to do so.  So here we are again. Only this time I’m going into a spot where no clutter can block. I decided I am going to build a simple layout in the back corner of our yard, a corner that abuts neighbors barking dogs and trash cans in an alleyway.

 

A little backstory first. This is where I began:

 

 

It’s looked like this ever since we rebuilt the garage. For whatever reason I never had the energy or strength to deal with it until this fall, when after being on jury duty for an extremely depressing criminal trial, I needed to do something positive to pull me out of a serious funk. I first did a couple planters; one became the little outdoor pizza layout, and converted a couple of pallets into mobile planters.

 

 

I really got serious just after Thanksgiving with beginning to rework a nasty section of loose pavers that used to abut the old garage before it was torn down. For whatever reason, I simply placed large retaining blocks against the raised edge and created a step down between the higher pavers and the old garage floor, now the driveways. But over time the soil under the pavers washed out creating a drupe in the paving. So out came four feet of pavers, soil dug, recompacted, and reset to create a ramp between the higher patio and the driveway area. Big improvement immediately, now I could move things between the upper and lower areas with far greater ease than before. So easy in fact that the next step was to take the small metal toolshed on skids that we’ve had since forever in the back corner, careen it onto its sides and add four large lockable caster wheels to it. Once accomplished, I could now wheel it down onto the driveway and rework an ugly planter spot along the fenceline at the rear of the current patio pavers. Landscape retaining blocks and soil were removed, concrete pavers laid down and now I had a convenient alcove to push the toolshed into.

 

 

I then started removing the pavers laid in the back corner, and discovered that the tree against the rear fence was sending out root runners and were pushing up the pavers. We had already paid a guy to cut it down last summer 2018, but it started growing back stringers out of the old stump, I tried to keep it in check but the damn thing grew like something out of a horror movie. So after cutting it back filling a 100 gallon trash can a couple times over, I tacked several copper nails into the stump. Now came the big dig, digging and relaying pavers. I had several dozen concrete Saltillo pavers, left over from the patio, that were mixed with regular concrete pavers in that area originally. They got sorted and as the area nearest the patio was releveled, reset against a new PTDF header, another improvement over the haphazard previous installment, more importantly it gave me a hard edge to start placing CMUs for a low retaining wall. At only two blocks high, I decided to treat them more like landscaping blocks, so they are set right on the soil, sandy loam no clay, with each cell having a #3 rebar driven into the ground and filled with post hole mix. This is an experimental idea but given how low the wall is and how well the soil here drains, it shouldn’t be an issue.

 

 

Once I had the blocks down I could now focus on the bane of this area, the bamboo. Luckily for me the area it was growing in the soil was higher than the area I had to dig down to for the interior wood planter walls. So I would dig out the soil to where the roots were exposed, then using a variety of tools (shovel, cutting chisel, mallet, 8 foot breakers bar, and a chainsaw that went from sharp to dull as a butterknife no less) and invoking several words and phrases that would have resulted in any fine young Edwardian ladies fainting from the hearing of, broke out the roots by the chunk. But as of now the bamboo is gone. I have also placed PTDF headers and concrete chunks against the fenceline. Luckily this type of bamboo grows straight up and doesn’t spread runners everywhere but I know it will be an ever vigilant job to keep them out of the yard.

 

Also I decided that I really hated the way the chain link fence looked, I mean its ugly as sin. Last year we had our fence between our neighbor on the other side replaced completely with a cedar fence, and really liked it I decided to add a cedar facing to the chain link. And it’s just that, I placed a PTDF 2x4 at the top and bottom and simply screwed the cedar pickets to that. The method is simplicity itself. Some bailing wire top and bottom to fix the 2x, then use plumbers tape strap to secure the 2x. The top 2x is strapped around the top crossbar so it’s doing all the hard work, the bottom 2x just needs to hold the pickets. It works well and looks a hundred times better than the ratty chain link.

 

 

After another big push to meet the Miks Challenge deadline I got the interior wood retaining walls in place, I used wood here mostly for space to maximize the layout area and still have comfortable interior walk around space. It’s the same method I used for the outdoor pizza layout but with added steel stakes to help keep everything in place. I had to remove awful roots along the way from the tree that looked like something straight out of the Upside Down in Stranger Things but luckily they were a lot softer than the dam bamboo roots and were removed as I went. So as of this weekend I managed to get the walls set in place. Next will be to level the soil across the layout bed and set the pavers in the interior walkway.

 

 

 

 

This is where it is today, next the layout itself

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:28 AM

Post two

Now the layout:

Sorry for the low res images, I recently lost access to my Autocad so until that gets resolved I had to make images from screenshots from another program that was read only. Once I get the cad issue resolved I will repost clearer images.

 

 

This will be a simplified version of my original indoor Borracho Springs layout and will incorporate both the Borracho Springs and Angry Beaver trains I have been building since forever it seems.

Track power using an Aristo Basic Train Engineer for however long it lasts, with a very simplified block control. Grades will be steep because why not, and because I don’t have a lot of room to begin with. Curves will again be R1 for the same reasons, I can pack alot more layout into a smaller space and I have a bunch of it.

 

 

I have discovered that my local Home Despot now carries pressure treated plywood for ground contact, I will use this as a track underlayment , it will also make the raised grade sections a little easier to build. Here drought is far more common that rain, so PT wood in soil contact is generally very stable. Landscaping will be rock, some more rock, and then some more rock and some succulents. What I really want is just a tiny, tiny, tiny sliver of Ray Dunakin’s marvelous stonework on my layout, and I know he didn’t build that in a day so I’ll be working on getting rock samples I like as I go along. Everything local here is rounded river rock. Broken stone, lava and pumice I’ll have to drive around looking for.

That’s it for now.

 

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:29 AM

What? What is this nonsense. This is starting to look like a professional job.

 

 

Dry run layout for the conduit work, this will soon be buried. I'm thinking of routing the main wiring thru the pieces, then gluing them together, then bury it. Read that its a lot easier if you can do that then burying the conduit, then fishing the wiring through.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 6:01 PM
Vic, This was a lot harder start than the Triple O! We had an open yard that grew on compacted coral sand. My brickwork, however, was far from your standards! We never considered wood as a possibility for the raised bed given the bugs, humidity, salt air, etc. On the other hand, we, too had lots of R1 and wanted to cram lots of trains into limited space. It is interesting to watch your more considered approach. We threw track on the ground, traced out the area for the retaining wall, and commenced to dig! Eric
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Posted by York1 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 6:22 PM

vsmith
What? What is this nonsense. This is starting to look like a professional job.

 

I agree.  This looks great!  Thanks for all the pictures, and keep us posted on your progress.

York1 John       

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Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 3:30 PM

Finally an update, I have been working on this...alot actually. I just have very limited access to upload pics to here, so here are the updated pics.

Track is down, wired and fully operational, although I do have to regrade the far corner to bring the grade down a little, not a biggie.

Control is optional, a single LGB pack directly wired to the track and a second unit with an Aristo Basic Train Engineer for walkaround control. block control is via simple knife switches, on or off, under the little shed looking thingies.

First pic is before finish wiring was in place. Second is after all the wiring was complete and buttoned up, last is the portable control unit, both simply nest on top of a 4x4 post.

 

 

 

 

I've also since finished paving inside the pit area, It's coming together.

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 3:31 PM

Egads he even has a video for proof! Been a while since I've uploaded anything to video. This was taken before I finished the wiring and the paving.

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Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 3:32 PM

Just a quick snapshot showing how the blocks and siding power is organized. The little shed thingies hold a knife switch, but where does it go? Each block and siding that has a power switch also gets a number marker made to look like a milestone indicator, that number is then stenciled on top of the power stands, so when you want to isolate a section, its alot easier to associate which stand controls which section. It's pretty simple but what the hey, if it works, right?

 

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, June 26, 2020 2:13 AM
Vic, that is really clever! We used light switches to do something similar, mounting them into structures. I hadn't thought of using mile markers to say what does what! I noted just today our local hardware story has knife switches. Maybe we can use something similar on a future "upgrade" to the Triple O!
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Posted by vsmith on Monday, July 6, 2020 4:31 PM

Had a productive weekend, a VERY productive weekend. I have reached SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION.

After spending thursday and friday setting out the pavers and bricks, I spent saturday and sunday moving the gravel from the far side of the garage to the layout. Between the pavers under the building locations and roadways and using bricks under the tracks I ended up needed far less gravel than I originally estimated. Back then I planned to fill the planter then float the track and buildings on top like I did way back with my first layout, it's even what I did with the outdoor pizza. but using the paver/brick method saved a lot of time and effort. For now I am going to leave the bricks under the tracks exposed so I can test trains and make any necessary track tweeks for operation. Now comes detailing and testing trains.

But today is a milestone, I actually finished something 

 

 

 

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by York1 on Monday, July 6, 2020 4:40 PM

vsmith
Had a productive weekend, a VERY productive weekend. I have reached SUBSTANTIAL COMPLETION.

 

Looks great!

York1 John       

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, July 6, 2020 7:16 PM
Vic, in the grand "do over," I think I might have done the same thing, with the bricks set on the sub-fill and gravel on top. The Triple O floats. On the other hand, it did allow for a lot of experimenting with the location of sidings, curve radii, and such. As it is, it seems we are slowly "back-bricking" the most troublesome areas, anyway. Eric
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Posted by vsmith on Monday, July 20, 2020 5:33 PM

Just a quick update on the layout, buildings in place, planting succulents is next but I might wait until the cool season as the summer heat here can be quite brutal to plants that are not well established.

https://youtu.be/s9iffEIDdQY

   Have fun with your trains

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Posted by Postwar Paul on Monday, July 20, 2020 10:53 PM

I really like the layout with the structures. It's comin' together ,and lookin' great!

Paul

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 1:01 AM
You pack a lot of railroading opportunities into the space! I am envious! Question: do you harden your buildings against the sun or bring them inside?
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Posted by vsmith on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 1:29 PM

Whadda know my login worked this time. Given we don't know what the future holds for this forum and the repeated difficulty logging in, this might be the last post on this so let's make it a good one.

 

Posting trains running on the layout, it's been ages since my first little outdoors layout, this one is substantially better built but it's still a kindred spirit to that little layout. It's a shame that the forum my go away. I've got 15 years of kitbashes, only a few I've ever posted, ready to test on the layout. Oh well, let's hope the forum can be rolled into the MR forum if nothing else.  

I've been on here since the beginning for me, I registered here before any other forum. Back in the salad days this site was a rollicking place, lots of posts lots of friends lots of information, but time and the damage wrought by the recession, manufacturer bankruptcy, and people just behaving badly, traffic is down everywhere. I'm hoping this scale can still rebound, because it's still great fun, I've been dabbing in the smaller scales but they just aren't as fun as G. So I'm still hoping for the best. If I can log in in the future, I will post updates until whatever happens with the forum. If GR forum eventually goes away, I hope to see everyone else on either GSC, LSC, or FB. 

Vic

 

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Posted by Rex in Pinetop on Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:47 PM

Vic,  I've also been on the forum for awhile and would hate to see it disband.  In any case I've really enjoyed your pizza layouts and other kitbashes.  They are an insiration of what can be done in the fun hobby.

Rex

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