Building My Backyard Railroad

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  • Member since
    May 2020
  • 6 posts
Building My Backyard Railroad
Posted by AnthonyRail102090 on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 5:57 PM

It has been a year since I had posted anything here mainly because of the long snowy winter we had here in Northern New Jersey and because of covid and not being able to get to train shows or hobby shops with G scale engines and equipment etc. But whenever the weather is warm and sunny I love to go out in my backyard and dream of my future G scale elevated layout. However, I need some tips and pointers on how exactly to build the layout from start to finish. As I mentioned last year, I wanted to have it elevated at least 33 inches above the ground. The main questions I have are what kind of supports/posts do I need to hold up the platform that the track will be on. I also need to know what type of wood would be the best to use for the track platform.

  • Member since
    November 2011
  • 2,071 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 10:14 PM

Hi Anthony, 

  I think the most important decision is to decide to do it! The actual methods are inconsequential,and will come to you. 
Here's a little story: 

 I started with G in '95. For years I ran the trains on the patio because there were so many methods touted in the magazines, the " right way", and the " wrong way" on building roadbed. There were so many different methods listed that I became paralyzed, and so afraid to make a mistake. When I got the Bachmann Shay in 2006, I got fired up to actually build a garden railroad. No 2 yards are the same, soil conditions are different, the slope, etc. Study, and make yourself knowledgeable about many different methods, and it will come to you about the best way to proceed. 
Congratulations on taking the first step. Look at the space, and aquaint yourself with various methods. One day you'll look at it, and it will all just come to you!


  • Member since
    February 2013
  • 908 posts
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, May 6, 2021 2:21 AM



In the words of the late, great Tom Trigg, "Get outside and get dirty!"  This is the short version of Paul's advice to just get going and try what works.  Frankly, I'd just lay the track on the ground for a bit and see what you like in terms of track plan and what you're willing to take care of in terms of size.  That's more or less how we started.


Paul mentioned there seem to be a million ways to raise your railraod.   We live in the tropics.  Ground termites, rot, and hurricanes are real.  We used cinder blocks to make a raised bed about 24" high.  Then we filled the area with lots of dirt and had at it. The termites remain hungry, fungus went elsewhere, and hurricanes threaten everything but the railroad!  In short, find a material that you can manipulate to accomplish your goals and will withstand your local conditions.


Welcome aboard!


  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Smoggy L.A.
  • 10,743 posts
Posted by vsmith on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 3:09 PM

Adding a link to my layout build, it had many of the same issues mentioned. Mine is only 16" raised but even that makes a huge difference in access and working on things. I used bricks as a track underlayment, I can now stand on the track if needed without any detriment. I also used a weedblocking under the gravel before I laid the gravel, But I still get occasional bamboo sprouts from under and plants growing just in the rock surface.

   Have fun with your trains

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