A Venture into the Garden

Discussion in 'Area 51' started by JimG, 19 June 2015.

  1. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    This is not my first attempt at a garden layout - I've had three previous attempts. The first two attempts were in my house in Scotland which was located on the side of a hill so the three quarter acre garden was terraced and the two attempts there consisted of a lot of digging and barrowing to try and get a level trackbed on the hillside. No track ever got laid, but a lot of earth got shifted. :) The third attempt was in the half acre garden at my first house in Yate and work had progressed well until we had to move house, just before I started laying track. :) So maybe fourth time lucky.

    The activities of other members of this forum persuaded me to re-assess my present garden, which is small and nothing like the size of my previous gardens. I had written it off as too small when I first came to the house and I suspect that my late wife would probably have objected anyway since it would be difficult to integrate a railway into this smallish garden without it taking the garden over. However, I can live with it taking over and a quick survey was done of the garden and a quick bit of doodling was done in Templot to see what was possible. I find that I can get an egg-shaped oval with curves of twelve to fourteen foot radii in the garden with space for a terminus about twenty two feet long along the wall at the side of the house.

    Work started a couple of months ago to clear the accumulation of ivy, weeds and general clutter which had accumulated over the past five years or so - especially last year when my hip problems precluded even minimal work in the garden - well that's my excuse. :)

    Here's how it looked in April with some pictures I've already posted on another thread. First the original jungle... :)

    ...and the first attempt at getting rid of the ivy..

    ...we can see the wall now. :)

    During May and the beginning of June, work was done on other parts of the garden which also needed a lot of work - necessary since it woudl probabyl never have got done once the railway had started. :) But come the beginning of June I got round to clearing up the bed beside the wall.


    ...and did a bit of kit building as well - the brown thing on the left. :)

    Then this week I made the final assault on the station area...


    ...which revealed my late wife's rock garden feature which surrounded our fish pool setup. The main pool had been removed a few years ago - we got fed up feeding the herons. :( But we had retained the small top pool and a fibre glass waterfall effect - which you see propped up against the wall. If Steve Cook thinks he's got a snail retreat, I raise him. :)


    ...my snails' graveyard which was under the fibreglass waterfall feature. There were also five quite large and very lively frogs who scuppered immediately before I could get the camera. :) I suspect that they disappeared into the small pool still on the top of the rockery feature which is why I left all the grass in the pool to give them a bit of shelter. I'm considering putting the fibreglass feature down again to give any future frogs a hiding place.

    Another task was getting as much of the ivy roots up as I could manage. this blighter took about an hour to dig out to a fair depth then cut through what was there.


    The next work will be to realign the bed so that it will be under the station baseboard and dig out a lot of the topsoil and replace it with bark to get some future weed control.

    The station will extend along the wall to about where the signal finial is, then one line will extend along the wall to meet the oval and the other line will curve round the rock feature to meet the other side of the oval. The one possible problem I have is what to do about the apple tree, which is just behind the compost bin. Since it was planted a few years ago, it has hardly produced an apple and I was quite prepared to cut it down this year. But it is now covered in growing apples so the line along the wall will have to take a slight deviation from the planned route. :)

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  2. Steve Cook

    Steve Cook Flying Squad

    In garden snail accumulation terms Jim, I fold :) You beat me with the addition of frogs anyway!

    It sounds like a good sized garden to me - big enough for decent curves but not so big it becomes a maintenance nightmare. With a separate area for firing up / station facilities, looks like it could have been designed for a railway...I hope its fourth time lucky for you too :)

    Are you going to drop any clues as to what gauge / gauges you are going for (because those curves would do anything from O gauge to 5" ride on) - or do we just need to open a book and wait and see :cool:

  3. jamiepage

    jamiepage Western Thunderer

    I too am very much looking forward to watching progress, Jim.
  4. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    The scale has been a matter of some consideration over the past month or so. The proliferation of Gauge 3 threads recently started me looking at the bigger end of things. I went as far as getting one of Mike Williams wagon kits and a length of Cliff Barker's track to get a better feel for the scale. The only previous close contact I had with the scale was handling Jamie's coach on Cynric's table at Camrail a year or two ago. The RCH wagon kit certainly gave a good idea of the size. I didn't build it, but the resin cast body on its own gave a good impression.

    However, the real thinking took place when I started messing around in more detail in Templot. A G3 B6 crossover is almost six feet long!! My twenty-ish foot long station length was beginning to look a bit short and it dawned on me that G3 is pretty well three times S scale and I would have problems getting a reasonable station and throat in the equivalent seven feet in S. I kept messing around to see what I might achieve but didn't really get any satisfaction. What was getting me annoyed was that I was, in a way, having to adopt a micro layout style of planning when I was going out into the (relatively) big open spaces out in the garden. :)

    So I dropped down a scale to 1:32 and things looked a lot better, with a good bit more elbow room in the station and station throat. Another knock on is that all my S scale CAD and CAM work is exactly half the size, so a lot of my previous development work in S scale is easily applicable in 1:32. So I've opted for 1:32.

    Two major questions arise. The first one is electrification. I am intending to use radio controlled battery powered locos, so I don't need to do anything for myself. But a visiting, traditionally powered locomotive would have a bit of a problem. So I'm thinking about doing a very basic wiring of the layout - basically as one big section so that one loco can be powered if required. I'm still giving this a bit of thought.

    The second question is track standards. My tendency is to use ScaleOne32 since I've been working to exact scale standards in S for many years and I find it difficult to contemplate going back to coarser standards. So I may lay the station area to ScaleOne32 to run my own stock on it, but the pointwork on the oval would be universal - probably using a form of swing nose crossing to allow any G1 standard wheel to run through, with a separate steam bay/visiting (coarser) stock parking area on the other side of the garden - there's just room for a simple facility.

    I'm aiming to get the station boards down this year with the station track laid as well. The oval will have to wait till next year since I'll need some time to build some stock. I can run it as terminus into hidden sidings if I extend one of the connecting lines to the oval. I aim to use Cliff Barker's track - I was quite impressed by his G3 product and I assume his G1 products will be just as good. The railway company modelled will be the Caledonian - I'm now getting too old to think about changing to any other company. :)

  5. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad


    Lo as one may fall from the true path of righteousness, then so may another find it, verily....:p

    Just sayin'.....
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  6. jamiepage

    jamiepage Western Thunderer

    I hope my coach didn't put you off in a bad way. I really do look forward to watching your progress, especially when you bring your techniques to bear on 1/32 stock. And I congratulate you on your decision making process which has already decided a scale, a standard, electrics, and an era! Wish I knew how to do that, rather than flopping about between all sorts of ideas.
    Great stuff.
  7. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    On the contrary, it made a great impression on me and I kept thinking about how I might model something in the scale. The other recent threads on G3 rolling stock and your loco build re-triggered the thought processes and that made me look at the garden railway possibilities again. I had even selected coaches to model - Caledonian MacIntosh 30ft four wheelers - and I just got my ordered drawings from the NRM a few days ago. I had also modified the limit switches on my CNC mill so that I could cope with the G3 sizes. But it was the messing around with the layout plan for the past few weeks which convinced me that I couldn't get the layout I would be happy with.

    A lot of the decisions were pretty well pre-ordained. :) I'm getting too old to start researching another railway, so Caledonian it was going to be. :) I had seen what could be done with radio controlled lorries on "The End of the Line", now owned by TimC of this parish and a fellow club member, and a bit more research on the subject had shown that it was a very feasible method of control. As I've said earlier, I'm now so used to exact scale standards that ScaleOne32 was the only way. (I feel that I have to say "Hallelujah" every time I mention it to keep the Titfield mob happy :):) ). So the scale was the only swithering point, and that spanned the last two or three weeks.

    But it is nice to be able to use all my S scale design work where the dimensions can be doubled. Scaling up to G3 is no problem in CAD, but you finish up with a lot of funny measurements which have to be rounded up or down to become useable.

  8. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    Hi Jim,

    ScaleOne32 isn't currently available as a pre-set in Templot, so no doubt you created a custom setting. The existing 1F pre-set is 10mm/ft scale.

    I will add ScaleOne32 in the next program update. But first, can you confirm that these are the current dimensions:


    Thanks. The scale isn't mentioned there, but I assume it is 1:32. :)

    For scale 6ft way the track centres would be 106.36mm (11ft-2in). But if you wanted to mix 10mm/ft stock on the same track, you might want to increase that. Is there a standard?


    Last edited: 20 June 2015
  9. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    It is 1:32. :)

    I was using the G1F settings in Templot as "near enough for sketching" and was thinking about asking you to add ScaleOne32 to the list of scales/gauges. :) As far as I know, the standard shown on the Titfield Thunderbolt web site is the official source and Simon Casten, of this parish, would be the fount of all knowledge about the scale's track standards. I'm not sure about what track centre measurement might be preferable. I suspect that even the G1 track centre standard would only be used on straight (-ish) track since curves are comparatively sharp and centre distances on curves would probably have to be set well over scale to allow for longer stock.

  10. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    Thanks Jim.

    I have now added it to the list. I have given it the name P-32 in line with the existing convention (as P-87, P-48, etc. The S prefix is used for scales in mm/ft as S2, S4, S7, etc.). As always when adding a new gauge pre-set the biggest problem is knowing what to call it, because after folks have created files using it, changing the name later would cause lots of problems.

    I have set the default spacing at 106.36mm, but I would expect users to widen it on sharp curves. 106.36mm is the correct scale spacing to correspond to 6ft way on the prototype at 1:32 (11ft-2in centres). The gauge should be 44.85mm but I haven't changed to that from 45mm. I'm not sure how "pure" the large-scale community likes to be? :)

    I have set the default radius warning at 2500mm. Again I don't know if that is a sensible figure. Users can easily change it or ignore it of course.



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  11. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    More work in the garden. I had intended to start putting up posts to support the outer edge of the station baseboards last weekend and went ahead and got six lengths of square plastic downpipe and some bags of Postcrete. But working out where to put the posts became problematical since I didn't have a really good datum to work from to give me accurate results. So I opted to lay down the baseboard support along the buttresses on the wall to use as a reference point for everything else.


    The first job was to fit the end piece along the short end wall. The right hand end was screwed to the wall then the left hand end was adjusted with the sloping bit of wood to get it level and the other screw holes spotted through to get guides for the big masonry drill for the plugs.

    I deliberated about the height of the baseboards and I've gone for thirty inches to the track level which gives a reasonable height for reaching the track without too much stooping, but not too high when it gets into the lawn area in the garden. The lawn is about six inches higher than the pathways round the house so that will bring the track elevation down to about two feet there.


    Next I joined two lengths of the timber and supported them to get them level - the bit of timber supporting the beam at the buttress with packing to get it level and the far end being supported by the joiner's horse. Once all the fiddling had been done to get everything level then the beam was drilled and spotted at the buttress. Then the whole lot was dropped down to drill the buttress for the plugs, and set up all over again to get the screws into the buttress.

    The first hole for a post, dug last week, is lower left. The position for this hole is pretty well set by the concrete drain cover and the crazy paving, but it was working out the positions of the other posts which was giving me problem with no definite datum to work from.


    Basic adjustment strategy. :) Beam supported by string and packed up with strips of spare Venetian blind to get level. It works. :)


    A reverse view of the first beam in place. The wodge of weed in the lower left came out of the small pond in the rockery and there was one frog still in there. So he/she has now got a rock ledge to hide under. :)


    Things have moved on to show the a length of timber added to the first beam and screwed to the second buttress and supported by a second horse.


    Spot the problem!! :):):):) A few minutes with screwdriver and spanner sorted that out. :):)


    The "finished" result. The end of the beam at the left is in mid air and I will put a post there to support it properly. The end is actually quite firm with the cantilever support along the beam but I think I would like a support just to prevent distortion if a heavy weight fell on it (me!!).

    I've also started re-jigging the bed which will be under the baseboard as you can see with the new line of the small drystone wall laid out. I haven't gone further with this since the post holes will be right behind the wall and I'd rather get the post holes dug and the posts in place before building the wall in front of them.

    The total length of the beam is 7.2 metres, or just over 23' 7" but I shall probably cut it back to 23' 0" which should give me a decent length for a terminus in 1:32. I'm reckoning on making the baseboard about 3' 0" wide so that I can get fairly easy access to the back of the board.

  12. Steph Dale

    Steph Dale Western Thunderer

    Referring back to a previous life...
    You might want to try the height and reach combination for the station. My guess is that a 3ft reach at 2ft6in height is probably not good and that even a relatively light weight would cause you to topple over.
    And G1 locos stroke me as probably being quite heavy!
  13. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    I have been thinking about that. :) I was originally thinking of a 2' 6" wide baseboard but I found I was needing a bit more elbow room when planning in Templot, so widened the boards to 3' 0" as a result. But the main reason for doing this was to accommodate a platform at the rear of the board and the actual track centre furthest from the front edge of the boards will be about 2' 5" from that edge. But I did a quick test setup to make sure that I could reach such a track reasonably easily.


    ...with the beam in the Workmate being 2' 6" high and 3' 0" from the wall side of the beam on the wall. I reckon I can use both hands on a loco on a track about 2' 5" away without teetering too much. :) But I do agree that doing the same at or around 3' 0" would be pushing it. :):)

    I'm also having some thoughts about the scenic treatment of the layout in the station area - i.e. whether the structures should be built to withstand the elements at the expense of detail. I'm looking at the possibility of putting a roof over the terminus but it will be a lightweight, carport style, lean-to arrangement off the side of the house with fully open ends, so it will never give full protection to the layout.

  14. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I've now established the position of the post nearest the house door for which the hole was already dug. This is the critical post for all the front board measurements and it was calculating its position which led me to put up the rear beam of the baseboard frame.

    The beam in the Workmate was set up with its inside edge parallel to the back beam on the wall and at the intended distance between the inner sides of the front and rear beams. The position of the already dug hole was pretty well OK and the pipe was setup truly vertical. The beam parallel to the house was just laid on the other beams to give an indication of where the two front beams would meet. i had hoped that the joint would have been at the post, but it turns out to be somewhat to the right of the post.


    ...and the shot from the other angle showing the position of the joint of the two front beams. When I've made this joint and reinforced it I'll see how strong it is bearing in mind that the front of the baseboard will probably be subjected to excess loads as I lean over to do things at the back of the baseboard. :) If necessary, I could put another post in to support the beam parallel to the house, somewhere around its centre which just avoids the concrete drain cover at the bottom of the picture.


    I've also made up another measure to help set up the other posts, the measure being the required width between front and back beams, with the post being clamped flush with the end. I'll use this first to mark the positions for digging the post holes, then to hold the post plumb while the Postcrete is setting.

    I hope to start concreting posts tomorrow - I've got other things I must do today - like give the dog her daily outing. She hasn't had one since the weekend due to rain and baseboard construction yesterday. Then there's the household chores which really get in the way of modelling. :)

  15. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    And a bit further on today.

    The first thing was to do something with the top of the posts so that the horizontal beams could be screwed to them. The plastic used in square drain pipes is not all that strong so I thought about fitting a wooden plug in the top to accept coach screws. The inside dimension of the pipe is 61mm so I had a quick dig around B&Q and found one of their treated timber sizes which was 63mm x 38mm.


    So out came the power plane and my ancient actual Workmate to produce loads of wooden snow. :)


    ...to be replaced with the chop saw and chopped into six inch lengths.


    The plug was fitted in the top of the pipe and held in place with a couple of wood screws. The one problem this raised was that the top of the pipe was restricted and would make getting the concrete into the pipe a bit more difficult.


    The pipe was then set in place and set plumb and clamped to the wooden beam which is parallel to the beam on the wall at the required distance. I then set the top of the pipe to be just below the level of the timbers by using a bit of the Venetian blind slat under the end of the spirit level. The pipe was persuaded down to the correct level with the lump hammer (top). :)


    This is the Postcrete product. The aggregate in the mixture is quite fine so it pours quite easily into small areas. You basically add water and leave it to set - which takes about 30 minutes.


    ...and here's the post just after all the Postcrete has been poured in and watered, and it's just beginning to set. I had hoped to get pictures of the process of adding the Postcrete but my grandson, who would have taken the pictures, was summoned by his girlfriend so I was left on my own. :)

    I started by filling the pipe with Postcrete, alternately putting in an amount of Postcrete then some water so that the mix was properly wetted all the way down the post. Feeding the Postcrete through the small opening next to the wooden plug was a bit of a drag and I'm thinking of making a filler funnel from Plastikard to make life a bit easier. The concrete was filled right up to the top therefore locking in the plug and stiffening the whole top of the pipe.

    For the post, the instructions given by Postcrete were followed - i.e. fill the hole one third full with water, then fill the hole with Postcrete, then add more water to make sure all the Postcrete is wetted, then stand back and let it harden.


    ...and the post with the concrete almost set. I used two bags of Postcrete for this post - about a third of one bag filled the post and the remaining 1 2/3 bags filled the post hole. However I had dug this hole too deep and too wide for the post size and with subsequent posts I will dig holes to the recommended size which might get me down to around one bag per post.

    I think I will go on and dig all the post holes required before planting any more posts. I hope this will allow me to get all the posts done in one day.

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  16. 40126

    40126 Western Thunderer

    Keep up the good work Jim :thumbs:

    Steve :cool:
  17. mickoo

    mickoo Western Thunderer

    Coming along nicely, very inspirational :thumbs:

    A suggestion about filling the pipes, I presume your doing this after the base has set?, if so simply remove your wooden plug, they look about 8" long? Fill your post to about 10" from the top with a wet mix, reinsert your wooden plug and screw firmly into the existing screw holes, now you only have to struggle with filling the last few inches ;)

    If it takes 30 mins to set that should be ample time to insert the wooden plug and fill the rest before the main fill goes off.
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  18. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    That does sound like a better way. I might have got round to that way of thinking eventually but you've short-circuited the thought process. :) However, it's hole digging and spade work over the weekend along with some sailing, so post planting might not start again until some time next week.

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  19. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I didn't get anything done at the weekend. I went sailing on Saturday and spent most of the day as crew on a rescue boat hauling dinghies out of weed in the lake. My hip took a beating and I wasn't fit for garden work until Wednesday. :)

    I spent Wednesday plotting out where the posts would go with reference to the beam along the wall, and also working out how I would lay the ply baseboard tops, allowing for the peculiar shape of the end board, and making sure that supports for the board ends didn't clash with any of the post positions.

    Today I started on the next post along from the first one "planted" last week.


    This had to be placed in the middle of the crazy paving area and I managed to lift and adjust the paving to suit - with a lump hammer and a bolster chisel. :) My late wife loved doing crazy paving and would spend hours selecting the best fitting stones without resorting to a chisel. I don't have her patience. :) Here the post is in place ready for concreting. the post hole size has been reduced and takes just over 3/4 of a bag of Postcrete.

    Jumping on a bit, the second (today) post clamped up waiting on the Postcrete to go off.

    ...and a shot in the other direction.


    ...and with the sun setting in the west, the last post for today has been planted. I've almost run out of Postcrete in any case - I only have about half a bag left of the five I started with. I haven't filled the pipes with concrete yet. I'll do that when the rest of the posts are planted. We are due to have very poor weather tomorrow, so it will probably be Saturday before there is any other progress.

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  20. Steve Cook

    Steve Cook Flying Squad

    Great progress Jim, I remember the joy of getting a line of posts in the ground :)
    I used the same Postcrete as you and when filling the posts themselves, just tipped the postcrete in and added the water in one go. Smacking merry hell out of them to get them out of the ground revealed a good solid plug of concrete all the way through so perhaps it may be easier than alternating during the filling up.
    I have new fence panels waiting to go in before I can start on digging holes, hopefully the weather this weekend will soften the ground a touch :)