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Old 05-19-2020, 11:01 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Elevated layout advice

My wife kindly reminds me "you're not getting any younger (really?)" when I'm discussing starting to plan my garden railway. My preference would be ground level but I do have a slope to contend with (haven't surveyed it yet but I'd guess maybe 2' difference from one end to other). I do plan to run it through an area with holly tree and some azalea bushes plus other trees so know if I do an elevated layout I'll have roots to contend with when digging holes for posts.
So, with all that, I'd appreciate suggestions / recommendations as to how you've built your empire and pictures are always worth a thousand words. My particular concern is how to provide a horizontal surface on an elevated layout that would hold up over time.
I look forward to your replies.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The live steam crowd almost always use elevated layouts. We have found that "deck support blocks" can work well in areas where you might not want to dig. They take 4x4 treated wood, or plastic pipe - which can make height adjustments easy.

Check out these threads:
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Mine sits on cinder blocks.
Due to a poor back standing is tough on me, I have a garden wagon / seat that I drag to where I'm needed.
My property slopes.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg west-loop.JPG (123.4 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg east-loop.JPG (112.5 KB, 38 views)
Happy Rails,

His friend Jerry Dillon looked up at the hillside and said; There is a big ledge, and the whole damned hill is a total wreck with quartz boulders of ore.

Last edited by Totalwrecker; 05-19-2020 at 02:45 PM. Reason: more info.
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Old 05-19-2020, 12:50 PM   #4 (permalink)
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First: I am very happy that I made a layout at a rail height of 75 cm. I have tried to run my trains at layouts that are lower and it just does not work for me.
I have a substructure made of galvanised steel. It is now in the garden for more than 30 years and still looking good without any maintenance. The poles are 150 cm long so half of it is in the ground.

My website: http://sncf231e.nl/
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Old 05-19-2020, 07:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Here are 3 pretty good examples of a weather compatable building style for raised table railroads.




Good luck with your venture
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Old 05-19-2020, 09:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hope this link to my layout gives you some ideas, gather all the different ideas around and build what suits.


I think the posts sitting on paving blocks or in those deck support blocks is a good idea as often with cemented in ones the ground moves and you can adjust easily if it's not cemented in.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:31 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Raised Platform Railroad

I'm building my current railroad like a series of decks, from 24"-65" in height. My yard drops 6" every 10', and my back is not what it used to be, so this is a way to keep everything level (even though each loop is a foot further from the ground at the far side of the railroad than it is at the near side).

In part, I'm building it as a sort of "proof of concept," because so many of my friends who got into the hobby the same time I did have had to abandon their ground-level or near-ground-level railroads entirely. In many cases it was heartbreaking for them. Now I only recommend ground-level railroads for temporary installations while you're planning a permanent railroad.

I used to recommend attaching your roadbed right to posts, then backfilling with dirt. But several friends who have done that (most of whom, I admit, took shortcuts I recommend against) have had roller-coaster or other track movement issues. Not to mention that in places like Ohio, all that extra dirt gives weeds a lot more opportunity than a solution that puts dirt only where you actually need it.

Also if you want to change your track plan later, you have to dig more holes. With a raised platform, you can make adjustments or even add turnouts, yards, and other features you didn't have at first.

Since I started publishing about this, I've come across a lot of other outdoor railroaders who have done essentially the same thing on at least part of their railroad, but they've kept quiet about it because folks have complained they're not "doing it right" or some such.

Personally, I think the hobby will keep growing best if we can keep showing families ways they can install a low-maintenance railroad that will serve them, if necessary, decades into the future without periodic massive refurbishment.

Hope that makes sense.

Best of luck!

- Paul
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Here's mine, half is mounted to the fence, and the rest sits atop cinder blocks
Attached Images
File Type: jpg RR Layout & RC 002.JPG (327.0 KB, 49 views)
File Type: jpg RR Layout & RC 005.JPG (120.3 KB, 46 views)
File Type: jpg RR Layout & RC 006.JPG (121.8 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg RR Layout & RC 008.JPG (122.6 KB, 42 views)
File Type: jpg RR Layout & RC 009.JPG (122.0 KB, 45 views)
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Old 05-30-2020, 05:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mike Flea View Post
Here's mine, half is mounted to the fence, and the rest sits atop cinder blocks
Mine is also partly attached to my fence.


It has track on 2 levels in part, with the upper level coming "downhill" to be on the same level as the other track via a trestle bridge.


Some pictures of the trestle bridges I built



To many more pictures to post on here so I will attach a link to my blog where I have recorded its construction.

Last edited by Batsco; 05-30-2020 at 05:24 PM. Reason: Add pictures
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Old 06-04-2020, 02:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
Join Date: Jan 2018
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Thanks for all the great suggestions, links, pictures, etc. I've decided to go the route of using concrete deck piers with 4x4 posts mounted vertically up from the block and use construction adhesive to hold the posts in place. Once I've snapped a horizontal chalk line from post to post and cut the posts to the proper length then a horizontal cross piece will be attached at the top of each post to support the horizontal surface on which the track will be laid (yet to be worked out).
I do have to say those concrete pier blocks are HEAVY, about 50 lbs. each...whew!
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