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Garden railway track maintenance

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 Track was 1st laid on the Jackson County a little over 10 years ago on one section of line sleepers/ties had become bleached out with UV light and I was not happy with the alignment of the crossover from the main line to the loop/siding on this section of track.


West  Siding Switch at Ti Tree Flats, I need to think of a more appropriate South West Colorado name, the railway had a more New Zealand-Tasmanian character perhaps Arboles after the pencil pines after the cabbage tree in the background has died off?


The main line was laid in AMS narrow gauge flexible track, with Sunset Valley switches as AMS narrow gauge switches were unavailable when I was building the railway.




The crossover is being re-laid with No 6 switches to provide a better transition from curved to straight track and a more suitable crossing for the larger locomotives now being used. I also took the opportunity to replace the ties on the plain track with Sunset Valley tie strip which appears to have a better UV resistance. The re-lay also provided an opportunity to inspect the treated timber road base after 10 years use  and replace decayed timbers where necessary.


The railway is basically supported on an open grid baseboard of 4X2 treated pine on 4X4 timber piles. The framework was overlaid with 25mm welded mesh and weed mat to support the washed pebble ground cover.



I replaced two short sections of track base that were showing evidence of decay and extended the siding trackbase as I moved the East Siding Switch eastwards to compensate for the longer No6 switches at the west end of the yard.


Track re-laying is similar to a traditional full sized track renewal programme, with rail recovered from this area used to complete Wye track in distance and usable sleepers/ties stored for use in patch repairs of remaining AMS track.

Track now re-laid and ready for traffic. Interestingly although bleached out the AMS ties in this area appear to be in good condition with no evidence of deterioration (cracking or spalling off) around the rail fixing. It was necessary to replace tie strips on AMS track on another area of the layout when rail fixings started failing and gauge spreading occurred 5-6 years after track was first laid.



1:4 ESS I am planning to replace this with a 1:6 switch and have installed the switch with a short make up piece to avoid having to cut the next track panel at a later date.


There was a saying that O Gauge modellers carried minerals for profit and paid the shareholders dividends. Not sure how carrying track material and tools fits in 🙂

It looks like the railway in this area should be good for at least another 10 years considering the condition of the baseboard timber and tie life.

Oddly enough this thread does fit in with an Irish Railway modelling context clearing a lot of shelf/baseboard space to make a home for an Irish 4mm layout

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Very interesting - nice to see track renewal in the model form, just like the real thing!
I've been meaning to get some G scale track down out in the garden, but haven't got around to it yet

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Certainly working in the large scales outdoors brings on a lot of challenges not faced in-doors in N or OO like U.V. damage to plastic sleepers and designing a suitable track support system to cope with weather and soil conditions.

Its been raining more or less continuously for the past 4-5 weeks, so took advantage of a couple of dryish afternoons to carry out track maintenance/renewals and install the east leg of the wye track.


1st the easy bit renovating the turnout form the main line to the east leg of the wye. Basically replacing the head blocks (long sleepers which support the switch stand or turnout machine), connect up and adjust the switch stand & fit the rail joiners or fish plates. I reversed the head block when I originally installed the turnout as it was originally part of a crossover and would have been in the 6' between the running lines not a very safe place. 

Switch stands are still used in the United States and this part of the world on turnouts that are not interlocked with the signal system, on running lines switch stands are locked by padlock with master key held by train crews and maintenaners. The action of the Sunset Valley switch stand is similar to the real thing with a locking bar, one of the jobs was to repair the indicator as children and un familiar operators often try to change the switch by twisting the indicator. 


Good indication of the type of tools necessary for trackwork, it was necessary to replace one of the slide plates under the blades, the rails & soleplates were spiked to the head blocks, soleplates then soldered to the stock rails.


East leg of the wye and switch temporarily pinned in place to work out the best position for the turnout. The connection is on the inside of a curve of approx 8' radius, the wye track curves away on a minium 5' radius.


Rails on main line cut in situ with a junior hacksaw (with a new blade) and turnout plated in place. The ties on the AMS track appear to be in good condition on this partially shaded section despite 120 years use, 2004 date of manufacture moulded on tie bases. I will add a tapered timber on the inside of the turnout and trellis strip to act as a ballast support on the inside of the turnout.


464 tests connection.


Switch installed and ready for traffic. The mould on the switch is quite noticable it was originally installed in on a section of the railway which gets very little sunlight in winter as a result of recent tree growth.


Due to the greater momentum and mass finely detailed large scale models are probably more suceptible than small scale or more basic models.

Soldered joints failed on caboose balcony, used combination of Micro-mark and Tamiya clamps to hold everything in steady while I re-soldered joints, once primed I will finish with an "Appliance White" aerosol and seal with a clear sealer

Edited by Mayner
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I completed and tested the wye at Utah Junction today taking advantage of a couple of drydays! 


General view of wye, I need to look at how I will finish this area from a landscaping perspective as very little grows here being under the tree canopy.


The Utah extension very tempting temporary buffer stop as I have basically used up all my track material and surplus timber! The east leg of the wye is basically laid with 12-18" offcuts of rail which gives me enough material to extend a spur on to a retaining wall at another station. I may turn this area into a patio with river pebble or bark ground cover as its a nice spot on a hot sunny day. Hopefully the extension will eventually meander over towards a coal or silver mine near the swing set some day, possibly through a raised bed with dwarf conifers and a few full sized citrus.


Test train on the wye the neck is just long enough for a large loco and one freight car. The main purpose of the wye at this stage is for turning locos working over the 4% grade between the wye and the fiddle/staging yard in the garden shed. Due to the steep grade it is necessary with most trains either to use a helper locomotive or divide the train and "double the hill" to return a train to staging. Large locos like the K27s can manage 12-14 cars on the 2% grades on the main circuit 6-7 over the 4%,  smaller locos like 2-8-0s & 4-6-0s struggle on the grade with 3 cars, the wye is an attempt to turn the grade into a feature of regular operation.

Edited by Mayner
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