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  • Topic: Borracho Springs & Angry Beaver Garden Railway

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    • February 10, 2020 12:14 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      Borracho Springs & Angry Beaver Garden Railway

      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

      This post was edited by Vic Smith at February 12, 2020 9:33 AM EST
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    • February 10, 2020 12:19 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      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.

       

      This post was edited by Vic Smith at February 18, 2020 5:05 PM EST
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    • February 10, 2020 2:29 PM EST
      • Be Nice or STFU
         
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      Instead of PT plywood, which will definitely delaminate in soil, why not try hardi-backer. You might have to use coarse thread screws if you want to secure to it, but even treated, plywood will delaminate in soil.

      Looking forwards to "Pizza outdoors" !!!

      Greg

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    • February 10, 2020 2:42 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      Greg Elmassian said:

      Instead of PT plywood, which will definitely delaminate in soil, why not try hardi-backer. You might have to use coarse thread screws if you want to secure to it, but even treated, plywood will delaminate in soil.

      Looking forwards to "Pizza outdoors" !!!

      Greg

      I might try that, it would almost be like a concrete bed 

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    • February 10, 2020 3:13 PM EST
      • Be Nice or STFU
         
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      I've had bare hardi-backer for my switchyard for years, and I hose it off. This is the more expensive "waterproof" stuff, smooth on both sides and very solid. Was twice the cost of the cheapest stuff in Home Despot, but it was well worth it.

      1/2" thick, and it's not lying on the dirt now...

       

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    • February 10, 2020 5:38 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      How easy does it cut? I'm thinking about the curves.

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    • February 10, 2020 6:11 PM EST
      • Be Nice or STFU
         
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      skil saw with masonry blade, or cutoff saw... you could use a jigsaw with the carbide granules I suppose... you will notice some pieces are cut in the picture.

       

      p.s. I archived your pizza on my site if you don't mind: https://elmassian.com/index.php/large-scale-train-main-page/others-layouts/vic-smith/pizza-layout

       

      Can add text, edit, etc. Will guarantee it will be there as long as I am around. No MLS..

       

      Greg

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    • February 10, 2020 7:13 PM EST
      • Rooster Works "Area 69" ,
         
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      Hardi backer will not survive in "my" climate (been there done that) however you can score and snap it with a utility knife Vic. In your climate I would have no issues using plywood (not even PT) with a coat of paint/primer on it with an air space under it.

    • February 10, 2020 7:57 PM EST
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      There's all kinds of hardibacker besides different brands. The fully waterproof stuff is hard to find, and many people I know have never seen it.

      (that's why I make the point it is waterproof, not water resistant, heavier, smooth on both sides)

       

      I'd bet any money it would survive anywhere, since mine has been outside, unpainted, been pressure washed many times over 10 years.

       

      So, ordinary stuff would not last, but I'd bet anything this stuff would last.

       

      And you CANNOT score and snap this stuff, even only 1/2" thick, so it's not the stuff Rooster had. Note well: almost all typical hardibacker is NOT waterproof.

       

      Durock is one of the manufacturers of truly waterproof board, and it has the rounded edges.

      https://www.usg.com/content/dam/USG_Marketing_Communications/united_states/product_promotional_materials/finished_assets/usg-durock-cement-board-with-edgeguard-installation-guide-en-CB237EG.pdf

       

      Greg

      This post was edited by Greg Elmassian at February 10, 2020 8:10 PM EST
      ____________________________________

      Be sure­ to visit ­my site, l­ots of tec­hnical tip­s and modi­fications,­ and you c­an search ­for topics­ and key w­ords.


      ­Click HERE for Greg­'s web sit­e
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    • February 11, 2020 3:40 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      I'm thinking I will do this as a split roadbed. On the ground where it will be in constant contact with the soil, I will use a Hardi-backer type cement board, but on the elevated sections where it can readily drain and dry out I will use PT plywood, that way I can also utilize the plywood to span the raised sections and build up stonework under it without worrying about the inherent brittleness of the cement board. 

      My plan is to install weed blocker fabric and place crushed stone over most of the grade level, I will still use the Hardi-baker to give a solid ROW base and fix the track on top, It will also help to keep weeds off the direct ROW. The plywood will do the same on the upper sections. I will fix the track to the plywood and I will build up stonework up to the underside and around and place crushed gravel on top of the plywood. The gravel will be there just for looks, as the plywood will be the solid substrate. 

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    • February 11, 2020 6:44 PM EST
      • Post Falls, Idaho
         
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      Dang Vic that is a huge improvement. And with your ability to model in micro this will be an empire. It will be fun to watch come together

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    • February 12, 2020 12:03 AM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      Thanks Devon but don't give me performance anxiety, I'm no Ray Dunikan, my modeling skills are measure once, looks close enough, cut it, oh crap, aw hell use it anyways

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    • February 12, 2020 10:23 AM EST
      • Peoria, NW of Phoenix, Arizona
         
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      Vic, is ther a real need to attach the track to the ground? My layout in AZ once I put the small stone around the trackwork is pretty much held very solid in place, I know good old LA has those nasty earthquakes, but you should be able to just use the track on the ground.  There is not the weather of northern ot eastern places to cause much that would give problems. I just installed pavers under switches to keep sand ans stones from fouling the points and the frogs. My humble .02 worth.

      Looks like it will be a fun layout to operate on!

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      Butt Modeler #2

       

       

    • February 12, 2020 11:49 AM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      Pete Lassen said:

      Vic, is ther a real need to attach the track to the ground? My layout in AZ once I put the small stone around the trackwork is pretty much held very solid in place, I know good old LA has those nasty earthquakes, but you should be able to just use the track on the ground.  There is not the weather of northern ot eastern places to cause much that would give problems. I just installed pavers under switches to keep sand ans stones from fouling the points and the frogs. My humble .02 worth.

      Looks like it will be a fun layout to operate on!

      I'm going to float the track on the lower ground level area and only attach the track to the plywood on the upper raised level where there's more of a chance for it to get knocked around. I will probably include a few set screws on the lower level at key points and minimally on the upper lever to avoid heat expansion/contraction issues.

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    • February 12, 2020 12:18 PM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Sorry Vic but those screws may exacerbate the expansion issues. My track floats and never kinks and nowhere are any screws to impede it's lateral movements.

      I use Aristo's little screws to make my track one unit, I torque them down to discourage slipping in the joiners.

      Works for me.

      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • February 12, 2020 1:16 PM EST
      • Smoggy L.A., Left Coast
         
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      John Caughey said:

      Sorry Vic but those screws may exacerbate the expansion issues. My track floats and never kinks and nowhere are any screws to impede it's lateral movements.

      I use Aristo's little screws to make my track one unit, I torque them down to discourage slipping in the joiners.

      Works for me.

      I was thinking of placing the screws between the ties, not thru the ties. That would allow the tracks to have some freedom of movement but still have something to keep them somewhat stable.

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    • February 12, 2020 1:22 PM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Interesting, very interesting...

      Image result for Interesting meme

      We will be interested to see your results.

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      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

    • February 14, 2020 10:06 AM EST
      • Candlewood Valley, Connecticut
         
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      Wow Vic - Huge improvement in that spot!  Looking forward to seeing trains running there.

       

      I agree with John on the rail joiner screws, but even with a long ball driver I have trouble with the tiny hex cap screws. My solution was to use the truss head phillips screws they put under the track holding the ties in place. I had a bunch of them since all my track was single rail bent and needed the ties removed to bend.

       

      I'm in a completely different climate from either of you, but I do screw down a lot of my track through the ties and it has not cuased me problems.

       

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    • February 14, 2020 11:09 AM EST
      • Easton , Massachusetts
         
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      Trick : place a paper plate under the sections you are joining .. in case you drop a screw .. It's amazing how they disappear ..

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      The light in the tunnel might not be an engine , but a light in the caboose of my own train on my Roundy Round Rail Road !    My empire is complete...I think...

    • February 14, 2020 11:51 AM EST
      • Vail, Az
         
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      Sean McGillicuddy said:

      Trick : place a paper plate under the sections you are joining .. in case you drop a screw .. It's amazing how they disappear ..

      And tweezers, clumsy fingers can pop the paper and still send them flying!

      ____________________________________

      John

       

      The older I get, the less I know, please don't make me prove it.

       

       

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