Large Scale Central

A Raised Road Bed: A build log for the RGS raised layout.

Ken Brunt said:

Steve, I did take that into consideration too, that I wasn’t getting any younger.


Steve Featherkile said:… Its not the getting down that hurts, its the getting back up, again.

Oh yea!

Looks like it’s going to be a very good arrangement Ken. Nice setting too.

Only one suggestion for your consideration: I would be inclined to run the benchwork straighter out from Delores away from the trees a bit. I know the proposed configuration would make for an interesting curve to the main line but moving the RR out a bit would keep it out from under the trees with their resultant pine needles making clean up a bit easier.

Also it looks as if there is a slight slope upwards towards the trees making it a perfect spot to sit in the shade sipping a brew and watching the trains go by when wanted. You would still be able to curve around behind the trees for the loop anyway.
The far end of my RR goes underneath the trees where I have no choice due to terrain and is a major nuisance to clear off even though it is still much easier than if it were at ground level.

I really like your location and concept. That’s going to be a swell RR to operate. I envy your operation oriented neighbors.

Thanks Richard, and I have taken the resultant mess from those trees into consideration. Right now, nothing about this plan is etched in stone except where it’s already been built. By the time I reach the area where Mancos will be I’ll have a firmer grasp of where it will be situated. Probably 10 to 15 feet out from the trees. I’m also looking at longer runs between towns so that will weigh into the decision of where it’s located. On the back side of the pine trees I also have a property line that has to be taken into consideration, so there’s not much room to maneuver in that area.

How do you plan on incorporating trees, plants, etc. into the raised layout? or are you just going to keep it bare and concentrate on the switching aspect?

Vincent D’Agostino said:

How do you plan on incorporating trees, plants, etc. into the raised layout? or are you just going to keep it bare and concentrate on the switching aspect?

That’s one of the reason’s I’m keeping it low, a foot or less above the ground. Right now I’m just trying to get a reliable roadbed. I can poke a hole in the mesh screening and add more dirt then plant whatever. That’s the theory anyway…(

The higher raised part will be mostly yard area so nothing will be planted in that spot.

Looking good Ken! Can’t wait for some more progress pics. (

You might want to consider using galvanized steel 2X8s instead of wood as runners in your bench work. This sounds pretty expensive, but with galvanized steel supports you can have spans of 12 feet without any supports (reduces the expense of having supports every 3-4 feet). The thicker galvanized steel 2X8s will have no sag, and will endure weather without any problems. There is a supplier close to me. Off to the side of the main yard they have an area where there are cull lengths of galvanized steel 2X4, 2x8 and 2x10s. I was able to purchase mine for 1/2 of what the “prime” lengths cost.

The use of the pt 2X4’s also has me a little concerned. I am also in the middle of a rather large raised bed construction project. I’m at the other end of PA and have seen how poorly some of the pt lumber holds up to the weather in this part of the country, depending on the type of pt used. I also find our Lowes a convenient source for construction materials but their pt 2X- lumber is not ground contact rated. Even the pt landscaping ties now are only rated for non-ground contact useage…that doesn’t seem to make much sense. Even above ground this stuff tends to rot way too soon, in my opinion. And being in the shadows it will not have the opportunity to be dry very often. If I got 8 to 10 years out of it I felt I was lucky. I ended up using all ground contact rated wood (except for some trim) which meant 4X4’s, 4X6’s, and 6X6’s. Going with 4X4’s also gives me more strength than 2X4’s. I’m all for you use of 4X4’s on your posts but the horizontal 2X material I don’t think will last very long. With all of that pvc above (which should last for decades) it would be a shame for the framework underneath to give way.

The thing about pressure treated lumber is, when the ends are cut, it exposes untreated wood in the center of the board. So you need to brush on some kind of preservative to protect the cut ends. PT wood will work very well where its somewhat protected, so its used a lot in the under-frames of decks where it wont get a lot of exposure to the weather. Then the outer fascia and deck bards are some kind of composite (plastic) material.

Actually…Pressure-treated lumber is wood that has been immersed in a liquid preservative and placed in a pressure chamber. The chamber forces the chemical into the wood fibers. The pressurized approach makes sure that the chemical makes it to the core of each piece of wood – it is much more effective than simply soaking the wood in the chemical.

So… cutting the ends shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Just saying…


Kevin, that is the theory. But in actual practice the chemical only penetrates so far into the wood. Many times the core of the wood is still relatively untreated. Yes, using pressure to force the chemical into the wood achieves better penetration then just brushing it on and letting it soak in, but better penetration isn’t complete penetration every time.

I’ve been around other raised layouts built from PT wood that have been up for years and had no serious problems so I’m pretty confident that this may outlast me…(

The magic with most outdoor projects is the ability for the wood to dry after being wet. I have some plain untreated pine stuff I have used for stay bracing for projects that has laid out on my storage stack (stickered to allow air flow) that has been used for 10 plus years and is still in fair (not necessarily straight) condition. After hurricane Ivan blew through (Panama City are of Florida) I had to replace a couple of stockade fence posts (4x4s) that had originally been installed in the mid '70s. The rest of the fence is still the original installation with a few new fasteners to replace the ones that have rusted away. Not sure about Pennsy, but we have a termite here that pressure treating has no affect on, they love it. The magic as I said above is allowing the wood to dry after being wet. And by the way, all my fence posts are set in pea gravel, not concrete. Embedding the post in concrete creates a place where water will stay against the post and rot it out even faster. The pea gravel allows the wood to dry (this was instructed on an episode of ‘Home Time’ on PBS by a professional fence installer).

Looking good Ken. Hope I get to see it in person some time. Dan

Just my take on Pressure treated lumber.

Having built a railroad on raised bench work using PT 4X4 and 2x4 lumber, over a period of several years,

I can say that PT treatment has no effect on warping and twisting of the lumber and in fact has pretty much the opposite effect

as it seems like only the cheaper/poorer grades of lumber are used for making PT lumber.

In my experience the pressure treatment will reach no farther than 1/4 to 1/2 inch into the wood, so any saw cut, rip or crosscut,

will leave a portion of the wood exposed to the elements that is not treated and is a poor quality wood to start with.

When all is said and done, PT is still probably the best bang for the buck. Redwood or Cedar would be far better but to buy those woods

that are truly quality would cost a small fortune. Most Redwood and Cedar that you can buy at a reasonable price now days is mostly

sapwood from younger/smaller trees and has no natural preservation qualities within the wood.

Bob is correct, wood can get wet repeatedly but must be able to dry between wettings in order to remain solid and not dry rot, mold and decay.

Anyway just some observations, based on 10 years of wood bench work.


We use PT wood for our roadbed and benchwork. The warping and twisting can be prevented by careful selection of the PT lumber at purchase. But most important is how the lumber is fastened together at joints. We also always use the lumber with “Cup Down” configuration. All joints in the roadbed are joined with “Plates of the same material as the roadbed, and each is 18” long, joined with at least 8 deck screws. All the PT I use is 2x…mostly 2x8 for the roadbed.

I never make a joint on a joist, as they do for decking. All our joints are between joists, and made using a plate of the same material.

All joints are clamped with four 6" C clamps, and pre-drilled for the 3" deck screws. All boards crossing a joist are clamped and screwed to the joist. This helps to prevent warpage…

I’ve posted an update for April 12. TT pit installed and track work going down.

I have another question… Why are you using the ladder system for your track install instead of just laying the track to the deck work?

How do you plan on filling in the gap between the height of the railway to your buildings etc?

Vincent D’Agostino said:

I have another question… Why are you using the ladder system for your track install instead of just laying the track to the deck work?

How do you plan on filling in the gap between the height of the railway to your buildings etc?

All that will be filled in with dirt and ballast and plants, where there’s room. The buildings will sit on top of that.

Just like in that picture.