Large Scale Central

ARTICLE: Building My Garden Railroad.

HEADLINE NEWS!!!   The expedition has returned safely after braving the mountains, rivers and forests of Northern Indiana with a route plan for track of the Pebble Creek and Doe Ridge Garden Railroad.The Pebble Creek and Doe Ridge has been chartered with creating a fictional narrow gauge railroad to extract lumber, coal and other mineral deposits from the mountains of western North Carolina. It will eventually connect and interchange with the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina Railroad  providing much needed revenue for both lines. A proper survey team is being assembled and the survey will start as soon as possible.  


I have been a model railroader, on and off, for the past 40 plus years. I once had a small basement HO/HOn3 scale model railroad that my sons and I enjoyed. I was also a member, for several years, of the Salt Creek Society of Model Railroad Engineers, a model railroad club in Elmhurst, IL. But my sons grew older and got interested in other things and with encouragement from "she who must be obeyed" (wife) the basement layout came down and a recreation room took its place. The insulation and new walls made the guitar and drum music bearable, within the time constraints we set in place. Shortly after this I was gifted with an LGB G scale train set for Christmas and I was hooked.

It was the Bachmann Bighaulers ET&WNC train sets on sale at Sam's Club that really drew me in deeper. My favorite railroads have always been the ET&WNC narrow gauge and the Southern Railroad standard gauge. I setup an oval in my backyard with passing sidings and block cab control and for a couple years ran my trains to the delight of the neighborhood kids. I installed AristoCraft's TrainEngineer in a couple of my 10 wheelers and really enjoyed the wireless aspect of running trains. The small postage stamp backyard at my Chicago home limited my track planning and operational preferences. My wife and I joined membership at a Camping resort in northern Indiana and we ended up spending most weekends there and the Garden Railroad got badly neglected. So I made the decision to take it up and take it down to camp and set it up there. Our site at camp actually has much more room for the garden railroad then our backyard in Chicago. So now I am ready to start planning and building the garden railroad I've dreamed of and thought I would create this article for the enjoyment of those interested.

You the reader are at the very start of this endeavor and I hope it is not too boring. The following photos were taken in late March of 2018 and hopefully will give you a good feeling of where the GR will be built and my plans. I've been keeping up a document for some time now with my wants and wishes for a Garden Railroad. I've converted it to a PDF file and am including a link here. Just download the PDF and read it at your leisure.

Below photo is the future home of the Pebble Creek & Doe Ridge Garden Railroad. Here I'm near the end of construction after moving in and setting up the new Springdale travel trailer. The siding will be completed on the front and back walls of the breeze-way between cabin and trailer as soon as weather permits. A "trailer sized car port" over top of the trailer and connecting to the cabin will be erected this spring. 


 The old 10' X 15' shed will be removed this spring and a new 14' X 28' workshop shed will be installed further back on the property. The brown tarp on the left covers the firewood we use in the cabin's Franklin Stove during colder days. 1 1/2 cords of wood barely fit under it .

This is where the start will be for the PC & DR GR. Railroad Ties will be re-positioned and secured with 4' re-bar spikes then back filled behind ties with the gravel in the background and finally the entire area back filled with dirt to the top of the ties. The gravel will also be put under the ties for drainage. Rotting ties will be replaced.

 The pile of gravel is left over from what was used as a foundation under the travel trailer. I skirted the trailer with a PT 2X4 framework, insulation and an aluminum skin on the outside. The well house in the center will eventually be a large manufacturing plant, customer of the PC&DR. The rocks in front of it were scavanged from another site and will be used in some of the mountains. 

Continuing down the side road, behind the trailer, the rear yard of my lot will eventually be part of the PC&DR. I am working on a total track plan that takes up most of my camp site. I am hoping to finish the corner shown earlier this spring and summer and move back here next year. I have a dozen of so railroad ties being delivered this summer to replace the rotting ones. 

This marks the end of my site along the road and the gravel area to the right of the tree is parking for the neighbor across the road. My old white shed I mentioned earlier is visible in the far left while my next door neighbor owns the red cottage in the center background. To the right of and behind the tree is the skeleton of our old metal gazeebo that I plan to remove.  

Turning left and looking back down the road toward the trailer, the railroad ties will be re-positioned back out to edge of the road and secured, the same as I do up front on the corner.

Part of my backyard behind the trailer and cabin, visible at the top of the photo. This yard is actually larger than my Chicago home back yard. And it is only a small part of my site. Still working on a track plan but envisioning a mountain range to the left along the road and climbing to this section, which will be raised up about two feet or so.

Panning to the right we are behind the white shed and cabin. You can probably tell from the overgrowth that we haven;t used this area much in the past. Barely visible center top is our picnic table with my track from home laying on top.

Further panning to the right we see the neighbor's red cabin again and our plastic table and chairs under what's left of the metal gazeebo mentioned earlier. This is also part of my back yard at camp. The plan is to have the GR curving around just in front of that tree stump in the foreground and running to the right and off picture. The New shed will be standing about where the gazeebo is now but will extend further back off picture to the right.  

Another photo pointing toward the cabin and shed. The track is now more visible on the picnic table as well as the siding to complete the "breeze-way" connection between cabin and trailer. All the leaves you see are a portent of what I may have to put up with but I've recently purchased a backpack style gas leaf blower that should make it a little easier.  

Further to right of the last photo, looking forward we are behind the white shed I'm removing. I am envisioning the home terminal of the PC&DR here with engine facilities and main freight yard. The big tree shadow on the ground points right to the front where the tarped A-frame firewood storage is located shown earlier. Going around behind the new workshop shed will get me here and this area will also be raised a couple feet.  Behind the shed, I just may use a frame bench-work as I've seen others do. My chainsaws are going to get a real workout in the years ahead.

Our poor gazeebo has seen better days. I failed to remove the canvas roof soon enough a couple winters ago and this is the result. In the distance, barely visible, is the next site about 100 feet away. The new shed will start at the front of this gazeebo and extend 28' feet back into the underbrush and overgrowth. The railroad will eventually extend back there to the right and loop around for access into the shed. This portion will be raised PVC trim and pipe spline road bed, table top fashion. I also plan on going around to the left side of the shed and continuing up front with the GR.

I'm standing just behind the gazeebo pointing back toward the next neighbor's site down the road. Plenty of room back here to extend as I can.

Back up front we see the skirting I installed on our trailer with a few access doors. The doors still need to be covered with aluminum and that will get done this spring. Thoughts of having a few staging tracks under the slide outs has run through my mind. The well house on the left and power pole to the right will be disguised as buildings/cutomers of the GR.  

Now out front looking back toward my site on the right, we see my wife's garden corner. I've been told this is out of bounds of the GR and no track will run here. That's ok with me since what I have now will keep me busy building for the next several years. I don't know how far I will get with this but I'm planning for the total layout and then building it in sections. The front corner will take a couple years since I would like a mountain out there. Dual gauge F Scale track will be the first track laid, ground level in a large perimeter oval so I can run some trains by late summer early fall. The Narrow gauge will climb up and around the mountain and looping back around the mountain to continue to the back yard. The low line dual gauge will then continue towards the back yard, ground level. eventually going towards the back of the new shed and into it. So will the narrow gauge, but high in the mountains to the back Sort of like the prototype, the Standard gauge will skirt the mountains finding the easiest pass 

Finally a better look from the front of the A-frame covered firewood pile and sheds. The little garden shed on the left behind the firewood is for rakes, shovels, etc... On the right, a mess left over from the construction that took place last summer and fall. The next nice day this is all getting cleaned up. 

Playing around with AnyRail software and a "guestimate" based on photos, getting familiar with it. This is what I would like to get in the mountain top iron mine town. I still have to see how to handle elevations and 3d with Anyrail. The outside loop is the Standard gauge branch line Dual Gauge trackage at ground level. While the rest is narrow gauge, climbing up the mountain and then wrapping around descending back down the mountain. The narrow gauge line will be at least 8" higher than the Standard gauge going to the back yard. I'd like to have a small water fall on the right just before where the narrow gauge track cross over each other, A small stream (Pebble Creek) running between the standard gauge and narrow gauge around the mountain and to the back somewhere to a catch basin. The standard gauge will be on the other side of Pebble Creek. I did want the mining town to be about 2 to 3' above ground level and the mountain top at least 5' high so there is a background for the mountain town.

Spent part of last weekend 4/7/18  putting the railroad ties back where they belong. The front right side is missing a tie that got up and went. Where I don't know. I guess I left things too disorganized too long and someone helped themselves. Once I replace the missing tie, Ill put a pole with a RailRoad Crossing sign on the point with an overhead light on auto day/night switch. Maybe if the drunks can see it after the dances, they won't hit them.

Now comes moving the ties out in the road, trenching down around 3", backfill with gravel, drill 3/4" holes in the ties about a foot in from each end and moving ties back onto gravel bed. Then with aid of 1 1/8" chuck hammer drill, drive 3/4" X 4' rebar through holes securing ties in the ground, backfill with gravel behind the ties and back fill the entire area with dirt up to the top of the ties.

That is going to be a lot of work....