Large Scale Central

Choosing the Right first Bridge for the Garden

Continuing the discussion from Test angles & backgrounds:

I hope I was able to get this moved to the right thread. I was on @JRad Jon’s photo thread and admiring the juniper bonsai when his plate girder bridge jumped out at me. …and me being the newb just wanted to know everything about the bridge construction, maintenance etc.

Then of course I would have the same questions for the new guys @Joe1 and @Sawburner who clearly come with amazing trestle skills.

Finally there’s all the rest of you established LargeScale Centralians who have built, rebuilt, fixed and replaced bridges over the years who probably have an opinion or two.

I have a large span to cross and I’m debating what will work best for my situation, and of course I always hear @Eric_Mueller whispering in the back of my head to get something up and running…

So here is my question; is it better to make an eyesore that gets the job done, or tool up a bit and learn a new skill, spend some time and have something that I won’t need to Test angles & backgrounds: then crop out of the picture or is there a compromise?

the best way to learn a new skill is to make an eyesore. - and later replace it.

I’m with Korm on this. There is nothing like seeing trains running to motivate you to improve that upon which they run!


I am currently building a Howe truss bridge that is 42" long using the instruction/plans from this page. Howe truss bridge The way this bridge is designed it can be made in any length in 4-1/2" increments. I will be posting pictures soon.

Here are a couple pictures of my bridge in progress.


I have 10 bridges/trestles on my RR and I built them to be rugged over finely detailed so they survive the elements. My covered bridge has been in place since 2008 though I did have to replace the roof.
One of my bridges is a double track double arch made out of foam but before I built that I used a couple of bricks and flower pots to support the track. :laughing:

How long is the “large span” Bill? There are so many different types of bridges that RR’s used from simple to elegant but they all worked to get the train where it was going. If your RR is a backwoods barely making it type than a wooden trestle would be the way to go but if it is a modern RR than you will need a bigger and grander style to carry that theme.

The most basic you could build would be a girder style. You could make it using 3 pieces of wood nailed into the shape of a “U” and supported by bricks.
In 2020 I rebuilt a double pony truss style on my RR and we had a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the grand reopening. In the video you can see my girder bridge, covered bridge and long short trestle type in the backgrounds plus the new bridge and the double trestle behind it.

If I were you I would start simple, get a train running and then build it up from there.

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The bridge you’ve been admiring is my second attempt at a welded plate girder bridge. I agree with others that say build something simple and fast to get trains running, then go back and improve on it. The Indian Hill Bridge started out as a simulated through girder bridge made from 75mm plywood with 6mm plywood sides…

The piers are pink foam, carved and painted.

After many years out in our 4 season weather it began to rot and prompted the building of a replacement that was more to scale. This is my second bridge made using the same methods. It would be expensive to duplicate as the structural part is a length of 50mm x 50mm x 6mm aluminum tube which came from the scrap pile at work.

Build details of that one are in this thread: New Deck Girder Bridge for Indian Hill

I was looking for the build thread for my other one, but it might be prior to my joining LSC as I can’t find it. Construction was the same, but I used 75mm foamed PVC board for the bridge ties.

EDIT to add -

I found the first welded plate girder bridge thread and a pic of my very first temporary bridge that it replaced…

The thread is here: Rehab of the West Escap`e Bridge

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Perhaps a few prototypes of interest?

I built the big bridge on my layout following Diesel Dudes post here from way back, using the base of a plastic milk crate for the bottom, and several 6 ft lengths of window screen aluminum channel ( easily cut with a hacksaw ) and .0125 sheet aluminum for gussets,

both accessed from Home centers. And about 500 #4 screws I don’t remember if I posted pictures of the build here, and if I did I’m not sure how to put a link in this

Nothing like an easy first build challenge :+1: :+1: :+1: :sunglasses:

Incidentally that bridge was used in making the movie Unstoppable