Large Scale Central

Flaxton Creek Railway Build Log

After a wait of just over 10 years (almost 11 now I’ve looked at the pics), It’s finally time to start a new layout.

Here’s a couple of pic of the old one just before we had to pull it down

The design / theme for the new one goes something like this, at the moment.

  • A one track line that feels like it’s going somewhere.
  • Steam/Early diesel era.
  • 1:24 / 1:20 scale (actually cape gauge – 3’6”, but I have a bunch of 1:20 Bachmann locos)
  • Motive power - Generally American outline, as I’ve mostly got Bachmann stuff, but whatever might have run or was imported to New Zealand at some stage.
  • Freelance, but loosely based on Charming Creek Tramway, (link), but perhaps as a more successful operation. ie actually had some dollars to spend on second hand gear, and do basic track maintenance.
  • Homebuilt locos are definitely on the cards – Charming Creek bought a Price 16 wheeler at 1 stage but it never ran.
  • Haul coal & lumber as a reason for being, and also general freight & passengers.
  • Grades 1% or less, in case I get the live steam bug.

I’ve got no real space restrictions, but my plot has been shifted a few times as the gardens & deck grew at our new place. I made a call to just move 20m or so from the house just to be clear of any further creep.

I had a friend fly a drone last winter, this is what it looks like from the air, crayon around my approved bit of dirt.

And from the ground.

That rise is man made – that’s the spoil dirt from the house build spread out over a natural drop in elevation. Plan is to make use of it to get the 1% grade, It’s about 500mm high.

(lots) More to come.



Love to see build logs, and hear people’s ideas. Looks like a decent spot for a good size RR.

A blank canvas. Plan looks good. :+1:

Looking forward to the construction. It’s been a long time since any of the active posters were building. Glad to see a new RR come to life. Your old one looked pretty cool!

Will be reading and rooting you along! Let’s go!!!

Have fun, Neil, with your blank geographical slate and your full plate of ideas!

Thanks guys, Been waiting a while for this.

Actually, having no physical boundary has been one of the hardest bits so far. Too much space is not good for the back, or wallet!

I picked this area so I had something to work around, but it comes with some interesting ground conditions… We’ll see some of that soon.

Have a great Easter everyone.


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This layout is going to be on raised benchwork, makes a whole lot of sense to me. I can still bend down, but I’d rather be looking at the trains near eye level not at the roof on the ground.

I’ve read all the build threads I can find over the last few years, so hopefully I’m going to avoid most of the problems (sagging seems to crop up a lot) – of course I’ll likely invent a few new ones along the way just for kicks.

If anyone is still in contact with Richard Smith, let him know I read the PoC article (again) last week that got pdf’ed way back when. Really good reading, and I’m completely gonna pinch some of his ideas. :grin:

So, on with the show…

This is the rough trackplan. Loop at the top, with a yard servicing the mine and some local industry - still in the pondering stage. Then a single track dropping at 1% to the lower level.

There will be a passing loop halfway along there somewhere, then terminate into the container (train shed), once it gets moved. I do need a loop or wye at the bottom, still have to figure that out. Total length of mainline is about 90 m, say 300’ ish. All subject to change on a whim, or reality check!

Try as I might with crayons & paper, I found it easier to do a CAD sketch as an overlay on the aerial shot, better sense of scale.

The idea is to have a central set of posts, then come out each side to form the bench. One thing I want to try is not being able to see anyone on the opposite side. A stickman sketch told me I need a central view block at about 1.5m above the upper ground level.

Lets see how that works out… Might be biting off more than I can chew but lets give it a shot.


Are you going to add a connector so if wanted you can do continuous running for “display”? So far everything looks well planned and will be a nice layout

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Richard Smith’s design inspired a lot of folks. I think Ken Brunt’s final layout was based on Richard’s design. What most have in common is ladder roadbed. I’m a big fan of ladder on bench work, but in the ground not so much. I have several stretches of ladder on/in the ground and frost heave and silt fill-in is a continual maintenance issue.

You will enjoy having on-line storage. Not having to cart locos and engines out to the layout means that it gets used more often, and the rolling stock gets less handling wear.


Pete, the track at the container is 500 mm below the upper yard, so a connection there is a bit hard. One option at the lower ‘yard’ is a reversing loop which gives me continuous running, or a wye which is out and back.

What I do is probably more to do with when the container gets moved, I can put a temporary loop in that spot but it’ll have to go or get squashed whenever. I’d prefer a loop – but I’ll need planning and land use consent from the Boss to extend a bit permanently. :blush:

I should say the layout’s been 2 years of thinking at this spot, and 1 summer into the build so I’ll be doing catchup posts for the next wee while…

Jon, I’m really looking forward to having trains run without setup. I’ve got a half ass plan for a storage track at the top yard in case the whole container thing takes a while. I’ve got the opposite problem to frost heave - ridiculously soft ground where everything just sinks. Fingers crossed my plan holds up.


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I started over the Xmas break on the top yard. I didn’t (and really still don’t) have a yard track plan, I figure maximum reach is about 3’ at waist height, add another 2’ for scenery and maybe a hidden storage siding. So 5’ wide is the magic number. :blush: I used up as much length as I had available between the container and where the track needed to start curving.

When we moved there was a few old fences left, so I recovered the posts to keep costs down.

Green paint marks are the line for the centre posts. The longest ones I had were 2.3m long, so I needed a 300 mm high collar to stabilise them.

As I mentioned, we’re in really soft ground, actually an old swamp. Under each post I drilled down till I hit hard gravels then backfilled with dry mix concrete. Fingers crossed nothing sinks (too much).

Test holes showed the gravels were anywhere from 400mm to over 1200 mm deep. This hole only just bottomed out, while the one next to it was really shallow.

I’ve put these posts at 2m spacing as main bearers, there’s intermediate posts just in soil in between these. And up it went…

I’m using treated 150 x 40 mm as framing

All the framing is checked into the posts.

The local wood we get here warps at the drop of a hat, esp if it’s wet. After looking at the side span I decided to put another row of posts in the centre. Just for luck…



Looks good and solid Neil. In my experience it is impossible to over build the basic structure.

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Thanks Rick. I took a lot of the post & frame spacing from your Shasta Pacific article. Adjusted a bit for local conditions. Thanks for putting that together so well. :+1:


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I agree with Rick, great job Neil.

For my layout, I also went for "permanent,’ with concrete roadbed and hundreds (literally) of sacks of concrete for the mountains.

I feel it oddly comforting to know that I’ve built a layout that I’ll never be able to remove in this lifetime.

And I’m glad to see you’re heading toward a very permanent layout as well.


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Thanks Cliff.

I’ve actually thought about concrete roadbed on the timber platform. Precast, drop in kinda thing… No warps, no twists.

Our mission is to confound the archaeologists in another 10,000 years… :laughing:


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Exactly how I felt when I buried this in my front yard!


Last bit of the benchwork is pinched straight from Ricks Shasta Pacific article (Thanks again). I filled in the gaps in the framing with 100 x 50, with the 100 mm side horizontal. The gaps between any framing was no more than 225 mm – 9”. Then a layer of 12 mm galv mesh, some wind break cloth because I had some, then a layer of geotech cloth – the stuff that goes at the bottom of road base shingle. Again, because I had some. :grin:

The idea is to fill in with soil and this way it drains but will hold the fines for (some) water retention. Roadbed is going to be some kinds of ladder on top of this.

I forgot to take in progress pics, so here’s one from underneath.

Now I can start to muck around with track at last. :blush:

Still playing with the yard arrangement– not sure how many or where I should put the crossovers. Here’s a pencil sketch of the last pic – any comments or thoughts appreciated.


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Looking good Neil, glad you were able to use something from my build posts.

This post brings me up to current time.

Not a lot more got done over summer, a few home projects got in the way. I’ve managed to stand up another ½ dozen main posts, and last weekend got the new spot for the train shed dug out.

It looks like it works out to roughly a 20’ dia curve on the upper track.

There’s been consistent rain in the last few weeks, enough to make the lower level so wet that even the ride on mower can barely get through. I think the police call it ‘sustained loss of traction’?? :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

So that’s pretty much stops lower level work till we dry out next summer. The wood store got moved last weekend too, clearing the way for the upper loop framing.

Can’t really start that till the container is moved – the Hiab outriggers will likely need to be somewhere in that spot for the lift. Guess that’s a next summer job now as well.

Going to try and get another ½ dozen main posts in this weekend, that’ll let me stay up on the dry to work on the upper framing over winter.