Progress & Development of Greg's Layout

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Basically, I envisioned the layout in several phases:

  1.  Small inner loop around the grassy area in the back yard.
  2.  Larger loop that at least ran to the side fences and the back wall.
  3. A switch yard somewhere.
  4. Some future, movable, way to go all around the house.

At this time, some ideas have been tried and discarded, and the plan changed a little bit.

First loop:

My first real track (after the brass test track) was a 10 foot diameter loop of H&R stainless rail in the front yard. I put this out there to see how the stainless worked getting wet.

full front

Inner Loop:

This is the small loop. It's 10' diameter curves minimum with some 14'. It's small and curvy but it's integrated with the landscaping and I have been able to run 40 car trains on it. This picture is basically standing at the entrance to the switchyard, and you can see how the track circles the small piece of grass.

whole loop

Outer Loop:

The outer loop was something I had not completely worked out. I had a retaining wall at the back of the property to run the track on, and figured to run the track out to the edges of the property.

So there is a crossover from the inner loop at the south end of the property that will follow the retaining wall at the East side of the property, the back fence:



You can see the outer track curving left and just climbing onto the retaining wall.

The grade on the back wall is 3.4%, but long trains go up just fine (double heading, yay!).

So this is a shot of the outer loop heading up the grade, and to the left you see the inner loop which curves to the left in front of the raised patio:



For a long time all the track did was parallel the inner loop next to the house, follow the south wall to the back wall and head north to stop near the property line.

Here you can see the grade from the other direction as the train climbs, and the spa is in the foreground.


There is a bridge here in the foreground for access to the spa electrics.


Here I got stuck for a while, I thought I would go through a low planter, but the track was too visible and crossed near the fireplace where a large palm tree was blocking it's path.

I came up with the idea to bore a tunnel into the planter next to the property line, and then make a "canyon" in that planter. This worked out very well, and had gentler grades and better integration with the landscaping. See "Tunnel Thru Planter".

first hole


And now, after another hole "out" of the planter, the track can continue on the north property line, behind the fireplace. (the fireplace is the white object in the background)



Whew!, now what?


Now the track is 21" in the air, so how to get back down to the ground and the back of the house to complete the loop?

You can see my idea about a helix to get to the ground. I mocked it up, but it was turning out to be too tight and too steep, so that only short trains could run, defeating the purpose of having a larger and longer outer loop for longer trains. You can see my experiments in "Building a Helix".

In the mean time, I developed the switch yard and it's not complete yet, but usable, you can see how I put it together. I finally got to build a Wye, and use a wye switch to boot! The Switchyard link at the left shows this.

Still not comfortable with the helix idea to complete the outer loop, I had the good fortune to have a friend visit from Georgia who looked at the situation and figured out an answer in about 5 minutes! (Of course it is the "Ace Track Inspector" R.J. DeBerg, who worked on the real railroads!)

The idea is let the track follow the North property line and then make a horseshoe curve at the gate on the North side yard, and then follow the house back East, where it reconnects to the track at the back of the house. This allows a gentle grade back to ground level, the ability to walk along the train, and should allow nice long trains.  See this in "completing the outer loop"

General construction information:

I originally put the track right on the cedar bark, and pushed it under the track to get the basic track heights.

I have replaced the bark with pea gravel from home depot. This stuff is mostly smaller than the spaces between the ties, but definitely over scale. But, being larger, it locks together well, and track leveling consists of stomping on the rail, or pouring ballast on it, and lifting the track a bit. It is working well.

Note: my personal opinion is that scale gravel is problematic, the main reason is that raindrops and people's feet are NOT 1:29 scale!

I check clearances with these cars:

  1. USAT container car (with 2 containers) - my tallest car
  2. Aristo Mallet (big overhang on back of cab roof)
  3. USAT streamliners (very long cars)
  4. Aristo Heavyweights (long, and different truck pivot points than normal)


Video of inner loop testing:

Here's a 40 car train on the inner loop, not very realistic, but a good torture test for reliability.



Click the links below to go "deeper" into details on the progress and development of my layout

  Inner loop  Outer loop   Continuing the outer loop    R.J. DeBerg horseshoe curve & return to ground level 
  Switchyard    Layout videos    Idea: Helix?     Tunnel through planter 
  Bridges    Storage tracks in garage      
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