As Richard Smith showed, elevated railroads are not necessarily confined to indoors.
- & like Philip, I've also suffered some serious knee injuries
- a broken right kneecap
back in Oct. 2003, & a slip-&-fall accident on black ice early 2005 (resulting in torn ligaments in the same knee!).
I was fortunate to have excellent
surgeons both times (I consider myself lucky just to be able to walk normally - & I swim 3 or more miles a week, frequently bike 18 ~ 30 miles when the weather's decent, have biked up to 61 miles in a single day after the 2 surgeries - but the right knee is still very sensitve to pressure, kneeling is something I try to avoid as much as possible.
I had a small indoor layout; but once I bought my first live-steamer (which, even with RC control, requires a good bit of "hands-on" for burner adjustment, lubrication, checking water level, etc.), an outdoor layout was necessary. The rest of the family was not enthused at the prospect of having the lawn dug up; I'll also admit a lack of enthusiasm on my part for the amount of kneeling that a conventional ground-mounted garden railway would have entailed.
Then when surveying our backyard one day for "work-around" ideas to this dilemma, "I saw the light!"
- I could suspend a good portion of the track off our existing chain-link fence, over an existing hedge! The following 2 photos show the some of the earliest construction...
The roadbed is HDPE decking supported by lengths of perforated angle iron for rigidity - here's a another couple of "under-construction" photos...
- On this stretch here, I actually had to cut down into
the hedges to keep the grades within reason (our property is partially on a hillside)...
That same section (which I refer to as "Hedge Cut"
) shortly after completion...
- & after a particularly rainy spring & subsequent explosive
hedge growth! (The effect looks remarkably like Maine Central's line through Crawford Notch in New Hampshire, running along a mountainside).
- Elsewhere, the railroad is supported by steel U-channel garden stakes (4 feet long), driven 2 feet into the ground; this is sturdier than it looks (it's survived 5 Massachusetts winters so far!).
Besides making operation a real pleasure
, having the railroad elevated makes taking dramatic low-angle photos easy!
The basic trackplan is a bent "dogbone" shape for the mainline - this Garden Metal Models bridge unbolts to permit lawnmower access inside the "east-end" loop...
While this LGB bridge has a hinge installed at one end to permit lifting it "drawbridge" style for easy access inside the "west end" loop...
The hedges also grew up around the original mainline construction, affording "ready-made" scenery!
- & this past year, I began adding ballast in selected areas - here's "before"
- and "after!"
In short - although it was more work & expense
to build elevated, the results were well worth it!