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Discussion Starter #1
Garden Railways magazine has a helpful list of considerations prior to a garden RR construction.
What was not listed, for me, are two crucial considerations:
Your evaluation?

1 - Absolutely, that's absolutely, make sure you can walk on the track to maintain the garden. This is, of course, what most of us experience after we build. Who would think we would have to walk on our track?? The big surprise is when the removal of plants and debris off the rails means stepping on track that may gradually sink into the gravel-based roadbed. There are options for stabilizing our roadbed. Me? I simply laid the track on brick segments, then filled in a 5" gap between the bricks with leveled walking-strength mortor mix. The track was then dropped onto the nearly wet cement, wiggled so the ties would capture holding space into the concrete, then lifted out for the concrete to harden with the tie imprints ready to again receive the track when hardened. The outcome: We then gained a walking pathway throughout our garden while the track stays in place while expanding and contracting as it wishes.

2 - Before construction, first choose the most likely vantage point for the garden railroad. This vantage point is crucial to prevent the look-and-see-and then look-away as the family or guest's conversation moves to another topic. BIG discount! What's the point? Simply, if the garden railroad can be seen in one glance -- that means no head movement, just a quick stare -- the event then is similar to looking at a static fish aquarium or a painting. A dog-bone shape that book-ends a corner of the yard or with the layout wide enough from the vantage point so it can't be seen in one glance is helpful to prevent the glance-'n-talk response. If seen without any viewer's head movement, the problem of boredom results from the action of the train not require any action on the part of the viewer to follow it .
Sound crazy? OK, I remember two layouts whereby this concept was avoided. The layout is still just an isolated entity in the yard that makes no annimation enhancement to dinner al'fresco or other gatherings of family -- it was negotiated off to a corner in the yard out of view from the gathering point on the patio! The other example could be seen in entirety with one static stare. The resultant response was "Hmmmmm. Neat! What else have you been doing?"

Yes, I am dogmatic. There's nothing like the construction, the debut, and then the "We've all seen the trains! Dinner time!" Make the railroad last as a feature DURING dinner as the effort annimates the yard and is an enhancement that garners continual attention.

Your thoughts?

Wendell
 

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Wendell, excellent points. A solid track foundation is essential, and will easily provide ample support for the smaller sized rail (code 250, etc.).

Vantage point is a very important consideration in designing the garden railroad. Most are designed to be viewable from multiple angles during operation, so I'm not sure any one single vantage point can really be settled upon. One aspect that is often overlooked, however, is how one views the railroad when it is not operating. Can you see the railroad from your kitchen or family room windows? What does it look like from those vantage points? The reality is that you will be viewing the railroad from those spots far more often than from the garden itself. You may as well take the time to make it attractive at those angles, too. Besides, it makes washing the dishes so much more pleasurable. If nothing else, it inspires you to finish the dishes so you can go out and run trains!

Later,

K
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think many of us agree from experience, that the essential is to place the garden RR whereby it is a consistent feature of the yard fully visible from the location most used for gatherings.
Nothing is worse than "Ok, go see the trains and then we have to eat." Sure enough, the garden RR is off to the side of the yard. Then, after ten minutes, the event is over and all return to the patio for the bar-b-que dinner. The garden rr is no longer visible and the conversation has ended or "Maybe after dinner we can take another look."

Wendell
 

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Posted By Wendell Hanks on 11/10/2008 3:16 PM
I think many of us agree from experience, that the essential is to place the garden RR whereby it is a consistent feature of the yard fully visible from the location most used for gatherings.
Nothing is worse than "Ok, go see the trains and then we have to eat." Sure enough, the garden RR is off to the side of the yard. Then, after ten minutes, the event is over and all return to the patio for the bar-b-que dinner. The garden rr is no longer visible and the conversation has ended or "Maybe after dinner we can take another look."

Wendell


As an off-shoot of that concept, out of sight, out of mind.

If the railroad is not viewed on a continual basis, it may have a tendancy to fall into disrepair. Our railroad is kept up on a continual basis because it is the first thing you see when you walk up to the front door. I feel that because of this it reflects on our home, and our lifestyle in general and I like to leave a nice impression.
 

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The thing I like best about my layout is its location on the hillside facing the house. Almost the entire slope is covered with vertical scenery, so from inside the house it looks like we're living at the edge of the Carrizo Gorge!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ray-
Was the location one of the singular criteria or features of your RR?
The location that brings the greatest amount of attention is the location that receives the most interest in maintenance.

Wendell
 

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While some good points have been made by others, I guess I am in a different camp on this.

First off, I have an acreage so there is no need to compress the railroad into a tight space ... in fact mine is located in a treed area well away from the house and mostly out of sight unless you know it is there. Second, I carry my small scale thinking with me - a model railroad is meant to be operated not just run in circles. That thought applies to a garden railroad as well as to an indoor HO railroad. Since I am old enough to appreciate both live steam and not crawling on my hands and knees, elevated trackwork is a requirement. The corollary to this is of course terraced or at least sloped gardens.

All of this leads me to a different set of guidelines than the ones espoused in this thread.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Wendell, not sure what you mean but in my case the location was a necessity, as there was no other space available. At first the steep slope seemed to be a liability. In many ways it's very restrictive, limiting the width of curves, amount of track, operational possibilities; and complicating access. But it turned out to be an asset as well, since it allowed me to create some very dramatic scenery.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ray-
I believe your choice was a singular one and it worked out very well.
As you said, the outcome meant the garden became a centerpiece and therefore would remain in the awareness of any visiting your home.
The earlier comment "out of sight out of mind" from Todd is clearly indicates location in one's yard is a key feature in the railroad's lifespan -- especially for those who have multiple interests both of their own and those of their family.
Considering location alone, the premise is if the garden RR is not a principle feature in the yard because it is not visible at a family gathering point, there MAY be neglect and disinterest by family members. If the railroad is agreed to be the hobby of one person, then location to involve the family is not paramount to its significance.

Secondly, a key questions is what is the main focus: 1) Is it a model railroad with modeling attachments; or 2) A railroad running among the plants without the model railroad attachments of figures and structures. This choice will have a meaningful determination of the value that the entire family and friends place upon this particular garden feature and thus influence the value in keeping both the garden and railroad healthy.


Observations from other readers?

Wendell
 
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in my point of view it does not matter if outdoors or indoors, a modell railway should be a process, not a finished thing.
but only those directly involved in a process can enjoy it really.
so being highly visible or more hidden should be an individual (or family) decision.
 

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I think I get the main points Wendell makes, but I think they are both individual choices.

I run free floating track, SS, and in coarse gravel. I can step on the tracks if needed, but it messes up the alignment usually. I designed my layout so that I do not have to walk on it in most places, since I knew I went free floating. I also weighed almost 250 at that point, so it might have been impossible anyway!

I do have one run of track on a concrete retaining wall, and it did need to be designed to walk on it, and that works fine.

As to having a single vantage point killing conversation, well my layout is to please myself and my friends that are interested in it. There IS one place you can sit and watch your train 90% of the time, which is a good thing for when you are tired of walking around the train and just want to sit and shoot the .

Half of my layout goes down the side yard, and all of it is made so you can walk along the train as it progresses.

So, there are individual choices. With all the sounds and the wireless controls I hand to visitors, they do not get bored!

Regards, Greg
 
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