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I can not decide between a ladder track bed systems with its apparent advantage of leveling and grading independent of the present landscaping and the strength and stability of the pored reinforced concrete roadbed. I have been leaning towards the concrete but dreading the moving of the dirt. Last weekend we went to some open houses sponsored by the Rose City Garden Railway Society and am now itching to get some track down and run a train. So to make a short question long has anyone ever done both? Used PVC pipe as a form for the posts and made the spans from reinforced concrete?
I think I can drive the pipe into the ground, cut them all off at the correct heights fill them with concrete and put rebar stubs out the top. Then if I chose the right materials for the deck forms I should be able to use them multiple times.
Or am I trying to make it extra hard?
 

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Sounds like you are making it harder then it needs to be. Go with the ladder it a lot easier then concrete.
 

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I went to Concrete road bed because I was lazy. I did it three different ways.
The first time I make a frame from 3/4 x3/4 x 1/8 th angle iron. I made spaceers every 2 feet. I welded the spacers in place. I posistioned the angle iron so that the angles were up and the space was wide enough so the tracks could sit between the angles.
I made this in 10 ft lengths. I would lay this on the ground and level it sideways. I would level it length wise if I did not need a grade.
I then took some 3/4 x 1/8 th flat steel and bent it to match the curve of the track I was using. I leveld that both sideways and length wise if there was no grade.
I then filled the void between the iron to the top of the angles with concrete. So the thickness varries from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. and I let it cure.
The second way I did it was to use something I found at Home Depot. It looks like MASONITE. You the stuff they make peg board out of.
This stuff is Tan in color and is 1/4 inch thick. It is about 2.5 inches wide. It comes in 10 FT lengths. I made forms with this stuff curves and all. I leveled it side to side and length ( if not gradw were needed) I filled the middle with concrete and added re bar.
The thired way I did it was using 1/8 th x 2.5 inch flat steel. I used it in the same mannor as the Tan fiber board above.
Now this may seem like a lot of work. Once this is done I NEVER EVER HAVE TO CHECK MY LEVEL AGAIN. Once the track is laid It says level.
I anchor the the track by using plactic anchors. The come in a box of 50 with screws. I drill hole about 3 to 4 feet apart and insert the plastic anchor. I cut off a piece of wire ( The stuff you use to join rebar. It's stiff and rusty.) around the screw so I have two wings with a screw in the middle. I insert the screw in the anchor which is between the ties. Bend the wire over the ties with a pair of needle nose pliers. If the Wire is too long I trim it.
I ballast with 1/4 minus decomposed granite mixed dry with porland cement. I add color as I don't like the gray.
I pile the ballast on over the top of the rails. I level it to the tops of the rails scraping excess in the direction I am working.
I take a paint brush and brush off all excess in the direction I am working. I bursh it off till the ties are exposed. I brush the outsides of the ties to have I look I like.
Once this is all done I WET THE BALLAST WITH A GARDEN HOSE. Soak it good but gently.
I have had a few time in verry small places where the ballast has wash away in a storm. But 95 % of my ballast stays where I put it.
even is the heavest of desert storms.
I never have to level my track again. I have checked it several times and had to do nothing.

I run battery power and just put a train on the track and run.
 

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In my mind. If I were raising the roadbed greatly above the grade of the base terrain I'd use the ladder system or bench system. If i were building on or near the grade then I'd consider concrete assuming it would not shift or heave. I've not ruled out floating my track but the way my yard moves now I'm not wholly in favor of it. I'm also leaning towards a raised layout of some sort so at this point my considerations are benchwork or ladder or a combination of them.

Just my thought processes on the topic and they could be seriously flawed.

Chas
 
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