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Originally I thought it was good enough for me to admit to not enjoy gardening. I have neither the talent for nor interest in making things grow that result in more work for myself.

My original outdoor layout was elevated. This was not by choice but rather the result of our house being built on the side of a hill.

Last year we rebuilt the outside layout and my wife decided that she wanted to landscape around the tracks which was fine with me. I even added a bit of dirt to raise the ground a little where the composite decking of the layout was nearest to the ground. It looked nice.

I also happen to love to run trains (LGB trains that is) in a pouring rain.

Last week it rained and for the first time since we rebuilt the layout I ran trains in the rain on it. The loco stuttered and stopped and did it again and again until I finally gave up and brought the train in.

It was not until the loco had dried off that I realized what had happened. It was not bad track contact (so no one is going to sell me on battery operations) but rather the bottom of the loco was covered with gritty sand/dirt (I think they call it sandy loam).

The rain had been splattering the dirt/sand up onto the bottom of the loco and into all the moving parts of the loco.

The next step is now going to be to get all the dirt far enough away from my tracks so that even a heavy downpour will be unable to wash or splatter dirt or sand onto the rails and I can return to happily running trains in the rain.

We tend to think of our layouts as being indoors or outdoors. I think we need a third classification so we would have indoors, outdoors in/on the dirt, and outdoors but elevated.

Perhaps I now better understand why some folks move to battery power and manual switches - to compensate for the problems caused by dirt & sand. Personally I prefer elevated operations and track powered locos and turnouts.

Cheers,

Jerry
 

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Would be a little concerned about sand in the valve gear and drive rods.
 

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"I have neither the talent for nor interest in making things grow that result in more work for myself."

Umm... Jerry? Didn't you have kids?!

Hey - it could have been worse. Yesterday, I went outside to plant 9 plants. Small ones. Took me over 4 hours. First I had to clean the flower beds of leaves that blew in after I was "done raking for the year". Then, I had to take said offending leaves to the recycling place (organic recylicng). Then, I had to clean up the branches from the trees I had to trim so we could install the DIRECTV satellite last week. After all of that was done, then I could plant the 9 plants, but I wasn't done yet!! I had to feed and water them, and then the stupid lawn was asking for the 'dandelion' supressant stuff. All told, something that I wanted to finish in 30 minutes took all afternoon.

Dirt, and more importantly- ballast, get splashed up on my railroad every time it rains. I have resorted to using an aristo track cleaning car and that seems to do the trick. I find that when my rr is freshly ballasted, I have more of an issue than when it looks terrible (and all the ballast is washed away!).

Mark
 

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Jerry,

I use battery and manual switches but I still have an elevated layout. hehe! You don't have to use track power to appreciate the advantages. I too hate gardening and any kind of stoop labor.
 

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PS..... Jerry, we have the same problem with dirt after a hard rain. Most of the problems here in the desert are caused by using decomposed granite for ballast. The rain will actually kick the smaller particles up on the railhead and cause derailments. :)/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif:D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Dirt, kids, valve gears and batteries.

Where but in Garden Railways could you find a topic that would involve all the above?

Cheers,

Jerry
 

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Mulch! If you lay down a mat of pine mulch (for example) overtop of the dirt your problems will be solved. Rain (and sprinkler water) bounces off. Good for the plants and looks good too.

ps: I am outdoors in the dirt and loving it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Mulch has been a good partial answer. My wife has put mulch down inside the track loops but wanted to have something other than mulch outside the loops.

Actually mulch worked better than I expected as I did not blow as much mulch away as I expected when I "cleaned" my tracks with the leaf blower. The leaves seemed to blow away while the damp mulch tended to stay in place. I don't know how well it will work when the mulch is dry.

Jerry
 

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Mulch is a broad category. Pine mulch will break down comparatively quickly and enrich the soil, whereas cedar mulch lasts much longer, but is long and stringy, and more apt to ensnare rolling stock. Coco mulch is good, I hear, and there are even synthetic rubber mulches that never break down and come in a variety of colours.

Pine mulch is the one I use, and I always tamp it down with my boots, or a sledge hammer in tight spots. That way it forms a tight mat and has never blown away for me. I can even rake leaves (gently) off of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It depends on whether the emphasis is on "garden" or on "railroad."

For some of us the railroad just happens to be in the garden and for those of us without a garden it is called G Gauge or G Scale.

My wife calls our layout The Lonoke and El Paso Railway (because the Lonoke to El Paso (Arkansas) stagecoach used to run on what is now our driveway).

I call it The Plastic, Plywood and Carpet Railway. If anything is trying to grow on it I try to kill it. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/shocked.gif

Cheers,

Jerry

Posted By John B on 04/09/2008 7:57 AM
But isn't this why it's called a garden railroad?
Dirt is good!
 

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Posted By John B on 04/09/2008 7:57 AM
But isn't this why it's called a garden railroad?
Dirt is good!




Agreed! No dirt..., no garden. No garden..., no garden railroad. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/doze.gif
 

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Uh, real railroads get dirty, right? So dirt is prototypical! I don't think that they mulch near their tracks, though...LOL!
SandyR
 

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Posted By SandyR on 04/09/2008 1:49 PM
Uh, real railroads get dirty, right? So dirt is prototypical! I don't think that they mulch near their tracks, though...LOL!
SandyR





No. They go to great expense to plant lovely ground cover (weeds) all along the right of way.
 

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Jerry,
If you want something other than mulch to break up the look, why not try pea gravel or some other type of small stone. You can go to a garden center and look at different types they have. Once you choose one and have it home, put it out and rinse it off and you should be fine.
Mulches, stones, and even creeping plants all do the same job. They cover the bare ground, thus helping prevent erosion, and protecting the soil beneath.
And by washing the decorative stone, you are getting rid of any dirt or sand, so you should once again be able to run in the rain!
 
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