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I was thinking of this approach for several reasons and in my efforts to simplify construction:

At Home Depot or otherwise one can buy "post spikes" that is driven into the ground with the topside flanges accommodating a 4x4 pressure treated fence post. Because the spike is thin profile I don't think that there would be enough buried surface area to heave it up. (frost heave) I like the rigidity concept of the spike and the simplicity of simply cutting the post to the proper elevation. Because this is a 4x4 I have a big surface area to work with re stringer support and side to side leveling (shimmying to level). The stringer would be a modified ladder design which is well documented on the forum and a bit wider. The actual spacers would support the track Vs the traditional design of the HDPE strips doing the support work.

Taking it a bit further, replace the HDPE 3/4" x 1.5" with plastic "flat baseboard trim" 1/2"x4" and create a "H" design ladder where ballast can be laid after the track install.


The 4x4 posts can be stucco'd and spanned/arched to recreate trestle ways.

Just an idea at this stage and no doubt someone else has tried this... if so your feedback would be appreciated.

gg
 

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Sounds like a good idea to me. By the way, are you planning to run a GG1 "LOCOMOTIVE" on this elevated track.
 

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Yo Dan,,,

If this works out the way the design says it should .......

I WILL GO OUT THERE AND GIT ME A GG-1 "MOTOR" FOR THE FUN OF IT, (cheap one)


I must keep my mind open. Electric motors are quiet, provide humor and do not disturb the neighbours !

gg
 

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The post spikes were not available when I did my elevated line and the concrete blocks with the cross slot in the top for holding a 4x4 post were just showing up, but were too expensive for me.

For mine, I already had several trapezoidal wall caps (1.5 to 2 inch thick concrete slab about 8 to 10-in. on a side) and a few 18-in by 18-in concrete patio blocks, so I started with them and bought a few more of each to complete my design. I drilled one 3/4-inch hole in the middle of the small blocks and two holes in the larger patio blocks (about 2 inches in from opposite corners).

I then placed them out in the shape I wanted for my line in an alternating pattern. The small blocks on the center line and the large blocks with the holes at right angles to each side of the center line. This gave me a triangular pattern of holes. The large block holes were about 22 inches apart and the distance to the single block varied at either 3-ft or 5-ft, depending on whether it was on a straight section or in the curves of the two loop-backs on each end of the line.

The image below is what I drew to figure out the layout. You can see how the small and large blocks were placed. The small numbers are the "mile posts" (not really scale miles... not even 1/10 miles, just "markers") and the larger underlined numbers are the height of the posts that I determined by using a home-made laser level line and a yardstick. (I printed the drawing, then went outside in the evening with my home-made laser level and all by myself aimed the level where I though I ought'a, went to the location, hunted for the laser beam, went back to move the laser, went back and checked again with the yardstick, oh what tedium... I eventually wrote down the number and then did it again for the next location. A rotating laser would have been LOTS easier, but I found an even better way to determine the lengths of the uprights during construction... I cut what I thought was the shortest post to length, attached the stringer that was to go to the next post, held it out with a level on it and measured to the ground at the end of it. I did not need to do all the pre-measuring. (Note also, I left out blocks 3 and 38 in the actual build as that section became just a 6-ft straight section in the reverse curve exit from the loop-backs.)




Anyway, the triangular shape of the structure gives SOME stability that just a post standing on the ground would give, but not nearly as much as a post sunk INTO the ground.

Oh, I should explain the holes in the concrete blocks. I drilled a 1/2-inch hole in the end of each post (axially) about 4 to 6 inches deep and then pushed the head of a 12-inch long "Landscape nail/spike" into the hole with a big glob of epoxy to hold it in. This spike acted as a "drift pin" in the hole in the concrete blocks and kept it from sliding off the block (and helped anchor the block on the ground).

This hole was also a part of a FAILED grander scheme to allow small adjustments to the height of the structure. I drilled another 1/2-inch hole in the other end of the post, again axially in the center of the post, about 6 to 8-inches deep. Into this hole I put a 3/8-inch "T-Nut". This is a device that has a threaded hole in a flange such that it can be pounded into the hole in the post and secured with a couple of small screws through the flange such to allow a bolt to be screwed into the post. Then if the post is spun on its axis (and the bolt held still) the bolt will be pushed in or out of the hole. I used a carriage bolt, attached to the bottom of a board using a metal light-switch cover... the square part of the carriage bolt fits into the toggle switch slot in the cover and this keeps the bolt from turning when the post is twisted. I used 6 inch carriage bolts so I could adjust the height of each post by plus and minus about 2 to 2.5 inches.

And here is the FAILED part, and an alert to you of something to watch out for. This structure is "floppy"... the posts are just sitting on the concrete blocks and can easily tip slightly off of plumb. They are also not attached rigidly at the top end, so that can easily flex to allow the whole structure to "LEAN" in any AND ALL directions.

You will probably fair better because I assume you are intending to make rigid attachment of the stringers from post to post. This will definitely improve the rigidity, but unless you have some longer triangular supports (gussets), the taller the post the more leverage against that rigidity there will be. I also would recommend that each support point be two posts (instead of the 2-1-2-1-2-1 system I used) as this will also improve the rigidity of the whole thing.

I recommend cross bracing at every pair of support posts and some cross bracing from one support point to the next at a minimum of every three sections along the length of the line.


I think the "post spikes" you are proposing to use will work well if the rest of the structure is rigid enough.


Another point I might bring up. I tried to get by CHEAP, (regardless of the silliness of purchasing 60 landscape spikes, 60 t-nuts, 60-carriage bolts and 60-metal light switch covers!) and made the base for the track just a 1x6 board on 1x4 stringers. This meant I needed more support points in the curved sections to allow the curved track to still remain on the straight boards from support point to support point (fitting a curve to a polygon of straight sides). I strongly recommend that you make the whole raised structure at least 18-in. to 2-ft wide along the whole length. I have a YouTube video that will graphically explain why I feel that way!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you Semper for the feedback. I latched on to some of your experiences:

My first layout will be between 2-3 feet above grade due to the way I want to landscape and the nature of my yard. Bonus that I don't need to stoop and crawl too much. Your accident on utube gave me chills and I will widen the track bed sitting on top of the 4x4's. Will need to rethink the design of the stringers accomodate "crash-protection" features.


Wobble: Fence post stakes are driven into the ground and there are lag bolt / screw holes in the flanges which will allow for post lock-down once all track/stringers are installed. Your idea on cross bracing is great and I could do this on a need-be basis.


Great feedback.



gg

Wider track base will probably require 2 -3 foot centers on the posts for higher elevations and crossbracing on the 12-18 wide stringers... Touchy...
 

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I think your cost per foot is going to be very high. each spike is $12, your 2'-3' post will be $4, the tuff board ladder system is about $3 a foot. you could be at 5 to 6 dollars a foot before you put a peice of track down (add another 4-5 dollars per foot) I have used those post spikes it takes some luck to be level and in line. unlike a post hole were you can brace the post level and fill with cement, you have to drive the spike with a sledge .
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Posted By Bills on 01/31/2009 8:06 PM
I think your cost per foot is going to be very high. each spike is $12, your 2'-3' post will be $4, the tuff board ladder system is about $3 a foot. you could be at 5 to 6 dollars a foot before you put a peice of track down (add another 4-5 dollars per foot) I have used those post spikes it takes some luck to be level and in line. unlike a post hole were you can brace the post level and fill with cement, you have to drive the spike with a sledge .

Yes and so true.

My frost line exceeds 4-6 feet plus so going below it is even more expensive. Cheaper to "relevel". Heaving will be a fact of life. Just trying to minimize and optimize stability. The other point here is that if I sell the home, the system can be ripped out and the bulk recycled. Setting up track can be expensive. I've priced out spikes at approx $7 CAD per.

I've driven these spikes in before and the first 6" drive length is critical (getting the spike in square) . I'm thinking that I shape and lay out the track bed first, elevate to position, then plumb bob down to grade and drive the spike in "carefully" thus minimizing (not eliminating) mis-alignment.


Good feedback and thanks.


gg
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes, yes and yes on those photos.

4x4's yes? What spacing between posts did you use and did you find this approach to be "stable" and easy to work on?

gg
 

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Posts are all 100mm square Tanalith treated, as were the 25x150mm planks, and the 25x50mm stretchers. Spacing between the posts was 1metre. Corner uprights were fabricated from 25x150mm planks concreted into the ground 600mm deep. These were used to provide a wider base for the corner pieces to sit on.

The completed assembly was strong enough to take my weight -105Kg.

regards

ralph




Edit:


Yes the structure and method are very easy to work on. I am currently designing a new layout for our new house and I will use this system for it. The only problem have found with it was not construction -but delivery of the timbers to the construction site. Our former home was a "Bank House" -thus 3m long timbers had to be lowered out of the bathroom window to the garden below, having been taken in through the front door on the same floor...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Where your track meets grade, did you use the pile method or was this just a flat laydown?

Your corners, you cemented in the angle planks. Do you think that this made a big difference or would simple piles do the trick? ( assuming that people do not walk on the track )

Presume that your clime does not have much frozen turf yes?


gg
 

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The corner sections were fabricated for ease of transport, the entire 90 degree curve was assembled in the kitchen and heaved out of the window. There would have been no real difference if I had used 100mm posts. "Frost Heave" of the type known to me in the area of Medicine Hat, is different to the type we have in the Peak District -here it is lateral here rather than vertical. This is due to the freeze drying of glacial clay deposits rather than the ice '2' to ice '3' phase expansion that you are used to.


Having designed equipment installations to function in the permafrost of Finland, the geomorphic **** hole that is the Jutteland Peninsular of Denmark, the mud jelly that is Corinth, and finally having had to STITCH a hillside together in Aberdeen with 6mm dia 20m long stainless steel rods in epoxy resin.


I think you are worrying too much...


I have seen Canadian systems perched on Decking Blocks -this makes the whole thing an outdoor table. All of my track was on posts even that below "ground level" in a minus 60cm cutting. The slope was; 1 in 7 down, 1 in 5 across and rose to 1 in 3 at the other side of the layout. This was the "flat" part of the garden...


regards

ralph

Edit:

I have some more photos that you probably would find useful. I have to be in Paris tomorrow so it will be Tuesday evening (GMT) before I can upload them
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes, Overdesign is as bad as underdesign.

Thanks for the input, the system will work and work well. If you have more pics that would be great.

gg
 

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Thanks to the weather no-one is going anywhere today -so you have got your pictures 24 hours earlier...

The following shot shows the initial "triangular" track the farthest point is plus 95cm in the air and the cutting in the foreground is minus 60cm. The shuttering is to hold the clay/soil in position while it stabilizes.


http://www.cabbagepatchrailway.co.uk/mls/CPRsept2002.JPG

The following March I planted the ground stabilizing plants and shrubs, the cutting used; strawberries, rosemary and borrage on the down slope, while the up slope was held in place by thymes, sedums and bloodworts.


http://www.cabbagepatchrailway.co.uk/mls/cprmar2003.JPG

Later in the summer...


http://www.cabbagepatchrailway.co.uk/mls/cprjun2003-1.JPG

http://www.cabbagepatchrailway.co.uk/mls/cprjun2003-2.JPG


In the second shot the shuttering has mostly been removed and was completely removed in the autumn. You can see that the planks are free of the ground and the trench filled in with pea shale and grit


regards

ralph
 

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Discussion Starter #15
My sister lives in Surbiton and is complaining loudly. She has forgotten about our Canuk winters.

Shots are great. I can litterly drop your layout into my space and make it work. When the snow goes, I send a snap shot of the area unless I find one in my archives sooner.

The fencing... was that temporary? I like the idea and could see using the concept on outside and elevated curbes to prevent the locomotive from going overboard.


Regards,

gg
 

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The track side fencing was tempory. It served to protect locomotives from stray flying objects such as my (then) small sons' obsession with golf. He now has adult size clubs -and still plays golf. For similar reasons we plan to re glaze our greenhouses with 4mm polycarbonate....

regards

ralph
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I really like the fence-on-the-ouside-of-the-curve bit... Will create a design suitable for the railroad and maybe a golf ball or two.


Pic below was pulled from my archives and shows my shed in the back yard. To the left of the shed door you will see a terraced flower bed where my track design and construction will be tested for durability. You can see the different elevation and when combined with the slope on this yard I have a great opportunity to create tunnels and bridges.



http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2279/141/115/623662743/a623662743_2513166_5773.jpg

The following photo is the north yard of my place in the East. The home sits on 1.3 acres of "grass"


http://photos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2279/141/115/623662743/a623662743_2513164_5271.jpg

This last photo shows the south side of the yard. Sloped.


http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/photos-ak-snc1/v2279/141/115/623662743/a623662743_2513165_5525.jpg



I will be using this construction technique here in the West... make my mistakes here and as you can see I will be developing a "super line" in the east that will go through mountains and navigate rivers. As such my concern and need to study construction techniques.

Regards,


gg

PS: My sister says that London is literally shut down.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Posted By Semper Vaporo on 01/31/2009 4:36 PM
The post spikes were not available when I did my elevated line and the concrete blocks with the cross slot in the top for holding a 4x4 post were just showing up, but were too expensive for me.

For mine, I already had several trapezoidal wall caps (1.5 to 2 inch thick concrete slab about 8 to 10-in. on a side) and a few 18-in by 18-in concrete patio blocks, so I started with them and bought a few more of each to complete my design. I drilled one 3/4-inch hole in the middle of the small blocks and two holes in the larger patio blocks (about 2 inches in from opposite corners).

I then placed them out in the shape I wanted for my line in an alternating pattern. The small blocks on the center line and the large blocks with the holes at right angles to each side of the center line. This gave me a triangular pattern of holes. The large block holes were about 22 inches apart and the distance to the single block varied at either 3-ft or 5-ft, depending on whether it was on a straight section or in the curves of the two loop-backs on each end of the line.

The image below is what I drew to figure out the layout. You can see how the small and large blocks were placed. The small numbers are the "mile posts" (not really scale miles... not even 1/10 miles, just "markers") and the larger underlined numbers are the height of the posts that I determined by using a home-made laser level line and a yardstick. (I printed the drawing, then went outside in the evening with my home-made laser level and all by myself aimed the level where I though I ought'a, went to the location, hunted for the laser beam, went back to move the laser, went back and checked again with the yardstick, oh what tedium... I eventually wrote down the number and then did it again for the next location. A rotating laser would have been LOTS easier, but I found an even better way to determine the lengths of the uprights during construction... I cut what I thought was the shortest post to length, attached the stringer that was to go to the next post, held it out with a level on it and measured to the ground at the end of it. I did not need to do all the pre-measuring. (Note also, I left out blocks 3 and 38 in the actual build as that section became just a 6-ft straight section in the reverse curve exit from the loop-backs.)




Anyway, the triangular shape of the structure gives SOME stability that just a post standing on the ground would give, but not nearly as much as a post sunk INTO the ground.

Oh, I should explain the holes in the concrete blocks. I drilled a 1/2-inch hole in the end of each post (axially) about 4 to 6 inches deep and then pushed the head of a 12-inch long "Landscape nail/spike" into the hole with a big glob of epoxy to hold it in. This spike acted as a "drift pin" in the hole in the concrete blocks and kept it from sliding off the block (and helped anchor the block on the ground).

This hole was also a part of a FAILED grander scheme to allow small adjustments to the height of the structure. I drilled another 1/2-inch hole in the other end of the post, again axially in the center of the post, about 6 to 8-inches deep. Into this hole I put a 3/8-inch "T-Nut". This is a device that has a threaded hole in a flange such that it can be pounded into the hole in the post and secured with a couple of small screws through the flange such to allow a bolt to be screwed into the post. Then if the post is spun on its axis (and the bolt held still) the bolt will be pushed in or out of the hole. I used a carriage bolt, attached to the bottom of a board using a metal light-switch cover... the square part of the carriage bolt fits into the toggle switch slot in the cover and this keeps the bolt from turning when the post is twisted. I used 6 inch carriage bolts so I could adjust the height of each post by plus and minus about 2 to 2.5 inches.

And here is the FAILED part, and an alert to you of something to watch out for. This structure is "floppy"... the posts are just sitting on the concrete blocks and can easily tip slightly off of plumb. They are also not attached rigidly at the top end, so that can easily flex to allow the whole structure to "LEAN" in any AND ALL directions.

You will probably fair better because I assume you are intending to make rigid attachment of the stringers from post to post. This will definitely improve the rigidity, but unless you have some longer triangular supports (gussets), the taller the post the more leverage against that rigidity there will be. I also would recommend that each support point be two posts (instead of the 2-1-2-1-2-1 system I used) as this will also improve the rigidity of the whole thing.

I recommend cross bracing at every pair of support posts and some cross bracing from one support point to the next at a minimum of every three sections along the length of the line.


I think the "post spikes" you are proposing to use will work well if the rest of the structure is rigid enough.


Another point I might bring up. I tried to get by CHEAP, (regardless of the silliness of purchasing 60 landscape spikes, 60 t-nuts, 60-carriage bolts and 60-metal light switch covers!) and made the base for the track just a 1x6 board on 1x4 stringers. This meant I needed more support points in the curved sections to allow the curved track to still remain on the straight boards from support point to support point (fitting a curve to a polygon of straight sides). I strongly recommend that you make the whole raised structure at least 18-in. to 2-ft wide along the whole length. I have a YouTube video that will graphically explain why I feel that way!





Semper, did you see Ralph's Golf Ball protection fence. When I saw it I thought of your video and errant locos... Heck of an idea. Like guard rails on the highway.
 

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GG

I am in the Ottawa Valley with frost conditions only slightly less than in your Alberta environment. I did what Ralph called the Canadian tabletop approach ... but I can say it was not my design. I simply went to the local building code and it said for decks that I had two choices for 4x4 pt uprights ... below the frost line with footings or in deckblocks on undisturbed compacted soil. It also gave centres and decking scantlings for minimal deflection - this is perhaps a bit heavier than needed for our trains but I have had tree limbs fall on my roadbed.

The spikes you referred to are NOT approved locally here for deck construction though that does not mean they won't work of course.

My recommendation is to check your local building code and go with what it says.

Regards ... Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Posted By Dougald on 02/02/2009 4:30 PM
GG

I am in the Ottawa Valley with frost conditions only slightly less than in your Alberta environment. I did what Ralph called the Canadian tabletop approach ... but I can say it was not my design. I simply went to the local building code and it said for decks that I had two choices for 4x4 pt uprights ... below the frost line with footings or in deckblocks on undisturbed compacted soil. It also gave centres and decking scantlings for minimal deflection - this is perhaps a bit heavier than needed for our trains but I have had tree limbs fall on my roadbed.

The spikes you referred to are NOT approved locally here for deck construction though that does not mean they won't work of course.

My recommendation is to check your local building code and go with what it says.

Regards ... Doug





Doug, I see the logic in the comments especially the words "compacted soil". The spikes will penetrate the compacted soil and minimize "wobble" of the post. (see Semper's posting) I just hope that the profile of the spikes is thin enough not to be affected by frost.

The photos I posted earlier is my place in Arundel Quebec just south of Mont Tremblant. Same frost zone as what you have.



It is all coming together... thanks to everyone.

gg
 
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