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After nine months of planning and constructing and a few thousand dollars my raised train lay-out is finally finished and ready for track. I tend to over engineer everything and since this was my first ever raised lay-out I wanted to make sure it was strong enough (you can walk on it). I also wanted it to be as maintenance free as possible, so I constructed the base structure out of pressure treated lumber and the decking out of trex. The entire layout is perfectly level to within an 1/8", not bad for a layout that's 45 feet long and 25 feet wide. The minimum radius on the layout is 10 feet, so I should be able to run just about anything, just not too fast. The attached photos show the finished layout with some loose track I was laying out to get an idea of where the final track would go.

This weekend around family responsibilities I managed to lay about 3/4 of the outside mainline. Hopefully I will finish it through the week, so next weekend I will at least have one mainline up and running. The inside mainline I will try and start in a week or two, hopefully in warmer weather. It's taking a significant amount of time to lay the track as I am offsetting it so no two joints are in the same place. Every 2 1/2 feet there is an alternating joint on only one side. This is the method my neithbor Dan used and it seemed to work well as it eliminates duel breaks in the track. I am also using Railclamps on almost the entire lay-out. Again, a little more cost but hopefully longer lasting maintenance free lay-out.

For the track I was originally going to use LGB track, but my neithbor talked me into using cheaper Accucraft flex track code 250. So I purchased 5 cases or 300 feet of narrow guage track and expect to use most of it. For the switches, I gave up waiting for the accucraft ones and ordered them from Sunset Valley in narrow guage. They should work as well as the accucraft ones, but at a slightly higher cost. I am planning to have a duel 30 degree cross over between the two mainline tracks with additional switches for sidings on my long freight yard on the left hand side of the layout. Once I receive the switches I will cut them into the outside mainline and be able to finish the inside mainline.

After I get everything up and running so I can start to use it I plan on going back and adding a steaming bay for 2-3 engines at a time. Since the switches are insulated I am also going to go back and electrify the tracks so I can run electric trains when I want to (my collection of LGB).





I'll attached more photos as I lay the track.

Enjoy.
 

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Look great, I just ordered 300 ft of flex track, and 4 #6 switches (everything SVRR brass, wanted continuity) myself for my new backyard layout last friday, and I will post on this forum my progress. Same type of raised layout.

Btw, you might have to put a few rail slider joints in for expansion and contraction on the straights, leave the curves with the rail clamps, alternating joints every 2-3 feet or so is the way to do it, very smooth curves will be the result.

The standard center to center measurement on parallel track that everyone recommends is 7.5".
 

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George, it looks GREAT! Only one note to be wary of. I'll say this but perhaps you are already aware. If you leave no gaps in the rails and cut your track in the winter, the will grow by a fair amount in the summer. This might be even more of a problem with the track all clamped together, They don't allow for any expansion. I'm not raining on your parade, you got the hard work completed and it's a wonderful job!
 

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Dave, George,
I have a method to cope with expansion and contraction that has worked for me for more than 4 years through very hot and cold weather. On the straight sections, I use sliding rail joiners and screw the ties down where the rails expand and contract by sliding in the ties. On the curved sections, which are 6 feet lengths of flex track, I let them 'float' by using clamp-on rail joiners and a brass device over two ties that you can see in the picture. This device lets the track move in and out and keeps it secure in the wind. As the straight rails expand, they push the curved sections outward. As the straight rails contract, they pull the curved sections inward. Since the curved sections have rail clamps, their joints don't separate. I've noticed very little separation on the straight sections from contraction. I've also had no problems with any of the turnouts, which are Sunset Valley # 8s. By the way, George, I like your track and like the idea that you've used Trex on the top. I wish I had.


Straight screw and sliding rail joiner.


Curve section with the holding device made of brass and rail clamps. The screwed tie is the start of a straight section.
 

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George
While you are in the construction phase, remember....there is never enough yard space!
 

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Very nice, George. Also helpful for those of us considering a raised layout. It's a respectable length, but it doesn't dominate the yard - I may have to think about the 45 by 25 dimensions.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I am panning on laying the inside mainline at around 8 1/2"-9" distance from the outside mainline (center to center) so there is enough clearance for whatever engines I run on the layout.

As for construction I have 2x4 supports connected to the 4x4 posts, then the supports between the 4x4 posts are connected by 2x4's around the whole layout. The 4x4 posts even though not set in concrete are in the ground over 3' deep. This made an extremely rigid layout that once I layed down the Trex was strong enough to walk on, which is a good thing as Trex must weigh 2-3 times the weight of wood. With all the 2x4 supports and post tops under the Trex it shouldn't sag, at least lets hope not.

For the track expansion I was planning to go back when the weather turns warmer and insert "Split Jaw" expansion rail sections at various intervals around the track. The front section by the two trees is removable so you can move items into and out of the train area. I plan on inserting some bridge railclamps that appear to allow some expansion. On the straight section (mainly the yard) I was going to use regular connectors and leave some gaps.

Trex tends to build up more heat then wood and this may add to track expansion and I assume its worse on straight aways then on curves. So I was going to allow 1/4" expansion every 25-30 feet using the expansion rail sections. Also as you can see from the photos I have a considerable amount of trees and that corner of my yard is always shady.


What is the most that brass track will expand in the summer heat that I should allow for? Is it necessary to insert expansion rail sections on the curves?
Thanks
 

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George
Send me your E-mail and I will send a spread sheet that I did some time ago that should help you. It will give you the amount of expansion of different materials for different degree spreads. [email protected]
 

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George,

What state do you live in and when is your first Steam Up?
 

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George, "What is the most that brass track will expand in the summer heat that I should allow for? Is it necessary to insert expansion rail sections on the curves?"

I use AMS narrow gauge flex track. My layout is in western VA where the winter temps are in the 20s and late summer temps are a few days in the 90s. I laid the track when the temperature was in the 60s. I have not noticed any contraction due to cold (occasionally down close to zero), but I have noticed that when the temps are in the mid to upper 90s, my curved track moves outward about 1/4 inch under the holding device I made. I have 10' radius curves on the inside loop and 11.5' on the outside. The straight sections that are expanding and pushing the curves outward are about 30' long. In general, the only movement I've noticed is in late summer when the temps are in the mid to upper 90s. The only contraction is when it cools and the track goes back to it's original setting. So, expansion is not great, but noticable.
 

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Kent,

Were in NJ and have steamups pretty regularly at his neighbor dans...see the threads of steamin on the jersey shore....We converted George from a LGB collector to a Steam guy
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Jason and Dan didn't turn me into a steam guy they created a Steamaholic, number 1200 to be exact. As Jason indicated we live in New Jersey so the temperatures range from the low teens to the high.

It sounds like I need to use expansion track on the curves to allow 1/4"+ expansion, so that the track doesn't expand too much in the summer.

I'm planning on having a few steam up's over the summer, after I finish the basic dual tracks with switches and add a steaming bay to the layout.

Thanks for the information.

George
 

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Hi George.

Looking good. Keep up the fine work. will look forward to seeing more photo's as you make progress.

Ben.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Finished the outer mainline Saturday morning so I got a few runs in, below are a few photos.











And then we had 2-4" of snow on Sunday morning and I had to try out my D&RGW Snow plow on my C-19


























Then tonight, it started snowing fairly heavy and I tried to re-plow the track once more with 3-4" of snow on it. My C-19 did a pretty good job but needed help occasionally. This is what you call extreme live steaming at below freezing and a fair amount of snow. Next time I'll have to double head both of my C-19's and let them have a go at it.

Enjoy.
 

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Nice George. I guess you can say there is a lot of live steam action here on the Jersey shore- you, me, and Dan were all plowing snow and we all live in the same town!
 

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Great pictures! Even though it's been reviewed in GR, those are the best pictures I've seen yet of the Accucraft/AMS 0-6-0. I'm in process of designing a similar raised layout and the more inspiration people provide, the better.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Today I finished about 75% of my inside mainline and started to clean up the area, but I stopped to run for a few minutes this afternoon to run my Sandy River #24. I had it moving fast around the corners, testing the track to see if there were any issues. The Sandy River as all Round Houses is an outstanding live steam engine, if only they made other US type engines. Below are some photos.








Then tonight, I wanted to see how the track would handled one of my 1/32nd scale engines which are capable of greater speed then my narrow gauge. I used one of my Royal Hudson's and MTH passenger cars. It handled beautifully and didn't lean as much as I thought it would around the corners and I had it moving at a pretty good speed, except for the right side with the curves it slowed up considerable, but kept going. I'm all right with that as I think the curved section adds to the design. Below are some photos.







This week I should receive my Sunset Valley switches and will cut them into the outside mainline and finish the inside mainline and sidings. I'm creating a 30 degree crossover between the mainlines so you can easily move between the outside and inside tracks.

Then I can start working on a steaming bay and a few other minor adjustments I want to make, including banking the outside track.
 
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