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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all and verycool site.I got the goahead to build a railroad in our backyard but i have some questions.
We live in northeast PA where the weather is wacky my 2 main questions right off the get-go is what should i use for sub-roadbed and roadbed? And is the brass colored aristocraft track good for outside elemants?
Any and all help will be greatly appreciated! Thanks Again.
 

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Welcome to the wonderful wacky world of garden railroading. What to use for a subroadbed is almost as varied as the amount of people who have garden railroads. Some folk lay a concrete subroadbed in a similar fashion as one would make a sidewalk. Some lay brick pavers in the same manner. Others use pressure treated wood or cedar or redwood. We have a couple of fellas in our Garden Railroad club that cut that corrugated drain pipe in half lengthwise and set that in a trench beneath the track and fill it with crusher fines or chicken grit or 1/2 minus. I would say the most popular amongst enthusiasts involves digging a trench 4-6" deep beneath your track and either completely filling it with ballast or part way with larger rocks and the rest of the way with ballast. This more closely represents the way real railroads place track in a "floating" fashion. There is also a more complicated method called a ladder track which was inspired by members of the Columbus Garden Railway Society. If you think that might interest you, you can Google the club and they have a web page.
As for the Aristo brass track, the track is made from solid brass and is completely weatherproof, however, you will, from time to time, have to clean the corrosion off the top of the rails if you are going to be using traditional track power. It's a simple enough process by simply using either a high grit sandpaper (400 or higher) or a scotchbrite pad (I like the green, others like the red or purple).
Mark
 

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Before you start buying track research the pros and cons of the different types available. There is brass, nickel silver, aluminum and stainless steel to choose from. If you are using track power the best thing is stainless steel track. it will reduce or eliminate the amount of work you will need to do to keep it clean. Dirty track stops electrical conductivity. Your engines will stop and go, slow down and speed up or quit running altogether on dirty track. Of course stainless steel track is about 50% more expensive than brass track. Stay away from the cheaper aluminun track unless you plan to use on board battery power and RC control. Read as much as you can on the different forums before you make the committment to what type of track and operating system you will invest in. As far as the roadbed is concerned I have good luck with the Ladder system that the Columbus Garden club came up with that mark refered you to. I found that just floating the track in balast required a lot of maintenance every spring to put the track back in place. The frost and heaving ground can make a mess of it. The ladder system is a lot easier to install than a poured concrete or wood plank roadbed.
 

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The best advice I can give is to learn from others. The way you do this is join a club, visit as many garden railroads as you can, go to local train meets and a convention or two. Talk to others and find just how many ways there are to do everything conceivable. It's a bigger world out there than you can imagine and the opportunities for you to learn are endless.
 

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Welcome to MLS Devious!

To answer your questions, yes the Aristo Brass will hold up quite well outside, that is mostly what I have - 3 years now. As others stated there are many options. If you do some searching you can find links to trade offs of the various types of track - like price, conductivity (if using track power), etc.

For roadbed, again there are many options. Here is a link to a thread that this recently came up in:

Laying Track
 

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Pleased to meet you, Devious!

Careful: Garden railroads are invasive. They send out runners called "track."
 

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Hi Devious,

welcome to MLS, the first thing I would suggest you do would be to get yourself a copy of either or both of the following soft cover books. That way you'll get a good overview of the many areas that have questions about. In addition to some solid foundation in the basics. Then you can always ask questions here too.

Which you can see on the MLS Books & DVD Shop.

Garden Railroading: Getting Started in the Hobby

or

Beginner's Guide to Large Scale Model Railroading (Model Railroader)
 

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Welcome to MLS, Mr Devious!;)
I agree with you about this site. It doesn't get any better for helpful people. Along those lines, you've gotten good advice so far. As hard as it is to wait, you will be thankful later for any patience you can muster now. Research, and try to find what is best for you. I live in Ohio, so our climates are fairly similar in the winter: freeze, thaw, freeze, thaw... I am planning to try at least a small section of concrete roadbed to see if it holds up. If gravity were scale to the weight of our infinitely lighter rail, I would go that way, but I personally think it would be too much maintenance. Others will disagree. That's the beauty and the ugly of this site. You will get opinions from every directions, but that means you have to sort them out to what will be best for you.:D

Good luck, and keep us posted!
Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the fast replies guys....Tha down fall in my immediate area is there are no clubs and noone has a outside railroad.I have a few "n"scalers come to the house(i have a large layout] but most ae ho and o guys. But i will definetly be purchasing those books spoke of earlier.Its killing me not to dive in head first but planning is critical with this task (so everything works with the water garden and a few retaining walls and the walking path)On the plus side the boss(my wife )gave me the ok to design everything around the railroad. Thanks again everyone for the warm welcome.
 

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Welcome aboard!
I'm in southwestern PA so my weather probably isn't as bad as yours, but we do have freeze-thaw cycles here too. I really haven't had any major problems with the winters and didn't take any particular care in putting down the track. Crushed rock tamped, some weed barrier in places, chicken grit with a tad of dry mortar mix. The trestle has gotten a couple of "woggedies" but nothing that can't be removed with some thin shims in the appropriate places. Take a look at the website if you want to see how I did things, then you'll know what to avoid!!
 

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Be sure to go to the ECLSTS at the end of March next year. This show is held in York and is mostly about running on 45mm track, and occurs on the last weekend (Friday/Sat) in March. Good clinics great deals. You get to meet lots of people.

You are close enough to make it a day trip. Some dealers are cash only, be prepared. One room has modules set up and running. Great people around that can answer all your wuestions.

Last March I got 1 foot new brass track for $2 per foot., some small 2 axle LGB cars $25.00 a pair.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have heard about the show in YORK, but never gave it thought..../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blush.gif
I have been searching power supplies but have come up empty all i find is transfomers, I would like to go R/C. Any input on this ?????/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif
Agian thank you everyone!
 

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Hi Devious 10

Check out the battery/rc thread's on this site and Large Scale Central. What era and type of railway are you planning?? Where are you located in pa, I,m about 30 miles north of Reading in Fridensburg.

chuckger
 

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Devious:

I can't stress enough that you really should make your decision between battery and track power first. It's a tough decision, with pro's and con's on each side. You need to consider how many locomotives you will have, and how many will run at the same time, and your budget, and a lot more things.

The worst thing you can do right now is get all fired up and buy brass track, and find out that you have too much track cleaning time spent because of your environment (assuming track power).

Or

You could go nuts, spend a lot on stainless steel track, and then find that you want to go to battery power, and you could have saved hundreds of dollars by using aluminum track.

For most people, the track is the major cost of the layout, and one of the things hardest to change later. It's easy to sell a loco and get a different one. It's NOT easy to tear up a layout and sell everything and start over.

Spend a lot of time talking to people, visiting layouts, and reading. You will be much happier if you make the right decision.

Regards, Greg

(you might read some of the beginners FAQ's on my site)
 

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Devious

I built my first layout in 1986 with all brass LGB track. Had about 150 feet and it was great for the first year. Then corrosion started in and I was cleaning track constantly and I live on the fairly dry west coast in L. A. I'm now starting to redesign and rebuild using battery power ONLY. Airwire-it's expensive, but well worth the money and NO MORE TRACK CLEANING. I have two locos converted at this time. As everyone has said, track will probably be your biggest investment at the start. Track cost has more than doubled in the past couple of years./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif
 

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Discussion Starter #17
thanks again for the input guys.... Chuckger i am 40 minutes north of allentown.The locos i will run will be mostly new era stuff and occassional steamer.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Greg, very nice website!!!! I have to be honest i am not very good with electronics and i am leaning on the R/C end of power. Do you use a radio like the ones for airplanes ,cars etc? Is there a complete system you can buy?Sorry for seeming dumbor asking alot of questions.This is a big investment and i want to make the right one.this doesnt seem to be as easy as smaller scales........
 

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Hi Devious.
R/C isn't the method of power.
It is just the method of controlling whatever power type you select.
The most fundamental decdision to make is the method of powering the locomotives.
Track power.
Or:
Battery power.
Once you decide which of those you can then work out what sort of R/C to use with either.
There are a number of proprietary R/C systems such as AirWire, Locolinc and RCS etc.
Yes, you can also use the (very) low cost AM 2 stick type of R/C that are often used to control R/C boats and cars. In fact they have the best range of all R/C systems.
Whatever you do don't use the Aircraft frequencies. It is illegal to use them for ground control.
 
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