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THANK YOU !!! Richard Smith.. (lot's of pics)

5457 Views 17 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Big John
Richard, you da man... 

I had a day off today and the sunshine beckoned, the warm temps (50's anyway) called and Home Depot is only 1.3 miles away. I took the opportunity to build out one section of the "Port Orford Style" benchwork section. I wanted to see how much effort was necessary, cost involved and time needed. 

It was quick & cheap... two of my favorite things. 

First a quick trip to the Depot.. $32.00 later I had the necesary things that I didn't already have at home, a roll of hardware cloth and four 2x4x8' pressure treated boards. 

Noon:  All the parts ready to go.

12:40 : The base framework structure complete.

1:10  :  A layer of hardware cloth installed.

1:25  :  The "Elbow Rest" installed (I like that name Richard)

1:45  :  A layer of 'recycled' landscape fabric (reduce, reuse, recycle... save the world... plus I'm cheap)

1:55  :  Roadbed and track installed..

2:10  :  Against the fence for a good look..... I like it!

Of course I couldn't have done it without my capable assistants...


And Domino

Overall the build went very easily, I'm quite impressed. I would have infilled with some dirt to complete the look but it's all still frozen.... Call the Cops Richard, I'm stealing your idea.. 

One down... 21 more to go..
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1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Raised railways are certainly easy on the back, especially when switching.
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I agree with your sentiment about the great idea Richard has come up with for building raised train platforms that are way beyond the look of just plain wooden decks. I have already made 25 4x8 platforms and and have the scattered around my back yard. I am just waiting for the weather to warm up so I can dig holes, install the support legs and tie them together into a continuious road bed. I would post pictures but I don't know how to reduce the size of my photos. My grandson said he would show me how when he comes down to visit. By the way my grandson is 12, don't you just love it when someone that young can teach an old geezer new tricks.

Richard you should consider having GR publish an article on your system. I think a lot of fellow garden railroaders would love to see it.

John, I agree that GR should publish an article on Richard's system. I find it a cross between an indoor and outdoor layout, with the advantages of both. The only disadvantage I see is cost; considerably more investment (up front) than just a trench method, but it has dividends of low or no maintenance that a trench has long term; including track heaving, weeds, sinking ballast, etc. But you can still have plants, it's a higher elevation for easy access, and you start with a blank canvass so you can customize it exactly the way you want. My next layout will definitely have at least a section of Richard's system.

I think it needs a name other than Richard's system, kind of like the Logan Ladder. What would folks call this? Richard's Bench?
Great looking job Dave . You're off to a spectacular start. And with helpers like you've got the sky's the limit! [;)]

Just one point you may or may not wish to consider. I install the arm rest after the sections are installed using staples alone to hold down the fabric and screen at that point. This allows me to overlap the arm rest a bit to span between sections for extra strength. Not an absolute necessity but it gives a better and more continuous look.

I'm on very slow dialup or I would offer to receive, resize and post your photos for you. I can maybe do a couple if the photos aren't more than 1 or 2 megs in size. Email me ahead prior to sending them and I'll clear the decks for action! I can also just return downsized 640x480 photos to you via email for you to save and post yourself.

Before you know it we will all have faded into oblivion. hehe! Maybe "Nonentity Benchwork" would be more long lived! As to an article, my construction photos have all been posted on the web for years and it wouldn't be fair or ethical to GR to send previously published photos. Marc Horovitz is a very nice person to work with. If any of you wish to submit an article on your new construction using this benchwork system please feel free to do so. Everything I've posted is with no strings attached! [:)]

I hope those of you using raised benchwork will provide feedback as to your experiences, problems, etc., in your particular locations as I can only comment on those in coastal Oregon. I'm very anxious to see your railroads up and running.
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I have but one Project Dog, and she's helped me do just about all the projects I've got, even the menial chores!!  Always right there ready for me to take that break and throw her ball so she can do her job and retrieve!

I've seen the method before, but I've never given this much thought.  I have a rail yard that's not too big, but the way the land is, it has a very steep entry / exit.  It might be well suited to use this type of construction, rather than fill.  

Thanks Richard (and everyone else)

As you stated, I did think of the overlaping elbow rails. As I get deeper into the project I may try that. As for now, I think I'm going to keep them as is. I'm considering building them as a "modular" type system so I can move (or remove) them if the Boss (spelled W-i-f-e) is unhappy with their placement. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif
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Posted By Dave F on 02/13/2008 4:00 PM
Thanks Richard (and everyone else)

As you stated, I did think of the overlaping elbow rails. As I get deeper into the project I may try that. As for now, I think I'm going to keep them as is. I'm considering building them as a "modular" type system so I can move (or remove) them if the Boss (spelled W-i-f-e) is unhappy with their placement. /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crying.gif

I understand Dave. You're answering to a higher authority!  /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif  :D  :)
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Richard thanks for the offer to fix my pictures. I had a meeting last Sunday at my home of the club I am in. It is called the Shoreline Garden Railroad Club. One of the members just added some pictures he took of my underconstruction layout and added them to our club website. If you go to  trainweb.org/shoreline  you will see what stage I am currently at in the back yard construction. When you get to the site you will have to page down to the last group of pictures of members layouts. Mine is called  John & Pat (Under construction). This will give you some idea of what I am doing. My layout will be a dogbone about 100' long with a 40' diameter loop on one end and a 25' loop on the other end. It will be a combination point to point with a double main running around the perimeter of the dogbone. The picture of the sample 4x8 table was what I had set up in my basement for the members to see what a section would look like with some tract, trains and structures set on top. I just made some cardboard mock ups for buildings. Notice the extremely well detailed turntable simulation.

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Dave looks good.
I'll tell ya, Richards RR is always in the back of my mind. I think he needs to be in GRYs mag.
Well Richard, you asked for a report on how it handles varying weather conditions.... What a differece 48 hours makes. If you don't like the weather in Salt Lake City...wait 5 minutes..

Tuesday, when I built the section it was 50 and sunny....
Wednesday afternoon we had a low pressure front move in from the northwest.
This is thursday morning...

8" of fresh snow... WOW..
It's doing great, supports the load well and seems to be draining through as the temp increases today..

Of course the MOW plows were out clearing the mianline so the day's freight could get through..

Nothing quite like running through canyons of snow.. 

I hope we hear from Bryan today.. Apparently they got hit with even more snow than we did here in the south valley areas. He's probably out shoveling.
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Looks like real winter railroading. Nice shots! 

One thing to remember...On the positive side, the benchwork acts the same as a bridge and will retain snow for a time after it has already melted from the surrounding ground. On the (possibly) negative side, it'll freeze solid as a rock if you have a freeze while the snow's still on there so if you're going to want to run the next day and there'll be a freeze it's a good idea to remove the snow from critical areas for the night. At least unlike the RR being on the ground you'll have the option. :)

I had that happen to me. One lousy day of snow all year put less than an inch on the railroad. I rushed out to set up for some photographs since I knew the snow wouldn't last more than a day. Within a few hours all traces of snow had melted on the ground around the railroad but I still had snow on top that evening. During the night we had what for us is fairly rare, a freeze. Temps dipped to 28F and the snow on the RR froze solid for two days. hehe! Couldn't budge it without damaging the line so everything was immobile for that time. Third day the temps went back up and everything melted off.
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Posted By Big John on 02/13/2008 9:55 AM
I am just waiting for the weather to warm up so I can dig holes, install the support legs and tie them together into a continuious road bed.


If the soil is undisturbed you can use patio stones and deck blocks instead of digging holes. In some areas we have used crushed stone under the patio stones to level them.

We have lots of snow and deep frosts, but the railway has always remained level.
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That's exactly what I'm planning on for support. Glad to hear that you're having success with it.
What a great idea to use the patio blocks. I was just dreading the thought of having to dig an average of five post holes for each platform. I have 25 platforms so far so that would be 125 holes each about 24" deep. Yes the ground where my layout will be located is the original undisturbed soil as the back yard area was never excavated to build the house. Did you do anything in the way of diging out a shallow level pad and adding some stone under the blocks to set them in the ground? I know the cost of the blocks will add up but I will save two feet of 4x4 for each post plus the cement and stone to backfill the hole around the post. Might be a trade off in cost when I am finished. It will definetly be a lot less work than digging holes. I can probably get started earlier than I planned using this approach.

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OOPS, sorry Paul I can see in the picture you have a cement patio stone under the post supports. I might try to remove the sod and level the area with about an inch of crushed stone before I set the post supports. What do you think? I have been living in Delaware for two years and the winter weather has never had long periods of temperatures below freezing. In fact the coldest it has been that I can remember was one time when it was 18 degrees overnight. Since we are in climate zone 7 I think that means the average coldest days are 10 degrees or higher. I think that works out to about -5 degrees celsius for you Canadians.


As Paul has shown, we often place patio stones under the deck blocks but not always. Quite often, crusher fines (stone dust) are used to provide a pad for the deck block. The ground must be level in any case so a few shovel fulls of something are needed to make it that way.

Actually, we use the building code recommendation for our area for building decks. It basically says that if the soil is compacted and undisturbed then deck blocks are fine; if the soil has been disturbed or is not compacted, then footings below the frost line are required. In our area, the frost line is 42 inches so this commonly means post holes and sona tubes set 54 inches deep. That is wayyyy too much work especially where tree roots and rocks are concerned even if you rent a power auger.

Check the building code in your area and see what it says about decks - that will give you some assurance that your construction will stand up to the weather.

Regards ... Doug
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My neighbor is a home builder. He told me that just removing the sod and setting the post support blocks on the ground with some crushed stone to level the base would be fine for what I am doing. Just to be sure I called the building permits department and they said I did not require a building permit for the train platforms. It falls into the same category as a flower trellis as there will not be people standing or sitting on the platforms. They also told me there is not a building code for foundations for these types of structures. So I am good to go with just using the post blocks directly on the ground. Now I have to shop around for them and see what price they are going for in my area.

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