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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello to all,

It's been awhile since I posted here at MLS; between work, home projects, and a new N scale layout, I had not given the garden railroad its' proper time in my schedule.

With the weather turning cooler, I have now started gathering my thoughts for the layout in the back yard. For those who don't remember, and those who don't know, the back yard is relatively flat, fenced, and our three dogs and two cats journey wherever they wish inside or out via the dog door into our bedroom.

I have scoped out an area of the yard, about 18' wide and a run of about 60' long, an L shaped run from one rock bordered garden to another. Both gardens have as their centerpiece 6' crepe myrtle trees, and the garden farthest from the house also doubles as a resting place for our cat Alvin who passed a couple years ago.

My current design is simple, an L shaped dog boned layout, continuous run, one 20' passing siding, and a few industrial sidings along the route. Now where my dilemna starts, and where I thought I would get some thoughts and opinions from the membership here.

My front holiday layout is at ground level. The track floats in 1/4" ballast. I've had it running now for three seasons and it has served us well. My first consideration is to do the same with the back layout, dig a small trench, fill with gravel, install the track, pack it down with ballast, and run the trains.

My other thought which has crept in a few times, is to elevate the layout to about 48" above ground...why? Ease of work, not having to get down at ground level (although at 42 years that's not a deterrent as of yet). A couple of things that discourage my thinking of elevating the layout;

1. In a way unless I'm just not seeing something, it takes away the sense of the "garden railroad".
2. It offers its' own problematic things, i.e. having benchwork to duck under or walk around to get to certain areas.

So I thought I'd see what some of you think...Is having an elevated railroad so much easier that it should be considered?

Or is the old standard of building at ground level still the most appealing to watch the trains run through dwarf plantings to emulate scenic beauty?

Michael
 

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I don't know your locale (frost heave???) or age (weak back???), but if weather and health are not issues, I would (did) do it on the ground. You will get up and running so much quicker. If you then find this is something you really enjoy, you may consider raising it over time.

Also, I like the way you think. It's a Garden Railroad.
 

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Michael,

In a nutshell age, etc., notwithstanding;
If you like to watch trains flow through the scenery, want the RR to be an integral part of the garden, enjoy gardening and consider switching ops secondary to these then you'll probably be happier with a ground level or close to ground level railroad. As Todd says you'll also be up and running sooner. Todd's Lizard Bash is an excellent example of this type of railroad.

If you like switching ops, enjoy an eye level view of the RR and structures that puts you right into the scene, don't like to stoop over much and especially hate gardening (whether or not you like gardens), then a raised layout might be right for you.

Depending on your terrain remember too that you don't have to put all your eggs in one basket. If you have a sloping yard it is quite feasable to have a yard and switching area on raised beds or benchwork in the lower areas and dispatch trains onto a higher ground level loop through the garden. Whatever suits you best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the thoughts guys,

Todd, my apologies. I'm in Central Arkansas...frost heave is not a concern. I've had the front layout down in different formations for about four years now, and have not had any issues other than just nominal maintenance a few times during the year.

Richard, thanks too for your thoughts. I guess when it boils down to it, I'm quite sold on running at ground level, just wanted to see if I was missing something by considering the elevation. The Mrs. and I have talked again about installing a train door into the hobby room in the house, which will be right in line with the outside layout. If that gets approved, then I'll be able to run trains inside to assemble and disassemble, which will be much better having some trains ready to pull out at a moments notice, and having all of the electrical hookups inside, and just running the buss and feeders to the outside.

michael
 

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Michael

There is always the option to go for both raised and ground level by raising the ground level for the railroad. I started from a small almost flat rectangle of garden, but wanted to fit in a longer, more interesting line than a single ground level would permit. The solution was to build up parts of the garden to create multiple levels. This then resulted in the bonus of having a comfortable standing level steaming up area - much welcomed by most of my visitors. Multiple levels also gives me the opportunity to indulge myself in one of my favourite aspects of construction - designing and building bridges. There are photographs on my web site www.sdfr.info and an number of videos (on Youtube under my ID davidarf) of gardens that I have visited and of my own like this one from November last year
 

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Mine is up about a foot off the ground, sure makes it easier to get trains on./off. I'd go for a two foot elevation, ring it with landscape blocks and fill it in. Don (Trains on here) put down a ladder system and then built around it. Good for old knees!
 

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Part of mine is on the ground, other parts elevated about 21". The elevated part is much faster to load up trains. I like mine on the ground so I can have plants and stuff around it.

Best of both worlds.

Regards, Greg
 

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Michael - Not sure if you addressed exactly what you plan on running, but having at least part of the railroad elevated does facilitate live steam ops. In a perfect world, I'd have trackage running through the garden at ground level as well as an elevated portion for live steam runs. Some of the elevated layouts in the U.K. are works of art in their own right, garden or no garden. Cheers, Jon
 
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