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After having my trains for about a month, I finally got around to buying the track and installing a 24' x 32' loop in my backyard. I raised the track about 18" off the ground using 2" PVC pipe and 3/4" pvc water supply pipe. On top of that I put Cedar fence boards for support. Well, after only about two weeks I have run into a couple of problems.

1. 18" is a great height for my 3 boys to be able to see the train, but it is also the perfect height for my 2 year old to reach as well. After several runs, my Accucraft caboose has taken three nose dives. It now looks a bit more.. um rustic. To say the least /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/cry.gif

2. Now that I have the loop (which is great mind you), like anybody, I want to add some sidings, buildings etc. Okay...how do I do that. Not going to work.

So looks like the week that it took me to put in the current setup is going to have to come up./DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/crazy.gif I have looked and looked and found that the best solution for me is going to be to build benchwork. So I sat down on Monday night and came up with the following.

The benchwork height will be 4', 36" wide. It get to the center of the layout I plan to have two liftout bridges along the sidewalk. The outer boards will be 2x6's and the cross supports 2x4's. Here is am embellished overhead view courtesy of Google Maps:



Here is a better look at the benchwork plan that I came up with:



If you would like to see a larger version click here: http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/jtutwiler/Backyard-Benchwork-for-Trains.jpg

Unfortunately I don't currently have the cash to get this started, but I thought that while I work on getting the funds together I would post my plans here and see what ideas, opinions etc you all might have. Please just remember that I really am running on a shoestring budget, so no outrageous suggestions please.

Thanks
JT
 

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"Just do it" work out the barrier's as you go I always say! The start of any adventure right or wrong is the "First Step". "If you never try anything you can't say it didn't work!" right????????????????????/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/wow.gif:rolleyes: The Regal that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
 

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Take a look at Richard Smith's railroad for benchwork construction techniques. Also there are several from the live steam fraternity who have this type of layout; you may be able to glean some practical advice from them as well. My own benchwork is primarily 2x4 based, but it's indoors, and would not hold up outside for too long!

Oh, and you're going to want to put in some way to reach the inside track from the sidings!

Matthew (OV)
 

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If I can be of any help let me know.

One additional point: Just because you'll have raised benchwork doesn't mean you have to totally exclude the "lil' fellas" from enjoying the railroad. A raised platform(s)area with appropriate railings adjacent to the RR can put them in a spot of your choosing from which to view the fun while the benchwork height keeps them from unauthorized access at other spots.

The type RR you propose looks quite similar to what Dave F. started out with. You might want to check out his posts on benchwork as well.
 

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I'd just hang on to what I've got and get some cheap trains for the kids to play with. Or, have a small circle/oval on the ground that they can play with and not play with 'daddy's' trains. That way, they learn to like trains and to respect your stuff. JErry
 

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Usually when my projects don't turn out well....They grow amrs and legs and hair and chase me down the street with a axe handle

One thing I did notice. You might need a cross over from the outer loop to the inner loop. Other than that the plan looks great.
 

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Posted By John J on 08/20/2008 5:26 PM
Usually when my projects don't turn out well....They grow amrs and legs and hair and chase me down the street with a axe handle





Either that or you just can't lift it....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the comments. I agree that I need a crossover from the inner to the outer loops, but I havent figured out the best place for it yet. Jerry, I plan on picking up a New Bright set for them that they can run on the concrete patio when I am working on the layout, and I had already decided on building some observation platforms high enough for them to see what is going on, but well out of reach of the trains /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/w00t.gif Believe me, I am not mad at them, just dont want to have to replace these cars. That would get expensive REALLY fast. Once I get the engines radio controlled, I will let them run the train under supervision. More to come as I progress.

JT
 

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Do as the old Bell Telephone commercial.

If it doesn't work, throw it out and start all over.
 

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Na. You don't want to raise the layout.

1. Your sons are your hobby. The railroad is just an accessory.

2. Your 2-year-old won't always be 2.

3. You want them busy helping daddy in the railroad.

Set your expensive, highly detailed equipment on a high shelf and get equipment they can handle. I like the Heartland Mac for kids as they can easily handle it and it's nearly indestructable. If they do destroy it, it's only $45 to replace. Let them look at the nice equipment, and they'll quickly learn the difference between trains they play with and trains they look at. Then they'll feel special when you do take it down to run for special occasions.

Use the railroad as a focus point for time spent with your sons. There is only one way to get quality time -- quantity. The time you spend with them teaches them your ideals, more than any amount of talking can.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Okay Okay... The whole point of this post was to share my ideas for how to improve my setup. I agree with what everyone is saying about keeping the kids involved, and believe me I do, but please can we keep this thread limited to comments about the layout and not about my parenting skills? Thanks

JT
 

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I've just completed (really, do we ever get them completed ??) my raised benchwork layout. Your idea above is quite similar to my "phase one" setup, since expanded.

Take a peek at www.lonepeakandwestern.bravehost.com . Click on the "08 expansion page. I need to update things but I think you'll enjoy what you see. Feel free to seal as many ideas as you like... I stole most of mine from Richard Smith. Gotta pass it along.

DF
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Dave,
The funny thing is that your post here on MLS is what inspired me to construct the plans. It is nice to have a link to your actual site for closer observation. Are your cross braces 24" on center? Also, I am curious how wide the bench work is as well. Oh, I almost forgot, how far apart do you have your posts spaced?
Thanks
JT
 

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JT

If you haven't run across this before maybe you'll find it of help for ideas.

Richard Smith's - Port Orford Coast RR
PDF File Format - File Size 25MB
Left-click to Open / Right-click to Download
 

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JT

My crossbraces are 24" apart. The "original line" is 24" wide as well. The "expansion line" along the back fence is 36" wide. I have at least 1 post every 4', usually 2.

It's really dry here in SLC, even when it snows in the winter it's very light powder (Utah: Greatest snow on earth). The fill that I'm using is a finely ground cedar chip & compost material...again very light (Smells nice too).

Considering all that, even at maximal load (I've sat on it) it is plenty strong. If you're dealing with wetter conditions and using a heavier fill meterial, you may wish to do as Richard did and space your crossbraces a bit closer. I think Richard's are "18.

Also, my roadbed is supported by the crossbracing and benchork, not the hardware cloth.

So, everything is working great!

Keep me posted on your progress.
 

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Jeremiah,

Our friend Ernie has a large raised oval outdoors. There is a wood platform about 40" high and 18" wide , covered with shingles on top.

The legs aren't distracting because they are hard to see: they're made of rebar. Here are some images filmed by John Garrett:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxtzLk4Frgc

You can hear the sounds of April in the Midwest. It's great.

cheers
 

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Wihtout trying to get too personal here, is there a reason why you don't want to put it on the ground? I understand that there are medical reasons for some of the older guys to want to raise their layouts, but you mention that you have a 2 year old son, so I'm guessing you're on the younger side.

Personally, I'd suggest putting it on the ground if it's at all possible. You may want to someday add a water feature or put live plants in. Perhaps build some mountains for tunnels or bridges. Also, should you wish to expand (as many of us do) you'll need to build more benchwork. With it on the ground, you simply dig a new ditch and continue on with the track. And as your garden matures, it begins to take on a different look.

Just my humble opinion

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi Mark,

Funny that you would be the first to notice that or ask the question. The explaination is simple. First of all, yes I am young (28) and the house we are living in is by no means the house we intend to stay in for more than a couple more years. My wife doesnt want me digging up the yard installing a ground layout, so I figured that building bolt together benchwork it would be easy enough to disassemble and take with us to our next location. :)

JT
 

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Posted By jtutwiler on 08/22/2008 9:42 AM
Hi Mark,
Funny that you would be the first to notice that or ask the question. The explaination is simple. First of all, yes I am young (28) and the house we are living in is by no means the house we intend to stay in for more than a couple more years. My wife doesnt want me digging up the yard installing a ground layout, so I figured that building bolt together benchwork it would be easy enough to disassemble and take with us to our next location. :)" border=0>
JT


I think Mark was just the first one to be bold enough to ask. You are certainly entitled to build your railroad the way you want to, but "digging up the yard" is often referred to as "landscaping". There are certainly some fine railroads done on benchwork, but if you are planning on moving, you can increase the value of your property with landscaping and still run trains. That benchwork is going to take a second moving van to haul away and if it isn't gone when you try to sell the house, it will most likely scare off any potential buyers. Just my opinion.
 

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JT,
I use Richard's method for my benchwork. I woud suggest 2x6's for the long sides and 2x4's for the cross braces. I put my cross braces at 18" centers. If you are planning to move the layout, I would use 2x6's on all of the outside pieces and the 2x4's for five center pieces. With the 2x6's you will not need as many posts. My benchwork started out at about 40" but varies in height as the ground wanders around. I use some picnic table benches for our younger visitors, and it puts them at just the right height for viewing and operating the locos, couplers, and turnouts. When the little guys and gals aren't here, I just move the benches out of the way. Please keep us informed and remember, we all love those pic's!
Mario
 
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