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Geetings all, This summer I have ripped up the old ladder road bed as I was having chronic track leveling issues. It was also time consuming and pricey......at least the way I did it. I know it works well for some and I don't want to debate it's merrits. In seeking an alternative, I saw many folks just "let em float" in gravel "like the real trains". A good friend who has a 15 year old layout..(mostly ladder) suggested using stone dust or "fines". Someone on this site recommended #8 crushed lime stone, and yet others use "grit" which is the same stuff they throw on our icey roads here in Jersey. My buddy felt the grit would be like stacking marbles and not pack very good. I decided to buy a load of grit and a load of stone dust and mix it 50/50. I still didn't feel to secure with just laying the track down so I cut up a pressure treated 2x4 into 8 inch blocks and screwed the track ties to a block every 24 inches give or take. Made sure to have a block under each track joint to help hold it together. The blocks are stood on end so they stick down into the roadbed 3.5 inches.....like the keel of a sailboat. So far, I'm happy with the results but it must now stand the test of time. I welcome any comments.
D

A shot of the new figure "8" layout with tunnel.
 

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Before I went to concrete I used Steel under my tracks. It has been about 8 years and some of it is still there.




 

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Hi Sailbode, I know a guy that is also not happy with his ladder bed system. I have used many methods on my RR to lay and level the track. I have used PT 2x4 here and there and they warped so I then tried constructing a Tee using 2x4's and these are holding up well. Most is above ground but some are buried and holding up well after a couple of years. I had many grade issues as I layed track for the main so to keep it manageble I hammered ballasters into the ground every 3'. In some cases the track is attached directly to these and grey 1\4 gravel is brought up to support the in between. I tried crusher fines but almost every time it rained it would wash out and after the winter it just disappeared. I didn't dig trenches and tamp it like most do but basicly cut into the ground or raised it according to the grade so that didn't help it to stay in place. In other spots I used conduit tube which is screwed to the ballasters and then the track is screwed to it. This is my least favorite way to attach track since I found what used to be straight 2 years ago has somehow curved a bit now. I have a lot of switches along the main and those are all sitting on 2x8x16 patio blocks so those stay very level except in one case where ants actually had undermined one causing it to tilt.
I use 1\4 inch grey stone yes it is a boulder when it comes to scale but that doesn't bother me it seems to hold the track very well and doesn't wash away plus I can get a easy to manage 5 gallon bucket full for $1.
For a look at my RR and track work go to you tube and look for capecodtraintodd. I just put up a couple of videos from a "railfan trip" last weekend.
Todd
 
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