View single post by topcat2000
 Posted: Wed Mar 7th, 2012 11:40 am
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Joined: Thu Feb 2nd, 2012
Location: Adelaide South Australia, Australia
Posts: 25
Para Gardens Division

I started out with no real idea of what was going to be required to build a layout in the garden, but here are the things I considered.

First and foremost, the layout was to be HO scale, operating with DCC, and all locos to have sound. Why HO? I already had an N scale layout but my 60 year old eyes were struggling with the small size, and my fingers were beginning to feel like bananas when I handled anything, so a step up in size was necessary. I wanted broad curves, and long trains, so outside was the only place I was going to get them. Why HO? I considered the usual outdoor sizes but decided anything larger than HO would tend to compromise the look I was after.

My property has a fall of over 6' from side to side and a fall of around 20' from front to rear. Whichever way I looked at things the slope was way too large for a layout at ground level, so I was looking at a plank type layout.

Next consideration was how to store trains after each session, and the obvious answer was in my garage, where they would be out of the weather. Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we can have a week of temperatures in excess of 40 C (105 F) in summer,  and at the other end of the scale, near freezing daytime temps  along with LOTS of rain – around 500mm (20 inches) per year with most falling in the 3-4 months of winter.

I don’t need this garden layout to be much more than a couple of loops for continuous running. I just want to kick back with a beer and watch trains run. I can always go inside and operate my switching layout if I want to get involved.

So, the basic idea came down to a couple of loops, with several crossovers for convenience, with both loops going through the garage with switches to the storage tracks. Height of storage tracks was set at 5’ which meant that the track at the opposite end of the property would be around 18” below the natural ground level.

Obviously, most of the track would be laid on a structure above the ground, but I had 2 options for the portion below ground level. A tunnel was the most obvious. The length of the tunnel would mean great difficulties if I had a derailment or cars became uncoupled inside. Also, nasties like lizards, mice or spiders like the dark of a tunnel so I discarded this option. The second option was to create a large cutting for this portion of track, which has turned out to be quite a lot harder to construct than I first thought.

The final design was basically two loops, with around 60% of the loops running side by side and representing a dual mainline. The outer loop turns away and heads out to the highest point of the garden. It makes a 180 degree turn (it’s a 5’ diameter – the tightest turn I have) travelling through the cutting before heading back to meet the inner loop again. Crossovers at several points mean I can run trains over any track, or set up for a continuous run twice as long as usual. The inner loop is around 100’ long, the outer loop (when completed) will be around 150’ long.

And lastly, the layout would represent the South Australian Railways that I remember from my childhood years and into my early teens.  This means mostly 1st generation diesels, a couple of Mikado and Mountain type steam locos, and “Bluebird” rail cars. Trains of this era consisted mostly of boxcars, open wagons, and flat cars. Often they were old 4 wheel wagons, but this era ushered in larger bogie style freight cars, container trains (initially loaded into 50’ gondolas and later 60’ flatcars) No SAR layout would be complete without “The Overland” an interstate express train running between Adelaide and Melbourne in Victoria. I like the look of the green & cream painted heavyweight passenger  coaches of the early part of the 20th century, so a short train of these will get the occasional run as a tourist train being hauled by a steam loco. I will also run long rakes of twin hopper coal wagons, to represent trains that could be seen in the northern part of South Australia.

Thanks for reading this far, next time I will detail my adventures building the track.


Loco 948 hauling a coal train

Bluebird rail cars

A tourist train crossing what will be the Murray River, South Australia's largest waterway

Last edited on Wed Mar 7th, 2012 11:56 am by topcat2000

South Australian Railways
Para Gardens Division
"It's not as much fun if it works the first time."
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