Introduction: Quick and Dirty Garden Railroad
A Garden Railway can be big and complex -- overwhelming if you let it. But here is a simple garden railway that will introduce you to this fascinating combination of model railroading AND gardening.
Things you'll need to build the Q&D RR:
1. Four foot circle of track;
2. One or two four foot circles of bricks;
3. Short locomotive and two short cars;
4. Battery pack;
5. Train control system for batteries.
Step 1: Find Your Spot
First, find a place to build. I put this one around a tree in my backyard. The track sits on a circle of bricks that are about four feet in diameter.
Step 2: Lay Your Track
Lay the track on the bricks. I used older track I had laying around the
yard. Check your local Garden Railway Club to see if they have used track for sale. It's a big money saver. If new, this track would have been about $70. My cost -- $15.
After the track is down, I painted the ties and rail to prevent
further ultraviolet light damage to the ties. New track is more resistant to u/v. Next I covered the dirt with bark to give the RR some color and cut down on the dust.
The train is a very simple battery powered one. There is no electrical power to this layout, though you could install wires on yours and use a small power supply. The rather tight radius of the track means that you'll only be running short locos and short trains, so you won't need mega power. I had a battery company make a battery pack of about 14 volts which fit in the small gondola in the rear car. I actually told them to fill the gondola with batteries to give me 14 volts. They shook their heads but went ahead! The battery power is controlled by an inexpensive LED light dimmer with a remote control. It's wired between the battery and the engine motor. The only problem with this is that you can't back the train up, and LEDs always get their current in the same direction. A simple reversing switch in the cab fixed that. With the track down and the train battery charged up, you've got a start on garden railroading.
Step 5: Accesssorize
Lastly, add some details! Find some plants, buildings, cars -- whatever you've got to bring your little railroad to life.