A few garden railway questions.....

Discussion in 'Gardeners World' started by Rob Pulham, 8 October 2013.

  1. Rob Pulham

    Rob Pulham Western Thunderer

    Being new to the outdoor railway arena I have a few questions - apologies if some of them have been asked before but I think that the answers all in one place might be useful to other members who are planning on treading the same path.

    I plan to have good old DC to keep things relatively simple (I hope)

    1. Do you use fish plates? - I am thinking of the peco type at this point as opposed to the rather nice but costly cast brass ones from Exactoscale or drilled brass strip.
    2. How do you fasten the track down? - I have a quantity of brass panel type pins and a discussion with Graham suggested that If I use them I might want to pin the ends of the sleepers rather than the centres as is done traditionally in the smaller scales. What alternatives are there?
    3. What do you use for wiring - type of wire and connectors?
    4. Do you have a bus and connect to the tack at multiple points to maintain the electrical continuity?
    5. How do you get the wiring from the track to the bus - over the side of the track bed (like Simon has) or through it?
    6. Do you use sections as you would with an indoor DC layout and if so what type of switches do you use? How do you weatherproof them?
    That's all I can think of for now but I am sure that there will be more.
  2. Steve Cook

    Steve Cook Flying Squad

    Hi Rob

    1. Yes, but made from some sort of plastic nylon stuff and only to maintain rail alignment.
    2. Use the odd stainless steel pin to hold alignment where required - I preformed the curves where needed and currently let straight sections float. At one point all the track was held by ballast / cement mix. Follows Grahams advice if you do pin, the G1 stuff had small loops inside the spacers to avoid this issue.
    3. Solid core copper cable from Twin and Earth. Wouldn't use it again, far too stiff. I use it for both the feeds and the jumpers between track sections. Would choose a multi-core flexible wire for the jumpers next time. All wiring connections are soldered.
    4. Not really. I have two power feeds, one at the controller / shed end of the line, the second feed is around two thirds of the way down the line. The latter is T&E cable again. As mentioned above, each rail is joined to the next with a jumper cable.
    5. Through the track bed. Drill a hole through the track bed and use a lot of sealant around the wires, forcing it into place with matchsticks or whatever - from top and bottom.
    6. Nope. The only switches are for lighting (and one day a smoke unit). I use large toggle switches, with rubber covers, but they are tucked under the trackbed. The switches to turn on / off the auto shuttle units are mounted in waterproof boxes under the trackbed, again with toggle switches with rubber boots on.
    Rob Pulham likes this.
  3. Rob Pulham

    Rob Pulham Western Thunderer

    Thanks Steve:thumbs:
  4. Phill Dyson

    Phill Dyson Western Thunderer

    Hi Rob:)

    1 Yes use Peco fishplates but don't rely on them for electrical connections.

    2 I just use normal panel pins to fix the track down everywhere (always at either side of the rails & NEVER in the center)

    3 Any household wire..........always soldered joints.

    4 Only in the 'Box Cutting' where the points are, the rest just has jumper wires at every rail joint.

    5 The wires go down immediately through the baseboard & join the bus wire underneath the baseboard.

    6 Only where absolutely necessary (keep it simple/less to fix) & I do use toggle switches (protected or indoors) to switch the electrickery through points rather than blade contact (my points are not motorised)

    Phill :thumbs:
    Rob Pulham likes this.
  5. Rob Pulham

    Rob Pulham Western Thunderer

    Thanks Phill:thumbs:
  6. taliesin

    taliesin Western Thunderer

    At my clubs old 16mm outdoor track we were able to observe that the brass pins holding down track tended to lift over a period of time but the steel ones did not, the only theory we could come up with was that the rust on the steel helped them to bind, cheers Rob
    Rob Pulham likes this.
  7. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    That was the advice I got years ago when laying Gauge 1 track for outdoors using G1MRA cast chairs - i.e. use steel pins so that they rust and stay in place - brass pins will "walk" out of the holes they are in with track movement, etc.

    Rob Pulham likes this.
  8. Rob Pulham

    Rob Pulham Western Thunderer

    Thanks for the thoughts/advice on the pins. While I fully understand the reasoning behind it I would be concerned about the possibility of compromising the MDF by using steel pins - the recommendation for fixings is stainless steel which I used for fastening it down.

    My thoughts for the use of the brass pins were two fold, I have them so no further expense (albeit it not really costing enough to be concerned about) and the fact that being none ferrous they would be kinder to the MDF.
  9. Dog Star

    Dog Star Western Thunderer

    Rob, in regard to a mechanical fixing of sleepers to baseboard - if you are concerned about the use of steel... and about brass pins working loose... then how about brass screws? Something like 1" x no.4 if you can get them.

    regards, Graham
    Rob Pulham likes this.