Garden RGS Construction – Part 4

Hand-laying Track

Straight Stringers

I rip cheap cedar fence boards into ¾” wide pieces, getting four per board. The height of my stringers will be ¾”, so I use the clean-cut sides as the top-bottom. I glue two of these together and cut 1-inch blocks to act as spacers between the straight stringers. (Any stringer scraps can be recycled as spacers.)

I simply glue and clamp these without any nails or screws. The addition of ties and attachment to the baseboard will bond everything together permanently.

Gluing and Nailing Ties

I have a tie-spacing template with ties drawn at 1.2” apart, which gives ten ties per foot. (This is the same as Llagas Creek flex track.) I use small snack-size zipper bags filled with sand as weights for holding the glued ties down while the glue sets. Each bag will cover five ties, so I put them down five at a time.

Once the glue has set, I use a brad nailer to attach each tie to the stringers. Make sure that each nail ends up under the rail by marking gauge lines 45 mm. apart and nailing just outside of those lines. (I thoroughly wet down the ties before I nailed them to help make sure they wouldn’t split.)

Spiking Rail

I start spiking rail down by placing a rail on the ties with a straight-edge and spiking it down in just a few places – say every foot. Then I carefully spike in between those spots, dividing each into halves and so forth until the rail is spiked every two or three ties.

The second rail needs to be spiked in gauge, so I break out my track gauges and put one on each side of the tie I’m spiking. For this rail, I spike the same ties as on the first rail.

At this point I just proceed spiking the remaining ties from one end to the other.

Curved Stringers

I made a curved track jig to use to laminate three pieces per side of bender board or lath cut to ¾” width. I use the same spacers as for the straight stringers. In hindsight, I realized that I could have used fewer spacers on this first curved piece (perhaps using many as construction spacers and not gluing them in place).

I have a curved tie layout template similar to the straight one that I use to get tie spacing consistent.

Garden RGS Construction – Part 3

Building the Matterhorn “table” section

At the high end of the railroad, the elevation above the ground makes it prohibitive to build a retaining wall, so I am going to use a table to elevate the tracks.

Matterhorn table plan

Conventional construction of two 10-foot long, 2-feet wide sections. I’m using treated lumber for everything structural. I got “deck” screws designed for treated lumber: coated with something.

Assembling a frame
Table section in place

I used a string level to set the grade to 2.5%, which is a 3-inch rise in 10 feet.

Setting the grade
Hitting the bubble

I used Urethane foam post mix instead of cement. The way it tended to gush out into a hole because the bag was “floppy” was a problem. In the future, I’m going to get the Urethane in gallon bottles and mix what I need.

First two sections set

The angled sections were difficult, but having an accurate CAD drawing with accurate angles made it doable.

Getting the offset right

Labeling the cuts helped to keep all these similar angles and wood pieces straight. Even with all that, I cut one piece 1-inch too short and had to re-cut it.

Note the various angles

The last two curved sections are read to secure in place. I wised-up and used stakes pounded into the ground and screwed the table sections to them instead of “floppy” boards and clamps.

The three “curved” sections

I covered the frames with 1/4″ hardware cloth, stapled in place.

Hardware cloth installation

I ripped a treated two-by-four in half at a slight angle to form side-rails that will keep the soil and ballast on the table.

Side rails

I used a heavy, professional-grade ground barrier on top of the hardware cloth to provide drainage and keep the soil in place.

Ready for Track!

Next time: Building turnouts and track.

Dry Stack Stone Retaining Wall

I have a path in the back near the railroad that is below ground level on one end. I built a dry stack stone retaining wall with the native basalt I had dug up throughout the yard. First I established a string line to define the edge, and picked the “best” stones for the foundation. They should each be large and extend from the line to the back if at all possible. Each foundation stone must be on a level base so that gravity works to hold it in place.

Foundation stones

The wall is built up by finding stones that “fit” as closely as possible on the stones beneath. Try to use stones that cross a boundary rather than creating a “vertical seam,” which weakens your structure.

Building the wall

Don’t be afraid of break rocks to fit better, though I did reduce a couple to useless chips with the sledge hammer. It took some time, but I am happy with the result.

Finished retaining wall


Sunday, February 24th

A heavy, wet snow began falling in the afternoon. Sometime after dinner (yay!) the power went out. This is unusual, but not a huge concern as it typically comes back after an hour or two. We retired to bed for the evening.

Monday, February 25th

I woke in the wee hours, as usual, and the power was still out. I looked out the window, and it was dark all over town and the snow was still falling. I carefully went downstairs to use the bathroom, and gaze at the rare snow covering everything. I was looking out the window at the end of the living room just as a huge spruce branch crashed down on our carport, making a very loud noise. Karen called out “Are you okay?” I replied “That wasn’t me. A limb crashed down.”

I went back to sleep until about sunrise, just as it was light enough to see. Branches and trees that accumulated snow had come down. I later learned that this was true almost everywhere throughout the county.

Spruce branch piercing the carport roof.

About the time Karen came downstairs, with the power still out, I realized that we needed to get a fire going. The inside of the house was 55 degrees. Our vivarium pump and heater had stopped, and we were concerned about the fish. We also needed a way to heat water so we could have COFFEE. I dressed in winter clothes and boots and made the trek to gather some wood stored under the carriage house, which was dry. I shortly had a roaring fire going which began to warm the living room. We left the rest of the house closed, as there was no way we could heat the whole thing.

During this time there was a lull in the snowfall. We shoveled the driveway and tossed the large tree debris to the side so that Karen could drive to the street, which had ruts from vehicles enough that the car could be driven. She returned after about 45 minutes with COFFEE from Dutch Bros.

Shortly after she returned it began snowing hard, again.

About noon, I put a pan on the stove and we made grilled cheese sandwiches. The room had warmed to about 65 degrees.

Making lunch on our wood stove.

Our power returned about 3 p.m. We and the fish were happy. Our cat couldn’t care less.

Tuesday, February 26th

Roseburg was pretty much completely shut down. We spent some time assessing the situation in our yard. There was a lot of damage to shrubs and trees. Some were completely destroyed.  

Small cedar tree laying down on the patio. Sad.

The snow stopped falling in the afternoon. We cleared the driveway again. We went to my workplace and found that our offices (in the basement) had “flooded” with about 2 inches of water.

Wednesday, February 27th

We hunkered down, as power was still out in most areas around us, and both of our workplaces were still not operating.

Lots of branches that were broken and fell.

Thursday, February 28th, Friday, March 1st

I went to work to assess the damage. The carpet had been removed, leaving the tough glue that held it down. There were blowers and dehumidifiers running. It was really loud, and I stayed for about half of each day.

Not much was accomplished other than just assessing the condition of equipment.

Most of this Privet is now on the ground. I ended up taking this completely out.

Monday, March 4th

The next week we began a long, long process of replacing damaged equipment (mostly UPSes that lived on the floor) and getting the workplace functional again for our staff. We moved out of the basement about the beginning of June.