Garden Railroad:



This is mainly a rehash of my 2006 Garden RR expansion project but with additional information and focus on the roadbed.


My Requirements:


Materials and my solution:

After much time spent reading, in Home Depot and talking with my friend Dan, I came up with this solution for my layout.





  • Plastic sheeting for under the hardiplank
    • Intended to keep moisture away from the hardiplank
    • Keep it as clean as possible under the rolled shingle/track
    • *** Note: If I had to do it over again, I would use a perforated plastic to let water drain. ***




This requires very little explanation, see the photos. 


Some notes however:

  • Leave the corner sections floating for the most part to allow expansion during the peak summer heat and contraction during the winter.
  • Recommend using the small hole in the Aristocraft tie sections to keep the straight portions of track perfectly straight long term.
  • No expansion joints or anything like that has been necessary on my layout allowing the corners to mostly free float.


For the curves at the ground level and new raised ramp, this is where the Compound Miter saw was critical.  The plates (which were to be screwed to the bottom later) were used only for the ramp and not to connect at ground level.


Raised basement ramp under construction.  The curves are being pre-made in 1/8th circle sections and is very sturdy.

As far as materials, I'm using the 5/4 Hardiplank boards cut as shown with 3.0 degree side to side cut so the pieces can fit perfectly together and follow the 20ft diameter curve track sections.  They also have a top to bottom 45 degree angle cut to provide additional strength.  Each section is screwed together with the plates show and can be purchased in the framing section at Home depot.  (each screw hole was predrilled to ensure the board didn't split/break) 



More photos:  


Each section is cut with a three degree angle and the outside/longest section is 1' 3/4" long.  Also, each cut is done at 45 degrees (instead of the normal 90 degrees) to provide additional end to end strength. 

Also picked up an inexpensive 4" angle grinder and thin blade for cutting the track.  Best $30 I've spent yet.  Makes quick, clean cuts. 


All the wiring is laid and is ready to go.  


The straights and curves are screwed in place and are all ready for leveling.  After that, the feeder wires will be put in place and will then be ready for the rolled roofing.

These pictures reveal the steps I use.  First the property (mow line) was determined, then the outside line boards were placed 29 inches from the line.  (This will allow 1 push mower wide path down the side.)  The inside path was then laid 12 inches (outside edge to outside edge) from the outer.  Then starting from one end, the plastic was rolled on top (one ten foot pair at a time) and once covered, the now covered boards were slid out from under and placed back on top.  Once laid, a board was placed on the plastic sides to keep them from blowing around.

After that was done, the removed track was put back in place and the rest of the needed track lengths were installed.  Next, the whole line will be leveled and evened up.

Part 1:

What isn't pictured is the corner Hardi-planks are in place and screwed down.

Part 2:

Loops are almost connected. 


Hardi-plank is now under the entire length of both ovals.  Only one cut left on the inside track in one corner.  All that is left is to level and smooth out the grade on the straights and lay the feeder lines and they will be ready to run.  The rolled roofing will be final step.


The first test run. 


The first multi-train test. 


Three corners done.


Completed the final rolled roofing sections.  With the rolled roofing in place there is no weed whacking required, just push mow down the sides and use the rider on the rest.  The layout is basically maintenance free.   (The right side is having some heat expansion issues on the right side I need to address.)

Here it is. 


Lessons Learned:  (Post-Deployment)

If I had to do it over again I would have:

  • Used two layers of rolled roofing to provide additional strength on the sides and between the rails where people may step.
  • Placed a Hardiplank board down between the two rails to provide stability in case someone steps or walks between the rails
  • Used a perforated plastic sheeting bottom later to allow water to properly drain
  • Painted the Hardiplank boards thoroughly with enamel paint to protect them from moisture.





2006 - Basement Ramp Rebuild page



Return to Garden Railroad Modification page.


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