My Fence Line train layout

Having joined the Christchurch Garden Railway Society,

My Fiat in its early stages coming out of the garden shed.

I planned my own garden railway layout. By this time I had made a start on building my Drewry railcar, so a shuttle line only was started. It ran along the ground right in the garden, under and around trees and plants. I put a door in the side of a nearby storage shed and the track went inside. However falling leaves and birds scratching in them were always an issue whenever I wished to run a train. First of all I had to find the track and then clear it. As my models were battery powered, at least cleanliness of the rails was never an issue. The railway never did get finished. I tended to lose interest, because of all the work associated with having a run.

The solid door that fits into the hole in the house.

In 2010 we moved to a new home, complete with a bare section. Now I had the opportunity, with my wife’s consent, to develop a railway from scratch. Once again it would basically be a shuttle line. There would not be an issue with falling leaves. However I decided to make it a raised track for its full extent, to give a definite separation from other things. I would also enjoy not having to stoop so far down.

I had a 'train door’ installed through the brick work of the second bedroom and into a large wardrobe. The overall plan was for the track to come out of the door and then follow the boundary fences around three sides of our section. For the first section of track, having just come out of the house, I supported the track bed on wooden pegs inside short lengths of plastic drain pipes.

From there on it is mounted on a wooden structure attached to the boundary fence. This is generally hollow underneath, and closed in with timber palings. Black polythene plastic lines the top surface.

Potted plants are positioned in cut out round holes. Two parts of the construction are filled in with soil, beneath the garden seat and in the corner section.

The passing section. Note, the railcar is actually travelling backwards.

The corner section.

The platform end.

The points at the passing section are spring biased to keep trains always to the left.

The radio controlled Fiat railcar keeps to the main shuttle line, running from the house to the platform at the far end. The automated Model T railcar branches off the main line at two locations. The turntable is at the end of one of these and a balloon loop at the end of the other branch.

It is possible if one is careful to run both models at the same time by making use of the passing section.

The Picaxe control.

The two points at the branch off locations are also automated. They are spring biased to the main line, but are switched over as the Model T approaches them. The magnet under its front axle closes a reed switch which triggers a Picaxe chip. This is programed to momentarily output to a small electric motor. A string attached to the drum on the motor shaft, changes the point over.

The water feature located in the corner is made from scrap polystyrene layered and glued together. The final finish is achieved with a good  coat of paint sprinkled with sand.

A submersible pump, located in a bucket burried in the dirt below, provides water flow.

All of the points are home made and the rail track is a mixture of bought and home manufactured. The home made track used old brass curtain track (sourced from scrap metal dealers). Sadly, nice straight pieces were rare, but I found that with heating (gas flame) it is possible to carefully un-bend the track. It may require repeated heating as the brass work-hardens very quickly.

Drilling jig.

Positioning the holes radially on the curved sections.

The sleepers are ripped from treated fence palings and are at 50mm centres.

The metal jig is used to locate the four holes drilled in each one.

Straight sections are very easy since the holes in the web of both tracks are exactly opposite each other and at the same spacing.

For a curved piece I drill holes in one side only to start with. Once the two tracks have been bent to the correct radius and gauge, hole positions are marked on the undrilled piece to be radial with the existing holes.

Galvanised binding wire is bent down through the holes and flattened out underneath.

Galvanised wire staples placed through the rails and sleepers.

These are bent over under the sleepers.

Joining two sections of curtain track.

Joining curtain track to the bought track.

Sections of track are nut and/or bolted together as shown.

The rail profile is quite large, (scale wise) but it does the job, and relatively inexpensively.🙂

A selection of video clips

Riding the rails.

The Fiat railcar.

The Model T railcar.

The turntable in operation.

Videos by L Dickens.

Update on the railway.

Unfortunately, I used untreated plywood for the original bed of my railway. Also, the potted plants were only supported at their rims by the plywood.

Over the last five years the weight of the plants and stones has caused the plywood to sag and distort badly. As a result the train track has been left unsupported in some places.😥

As it happens, we are moving house, so my trackwork has now been up-lifted. When I re-establish a railway, I will be trying a different approach to its construction.

Latest comments

26.02 | 08:23

this is a beautiful model. I first saw a ststic DM model at Napiers Lillip...

29.04 | 04:09

Fantastic video Dean!

20.08 | 11:21

Thats great Dean love to see the video.