Something that will need to be decided early on in the construction of your railway is how you plan to power it.
In the garden, power may create additional problems that it would not cause on an indoor layout.
Electric Track Power
Generally, this is how an indoor layout will be powered. In the garden, dirt (or even insects) may get on to the track which can disrupt the power supply. Regular maintainance of the track is essential if you use this method of power.
Many garden railway owners prefer live steam – it adds realism to any railway – and it’s fun!
This can be more expensive, and is a little more difficult to run, but that will pay off in the enjoyment you will get when running your trains.
Generally this is only viable for larger scales, but batteries may be placed inside your locomotives. This is probably the easiest option (in terms of initial construction and running costs too).
One of the (potentially) most useful parts of this site will be a guide to how to build a garden railway.
While this should not be considered a definitive guide by any stretch of the imagination, it should hopefully provide a good starting point for your own plans.
Depending on how seriously you plan to take your new railway, planning can begin before you even purchase the house where the railway will be built. There are several things that you should be considering which will affect how you build your railway.
Gradient Of The Garden
This is not something that you can always gauge correctly simply by sight, but the gradient of the garden can have a large impact on how you build your railway – especially if you are planning to haul passengers.
Smaller (O gauge or lower) railways will not be affected by this quite so much, as they can be built raised in sections, or earth can be moved easily to accomodate them.
Look out for gardens that are as flat as possible – and try to get a picture of the finished line in your head, to visualise any potential problems with the construction – and how you could overcome them.
The size of the garden is also important – again, especially if you will be building for a gauge big enough to carry people. If the garden is too small, you may be limited by what you can build (in a narrow garden, you may not have enough space to make the track loop round, for example)
I will be discussing this issue further in future posts…
(Photo by fairlightworks)