Are there any practical backyard railroads ???

I have a large backyard and I do all the yard work myself. It is
approximately 1.7 acres. There are many obstacles including one
corner of a 5-acre pond and the stream that feeds into the pond.
I am considereding building a small railway to be used for
practical purposes ..... such as hauling loads of leaves to the
curb for trash pickup, etc.
Does anyone know of a website that could give me some guidance.
One idea that I am entertaining is the use of chain-link fence
toprail for the rails and small bicycle wheels without tires for
wheels and treated 4x4 timbers for cross-ties. I am thinking
of attaching the rails to the cross-ties by drilling a 1/4-inch
hole in the top side and a 1/8-inch hole in the bottom side
and securing the rail to the cross-tie using a large
self-tapping deck screw. The rails could be made more stable by
cutting a shallow v-shapped groove into the cross-tie for each
rails to sit in.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Reply to
Pseud O. Nym
Loading thread data ...
One of those big carts on fat bicycle or motorcycle wheels that they advertise in gardening magazines:
formatting link
formatting link

formatting link

. . . etc. - saves buying all those 4x4s and fence pipe rails, grading, building a cart, scarring your land with the roadbed, . . .
Reply to
Steve Caple
Do a Google Search on "Live Steam Railways" and you will find lots of links. Most will be for model railroads to haul people, but some will be more "practical".
You don't mention motive power; are you planning just a single car "train" to pull yourself, or do you envision multi car trains with some form of locomotive?
Several early logging outfits used pole roads with track made from consistent diameter logs laid parallel as rails. Manufacturers made steam locomotives that road on wheels that looked like automobile wheels without tires. Your approach sounds similar. If you are just thinking of a single track line, you can probably make your scheme work, but if you envision multiple routes, switches for these double flanged wheels may be a problem.
4 x 4 ties sound like overkill. 2 x 4 would be cheaper and should be adequate. I think the galvanized pipe may be more expensive and harder to bend than other materials. A live steamer I know had good luck and low cost using 1/4" x 3/4" steel bar stock as rails. He mass produced ties on a jig that let him cut gauged 1/4" wide and 3/8" deep slots in each tie. The bars rested in the ties, and he found it adequate to only drill the bars every 5 to 10 feet for a hold down. Another friend who likes to economize doesn't bother with the cost of pressure treated lumber. He collects used motor oil from his friends that change their own oil and soaks his ties made of construction scraps in the oil as a substitute for creosote.
Good luck. Geezer
Reply to
You might try googling Sir Arthur Haywood. He was an Englishman, c.1880s, who advocated Estate Railways, 15" gauge. You might get some ideas reading about what he did. AFAIK there were only two built to his ideas.
V grooves in the ties may be a good idea. The ties WILL move around in the ballast, and could change the track gauge.
Reply to
I don't think so. Those grooves will accelerate the tendency for rail bases to cut into the ties and ultimately break them. Spikes (or bolts) hold the ties in gauge. Tie-plates are available to spread the load from rail to tie, and prevent the rail base from cutting into the tie.
If the ballast is properly built and maintained, the ties will move very little if at all. The purpose of ballast is a) to hold the track in place; b) spread the weight from track to roadbed; and c) to provide drainage. Ballast should be clean, screened crushed gravel of a suitable size - in the case of OP's working railway, about 1/2" to 1"; crushed gravel rather than pit-run so that it packs when tamped. Ballast width at the top should be about 1.3 to 1.5 times tie length, and at the base about twice tie length. Its depth below the ties should be at least equal to tie thickness - twice tie thickness or so is better, but requires a lot more material. The roadbed should be graded with a slight crown so that water drains away on both sides. Super-elevation on curves, if any, is created by placing more ballast underneath the high side of the track.
The above is adapted from railway engineering texts included on the reading lists of the "Materials and Processes" and surveying courses that I took in 1st year engineering many years ago.
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
Not this gy, eh?
formatting link
Reply to
Steve Caple
There certainly are suppliers of light railways out there. Tri-ang UK produced "Minex" back in the early 1960s and there are suppliers of similar railways advertizing in "Model Engineer" UK an "Garden Railways" US Kalmbach magazines. All you need is money and a shovel.
Reply to
Greg Procter
Nope, wrong guy. Googling "Sir Arthur Haywood" will get you to the correct spelling of "Heywood." Sorry 'bout that.
Reply to

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.