Laying track outdoors, revisited

I'm posting this because nobody responded to the idea I threw out there about using Wonderboard for roadbed, set in a bed of mortar <sniff>.
Does anyone who actually has experience with laying large-scale rail have an opinion one way or the other on this? Is this a brilliant idea? or am I full of it? Inquiring minds want to know ...
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

I guess you must have blacklisted me!
Those of us who lay track outdoors probably all have different opinions on what is good/what is bad through having differing climatic and soil conditions. I posted my opinion that it seems like a workable idea provided you use the material the correct way.
Regards, Greg.P.
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If you're going with a rigid base, you want to make sure movement is as minimal as possible. With the flexible base, you can allow for movement of the track without much worry. Remember that some areas can see temperatures from -20 deg F to 120 deg F (usually not in a single year) and expansion and contraction will do what it will.
Aristocraft rail tends to pop away from the ties with flexing and expansion and contraction. You'll want to be able to pull up pieces and either replace (if bad enough) or remove the rail from the ties and reattach them.
I am far from an expert in this area, only having track down for a year and finally getting the base prepared properly this last week. It will be a long time before I really know all that's going to happen to track outdoors.
Puckdropper
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I guess you missed my opinion on the other outdoor track thread. I wouldn't trust a rigid base outdoors.
I'd heard of some prototype experiments with rigid track bases - kind of sectional track with a concrete base and integral ties. It moved around, heaved, cracked, came apart at the joints, etc. They tried it and gave up the idea.
How does the prototype make track in your area? Take a hint. It might work. Can you do the same thing in smaller scale?
I think no matter what you do outdoors, you're going to have to deal with track movement. If you try to eliminate this movement with a rigid base, I don't think you can do it. I think you're better off adjusting for these movements than you are trying to eliminate them.
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snipped-for-privacy@mtholyoke.edu spake thus:

Not to dispute what you've said, which I think is sound, except to say that here (Bay Area, California), we don't have to contend with freezing conditions, so the only ground movement we have to worry about is the occasional 3.5+.

I still say this can be much more succinctly stated:
"Quick, good, cheap: pick any two."
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[ snip ]

OK, I do have to deal with freeze/thaw. Does a 3.5+ break up houses, or does it take more for that? I guess if a big crack opens through your layout, it's going to cause damage no matter how it's built.
Isn't it about 60 degrees all day, every day, year around in the Bay Area? If so, thermal expansion shouldn't be much of a problem either. I use 6' sections of aluminum rail, and leave about 1/16" between rail ends. When I check the track and get it back in the spring sometimes the gaps are closed up, and the next gap is much wider, so rail does shift on the ties. I grab a rail with vise grips and tap the grips to slide the rail to even out the joint gaps.
I haven't gotten the leaves and sticks off the track yet this year.

Verbosity is good.
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Naw, just stirs the coffee up good <VBG>!

closed up, and the next gap is much wider, so rail does shift on the ties. <
You might try a screw or some device to permanently anchor the rail in the middle (3') and then it would be forced to slide either/both ways.
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snipped-for-privacy@mtholyoke.edu spake thus:

Nah; about the worst a 3.5 can do, from my experience, is knock stuff off of shelves. Damage to buildings doesn't start really until you get up to, say, 4-5. (Hard to say, actually, the scale being logarithmic and all.)

We do get very occasional freezes, and maybe a few days a year with temperatures into the 90s, but other than that, yes, it's pretty much balmy all the time. Maybe a good place for garden railroads, huh?
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[ Snip ]

Should be a piece of cake to build a garden railway there. Why go through all the work with wonder board and mortar? Scrape off the grass and flowers, level the roadbed, put down garden felt weed barrier, put down track, and dump ballast on it.
We put down a track at the Pioneer Valley Live Steamers a few years ago. It lasted pretty well for a few years till the club powers that be decided lawn care was more important than running trains, and they ripped it up because they had to mow around it. We used Aristocraft track. At each joint we screwed a 6" - 8" block of pressure treated 2x4 to the end of each track section. That kept the sections from separating. We then poured and tamped stone dust around the track to anchor the wood blocks and fill in under the track between. Spring trackwork was mostly scraping or tamping the stone dust to re-level the wood blocks, then scrape or tamp the stone between blocks.
Indoor modelers have to worry about cats on the layout. I was awakened by the dog barking out the window at 5 AM recently. I looked out and saw a big ol' black bear lumbering across the tracks. I hope he stays away while I'm out playing with trains.
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Come on out to Livermore in January, February. We scrape a nice coating of ice off the windshields a lot of mornings (~5am). Frost on the grass is common enough. Guy across the street lost a Palm tree 4-5 years ago due to frost. (You just need to get up earlier ;)
Ok, were on the east side of the East Bay but, we are only ~35mi from "the city".
At the Alameda County Fair grounds we can start a morning in the low 40's and hit 100+ in the afternoon. Frost or not that's a lot of thermal stress. And inside the it can hit 115 no problem (swamp coolers help but, not that much :) and visitors wonder why we are sitting on the concrete floor.

And that also.
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Working the rockie road of the G&PX
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Paul Newhouse spake thus:

You'll have to forgive me; my universe pretty much ends at the Caldecott Tunnel. Lamorinda, Livermore, etc., are all "over the hill". (And don't get me started about Walnut Creek, the Stepford of the East Bay ...)
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Walnut Creek the Nouveau Plastique captiol of CA? (OTOH they do have Diablo Valley Lines, a pretty nice layout! Worth expanding your universe for.)
Livermore still has a Rodeo ... with live horses and other livestock. Just a few miles east of John Maddenville *8^)
Paul -- Alameda County Fair June 22 thru July 8, 2007 Home of the Alameda County Central Railroad Society
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