Newbie Garden Railway

Hello chaps,
The usual apologies if this has already been said and done before, but I'm going to embark upon getting a garden railway in the garden
(obviously!), and any hints and tips would be most appreciated.
Firstly, I'm just getting into the design of the railway. I have some idea of the things I want to do with the railway - firstly starting it off in the garage, then going down the side path to the back garden. I plan to do it in about three or four stages, so I guess this will take me 3-4 years to complete (at least!)
I've measured up the garden, and I've put the measurements into Visio. What I need to do now is to be able to plot the relevant pieces on the diagram so I can get a good idea of the number of track I would need, and therefore the cost. Is there any easy way of doing this? Is there, for example, some software which will help you design your railway? If I have to stay with Visio, how can I work out what the various bends I need will be (like the radius, arc length and all that?) How do I know what is suitable for a particular train?
Secondly, I'm going down the route of an LGB railway, although I've seen Bachman and others - any hints on tips as to what would be best? I know this is such an open ended question, but I'm an absolute beginner, and I've not bought anything yet!!
Thanks in advance for any hints and tips you can give me.
Paul.
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On 2 Feb 2007 08:02:42 -0800, "Mr Ploppy"
Paul,

Is your garden flat, or does it have any gradients? Might be worth checking so that you don't have to do a lot of earth moving or construction to allow reasonable model railway gradients.
Ask me how I know :-) With my first attempt at a garden railway on a site on a hillside, I spent about eighteen months on and off with a spade and a wheelbarrow levelling out the plot.
Then we moved house :-)
Same thing happened at the next house :-)
Gave up the idea at my present house :-)
Jim.
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On Feb 2, 4:36 pm, Jim Guthrie wrote:

Ha! I get you. It is a nice flat garden, about 25m in length, and crying out for a railway of some sort. I plan on using posts in the ground, and a beam across them to hold the track on to, rather than a concrete wall or something. I want it to go down to floor level (or just above, say about a foot off the ground, really), but then raise up to about waist level when it reaches the garage. Any idea about the gradient here? The path from the garage to the back garden is about 5 meters in length - is this enough?
There's also a pond at the bottom of the garden which just NEEDS a nice suspension bridge across it! But that's for later... if the wife approves! ;-)
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On 2 Feb 2007 08:43:35 -0800, "Mr Ploppy"

Doesn't sound like it. If your garden really is level, then you would be looking for a difference in height of about two feet and the gradient to raise that height in sixteen feet (just over five metres) would be about 1 in 8 which is much too steep for normal model railways. You should be looking for at least 1 in 30 and preferably something like 1 in 50 for reasonable model railway operations.
You should check exactly how level your garden is by begging, borrowing or stealing something like a laser level, or use a water tube level, and do a survey of the area you want to use. In your case a difference of a foot or two in the right direction could help you to get what you want - i.e. if the garden has a slight upward gradient relative to the garage, then if you lay your track level, the heights relative to the ground could be getting close to what you want. If it happens to fall away relative to the garage, then the track at the bottom would be quite high relative to the ground.
Jim.
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Hi Paul
Google is your friend. Just search 45mm, LGB, 16mm association, 7/8ths. Any of these will get you into sites with links to a wealth of information. Loads of forums on the Yahoo egroups with all the information you could ever want.
Martin
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Also look at the G Scale Mad site:
http://www.gscalemad.co.uk
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On 2 Feb, 17:07, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Ah - that's fantastic - thanks for the pointer. I shall go there and ask! :-)
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Keep the gradients as gentle as you can, and the radii as large as you can. (Sorry to be obvious, but 'tis true.)
If you aim for 1:50 a small error won't be critical. If you try to build 1:30 and it's slightly worse, you could regret it.

A single length of track with a shuttle circuit and a constructor's train might do to start, then. You can move the end diode "stop" piece as the track extends, until you're ready for stations or loops.

Big questions are nationality of outline, British, American, German? Scale and gauge.. 32mm or 45, O, 1, G, SM32..? Main-line, industrial, light railway or Welsh slate line? Track power, battery power and radio control, live steam (with or without radio control...)
I've gone for track-powered G scale British trains... So mostly kits and scratchbuilt on LGB, Bachmann and Playmobil chassis. and I only had room for 2-ft radius curves, so small engines and 4-wheel coaches.
Roughly where are you? Seeing a few gardens may give you a good idea of what you might want or not want for yourself.

I have a little garden railway for sale at the moment. Guide price 220,000, but it comes with a free three-bedroomed house.

--
Chris Brown, Emett fan. See http://www.picturetrail.com/emettplus

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Have you considered a switchback for gaining height? This could be in addition to any conventional layout you might build. It has a couple of advantages: - It is unusual in a model - It would be operationally interesting
--
Jane
OO and DCC in the garden
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On 2 Feb 2007 08:02:42 -0800, "Mr Ploppy"

Paul.
Apart from any personal advice, I feel that peeking at www.g-scale-society.co.uk would be of use.
From their site, locate your nearest area contact & explain your intentions.
I joined the society after building my railway, some early advice would have made life easier!
My own line is partly at ground level, & on raised beds, with 1 in 17 gradients, & if I ever rebuild it, it will be removed from the ground.
I'm finding working on the track a little easier, when it's higher. (Age related problem!)
From experience, avoid small radius curves & points if at all possible, the do look ridiculous even with narrow-gauge trains. Also, try not to use short pieces ofsectional track, flexible track is available in 1.5 M lengths, allowing you to choose your curvature, rather than the manufacturer & keeping voltage drop to a minimum.
I used quite a lot of 30 mm straight sections, & spent quite some time soldering them together (in 8 ft lengths) before laying them in the garden.
HTH, David C.
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I'll second that. Mine is on 2ft high raised beds, which helps you see more of a train than the roof.

I've been forced to 2ft radii by the space available and, yes, I'd go for 4ft minimum in a shot, if there was any sort of space that would take it, even if it meant a simpler track layout. I hope I've avoided ridiculous, even so, with nothing bigger than a short 2-4-0 and four-wheel coaches.

Well you would! (300 was intended, I take it?)
Again, agreed.

--
Chris Brown, Emett fan. See http://www.picturetrail.com/emettplus

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You could try O gauge, www.talacre.com is my Modern Image Garden Railway

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