The Little River Rail Road in Doc Tom's Back Yard

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Doctor G, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Let me guess...real rocks. :cool:
  2. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Yep!. This was a real problem for my dad when he built his railroad. in spite of owning 918 acres , he had to import rock, as there just isn't any rock to speak of on our tree farm, with the exception of some few pieces of petrified wood ( surprisingly, they were from Palm trees in Northern Mississippi). My dad, who studied Geology as well as Forestry; claimed that the world is colder right now than its average temperature over geological time.

    When I would go to visit my folks, I would take them an interesting rock for their garden.

    Tom, if you want to study a successful retaining wall, The retaining wall along my driveway is now about 20 years old! I built it with cribbing, and it is still solid. stay away from those partly round landscaping timbers, and go with treated wood 4x4's those landscaping timbers I used at the same time right next to the 4x4s are a distant memory.

    If you want to build some thing like I did, my carpentry skills, tools, and my Suburban will be at your disposal.

    Also I have some ivy we can take cuttings from if you want to cover up areas.

  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Is that ivy in scale? :cool:

    Practically speaking, and for appearances sake, the cribbing or rock walls should also be in scale, to avoid overwhelming the layout and emphasizing it's diminutive size.

    Just a thought. out here I use tree trunks, myself. :mrgreen:
  4. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    It depends on the use of the retaining wall, often they are used to raise up the layout portion of the garden for drainage. In that case they are more like the facia of a layout and scale appearance is not a concern, just functionality. In anycase, if you want it to run without massive maintenance issues functionality is going to need to trump looks whenever they are in direct conflict.

    In this climate, tree trunks are right out, they return to the earth very quickly here, hanging atound just long enough to attract termites.

  5. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Other ways to build a RR

    Hi M.Man and Bill,

    Thanks for getting in on the discussion about retaining walls. Bill is correct the amount of rainfall we have in the hills of Tennessee coupled with the expense of standard retaining walls has got me thinking about all kinds of ways to get the Garden RR built.

    Here are two fun ways to handle the dramatic slope I have in the backyard with "floor to ceiling" scenery.

    One is extensive use of trestles to handle the change in elevation. The other is the very interesting use of rock and concrete applied to chicken wire on a steel rebar or wooden frame. The inside of the mountain is basically hollow.

    Let me know your thoughts.

    Doc Tom:mrgreen:

    Attached Files:

  6. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Hey mountain Man,

    Here is a neat way to do cribbing in scale. Been thinking about doing this as well.
    Doc Tom:mrgreen:

    Attached Files:

  7. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    No wonder the estimate was so high, That ceiling is way up there!

    When I was considering an outdoor layout, I was eying the massive Gully between my house and old City Ferry Rd. There was a lot of room for dramatic scenes, close to my house, but my dad's maintenance experiences in the deep woods convinced me that it would be difficult to keep operational, and that was before the sinkholes started showing up!.
  8. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

    My thoughts are mostly leaning towards the scale look of coarse you probably will have to have functionality as well but could possibly hide it with something in scale. I like the scale cribbing. GRR is just that, you have the garden look along with the train look. To each his own I guess depends on if you like gardening or trains better. I like the layouts that keep the trains more as the subject & try to keep things in scale as much as they can. No matter how you do it Doc I'm sure it's going to be exciting to follow along. I guess your trading your plastic trays in for a wheel barrow & mixer! :mrgreen:
  9. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    The main issue is you can't let your indoor modeling experience and expectations color your goals and plans much as this is a whole new ballgame.

    On the western themed model railroads, built in the west, they can get close by having the track wander through a pike of rock. That won't cut it for representing the great Eastern primordial forest, nor is any scale representation possible, and so we get into the realms of art. Short of bonsai, which take too much time and effort, scale trees don't exist, and so you have to work with what you have, using plants for thier color and texture to develop a feeling for the railroad in the woods without acces to much that is close to scale.

    The moss that grows in my woods will be a great resource if we can transplant it and keep it alive.

    I'm very skeptical of the concrete mountain approach, as I have, with the exception of some incredibly expensive zoo displays, not seen concrete rocks that were convincing. in any case, for Eastern TN. we would have to build that structure first, and then get something to grow on it. Ivy would grow there, but you would be constantly trimming it back.

    I had asked my sister Judy, who was a biology major about taking cuttings from Ivy, and she said "Sure you can do that, but who would want to ; It would be like planting Kudzu.

    In any case you cannot separate the railroad from the gardening, at least not in this climate, ant least not without spending a fortune on round up, and modeling a western scene. You have to skillfully make the one work for the other, or you will Have a lot of time and effort invested in a failure, either something that looks OK but doesn't run, or something that runs, but is a colossal eyesore.

    Tom has a chance to make this work, since he is addept at making the forest/trees compromise (I err on the tree side every time), and his space is limited enough where he won't necessarily be overwhelmed (my gully is some prime real estate, but the time and other resources needed to concur it have never existed at the same time, I determined they were unlikely to ever do so, and have donated most of the goodies that I had collected, plus what my dad had retained for Tom's project.

  10. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

    I think your indoor modeling experience is exactly what you should take to the garden. The garden has mostly been there but the train is basically what is being added. My thoughts of keeping to scale was not so much the vegitation but was with trestles, buildings etc. I have seen where a lot of GRR modelers loose it when it comes to some of these items. I think if a modeler stays close to scale with things that are practical & that we see in the real world, then realism won't be sacraficed. Has any thoughts been towards using expansion foam or spraying fiberglass into moulds rather than using concrete over wire mesh. These things are used a lot in amusement parks. I'm sure Doc Tom will have us all excited no matter what he chooses to do. Hey guys have a great Thanksgiving!
  11. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    The outdoor environment demands compromises beyond the use of actual vegetation. One thig almost universally accepted is the rail size, It is grossly over scale and needs to be for strength, even if you are doing R/C and don't need it for electrical conductivity.

    Likewise the outdoor environment gives us situations we don't face indoors. A trestle with over scale members ends up looking better than one that is strictly scale, but whose members have warped due to moisture exposure, and the smaller the piece of wood, the more extravagantly it will warp. Once again this won't be as big an issue for those fine layouts we see in photographs from Arizona and California.

    My dad built against the back wall of a shed, and then out into the woods. He ended up abandoning the track in the woods, and building a open air shed over the rest, before abandoning the whole effort and moving inside.

    It is a great then that Tom has the experiences of folks on the internet, and can learn from other's efforts, but it is a big mistake to try to transfer what you know from modeling inside to the outside, thinking it will work, cause it won't.

  12. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Thanks for the feedback

    Hi Bill and Sawdust,

    Thanks so much for all the thought and advice you all are giving me on this foray in to Garden Rail Roading. It is appreciated, as this is all new territory for me.

    What I like about this scale is that in many ways it is very similar to real rail roads with the attention to drainage, topography and climate. I also love the detail at trackside and in the locomotives and rolling stock. These things are huge and you see every last part, rivet and bolt.

    Now I agree it it is not true scale modeling after you get a few inches away from the rolling stock and track and move out to the periphery. There are many miniature trees like dwarf Alberta Spruce that have fine leaf structure that can resemble real prototype trees but not exactly like we can do in HO and O scale.

    I am attaching a photo (unfortunately poor quality photo) of a Shay moving about in concrete mountains with living dwarf Alberta Spruce. I post this so you can see it is possible to grow trees in the cement and rock topography. You provide spaces for plant boxes or planters that are drained in the actual concrete structure.

    I am not giving up true scale modeling and will be keeping my On30 Haiti layout and working on the club HO layout. I hope also to build an On30 representation of the ET&WNC railroad. I am having a lot of fun dabbling in all these guages and styles of modeling.

    The Internet has been a great modeling resource and you guys helping out here in this corner of the Internet is greatly appreciated.

    Doc Tom:mrgreen:

    Attached Files:

  13. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Foam and Concrete makes a mountain

    Hi Sawdust,

    Thanks for the ideas about the foam and fiberglass.

    Here is a very interesting article about a modeler who has built his outdoor RR based on the Disneyland theme park RR out in California. Here is the link

    Basically he uses foam covered with concrete.I have enclosed one of his pictures of the "Magic Kingdom" in G scale. A lot of creativity is going in to these projects.

    Doc Tom:thumb:

    Attached Files:

  14. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Surveying crews of the LRRR

    What a beautiful weekend it has been this Turkey Day holiday. With mild afternoons it was a chance to start some work on Little River Rail Road in the back yard.

    As Sawdust had noted we are now using some Big Modeling tools. The wheel barrow has the LRRR logo. The "Camp Shed" has the Little River Logo too.

    The stakes were placed where the "upper level" tracks will be about 34" above the flat plane below.

    A spur will take off from this upper level trackage and go in to the Camp Shed/ Train Shed through an opening in a lower wall to "staging tracks" inside and out of the weather.

    Over the next several weeks I will be painting and laying track. I will try to provide a pictorial account of what is going on.

    On the locomotive front I talked with the man who will be doing the R/C Battery conversion and everything so far is going well.

    Thanks for following along with me on this Garden Adventure.

    Doc Tom:mrgreen:

    Attached Files:

  15. Sawdust

    Sawdust Member

    It was a beautiful Thanksgiving, hope you had a good one as well. I am jealous of that wheelbarrow, :mrgreen: all mine says on it is "Jackson Wheelbarrow Co." it's a good one but dosen't look as nice as yours. Keep us posted!
  16. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Thanks Sawdust,

    Yes we had a good Thanksgiving and a great visit with family and friends. Even got in a little model railroading.

    Yeah, I really like the logo/herald for the Little River RR and plastered it all over the place. Hauling dirt in a company wheel barrow doesn't feel like so much back breaking work as working for a great logging outfit.

    I will be test fitting some of the track today. Then it is on to painting the track. I want to paint the track because, as you guys pointed out, you can easily lose realism with the appearance of large scale track....too uniform black ties and shiny brass track (it does weather brown in a few years naturally). With radio control and onboard batteries no need to worry about electrical conductivity and so the track will be painted to appear realistic.

    Ballast will be crushed stone and hopefully dirt to better resemble a logging line in the mountains. Not so sure if the dirt will wash out though.....just like the real ones.

    Doc Tom:wave:
  17. S class

    S class Member

    maybe you can mix in some cement when you lay the ballast to "glue" the dirt in place, just a thought.

    I am so jelous of those garden layouts it makes me want to cry that I can't even get back to work on my N scale pike.
  18. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Hi S class,

    The cement in the ballast is a good idea. In my reading several large scale modelers have done just that and it appears to work. In fact they just wait for the first rain to get things started and a few days later have a solid roadbed.

    I am trying the "float the track" in ballast technique that a large subset of garden railroaders adhere to. Again it is only through reading but apparently allowing the track to shift and move with temperature changes cuts down on problems after the track is laid.

    I could see how though if every thing washes away from improper drainage I would be reaching for that bag of cement .

    I do like the larger scale for my aging eyes but have also found continued enjoyment in HO at our local club and On30 in the mini layout I have depicting the Haitian Sugar trains of the 1920's......this layout is also here on Zealot as is my now defunct HO C&S RR. So I think I am called a "rubber guager" now bouncing around all over the guage playing field.
    Doc Tom:wave:
  19. S class

    S class Member

    I've seen your work Dr G, I sat up way past my bed time reading up on the C&S RR when I first joined zealot, and when I got to the part about you pulling it all down I almost cried for all the fine work gone (this was about 1 am and I was a bit sleep deprived at the time lol).
  20. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Tom , you are a rubber gauger if you represent a 3 foot gauge railroad with On30, or HO n30, so you night qualify by representing the standard gauge Little River Railroad with proper 3 foot gauge equipment. it doesn't, best I can tell, come fromplaying with different scales, but with faking the gauge in any particular scale.

    On some of the On3 lists, some folks have been using pre colored tile grout for ground cover, and that might be an option to dirt up the roadbed some, although it would tend to cement it in place some.


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