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When checked, Shutterstock's safe search screens restricted content and excludes it from your search results. Ever wish you could set up a small temporary outdoor railroad for a special occasion, such as Christmas decorating, a kid's party, train club publicity, or a neighborhood block party or street fair? I first built the temporary railroad that I use every year for a 2007 garden railroading clinic in Holden Arboretum (near Cleveland), I didn't really think I'd still be setting it up at least once a year five years later, but, the truth is, it disassembles easily for storage, it's not that much trouble to set up, and it's useful for all sorts of things. I've also run all kinds of trains on the little railroad, including the Large Scale Thomas and James, streetcars, and the Lionel toy "G gauge" trains that use plastic track. I also get inquiries from people wanting to set up a temporary outdoor Lionel railroad for Christmas or other events.
To be as inclusive as possible, we've included templates and tips for garden trains, Lionel, American Flyer, HO, and On30 trains in the article. The instructions may seem long (because I am including enough information for just about anybody to do it right the first time), but they all boil down to a few simple steps that make total sense once you get into them.
Figure out what kind of train you want to run and how many curves there are in a circle of track.
Choose the right template for the kind of track curves you have, using the table at the end of the article.
Buy the right amount of lumber and nails and a little extra, using the table at the end of the article. Test the stringers by fastening three pieces of track together and setting it on top of three stringers.
Create subassemblies (arcs or semicircles) that you can fasten together once you start setting things up.
Folks who seldom use power tools may be afraid of all the cutting, but the templates make it very easy to cut the correct angles. When I use a similar technique to build permanent raised outdoor railroads, I cut the posts longer and sink them into the ground instead of putting them on bases.
Technically, a person could put a loop of track directly on the ground or on a circle of concrete blocks or the like. If you're going to be setting up an HO or O gauge railroad with 36"-diameter circles (they really take up about 38" of space), you could get a piece of 4x8" plywood and either cut arcs out for the track, or use it as a tabletop. One friend who sets up temporary railroads at special events uses 6" or 12" posts, which frankly, work better if you're running trains around ponds or other ground-level features. If this is for a winter display, you would be surprised how easy it is to "whisk broom" off a raised railroad and run trains, even when there's a foot of snow on the ground. If you have garden trains, this will give you a good use for the 48" track circles that come with train sets and are too tight to use anywhere but around the Christmas trees. On the other hand, if you have a train that comes with plastic track, you'll already have enough straight track to make your railroad even longer. Any small train (like the kind you get in a train set) or single item like a trolley will do just fine. And once you have the basic framework in place, how much time and money you spend decorating and accessorizing it is up to you. Add a 15% "fudge factor" because there is almost always some unused (and unusable) remainder at the end of the boards when you cut them. To figure out how much decking you need for the "plates" under the roadbed count the track pieces you expect to use. To figure out how much decking you'll need for the base plates, count your number of posts.
4"x4" Pressure-treated posts - For permanent railroads, most folks use one post per every 18" to 24" of track, with a maximum of 32" for straight pieces or really broad curves. 2" Deck Screws - You'll use these to screw the stringers to the plates - you don't want them too long.

Note: Whenever you buy lumber for an outdoor train project, be sure to pick the lumber out yourself.
The horizontal boards that connect bridge or trestle piers and support the track are called "stringers." The stringers that will support straight pieces of track are easy - a five-foot stringer supports a five-foot piece of track. On the other hand, the stringers that support the curved pieces of track have to be cut at the correct angles.
Once you're sure how many pieces of your track make a circle, download and print the appropriate template.
Cutting the Decking - Using the template from the appendix, measure and cut the stringers (horizontal pieces) you need from the decking material. For a temporary railroad, I find it easier to fasten a few pieces together at a time and install them in sections. Note: When I first wrote these instructions, I was in the habit of putting my subassemblies together upside down, to minimize the number of screw holes that would be on the top, once the roadbed was assembled. When you have your subassemblies screwed together, screw the base pieces onto each post and set the posts about where you think they will go. Attaching subassembies to your posts goes much easier if you have someone holding a couple posts up at a time, and setting the next post or two up as you go work your way around. As you begin attaching subassemblies together, you'll be adding in stringers you haven't attached to the subassemblies yet.
By the time your stringers and plates are attached loosely to the posts all the way around, you should be able to tell if any more adjustments need to be made. Final Leveling - In some cases, the ground slopes more than you thought it did or there are serious depressions.
In fact the first time we set this up, we covered the bases with mulch, and the whole thing looked much more permanent and professional - something to think about if you're doing this for a garden club or someplace that might want a more professional look. Smoothing Off The Corners - For a final touch, you can use your circular saw to "smooth off" the corners. As I mentioned earlier, dumping mulch on the bases makes the whole thing look much more permanent and finished than it would otherwise. I used to find the tallest buildings I had and set them around, but there was always the danger of some little person kicking one.
Speaking of "filling the gap," it never really bothers the kids that Thomas (or whichever train I'm running) is over 50 scale feet above the ground, but it does look better if you can camouflage the gap a little. White Cloth - On similar setups, at Christmas, I've seen folks use white cloths tacked around the perimeter to represent snow. Mulch - Hiding the bases and any additional support with mulch gives the thing a more professional appearance, as you can see in the photos of our first setup (under the "Why Raised?" heading). Little Trees - If you have access to a cheap source of dwarf or miniature trees, setting those around (and maybe burying the pots in mulch) will add charm.
To attach the viaduct, I simply hold it up under the 5' board, and shoot several long deck screws into it. Rope Lighting - Because this railroad would be operating after dark, I wanted to bring more light to the area. Here's an irony - considering that the rope lighting set was sold with the Christmas decorations, you wouldn't think that the little clips would shatter if you tried to snap the rope lighting in when it was under 60 degrees Farenheit. The nice thing about rope lighting is that you can take it off again on warm days simply by snapping it out of the little clips (wait until a warm, sunny day, or you'll just be breaking off the clips). Unfortunately, the rope lighting I started with gave out this past year, so we staplegunned on some white LED Christmas lights (being careful not to hit the wires with the staples). Other Lighting - To make the railroad more visible after dark, I have added garden lighting posts around the railroad.
Temporary Water Features - Sometimes when I've set this up I've included one of those little portable waterfalls, which also add interest and provide the impression that some "landscaping" has been involved.

Track-Level Accessories - A few times when we've set this up and we needed to reach the power supply more easily, we used the 2" screws to screw a board to the underside of one or more stringers: either a short board jutting out or a long board connecting two of the stringers.
Though we designed this little railroad for one purpose, we now realize that this kind of construction has dozens of applications. It will give you something to show your friends who wonder why your yard is torn up, and It will give you confidence in some basic skills you'll need eventually. In fact, if I'd built this railroad before I started my big permanent one, I'd have done things differently on the big one and I'd have avoided a bunch of rework later. Buildings and other "decorations" are up to you, but if you dig around the rest of our pages, you'll see some inexpensive ways to add those as well. Here's hoping that this simple inexpensive project will give you a taste of what it is to create an attractive, low-maintenance outdoor railroad. Note: Family Garden Trains?, Garden Train Store?, Big Christmas Trains?, BIG Indoor Trains?, and BIG Train Store? That said, we find 2' posts helpful for kids' railroads - kids like having Thomas or James at eye level, and it's easier for us old folks to get the trains on and off the track. For example, I have Bachmann street cars that I run on this RR when there aren't any kids around to appreciate Thomas. In my case, I used 12 curves and two straights, so I needed 14 "plates" to connect them all. As you see in the photos, I used 6 posts the first time I set it up and 8 posts ever since.
On a portable railroad, you can usually count on a piece of straight decking that has had a chance to air out to stay straight for several months if you don't sit on it or something. Remove the template temporarily and align the piece of track you are cutting for along the 2x6 as evenly as you can, lining one end up with the end that you cut. Flop the template over, slide it underneath the track, and use the template to measure the other end of the board.
To check your work, lay the three pieces you have cut so far together and fasten three pieces of track together on top of them.
When you're certain the "fit" is as good as possible, use the level one more time to make certain the roadbed isn't rising and falling unnecessarily, and that the rail height of each piece of track is even. This is especially helpful if you're going to add rope lighting or some such around the outside edge.
There will usually be more waste if you are using larger curves than if you're using smaller curves.
However the principle applies to any track circle you buy, as long as you are using the correct template.
If you absolutely have to do the math yourself, refer to our Simple Raised Railroad article, which goes into much more detail about such things. All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 by Paul D.
It included little plastic clips that you would screw onto whatever you wanted to decorate, then snap the rope lights into place.
Once you're certain you're "doing it right," feel free to cut the rest of the pieces you need in this size, then move on to the next size (if any).
I then lay the plates connecting the pieces on the stringers and screw them together using an X pattern that reduces flexing.
If you're not sure how to measure the pieces to go underneath the straight track, I'm afraid I can't help you.

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Author: admin | 13.04.2014 | Category: Simple Shed Plans

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