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Building an elevated Gauge 1 Railway


by Howard Freed



When I first bought, and started assembling, my first live steam locomotive the last thing I was interested in was running it. I started with Asters "Lion." The biggest reason I bought it was to learn how the internal parts of steam engines worked.  I had seen lots of diagrams, and drawings but just couldn't get it in my head how things really worked.


After I finished it a new interest started to grow in the form of "I wonder if it will run?" I bought a circle of LGB track and set it up in my driveway and fired up the Lion. From there I was hooked! I started to build more engines, and I bought a set of test roller to see how and if they would run, but was never satisfied until I was able to take them to a steam up or a friends house with a track and give them a good run.


After several years of this I finally decided I needed a track of my own.   This is my story with illustrations and explanations of the building of my railroad


Planning the layout . Radiuses were figured which should always be as large as possible. The smallest I allowed for was 12 feet. We used white spray paint to trace the path of the track to get an overview of how it would all fit in the yard.  The orange marks are where the holes will be dug for the posts.




Digging the holes for the upright posts. These were placed every six feet, and the painted marks were followed.





ABS  4" pipe was used for the upright posts. These were cut into four foot lengths then one foot was cut off of each of these.

This one foot piece was glued to a coupler and will be buried in the concrete.



Using a two man auger holes were dug 18" below the surface to protect against ground freeze.



This shows the one foot piece of ABS pipe buried in the concrete and the coupler sticking out the top. 

The 3' post will be placed in the top of the coupler.



The couplers are set every six feet.



Pipe and coupler set in wet concrete. 

More concrete is added to about half way up the coupler.

The top of the concrete is dressed.



One by one all the bases are dressed.



Posts are placed (not glued) in the couplers for height check.



ABS 4" cap is placed on the top of the post. A 2"x4"x24" crossbar will be attached to this cap.



Once the posts are set in place (not glued) we used a transom to check and mark the height of each post.

The posts were then removed and cut to the proper height and glued in place.





This shows the upright posts with the cap and 2"x4" crossbar in place (not glued).



click on thumbnails to enlarge



Crossbars are carefully leveled and glued in place.



Runner made from pressure treated 2"x 4" S are mounted to the crossbars.

There are a number of different materials that could be used for these but this was the easiest and the least expensive.



This is my steam up area and freight yard. 





This shows the angles of the 2"x4" runners.



Completed circle.





Composite decking is cut and laid across the 2"x4" runners. I used "Veranda" decking from Home Depot. 


After some research I decided the track that would work out best for my layout would be Sunset Valley Railroads "Main Line Gauge 1 Track (16 ties / foot) Code TR BR.  I also needed a rail bender which Sunset Valley supplies for their track. I checked with Peter Comley and he had everything I need in stock.  All he needed to know was how many feet of track I needed and the whole package was sent.  


Once track laying began I found I really enjoyed planning and laying the track.  The process went faster than I thought and before long I had a full circle and was able to run a locomotive.  I found I need to "tune-up" several points which were a little high, but once done the trains ran very well.



 The track is finally laid.



North end of the layout.



Now the outer track is laid, the second inner loop will be started.

I found at the beginning I kept asking myself if this was more than I could bite off, but as progress was made my confidence in my track layout grew. The work was a puzzler at times but most projects are. With persistence and patience the job got done. Once the track laying began I found a real pleasure in working outside in the yard. The more track I laid the more I liked what I was doing, and the better the track looked.  



click on thumbnails to enlarge

Before this project started I rarely spent much time in the yard. Now I spend most of my spare time out there, either working on the track or running trains. There is a great pleasure in coming home from work and being able to run my trains on a cool evening. When I started building my Aster "Lion" I never knew how far it would take me.   This is a great hobby!!!


Appreciation is expressed to Howard Freed for sharing his experience in the construction of his elevated track system and for allowing us to post this report on the Southern Steam Trains website. 




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