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Development of the
Sandflea and Redbud Garden Railway


Cleared Ground The first thing I did was stake the area and put up string to identify the approximate location of the garden and surrounding walkways. I then sprayed the area with herbicide to kill all weeds and lawn (Bermuda grass) on the site. The herbicide treatment had to be repeated several times over the next few months to kill all Bermuda grass as well as new weeds.

Track plan on paper I made numerous copies of the proposed track plan from an article in Garden Railways ("The Broadview Loop & Short Creek Railroad" by Helmut Zehnpfennig; April 1999, pp. 84-86). I drew complete circles for all curves so that a center point could be determined. This would aid in transferring the plan to the ground. Although I didn't do it, templates are available that allow you to draw the track plan piece-by-piece. Even then, tiny errors can accumulate over the length of the track plan, resulting in some gap at the end.

Painting the track layout on the ground I began construction on April 15, 2004. I started by driving in a short piece of rebar approximately at each curve center point. With a string of the appropriate length (8 feet or 12 feet) tied around the rebar, I spray painted each curve on the ground. I used a board to approximate the straight track and painted the straight-aways on the ground, thereby connecting the arcs.

From one of the track plans, I estimated the length of 8-foot arcs, 12-foot arcs (these are standard diameters), and straight track. Each straight section of track had to be made up of segments 1, 2, or 4 feet in length. I then purchased the track according to these estimates. Of course, I did not expect that the track plan's arcs and straight sections would correspond exactly to the lengths of standard curved and straight track. However, short segments can be purchased or track can be cut to length to close the final gap if itís close. Again, using a template to draw the track on paper would more accurately estimate the actual pieces of track (lengths and arcs) needed.

Track laid out on the ground

After purchasing the track, I laid out the pieces on the ground, approximately over the painted lines. A short gap of about 3 inches occurred on one straight section. But, overall, the track I purchased laid out very well, except that the track did not abut tightly in all arcs. Since the garden appeared to be too track-intensive, I decided to expand it some. So I expanded it exactly 1 foot on each end and four feet on the front and back. This gave more space for plants and features and also more length to reduce grades. Tunnels will also reduce the amount of visible track.

I then made a sequential list of the track pieces on a computer spreadsheet so that the track could be taken up. I put the exact length of each piece of track on the list. I then computed the track length (added up the piece lengths) in the three sections between track-crossovers. This gave me lengths of 297 inches, 411 inches, and 554 inches. I estimated a desired track crossover height of +9 inches for the first two lengths, and -18 inches for the third length (which must cross over two tracks). I then divided the respective crossover heights by the section lengths to obtain three grades. I got grades of 3.03 percent, 2.19 percent, and 3.25 percent. These are steep grades but I think they are acceptable. The last, steepest grade is mostly straight track, which is easier to climb.

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Revised March 2009.