Thursday, 10 February 2011

Evolution to version 8 (well nearly 9...)

Well things evolve and it's worth sharing how a carpet based trainset morphs into a scenic garden line before any sod is cut, well I hope it's worth it!

The EJ&KLR was started at Christmas with basically Version 3 purchased - previous versions had been based on the siding track pack or second hand track purchases. Version 3 gave us a decent run, at least for indoors, but I had a desire to add a shed and stock storage area and the loop wasn't long enough so things stretched a little in January to Version 4.

However whilst track was purchased to get us to 4, the plans and ideas continued to evolve - taking the track plan of the station and shed area and building it into a more scenic garden setting.

This plan, the first of these garden based ideas (5) was designed to give a long run, and make use of existing shrubs as view blocks - however it was designed before the garden had been surveyed and was aspirational.

Interestingly, when I did measure up the proposed flower bed location I found it smaller than I imagined, or at least the LGB turned out bigger than I thought. The existing trees and stumps were thought best treated as datum 'immovable objects' hence why the line tries to weave around these in plans 6-9.

Starting with 6 it was obvious that I had taken some aspect of 5 and shoe-horned it in without thinking about the flow of the line. I was unhappy with the geometric feel and thought it looked too much like a big trainset, not helped by exclusive use of R1 curves.

Trying to incorporate more flow led to 7, which also used R2 curves to give gentler more eye friendly curves at each end. However it still felt a little too perfect geometrically. This stayed as it was for some time before a conversation I'd had with Dad about transition curves popped into my head. Version 8 of the plan doesn't quite fit (notice the small track gap) but I figured this could be easily sorted with a short length of extra straight track (it's about 40mm), however I used the R2 on the ends of the straights to give a transition and less perfect layout and I was happy. It wasn't the world's largest or most operationally interesting lines, but would give a scenic run, and some continous running, whilst maintaining the station area along one edge for maintenance purposes.

However I was still not happy with the curves so tinkering continues - and as you can see in 9, by ditching the R1s, and mixing R3s as well things start to become much more natural. Will I find a balance between them? I don't know - the price of track is such that I need to find a comprimise I am happy with - and recognise that even if I build Version 8, it will only be the start of a lifetime of garden railways that can evolve as my tastes, experience and wallet develops!


  1. Very interesting - what software did you use for the plans?

  2. I use RailModeller on the Mac - it's German, costs about £25 if the exchange rate is favourable. It has templates for all the popular track systems across all the scales, including LGB! You can do flexitrack too, and also draw other shapes. Pretty flexible once you learn it, it's the best I've found that's Mac native.