A Maxitrak Blog
Having got the points in place the next step was to lay the line on from there; I started with the left fork, running down the front of the garden towards the gate. At this point I went against all the advice so far given and laid a reverse curve on ten foot radius and on a one in forty grade! This may not be quite as obtuse as at first appears when you remember this is part of the return loop so can be worked in either direction. With a bit of point changing this line can always be run in the downward direction, the rest of the loop is laid on a gently rising grade with a couple of level track panels on the other leg of the point so as to be able to get heavy trains away after a stop. If the line is operated normally then every other time round you will be going up this section, as there is a straight leading into the reverse curve you can have a good run at it. This has not been too difficult, three adults have been taken up this section by a Ruston (rated at four adults on the level).
If you are stopped with a heavy train you may need to set back and have a run at the bank. This was quite common practice in steam days on a difficult section, I recall as a child standing on the old Whitstable and Caterbury line bridge over the Kent coast main line at Whitstable in the late 1950’s with my Dad. Trains leaving Whitstable set back to get a good run at the bank, then stormed up under the bridge we were looking over. This left me covered in soot and smuts “I can’t take you back to your Mum like that” said my Dad producing a grotty old hanky from his pocket. He gave it a big lick and rubbed the smuts off my face, it still makes me cringe to think of it!
From the curves down to the gate we are running on the big embankment, this is about the most labour intensive part of the whole line. Spare soil was dumped here over a number of years, this was added to by soil excavated from the track bed and roughly laid by eye. When I got the laser level in action on this embankment I was amazed to find I was about four inches low at the far end. As this was the end of excavations for the lower section I was a bit stumped for more soil. The answer was to dig a hole, using the soil for the embankment and then using the hole as an additional feature for the line to run over.
Embankments are best made from sub soil as it is more solid than top soil, so the hole got deeper. The embankment consumed larger and larger quantities of soil so the hole became increasingly large.
You can imagine the amount of soil needed to make an embankment some thirty feet long, two foot six tall and about four feet across at it’s highest point. As it transpires the trestle bridge took a lot less making and has required a lot less maintenance, if you do not have a lot of soil to use up somewhere then a bridge is the easiest option. The embankment was not wide enough initially, ballast was washed away by the rain so even more soil had to be added to form a trough to keep the ballast in. I was also a bit wary of a derailed train coming off the embankment and rolling down the bank if the top was insufficiently wide.
Join us next week for the daunting bridge build.
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