Going Loco - Building my Garden Railway

A Maxitrak Blog

When my children were small we had a 5” gauge garden railway, the garden was long and narrow and the line was built on quite a slope. The kids had a push along engine, which they used to ride down the line at great speed. There was a curved bridge over the pond half way down which admittedly, caused a few heart-stopping moments. Somehow and to great relief, no one ever ended up in the water. It was a simple up and down line but it gave great pleasure.

Inevitably the children grew up and their interests shifted to exciting new things. The track was taken up in preparation for the move to a larger house with an even hillier garden, and with no one but myself to enjoy it there was no incentive to relay the track.

In '2006' however, the motivation presented itself as I became a proud grandfather to Maddie. I knew I would always enjoy making the line, that was never a concern that delayed the beginning of this new project. More concerning was the prospect of the line going unused and thus all my hard work being in vain, Maddie's arrival accompanied the plans to reinstate the garden line. I remember when Maddie was one, my daughter asking if the line would be complete by the time she turned eighteen. Thus the challenge was set!

Driving The Track

Needless to say it was far easier to obtain planning permission from the domestic authorities when the work was for Maddie and her friends rather than just for myself. In addition, a garden with a railway always seems to gain more attention from myself than a garden without, even when the railway passes by at a distance.

A closer look was taken at the available garden area, and with planning and thought the possibility of a line emerged. The bottom end of the line had to go round a large copper beech tree and as the ground level here falls away any spare soil had been dumped here to form an embankment. This had been going on for quite a number of years in the hope of one day having track on it, now it looked as if it was going to happen.

The line had to work on several levels to be worth the effort. It not only had to give rides to the children in the family it also had to be interesting to drive and to serve as a test track for Maxitrak products. Obviously to function as a test track it had to be 'testing', to fulfill this and to fit in the contours of the garden I decided to work on ten foot radius as a minimum curve and one in forty as a ruling grade. Even this necessitated a lot of embankment making and a large trestle bridge at the lowest level on the bottom loop. The line then climbed up from this loop along the line of the garden wall, and round the pond. This was to be stage one and kept me busy for the first season. From here the line was originally to form a loop on the lawn. Once the first section was up and running, and the grades proved practical, the route was extended across the bottom of the lawn, through another particularly thick bit of undergrowth and up on to the higher lawn where a top loop would be made.
All the lower section was through a wooded part of the garden with a number of well established trees, this meant a lot of careful planning as well as a lot of bush and ivy clearing.

The line is built to represent a simple industrial type railway and is intended for continuous running rather than prototype timetable working. We have a mixture of both standard and narrow gauge locomotives so line side features have to be in keeping with both scales. To please the younger generation there is also the odd gnome and woodland creature lurking in the bushes. The line has been planned to retain the maximum number of existing bushes and trees, being laid and then the undergrowth trimmed to suit rather than the other way round. The more changes of view the greater the interest in riding the line. 

This blog will detail the proesses of building the Maxitrak Line start to finish. Perhaps it will inspire you to plan your own garden line.

Maxitrak 4F

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Lodge Road,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training


alex P03 May, 2018this is awesome, next instalment please!

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