Can’t Stop Now…Grading Begins

I turn 50 this year, which means a big family celebration.  30+ people will be here in my home town, and what better to do than have a picnic and train rides in the backyard.  I proposed the idea to my dad and he bit in.  He has been working on his own backyard railroad for 15 years, and now that he is 83 it does not seem he’ll reach all of dreams.  We both agree it would be better to have the track at my house:  It’s a flatter yard and has a greater potential for sharing Ride on Railroading due to my neighbor hood, friends, and my 12 year old son (not that he likes trains).  So dad an I agreed we should try to get the Woodlark Central running in time for the party in August.  Seems aggressive, but obtainable.

Dad and I agreed to split up the work.  He would focus on making track panels and I’d focus on grading.  Then we’d target to join forces in May for the final installation…Dad started on track work last month so I felt it was time to start on grading.  To get started, ordered 4 cubic yards of Chipped Limestone with Dust.  The goal being to install the sub-roadbed of about 3″ deep.  Today was to be the first day of grading, and I must admit I had no idea what to do.  I’m sort of feeling this out.  How many times does one put a railroad in the backyard?

Anyway, I got started today and there’s no turning back now.  Two of my best model railroading buddies pitched in for 4+ hours too put down 50′ of ballast.  Take a look at the photos below to see what happened.


Chris and Phil leveling out the grade. The flags mark the roadbed location . Where Chris and Phil are standing will be the double track parallel to the back fence. The near flags mark the single track curving from left to right as the tracks make an arc toward the house.


This picture shows the basic process we followed. Mark the bounds of the roadbed with flags, laydown plastic weed fabric (for weeds and to minimize roadbed sinking into the soil), Add pipes where drainage is required, Set down wood formers, dump wheelbarrows of ballast and rack, tamp, repeat.


Here is the end of day finishing point. About 50 linear feet of ballast. The orange cones are right are covering the rebar being used to make the center of each major curve. The minimum radius is 24 feet.


Phil and I thought it would be fun to see what it might look like with track on it. These tracks come from a set of portable 3.5/4.75″ dual gauge track I have. It will not be the final track, but it did give me a good feel of how the track might look when we lay it in place!

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this….Having two friends join in made it easy work.  Actually, they kept doing the hard manual labor moving loads of ballast and dragging parking stops across the yard to form retaining walls.  It’s great to have good friends….I look forward to paying them back and to having them run steam with me!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Can’t Stop Now…Grading Begins

  1. Pingback: Woodlark Central | Sn2 Modeler

  2. Gary white says:

    This is awesome, I did some garden railroading with my dad, and that was tough to get it level so this looks like that on steroids. Looks like you are getting a good start. I think your deadline will help you get there.

    What a great project.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s