Cary’s G scale update

Cary’s been back in touch.

If you want to get up to speed, his last post is here.

“I’m eight years now into my Garden Railroad and have had trains running the last two years.

My layout is now down for the winter months and it’s time to consider maintenance and next steps. Here’s some things I’ve learned about having an outdoor model railroad.

G scale model railroad

G scale model railroad

I’m using track power and soldered jumper wires across every track section. This is working very well.

I’m finding that I need to clean the track every time I run trains and then about every hour or so. I’ve been using drywall sanding screens on a sanding pole and that goes pretty quickly.

This year I started using my scratch built cleaning car. Once the track is clean enough for a locomotive to run(sputter) around the track, it takes about 5 laps of the track cleaning car and the locos are running smooth. It’s full of gravel for weight and the cleaning pad is spring mounted.

G scale model railroad

G scale model railroad








At this point I can’t see going to full battery and RC control. I can see building a battery powered track cleaning locomotive, especially now that I have a successful cleaning design.

My buildings have been outside for two years now and the weather is taking its toll. I used fiberglass and concrete board for the bases and concrete board and shingles for the roofs- these are working well. I used maple plywood for the side walls and hoped that several coats of exterior house paint would protect them, it has not. The plywood is delaminating.

Ralph’s General Store, this is how it looked after completion, it was my masterpiece.

Here’s how it looks after two years of weather.

G scale model railroad

I have several buildings in this condition, I think I can clean them up, add some reinforcement and get another few years out of them.

For future builds I’ll be using something else for the sidewalls. Additionally the buildings need to be simpler, fewer details and pressure washer friendly. As my layout fills in with plant life, I might find that fewer, well placed buildings will be more scenic and less maintenance.

Here’s some improvements I made to my layout this summer.

More retaining walls and ditches, still trying to control drainage, slowly getting there.

Roads, Crossings and Moss which is great for scale grass

The main goal for summer is more plant life. So far I’m trying to relocate plants from other parts of my property but there’s only a few decent species to choose from. There is one huge advantage, if it’s already growing here in heavy shade and the critters haven’t eaten it, then there’s a good chance it will survive on my layout.

Cary in Kentucky”



Some posts just make you feel good. A huge thanks to Cary – you all know how much I enjoy an update, and there’s something about Cary’s that is very fun: I think it’s the size of a project.

Now on to Bob, to keep up the Christmas cheer.

You may remember him from his layout – it’s a bit of a stunner.

“Al…I have really enjoyed all the Christmas-inspired layouts on your blog.

I think I will build one next year. One of my families favorite holiday traditions is creating gingerbread structures.

For Christmases past, I have built gingerbread houses, castles, churches, light houses, water mills, and tree houses.

Last Christmas, I constructed the Santa’s Village depicted in the first photograph. Everyone in my family liked it so much that I originally planned to make it again this year.

However, my wife suggested that I build a gingerbread train. I can’t believe I had not thought of doing a gingerbread train before.

So, I set to work and created the gingerbread locomotive and tender you see depicted in the remaining photographs.

Keep the Christmas layouts coming.

Thanks,

Bob”

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you want to salvage anything from this grim, grim year, and start your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Best

Al

27 Responses to Cary’s G scale update

  1. Richard Steinbruek says:

    Hi Al,
    I’m 76 and I have my Tyco starter train-set in the garage, having moved it in its original box from home to home for 50 years. Now that I am retired and ready to play with my toys I learned that none of the engines work and parts are not easily found It’s all DC and I’d like to have DCC. I’m clearing out a place in the garage for a 4’x8′ layout and I’m planning to build it with a year-long schedule.
    I have found your website exceptional, very professional, highly educational, and, as a former teacher, wisely demonstrating the vast expertise of your admirers and followers. In short, I think you are brilliant.
    I would like to appeal to your followers on their opinions on how best to deal with a substantial amount of ancient, cheaply made rolling stock, corroded brass track & switch junctions, and DC. In other words, how can I get started anew? What brand of engines, rolling stock, track, switches, controllers, etc. do they like best?
    One factor is that my grandson is only 3. I have a plastic, battery-operated train for him to play with. I’ll leave the ‘adult’ train set for him when he is 12
    That means I want something that has some lasting quality without busting the bank but will be adaptable for technology in the next 50 years.
    What’s the best way to bring my plea to your vast interest group’s attention?
    Rich ‘4oclockguy’ Steinbrueck
    Tampa Bay, Florida

  2. Ed Doub says:

    It looks like your buildings are de-laminating from the inside. Sis you use marine grade plywood? the glue used for this grade of plywood is designed for better water resistance than that used for plywood intended for interior use.
    Also, the inside of the buildings need to be sealed as thoroughly as the outside for maximum durability and long life. Two or more coats of varnish make a good sealant and will keep the wood in shape for longer. I would recommend two coats of varnish on your plywood, both sides, before cutting and then at least one more coat after assembly to seal all the joins.
    This is wisdom passed down from my Grandfather who was a Cabinet Maker for the Moeller Organ Works for many years.
    Ed
    On The Mojave

  3. CARL ANGDAHL says:

    Would love to see that track cleaner in action.

  4. Hi everyone. I have had a similar problem with delamination. But the way I have got round it is to build every thing in stone and granite. I have a kitchen top maker not to far away and he lets me have as many of cuts as I need. Therefore I can make walls and bricks to produce buildings. Takes a long time but very weather resistant.

  5. Welder dave says:

    That’s a great G scale I’m in Indiana and have a start building my elevated one using all steel roadbed and uprights The idea of using the the thick granite for buildings I a good idea it’s thick and hard to work with but will last forever ! There are four counter top makers in Louisville and they all have a roll off dumpster full of drops that I am sure they would give away ! And you can buy a low cost wet saw at harbor freight and you could glue the parts together with silicone . Hope to see that railroad in person one day there is one in Greenville IN roaring valley that has public viewing days .

  6. Wow!! great layout and great video!!! We all learn from trial and error. It is better that you find out on your own about laminated ply, sealers and varnish. In my case reading and being told some things just wont work I never listened. Found out after a few years I should have. Great beautiful layout. thank you for sharing it. I might add you need more viaducts in your layout for drainage, water will naturally find it’s own way, but if we give it aa little help here and there it will listen.

  7. DALE E KIPP says:

    OH WOW!! If it wasn’t for all the snow and bad weather, THAT’S what I’d have in my back yard!!

  8. Frank Vazquez says:

    That must have been a lot of work to make the track layout work with the terrain. I hope you can figure out your problems with the buildings. It was cool to see the train running.

  9. Great Gingerbread!!!
    Fantastic edible art!
    As to the G-Scale.
    Cary,
    Piko makes a very affordable battery powered cleaning locomotive.
    I think they call it “The Clean Machine”
    This would be a good way to get the basic oxidation handled.
    The screen you are using may be a bit too abrasive.
    A couple of box cars fitted with Masonite pads or the kitchen scrubbers may be a a help also. Drag behind passive cleaning.
    You also might try a light coat of Wahl Hair Clipper Oil or Automatic Transmission Fluid… A very light coat. These are old small scale tricks that should also work well on your G-Gauge.

  10. Art Romano says:

    I just want a piece of that train with a cup of Earl Grey with a splash of whiskey.
    Just sayin’

  11. Rich Collins says:

    Cary, Have you considered trying cement backer board or ceramic floor tile for your buildings? Both designed to withstand water in bathrooms and kitchens and easily cut with a wet saw. Can be “glued” together with silicone. Just a thought. Good luck, Rich in Texarkana.

  12. Erick says:

    I always want to build a train set, But was afraid of weather outside.

  13. WOW,phenomenal effort,well done!!

  14. Ed Doub: Moeller Pipe Organs are quite wonderful. I have played the huge one three different times at the National Shrine/ Basilica in Washington, DC.

    I am jealous of any outdoor model railroads. I have much G gauge just waiting to build outdoors.

    The ginger bread 4-8-4 is beautiful, I can hear it chugging down the track saying: “GINger bread, GINger bread, GINger bread, GINger bread!”

  15. stephen bogert says:

    To better protect wood from moisture coat all parts in and out with liquid epoxy.
    West System is a popular brand that is readily available online as well at most boating supply stores. Note that epoxy will fail if exposed to UV/ sunlight, so any exposed epoxy should be painted afterwards.
    Another material worth knowing about is G 10 sheet, That is an epoxy fiberglass product. it is much more expensive than plywood, often used in electrical/ electronic designs for example it is the common base material electronic printed circuit boards are built on. It is sold in thickness from .001″ to at least 1″. it is cut like hard wood or aluminum and easily bonded with epoxy. I can imagine much of a model house being built with G 10,

  16. Patrick Talley says:

    Richard;

    Go visit a local club & talk to the guys there. If you don’t mind driving, come see us at the Lake County Model Railroad Club in N.E. Lake County. Our contact info is on Facebook…

  17. george zaky says:

    To Rich ‘4oclockguy’ Steinbrueck;
    There are many videos on U tube to show you how to tune up your rolling stock. The old Tyco engines should get a thorough cleaning & lube job and if they dont run well after that then they become a shelf queen. IMHO old track and switches arent worth the bother. The constant problems after all your work will be frustrating and disappointing and new track when done correctly is a positive outcome. Check out the Chadwick series on U tube. Of course read Big Al’s beginners guide.
    Buy new DCC engines, on sale, and DCC compatible turnouts- run on DC for now- and eventually phase into the Dark side because there is no such thing as half way. Like pregnancy- You are or you’re not! When the grandkids get into this they’ll want the sounds and control that the ancient stuff cant give. Depending on who you are the world of computerization can take you to another planet. Your trains must run well and everything else-scenery, lighting, controls, etc is a plus.
    Buy new, full DCC and sound, dont buy DCC ready, dont buy engines with 3 wheel trucks because of your small layout, and dont buy long passenger cars. The brands that are in business are all OK.
    Best of luck- Show off your progress
    George from LI, NY

  18. Dan Hulitt says:

    Cary, I agree that your current cleaning may create more scratches that will give you more need to clean. ATF is very viscous and may effect traction. As you try different remedies, do it in test sections if you can. As to structures, don’t forget to seal the end grain as well as inside. You might think of using Lexan for you outer walls. I have had good longevity using that for birdhouses.

    Oh my goodness, what a gingerbread masterpiece! Wonderful job, Bob.

    Mn Dan

  19. Ernie says:

    I enjoy all of the comments, I’m still laying track.

  20. Richard H Chapple Sr says:

    I really enjoyed this post and video from Cary. Makes one want to just get with it and do something and enjoy the learning process.
    Super!!

  21. Lee Kulas says:

    Richard Steinbruek:

    Welcome back to the best Hobby in the World: Model Trains!
    You don’t state what guage you are planning (HO, N, or?) So I’ll offer my opinions based on my 30 years of experience in N Scale:
    1. Best Locomotives (IMHO) are Kato, superbly built, great attention to detail, never failed to perform (slow speeds, fast speeds, intermediate); next up would be Atlas, less expensive but perform well over the years.
    2. Best freight cars are Micro-Trains!, absolutely superb craftsmanship, ultra realistic, and the Magne-Matic couplers are realistic and perform well for coupling/uncoupling. Plus, you can always find Magne-Matic couplers to use to swap out the Rapido style or even Kato on any older engine or rolling stock.
    3. Track: It’s really upto you, I use Kato track, I find it much easier to assemble, pre-ballasted and extensive selection.
    4. I use Digitrax DCC (Zypher), and have found many Digitrax modules available to convert DC engines to DCC. (Atlas, Bachmann, Con-Cor, Life-Like, etc.
    Good luck and Happy Holidays!Bests-Lee

  22. Cary E Price says:

    Lots here to think about, Thanks for everyone’s input. Bob, the gingerbread loco is truly unique…..what a wonderful creation! Cary in KY

  23. Joe Gennari says:

    THANKS CARY!!! REALLY ENJOYED the pictures and the info!!! You have your hands FULL!!! Good luck with all your plans and maintenance.
    What about using cedar singles primed and painted for your buildings? Hope to see an up date next year!

  24. Joe S says:

    Rich ‘4oclockguy’ Steinbrueck;
    There is a shop not far from you that sells new and used equipment AND twice a year hosts a flea market sale — Zitnik Trains in Pinellas Park.
    Also, out in Odessa there is a huge modeling club that has a modular set that has travelled the States and won many awards — Suncoast Center for fine scale modeling. They have been hosting online classes in how to’s this year. I no longer have my Florida home thanks to this covid mess, but learned a lot from both of these places.
    Joe S from Monmouth, Maine

  25. Mike Reich says:

    Parsley makes good outside vegetation. Easily planted from seed, stays green all summer until snow, bugs and rabbits leave it alone. Looks like trees especially grown in a clump.

  26. Hi Cary, Just a few suggestions; When painting for outdoors, use automotive spray paint. This can be sprayed on/or in a small paint cup and parceled out with artists brushes. A good wood for outdoor use (without getting into the expensive
    woods) is OAK. While it may require joining pieces together to get the size you need it will be well worth it. And, with a good finish, it will last. Food for thought, eh/
    Bill – NW- Chicago (and everybody knows where that is)

  27. Jim Childs says:

    Track cleaning… Back in the 50’s-80’s when I worked for the Bell System we had a 3M paper for cleaning the steel drums on the ringing machines. I was sort of a silicon grit that did not leave a deposit on the drums. The sheets were the size of standard sand paper that we folded or cut with scissors.

    Look up 3M on the net and ask for help.

    Good luck

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