The reader writes back:
Wow what a response. I guess my note convinced you that I am not a computer or HackerSmile just a guy fascinated by model trains.
I have consider the soil moving issue but did not know it was called Frost Heave. I just googled that one.
I am looking at starting with a 10 ft x 10 ft layout and if all goes well expand to 10 X 20. The initial layout is in the garden behind a 2 foot high decorative block wall, so no association issues at first. There is a 3-4 foot space between end of wall and next town home ( Just ripped out some over grown Holly bushes and roots) to make way for an eventual switch to another loop in front of wall for all to see.
I have seen elevated wood but I wanted more of the rock bed look I see on the raised local Haymarket Norfolk Southern tracks that run through our town. These tracks carried the Confederate Soldiers from the south to the Battle of Bull Run. First time trains were use to transport soldiers and munitions into war. Next time I cross the tracks I'll send you a picture.
Our local stone center has a product call Stone Dust. My wife has me refresh her small garden pathway in the back of town home. With plastic underneath, weeds are no big deal. It looks just like the standard rail bed only on a smaller scale and easy to spread between and around ties. Last year my kids tried to satisfy my Garden Rail Dream with a cheep plastic set that I put up for the 2 weeks around Christmas. In the summer these tracks would melt away. Plus the battery driven tender had a mind of its own. Start and then stop for no reason but to take a short rest then I could start again.
See attached picture of how I used the raised stone dust rail bed. I placed a 6 inch garden stake through a small hole I drilled in every other track to keep track stable.
So here is my thought for the heavier year round brass rails. First build a wooden 2 -3 inch high 4-6 foot long and 1-2 inch wider then the track . Smooth out the ground, level and place the mold on the ground and then chicken wire and fill with sakete mortar. Before mortar sets, push a track size board down about 1/2 inch. Thus creating a trough for the track to sit in after the motor sets. Lay the track in this trough, then pile on and around the sides the stone dust. If I can make it work on the straight sections, I can the experiment with the turns. I am still studying all one needs to know about car size and turn radius.
I was going to buy some track and experiment next spring. After your response, I may start this fall.
Thanks for your response and if you have any other experience to share please send.
I have the Lionel Polar Express G gauge version and my main problem is the thing derailing or cars uncoupling. On well-laid brass track with wide curves that's much less of a problem. Now I chiefly use the Lionel G gauge battery powered trains to give kids something to run during open RRs. Nowadays, these are only made in 2"-gauge versions, so not so useful.https://familygardentrains.com/primer/s ... trains.htm
The stacked stone look is very nice.
I'm a fan of the 10'-diameter track curves. Almost anything made for G gauge will run on them. They're also 12 to a circle, which makes them compatible with almost all other curves made in case you have to shrink one of your dimensions a little. That said if your actual space is 10x10', consider the 8' diameter curves to start out. They'll run 90% of the products made for G gauge, and will give you a little room for accessories or stacked stones on the outer edge. The only complication is that they're 16 to a circle, which means if you mix them up with other track configurations things can get real confusing real fast.
Alternatively, if you're looking mostly at Civil War era trains, you should know that Hartland Locomotive Works trains run very well on 4' diameter curves and look great on 5'-diameter curves. I mention Hartland because they make a 4-4-0 that is foreshortened to fit on narrow curves. And 99% of the trains used during the Civil War were 4-4-0s. Bachmann's 4-4-0 is an expensive scale model that requires wide curves. Also, Hartland's 4-4-0 is based on the Kalamazoo 4-4-0 frame, and you can sometimes get Kalamazoos fairly cheap on e-Bay. They're not as pretty, but they're pretty solid.
In the meantime, if you can get a Bachmann Big Hauler 4-6-0 that you like the look of, it and it's cars will run well on 5'-diameter curves and even better on 8' or 10' diameter. . . MOST people, including most rail fans will NOT realize it is an anachronism.
Hope this helps. Best of luck,