Ladder Construction questions
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Author:  paulrace [ Wed Jan 27, 2021 10:28 am ]
Post subject:  Ladder Construction questions

A reader writes:

I'm fascinated by the HDPE technique in your 4-part article. ( ... adder1.htm by Paul Race and Bill hogan) I'm barely in the planning stages of my backyard layout. As I looked that this article a I wondered if there would be any alignment issues between the 2" spacer block on the one stringer to the opposite stringer? As you create curves, do the 2" blocks become out of alignment with the end of the stringer on the other side?

The other question I have is regarding securing the posts into the ground. Is this similar to the other raised layout techniques. I live in Texas where we don't have to worry about freeze lines, but I didn't think I read any mention of concrete, gravel or any depth recommendations (other than don't drive them below the frost line). It appears that the reason is that the posts are just temporary until trestle bents are installer, or until the posts are surround by landscape dirt, etc. Is this the true? If I want to use the HDPE post long-term, do I just follow the recommendation for the other raised railroad techniques (other than limiting span to 2')?

thanks so much! That was an awesome article.


The answer to all of your questions is "yes." Just kidding, but the truth is, everyone who does this does it a slightly different way; there's no one right way.

Bill Logan, who invented this method, uses backfill in some areas and trestles in others.

In this photo of a railroad he designed for a shopping center, you can see the supporting posts under most of the track, but a trestle from which he removed the posts.

eastown_overview.jpg [ 255.75 KiB | Viewed 22309 times ]

The part at the right where it looks like the track is "ground level," the ground has just been raised up to hide the posts. That's actually a problem in Ohio, because the frost heave under the "ground level" part of the RR pushes the track up in the winter.

I hope that makes sense. Some folks who do this and want the supporting posts closer together use PVC for at least some of the verticals, rather than buying extra lengths of that expensive plastic lumber. My tendency would be to sink the posts at least 18" into the ground if I could, even in a place where there's no frost heave. That said, nobody that I know anchors them in concrete or any such.

If I understand your alignment question, you're asking if the ends of the stringers line up. It's better if they're staggered. If you have curves, they'll stagger naturally.

If that's not what you were asking, I apologize.

Please let me know.

Have a great week!

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