A reader writes:
It is getting harder to stay enthused with this hobby - I love looking outside to see the train, cars, the track , buildings and scenes we have recreated. But we are getting older and it is difficult to keep up with the maintenance . i want to keep this hobby as it is unique and we have invested time and money in this garden railroad set up . Some of our base under the track needs repair and the tiny screws that keep stainless steel track together need to be replaced .
I have to say I COMPLETELY understand. That's one reason I'm trying to promote above-ground railroads with very solid roadbeds and limited areas for plants to grow. I could NOT keep up with the weeding on my old ground-level roadbed myself, but many friends of mine who were just a few years older have given up altogether.
A friend in the Columbus area had a magnificent railroad that she just had to let turn into a "vacant lot" because so many things went bad at the same time. It was heartbreaking for her and it was heartbreaking for me to see. It's probably a good thing we moved when we did, because I was beginning to face some of the same challenges.
Here in Ohio, weeding is usually the biggest challenge - no square inch of dirt goes without sprouting SOMETHING within a few days of clearing. A couple in my area (SW Ohio) recently took up a huge railroad and reinstalled it over astroturf so they could keep running trains without spending 15-20 hours pulling weeds EVERY WEEK.
But every part of the world has its challenges, from deep frost lines to termites, to sun so hot it melts the ties (or at least makes the metal track hot enough to melt plastic wheels). So anything I can suggest to help people keep their garden railroads operational longer is a service to the hobby and to my friends.
Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help, and have a great autumn!