|Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)
and New Boston and Donnels Creek:
Adding a Train Shed Part 2If you've been following my articles, you know that when I designed our new 100% raised railroad, I also planned to built a little shed-type structure on the "back" of the railroad so I could get trains running quickly, instead of having to schlep everything out like I used to.
The previous article describes how I started framing in the proposed shed, including several things I had to do to make up for bad decisions I made earlier (like using 8' posts when I should have used 10' posts). Once again, I'm trying several things I've never tried before, but over the years, I've learned that telling the whole truth encourages readers more than pretending I never make mistakes. Many hundreds of readers have gone out into the back yard with a shovel and a train set, figuring that "If that guy can do it, I can do it." Exactly.
By the time I published the previous article on the train shed, I had finished the deck and framed in the side walls of the shed. But a bigger question was, how was I going to get the rafters in place?
I wanted the roof to be supported lengthwise by three 2"x6" boards. And the top, ridge-line board would sit into slots on the rafter assemblies. Something like the drawing I made below:
There were three potential problems with this design:
After some consideration, I decided to take my chances on the third issue, and to address the first two issues by assembling the trusses without the joist.
I also added 3" to the rafter length to give me some room for error.
To get the angles for the ends of the rafters, I read up on roof pitches and a lot of related topics. I finally decided that I'd try to pitch the roof at a 24 degree angle. So I cut the ends of the rafters 66 degrees (90-24). That would hopefully make the rafters meet the ridge at the right angle. And it should make the lower edge of the board perpendicular to the ground, which would allow me to add nice trim boards.
In the photo below, I have assembled one pair of rafters with a cross-piece that would both:
The 2"x6" board that's sticking up in the air isn't fastened to anything - I just used it to provide the correct spacing and angle for the assembly.
I used six 3" screws to fasten the collar ties firmly to the rafter boards without bothering to cut the angle of the slope ahead of time. After things were fastened together, I used my circular saw to cut the corners of the tie down to the slope of the rafters.
Once I had the first assembly done, my priority was to make certain that all of the other rafter assemblies were built to the same angle - even if it wasn't exactly 24 degrees.
So I flopped the first assembly over, put some scrap 2"x6" pieces under each end, and built the next assembly over the top of it to make certain it was as close as reasonably possible to the same angle.
I'll be honest - I'm so used to doing things wrong that I was afraid to do the rest of the assemblies until I tried out the first two to make certain I was on the right track. But I gritted my teeth and did the other three to make certain all five had the same angle. As it turned out, that was the right thing to do.
Bracing Issues - At first I was all for finding a metal bracket I could slide the rafters into to hold them in place. Several nice products are available. However, none of them are really suitable for the four gable ends of the building. I bought a bunch with the idea of using them for the inside 3 rafters at least, but wound up not using them at all, since the system I worked out for the end rafters worked out for the middle rafters, too.
Installing the End Rafters - I cut my 109" 2"x6" ridge board and got it ready to go.
What I worked out for installing the end pieces with the rafters at the outside edge was this: I laid a 2"x4" I was planning to use as a joist across one end of the frame.
Using that as a "spacer," I screwed in a little angled piece of wood that I would be able to screw the joist to (below left).
Then I added the brace at the other end, and turned the joust upright (below right). Using my trusty 3" screws, I fastened the joist to the braces and toenailed it into the horizontal "plate."
In retrospect, I could have made my little braces longer - they would have been more solid, so if you try this, do as I say, not as I do. That said, the resulting assembly seemed strong enough to fasten the first rafter to.
The rafter was light enough to set into place on the outside edge of the joist (below).
What is not shown (because I only have two hands): I put a bit of 2"x6" board into the slot at the top to keep it from scissoring closed while I was centering the rafter. Then I went back and forth measuring the amount of overhang on each end of the rafter. When they were the same (within 1/8" or so), I screwed the rafter to the joist and toe-nailed it into the plate. The whole assembly seemed very solid and very vertical.
Leaving the little 2"x6" block in place, but an inch or below the tips at the top end of the rafters, I went to the other end of the shed and did the same thing. This was much, much easier, because I could stand on the top platform of my railroad while I worked.
Installing the Ridge Board - Now came the "acid test" would I be able to drop the ridge board into the slots I had left in the rafters, or would they scissors closed when I popped out the spacers I had left there?
I picked up one end of my ridge board and climbed to the end with the platform. Steering a 9' 2"x6" from one end isn't easy, but I was able to leverage it so that the far end sat in the top of the slot where it would eventually drop into place. Then I knocked the spacer out of the end I was working on and dropped the ridge board there.
Admittedly, if the roof was 12 feet long instead of 9 feet, I wouldn't have attempted doing it by myself. But so far, so good. I went to the other end, knocked out the spacer, and encouraged the end of the ridge board to drop into place there. Then I shot screws from each rafter into the ridge board - one from the top and one toe-nailed in from the side. Both rafter assemblies seemd very solid.
Moving Forward - The other rafters were fairly easy to install. I pulled each one up so that the legs were sticking out each side of the shed, then rotated the thing upward until the slot was just under the ridge board. Because they had all scissored slightly, I had to use a hammer to get them started, but once the slot in the rafters began to accept the ridge board, bringing them into an upright position was not hard. Once they were in place, I screwed 3" screws into the ridge board, one from the top and one "toenailed" in from the side. Then I added the little vertical braces I had started with on the end assemblies.
The photo below shows the shed and railroad from an upstairs window with three of the rafters installed. It also explains why the neighbors haven't complained about the noise my project has generated - getting an in-ground pool installed is much noisier and dirtier.
As of this writing, all of the rafters are in place. Because the roof is just over 9' long, the best way to sheath it will be with three 4'x10' plywood sheets. Strangely, no one in town has those in stock. So they are on order.
While I'm waiting for the sheathing to come in, I will be adding a few other pieces and deciding on materials for the roof and walls. I'm leaning toward an old-fashioned, dark red metal roof and board-and-batten siding. The metal roofing is available from several sources, but the lumber for authentic-looking board-and-batten siding will be a little harder to find for a reasonable cost. We'll see.
As always, if I've helped you get any ideas at all for your next garden railroad construction, I will consider the time it took to document all of this time well spent.
Best of luck, all,
Enjoy your hobbies, and especially enjoy any time you can spend with your family in the coming season.
Proceed to "Waterscaping Part 2" - Getting this year's waterscaping project done (for now at least). Installing and dirtscaping the third level of the waterfall. Installing pump and filter, adding an extra container and modifying the ones we already had installed to keep the water running smoothly. And lots of other tweaking. Includes tips about introducing fish and plants, as well as other information about water features in general that you may find helpful.
Click on the photo to see our status as of August 5, 2018.
Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 1" - What started out as a simple addition of a deck to stand on when putting trains on the track got a little more ambitious when I realized that JUST installing the deck this year would require more work next year. So we framed out what we planned to be a train shed attached to the railroad. If it ever gets finished, I can easily put trains on the track at a moment's notice instead of schlepping them out from the garage.
Click on the photo to see our status as of July 9, 2018.
Return to "Waterscaping the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek Part 1," our article on getting the top two layers of the waterfall on solid footing and getting the third layer framed. After we finish decking and dirtscaping the third layer, we will probably add a washbasin or something for the water to flow into, then add a pump to get the waterfall flowing. No big pond until next year at least - too many other projects.
Click on the photo to see our progress as of June 13, 2018.
Return to "Dirtscaping the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 2. - Adding barriers to keep the rocks, dirt, and plants where they're supposed to go, placing platforms and running wiring for buildings, adding rocks, dirt, and plants to the upper level of the railroad.
Click on the photo to see our status as of June 1, 2018.
Return to "Adding Raised Roadbed to the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 2" - Trimming the corners off the roadbed on the upper layer and cutting the pieces that will support the curves on the middle layer. We need to get the upper two tiers of the pond installed before we totally complete this step, so the article doesn't quite show the finished product. You'll see it later as part of other articles.
Return to "Adding Raised Roadbed to the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 1" - Sorting out our priorities for the spring and summer of 2018. There a lot of little chores we really should get done before we start on the next big addition. Click to see our plans as of February 27, 2018.
Click on the photo to see our status as of February 20, 2018
Return to "2018: Springing into Spring on the NEW New Boston & Donnels Creek RR." - Sorting out our priorities for the spring and summer of 2018. There a lot of little chores we really should get done before we start on the next big addition. Click to see our plans as of February 27, 2018.
Click on the photo to see our status as of February 20, 2018
Return to "Dirtscaping the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 1. - Putting edging around the existing "layers" of the new railroad, and beginning to add gravel and rocks. There were a few test runs, but we got stopped early by bad weather before we could dump the rest of the rocks, gravel, and dirt, much less plant the plants we hoped to get in before snowfall.
Click on the photo to see our status as of November 21, 2017
Return to "Decking the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR - Decking the 'middle layer' of our proposed three-tier outdoor railroad. Prepping more track, laying out track and decking to make certain we have measurements correct, installing most of the remaining decking for this layer.
Click on the photo to see our status as of October 25, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 6" - Modifying and finishing the framing on the second layer, cantilevering, using R3 track versus all other pre-curved track formats, finalizing the track plan, why painting the track makes old and new track blend better, and more. This will be the last bit of "framing" in 2017, and it worked out well, considering.
Click on the photo to see our status as of October 15, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 5" - Spreading the billboard-sourced vinyl underlayment on the top layer. Prepping used Aristo track for (hopefully) many more years of service. Laying the first loop of track, attaching power wires with spade terminals, and testing conductivity with a Bachmann streetcar.
Click on the photo to see our status as of October, 10, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 4" - Planning and running the decking for the top layer, testing the track plan, checking clearances, prepping used track with new railjoiners, examining the vinyl I ordered to go over the decking, and more.
Click on the photo to see our status as of September 26, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 3" - Getting the frame finished on the top layer, ordering other things I'd need eventually, deciding on materials for the decking on the top layer (at least).
Click on the photo to see our status as of September 17, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 2" - Once I had the overall frame relatively solid, I hooked up the underground power lines to two GFI plugs that should be in easy reach once everything is finished. I also decided to frame out the top railroad layer while I could still access the center of the railroad easily. Because I was running out of vertical space, I reconfigured that layer. Then after I got the "core" pieces on, I changed my plan again. But the whole thing is getting easier and easier to visualize, and is getting closer to complete with every board I cut and fasten on.
Click on the photo to see our status as of September 7, 2017
Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR, Part 1" - Once I started dropping posts in the holes and screwing things together, I didn't want to stop before I had the basic frame built (for one thing, the wood warps less once it's fastened in place). Now the folks driving down the street past our house (we're on a corner lot) probably wonder if I'm building an elaborate chicken coop, but that's fine with me. I still need to make a few more lumber runs and do a lot more cutting and sawing, but having the basic frame in place should make the next bits a lot easier.
Click on the photo to see our status as of August 10, 2017
Return to "Breaking Ground on the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek" - Okay, in case you wondered if we'd ever get started on the thing, we broke ground in July, using a manual post-hole digger. Well two manual post-hole diggers. But by the end of this article, we're ready for the posts to start going in.
Click on the photo to see our status as of the end of July, 2017
Return to "Planning the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 4" - Well, the rented post-hole digger fell through, so we dug our vegetable garden with a manual post-hole digger (the scissors kind). In addition, I stake out where the railroad was going to be. Twice. And tweaked the plans again. Sorry about the redo's, but sometimes just walking around the yard trying to visualize things makes me reconsider something that seemed "settled" only a few days before.
Click on the photo to see what we were considering as of late May, 2017
Return to "Planning the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 3" - We have still not broken ground. In part because we plan to rent a post-hole digger and dig the post holes for our raised vegetable garden and the first phase of the garden railroad at the same time, and we don't have enough lumber on hand yet. (If we didn't break it down into multiple trips, we'd be blowing out the shocks on our minivan.) In the meantime, we used a line level to see if the slope of the back yard was as bad as we thought it was (it's worse), and we did other site preparation, including planting a whole bunch of spruce tree seedlings to eventually give us some privacy in our side and back yard. Plus, I'm still wavering a little on the "where-to-start-first" issue.
Click on the photo to see what we were considering as of late April, 2017
Return to "Planning the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 2" - More plans. We've moved on from the 2"x6" roadbed-on-posts to a sort of "train-table-outside" plan. Our goals include low-maintenance, high interest, and high reliability. We're also trying to get around having a thousand dollars' worth of dirt hauled into the back yard. If you want to get some idea of what our planning process looks like, reading these through in sequence may help. Or it may drive you crazy.
Click on the photo to see what we were considering in early April, 2017
Return to "Planning the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 1" - If you're subscribed to our newsletter, you know that we moved just after Thanksgiving in 2016, leaving behind most of the track, a few of the bird feeders, and one Bachmann train set for the new owners. We also left behind a high-maintenance garden that we do not intend to replicate at the new place. This is the first chapter of a new chapter in our lives, which we hope will include a lot of "lessons learned." But first, some serious landscaping had to take place.
Click on the photo to see what we were considering in March, 2017
Return to the New Boston and Donnels Creek RR Page - This is the page describing Paul Race's progress and frequent rework on his own garden railroad, started on a shoe-string budget in 1998, later expanded, and later refurbished several times as issues arose. Issues that Paul hopes to avoid by building the next iteration above ground.
Click on the photo to see the home page of Paul's railroad.
Return to Family Garden Trains' Home Page - The home page with links to all the other stuff, including design guidelines, construction techniques, structure tips, free graphics, and more.
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