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Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)
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Adding a Train Shed Part 3

If 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 articles described how I had to build last year's framework up and out to accommodate a shed big enough to walk into. Part 2 described how I put on the rafters.

By the way, during my research for these parts of the project, I discovered that there are about a thousand "only right ways" to build a shed of any kind. I chose approaches that would work for me and also produce a building that would be in code (not that the county inspects sheds that are under 100 square feet, but just in case).

Then I ordered plywood for the roof and worked on other things. I also researched steel roofs, and saw about fourteen different ways to install them, each "expert" saying his was the only right way. For a time, I thought I had screwed up by ordering plywood, because some folks just use boards, the way they did in barns and houses up until about 1940.

Also, I want to install a roof vent, and several articles preached vociferously about how leaving a gap between the sheathing and the ridge board would weaken the roof and cause problems later.

Since my roof slope is 24 degrees and there wouldn't be any gutters, I'm not worried too much about snow build up, but I'll take reasonable precautions.

Installing the Fascia

I had cut the ends of my rafters at a 66 degree angle so that the ends would be vertical. During my research, I kept coming across people who said to have cut them off at a 90 degree angle and attach 2"x4"s to the end, a so-called "ladder" construction. But I've seen countless examples of what I was trying to do, so I decided that a 5/4"x6" pressure treated board made for decking would serve just fine as a "fascia" board and look way more finished. And after all, the profile of the 5/4 board has almost exactly the same amount of wood as the 2"x4" board (about 6 square inches), so it shouldn't be any weaker.

One "expert" whose advice I took explained a good way for a single person to get a sheet of plywood to stay where it belongs while nailing it in place. This involved screwing temporary brackets to the fascia, to allow the long edge of the plywood board to sit right above the fascia while you're taking care of business.

So I figured putting the fascia board up would be the next step. Of course fastening a 9'-long board horizontally by yourself can be problematic.

Using a temporary brace to hold one end of the fascia board while I was installing the other.  Click for bigger photo.I got around that by temporarily putting a sort of brace on one of the rafters near one end (circled in red in the photo to the right).

Then I rested one end of the fascia board on that while I attached the other end by a single screw. After that, it was no trouble at all to move the ladder back to the other end, remove the brace, and fasten that end of the fascia in place.

Then I screwed the fascia to all of the rafters, which included putting a second screw in the one I had first attached.

The photo below shows the south end of the shed frame with both fascia boards attached.

The south end of the train shed frame with both fascia boards attached. Click for bigger photo.

Sheathing Considerations

Did you know that "1/2"-plywood is really 7/16? I think I knew that. Most "authorities" who discuss using plywood or MDF for the roof sheathing recommend 1/2", but I'm going to go with what they call 1/2" since that was probably what they were thinking about when they made the recommendation.

If I had made the shed 8' long instead of 9', my life would probably have been easier. But my 10' sheets will work just fine. Each rafter is a little under 6' long so I can trim the first two sheets to 9' lengths and lay them sideways. They'll take up all but about 19" of the rafter lengths and be sturdy enough to walk on. The third sheet will be cut into strips to fill the gap.

Venting Considerations

I want to add a roof vent, which is generally no problem on a roof this size. For it to work, there has to be a gap between the sheathing and the ridge board, though.

Though most sources seemed to think that would be fine, a few resources mentioned that leaving such a gap would weaken the roof there. One recommended running the sheathing all the way to the ridge board, then drilling a bunch of big holes there. It occurred to me I could get a similar effect by cutting a few angled blocks and mounting them on the ridge board so the sheathing would have a little more support. Again, this was probably not necessary with a fairly steep roof and no rain gutters, but it cost me almost nothing since I already had more short pieces of 2"x6" than I'll need for a while.

braces that would allow me to screw the sheathing down solidly but still leave a gap for ventilation.  Click for bigger photo.Setting my saw to cut the boards lengthwise at a 66 degree angle only took a minute. (Actually the setting on my saw said 24 degrees.) I figured six blocks each about 12" long would be sufficient.

Preparing to Sheath

I was concerned that the roof wouldn't be quite square, and as a result, the edge of the sheet wouldn't align with the rafters on the end. I could do what I've done on other parts of this shed, and installed the thing, and then trimmed it if it wasn't right. But how would I avoid messing up the trim boards?

Frankly, at this point, anything I could do to get the big pieces of sheathing on the roof would be worth considering. I was also concerned about how I would get that 55-pound 1/2"x4'x10' piece over my head onto the rafters. Then it occurred to me that if I cut it in half so that I could join the pieces along one of the rafters, it would not weaken the roof. But that would make it even harder to I temporarily added pices of 5/4x6in boards to the end pieces so I could be certain I had the sheathing aligned properly. Click for bigger photo. align it with the ends.

To improve my chances of the sheathing aligning properly with the ends of the roof, I temporarily added some pieces of 5/4" decking - the same sort of wood I planned to use to trim out the end once the sheathing was attached. This way, if I needed to trim sheathing to "square up" with where the end trim was going to be, I could do it without the danger of carving up the final trim.

The next step was to add vertical pieces of wood to the fascia boards so the sheathing will stay in place while I fasten it down.

Scrap lumber pieces screwed temporarily to the fascia board (at the rafter's ends for extra stability), to hold the sheathing in place while it is fastened down. Click for bigger photo.

If I had a crew and the building was entirely square, I wouldn't need some of these preparations at all. But most of my friends' backs are in worse shape than mine.

In addition, a reader who has been tracking my progress on Facebook thanked me for showing how a person could do this sort of thing without any help whatsoever. So I could hardly bring in a ringer or a crew now.

In case the section above is confusing, I added a drawing that shows where I added wood pieces in preparation for putting the sheathing on.

Additional wood bits have been added before installing the sheathing, to help with alignment, support, and ventilation. Click for bigger drawing.

Location of the shed roof sheathing panels.  Each panel will be cut in half to make it easier to lift to the roof. Click for bigger picture.The dotted-line rectangles in drawing to the right shows how I intended for the sheathing pieces to be cut and placed. (Which didn't happen exactly.).

What isn't shown on the drawing are the "H clips" that will be installed between the lower panels and the upper panel on each side. During installation, H clips keep upper sheathing pieces from slipping down over or - worse yet - behind lower sheathing pieces. They also add a very small gap to allow for expansion. They're very inexpensive, and they add a little bit of strength to the roof a little, too.

Sheathing

As mentioned earlier, I had ordered 4'x10' sheathing plywood with the notion that there would be less waste than if I used 4'x8' sheathing. By the time I was done, though, I'm not sure that saved me any actual money. Just saying. . . .

The sheathing write-up said that it could stand a limited amount of weather before it was covered. The side with fewer bad knotholes had a pinkish sheen that I suppose was a rudimentary sealant. So I installed it with that side up.

Nails or Screws - By the way, most of the experts mentioned owning or renting or buying a nail gun for this part. But because this is a small roof, it was cheaper to buy a couple boxes of 2.5" decking screws and much less likely to set the neighbors' dogs barking incessantly. Yes, for a whole house roof, a nail gun is probably the answer.

The 4'x10' sheathing from Menards was 7/16" thick (what they used to call 1/2"). Each piece weighed 55lbs. To lift it to the roof without throwing my back out for good, I cut each board in two, starting with the 54.5" length shown on the left end of the photo below. (I left the other part long since I was going to be trimming the end in place anyway.)

As it turned out, the roof was off square enough that if the pieces were aligned to the rafters, they wouldn't be aligned to the eaves or the rakes (gable ends). Again, if I'd done all this with a crew in one weekend, things might not have shifted as much as they did. But no real harm was done.

The first two pieces of sheathing, before I trimed the edges over the eaves and rakes (gables). Click for bigger photo.

As you can see, where the boards joined, they were out of alignment by almost two inches. So I had to cut the upper boards in half before I put them on, as well. To see a photo of the upper and lower boards joined by H clips, click here.

When I was fastening the upper boards, I made a point of fastening them to the horizontal bits I had screwed to the ridge boards as well as to the rafters. This was just to provide a little extra strength at the roofline. I have no photo of this, sorry.

Warning - The sheathing is more slippery than you would think. Once I got onto the roof to start screwing things in place, I had to more-or-less stay on all fours to keep from sliding off. And that was just with a 24-degree slope. If you're used to clambering around on 30-degree roofs with asphalt shingles (as I am), Cutting a tad off the upper board to allow the ridge to vent.  Click for bigger photo.you're in for a surprise. Be very careful.

Once the upper two sheathing boards were in place, they were overlapping the ridge board, which meant there would be no ventilation. So I set my circular saw to 1/2" depth and sliced a little off the boards until there was about a 1/2" - 3/4" gap between the sheathing and the ridge board.

This may have been overkill, and I didn't exactly cut in a straight line, but the ridge vents I've looked at so far are so wide they'll cover the gap nicely.

Leaving the circular saw set at 1/2", I trimmed the edges all the way around, then removed all the temporary boards I had attached to help align things.

To be honest, it's not as "clean" as it looks from the ground, but the drip edge would eventually straighten out the appearance.

The sheathing is trimmed all around. Click for bigger photo.

End trim is attached.  Click for bigger photo.Finally, I applied the end trim pieces, using 5/4"x8' decking boards. I cut them to 66 degrees on one end, fastened that end, then fastened the other end and trimmed off the excess.

Apparently, the roof isn't quite at a 24 degrees slope, so there is a slight gap between my end trim pieces. When all is said and done, I may put a little bit of trim or gingerbread there to hide the gap.

Because the fascia is mounted vertically and the trim pieces are cut at an angle, they don't exactly align on the lower corners, but that's not a problem.

Conclusion

Once the sheathing was on, I had only a few weeks (depending on the weather) to get it covered before the rain started swelling the edges or some such. So the next stage was getting the underlayment on. As of this writing, I actually have the underlayment and drip edges installed, but this article is long enough, so I'm going to stop it here.

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.

Paul

Click to go to articleReturn 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.

Putting the rafters in place on our garden railway train shed. Click to go to article.Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 2" - Adding rafters to the frame of the in-progress train shed. Now it's starting to look like it might actually be a structure and not just a crazy collection of posts.

The way we got the rafters and ridge board up wouldn't work for everybody, but it worked for us, and hopefully will help other folks to "think outside the box" - literally in this case.

Click on the photo to see our progress as of July 14, 2018.

Click to go to articleReturn 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.

Click to see our first article on adding the waterfall on the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek garden railroad.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.

Click to go to articleReturn 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.

Click to see the second article on adding 2x6 roadbed to the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek.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.

Click to see our first article on adding 2x6 roadbed to the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek.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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to articleReturn 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

Click to go to home page of the New Boston and Donnels' Creek RR, Paul Race's home railroad. 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.


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