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Garage to Train Station, Part One: Turning one end of my garage from a disaster zone to something that resembles the interior of a late-1800s train station. This photo, while not all that impressive, was taken after many steps, including plugging a 64-square-foot hole in the ceiling, removing a massive, oil-soaked workbench, moving electrical outlets, spackling, painting, and applying wainscoting, chair railing, and baseboards. Click for bigger photo. Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running wellGarden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to runBest Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order FormSturdy buildings for your garden railroad.
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden TrainsTM


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Garage to Train Station, Part 1.

This article is about a bunch of DIY projects that I recently took on to fix up the part of our detached garage where my trains are being stored. Actually, just fixing up one end of the garage at that. For one thing, I wanted some place to take pictures of repair projects I was working on, things I wanted to sell, and maybe even doing Zoom banjo lessons or some such. (Yes, I play banjo; get over it.)

Basically, I wanted to take an area that looked like a disaster zone and make it visually compelling for a wide range of uses. If you're thinking about building a "man-cave," or a "train room" or anything of the sort, you may find some of the things I did helpful.

In a way, this is a follow-up to our article Train Storage Solutions, January 2020, using periods of cold weather to get things sorted in the garage, including shelf building and tips for schlepping trains. Click to go to article."Train Storage Solutions," written at the beginning of 2020.

In that article, we built shelves to store all the garden railroading odds and ends we brought over from our previous house when we moved.

Caveat - This article goes into a lot of detail and touches on things most people will never have to deal with. The detail is here because when I just skim over steps, someone always asks me about details I left out. I'd rather write the details down while they're fresh in my mind, for the benefit of the handful of people who will try a similar project a month or ten years from now. If you don't ever imagine yourself doing this sort of thing, please feel free to skim or skip over this article. On the other hand, if you ever try something similar, I'd be very glad to hear your experiences and see your photos.

Back to the Garage - What we didn't share in previous articles was that the garage bay we moved that stuff into needed serious work. There was a 20-foot-long oil-soaked workbench left by an earlier previous owner who did car repair as a side job. Ripping it out left big holes in the drywall behind it, but at least it wasn't hard to get rid of once I pulled it out. It burnt like match-light charcoal. "Gee, Paul, why didn't you keep the workbench?" "I don't know, maybe I didn't want to accidentally put a hot soldering iron down on it and start a conflagration.")

The 64-square-foot hole in the ceiling of the garage, left by a former owner who was checking on rafter damage from a leaky roof. The roof was replaced, but not the drywall. Click if you really need to see a bigger photo.A bigger hassle was the 64-square-foot hole in the ceiling left by a previous owner who was checking out potential rafter damage from a leaky roof. He replaced the roof but never replaced the ceiling.

The garage ceiling that was intact had several inches of blown-in insulation, plus a barn-style vent in the roof. So that was good. But with a huge hole in the ceiling, the garage still got bitterly cold in the winter. In addition, every strong wind would cause more insulation to blow down into the garage, like a miniature fiberglass snowfall.

In the photo above, you can see that I put thick rolled fiberglass insulation between the joists, held in place temporarily by duct tape, so that when I installed the drywall, that corner would be insulated again.

The ceiling with drywall installed and the edges taped. Click for bigger photo.The photo to the right shows that corner with the drywall screwed into place and the edges taped. "Mudding" was complex because - as it turned out - the joists weren't even vertically, so my joints were uneven.

By the time I was done making the joints smooth enough so that they weren't the first thing people noticed when they came into the room, there was a heavy layer of plaster dust on everything in the garage, even my lawn tractor at the far end. I'm still cleaning that up as I work my way through the garage.

In other words, that end of the garage required a complete do-over for any number of reasons. I don't even have photos of some of because it was just too scary to share.

Thinking Ahead - Since that end of the garage was going to be basically gutted anyway, I decided that I would go beyond just "fixing the problems" to making it into a sort of backdrop I could use for Zoom calls, photos of repair projects, etc. But something with a railroad theme, like the inside of a turn-of-the-last-century railroad station. I investigated several options for quick and inexpensive solutions, but decided just to keep my eyes open.

One feature of the backdrop would be "windows." Not real ones - that side of the garage is brick veneer. But windowframes of some sort. I kept a look out but didn't see anything for quite a while. Then Shelia and I stumbled upon a craft store that was closing and selling all of their fixtures. I made them an offer on three fake windowframes and brought those home. They were unpainted, so when I got ready to use them, I painted them glossy white, so they would stand out against the color I had chosen for the walls. That was most of a day's work in and of itself.

Other Wall Issues - The same roof leak that had caused previous owners to rip out big chunks of the garage ceiling had damaged the drywall near the bottom of the wall under the workbench. The drywall was intact, but the cardboard on this side had come off. (You can see that in a photo further down the page.)

I considered several options, including patching that bit, drywalling over the whole wall (since there were so many holes and other damage to the wall), paneling over the whole wall, or adding wainscoting high enough to cover the damaged drywall.

One free potential source of materials was already onhand. When I bought the special plywood for the roof of my outdoor train shed (in 2018), they shipped it in between two pieces of unfinished paneling that had a barn siding pattern embossed onto it. The panels were obviously "rejects," with damaged edges, etc., but I had saved them just in case they would be useful later. As the garage project progressed, I became more convinced that the way to move ahead cheaply would be to slice the 48"x96"-inch panels into 32"x48" bits and use them to make the wainscoting. What's better than "free" when you're doing a "just-for-fun" project anyway?

A used ceiling fan, repainted and equipped with a vintage-style light fixture from our old house.  Click for bigger photo.Ceiling Fans - While I was working in the garage it was brutally hot outside, and often too warm in the garage to work comfortably. Air conditioning would be prohibitively expensive, at least until I replaced the huge, drafty uninsulated garage door, so ceiling fans were the most obvious solution. But I wanted them to look vintage to keep with the theme of my planned project. I had also saved two vintage-looking lighting fixtures from two old ceiling fans at the other house that I was hoping to use somewhere.

Someone had given Shelia a used ceiling fan for a craft project. With Shelia's permission, I removed the old fan's light fixture, painted the fan's shiny brass metal parts dark bronze to match the vintage-looking fixture I wanted to use, put the thing together, and hung it where I had already put a junction box near the middle of the garage ceiling.

Unfortunately, it kept getting warmer. So while I was patching the hole near the end of the garage I bought an inexpensive "contractor" ceiling fan to put up where the ceiling was still solid, but nearer to where I was working.

Trying to keep the vintage feel, I removed the "squashed schoolhouse" light fixture from the thing and managed to get one of the "shades" from the old house to fit up inside the new fan's light fixture attachment. The result wasn't vintage as much as "steampunk," but that was okay, too.

Ironically, I soon saw an add for a "trendy" ceiling fan combination that was very close to the one I had created, but much, much more expensive.

The $50 'contractor fan' with the squashed 'schoolhouse light' fixture removed and one of the shades from our old fixture inserted and screwed into place. Click for bigger photo. The Home Depot 'Trendy Fan,' that was advertised a few weeks after I put my combination together, and for a whole lot more money.  Pretty funny, wouldn't you say?  Sorry, I don't have a bigger photo of this.

I planned to put another ceiling fan in the corner where the ceiling was still missing, so my family bought me one that matched the "contractor" fan. Plus I still had two of the vintage-looking shades. I installed the second fan once I had drywall where the ceiling hole had been.

Three of the four chest-high outlets that were moved to standard height after the workbench was removed. Click for bigger photo.Moving the Outlets - The photo to the right shows that wall after I had spackled dozens of holes you could stick your fist in and painted down to where the wainscotting would cover. It also shows that there were four electrical outlets just above where the workbench had been. (Three of them are shown in the photo.)

I installed new outlets below each of them at something more like a standard height. Then I removed the old outlet fixtures, ran wires from their boxes to the new outlets, sealed off the old boxes with metal covers, and spackled over them.

Testing the placement of the wainscoting panels.  Click for bigger photoTesting the Wainscoting My pieces of wainscoting were only 32" high, which wasn't as high as I wanted. But the last major reconstruction on our home's exterior had left several pieces of Georgia Pacific cement board siding in 8" widths. Using those for baseboard would allow me to tack the wainscoting about 6" off the ground to bring it up a little higher.

In the photo to the right, I haven't cut the holes for the new outlets in the paneling yet.

I stained the wainscoting and baseboard with stain that the previous homeowner had left from a project, and it looked great.

Chair rail from Lowes, painted glossy white, finished the look.

My windowframes, sans backgrounds tacked into place. Click for bigger photo.Finally, I tacked my windowframes in place, as much to get them off the floor as anything else. I didn't plan to install them "permanently" until I had something showing through the windows.

Then I had autumn garden stuff to do and we were blessed with two lovely, warm weeks in November that allowed me to finish the construction of the western extension on my outdoor train garden.

I was going to keep adding content here, but the list of other things I did and still need to do is too long to try to cram it all into one article.

Part 2 includes further developments, such as painting the backgrounds that would show through the windowframes.

Keep in Touch

If you're headed toward or past Springfield, Ohio, please let me know, and I'll see if we can work out a quick visit.

Finally, please let us know about your ongoing projects. Ask questions, send corrections, suggest article ideas, send photos, whatever you think will help you or your fellow railroaders. In the meantime, enjoy your trains, and especially enjoy any time you have with your family in the coming weeks,

Paul Race

FamilyGardenTrains.com

Note: The next article, chronologically, describes our outdoor efforts in November and December. If you wish to see the direct sequel to this article, skip to the next article down.

Christmas Preparations and Operations - getting temporary track loops on the new railroad, testing new trains, and entertaining visitors one masked family at a time. Click to go to article.Proceed to "Christmas Preparations and Operations" - Usually we have a single big Christmas-themed open railroad, and we prepare for it much of the fall. But for safety's sake this year, we decided to scale things back and spread them out. Thanks to the new platform, we were able to have five running trains for visitors to watch, including actual model trains and Thomas and Friends trains. We also had three trains for kids to run, including a Hogwarts Express circling a castle where a dragon is pursuing Harry Potter and his friends.

Click on the picture to see our status as of late December, 2020.

Garage to Train Station, Part 2, fixing up one end of my garage to resemble a Victorian train station interior, including painting backgrounds for my windowframes and adding other details. Click to go to article.Proceed to "Garage to Train Station, Part 2" - continuing to fix up one end of my garage to resemble a Victorian train station interior. I used a digital projector to outline vintage coach details for my windowframes. Then I painted the backgrounds, attached the windowframes, and installed them on the wall. A repro Regulator clock and other details are added.

Click on the picture to see our status as of late December, 2020.

Westward Expansion 2020, Part 3, completing the deck, lining the deck, adding trim boards to hold the dirt and gravel in place. Click to go to article.Return to "Westward Expansion, 2020, Part 3" - Thanks to a spate of unusually warm weather in early November, I was able to get the new platform finished, lined with vinyl, and bordered with trim boards to keep the dirt and gravel in place.

The next "permanent" improvements will wait for now. In the meantime, we will set out buildings and a temporary loop or to entertain visitors between now and Christmas.

Click on the picture to see our status as of mid-November, 2020.

Westward Expansion 2020, Part 2, Finishing the joists and starting the frame. Click to go to article.Return to "Westward Expansion, 2020, Part 2" - We had to be careful leveling the last joists so the frame, decking, and right-of-way would be as level as possible. Fortunately we were able to get enough lumber to get a good start on the frame.

We also added one last tweak to the frame design to make it easier to extend this platform to its originally planned size, if and when we get a chance to do so.

Westward Expansion 2020, Part 1, Revising our plans, digging holes, attaching joists in preparation for a 104-square-foot addition.  Click to go to article.Return to "Westward Expansion, 2020, Part 1" - With a lumber shortage and warm weather running out, we revised our plans for the next addition, bought what decent lumber we could find, dug holes, installed posts, and attached joists.

We were hoping to get the lumber we need to finish the platform before cold weather set in. Click on the link to see our status as of late September, 2020.

Train Storage Solutions, January 2020, using periods of cold weather to get things sorted in the garage, including shelf building and tips for schlepping trains. Click to go to article.Return to "Train Storage Solutions, 2020" - Using periods of cold weather to get things sorted in the garage, including shelf building and tips for schlepping trains from storage to the tracks.

Click on the following link to see our status as of late January, 2020. https://familygardentrains.com/newbost/20_1_19_shelves/shelves.htm

Planning the last expansion on the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR.  Completing the lower, outside level will require working around existing structures and working within standard decking constraints. Click to go to article.Return to "Expansion Planning, 2020" - Three years after starting a garden railroad in our new home, we are trying to figure out the best way to finish the last loop of our raised platform railroad. How to make room for 10'-diameter curves and more towns and industries, but still keeping things manageable requires some thinking and rethinking.

Click on the photo to see the options we were reviewing for the next and last expansion.

Getting the railroad ready for winter. Click for bigger photo.Return to "Winter Preparation, 2019" - After the big open railroad event, we try to prepare the railroad for the cold months, including populating the railroad with North States bird feeders so it doesn't look empty, adding an air pump and bubblers to the pond, and more.

Click on the following link to see our status as of early December, 2019. https://familygardentrains.com/newbost/19_11_24_winter_prep/19_11_24_winter_prep.htm

Christmas Train Day, 2019.  On our third year in the new home, we host another Christmas-themed open railroad, giving many families a jump start on Christmas celebrations and sharing the experience of running trains with lots of kids. Click to go to articleReturn to "Christmas Train Day, 2019" - Three years after starting a garden railroad in our new home, we host another Christmas-themed open railroad, giving many families a jump start on Christmas celebrations and sharing the experience of running trains with lots of kids.

Click on the photo to see a brief record of our busiest weekend in November, 2019.

Wrapping up construction projects for 2019, getting ready for our annual Christmas-themed open railroad. Click to go to article.Return to "Preparing for Christmas Train Day 2019" - Wrapping up construction projects for 2019 and getting ready for our annual Christmas-themed open railroad. Includes new lighting and other features, providing a temporary home for a Hogwarts Express train, weather issues, and more. Click to go to article.

Click on the following link to see our progress of mid-November, 2019.

Decking the eastern expansion and preparing it for dirtscaping. Click to go to article.Return to Decking the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek Part 2 - Getting the next part of the railroad ready to install trains. Includes installing 2"x6" decking, vinyl sheeting, edges to hold back the gravel, and corrugated steel panels. It's not done, but it will give us another place to set up trains for our next Christmas-themed open railroad.

Click on the photo to see our status as of late October, 2019.


Installing posts, joists, framing, and decking for the eastern expansion of the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek. Click to go to article.Return to "Framing the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR - Part 7" - Installing posts, joists, framing, and decking for the eastern expansion of the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek. Although this installation was complicated by having to fit into an existing framework, the methods used could work for any raised-platform railroad.

Click on the following link to see our progress of early October, 2019.

Installing the in-ground pond and preparing to install the last connecting pool to make our waterfall complete.  Click to go to article.Return to "Planning the NEW New Boston and Donnels Creek RR - Part 5" - Once the major components of the water feature were installed and tested, we decided to add one more bit of railroad proper before our "Christmas Train Day," this November. The addition, about 5'x11', will allow us to put a small train and some scenery closer to eye level for youngsters. Eventually it will be part of the larger plan that will allow us to run our bigger cars and locomotives.

Click on the photo to see our plans for the next addition, as of late September, 2019.

Waterscaping Part 4: Installing the last connecting pool, so the whole planned waterfall is complete except for backfilling, etc.  Click to go to article.Return to Waterscaping Part 4. - Installing the last connecting pool, so the whole planned waterfall is complete except for dirtscaping and planting.

The process included checking the pump, extending the hoses, rescuing toads, building the platform, trimming the platform, testing the pool's location, etc.

Click the photo to go to the article.

Installing the in-ground pond and preparing to install the last connecting pool to make our waterfall complete.  Click to go to article.Return to "Waterscaping, Part 3" - After seven months of crazy long work hours, I finally got some free time to continue working on the railroad. Weather permitting, I often worked all the live-long day. This article describes installing two posts that will eventually support the last connecting pool, then digging the big hole for the in-ground pond, complicated by a three-month drought that turned the ground to concrete.

Click on the photo to see our progress as of mid-September, 2019.

Hosting a Christmas-themed open railroad, our first in the new place, November, 2018.  Click to go to article.Return to Christmas Train Day, 2018 - After two years without our traditional Christmas Train Day (something we did from 2008 through 2015), we were anxious to get started again, even without a huge right of way to show off. The kids' trains, the extra Thomas railroad, the popcorn popper and two Bachmann Christmas trains got a big workout. And the visiting kids all loved it!

Click on the photo to see a lot of last-minute preparations and some photos of the November 10, 2018 event itself.

Putting the walls and windows on our garden railway train shed.  Click to go to article.Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 6" - Installing the board and batten siding on our train shed, installing the windows, installing the trim, testing the "tunnel entrances," and more.

By the way, going over lumber receipts in early 2019, I couldn't believe I was still siding the train shed in late October, and managed to have an open railroad in mid-November. It is a little crazy how fast things can go together if you have a deadline and a lot of gift cards.

Click on the photo to see our progress as of late October, 2018.

Planning the door, walls, and windows of our garden railway train shed. Click to go to article.Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 5" - Planning the doors, walls, and windows of our garden train shed.

Includes choosing the siding and windows, installing the door, painting the windowframes, and adding crosspieces to support the vertical siding boards.




Click this link to see the previous article.Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 4" - Choosing and installing underlayment and drip edge to protect the sheathing until I can get the final roof installed.

Now the roof is waterproof enough to get us through the next couple of months at least, maybe more.


Putting the sheathing and end trim in place on our garden railway train shed. Click to go to article.Return to "Adding a Train Shed Part 3" - Adding fascia, sheathing, and end trim to the in-progress train shed.

I thought about bringing in helpers for this part, but a reader commented on how helpful it was to see how one person could do this sort of thing by himself, so I just kept plugging away.

Click on the photo to see our progress as of September 13, 2018

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.


Return to the Family Garden Trains Home PageReturn 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.

To read more, or to look at recommended Garden Railroading and Big Indoor Train products, please click on the index pages below.

Visit our Garden Train Store<sup><small>TM</small></sup> Bachmann Starter Set Buyer's Guide








































































Click to see buildings for your garden railroad
























































Note: Family Garden TrainsTM, Garden Train StoreTM, Big Christmas TrainsTM, BIG Indoor TrainsTM, and BIG Train StoreTM are trademarks of
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Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 by
Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
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For more information, please contact us

Click to see new and vintage-style Lionel trains.
Click to see new and vintage-style Lionel trains

Visit related pages and affiliated sites:
- Trains and Hobbies -
Return to Family Garden Trains Home page
Return to Big Indoor Trains Home page
Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Big Indoor Trains Primer Articles: All about setting up and displaying indoor display trains and towns. Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden RailroadingBig Christmas Trains: Directory of Large Scale and O Scale trains with holiday themes
On30 and O Gauge trains to go with indoor display villages and railroads
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Learn important guitar chords quickly, to jump start your ability to play along on any song. With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. Resources for learning Folk Music and instruments quickly Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.