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Portals and vertically sliding doorways being tested on our raised platform railroad.  The door installation was inspired by raccoon incursions, but we figured it was time to install the tunnel portals we had painted some time back.  Both installations are preliminary.  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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Doors and Portals

This article will talk briefly about a raccoon incursion that led me to add doors and portals on some of the trains' entrances to our train shed/station.

Holes and Tunnels - In 2018, I built a train shed on one end of the two-level railroad I built in 2017. Tracks on both levels ran through the train shed, so I could leave short trains on the track and power them up whenever we had visitors. Between 2019 and 2020, I built a lower, larger level whose tracks ran through the shed as well.

In 2021, I constructed two small tunnels that didn't connect to the train shed, but allowed small loops of track for short trains, rail trucks, etc. to hide briefly. Building up 'mountains' on my raised railroad to allow short trains on small loops to go through tunnels.  Click to see article

Afterward, I built up dirt-and-rock "mountains" on the lower level, to make the "tunnels" I built look more natural.

At that time, I bought eight foam portals that were originally made by Isle Laboratories (makers of Mountains in Minutes). I installed four of them on the two new tunnels.

What about the other openings - the Installing Isle portals on four of my tunnel entrances in 2021.  Click to go to article.ones the trains passed through to go to the train shed? I didn't install the portals at the same time, since I run longer pieces of equipment on those tracks, and I would have to be very precise in the portal placement to keep the trains from hitting the portals.

Also, until this year, I never any animals to speak of invading that space. Occasionally a sparrow would fly in, poop, and fly out. Plus the occasional brown wasp nest. But nothing more threatening than that.

Vermin Incursion - But this year, I had the pleasure of finding one of my customized trains on the train shed floor, as well as raccoon poop all over the railroad. Ooops.

When I built the train shed, I didn't make provision for closing the openings. And there was certainly no way to attach hinged doors or the like now.

But what about "doors" that would slide up and down?

Alluminum F channel for attaching soffits to buildings that are going to be vinyl sided.  Click for bigger photo.What would I use for rails? I searched for a while and finally settled on a kind of "F channel" that is used for attaching soffit to buildings that are going to be sided with vinyl.

Because I wanted to enclose at least the four lower openings at this time, I bought two lengths of the F channel (they're 12' long, so don't take your Civic to the store for these).

I also had a circular saw blade for cutting sheet metal, left over from when I used corrugated steel sheets for other remodeling projects. I'm sure a hacksaw would do as well or better.

Each opening was 11" or less high, so I cut the F channel into 24" pieces.

The F channel installed behind one of the train shed openings. I had more vertical posts in this shed than you'd usually find, but getting all the F channel installed was still 'challenging.'  Click for bigger photo.Because I built the train shed around the existing platforms, and not from "scratch," there were more posts and studs than you'd ordinarily find in a shed that was built "normally."

My plan was to fasten the F channel to the posts and or to the studs closest to the openings.

Because the posts are all ground-rated, I screwed the F channel in place with short screws designed to work in modern pressure-treated wood. This required some finangling in some cases. That said, folks without as many posts and studs as my shed has would have to finagle something as well.

Also, in most cases, the channel is 3" or so from the wall of the shed, so the openings are still unprotected from cold air or small animals. But hopefully large animals like raccoons will be discouraged.

I could pop some more wood scraps in place to make the openings more secure, but that's pretty far down the list as of this writing. Don't worry; at the rate these things go, someone who reads these articles and decides to build everything in a more logical sequence will eventually do this better and write an "original" article showing you how he did it.

The F channel is supposed to hold 3/8" soffit securely. Which means that a 3/8" board won't really slide up and down. So a purchase of 1/4" plywood is probably in my future.

In the meantime, I had some beadboard scraps from an old project, and I cut them to size. Every opening had a different width, of course.

The following photos show the beadboard scraps in place from the inside and outside. When I get the plywood, I will cut the bottom profile to fit over the track and roadbed more securely. And probably paint it black. Maybe with a sticker or wood-burned representation of a locomotive front or caboose rear. Again - down the list. :-)

Two of the 'doors' slid into place as seen from the inside. Click for bigger photo. Two of the 'doors' slid into place as seen from the outside.  Click for bigger photo.

You'll see that the wood frame around the lower opening has been built out in one place and cut back in another. That's because I was also trying to figure what it would take to put the portals on once the doors were in place.

Portal Installation - I had already painted the portals I was going to use, as described in this blog. Masking tape, rust primer, and gray primer were involved, in case you don't want to click on yet another link. Plus using a lot of very light coats to begin with and allowing plenty of time to dry between. Otherwise, the propellant and the solvent in the spray paint will melt the styrofoam. In fact, I got one portal a bit "iffy" in one place, but not so most folks would notice.

I put the portals on with long screws designed to work with modern pressure-treated wood (again, some of the frame is ground-rated lumber). Yes, you can see the screws, but I'll touch them up later.

Two of the openings on the east side of the shed with portals and vertically sliding doors in place.  Trim, touchup, and other adjustments to come.  Click for bigger photo. Two of the openings on the west side of the shed with portals and vertically sliding doors in place.  Trim, touchup, and other adjustments to come.  Click for bigger photo.

The portals also don't go all the way to the "ground," but I'll camouflage that with rocks eventually. I wanted to make certain that taller-than-average pieces would still run. And, to be honest, I sometimes run the wires for my building lighting out the tunnel holes, buried under rocks or gravel once it's in place. I had a more elaborate solution - running wires everywhere before I "dirtscaped" the railroad. But, frankly, the ends of most of those wires had become impossible to find by the time I went looking for them.

In addition, the two top openings are not protected yet. They will probably never get model portals because the trains on that 5'-diameter track go into the building at an angle. I believe I can add sliding doors, but I will have to do them a little differently for the same reason.

Four of the dozen or so rocks that the raccoon has pulled out of place looking for snacks.  Now when I'm going to run my trains, I have to make certain there aren't any boulders on the track.  Click for bigger photo. That said, the flimsy, ill-fitting sliding doors I have in the slots now seem to have discouraged the raccoon from entering the train shed and throwing my trains on the floor.

Now if I could just discourage him from pulling my "mountains" apart looking for heaven-knows-what. Not to mention grabbing figures and relocating them around the railroad.

One of the cheap Asian figures of a blue-jeaned woman with arms akimbo seems to be his favorite. I never know where I'm going to find her, but she is always covered in mud when she turns up. Don't ask me.

Yes, I have a trap. Hoping that he'll get discouraged and try his luck elsewhere before that is necessary.

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 Jump to the New Boston and Donnels Creek RR home page, which links to all the various steps we took to get our railroad(s) up and running consistently.

Return to the New Boston and Donnels Creek Home Page - The history of our garden railroad(s), from a loop around a pond, to a big backyard empire, to a raised platform railroad, with lots of tips and tricks along the way.

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.

In October, 2023, durring a 'fall color' trip to Cade's Cove and the Blue Ridge, we stopped off at the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend, TN to see the restored Shay.  Click to see the article.Proceed to "Little River Revisited" - In October, 2023, durring a 'fall color' trip to Cade's Cove and the Blue Ridge, we stopped off at the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend, TN to see the restored Shay. Click to see the article..

Click on the picture to go to article.

2022's Christmas Train Day started with a light snow that just kept coming.  That said, a good time was had by all.  Click to go to article. Return to "Christmas Train Day, November 2022" - 2022's Christmas Train Day started with a light snow that just kept coming. But people kept coming, too, and appreciated the chance to see the trains running in the snow. Even though the day ended with most of us crowded around an LP gas fire pit, a good time was had by all.

Click on the picture to go to article.

Halloween Trains, Oct., 2022: Halloween-themed open railroads in October. Click to go to article.Return to "Halloween Trains, Oct., 2022" - For the last few years, I have added a Harry Potter-themed section to our holiday season displays. In 2022, our club decided to have open railroads with a Halloween theme on October first. So that moved up the timetable a little, but I was ready, with the Ghost Train I made last year, as well as an orange switcher and a Jack-o-Lantern themed eggliner.

Click on the photo to see our status as of late October, 2022.

Fencepost Lighting - adding 'semi-permanent' lamps to privacy fence fenceposts to improve safety and charm.  Click to go to article. Return to "Fencepost Lighting" - Adding semi-permanent lamps to a privacy fence to provide safety and - frankly - charm.

Click on the photo to see our status as of late October, 2022



Relighting Our Railroad, Part 2.  Adding new wiring and lighting for several more buildings, replacing the aeration pump and its LED bubblers.  Click to go to article. Return to "Relighting Our Railroad, Part 2" - Adding new wiring and lighting for several more buildings, replacing the aeration pump and its LED bubblers.

Click on the photo to see our status as of mid-September, 2022



Relighting Our Railroad, Part 1:  Reorganizing our setup for lighting buildings and accessories on our outdoor railroad.  Click to go to article.Return to "Relighting Our Railroad, Part 1" - I have been lighting buildings on this railroad since I set it up, but I had added a circuit at a time, and - truth be told - built up a tangle of wires that I couldn't troubleshoot when something stopped working or when I had to switch something out. In addition, my old, semi-professional timers died right before we moved, and the new timers I tried excelled at getting out of sync. Time for a new setup.

Click on the photo to see our status as of mid-September, 2022.

Pondscaping, Part 2:  Further ringing the pond with 'found stones' to improve the appearance and cut down on weeds.  Click to go to article.Return to "Pondscaping, Part 2" - Circling the rest ot the pond with stones, more comments about using sand mix and related topics.

Click on the photo to see our status as of mid-July, 2022.



Pondscaping, Part 1:  Ringing the pond with 'found stones' to improve the appearance and cut down on weeds.  Click to go to article.Return to "Pondscaping, Part 1" - In addition to a lot of spring maintenance I didn't have the heart to report, I also attacked a growing problem - erosion around our pond liner that looked bad and allowed excess weed growth. While I was evaluating alternatives, a garden railroading friend offered me a pile of rocks. So installing a rock border around the pond seemed like the best path.

Click on the photo to see our status as of early July, 2022.

Easy 12-volt lighting for North States bird feeders. Click to go to article.Return to "Easy Lighting for North States Bird Feeders" - After I put my model buildings away for the winter, I brought out the North States bird feeders I use to keep my railroad from looking naked all winter long. Since I had wired several sections of my railroad for lighting, I went ahead and put lighting in my bird feeders as well.

Click on the photo to see our status as of December, 2021.

Easy 12-volt lighting for North States bird feeders. Click to go to article.Return to "Easy Lighting for North States Bird Feeders" - After I put my model buildings away for the winter, I brought out the North States bird feeders I use to keep my railroad from looking naked all winter long. Since I had wired several sections of my railroad for lighting, I went ahead and put lighting in my bird feeders as well.

Click on the photo to see our status as of December, 2021.

Preparing for 2021's Christmas Train Day. Lighting model buildings, choosing rolling stock to run and more.  Click to go to article.Return to "Preparing for 2021's Christmas Train Day." - In preparation for our annual Christmas-themed open railway, I ran lighting to some of our buildings, installed rope lighting on one section, and chose appropriate rolling stock. I also lit a bunch of our dwarf conifers and ran colored light strands that would brighten up our waterfall after dark.

Click on the photo to see our status as of early November, 2021.

Making a Large Scale Ghost Train.  Converting decrepit Bachmann Big Haulers into Halloween decorations. Click to go to article.Return to "Making a Large Scale Ghost Train" - In preparation for an October open railway, I repainted and relabeled decrepit Bachmann Big Hauler pieces to create a one-of-a-kind Halloween train. Materials included purple spray paint and vinyl lettering I created on my Cricut. I added "ghost" passengers made from cheap Asian seated figures painted with glow-in-the-dark paint.

Click on the photo to see our status as of mid-October, 2021.

Portal Installation on the New Boston and Donnels Creek.  We shimmed out the frames for the tunnel entrances to make them more vertical, installed I.S.L.E. portals we had painted previously, and stacked stones around them to camouflage the wooden parts.  Click to go to article.Return to "Portal Installation on the New Boston and Donnels Creek." . We shimmed out the frames for the tunnel entrances to make them more vertical, installed I.S.L.E. portals we had painted previously, and stacked stones around them to camouflage the wooden parts. There's a bit more work to do, but its a big improvement over black holes at each end of the tunnel

Click on the picture to see our status as of early October, 2021.

Dirtscaping on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 3. Raising 'mini-mountains' near the new tunnels to make them seem more blended into the dirtscape.  Click to go to article.Return to "Dirtscaping on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 3" - Raising 'mini-mountains' near the new tunnels to make them seem more blended into the dirtscape. Lots of rocks moved, and more trees trimmed and planted. Also, we moved our towns into position in preparation for a club meeting at our home.

Click on the photo to see our status as of mid-August, 2021.

Tunnel Framing on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 2. Click to go to article.Return to "Tunnel Framing on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 2" - Adding rocks, dirt, and plants to the new tunnel structures. Because I wanted to transplant dwarf and miniature trees to the new "mountains," I had to move a substantial amount of rocks and dirt. But I feel the result will be well worth it, once the groundcovers fill in.

Click on the photo to see our status as of late July, 2021.

Tunnel Framing on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 1.  We built wooden boxes that will become 'tunnels' for two short loops on our raised platform railroad. Click to go to article.Return to "Tunnel Framing on the New Boston and Donnels Creek, Part 1." We planned and built two wooden boxes that would become the framework for two short tunnels on our raised platform railroad. That effort was made a little more complicated by the fact it was a "retrofit." I hadn't planned for them at first, so getting them in place took some finangling.

Click on the picture to see our status as of mid-July, 2021.

New Right-of-Ways on the New Boston and Donnels Creek RR.  Adding a loop based on 10'-diameter curves.  Includes cutting and installing 2x6 roadbed, bridging the waterfall, and cutting a third passage through the train shed, as well as installing roadbed for two smaller loops. Click to go to article.Return to "New Right-of-Ways on the New Boston and Donnels Creek RR" - Adding a loop based on 10'-diameter curves. Includes cutting and installing 2x6 roadbed, bridging the waterfall, and cutting a third passage through the train shed, as well as installing roadbed for two smaller loops.

Click on the picture to see our status as of late March, 2021.

Creating a Railroad Timetable - making a blackboard to hold train schedules, complete with craftcutter lettering.  Click to go to article.Return to "Creating a Railroad Timetable" - No train station would be complete without a timetable showing arrivals and departures (as well as expected arrivals and departures). We made one with a big piece of underlayment, framed it with scrap lumber, cut lettering for it with a craftcutter, and lined it with striping tape. This one is hinged to a shallow shelving unit that is holding the dvds we sometimes watch while working on projects in our workshop.

Click on the picture to see our status as of January, 2021.

Christmas Preparations and Operations 2020Return to "Christmas Preparations and Operations 2020" - A series of families were going to visit during the holiday season (masked and distanced, of course), so we just had to do a little Christmas decorating, and get as many trains running as possible for the kids. This included laying temporary ROWs on the new platform and setting up two Lionel RTP trains for kids to run.


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.Return 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.

Garage to Train Station, Part 1, fixing up one end of my garage to resemble a Victorian train station interior, including demolition, patching the ceiling and walls, moving electrical outlets, adding wainscotting and baseboard, planning for windowframes with painted backgrounds. Click to go to article.Return to "Garage to Train Station, Part 1" - fixing up one end of my garage to resemble a Victorian train station interior. The initial steps included demolition, patching the ceiling and walls, moving electrical outlets, adding wainscotting and baseboard, and planning for windowframes with painted backgrounds.

Click on the picture to see our status as of early 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 for bigger photo.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








































































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

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- Trains and Hobbies -
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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.