Planning Your Garden Railroad for High Reliability
Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

So you don't have all that much time anyway. You're lucky if you get a few hours a week to work on your garden railroad, much less to run trains. And you can't help feeling the urge to slap some track down and get any old thing running.

Try to resist, or else put a "test loop" in some corner away from the planned location of your future empire. Otherwise you may be designing problems into your railroad that will hamper your operations for years to come. Garden railroaders who have taken the time to plan and prepare effectively spend less time rerailing and maintaining, and more time enjoying their railroads.

Even if you're already running trains, you may be able to make changes that improve operations and reduce your maintenance load. The following list includes many pointers that experienced garden railroaders have picked up. No one follows them all to the letter, but you should find several that are helpful to you.

When Planning Your Layout:

Take the following reliability and maintenance considerations into account when you are designing your track plan and railroad logistics.

When Preparing Your Equipment:

Sad to say, some garden railroad equipment is not entirely ready for serious use out of the box.

When Maintaining Your Railroad:

In Summary:

Every garden railroader has to make some compromises that "violate" some of the above "rules." The point is to avoid potential problems where you can instead of inadvertently designing them into your layout. And the next time you visit that layout I once saw, where the mainline started up a steep grade right before it went through the curved leg of a turnout and into an S-curve, you'll know to leave your "good stuff" in the trunk.

Best of luck,

Paul


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