You Are Here.
Jump to other pages.
Evan Morse's Shoestring Railroad Tips Garden Railroading  Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Garden 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 run Best Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're  most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order Form Sturdy 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 Trains(tm)




























































Garden Railroading on a Shoe-String: An introduction to low-cost outdoor railroading.  Click to go to article.This article is part of our series on "Garden Railroading on a Shoe String" which contains links, tips, and tricks, for using low-cost approaches and products to create attractive, reliable railroads in your back yard.

Note from Editor: Evan was pleased to see our January, 2009 article on Garden Railroading with Toy Trains. He's been using Scientific Toys trains on his backyard railroad for quite a while and has figured out a few tips and tricks he'd like to share. He sent me these notes and photos in early spring, 2009, before he'd quite got the leaves picked up or his perennials had gotten a good start on spring. He promises more later, so stay tuned - Paul

Evan Morse's Shoestring Railroad Tips

Here are a few things I've tried that have worked out for me, as I figured out that a garden railroad with toy trains was not only possible, but fun.

Click for a bigger photo.The picture to the right shows the kinds of gravel I used for most of the line, they are called pea pebbles, or pea gravel. These small stones can be great for the use of gravel on the railroad bed that the tracks go on. (Pea pebbles are the stones under the tracks in the bottom of this picture) [Note from Editor: In Ohio, pea gravel tends to be very rounded, so it never settles in place or holds your track in place either one. So we don't recommend it for anything but cosmetic purposes. It looks like Evan's also using some crushed gravel under the tracks - that's more along the line of what I'd recommend for most garden railroads - Paul]

Holding Track In Place and In the Correct Shape

The photo to the left below shows a Scientific Toys brand train on a metal bridge. You can see that I used a board to fasten the track down. The New Bright track on the bridge has one little hole on the first or second tie on both sides of an individual piece of track. So that a small wood screw would fit through each hole of the track on the bridge, keeping the track in place.

The picture to the right below shows what can be done to prevent the plastic track from warping during certain types of weather that may cause the tracks to warp or bend up in the air a little bit...... The metal pieces over some of those ties are called garden staples..... I found them at my local Walmart, and they appear to do the job quite well!

Click for bigger photo.Click for bigger photo.

Inexpensive Accessories

One great aspect about "shoe-string" railroading is looking for ways to do things with little or no investment. As an example, the photos below show what someone can do with those plant tag type of things that stick in the ground to identify which plant is which...... In thse pictures for example, they make good whistle posts and yard limit signs. But they can also be used as mile posts or mile markers as well.

Click for bigger photo. Click for bigger photo.

More To Come

As I am writing this, it is still early in spring, my garden isn't in full bloom yet. But when it is in full bloom, I shall definitely take some more pictures. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments for me, please contact Paul, and he'll forward your comments to me.


Here are other articles with tips and tricks about running battery-powered toy trains outside.

Garden Railroading on a Shoe-String: An introduction to low-cost outdoor railroading.  Click to go to article.



Garden Railroading on a Shoe String
- Our lead article on "Shoe-String Garden Railroads," with many ideas and links to helpful articles.

Garden Railroading with Toy Trains, including brand descriptions, buying advice, etc. Click to go to article.



Garden Railroading with Toy Trains
- For more information about garden railroading with toy trains, including brand descriptions, buying advice, etc., click on the little picture to the right.

Click for information and tips about budgeting for a 'shoe-string' garden railroad.



Budgeting for a Shoe-String Garden Railroad
- Lists potential expenses most folks don't think about ahead of time, along with ways to reduce or skirt them with planning.

Evan Morse's Shoestring Railroading Tips. Click to go to article.



Evan Morse's Shoestring Railroading Tips
- Things that work for one Shoestring Railroader, mostly about track.

Instructions for changing a Lionel Ready-to-Play Hogwarts Express from 2



Converting Lionel's "Ready to Play" Trains to 45mm
- Lionel's current line of battery-powered toy trains run on 2" track. But they don't have to.

Lionel's G Gauge Toy Trains. Click to go to article.



Lionel's G Gauge Toy Trains
- All about the battery-powered G gauge toy trains Lionel made in the 2011-2015 period. Most are a great choice for a "shoe-string" railroad.

Comparing Lionel's battery-powered Hogwarts Expresses against each other.  Click to go to article.



Comparing Lionel's Hogwarts Express Versions
- Click for a 'hands-on" comparison of Lionel's two battery-powered Hogwarts Express trains. Here's a quick summary: the passenger car molds are the same; the locomotive molds are different.

Reconfiguring a Bachmann 10-wheeler to run without the (lost) remote. Click to go to article.



New Life for a Battery-Powered Bachmann Ten-Wheeler
- Lose the remote? You can use these tips to add directional switching to battery-powered locomotives.

Into the Woods - an elaborate trestle-based railroad in a forest, with instructions GeoCacher's can use to unlock and run a toy train.




Into the Woods
- a Geo-cacher builds an elaborate trestle-based dogbone railroad in a forest, then locks up a Scientific Toys/Ez-Tec train set with clues that fellow geocachers can use to get the train out and run it.

Check our buyers guide to the trains and accessories you're mostly likely to need first.
































Click for Halloween fun! New Halloween Trains and Towns!


















































Note: Family Garden Trains?, Garden Train Store?, Big Christmas Trains?, BIG Indoor Trains?, and BIG Train Store? are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications (www.btcomm.com). All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.
Family Garden Trains is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

For more information, please contact us

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

Click to see collectible  Christmas villages and 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.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock 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. Acoustic-based, traditional, singer-songwriter, and folk music with a Western focus. 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.