Rain Did Me a Favor


House Mother, Cheerleader
We have blue sky today for the first time in a week, after 7.51 inches of rainfall since the 18th! That's more than we sometimes get for an entire season. :eek:

I finally screwed up my courage to slog out and look at the layout yesterday, and had a very pleasant surprise. Not only did the pounding (2.85 inches Tuesday night) not do any significant damage, it actually did a wonderful job of compacting the ROW!

Sure, some of the track is high and dry, but more underlayment and ballast is all it will take to fix it up again. Picture #1 shows the track I dug up earlier to realign and repair mudslide damage from earlier rains. There's nearly 2 inches of air under that section of track.

In picture #2 you see where the pounding rain pressed the dirt well below track level on an established stretch of track.

Obviously, there's still a lot to do. The larger gravel you see is supposed to be the underlayment (drainage) material, but some of that has migrated a bit. That's not a problem, though. I love sifting and grading gravel. ;)
We have blue sky today for the first time in a week, after 7.51 inches of rainfall since the 18th!
Well we have a blizzard warning in effect. It's supposed to start tommorow. I don't feel bad about it now :D
Claudia it's great there was no significent damage to your R.O.W. and that some actual good was accomplished since you've had your share of washouts already. The bright side of it is maybe the rain will find all the weak spots in the roadbed for you.
Cheers Willis
Repairs Nearly Complete...

... The only problem is that I ran out of gravel, and the rock yard is closed today. :rolleyes:

But the weekend has been productive. Picture 1 is the section shown in picture 1 of my previous post. After I reassembled the track, it needed to be raised about two inches to make it level with the rest of the layout at that end. Elsewhere, I had to channel out some sections of trackbed to remove mud that washed in during the storms.

Picture 2 is also an update of my earlier post. This area (along with much of the rest of the layout) needs further compacting once I get another sack or two of ballast material. That's going to be fun! No, really --- I enjoy it! :)

My tool of choice for this is an old table knife. I use the blade end first to bust up remaining gravel, clay, and underlayment. Then I use a scoop to pour the gravel between the rails at the same time that I slightly lift and level the track. Next, I brush the gravel along the track to fully expose the ties. Then I use the handle of the knife to tamp the gravel tightly into the ground.

I've made two passes so far and the track is now quite firm, so one more should do the job. (*** Question below)

Picture 3 shows a longer shot of the north end of the layout that includes the areas in the first two pics.

Picture 4 is just for fun. The orchids weathered the storms just fine, and give me pleasure while I work.
*** I forgot to add the question, so here it is:

Is there something I can spray on the ballast to help stabilize it? The original material had enough dust in it that when I installed it and misted it, it set up as though it had been sprayed with REALLY extra-hold hair spray! ;) Now that it's been disturbed, it doesn't stick together anymore.
The last time I had crushed stone added to my driveway the installer/spreader told me to take some concrete powder and spred it over the stone and then water it down slightly. This method did keep the stone form spreading out from the preasure of the tires traveling the same place each time we move on the drive. Do not know if this would help keep ballast in place or not but it might be worth a try.
Thanks, Larry! I'll be sure to have The Husband see about getting something like that when he goes to the rock place next week.
Down by the Seaside....

....Sifting Sand. That's what I've been doing the past couple of days. The rock yard was out of the California Gold Chipseal that I used originally. I'm "on the list" to get a couple of bags if someone orders the product in quantity. The 10-yard minimum was a bit of an overkill for me!

In the meantime, TH bought a couple cubic feet (4 bags) of "coarse sand" in a tan color that matches the existing ballast pretty well.

OK, now comes the fun part. I sifted the sand through a 1/4" mesh to recover the bigger chunks --- two bags gave me a bucketfull that matches my original coarse base material pretty well. Next, I sifted the tailings again through 1/8" mesh to get something close to the original ballast. I got about 2 quarts of that. Then I sifted those tailings again through window screen to recover the really fine material that I'll use between the ties. What's left from that process is fine enough to powder my nose!!!!! Hey, whatever it takes, right?

In any case, I'm back in business. My goal is to finish repairing the trackbed by the end of the week so I can begin landscaping.

Stay tuned. :)
Weekly Update

The tracks look pretty good now, but there's always more to do. Recent efforts have focused on recovering the ballast that migrated from the trackbed during the heavy rain. I'm leaning toward just leaving the rest of it where it is for now, hoping that landscaping and other scenery will cover it up.

The Claw tool was my friend as I began to loosen the compacted DG and clay soil in preparation for "cosmethic improvements." We visited a couple of nurseries today and acquired a flat of moss for ground cover and a "tree" (Cuphea shrub) that will join the gallon-sized twisted junipers that I've laced. I'll "plant" the junipers, pots and all, to keep them small. I also talked The Husband out of a few of his specimens from his long-time-ago days as a geology student. Those will provide "textural interest."

Rain showers are forecast for the next three days, but I have a couple of building kits awaiting my attention. One is a church, and the other is a saloon. This will be an "equal opportunity" community. :D
Claudia, did you ever get some type of binder to hold it all together? I know one method used around here was to mix cement with the garden gravel and also with the sand between the side walk bricks. Don't really know how if this works well or not. Any rocks in my yard are to large to wash away. :D
One is a church, and the other is a saloon.
I had a brother in law in Ont. who used boast he had it made, his house was between the Legion for drinking and the Undertakers in case he couldn't. The second one got him in the end. LOL ( he was in his 90's)
Cheers Willis
:D Your brother was my kind of guy!

Yes, we have some cement powder that we'll use as you and Larry suggested. Our plan is to sift it onto the gravel, then use a very fine spray to incorporate it into the ballast. We'll do that in a small section at first to see whether we need to adjust the mix, before we do the rest of the track.

The recent rains were unusually heavy, resulting in the mess you see in the second picture in my first post. Maybe nothing can prevent that from happening again under the same circumstances, but we'll do what we can!
Couldn't wait....

I'm interested in how the cement thing works out.
Me, too. :) We'll experiment with a couple of mixtures over the next few days.

The showers didn't come today as predicted, so I played outside. I'm not very good at visualizing, so I arranged a test layout, left to right, or north to south.

#1 is the station you've seen before. We'll make a crossing over the tracks for people and vehicles to reach the station area.
#2 is Frank's Restaurant, just across the tracks from the station. That section will later include the saloon and some stores.
#3 is Gramma Claudia's house --- maybe a bit close to the tracks, but since GC owns the RR, she can demand that trains pass very slowly! (She won't prohibit whistle blowing, though, except maybe during church services that will be held in the soon-to-be-built sanctuary pictured on the box to the right.) The green patches are newly planted plugs of Irish Moss.
#4 is the tiny Freight / Work Office where a young man waits impatiently for a job call from the foreman at the yet-to-be-determined industry.
Claudia them buildings are neat, no matter how you arrange them they'll still look good. I wouldn't worry about grandma Claudia's house being near the tracks, her hearing will get worse as she ages :D
Cheers Willis
PS don't mean to rush you, but hurry up with the church, that looks interesting too.
:D Now, there's an incentive if ever I've seen one. :D

Willis, I've started the saloon first. The church looks pretty daunting, so I thought I'd ease back into building mode with something easier before I tackle that. Also, the SUN is out today, so I'm itching to get back to landscaping.
Originally Posted by Lady_Railfan
"The church looks pretty daunting"
yeah! I know what you mean,
don't go near them myself. :D
Cheers Willis
Weekly Update

Good weather this week inspired me to head out to the nurseries for shrubs and groundcover, all of which needed to be planted, of course. When I got tired of playing in the dirt, I worked some more on the buildings.

First, a note about the cement experiments. We haven't hit upon quite the right forumula yet, but we're getting close. That's on my "to-do" list for next week. I want to be able to break up and re-use the ballast later if i decide to reroute any track. I'm going to try a very dilute mixture of white glue and water as a stabilizer, in addition to the cement. I also plan to cover the track with plastic the next time the weather gurus predict heavy rains like we had recently.

Here's what you see in today's installment:

#1 is a passenger's view of the Diner. You can see it's just a short walk from the Depot. The little twisted juniper tree will look much more at home once it's sunk into the ground. I hope I can train the groundcover next to the depot to look like a hedge.

#2 is the "Little Church by the Rusty Rails." The community has called a preacher, but he won't take over his duties until the townfolks build him a house! The church wasn't as hard to assemble as I feared it would be. I'm very pleased with the way it turned out.

#3 is one reason the town needs a church. ;)

#4 is the view from the depot showing some of the landscaping and the rest of the buildings in place. There will be a couple of stores near the saloon, and perhaps an outhouse behind it.
Claudia, that's going to be beautiful, makes me almost want to go to church, please note I said almost :D
Thanks for posting I really like the work you did on the buildings.
Cheers Willis
Boy, Do I Feel Dumb!!

About the ballast question:

I went poking around the 'net this morning and found a couple of threads on the LSOL (LargeScaleOnline) site, one of which contained a query posted in August 2002 by someone named "Lady Railfan". :eek: :D That link led me back here, where I found the marvelous resource that had somehow been erased from my memory.

In my own defense (other than the sometimes-obvious onset of "oldtimer's disease), that search occurred during a very stressful time when I was dealing with deaths, births, and other assorted distractions.

Anyway, having found the information that confirmed and clarified what I had only partially remembered, I'm back to work on the trackbed today. Stay tuned.