MQR Design – Track Considerations

A garden railway with quality track and roadbed makes everything much more enjoyable. I was fortunate when I built the roadbed for my Lost Hollow Railway in Houston Texas to get good advice from local garden railroad modeler, John Frank, on a hardiboard-based roadbed that worked perfectly there. Therefore I have been carefully researching this topic for many years in anticipation of building the MQR.


Following Rich Chiodo’s concept, I will likely build a subroadbed from Trex or its equivalent, then nail the ties into the subroadbed using brads.

These photos show the spline under construction. The stringers are 3/4" square, 8 feet long ripped from 3/4" X 8' inch plastic wood.

They are connected every foot by a spacer glued in place with outdoor PVC plumbers adhesive. This essentially welds the plastic into a weather-proof bond.

The stringers are flexible and when constructed as a ladder permanently holds the curve they are clamped in. You do need a LOT of clamps.

The ties (sleepers) are redwood soaked in preservative and are brad-nailed to the spline. I used a air powered brad-gun and the tie is solidly anchored to the spline with a nail to each stringer. Tie size and spacing are, of course, to suit.

Sleeper Size and Spacing

After looking up a number of Welsh narrow gauge practices, I’ve settled on 6″ x 6″ x 62″ sleepers, spaced on 16″ centers.


I expect to handlay track, most likely using Code 215 aluminum rail from Llagas Creek.


Interestingly, the Penrhyn Quarry Railway used stub switches for many years. So I plan on using #6 stub switches with a 5 foot radius in most places. There is a good on-line design website for stub switches where you can make templates for all scale/gauge combinations. There is also a good construction article on stub switches in the February 2016 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist.

More Design Flavour for the MQR

The other Welsh railway that I am basing the MQR on is the Talyllyn Railway. Unlike the Penrhyn Quarry Railway, the Talyllyn continues to run today as a tourist railway; it was sold to a group of enthusiasts in 1951.

I purchased a copy of James I. C. Boyd’s book, “The Tal-y-llyn Railway“, when we visited Wales in 2014 and have found it to be a great resource.

Wharf Station

This is the west end of the Talyllyn Railway. While today’s operations is heavily documented, photographs from the 1940’s and early 1950’s are relatively difficult to find. Here are two of Wharf Station in the early 1950’s. The size and scale of operations make a good fit for the MQR.

Towyn Wharf station, Talyllyn Railway with train,1953
Talyllyn Railway train at Towyn Wharf station, 1951

Stations Along the Line

While the Penrhyn Quarry Railway was primarily focused on moving slate, the Talyllyn had much passenger service and had some attractive small stations along the line. Brynglas is located about half way between the ends of the line and features the sole passing loop on the line.

Brynglas ‘station’, Talyllyn Railway, 1951

Dolgoch is another stop along the line. It features a water tank for upbound trains as well as a very attractive viaduct over a stream.

Dolgoch station with train, Talyllyn Railway, 1951