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 a local garden railroad modeler.  John Frank suggested that I build 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. Kevin Strong recently use a similar concept when rebuilding part of his Tuscarora Railway.

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.