Because Tenmille is a major supplier for the railway scales Gauge 1, 16mm Narrow Gauge and G-scale, which are normally used  in an outdoor location, we have provided some ideas for building a garden railway. 

Building a garden railway can seem a daunting task. But planned properly the cost, time and skill required can be surprisingly little and can bring a considerable amount of pleasure. 

Most building materials are readily available from D.I.Y stores, so you shouldn't find any problems finding the materials you need. Also the railway can be built in stages to reduce start up costs. 

Before starting, several decisions have to be made. Most importantly which type of railway is required and where is the best location. Answering these now could save allot of problems later. We have listed a few possible tips to help.

1. Railways at ground level may seem a good idea to reduce workload and cost. But being at ground level it can be difficult to operate especially with steam locomotives and can be at the mercy of children and pets. A minimum of 18“inches (450mm) is about right. This is more important in locations where locomotives are to be serviced. 

2.  Gradients should be avoided where possible. Some models can be less tolerant to steep inclines. Because gardens are rarely level some parts maybe higher or lower than others. 

3.  Unless running small locomotives avoid tight radius curves.

4.  Flower beds and garden features can improve and enhance the railway. 

5.  Lift out sections maybe required for lawn mowers etc.

6.  A good, strong and level track base is essential.

7.  Steam locomotives operate better on continuous circuits.

8.   Buildings and signals can enhance the railway.

As railways have to blend into a particular size and landscape, no two are the same. Always survey the garden and decide the best route of the railway before starting work.

As mentioned, most railways are better raised off the ground. The most common method is upright posts secured into the ground, with a level track base mounted on the top. You should find readily available wood fence posts ideal. These can be used in conjunction with Met Posts or set straight into the ground and secured using a ballast and cement mix. An alternative is a steel superstructure with a plywood track base. 

Another method is to use a brick or block work retaining walls with ballast in fill. Always ensure the track base is level and secure. Longitudinal bearers should be used between posts, to which an exterior grade ply-wood or wood slat track base is secured.

With either method the baseboard can be covered and protected with mineral roofing felt, this also creates a ballast effect. You should find a torch on type felt the best, as it avoids moisture creeping underneath. Finally stone granite chips as found on our miscellaneous items page can be added to create a real ballast effect. 

Remember it is also important to check the sideways levels of the base board. With a wood post construction, super elevation can be created on the curves by raising the outer longitudinal beam higher than the inner but check your levels carefully.

Building A Garden Railway 
  Wood Post

There are two types of rail, Bullhead and Flat Bottom (ignoring very early types). Before changing to Flat Bottom rail in the 1950‘s Bullhead rail was widely used on Britain's standard gauge railways. Most European and American railways used this type of rail much earlier. 

Model rail like Tenmille rail is normally measured by its height or sometimes a code number. Our bullhead rail is 5mm or code 200 and our Flat Bottom is 5.5mm or code 215 (rail height measured in thousands of an inch). When building a railway it is better to use the same track system throughout as mixing types can lead to problems. 

Tenmille supplies track systems for both Standard and Narrow Gauge railways. 32mm gauges use Bullhead rail where as 45mm gauges use both  Bull Head and Flat Bottom. Both rail can be used in conjunction with rail chairs/sleepers or pinned to wood sleepers as a rail spiked track. .


All Tenmille track has been designed for use outdoors. The plastic sleeper moldings contain special U.V retardants which protect the plastic moldings from decay.  The track is a flexible system, so pre-set curves are not required. The track is intended to be laid as required by pinning to a secure base. It is advisable to pin at the sleeper ends and the same sleeper on each length. Straight track should be pinned about every sixth sleeper and curves more frequently. You should find that the inner rail requires cutting shorter on curved lengths. Rail benders are not required as the track can be laid by eye looking along each length as it is laid. If laying double track as shown bellow ensure that the track spacing is maintained and clearance is provide for models to pass. Check clearance on the tightest radius part of the railway. As a guide the Gauge 1 Model Railway Association (G1MRA) suggest 115mm for straight track and 120mm on curved but check your models first.   

Rail is joined to the next by a rail joiner or Fishplate. Always leave a gap between rails to allow for expansion about 3mm if cold and about 1mm if hot. If using electric pick-up via the rails good electric continuity will be required. This is best achieved by soldering a bonding wire across the rail joint.

Wood Post Construction
Alternative Construction
Supplying the garden railway industry for over 30 Years
Tel: (+44) 01473 657957Email: Trains@Tenmille.Com
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