Something that has always seemed like it would be a lot of fun is having a bridge on Mr. DAPs’ Railway. The exactly location and look for this bridge has been up for debate until recently it was settled by the project I’m about to share. What was known was that a bridge would be awesome.
Recently, my sister Christy came to visit. She has enjoyed working on the railway as well so part of the agenda for her visit was to work on the railway. The idea was to get a bridge and also make a dry creek bed for the railway. It was also decided that we would be adding a new engine to the railway as well. There is an engine that will literally polish the tracks as it moves forward. This is a job that usually I would do before putting the train on the tracks and let’s just say it wasn’t a lot of fun.
The trip to the local train store was fun, as it always was. It wasn’t completely successful. Finding the engine to clean the tracks? No problem. Finding the bridge to span our new creek bed… not so much. It turns out that they were fresh out of bridges. No problem, we decided we would just build one instead. It’s a Saturday afternoon, Home Depot is right around the corner. We’ll just grab some materials and make it happen. As is often the case with these projects, easier said than done. At Home Depot we did find the appropriate wood, stain, and sealant for building our bridge. Thinking we had enough of all, we made our purchases and made our way home.
Once home, first things first. It was time to open the new engine up and see what it could do. We got some tips to polish the portion of the track that it would start on so that it would get power easily. This was good advice. The first trip around was a bit rough but since then, the engine has worked flawlessly (except the occasional overgrown plant on the track or pile of leaves).
Engine on its way, it was time to get building the bridge. We really didn’t have ALL the tools to make it perfectly but we did our best. Using iPhones, measuring tape, a circular saw, and some dumb luck, we were able to get the wood cut into appropriate shapes for creating our bridge. This process also included a run back to Home Depot for more wood. Finally with all of our pieces cut correctly (more or less), it was time to start the assembly process.
To assemble the bridge, we used a combination of both nails and a very strong wood glue. Together, they ended up holding the bridge together pretty well. It was a bit complicated holding it all together for the wood to dry without clamps but we made do with some bricks. The assembly of the bridge took much less time than prepping the wood. It also was a lot more fun as we could actually see our dream becoming a reality.
Staining the bridge we anticipated taking more coats than it actually did. The final product ended up just using one thick coat of stain. The trickiest part for this was that we needed to cover the bridge everywhere and the day was waning. We also were trying to rush a bit more by this point as we also knew that we still had sealant to spray once the stain had dried. Ideally, that should have been done a couple of hours after the staining. We pushed the time a little bit on this though.
Waiting for the sealant to dry was the hardest part. Being patient when it looks done and you just want to drive a train through it is absolute torture. We originally intended to wait several hours but the weather had a different idea. During our very late bbq dinner that we were eating outside, a few raindrops started to come down. We quickly realized we were basically out of time if we were going to get to see a train go on our bridge that day.
Dinner was quickly cleared and attention was turned to installing the bridge. During one of our lulls in building in the afternoon, we had dug a creek bed and then filled it with small rocks. Later we added some small succulents to accent them. A break in the surrounding larger rocks was created in anticipation of the bridge where the train track crossed the small creek. The train track was briefly disconnected and the bridge slid into place. We did have to do some jockeying to make sure the track was centered accurately to allow clearance for the train to pass through. Within minutes the bridge was in place and it was time to test out the new bridge. As the drops began to get bigger, the train looped around the track and passed across our bridge. Victory was ours and the train had a new landmark to pass through.
The fun part about having a backyard train really is the journey. It’s the journey of building the railway and then its the journey the train takes as it circles around the yard. I’ve tried to pick which journey is my favorite but really, they are both favorites. Building a creek bed and bridge for the railway was an incredible fun part of our journey. Adding another engine, also a lot of fun! Over the last few weeks it has been fun to watch this new engine clean the tracks. It’s also been a blast watching all of the trains continue on their journeys through what is becoming a beautiful landscape, that includes a new creek bed and bridge.
What do you think of our new bridge and engine? Thanks Christy for helping with the journey!