Just a short drive from TimberTown Atlanta, a model railway sits in WB Baldwin’s backyard. While Baldwin worked in marketing at the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau for over 40 years, he’s also carried a deep passion for trains since he was a child. The train depot and 1,200 linear feet of track behind Baldwin’s Marietta home displays this passion for trains, along with the countless hours he’s dedicated to making it look and sound as realistic as possible.
Pictured: W.B. Baldwin
We first learned about this impressive backyard railway after we supplied the Fiberon composite and Fortress Railing for his brand-new deck this past January. While we were impressed with the deck built by Atlanta Design & Build, we were very intrigued with the train tracks right next to it. We recently had a chance to chat with homeowner WB Baldwin about his train obsession, how he constructed the backyard railway, and his newly built deck.
When did your passion for trains start?
"My interest in trains actually started when my father gave me my first Lionel train set back in 1970. It started with the Santa Fe Super Chief engine and passenger cars that he gave me back in 1950 for Christmas. I’ve always had trains that ran in the house until the early 80s."
How did you start building model railways?
"My layout started out with a circle of track with the G gauge train on it running around the Christmas tree in 1985-86. After about five minutes of watching a train run around a Christmas tree, you get completely bored...I took what was a circle of track and bought some straight pieces and started adding to it going from room to room. My wife made me go down to the basement, which is now my office, and I started putting track down on the floor. After maybe a year or so went by, I got tired of watching a train going room to room in a confined space…the next step was to go outside."
How has it grown since then?
"After we got the first figure eight in the back yard, I came in a few years later and doubled it with a second main line, so I’ve got two main lines. I’m constantly working on it. It’s just a hobby and it probably always will be. What I’ve gotten more involved with is taking the toy train and making it look more realistic by installing sound systems and a lot of details that are on the actual prototype engines of the real trains."
Is there a lot of maintenance?
"Oh yes, mother nature, particularly squirrels, are not kind — mother nature from the standpoint of all the trees and limbs. Occasionally squirrels will come after the ties and rails gnawing on anything that looks of interest. I don’t know what they see in it taste-wise. I was out working on it all day yesterday making adjustments that needed to be made to the rails. But you’re outside so you’re stuck with the elements of weather with the heat and the cold. Just like you have on the deck with Fiberon, you've got expansion and contraction."
What materials did you use to build the railways?
"All of the pipes and expansions you see are PVC pipes. The spacers going across are actually 2x2 composite material. The side rails are regular PVC that you can get at Home Depot and that’s all painted. Had I known about other materials back in the 80s, I don’t even know if FIberon even existed, I probably would’ve tried to figure out some way to take take that product and use it instead of what I used."
Tell us about your deck that you had built with products from TimberTown.
"I had it built the first week of January of this year. It took about a week to have it built and installed. We had a deck that was made of treated pine but it was warping. Now I have a deck that’s totally composite….It looks great. It’s a vast improvement over what was there. I didn’t know anything about TimberTown but Dale Contant, our contractor at Atlanta Design & Build, is the one who really introduced my wife and I to TimberTown."
Watch this video highlighting the Railway.
Watch the Fiberon Deck project video.
Find more photos like these on our Houzz.com projects page.