The Fairy Train
from Mystic Mountain Arts
Fairy Train Use and Maintenance Recommendations<>
Each Fairy Train is a one-of-a-kind, handmade item. As such, colors and exact appearance will vary from piece to piece.
Exposure to weather
The Fairy Train is rugged, designed for outdoor and indoor use. The locomotives use motor assemblies from large garden railroad train suppliers, and so are highly reliable with good traction. While garden railroad track can be left out all year exposed to rain, snow, and summer sun, The Fairy Train should not be left out in the rain or snow, nor left to bake in the direct summer sun. If it should get wet, it should be dried thoroughly as metal parts will rust.
Fairy Trains may be run from DC power supplies of up to 16 volts. Best results are from 10-14 volts. A current rating of .5 amps is sufficient except for Dragons with smoke units which require .8 amps.
Fairy Trains are lubricated during manufacture. For continued long life, we recommend a drop of 3-in-1 oil on each car wheel axel every 10 hours of use. Do not overdo it as oil collects dirt. If any dirt, lint, or dust has collected, wipe it off first. Engines are lubricated for life and don't need additional lubrication.
Smoke units (Dragons)
Smoke is created by vaporizing light oil - lamp oil. Carefully add about 10 drops of oil into the dragon’s mouth. Don’t fill more than half way. If you do overfill it, spill the excess out as the smoke unit will not work when it is too full. When the oil is nearly used up, smoke output will diminish. Add more oil when convenient to increase smoke output again. The smoke unit is protected against overheating when the oil is used up.
Track will get dirty and oxidized after a time. If trains run jerkily or stop at some spot, a quick track cleaning will usually take care of the problem. You can use a track cleaning block, fine sandpaper (250 grit), drywall screening, or a liquid track cleaner. The wheels on the train may need cleaning occasionally too. You can use liquid track cleaner or 3-in-1 oil on a rag.
Fairy Train Track Laying Hints
These recommendations are the results of years of running trains in the garden. Following them will reduce maintenance work and increase your enjoyment of your Fairy Train. If this is your first garden railroad, start simple! Enjoy it for a while and get the feel for it, then you can expand.
The best situation is well-supported, level track with a minimum radius of 2’ for curves. There should be no horizontal or vertical kinks in the track. Grades up to 3 or 4 percent are OK, but trains may need to have fewer cars. (A 3 percent grade has a “rise” of about 1 inch in 3 feet of length.) Steeper grades may result in unsatisfactory performance.
We recommend a minimum 8” wide path for track. Vertical clearance should be 9” or more above the track. When planning vegetation, leave extra room to allow for growth. The closer to the track you plant things, the more often you will have to prune them.
Track can be laid on bare dirt. If you do, place a weed barrier underneath it to keep weeds down. If gophers or moles are frequent visitors to your garden, you may want to lay a 1’ wide by 2” deep concrete path for your track. This also makes pruning plants adjacent to the track easier.
Minimize horizontal and vertical kinks. Make all track joints tight. Try to make your track level, if possible. You will be able to run longer trains on level track.
Sometime a yard may look level when it is not. An easy way to measure grade is with a level that is 2’ or more in length. Put a small scrap of “one by” lumber, which is ¾” thick) under the 2’ point on the level at the lower elevation. The level will read “level” when the grade is 3%. Avoid grades steeper than this. Lower grades are even better and will allow for running longer trains.
Laying Aristocraft track
The process I would recommend is to just lay the pieces down on the dirt without joining them together - just to see how it all fits in your space and to see if you need any more pieces. We recommend not to create an "S" curve -- two curve tracks together that curve in opposite directions -- it's best to have a straight track to separate them. Once you're happy with the track, remove the joining screws from wax in the bottom of a tie and slide all the tracks together. There should be no kinks between sections. A small gap (~1/8") is OK. Then connect the power to the track piece that's most convienent. Then screw all the tracks together.
Safety first! A Fairy Train runs on 8-16 volts DC, which is safe (same as your low voltage garden lights). If you put wet fingers across the rails you may feel a tingle, but you can’t get hurt. However, the transformer/power pack plugs into 120 VAC house power. This you must be cautious about – the same as any outdoor use of electrical tools. The transformer or any extension cords used must be kept dry and in good order. If there are any cracks in the transformer case or bare, exposed wire on the cord, do not use it. If your outdoor outlet is not already GFI-protected, have one installed.
As a principle, drip watering should be preferred to sprinklers. Getting water on the track daily causes minerals in the water to form scale. Water on the track also collects more dirt. This results in the need to clean the track more often.
When planning where to let the fairies run their trains in your garden, leave room to walk near the track. This facilitates maintenance and fetching of wayward trains. When putting your Fairy Train on the track, it is usually easier to put the last car on first and, proceeding forward, put the locomotive on last.
Additional Sources of Information
Note: Each Fairy Train is a one-of-a-kind, handmade item. As such, colors and exact appearance will vary from piece to piece. The locomotives use motor assemblies from large garden railroad train suppliers, and so are highly reliable with good traction.