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Posted: Fri May 30, 2014 9:04 pm
by 4307
The concept of my workbench started as a single length of track to test run a loco conversion. It seemed better to include a turnout especially a crossover as it would be more of a test, so it became a double track. If I was testing the running of stock on this, then I also wanted another line on which I could display whatever I built because it is nice to look at what you have done rather than hide it in a box. Then I thought it would be nice to photograph what I built so I wanted a background. I went through a few iterations of cuttings, loco sheds, factory buildings, … Then I saw photos of Llanastr which was a double track with crossover and a further length of track, effectively what I was planning, and thought if I adapted the concept of that, then it would allow me to model a range of scenic items as well as track. So what was a simple length of straight track has grown into something that I think qualifies as a Standard Gauge Workbench.
Llanastr at Thornbury in 2012

Elmleigh? Elmleigh used to be a farm called Shawefield just north of Havant station. My younger years were spent at Leigh Park and as a 7-8 year old I would walk into Havant and stand on the footbridge watching the shunting in the goods yard, the Hayling Billy, and various through trains. We left there when I was 9, but nostalgia remains. Elmleigh is now a mental health hospital, which in my youth were officially known as lunatic asylums, and somehow seems more fitting than Shawefield in representing the trials and tribulations of modelling in P4. :)

LSWR, Southern Railway, Edwardian life have always been of interest to me, on a stop and look basis rather than anything active, and that is where my modelling is focussed, but don't ask me questions; my knowledge is minimal. I admit to being a member of Scalefour for too many years, and not doing anything, but life has taken me in other directions. I have never modelled landscape or railway track or built any locomotives or rolling stock before - from scratch or kits. But I have collected tools, components and one or two kits over the years. And books! I have been to the occasional show, and been impressed by various exhibits over the years. I cannot believe I will achieve the quality of all that I have seen, but now I have time to have a go. Elmleigh is intended to be a base to learn, to experiment but also to give me some satisfaction en route. As far as possible, I will aim for LSWR around Southampton/Portsmouth around 1910. There are already deviations from that but only in the name of learning.

The track I started to build nearly 3 years ago fits onto a baseboard formed from a 1220x610mm sheet of 9mm ply from Wickes. I cut it into strips about 75mm wide using a handheld circular saw, sandwiched them together with blocks of 25x75mm planed timber, following a suggestion by Barry Norman in his book "Landscape Modelling" to give a frame that is 1220mm long and 690mm deep. Reading about the need for sound deadening taxed my brain for some time, so I included pieces of expanded polystyrene foam on the long sides. I thought the ply would compress this, but instead it bulges inbetween the blocks, and cut by saw the polystyrene is messy so I covered the exposed parts with gummed paper tape. It is not the best of frames, but it will do. Definitely not exhibition quality. Doing it again, I would make the sections deeper to give a firmer frame with less twist; no soundproofing; and find a way of cutting the timber more accurately. I have drilled holes at the end to enable baseboard alignment dowels to be fitted (for a fiddle yard).

I started making the track on a piece of 1220x610mm MDF, following Iain Rice's method in "An Approach to Building Finescale Track". So I taped cartridge paper to the board, sized it, cut out paper templates for the turnouts (2x A5 kept straight) and stuck them on, drew straight track templates representing 30ft sections of LSWR track and stuck printed copies onto the cartridge paper using slightly diluted Builders PVA. Curving the templates was not easy and a bit messy to stick down.
Sticking down the paper templates. Aligning the turnouts took some time and the spacing between tracks is more than it needs to be.

I cut wedges in the templates to form curved track. To get an even curve, I cut wedges every 2-3 sleepers but this made sticking them down messy. The paper bubbled while doing it although flattened out when dry.

I have guessed what the sleepers would look like at the turnouts. I have spaced them closer where they interfere with each other rather than further apart. I have since realised that I did not cut some of my timbers from 12in width but used 9in (3mm). Sleepers were cut to length using a Swann Morton scalpel. At rail joints sleepers are set closer together to follow LSWR practice. Before sticking down (with more diluted Builders PVA) I rivetted at least a third of the sleepers. One mistake I made was to align the ends of the sleepers rather than where the rivets were, so later when soldering on the rail it did not sit squarely on top of the rivet. The punched holes in the sleepers were spaced right but not always the same distance from the sleeper end, although no more than 0.5mm difference. I drilled holes in the turnout sleepers with a handheld 12v Minicraft drill (Black & Decker), and so long as I held this lightly then it seemed to work ok. Some rivet holes should have been drilled closer together but I allowed enough space, being concerned about splitting the sleeper when fixing the rivets - particularly around the frog and wing rails. Rivets were fixed in place using a very small lightweight hammer against the top of a 4in engineers vice (which is small but weighs 6kilos!).
Sleepers prepared for one of the turnouts. A big mistake is shown here!

Sleepers all stuck in position. To the left will be a fiddle yard; siding bottom right; short siding top left.

I had to replace a few sleepers at turnouts to change which ones had rivets; in particular removing rivets from those which should have slide chairs! I cut away the old sleeper using the Swann Morton knife; done carefully, it was neat enough, but the paper base did rough up slightly. In the end, I think this method with multiple layers of paper means the sleepers do not all sit at exactly the same height.

Then the soldering. I've soldered hundreds of plumbing joints but never anything as fine as a rail to rivet. My attempts used different solders and fluxes and soldering irons. Too much solder. Joints that wouldn't hold. Green residue from the flux defied all cleaning. Joints that wouldn't solder however long I had the iron there. Everyone I read or spoke to seemed to have their own method, so more experiment has led me to now use an Antex 18w soldering iron with Carrs yellow flux and resin cored 188 solder. The soldering iron has a 2mm rounded tip. I bought a piece of Tufnol board and to solder, I cut off a 1mm length of solder on the board and pick it up off the board by applying the iron to it. So long as the iron is clean this works well. Then I apply the iron flat side to the joint between rivet and rail, preferably on the side away from normal viewing. This join has previously had ample flux applied to it using a cocktail stick with the ends cut off. This seems to be the right size to give the right amount of flux. I find that the yellow flux can readily be cleaned off with methylated spirits on a kitchen towel, and I also use this to clean both rail and rivet heads before soldering; the paper base precludes the use of water. The rivet heads have also been polished with a propelling pencil type of fibreglass brush.

Cutting off the solder drops means I limit the amount of solder on the joint, which not only looks better but helps when later fitting cosmetic chairs. The 18w iron has ample power behind it, but the tip does become dirty very quickly, maybe after 15 rivets - perhaps time is the reason, as I feel I work slowly. Some say don't scratch the tip by filing or using an abrasive. Antex themselves recommend using Scotchbrite - the green scourer used in a kitchen. This is definitely an abrasive but does get rid of the dirt. More recently I have been using a tip cleaner, from RS Components. This may have an aggressive flux as its base but if so I have yet to notice any residue. It is a tiny tin, 3cm across, but dipping the iron tip into it now and again does make the soldering easier.

I am happy enough with my latest rail to rivet soldering, but did try to repair or improve my earlier attempts. I was beginning to make something more unsightly, so stopped, thinking that this is a test workbench after all. I will live with it.
Early soldering attempts which were messy, and where I have tried to clean them up. Better left or start again.

I am much happier with my more recent soldering, but fixing cosmetic chairs will still be a problem.

Enough for now, more later.
Dave Harvey

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Fri May 30, 2014 9:13 pm
by Tim V
Not exhibition quality?

Don't put yourself down, I'm sure Terry will bite your arm off...

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Sat May 31, 2014 5:55 am
by Re6/6
Tim V wrote:Not exhibition quality?

Don't put yourself down, I'm sure Terry will bite your arm off...


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Sat May 31, 2014 8:39 am
by Ian Everett
Tim V wrote:Not exhibition quality?

Don't put yourself down, I'm sure Terry will bite your arm off...

You should see the under-pinnings of Royston Vasey or Humber Dock. I'm no wood-worker.

It's what's on top that counts! - As long as it holds together...

And welcome to the SGW! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Sat May 31, 2014 9:51 am
by Andy W

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2014 6:36 am
by Terry Bendall
Tim V wrote:Don't put yourself down, I'm sure Terry will bite your arm off...

A late response to the mention of my name - away at the DEMU showcase over the weekend and too busy with other things yesterday to have the time to respond.

Yes Elmleigh looks very nice in the picture and if Dave is prepared to come to Scaleforum we will certainly find a space for it at some stage in the future. At the moment we have 14 possible layouts on the list for 2015, some of which are fairly definate and some have yet to be approached. We probably would not be able to fit that many in and in any case there are always situations where such plans don't always work out for all sorts of good reasons. 2016 is looking fairly full as well with nine layouts on the list and there are two potential bookings for 2017. However that should not stop anyone offering their work to us for 2015 or beyond.

Tim V wrote:Don't put yourself down,

Indeed, and the same applies to everyone else. If our shows only had layouts and demonstrators from the well known people they would get very boring after a while. My view is that we have lots of people in the Society who have produced and are producing very nice layouts, and who have much to offer as a demonstrator and it is always good when these people are willing to share their expertise at exhinitions. Exhibiting can be a bit daunting the first time round but it can be very rewarding as well. Don't be shy. :D

Terry Bendall

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 7:19 pm
by 4307
Re6/6 wrote:
Tim V wrote:Not exhibition quality?

Don't put yourself down, I'm sure Terry will bite your arm off...


Ian Everett wrote:
You should see the under-pinnings of Royston Vasey or Humber Dock. I'm no wood-worker.

It's what's on top that counts! - As long as it holds together...

And welcome to the SGW! I'm looking forward to seeing your progress.


Ealing wrote:Excellent!

It is always nice to receive supportive comments, and I appreciate what you all say. No doubt to Terry's "relief", I will confirm that this was not intended for exhibition and that at my current rate of progress, it will be some years before it looks like something worth exhibiting.

Dave Harvey

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:41 pm
by 4307
To continue with what I have done so far:

Soldering the Rail
I found soldering definitely needed practice and given the number of alternative views on how to do it, the only way was to experiment and find my own method. It has taken me all of three years to build the limited amount of track on this workbench, and it is not yet finished. My frustrations with my inability to get a good result meant there were long intervals while all I did was consider how to improve it.

Elmleigh Track Plan
Picture4.jpg (20.06 KiB) Viewed 9868 times

My rails are nickel-silver as some unused steel rail I bought many years ago had gone rusty. My present home is generally warm and certainly dry, so I guess steel would have been ok. I don't know enough to judge on the merits of either. The first rails I soldered were on the top left siding. I held each rail in position using Blutack curving the rail with more Blutack as I went. The rail is flexible enough, so there seemed little pressure on the rivets. Using two triangular gauges to set the second rail was straightforward, making I sure I got them round the right way for gauge widening on the curve - yes, when I first set them out they would have achieved gauge narrowing but fortunately I realised before soldering. I soldered only the rivets that were between the gauges, two at a time, before moving the gauges along. Having no rolling stock, I pushed a Kean-Maygib axle/wheels for a wagon along by hand; it ran ok. Actually that was a great moment with a profound sense of achievement! But I have yet to run a proper loco or rolling stock!

The euphoria did not last long because much to my annoyance, I realised I had laid one rail upside down!

I was using 50cm lengths of rail, so I needed three for each length of the other two tracks. I cut them so that they could form usable sections of track which could be electrically isolated, or joined say with a fishplate. As I was assembling on the paper template I left a 10thou gap, set using a piece of plastikard. One gap is against the heel end of the turnout where I have cut the rails on the frog to only 5 cm long; maybe too short on a larger layout where the speeds would be higher.

A mistake was not to think through how to supply power to the rails. The suggested method was to solder 28swg bare copper wire to the web of the rail and pass it under the paper template stuck to the underside with small adhesive labels which would also provide insulation where wires crossed. I gave up trying to do this; just soldering the wires onto the rail was difficult enough, let alone feeding wires under the paper template. I then came across Palatine Models rail droppers, which are very easily secured to the rivets as they are put into the sleeper, and then wire droppers soldered to the end before passing through the baseboard, all concealed by the ballast shoulder. Too late for me unless I cut out some sleepers (now soldered to the rail) and replace them with ones with droppers attached; I am very tempted to do this but do not relish the thought of doing so on the turnout frog etc.
The Palatine droppers attached over the rivet when the rivet is being fixed to a sleeper

I assembled the turnouts following the sequence suggested - straight stock rail, crossing V, curved wing rail, curved stock rail, then straight wing rail and checkrails. I left off the point blades as I felt I ought to know first how I was going to operate them and how I was going to show tiebars, cosmetic or working. Again, I couldn't find any consistent and realistic advice. But after all the track was soldered in place, I did file and cut the point blades, with the closure rails as one length. My filing jig is non existent and filing was done with a 2nd cut 4in file and then a smooth 4in file and finally 180, 400 and 800 grades of emery paper (from Halfords). I marked how far to file with a fine marker pen. Filing the point blades was not difficult; holding the edge of a 6in steel rule against the filed section showed how straight it was.

I made up the crossing vee at an earlier stage before I had the better files, filed by marking how far with a pen, holding the rail right on the end of a short length of 4x2in timber with one hand, and filing with the other. The quality of the frogs is not high and I will be interested to see how good they will be in use; I did query these in another thread at the time, so perhaps I worry unnecessarily. For all soldering, I used the 18 watt iron, Carrs yellow flux and 188 cored solder. The rivets at the crossing vee and wing rails were sufficiently close that the solder filled the gap and I don't think there needs to be a brass strip soldered underneath to provide electrical continuity. However I did on one of the turnouts, using the same soldering method and the vee did NOT separate, despite all the dire warnings one reads.
crossing vee 367.JPG
The quality of my crossing vee does not seem high, although it has been filed and "emeried" since this photo was taken.
crossing vee 367.JPG (177.61 KiB) Viewed 9868 times

The one jig I did make was to glue two thin pieces of ramin at the correct angle (1 in 5 for these turnouts) onto the same 4x2 timber and use this for soldering the frog rails together. It also served to show whether the rails needed more filing.
Jig for soldering the crossing vee and for checking the filing of each rail

I have not made any rebate in the stock rails, and my test runs of the wagon axle while holding the blades in place with Blutack suggest there is no need.

Having started to solder the curved stock rail into position I realised that the absence of rivets where there would be slide chairs took the rail out of alignment so had to remove it and by drawing it between thumb and fingers gradually bent it to a suitable curve to match the template. It has since been said to me that at the sliders it should be straight rather than curved but I am not sure if that was the case for Edwardian LSWR.

The templates give some guidance, but the best advice I had was to forget whatever it says on the template and get my eye down to rail level. "If looking along the rail it looks ok then it probably will be". But bear in mind I have yet to run any locos or stock on what I have done!

This was also true for the alignment of my two turnouts forming the crossover. As careful as I was I did not get the paper templates stuck in quite the right position, and when sticking down the sleepers between the two turnouts, adjusted these by eye as well. It is interesting to reflect that when relaying track on a half-size railway (2ft 3in NG) despite careful measurements that also comes down to how it looks when you get your eye down to rail level! A few people with bars can lever the track into something that looks ok.

The plastic chairs that I had threaded on to the rails before soldering were stuck into position using Plastic Weld, and then I tried fixing cosmetic chairs around the soldered rivets. I cut the plastic chairs in half but the rivet is too big for the chair even where the rail and rivet is accurately aligned and the solder is the absolute minimum. The rivets are twice as wide as the bullhead rail: 2mm to 1mm. Cutting away more plastic from the bottom of the chair can help but most of my chairs still do not touch the rail. From a distance and a cursory glance it may not be too noticeable, and when painted it may be even less noticeable. But in my search for perfection, it does not look good.
The chair at the top clearly shows where it does not fit neatly round the rivet. The third one down is better but still not good. Excess solvent here has destroyed some of the detail.

Another mistake I made was when fitting the slide chairs on one of the straight stock rails. Running my wagon axle along the rail, with the straight point blade held in place with Blutack, it was obviously tight. More filing of the blade did not help. It took me a while to realise that when glueing the sliders in place, I had pushed the straight stock rail into a slight curve. Fortunately, I could cut the sliders away with the Swan Morton blade held flat and refit them, while this time holding a 6in steel rule against the rail to keep it straight.

The method I was following said to lay ballast at the same time as laying sleepers. I have not done that as I felt more comfortable being able to see the markings of the template, and there were still too many unknowns for me - I needed the flexibility of changing what I had done if necessary.

My sleepers were stained using Colron Jacobean Oak, diluted to begin with and eventually used neat as I felt the colour was not strong enough. The paper template was given a wash with a blend of acrylic paints; I would call it a muddy brown. Hopefully when the ballast is laid, it will avoid any white showing through.

By now, I had the rails soldered to rivets and all chairs fixed, so the next stage was to move it all to the baseboard proper - next post.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 5:14 am
by Flymo748
4307 wrote:To continue with what I have done so far:
...I soldered only the rivets that were between the gauges, two at a time, before moving the gauges along. Having no rolling stock, I pushed a Kean-Maygib axle/wheels for a wagon along by hand; it ran ok. Actually that was a great moment with a profound sense of achievement!

It's a great feeling, isn't it, when something that you've actually crafted yourself works as it was intended to do. Well done!

4307 wrote:The euphoria did not last long because much to my annoyance, I realised I had laid one rail upside down!

Doh! Something like that happens to us all from time to time... In my case, yesterday, when assembling a coach bogie with some very brief instructions, I realised that it would be a lot easier if I'd made fold "B" before fold "A", rather than having to then bodge it with a set of snipe-nosed pliers... But smiling at it and carrying on is all part of the fun.

Looking forward to more progress reports in future.


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:19 am
by Terry Bendall
4307 wrote:I gave up trying to do this; just soldering the wires onto the rail was difficult enough, let alone feeding wires under the paper template.

One solution is to solder the droppers on after the track.turnout has been built. Turn it upside down for the soldering. A bit difficult if you are leaving the paper template in place but then i don't do that anyway,

4307 wrote:My filing jig is non existent

Blades and vees can be filed without any sort of jib but those sold by the stores do make things easier. The vee filing jig can also be used to help the vee whilst it is soldered.

4307 wrote:"If looking along the rail it looks ok then it probably will be".

The Mk 1 eyeball is one of the best checking tools that exist. :)

4307 wrote:Cutting away more plastic from the bottom of the chair can help but most of my chairs still do not touch the rail.

The solution to this is to use a cutting disc in a mini drill and grind away the rivets each side of the base of the rail. Time consuming but can be done and gives a much better result.

4307 wrote:It took me a while to realise that when glueing the sliders in place, I had pushed the straight stock rail into a slight curve

Very easy for that sort of thing to happen. Constant checking and a straight edge is needed. Using a piece of rectangular steel bar may help since it may be heavier than a rule. Also the use of the Roger Sanders "Mint" gauge will help. Put the guage in place and then the rails should remain at the correct distance apart.

4307 wrote:The method I was following said to lay ballast at the same time as laying sleepers. I

I never do this. I would far rather get the track laid and aligned correctly and then wired up and texted before any ballasting is done. In any case, to get the ballast to be closer to the prototype it needs building up correctly, shoulders formed etc. Not possible if it is liad at the same time as the track.

Keep up the good work.

Terry Bendall

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:26 pm
by martin goodall
To quote from the caption to one of the photos yesterday - "The quality of my crossing vee does not seem high, although it has been filed and 'emeried' since this photo was taken."

My own first crossing vee looked exactly like that. I found with my first attempt that even the most carefully filed splice rail, when soldered to the point rail, will have its leading edge standing slightly proud of the surface of the point rail. In order to avoid this, and also to help in locating the splice rail correctly for soldering, I filed a very slight rebate in the point rail just a few thou deep. This was carefully located immediately behind the spot at which the filed chamfer ran out. The filed rebate needs to be long enough to accommodate the chamfered end of the splice rail (which should be the same length as the chamfer on the point rail). Problem solved.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 3:29 pm
by steamraiser
As Martin says.

Go down to your nearest heritage railway and have a look at how a bullhead point is constructed, especially the V.

Gordon A

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:59 pm
by 4307
Thank you all for your comments. Terry, lots of interesting thoughts there. It is difficult to decide what jigs and other aids are worthwhile in the very beginning. This layout only has two turnouts and it will be a considerable time before I am likely to build something else, so some items did not seem worth buying. Not just for track construction but for loco and rolling stock eg bending jig, quartering, ... I think there is an argument for having a go "manually" first, then working out how a jig or tool can help either to save time or more importantly, improve quality. On the other hand, it is always useful to listen to other people's opinions.

I hope soon to post my next instalment which will bring me up to where I am at the present time.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:18 am
by Terry Bendall
4307 wrote:This layout only has two turnouts and it will be a considerable time before I am likely to build something else, so some items did not seem worth buying.

Yes a fair point and even more important for those on a limited budget. This is where being a member of an area group, or club, should one exist nearby, where there may be the facility to borrow such things, or even talk very nicely to someone nearby who may be prepared to lend the necessray items, perhaps in return for help in another way. There are cheaper alternatives to buying jigs but they may need a greater degree of skill to achieve successful results. Nothing wrong with that since skills developed in some areas can help with other tasks where there are no jigs. Filing isa good example.

Terry Bendall

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:11 pm
by 4307
Fixing Track to Baseboard

I have been following Iain Rice's method for track laying in "An Approach to Building Finescale Track". The suggestion is to move the completed track to the baseboard in its finished form but I did not complete the wiring, ballasting or point blades as I still had too many questions in my mind, so I have not done this.

I decided as suggested, to use camping mat for a base to the track. The old mat I had seemed both firm yet flexible; it is about 8mm thick. The method says to lay the track onto the camping mat onto 12mm MDF, set on supports with a double layer of camping mat inbetween. Sounded good to me and meant that the track would be above the baseboard to allow for embankments, culverts etc. And the layers of insulation would avoid the noise of vibrations from the rolling stock.

MDF 12mm thick cut to shape for the track baseboard

The method suggests cutting out the MDF to the width of the trackbed, a concept I like as it allows scenery to flow around the track and reduces weight as well. It also allows for buildings to have a "basement" so they can be set in the ground rather than on top of it with the inevitable gaps. But I needed support for the station platforms and in the end decided to extend the MDF to include these. Hence the odd looking shape. The pencil marks are the shape of the camping mat trackbase.

A double layer of camping mat to support the MDF but showing how flexible it is

I screwed wood blocks inbetween the ply formers of my baseboard, and stuck small strips of camping mat onto these using double sided carpet tape, and then laid the MDF baseboard on top. I used long wood screws through the MDF, the camping mat and into the wood blocks. It was obvious that a slight pressure on the baseboard would give a vertical movement as the double layer of camping mat was quite flexible. I doubt that operating any trains would do this but since the baseboard would be moved around then the handling would soon lead to scenery becoming detached so I removed the double layer of camping mat and screwed the MDF directly into the wood blocks. It is now rigid but I am still using the camping mat as a trackbase and I hope this will absorb any sound.
Camping mat base cut narrower in places to allow for station platforms & stuck with double-sided carpet tape

I cut the paper template to give some excess along the side of the track to fix to scenery, but cut it narrower where there was to be a station platform. I had built the track as one length, too long for sticking to the MDF/camping mat in one go, so separated it where there were insulation gaps, and I ended up with seven lengths. I laid four of the sections as I wanted to work out how to operate the turnouts before sticking the rest down. Even then, it was difficult to get the track laid accurately with each length in line with its neighbours as the double-sided carpet tape gave an immediate grip. My way round this was to use the paper covering that I had removed from the tape laid across the track, align the next length of track at one end and then gradually remove each strip of the paper covering. Definitely not easy to get an accurate alignment.

Track and template laid in position but not stuck down.

I am using N gauge Peco insulated connectors between the sections thinking that this will keep the tops of the rails in line. For the sleeper spacing I have used, the connectors need trimming to length.

The rails at the end of the board which lead into a fiddle yard looked rather fragile and could move with the camping mat, so I removed a 15mm strip of the camping mat and replaced it with a strip of laminate flooring which is almost the same thickness, but a double layer of sleeper sets it right and gives a firm support to the end of the rail. I took the opportunity of fitting the Palatine rail droppers as well.
DSC01369 track end.JPG
The end of the soft camping mat replaced with something solid to help protect the track.

One problem I am finding is that the carpet tape is not strong enough to hold either the camping mat to MDF or paper template to camping mat, and that every now and again I find a spot that has lifted. I had washed the camping mat to remove any dust (and dried it!) before use. If I don't do something about this, I can imagine the track falling off one day when I move the layout. To date the track has been down for about 14 weeks.
1398 1399.jpg
The top photo shows the camping mat lifting off the carpet tape, and the bottom one shows the mozzarella effect where the carpet tape is lifting off the camping mat. The wrinkles in the tape were in the tape itself. My early attempt at soldering is embarrassingly clear.

So I am thinking - should I continue with the camping mat and find a better adhesive or change the trackbed to cork or an alternative foam? There are other threads which discuss this and at the moment I am reading through these and deciding what to do.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:36 pm
by 4307
Operating the Turnouts

My first thoughts were to use a wire in tube method to operate the turnouts but decided against this as the pull-push mechanism would be exposed on the edge of the frame and susceptible to damage when moving the frame around. Fine I think for a static model. In the end I opted for Tortoise motors, which include two separate auxiliary contacts, one I could use for switching the frog, and the other for maybe controlling a ground signal. One of my pet hates is seeing a 9ft sleeper moving across the ballast to switch the blades so looked for an under baseboard mechanism that would move them. I designed my own but have since come across the Exactoscale Adaptor Plate sold by C&L which looks to be a very much neater and simpler method.

My mechanism for switching the turnout blades, mounted under the baseboard using the two screw holes at the top.

N/S wire dropper soldered to the bottom of the point blade for the actuator. The foot of the rail here is less than 0.5mm wide.

The photo of my mechanism shows its working, using two brass tubes to move N/S wire attached to the point blades. 20thou plastikard and nylon bolts insulate the two tubes from each other. I positioned the motor with the movement underneath to give access if needed.

There are problems with this. It just doesn't work! I am using 0.7mm N/S wire in a 1mm internal diameter brass tube (2mm external) and this is too flexible. The copper clad slider is located 8cm from the blades and the brass tube is only 4cm long, so when I move the slider by hand, the wire bends and the blades stay where they are.

I have since replaced the tubes with longer ones that now reach up to the bottom of the baseboard, and these seem strong enough to move the blades. My next step will be to wire in a tortoise motor and see whether that is strong enough to move the blades. If this works then I will make a similar mechanism for the other turnout. However on a future layout, C&L's Adaptor Plate would seem a far better choice.

Another problem is setting the switch blades. Iain Rice suggests clamping the blades to the stock rails and then soldering them in position. The straight blade seems much stiffer to move and I wonder whether both blades should be held at a mid-way point between closed and open, say by a 20thou piece of plastikard clamped between the blade and stock rail when soldering the other end into position. This would give a more even tension?

Point blades held against stock rails while soldering.

I had to remove and re-solder the curved switch blade as the gauge was too tight, and I have noticed that the tapered end now sits higher than its adjacent stock rail so there is a slight lift when running my wagon wheels across it. It will need pressing down while holding an iron to the first rivet. Third time lucky!

So that is where I am today, three years after starting. I will post more. My focus is on completing the track and wiring it, but a long time ago I started to convert an 0-6-0 tank - something else I need to finish. After all it was what led to constructing this "test track".

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 3:30 pm
by Philip Hall
My feeling is that a camping mat is too thick. I am taken with the foam underlay that Norman Soloman uses; it still has a degree of 'give' in it when the track is glued down, but is stiff enough to maintain a level 'top', important with our fine flanges.


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:12 pm
by allanferguson
I am impressed by the quality and thoroughness of the work you have put into this layout, but I am afraid I would part company with you on the issue of track underlay.

I laid my entire layout on 6mm camping mat, being impressed with the results on a friend's layout. However I have found that the track can move, not only vertically but also laterally, and as a result I would not use it again. And I don't find the noise insulation that great either! In the unlikely event that I could start again I would fix the track rigidly to a nice solid baseboard, since most of our locos make but little noise, and most of the noise comes from the reverberation of the baseboard rather than from the train

Allan F

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 6:42 pm
by 4307
Looking again at the track, camping mat etc, it is quite clear that the double-sided tape is not sticking to the camping mat - it is however stuck well to the MDF and by the look of it, very firmly to the paper underlay. I am left wondering whether I should find a suitable adhesive that I can apply onto the carpet tape and maybe use a different underlay; or whether I should remove the sleepers from the paper underlay section by section (looks like a long painful process) and again use a different underlay onto a cleaned up MDF, thereby removing all trace of double-sided tape. Any suggestions?

allanferguson wrote:I laid my entire layout on 6mm camping mat ... However I have found that the track can move, not only vertically but also laterally, and as a result I would not use it again. And I don't find the noise insulation that great either!

Allan F

Elmleigh is my first railway modelling so I have no experience to judge but I am not surprised at what you say. It does seem a very spongy material, even brand new. And I take your point Phillip that something stiffer may be better. My problem at the moment is sticking it down.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 8:17 pm
by steve howe
I believe camping mat material can degrade over time becoming brittle and dusty. We had some laminate floor laid recently and the contractor used a thin but quite dense foam underlay about 3mm thick, it looked ideal for our purposes but a search of the DIY stores has not revealed a source. I could ring him to see if it is available outside the Trade if anyone is interested.


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:14 pm
by Trevor Grout
Was the dense foam grey in colour, if it was then B&Q stock it

from their website reveals
Diall 3mm Foam Flooring Underlay EAN: 0000003796078 - £24 for a pack or £2.40 per m2


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 10:45 pm
by Philip Hall
For a small layout, Hobbycraft sell a thin, dense foam rubber sheet. I say a small layout because it comes in A4 and A3 sizes, the latter in black, which of course suits us. Allan makes a good point about firm underlay; sometimes it can work very well. I was looking at the trackwork on the Epsom Club's 'Wadhurst' at the AGM - that is laid on cork and was running very smoothly at the AGM. And it wasn't too noisy either. I think I shall still use thin rubber, though, a la Solomon. The same kind of closed cell foam is available from C&L.


Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:47 am
by Tim V
Noise, of course, comes from mechanisms, look there for sound reduction.

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:02 pm
by allanferguson
Well, I would agree that noise originates from mechanisms. But if it's loud enough to be distracting then you need to be sorting the mechanism. If you can, try suspending a loco on a piece of string, and see how much noise it makes. Most of what we hear is the reverberation of the baseboard. You can get the same effect by removing a loudspeaker from its enclosure. So if I was starting again, (which is unlikely!) I would try to have a baseboard which doesn't reverberate, i.e. very solid; lead would be ideal, but I think one of the rigid foams would be worth trying.

Allan F

Re: Elmleigh

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:34 pm
by Will L
Tim V wrote:Noise, of course, comes from mechanisms, look there for sound reduction.

Of course this is another reason for using CSBs. They are definitely quieter, as a sprung suspension helps isolates noise motors from the track/baseboard.