Track Laying

Help and advice for those starting in, or converting to P4 standards. A place to share modelling as a beginner in P4.
Cransford
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Track Laying

Postby Cransford » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:15 pm

Hopefully this is the right place to drop this thread as I'm just starting out in P4.

I'm starting to put together a layout based on Uppingham in the late 1950's, boards made (courtesy of Tim Horn) and erected in shed, so next move is to consider track laying. I thought it'd be best to try a small length of track on a spare piece of plywood so that I can learn the 'how to do it reasonably correctly'. Did a quick two track, two length, Templot template and stuck that down.

Thought I'd try two options on sleepers - plastic and plywood, so one line of each duly glued down with PVA. Plywood stuck down untreated and then given a few coats of an Ethanol based wood stain (dark oak, as it's what I could easily get hold of!).

Exactoscale chairs threaded onto pre-cut lengths of rail and then spaced as well as one can! Next step "glue" Exactoscale chairs, but this is where I seem to be coming "unstuck"!

Having read various threads suggesting 'flooding' plywood sleepers with Butanone and then sticking chairs down I thought it economically wise to get a large bottle of MEK (but it doesn't mention Butsnone). I decided to use a paintbrush to paint glue onto sleeper and noted that it seemed to dry or seep into plywood almost on contact. As a plan "B" I thought I'd also try to brush some glue onto the chairs. Having prepared as well as I had hoped, placed rail into place and --------- nothing. Having never done it before, I'm not sure what to have expected but there was no sign of any adhesion at all!

Hoping the assembled throng can suggest where I'm going wrong.

Cheers, Paul

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PeteT
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Re: Track Laying

Postby PeteT » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:20 pm

In haste, as I need to go out, but yes - the issue is with using MEK rather than Butanone due to the type of plastic. Sounds like swapping solvents will sort you out, otherwise the method looks fine!

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barrowroad
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Re: Track Laying

Postby barrowroad » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:48 pm

Hi Paul,
Maybe I haven't read your post correctly but are you applying the glue when the chair is in contact with the ply sleeper? This is the method I use.
I read you post as applying glue to the ply sleeper and then placing the chair or your plan B apply glue to the chair and then position on the sleeper.

Robin

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Noel
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Noel » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:04 pm

MEK [Methyl Ethyl Ketone] is actually Butanone under another name. However, it depends on what you are actually using; Slaters' Mek-pak, for example, is intended for use on Plastikard, which Butanone will attack, so probably isn't MEK [I seem to remember that they explicitly stated this some time ago]. The other point is that it isn't a glue, and doesn't form a bond between plastic and wood. It's a solvent, and if used with plastic sleepers it welds the two objects together. So far as I know it works with wooden sleepers by softening the plastic and drawing it into the grain of the wood, so, as Robin says, is best applied with a brush when the chair is exactly where you want it, since subsequent adjustment is difficult to impossible. As with all solvents, suitable precautions should be taken when using it.
Regards
Noel

allanferguson
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Re: Track Laying

Postby allanferguson » Tue Jul 16, 2019 8:20 pm

As stated, butanone dissolves some of the plastic. But it is important to keep some weight on it for a wee while (a few seconds for sassenachs) to force the softened plastic into the grain of the wood. With plastic sleepers you need just make sure the components are held firmly together until the solvent evaporates, which isn't long.

Allan F

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Flymo748
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:46 pm

Hi Paul,

First of all, welcome to P4 modelling, and the pleasures and occasional pains that it will bring. For the latter, you have already discovered the Forum, where you will always find a wealth of friendliness and advice.

Your question is not an usual one, and is one where people get part-way, but don't quite find the right solution (no pun intended) to achieve what they are trying to do. So you've done exactly the right thing in asking.

You've already had a couple of really useful answers, but I believe that a picture paints a thousand words. So here's 2k's worth:

These are the solvents that I use for plastics:

Plastic solvents.JPG


They range from left to right in aggressiveness. You need different types of solvent because not all plastic is the same, and it behaves differently.

- at the left is Limolene. This is fairly recent product on the market, and it's strength is its lack of strength! It's actually quite weak, so it is perfect for small parts, or thin overlays like 5 thou plasticard, as it will glue them without dissolving them to a mush. The downside is that it takes a longer time to set - something like twenty minutes if I remember correctly.

- in the middle is your standard MEK. Or in my case, liquid poly. Great for sticking Airfix Spitfires together, or preserving your fingerprint for posterity in the side of Coopercraft wagon - DAMHIK-IJKOK.

- and finally on the right is a drop of the Strong Stuff. Plastic Weld, or butanone. This is what I use for fixing chairs, as they are of an ABS type plastic that is not touched by the other two types, as you will have found out.

In terms of what you are looking for, I dragged my test track out and stuck it under a spotlight to search for an example of a glued chair:

Plastic ply glued chairs.JPG


The circled chair is why I was looking for. This is an excessive example. I've added too much solvent, or held the chair down too firmly, or both (but I suspect the former).

But it does show how the softened plastic is drawn into the grain of the ply sleeper and makes an excellent bond. And this is where I have to disagree with Noel. If it is not quite in the right place, then there is the opportunity for repeated adjustment. You just use a sharp scalpel blade and slide it sideways between the chair and sleeper. This will separate the two, and it is usually possible to re-use the chair, glueing it back down firmly with a further application of solvent.

I hope this helps, and all the best with your explorations.

Cheers
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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David Thorpe
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Re: Track Laying

Postby David Thorpe » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:10 pm

Without wishing to worry you, do make sure that you are using an appropriate track gauge when laying track using Exactoscale chairs. The reaon is that these chairs hold the rail at a prototypical angle, with the top of the rail canting slightly in. If you use a gauge (as I did) that holds the rail straight up and then put a weight on it to hold it in place while the MEK sets (as I did!) you may find that when you remove the gauge the rail will gradually begin to cant inwards, leading to gauge narrowing. I had to carry pout a lot of remedial work to several sets of points because of this. It seems that you need a gauge such as an Exactoscale roller one that only holds the top of the rail. If the gauge holds both the top of the rail and the foot, as some do (including, I believe, the Society ones), then after removel the chairs may relax, leading to gauge narrowing.

The have been a couple of threads on this - viewtopic.php?f=89&t=5892&p=61140#p61140 and viewtopic.php?f=84&t=5995&p=62491#p62491

DT

bobwallison
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Re: Track Laying

Postby bobwallison » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:13 am

So in summary, Paul:

1. Proper MEK, as in methyl ethyl ketone (common name: Butanone) Is exactly the right chemical to use. Mek-pak as sold by Slaters/Carrs/Precision Paints is not, because it is no longer MEK.

2. Set the rail and chairs in the right place and push down gently while you touch a brush laden with MEK to the edge of the chair. Capillary action draws the liquid into the joint and it sets reasonably hard after a few seconds.

3. Use a track gauge which doesn't hold the rail vertically, but allows it to lean inward at the proper angle of 1 in 20. This is the only way to make sure that the chairs sit flat on the sleepers at the corect gauge. David has provided links to further information.

I usually fix every eighth chair or so, to make sure I get the right alignment. As Paul W says, it is easy to separate chairs from ply slepers to adjust the alignment if need be. I then go back and fix every chair, working from one end or the other - one gets a nice rythm going, holding down the three chairs you have just glued while applying glue to the next three.

Regards,
Bob

davebradwell
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Re: Track Laying

Postby davebradwell » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:26 am

But first stick the bottle to something so you can't knock it over.

DaveB

Cransford
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Cransford » Wed Jul 17, 2019 1:46 pm

Well, thank you one and all for the informative answers.

Barrowford - plan A was applying solvent to sleeper and when not working ('cos I got it wrong!), plan B was to put solvent on chairs (which wasn't overtly successful either!

Will be having a few days away so not able to experiment again until next week. But, having read the thoughts of the assembled throng, I'm assuming I need to confirm position of chair, drop solvent into place and fix chair immediately. I suppose the next seemingly obvious question is how much movement does one get in the chairs - my test track is 48 sleepers long and I'll clearly need to lift each chair position high enough to get brush under to place solvent. Thought - would a syringe be a better idea? Assuming the solvent doesn't destroy the syringe and then can you get a largish needle?

Paul

garethashenden
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Re: Track Laying

Postby garethashenden » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:24 pm

You don’t need to lift the chairs. Just touch the edge with the solvent laden brush. It will flow under the chair just fine.

PhilipT
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Re: Track Laying

Postby PhilipT » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:37 pm

The original query referred to both wooden and plastic sleepers. I fully concur with the advice given about wooden sleepering, ie use plenty of butanone but the opposite is the case if using plastic (abs) sleepers. Here the need is to use the smallest amount of butanone which will do the job. The reason is that over-use of solvent will soften the sleeper and cause it to curl up at the edges as the solvent evaporates from the joint.


I also know of a layout where an aggressive solvent-based adhesive was used to fix the track to foam underlay which caused the sleepers to curl down at the edges for the same basic reason.


I use wooden sleepers for this reason and also because of the ability to adjust using a scalpel. as noted above.

dal-t
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Re: Track Laying

Postby dal-t » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:51 am

There's another benefit to wooden sleepers if you're a ham-fisted modeller like me (not suggesting for one moment this applies to you, Paul, as you're clearly much better organised and prepared than I ever am) - if you happen to get a hot soldering iron near them, as I've just done fixing up the ground connections to a catch point, they don't melt! In fact, I'm finding the scorch marks rather fetching and making up a back-story about the PW gang spilling a pot of grease while 'treating' the slide chairs ...
David L-T

nigelcliffe
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Re: Track Laying

Postby nigelcliffe » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:06 am

I know this is still "test bench", but before starting layout track-laying, I suggest experimenting with ballasting techniques.

There are basically two approaches: ballast before or after fitting the chairs (and rails). The are advantages of ballasting with just sleepers in place - clearing up is easier, no need to poke stuff under rails, etc.. But, there are disadvantages such as it being harder to modify track if it is out of alignment (particularly vertically). Hence the suggestion of experimenting to find the best technique for your circumstances before being committed to one way or another on the actual layout.

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Paul Townsend » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:51 am

Flymo748 wrote:Hi Paul,

These are the solvents that I use for plastics:

Plastic solvents.JPG

They range from left to right in aggressiveness. You need different types of solvent because not all plastic is the same, and it behaves differently.

- at the left is Limolene. This is fairly recent product on the market, and it's strength is its lack of strength! It's actually quite weak, so it is perfect for small parts, or thin overlays like 5 thou plasticard, as it will glue them without dissolving them to a mush. The downside is that it takes a longer time to set - something like twenty minutes if I remember correctly.

- in the middle is your standard MEK. Or in my case, liquid poly. Great for sticking Airfix Spitfires together, or preserving your fingerprint for posterity in the side of Coopercraft wagon - DAMHIK-IJKOK.

- and finally on the right is a drop of the Strong Stuff. Plastic Weld, or butanone. This is what I use for fixing chairs, as they are of an ABS type plastic that is not touched by the other two types, as you will have found out.

Flymo


Pedant alert!
Noel says MEK = Butanone. He is right if you say MEK = 2-Butanone.

Flymo says Humbrol LP = MEK and that Plastic Weld = Butanone and is different in behaviour from Humbrol LP

Putting these 3 statements together produces contradictions!

I suggest that both Humbrol LP and Plastic weld containg Butanone= MEK as major ingredient but are diluted to different strengths by something else

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Paul Townsend » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:53 am

dal-t wrote:There's another benefit to wooden sleepers if you're a ham-fisted modeller like me (not suggesting for one moment this applies to you, Paul, as you're clearly much better organised and prepared than I ever am) - if you happen to get a hot soldering iron near them, as I've just done fixing up the ground connections to a catch point, they don't melt! In fact, I'm finding the scorch marks rather fetching and making up a back-story about the PW gang spilling a pot of grease while 'treating' the slide chairs ...


Apparently there were an awful lot of gangers dropping stuff on my layouts!

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Noel
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Noel » Thu Jul 18, 2019 10:49 am

Paul Townsend wrote:Noel says MEK = Butanone. He is right if you say MEK = 2-Butanone.Flymo says Humbrol LP = MEK and that Plastic Weld = Butanone and is different in behaviour from Humbrol LP … I suggest that both Humbrol LP and Plastic weld containg Butanone= MEK as major ingredient but are diluted to different strengths by something else


I'm no chemist [I just about managed 'O' level], but MEK, Butanone and 2-Butanone all seem to be used as synonyms on the internet.

I use Humbrol LP, and it doesn't smell like Butanone. The jar and, so far as I can trace, the Humbrol website, are not informative as to content, but I have found https://www.technologysupplies.co.uk/downloads/msds/SDS0162.pdf which says it is Butyl Acetate. I don't use Plastic Weld, but Plastruct say it is Dichloromethane with a small proportion of MEK http://plastruct.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MSDS_PPC_2.pdf.
Regards
Noel

PhilipT
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Re: Track Laying

Postby PhilipT » Thu Jul 18, 2019 12:01 pm

When I did organic chemistry at school in 1960-62, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) was the nomenclature. Subsequently systematic naming of organic compounds was adopted which gave us butanone, or more correctly butan-2-one (not 2-butanone unless that's a recent change). Butan-2-one indicates that the ketone group is on the second carbon in the chain of 4.

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Flymo748
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Flymo748 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:15 pm

PhilipT wrote:When I did organic chemistry at school in 1960-62, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) was the nomenclature. Subsequently systematic naming of organic compounds was adopted which gave us butanone, or more correctly butan-2-one (not 2-butanone unless that's a recent change). Butan-2-one indicates that the ketone group is on the second carbon in the chain of 4.


Oh, this is too much of a Scalefour discussion! When we thought that "Baffled Beginners" was a possible alternative title to this section of the website, then we didn't think that the baffling would be done by the members themselves...

Before this wanders off into a sinkhole of organic and inorganic chemistry, can we please give some pointers to help our original poster? In Plain English, what solvents have people successfully used for fixing C&L and/or Exactoscale chairs...

As you'll have seen Plastic Weld is the brand that I use. Other *specific* (and non-theoretical based on molecular chain analysis!) recommendations would be welcome.

;-)
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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David Thorpe
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Re: Track Laying

Postby David Thorpe » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:25 pm

I stuck my plastic chairs to ply sleepers using some Methy Ethyl Ketone (M.E.K.) that I bought from ebay. There's still plenty available there, often in very large amounts, but you can buy a litre for £9.99 delivered (https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1-LITRE-PURE ... Swt5hYeonb). I hasten to add that I've never used that brand, but if it's what it says it is it should work fine.

I'm now off out with a scalpel to unstick yet more of the chairs I innocently laid using the wrong sort of gauge and which has lead to gauge narrowing. The MEK I used then (not the same brand as the one I've referred to above) certainly attached them securely! In some ways I'm therefore grateful that I didn't use ply, rivet and solder, although on the other hand if I had there would have been no gauge narrowing. That's not a recommendation for ply and rivet, incidentally, if only because attaching cosmetic chairs to riveted track is appallingly tedious and time consuming.

DT

PhilipT
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Re: Track Laying

Postby PhilipT » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:38 pm

Always used butanone without problems.

Enigma
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Enigma » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:47 pm

PhilipT wrote:Always used butanone without problems.


+1

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Noel
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Noel » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:49 pm

Butanone [in the form of a rather elderly bottle of DayWat Liquid Poly which currently hasn't been opened for some time]. I'm not sure if it is still available.

I take your point, Paul [Flymo], but surely telling someone who, it seems, hasn't used them before about what these solvents are, and the need to be a little careful with them, is no bad thing?
Regards
Noel

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Flymo748
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Flymo748 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:06 pm

Noel wrote:I take your point, Paul [Flymo], but surely telling someone who, it seems, hasn't used them before about what these solvents are, and the need to be a little careful with them, is no bad thing?


Completely agree about the need for care such as don't smoke whilst fixing chairs with MEK (although I hadn't actually seen any comment that addressed such risks).

But as a beginner, the question is "What bottle do I go and ask Derek/Phil/bloke-in-local-model-shop for?".

That is my point...

Cheers
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

Philip Hall
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Re: Track Laying

Postby Philip Hall » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:42 pm

Slightly off topic but on the safety thing: one of my favourite memories of the old Easter MRC shows was watching dear old George Slater demonstrating using his Plastikard and Mek-Pak, happily puffing away on a succession of ciggies at the same time! And it was probably the good stuff in those days, not the much safer concoction we use these days...

Philip


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