Advice please....new member

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

Advice please....new member

Postby gort » Sat Aug 21, 2010 10:10 pm

Hello and Hi to all,

Until last weekend I was working towards creating a GWR layout in oo gauge.
Then whilst at railwells and after half an hour chatting to Danny I decided :idea: to change to P4.
Now I have built wagons before both plastic and white metal but never track or brass wagon kits.

So I have a couple of brass wagon kits purchased at the show.......but before building them I thought I would build a straight run of track to check the wagons on. Having read through various bits of the digests and looking at what is available I have decided to go for the Brook Smith riveted method of construction.
I have a list of basic components which hopefully someone will say is ok or not so here goes.........
9ft sleepers
rivets
fishplates
bullhead rail (nickel silver or steel :?: )
Track gauge
I didn't see any chairs in the stores....I would need the GWR 2 bolt pattern. Is it a case of purchasing elsewhere and glueing them in place on top of the rivets or are there chairs that can be soldered on with the rail :?:

As far as the wagons go I will get a back to back gauge.

Now AJ couplings :?
Having decided to go this route I bought the book.......and very interesting and informative it is with some nice history of our hobby and some of the pioneers.
I am still a little confused as to the mounting of the coupling at the far end of the wagon. Do I need mounting plates? hinged?
Which of the numerous jigs shown in the book do I need that will assist me to build all that I need to make the couplings? Do I need all of them? Where do I get the wire?

I guess what I need is someone who has done all of this before to give me some info here.....which is one of the reasons I joined the society.

On another note...........The railwells show was a real eye opener for me and my son. It must be the friendliest show we have been to with everyone we talked to and watched demonstrating keen to spend time talking and even allowing my son to have a go at soldering. ..............Now thats the way to get youngsters interested . Excellent standard of layouts too. ........ so well done everybody who was involved with the show. :D

Martyn

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jim s-w
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby jim s-w » Sun Aug 22, 2010 9:28 am

Hi Martin

I have never built any ply and rivet track and I have a couple or reasons why not.

I use solid track beds and superglue to secure the sleepers to the baseboard. This means the sleepers can't move arround so any expansion in the rail (or rather contraction of the baseboards) has to be accounted for by the rail sliding through the chairs. I believe that as soldered track construction is so solid you need to allow for movement in other ways and that is with some sort of flexible track bed. So why go to all the effort of getting your track nice and flat if you are then going to allow it to move? Yes ideally it will move in the direction you would like it to - ie. Along the direction of the track but let's face it it is going to slew in the easiest direction it can take, that might equally be sideways or upwards!

With modern adhesives don't dismiss all plastic track or plastic chairs glued to ply sleepers if that is your preference

Just a few thoughts

Jim
Last edited by jim s-w on Fri Dec 06, 2013 10:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby grovenor-2685 » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:22 am

Martin,
We all have our preferences and ply and rivet track has served us well for 40 years, and some of mine is now that old and still flat, or at least as flat as it ever was and it works. It does depend quite a bit on what sort of budget you have (don't forget to price in the glue, ballast etc. you use more of both with thick sleepers) and how big a layout you are planning. But now, right up front is the time to experiment and see what suits you. If you need a bit of track to test out wagons I suggest trying at least 2 or three techniques. just doing a little of each. Personally I woulld recommend steel rail, others prefer NS. If you are going to have your layout in a dry place, always a good idea IMHO then try steel first. So I would suggest get a pack of steel rail first, some ply and rivet sleepers as you have listed, some C&L or P4 track co plastic sleepers and some 2-bolt chairs. Then you can try ply with rivet, ply with cosmetic chairs and plastic with cosmetic chairs and see how you get on.
One thing I would note, if you are going to build more than a very little ply and rivet track you do need to tool up with a punch and rivet press, trying to do turnout timbers with a drill is not a good idea, Its OK for a yard of track as the sleepers come pre-punched and you can close the rivets with pliers or a small hammer for just a few. Better though if you could borrow a press from someone at the area group so your experimenting is really valid.
Chairs are the main drawback to ply and rivet, its good that before chairing you can adjust everything with a soldering iron, and get it all running properly, but the chairs are expensive and become a drudge, on the other hand it does depend on your layout, chairs you won't see don't need to be fitted, eg in hidden areas, tunnels etc , and for shelf layouts you only need the half chair on the viewing side except where you want to take photos.
But do try it out and find what works for you.
Regards

David Knight
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby David Knight » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:32 pm

Hi Martyn,

Ply and rivet works for me but I've chosen to follow (for the time being) the method laid out in Iain Rice's book; "An Approach to Building Finescale Track in 4mm", Wild Swan, ISBN 1 874103 003 which suggests rivets every 4th or 5th sleeper and cosmetic chairs in between. There was much discussion of the various methods and the pros and cons here; viewtopic.php?f=39&t=779
As you will see there is a wide range of opinion :?

HTH

David

Cock Sparra

Starting in P4- Advice please....new member

Postby Cock Sparra » Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:14 pm

Hi

I have built track in 00 and EM using copperclad sleepers and using C & L chairs on ply sleepers and timbers. Both systems allow a degree of flexibility in that if the alignment is slightly out it can be adjusted, rail and copperclad by reheating and moving the rail or with ply and plastic sleepers using Plastic Weld (dichloromethane (DCM) which can be released with a knife blade between the chair and sleeper. I use the Brooke-Smith method at baseboard joints with cosmetic chairs as it is much sturdier.

Cheers Phil

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Mark Tatlow
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Re: Starting in P4- Advice please....new member

Postby Mark Tatlow » Sun Aug 22, 2010 10:12 pm

Hi Phil,

Both ply and rivet or the plastic chair systems from either C&L or the P4 Track Co will produce durable trackwork.

Actually using copper clad is likely to be the more difficult because the rail sits directly on the sleeper. On the real thing (especially for bullhead rail) the rail is held above the sleeper by the chair. The rivet head achieves this for the Brook-Smith method or the chair in the C&L/P4 Track Co solutions. You will not be able to fit cosmetic chairs to copper clad trackwork because of this (or at least not without a lot of heartache).

The way to deal with baseboard joints, which I concur do need to be durable, is to use the cast brass chairs from the P4 Track Co (see link here - http://www.exactoscale.co.uk/4mmtrack.html). I solder these to a copper clad sleeper and make sure that the "gapping" of the copper clad is very smooth (I hate the line that too many people leave where the copper has been scored). The chairs are a bit pricy, so I only use this at the baseboard joints.

If you are going to Scaleforum, it would be worth asking at the Society stand to see the different trackwork solutions - the guys that are there are generally very helpful. Alternatively, the P4 Track Co (on the Exactoscale stand) do a introduction pack to trackwork which includes the gauges, a turnout kit and some plain rail - all you need to get a flavour of their system and get up and running.

Let us know how you get on?


Mark
Mark Tatlow

craig_whilding
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Re: Starting in P4- Advice please....new member

Postby craig_whilding » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:44 am

Mark Tatlow wrote:Hi Phil,
The way to deal with baseboard joints, which I concur do need to be durable, is to use the cast brass chairs from the P4 Track Co (see link here - http://www.exactoscale.co.uk/4mmtrack.html). I solder these to a copper clad sleeper and make sure that the "gapping" of the copper clad is very smooth (I hate the line that too many people leave where the copper has been scored). The chairs are a bit pricy, so I only use this at the baseboard joints.

If you are going to Scaleforum, it would be worth asking at the Society stand to see the different trackwork solutions - the guys that are there are generally very helpful. Alternatively, the P4 Track Co (on the Exactoscale stand) do a introduction pack to trackwork which includes the gauges, a turnout kit and some plain rail - all you need to get a flavour of their system and get up and running.

Let us know how you get on?
Mark

Copper clad sleepering can have spacers added but its a lot of hassle.

The arrangement Mark mentions for board joints is being used on our club layout shown below:
http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index. ... -progress/
I really wouldn't recommend diagonal board joints like that illustrated though, we were putting a new plan on existing boards here..

I'd recommend the use of triangular gauges rather than the Exactoscale gauge, two of them allow you to hold the rail in place when gluing down chairs and they also give you the small amount of gauge widening necessary. 3 of the Exactoscale gauges are gauge widened to an extent I don't see the need for and which would render AJ's largely ineffective anyway. I'd be curious if anyone has used them, we didn't need them on 3' 6 curves.

I've just come into possession of the bits for the old Exactoscale method released in 1999 with brass sections for the critical P+C chairing and lots of jigs. I really like it actually as its similar to their current plastic range but with the critical ability to tweak and firmly constrain the crossing and switches.

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Starting in P4- Advice please....new member

Postby Russ Elliott » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:24 am

craig_whilding wrote:3 of the Exactoscale gauges are gauge widened to an extent I don't see the need for and which would render AJ's largely ineffective anyway. I'd be curious if anyone has used them, we didn't need them on 3' 6 curves.

I can see what you mean in respect of the '+0.3' gauge, and to a certain extent the '+0.2' gauge, the latter probably being needed only in exceptional cases. The most useful pair are the '+0' and the '+0.1', the '+0.1' having I feel a sensible application through switches. That said, a pair of the triangular form is probably more efficient for general constructional purposes, although they can't be used throughout the switch area. The triangular gauges do have the drawback that their accuracy is just about impossible to check by the user. The Exacto set are good 'monitors'.

AJ mating slop is determined to an extent by track gauge, but also by wheel back-to-back setting. Adopting a 17.8mm BB helps in this respect by reducing short-wheelbase vehicle/bogie 'wiggle'.

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby grovenor-2685 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:46 pm

Craig and Russ,
Suggest you read the original request for help, I suspect you are getting a bit more esoteric than needed for a beginner, we want to encourage people to learn by doing.
I built almost all my track using the standard 3 point gauge and it all works, I have bought just about all the other varieties of gauge on offer and after a trial they have stayed in the box. Its really not as hard as is often made out.

I would still recommend the original P4 manual to a beginner. (Available in the History section of the website)
Regards
Last edited by grovenor-2685 on Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Added the link to the P4 manual, couldn't check it at work earlier.

nigelcliffe
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby nigelcliffe » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:58 pm

gort wrote:Now AJ couplings :?
Having decided to go this route I bought the book.......and very interesting and informative it is with some nice history of our hobby and some of the pioneers.
I am still a little confused as to the mounting of the coupling at the far end of the wagon. Do I need mounting plates? hinged?
Which of the numerous jigs shown in the book do I need that will assist me to build all that I need to make the couplings? Do I need all of them? Where do I get the wire?


Two basic methods for AJ's:
a) "springy along entire length of wire". With this, a long straight AJ wire is made, a dropper weight fixed to it (near an axle of vehicle), and the far end of the wire attached to the vehicle (typically a hole or plate at the far W-iron in a normal 10ft w/base wagon). This approach is simple, but adjustment for length and rotation is "unsolder, resolder and hope", even with jigs some find it a bit "hit and miss". That said, the East Anglian group get on fine with it.
b) "hinged method". Detailed in the book. With this, the AJ wire has a double bend in it below the wagon which goes through a pivot. The same dropper is fitted near an axle. A counterweight is fitted on the far end to hold the AJ hook upright. The pivot plate is usually bolted (can be glued) to bottom of wagon. By bolting it, some easy adjustment of length is possible.

Jigs:
a) Basic cylindrical bending jig (one hole each end) to get the little bits of wire the right length at each bend. Not sure if these are still on sale; I made my own, its very useful.
b) First-fold etched jig, to help bringing things to 180 degrees at the tip. Very very useful, saves much faffing with pliers, though still need pliers to close up the wire. Mine came from an etched kit.
c) Buffer beam mounting jig to get wire at correct length and orientation. Again, very useful. Mine is a scratchbuild.
d) Coupling and buffer alignment pins. Useful/essential checking tool. Etched kit in my case to replace old bit of scrap wood with three panel pins.


Wire:
Most music shops. Ask for Guitar E-string in "11 thou". Buy a string cutter from the music shop to save damage to your best wire cutters. Also, if experimenter, look up Vincent de Boer's method for making the bends in the head "backwards" (the coupler still works the same and is interchangable with the normal ones), this allows you to use thinner "8 thou" guitar string.



And then mad-people read my blog and ask me for parts for DCC control of the couplings - forget all this under-baseboard hunt-the magnet stuff ! http://nigelcliffe.blogspot.com/ and scroll down past the ski tour pictures (its August, time to book next year!), and also some of the "older" posts linked at the bottom of the page.

- Nigel

craig_whilding
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby craig_whilding » Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:09 pm

grovenor-2685 wrote:Craig and Russ,
Suggest you read the original request for help, I suspect you are getting a bit more esoteric than needed for a beginner, we want to encourage people to learn by doing.

Sorry, had no idea the thread I was responding in was related to a completely separate one! I would suggest though that many people buying Exactoscale gauges would wonder where on earth they use each type.. Russ has brought up the interesting case of the A switch which I have put gauge widening in on mine with a triangular gauge during building. I agree further discussion was for a separate thread though.

Learning by doing is a good idea but in many cases it involves buying many different jigs/kits you may quickly find don't really work. This quickly becomes an expensive exercise that gets you dejected.
I built almost all my track using the standard 3 point gauge and it all works, I have bought just about all the other varieties of gauge on offer and after a trial they have stayed in the box. Its really not as hard as is often made out.

I would still recommend the original P4 manual to a beginner. Available in the History section of the website)
Regards

Indeed the original manual was the simplest and most accurate writing i've seen for beginners.


For the OP (I recommend, my personal opinions only and no connection with Exactoscale apart from a customer!) :
Chairs - Exactoscale do bags of GWR 2-hole chairs. Would need cutting in half and carving back to fit over rivets so its normally worth only using rivets at critical points and gluing chairs directly to wood on straight line
Rail - Exactoscale rail works best with their chairs, steel can rust so you don't want to leave it in a garage and not run for a while but it does look better than NS..
Fishplates - Exactoscale do plastic ones or lost wax ones to carry current.
Sleepers - are you sure you need 9ft and not 8ft 6? I think the stores do precut ones?
Track gauge - Triangular ones from stores.
Back to Back - Exactoscale 17.75mm one is expensive but spot on and caters for gear wheels too. Don't get a 17.67mm b2b gauge is my advice. 17.87 gauges are also available and represents the top end of the tolerance range for wheel back to back, i'd leave this for S4 modellers only really unless someone really disagrees with me here? Other makers do a cheaper back to back which is a simple 'L' shape but check its wider than 17.67mm,

AJ's - I've recently started using these over 3-links and they do take a bit of research to find a method you are happy with.
edit - Nigel posted at the same time as me a rather nice reply.

The simple method is a fixed end flexing the AJ whereas the hinges ones, in my experience, allow more tweaking and a better operation but take longer to setup accurately.

Jigs - I used the Palatine models range of jigs to do mine along with Electomagnets from MSE and a transformer from Maplins details of which I gave in a recent 'new to AJ's ' type thread.

Wire - http://www.stringsdirect.co.uk/products ... s_008_024_ 11 thou from here is my type and cheap in quantity.

Glad you enjoyed Wells as I sadly missed it this year, hopefully someone did take some pictures for the retrospective! Any queries to the above do ask and I hope it isn't too confusing! There was a demo last year on making AJs at Scaleforum but there isn't one this year i'm afraid. If you are having difficulties though hopefully another one will be around soon or there are a few groups with members who use them in the vicinity of Wells that you may also be able to visit?

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby grovenor-2685 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:16 pm

Jigs - I used the Palatine models range of jigs to do mine along with Electomagnets from MSE and a transformer from Maplins details of which I gave in a recent 'new to AJ's ' type thread.

Available from the Scalefour stores e-shop.
Regards

martin goodall
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby martin goodall » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:54 am

A couple of members new to P4 have recently introduced themselves, and this prompted the following thoughts, which I hope might be of some help.

Baseboards
Traditionally half-inch chipboard on 3-inch x 1-inch pine framing, but this is heavy and not guaranteed to be stable. Many modellers now prefer ply baseboards with ply framing, but it has to be really good quality ply to ensure stability. For ease of construction, Barry Norman’s ‘sandwich’ method of framing (two layers of ply with chocks of pine between) is popular. For the more adventurous, Styrofoam has been suggested (with ply framing), but the jury is out over its long-term stability.

Track
Traditionally, the Brook-Smith ply-and rivet system of soldered construction used to be preferred, but this requires the use of cosmetic chairs (not currently available) or their noticeable absence. Copper-clad paxolin sleepers and crossing timbers could be used instead if you don’t mind the lack of chairs (with the rail fixed directly to the sleepers) – which is perfectly OK for light railway track, but does not look so good for orthodox main line construction. Nowadays, many prefer one of the systems using functional chairs (either etched or, more popularly, moulded plastic). There is a question-mark over the dimensional stability of chaired track built using plastic sleepers, especially where butanone is used as the solvent, and for that reason some people prefer to stick the functional chairs to ply sleepers. Either steel or nickel-silver rail can be used, and there are some advocates for phosphor-bronze. Steel rail is said to be easier to keep clean (but not so easy to solder), unless your layout is in a very damp or humid location, in which case rust might then become a problem.

Wheels
The best loco wheels are those made by Ultrascale. They are not cheap, and delivery takes a while, but they are worth the price and the wait. Ultrascale also make carriage and wagon wheels, which (again) are expensive but of excellent quality. For those modelling the BR era, Kean Maygib all-steel coach and wagon wheels can be used. These too are of excellent quality, but their plastic-centred wheels are no longer produced. I am notorious for using EM-profile wheels set to P4 back-to-back gauge from these same manufacturers, in preference to the P4 wheel profile. I am not alone in doing this.

Suspension systems
Using P4 wheels, it is generally agreed that some means must be found of allowing the wheels to adapt to minor variations in rail level. Traditionally, this took the form of 3-point compensated suspension, but springing is an alternative. Some modellers reckon that you can get away without compensation on vehicles (and bogies) with a wheelbase not exceeding 40mm. My own experience confirms that lateral play [slop] in the axleboxes will usually give sufficient flexibility to obviate the need for compensated suspension or springing, even in longer wheelbase stock. Use of EM-profile wheels (as mentioned above) obviates the need for any special suspension arrangements.

Couplings
Although Alex Jackson couplings have always been regarded as the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of finescale couplings, they need very accurate setting up and can be all too easily knocked out of alignment, so that in practice their reliability is often compromised. Various commercial coupling systems have been successfully used by P4 modellers, including Sprat & Winkle (the 3mm-scale version tends to be preferred by finescale modellers as being slightly less conspicuous) and DG couplings, among others. In a thread on this webforum discussing Alex Jackson couplings a few weeks ago, I gave details of my own home-made ‘Burford’ coupling which is a hook and loop coupling bent up from wire, which I have found totally reliable.

Tools
This topic has already been well-covered by others. Over the years we all tend to acquire quite a formidable armoury, but in truth quite a few tools are little used, and some remain completely unused. You basically need good tools for measuring and marking out, holding things and cutting things, plus a soldering iron, etc.

General approach.
Model-making is a time-consuming process, the more so if a large or complex layout is to be built and if most or all of the rolling stock is to be scratch-built or built from state-of-the-art etched kits. I would commend Iain Rice’s advice to build a smaller layout which you have some chance of completing within a reasonable timescale. Always remember the ‘K.I.S.S.’ principle and keep it simple – avoid over-engineered or over-complicated approaches to the construction of locos and other models. RTR models are an excellent starting point for getting things moving; conversion is generally quick and easy (although problems may occasionally be encountered with an RTR model due to manufacturing defects which may not be apparent when tested in 00). The etched kits and scratch builds can follow on later.

Above all, always remember – it’s meant to be fun.

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Tony W
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby Tony W » Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:47 pm

Hi Martin

If you still want a bit of advice on AJ Couplings and you're coming to Scaleforum, I'll be on the Society stand all weekend - and I'll put you right on certain comments aleady made in this thread about the couplings!!

Tony

gort

Re: Advice please....new member

Postby gort » Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:10 pm

Well............what can say....... a huge response and much information.
Thankyou to everyone who replied to the thread.

I have placed an order with the stores for a few basic bits and pieces including gauges and jigs for the AJs.
I have also ordered the axle spacing jigs from Brassmasters.

Tony if we make it to the show I will be coming to see you. Leatherhead must be around 130 miles from us but if all goes to plan we'll get there.

Keep the replies coming. :D

martin goodall
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby martin goodall » Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:35 am

Re track: On my current P4 layout (the 'Burford Branch') I have used the Brook Smith system (soldering the rail to brass rivets inserted in ply sleepers or timbers) with complete success. It has the advantage of being easily adjusted (until the cosmetic chairs have been added - but I have delayed putting them on until I am absolutely sure I have got everything right and running perfectly. Some 'tweaking' is unavoidable.) I have also altered the track formation by adding in an extra point, and this too was easily achieved. I have enough MJT cast cosmetic chairs for this layout, but these are no longer available. What do people do if they have not got a supply of these? I don't believe that moulded plastic chairs intended for functional use can be adapted for use as cosmetic chairs to fit round brass rivets, but would be interested to hear other views on this.

I have also used copper-clad paxolin sleepers and timbering on a light railway layout ('Crichel Down') with equal success (soldered construction again).

If/when building another layout, I might be tempted to use functional plastic chairs (probably C&L for preference), but glued to ply sleepers and timbers rather than to plastic sleepers. This is primarily due to doubts over the dimensional stability of track using all-plastic components if butanone is used as the solvent. I understand (not having tried it myself) that using ply sleepers and timbering with plastic chairs overcomes this problem.

As regards track underlay and ballasting, the one combination that should be avoided like the plague is 1/8-inch cork firmly glued down with PVA, with the track and granite ballast firmly stuck down with more PVA. This lot will dry rock-hard, and is the noisiest possible combination that anyone could devise - guaranteed to amplify the grinding sounds of loco mechanisms and the rumbling of wheels to the maximum degree!

I have used a product supplied by Exactoscale (though I am not sure of its current availability) which I believe goes by the trade name 'Plastizote'. Frankly, it is no quieter than cork, even though I lightly glued the track to the underlay with Evostoik impact adhesive applied sparingly towards the outer ends of the sleepers, and when ballasting I shall not use granite or any other stone-based ballast. I shall use a latex-based adhesive such as Copydex to glue down the ballast.

Some people have used carpet tiles or camping mat for track undelay, which ought to be a lot quieter, but I cannot coment on its reliability, never having tried it myself.

Quite by accident, I hit on a significantly quieter (though relatively more expensive) material for track underlay, which I used on 'Crichel Down' and which I might use again on any future layout. This is 1/8-inch balsa sheet. PVA or wood glue is certainly not a suitable adhesive for sticking this down, and I used Evostik impact adhesive, applied fairly sparingly.

Re Alex Jackson couplings: As I have said elsewhere, I simply cannot get on with these, and have devised my own hook and bar coupling bent up from wire (the 'Burford' coupling), and posted a data sheet elsewhere on this site a a couple of weeks ago.

P.S. Scaleforum is well worth the trip. It is the same distance for me to drive, but definitely not to be missed.

craig_whilding
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby craig_whilding » Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:16 am

You can fit functional chairs to ply and rivet Martin, its been done on Slattocks in the last couple of weeks though it does need accurate positioning of rivets in the first place to avoid grinding and then a bit of work carving out the back of the chair. I've used pins instead of rivets to get something with a smaller head under the rail and then didn't need to modify the functional chairs. I'm surprised that in the time P4 has been around no one has replaced the standard rivets with 'P4' ones that aren't so large! The older Exactoscale system was good in replacing the rivets with jig fitted sets of accurate brass baseplates which fitted properly in place and had normal chairs placed to the sides of them.

Plastic sleepered Exactoscale track is stable though obviously I haven't had over 10 years of testing on it yet! I wouldn't make their points with all plastic sleepering though and put some copper clad sleepers in place across the crossing area to keep the check rails and crossing in correct alignment. I found the rails tended to caterpillar along in the chairs with expansion otherwise.

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Mark Tatlow
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby Mark Tatlow » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:02 pm

Martin

Definitely don't use copydex to affix ballast. Once it is dry, it strings if it gets snagged or pulled - this means huge swathes of it come up unintentionally when you drill holes for fence posts, point rodding or whatever.

As Craig, I used P4 Track Co's chairs as a cosmetic chairs on ply & rivet track. I did not trust myself to get the track absolutely right first time, so stayed with the tried and tested soldered approach to allow tinker time. My positioning of the rivets was not always perfect, so on occasions I did have to file out the back of the chair a bit with a rat tail file or grind the rivet down a tad. Nothing insurmountable though (and you will find the same wiht the MJT chairs) and the plastic chairs are a little more delicate I think than the cast white metal ones.

I did find that on a couple of occasions, I had affixed the inner portion of the chair such that it sat a bit high and fouled the flange a tad. A sharp knife run at the top of the rail web soon sorted that.
Mark Tatlow

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Mark Tatlow
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby Mark Tatlow » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:19 pm

Phil,

Moving to the stock points you raised, two "must have" jigs to assist you are:

- the axle alignment jig from Brassmasters http://www.brassmasters.co.uk/axle_gauges.htm. It allows you to get parallel axles on 4 (or with care 6 wheeled) vehicles.

- buffer height gauge (line from the stores list - AJHG Height Gauge for AJ Couplings by Morgan Gilbert £5.50). This allows you to set the height of the chassis to a consistant and correct buffer height. This particular one also gives the datum for AJ couplings or Bill Bedford does one that does not (and has a hole to allow other couplings to be used).

If you go to the following thread viewtopic.php?f=39&t=765, you will see (at my 3 and 12 March postings) both of these in use.

Your first post talked about etched kits and these may well have resolved both of the above points if they are well designed; these jigs are more of relevence to conversions of Parksides or Slaters (etc) or scratchbuilds.
Mark Tatlow

martin goodall
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby martin goodall » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:23 pm

Mark Tatlow wrote:
I did find that on a couple of occasions, I had affixed the inner portion of the chair such that it sat a bit high and fouled the flange a tad. A sharp knife run at the top of the rail web soon sorted that.


As everyone is aware by now, I use EM-profile wheels set to P4 back-to-back, which in theory should make it more likely that wheel flanges would hit the chairs. So I checked by fixing some cosmetic chairs to a length of test track. There was no problem; the EM flanges showed no signs of touching the chairs.

The reason for my mentioning this is that I was slightly surprised that Mark had encountered a problem with P4 flanges touching the chairs. Admittedly we are talking about diffeent chairs - mine are the old MJT castings, whereas Mark is using modern plastic chairs, but I am still puzzled. However, as Mark has explained, the problem is soon solved by slight trimming of the tops of the chairs. Nevertheless, based on my initial experiments, I am not expecting this problem to arise when I add MJT chairs to the layout, even when running EM-profile wheels over them.

I am re-assured, both by Mark and by Craig, that when I run out of MJT cast chairs (I have just about enough for the layout in hand), I can use plastic chairs for the same purpose, subject to any necessary grinding of mis-placed rivets [something I had already anticipated, even when using the MJT chairs] and/or a bit of carving of the insides of the chairs.

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JackBlack
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby JackBlack » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:28 pm

martin goodall wrote:I don't believe that moulded plastic chairs intended for functional use can be adapted for use as cosmetic chairs to fit round brass rivets, but would be interested to hear other views on this.


They can, but you have to grind the bit of rivet that sticks out on either side of the track, using a dremel grinding disc or similar, and then you cut the cosmetic chairs in half and glue them each side of the rivet. And yes I know how that sounds, I gave up halfway through on the first attempt at the trackwork for Lampeter. It laborious, noisy, and I kept cutting into the sleepers with the dremel. However I believe the whole of Green Street was done this way - before my time thank god!

martin goodall wrote:If/when building another layout, I might be tempted to use functional plastic chairs (probably C&L for preference), but glued to ply sleepers and timbers rather than to plastic sleepers. This is primarily due to doubts over the dimensional stability of track using all-plastic components if butanone is used as the solvent. I understand (not having tried it myself) that using ply sleepers and timbering with plastic chairs overcomes this problem..


This is what I've adopted for Lampeter trackwork attempt two, and I'm really happy with the results. It's very pleasant work, no soldering and no grinding rivets. I've been using Exactoscale chairs, but I don't think it really makes a differerence, I just think they're crisper mouldings. The only tricky part is check rail chairs as the gap is too wide. The chairs need to be cut and used stock rail/check rail every other. Having said all that, I'm also slightly concerned as to how stable this system is, binding the plastic to the ply with butanone, but the bit I've done is still fine after 6 months.

Thanks, Nick

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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby martin goodall » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:41 pm

craig_whilding wrote:
grovenor-2685 wrote:Sleepers - are you sure you need 9ft and not 8ft 6?


This is an extract of a note I contributed to S4 News some time ago:

The following notes refer to practice on the GWR in the inter-war period, but I would be surprised if the practices of the other main line companies varied very greatly from the details quoted below.

Rails and sleepers were expected to be used twice, first when new on a main line, then later as second-hand material for a branch line or siding. The decision whether to use new or second-hand rails and sleepers depended on the nature and density of the traffic and, in particular, the loco-axle loadings permitted on the line. Lines intermediate between main and branch might justify the use of new sleepers with second-hand rail.

New rail would be expected to last in main line use for at least 12 years on the most heavily trafficked lines. On less heavily used lines a further six or seven years' use might be achieved, but a total main line life of 20 years was exceptional. The rails and sleepers would then be lifted and would be assessed for further use. The best would be ear-marked for running line use on a branch line and the more worn rails and sleepers would be used for sidings. It is unlikely that these materials would be assessed as scrap at this stage.

Re-used rails and sleepers on a branch line would be expected to have a further life of 15 to 20 years, but the ultimate life of the track was determined by the life of the sleepers. They would not last more than 30 years at the outside. There would be no purpose in relaying the track with the existing rails at this stage, as the replacement of the rails a few years later would be wasteful of labour. So, when the sleepers were life-expired, both rails and sleepers would be replaced together, using fresh second-hand materials. Again, the lifted rails would be assessed for re-use elsewhere but in this case were more likely to go for scrap or at best for relaying in the most lightly used type of siding. When finally discarded, the 10-inch by 5-inch sleepers were cut in two length-wise to provide 5-inch square posts for the standard GWR post and wire lineside fencing.

Thus it will be seen that 8’6” sleepers would not have found their way onto branch lines until 1930 at the earliest, and that 9’0" sleepers could have survived in use on the running lines on branches until as late as 1948. For this reason all the track on my model of Burford (GWR) has been laid with 9'0" sleepers, and point and crossing timbers were cut to equivalent length.

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jim s-w
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby jim s-w » Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:46 pm

martin goodall wrote:
Thus it will be seen that 8’6” sleepers would not have found their way onto branch lines until 1930 at the earliest, and that 9’0" sleepers could have survived in use on the running lines on branches until as late as 1948. For this reason all the track on my model of Burford (GWR) has been laid with 9'0" sleepers, and point and crossing timbers were cut to equivalent length.


Always model what you actually see and not what you think you know. The world is littered with 'practices' that while fine on paper were different in the real world. Its great to know the theory of something but theory alone is never enough.

Cheers

Jim

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Tim V
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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby Tim V » Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:32 pm

Martin has a point, I blithely went ahead with 60' rails, then noticed 44' rails on the platform road at Bicester (within the last 10 years), then noticed 32' rails on the main line at Tytherington Quarry :!: The sleepers were too overgrown to tell how long they were.

Since then I've looked very carefully at pictures to see how common 44' rails were.

I have laid all sidings on my model on 9' sleepers, because that was what I noticed while looking around yards. As for the inside keyed track on 9' sleepers - well I've laid some, but no one has noticed it yet.
Tim V

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Re: Advice please....new member

Postby martin goodall » Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:13 pm

My information was based on an extended conversation I had with an ex-GW PW engineer in 1979 (spread over a period of five or six days). His career had begun in the Civil Engineer's office at Paddington in the 1930s. I jotted down notes of our conversation(s) within a few hours after each of our sessions to make sure I didn't forget what I had been told.

He told me about Great Western PW practice 'as it was' - not according to the 'book'. So this is the practice, rather than the theory, and I am reasonably confident that what I wrote down was a fair summary of what actually happened. It is worth remembering that the published date for something happening was usually the date when the change began, and it often took a good few years to work its way through. This applied to livery changes as much as it did to changes in PW practice and other technical innovations. I am very confident that the change from 9'0" to 8'6" sleepers on GWR branch lines (as distinct from main lines) was spread over a period from about 1930 to 1948, even though the quoted date for the start of the changeover (on main lines) was 1918.

The date for the changeover from 44' 6" to 60' 0" rails can be similarly dated by reference to the notes I reproduced regarding the re-use of rails.

My friend was amused by my interest in Great Western PW practices, which he regarded as 'old hat', having been very early in his career. He had become much involved later in his career in the introduction of concrete sleepers and, having transferred from the Western Region to the LM region, he was involved at a senior level in the West Coast Main Line 25KV electrification.


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