On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

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Nestor

On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Nestor » Tue Jan 13, 2015 5:40 pm

Just a quick question.
I wanted to get an idea of what people may recommend when building track. The choice seems to be a) build straight onto the baseboard (using underlay of course) or b) building up trackwork separate from the baseboard and laying it when complete as one would do with ready to plant track, essentially making one's own ready to plant track.
Does this make sense and what do people think is a better idea?

If you hadn't already guessed, I'm terribly new to all this...

Nestor

John Fitton

Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby John Fitton » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:00 pm

This is a good question and has been discussed before, and you will probably receive quite a few replies. I have made quite a lot of track and turnouts using the brook-smith method and copper clad method, and I generally make turnouts separately on a work bench and then place when complete. plain track I prefer to create in place.

John Fitton.

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jim s-w
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby jim s-w » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:11 pm

I don't think there is one right answer. I always build directly onto the board (no underlay) as I find it easier and I think it gives a better flow. Plus if the track is complex then it just seems less faff.

It will also depend on size of the boards and easily you can access them.

Not much help I know

Jim

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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:13 pm

Much like John, see http://www.norgrove.me.uk/shed-relay.html and http://www.norgrove.me.uk/points.html
I would stick to the same general concept if using the functional chairs now favoured.
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Keith
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Keith
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Nestor

Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Nestor » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:16 pm

Quite the opposite Jim, any responses are very helpful. Being new to the world P4 I'm intrigued by people's different methods.
One question though, why do you not use underlay? From what I've read this seems relatively vital?

Considering that what I'm looking at building at the moment I'll probably end up building straight onto the baseboard as it's terribly simple.

Cheers
Nestor

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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:24 pm

One question though, why do you not use underlay? From what I've read this seems relatively vital?

My take on this would be that Jim is buuilding a station/urban area where the ballast shoulders and formation are pretty much hidden. If you are out on the open line you need to build up the ballast to give proper shoulders for which underlay is pretty much essential.
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Keith
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jim s-w
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby jim s-w » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:18 pm

Not really Keith

If you laser cut the boards it's dead easy to use different thickness materials for the track bed. Plus you can cut the plan and sleeper markings straight onto the surface. That was what we did for Brettell road. On Calcutta sidings we just used 2mm ply for the tracked on top of the 9mm stuff. I just like the track bed to be solid.

Cheers

Jim

Terry Bendall
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Terry Bendall » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:51 am

As JIm has said, there is not really one right answer to this. My preference has always been to build turnouts on the bench on a piece of board because it is easier to get at and more importantly you can pick up the board and view things from all angles. The Mk1 eyeball is a very good checking device. :) Even with a fairly small baseboard this is likely to be more difficult. It is probably easier to set up a turnout building board on a work surface than try to find space for a baseboard. That said, Jim and no doubt others have build track very successfully on the baseboard itself. As with many other things it is up to the user to decide which works best for him/her.

Terry Bendall

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David B
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby David B » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:07 am

I have seen people making track at Missenden, from a single turnout to more complex formations, very successfully on a work board because it is more convenient.

I am coming nearer to making track for the first time and have it in mind to make my first pieces on a separate board. I would not be inclined to go to the baseboard for turnout construction until I had a better idea of what I am doing.

Joining up turnouts with plain track I imagine would be easier done directly on the baseboard. I know of one instance where a lovely long curve of plain track, complete with check rail, was made off the baseboard but had to be adjusted to line up better with a turnout already laid.

Norman Solomon uses a hand mirror to check alignment of both turnouts and plain track. This saves one getting a crick in the neck!

Nestor

Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Nestor » Wed Jan 14, 2015 11:17 am

Some interesting points there.
The reason I was asking about the underlay was because I was under the impression that it helped with suspension?

I think with how simple what I'm building will be, straight onto the baseboard will be most appropriate. If underlay is not essential then that will be most helpful scenically.

Cheers guys

Nestor

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Will L
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Will L » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:33 pm

Nestor wrote:The reason I was asking about the underlay was because I was under the impression that it helped with suspension?


The most common underlay, cork sheet, will not compress significantly under the weight of a 4mm scale train and is used both for cosmetic reasons as explained above and to try and cut down on noise transmission (Model trains can rumble). Beyond providing a flat surface on which to attach track so it too stays flat, it has no direct suspension role.

There are those who like using a soft, typically foam underlay this would compress under a 4mm loco's weight but for most practical purposes our rails are rigid over a short distance, so having it on a softer underlay has, IMHO, little direct impact on suspension issues. Some do not accept this point of view, and have "floating" track resting on foam underlay but not connected to it. There are claimed to be layouts successfully running well like this. I've never knowingly seen one but then there are lost of thing I haven't seen. My experience is that track does not always want to lay as flat is I would like without being firmly attached to something so I do wonder how those who espouse this system get the track to stay flat enough not to create problems, particularly over time.

There are also those who use a soft foam underlay and glue the track to that. Again I would argue that the track it self is too rigid to allow the softness of the underlay to significantly affect the level of the rail head and hence the vehicle suspension. Again the major reason for doing this would seem to be to cut down on rumble, but I gather that some of these still manage to rumble anyway.

JFS
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby JFS » Wed Jan 14, 2015 5:08 pm

I agree with much of what Will says - I went the route of building the track directly onto the baseboard because on my last layout I had issues of the track tending to lift upwards at the baseboard joints. The underlay in that case was 3mm foam plastic as then sold by Exactoscale.

I have not found noise to be a big issue - even though my baseboards are only 6mm thick.

Does it work? Well here is a clip of some high speed shunting - only one of the wagons in this little rake is compensated (can you see which one?)

http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link ... load_owner

Sorry that youtube makes videos so jerky - might try a higher res version to see if that helps. Sorry also for the fluff at 0:40 where the dope pulling the levers pulled the wrong one then could not fathom why the loco was stopped...

I can claim no credit for the wagons which were built by Colin Parks and an excellent job they are.

So is it perfect? Well, not really. Despite every effort, my track is far from completely flat and there are quite a few places where it is clear that the wheel and rails want to part company, though rarely to the extent of derailing. In fact, in all the time these wagons have been with me, only two of them have NEVER derailed: one is the compensated one, and the other has a TINY bit of slop in the pinpoints. (the others having none whatsoever) Has got to be a message in their somewhere!

So I would say that there are no insurmountable barriers to building track directly onto the baseboard BUT be really careful with your levels and when you stick your sleepers down make sure they really go flat. I know that Jim S-W, who has already commented, uses superglue for this purpose to makes sure that they well and truly stay put.

Hope that helps,

'

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Colin Parks
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:01 am

Mmm.
Those troublesome trucks of mine certainly have been whizzing up and down Howard's Minories layout at a speed which tested their track holding to the limit!
I have no experience of P4 track laying yet, but laying the sleepers directly onto a rigid surface must be best, given all the variables inherent in the construction of the track itself, adding soft underlay into the equation seems like asking for trouble. When I do finally get around to making and laying track, it will be done as Howard does,with the sleepers laid in situ first and the rail sub-assemblies then added. To get some definition on the track bed, laying the track on 2mm ply fixed onto the baseboard would seem to make sense.
I have been interested in the results of Howard's experiments on the road holding capabilities of those wagons. I only hope my track will be good enough to achieve good running.

Colin

(An uncompensated 4SUB to follow soon Howard!)

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Flymo748
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Flymo748 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:24 am

David B wrote:I have seen people making track at Missenden, from a single turnout to more complex formations, very successfully on a work board because it is more convenient.

I am coming nearer to making track for the first time and have it in mind to make my first pieces on a separate board. I would not be inclined to go to the baseboard for turnout construction until I had a better idea of what I am doing.


David is being unduly modest! If you've seen the articles that he has written in the latest Scalefour News, you will realise what a superb modeller he is, so I'm sure that his trackbuilding will be equally good.

The suggestion that he makes of building turnouts off the board is a very sensible one for one major reason. If you build the turnout directly on the baseboard, or you fasten it down without one, fitting the tie-bar to operate the blades is an absolute swine of a task. It involves much packing with little bits of wood, waving soldering irons, and creating burn marks in underlay, sleepers and fingers.

Just don't ask me how I know all this...

Cheers
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:01 am

I have no experience of P4 track laying yet, but laying the sleepers directly onto a rigid surface must be best, given all the variables inherent in the construction of the track itself, adding soft underlay into the equation seems like asking for trouble.
For this purpose the usual cork underlay is rigid enough without being hard. A very great deal of track has been laid on cork underlay, in my case for 50 years now, successfully enough that I would not change. A 2mm ply underlay no doubt will work but its not very good scenically, especially with thin sleepers as the height of the ballast above the cess will not be enough. Ply is also harder to work with than cork unless you have access to the magic laser cutter Jim suggests.
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Colin Parks
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Jan 15, 2015 8:31 am

Hi Keith,

Re. 'Magic laser cutters' , I don't have one, but ply can easily be cut with a band saw and I do have one of those!

Colin

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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:22 am

Cork is just cut with a simple craft knife!
And if you buy the ready cut strips only S&C areas need cutting.
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Keith
PS. I know you can cut 2mm ply with a craft knife as well, but its hard on the wrists :)
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David Thorpe
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby David Thorpe » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:31 am

I agree with Keith. Cork has been tried and tested on thousands of layouts over the years and it works. It's easy to cut and work but forms a rigid and durable track base, it takes glues quite happily, and it has some, albeit not great, sound deadening qualities. It's also readily available and isn't over expensive. Someone I know did use foam underlay for part of his layout but now regrets it as it has started to disintegrate with the passage of time.

I've built some points off the board and others, primarily those with interlaced sleepers, directly onto it (or onto the cork, to be more accurate). The latter course of action is not good for one's back, but I think it gave a better result as I was able to ensure that the point fitted in perfectly with the track leading up to it (and out of it), and my limited experience suggests that the lead up to a point is almost as important in ensuring good running as is the point itself.

DT

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Colin Parks
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:06 am

Oh dear! I can't seem to say anything without being controversial.
I have always use cork underlay in the past and there was never a problem with the material. This time,with P4 track, I shall use ply. I don't remember saying it was easy to cut its a knife.

Colin

JFS
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby JFS » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:43 am

Flymo748 wrote:
The suggestion that he makes of building turnouts off the board is a very sensible one for one major reason. If you build the turnout directly on the baseboard, or you fasten it down without one, fitting the tie-bar to operate the blades is an absolute swine of a task. It involves much packing with little bits of wood, waving soldering irons, and creating burn marks in underlay, sleepers and fingers.

Flymo


Hi Paul,

You are right of course, but of itself, I would not see this as an insurmountable problem. For me. the solution was to plan ahead - not leave such things until "last job" stage.

I fix the brackets for mine long before the rails go down:-

Fig 5.jpg
Fig 5.jpg (115.34 KiB) Viewed 7848 times


In the case of double slips, I would do this even if I were building on a "jig" - too bloomin' fiddly else as Colin can testify!

Here is the above when the job was finished (well, third rail to do... still...):-

DS SB Gen.jpg


This pic also illustrates another issue with building track on jigs - if you look at the branch road off the double slip, you will see that the joint between the stock rail of the slip and the splice rail of the adjacent tandem comes in the middle of the check rail - as does its partner on the opposite side, and these of course are insulated joints- again, only soluble by planning ahead. I hope it also shows that a neater job of ballasting is possible when tacked before laying the rails - at least, I find it a struggle otherwise.

But as I say, my approach worked for me, in my circumstances - but if I were building Retford (which I am not!) I would go a different route. But I don't quite know what it would be yet!

Best wishes,

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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Noel » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:08 pm

JFS wrote:In fact, in all the time these wagons have been with me, only two of them have NEVER derailed: one is the compensated one, and the other has a TINY bit of slop in the pinpoints. (the others having none whatsoever) Has got to be a message in their somewhere!'


A practical demonstration that there is more than a semantic difference between 'rigid' and 'uncompensated'. Without some means of stock adapting to minor irregularities track has to be virtually flawless, which is difficult, and then stay that way for the duration of the layout's existence, which is rather more difficult.

Noel
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Noel

JFS
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby JFS » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:28 pm

Noel wrote:
A practical demonstration that there is more than a semantic difference between 'rigid' and 'uncompensated'.


I agree - indeed, I need to stop saying (some of) my stock is "uncompensated" and rather say it is "compensated by the sloppy 'ole method". And by the way, in the case of Colin's wagon, we are talking tenths of thous of slop - but it seems to be enough!

All of which perhaps amplifies my original point that getting track perfectly flat and level is NOT easy, and keeping it that way is even harder. So any approach to building track needs to have that at the top of the agenda. In other words, the fewer interfaces twixt rail top and baseboard the better (all else being equal).

Tony Wilkin's article in a recent Snooze on his experience with Green Street is a case in point - and Tony can certainly build track!

Best wishes,

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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:04 pm

In other words, the fewer interfaces twixt rail top and baseboard the better (all else being equal).
And assuming, of course, that the baseboard is flat to start with.
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Keith
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Keith
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grovenor-2685
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:19 pm

Tony Wilkin's article in a recent Snooze on his experience with Green Street is a case in point - and Tony can certainly build track!

But do note that the problems Tony descibed came from ignoring conventional wisdom and going for an untried experiment, resulting in reversion to a cork underlay. :) I still have track in use laid in 1968 with a cork underlay on chipboard, mind you the chipboard sold then was much better than that generally available now!
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Keith
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Philip Hall
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Re: On building track - straight onto the baseboard?

Postby Philip Hall » Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:03 pm

I used cork underlay on my last layout, and the track was glued down with Copydex. In the time I had the layout I had no trouble. It would be interesting to learn how it has survived since, not least because I imagine the environment it has been kept in is quite different.

For my next project I am proposing to use a very solid baseboard (either chipboard or ply); weight is not a problem since this railway will not be going anywhere. I am also thinking of using a foam rubber underlay, such as C&L sell, with the track glued down with builder's PVA. Norman Solomon has given me some advice on this based on his experiences over the years, and this method does seem to provide a little vertical movement in the track to help with sound deadening, but still maintains the 'top'. Cork is the other possibility, having the advantage of being proven beyond question over the years.

It would be helpful if anyone out there has long term experience (I mean at least ten to fifteen years) of using a foam rubber underlay as I really don't want to have to contemplate a major rebuild as the layout gets older. Like its builder.

Philip


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