Trackwork Fault Finding Checklist

Discuss the prototype and how to model it.
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Mark Tatlow
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Trackwork Fault Finding Checklist

Postby Mark Tatlow » Fri Jan 08, 2016 10:50 pm

In this month's Scalefour News (issue 195), there is a fault finding checklist for trackwork.

If you have some problematic trackwork, be this plain track or a turnout, this is intended to be a guide as to how you can go about identifying and eliminating these problems.

At the end of the article, I comment that I am not considering that the checklist should be seen as being complete and final - so if there are additional comments, techniques or revisions that you think should be in it, this is the thread to discuss them.

In the meantime, I attach the checklists as a word document to enable you to download it and use it as you wish. I will also occasionally update this and repost it here, so that this first post remains the "current" version of the checklist.

So comment away..................

Problem Finding Checklist - table only.doc
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Mark Tatlow

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Re: Trackwork Fault Finding Checklist

Postby DavidM » Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:06 am

A great article, Mark - and much needed. It nicely complements Howard Bolton's recent articles.
As usual, the Snooze is well worth the wait...

David Murrell

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Trackwork Fault Finding Checklist

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Fri Jan 15, 2016 8:32 pm

Hi Mark,

a very good article and I would suggest much needed. I have started a new group up in Scotland for those who want to start a new layout at home and have not built a Scalefour layout for themselves before. We will be using your article I can assure you. I was going to have to do something similar for the group so it has saved me a fair bit of work. Thank you very much.

Incidentaly, I have been running a course for the West Scotland 4mm Group on building track. Quite a number have not made track before and it has given them a chance to do some under some gentle guidance. I am very pleased with the results so far. There is a basic lack of certain equipment at the moment - punch tools in particular. There are a number of members in the Starters Group as well as several members of the West Group that could be doing with such a piece of equipment.

Some time ago old friend Chris Pendlenton gave a very good talk on finding faults including track faults. He made a very good observation that when things go wrong, a major fault would show with every item of stock running through and coming off, but the more common "occasional problem" tends to happen when two faults come together - one track, one vehicle. :cry:

Chris's talk would complement yours very well indeed. :D

Julian Roberts
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Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2010 11:33 pm

Re: Trackwork Fault Finding Checklist

Postby Julian Roberts » Thu Feb 18, 2016 8:44 am

I am not quite sure whether to reopen this topic as Mark's invaluable check list is standing almost without any response, like a shining snow covered peak, showing us the route to attain perfection.

But Mark invites comments, so at the risk of besmirching this almost purely virgin snow, can I ask about gauge widening through points. This is because I am making my first ones, in the traditional manner of soldering onto rivets in ply sleepers. I have made two B8's that run successfully so far - as far I can tell from testing with short lengths of rail at each end, as the layout that they are for is not yet constructed. I used a triangular gauge to give gauge widening through the diverging road, setting the check rail with a check gauge,as per and making the whole switch area a tad overgauge on both roads as per

However, I wonder whether there is a kind of collective funny-bone here as I was recently given advice that any gauge widening through points can lead to all sorts of problems, and its use should be avoided.

This prompted me to do a search here for "Gauge Widening through the Crossing" which yielded the frequently very interesting thread


One of the posts prompted a look at the Scalefour Digest 1.2 P4 Track and Wheel Standards which says

"Gauge widening should not be applied to any sections
of pointwork where CG, CF or BC dimensions are
Where applied to non-pointwork curves, prototype
gauge widening at 10 chains radius is 0.25in, at 7
chains radius is 0.5in, and at 5½ chains radius is
0.75in maximum. (In 4mm scale, 1 chain is equal to
264mm, or approximately 10½in.) In P4, where BBmax is less than the 4mm scale equivalent, and
where adequate sideplay can usually be given to
inner axles, gauge widening should not be necessary
unless using long-wheelbase stock around sharp

"Sharp" is not defined here - is it anything less than a scale 10 chains, or less than 5 and a half chains?

I had understood, though I am not quite sure where from, that the triangular gauge should be used for curving track, as used the correct way round appropriate gauge widening would be built into any curve.

The thread contains the interesting statement from Russ Elliott

Our triangular gauges provide only half the amount of gauge widening the prototype might use for a particular radius,

So there seem to be conflicts going on here! On the one hand, Gauge widening seems to be implied from some perspectives to be a somewhat shady practice to be indulged in by mad bad and dangerous to know characters, yet on the other the tool itself gives only half as much widening as it should or could.

I am of the opinion that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory. I wonder whether I am misunderstanding anything here, if so it would not be the first time. But if there is a conflict between Mark's advice based on experience, confirmed in my own very limited practice so far, and the actual published standards, then there is difficulty for people wondering which advice to follow.

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