A Spot-on (ish) test track

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John McAleely
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A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:30 pm

CHEAG's Autumn workshops this season have focused on a theme - building test tracks. These have been inspired by Richard Dunning & Paul Willis (Flymo748 hereabouts) own examples, which we've all seen in use.

As you may have read in Scalefour News 180, we have recently been joined by several new members, and more are welcome. Building a test track isn't compulsory, but as I learned yesterday is well within reach of a day's work.

I started off with some enthusiasm, and some (but not all - or so I thought) of the ingredients to build my own track. I imagined I might get to the stage where I had a framework, and then faff for a while plotting a suitable curve on Templot, since I lacked copperclad sleepers (seemingly de rigueur on test tracks), woodworking tools, a way of plotting tracks and some track-building jigs (I have some en-route from the stores).

Here is the beauty of a group modelling session. Our host Martin Wilkinson made sure we were all encouraged to proceed, and he happily leant some of the tools I had forgotten. Others pitched in with items or a spare hand as needed, and there was no point when stopping was the only option.

The dawning realisation that the glue used to assemble the exactoscale sleepers & chairs I did have would adhere the sleepers to the plywood (doh!) was just what I needed to commit the curves I was copying from another track to mine. Stealing, sorry, re-using, the curve from an already built track (Thanks Keith!) meant I could be sure I was laying out the intended 3'6" reverse curve.

So by the end of the day I had laid out a curved test track, and we jury rigged power to it, and ran the chassis from a railcar of Roger's along the length. Success!

Retiring home, I spent an hour or so in the evening avoiding X-Factor, and laying a straight track, and produced:

IMG_4733.jpg
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You can see a close up of me trying out my Tornado chassis under finger power (looks like I need to fettle the suspension a bit to get it to follow the curve successfully):

IMG_4734.jpg
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Today I spent an hour soldering feeds across the rail joints, and then ran my now-trusty 03 on the track:

IMG_4736.jpg
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I was particularly pleased when I realised this is the first time I've achieved a moving loco on track I have built on P4. Very satisfying.

So I just need to tidy up the framing, and provide a more permanent means of supplying power than crocodile clips, and I will have completed my entry for our informal spot-on ish challenge in January. We have been informed that judging will be under strict conditions, and the winner will be awarded the mysterious CHEAG Spot-On-Ish Trophy.

Thank you Martin particularly for hosting and encouragement, and thank you to Alan, Keith and Robert for their company and encouragement too!

Anyone else care to post pics of their entries-in-progress? I think there are several...

Terry Bendall
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Terry Bendall » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:58 am

Sounds like great fun to me and lots of learning done. Perhaps the winner would like to bring their creation to Scaleforum for others to see?

Terry Bendall

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Tim V
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Tim V » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:56 pm

OK Terry, I know there were no small layouts at Scaleforum this year (shame), but this is a bit extreme for the future.....
Tim V

Terry Bendall
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Terry Bendall » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:33 am

Tim V wrote:OK Terry, I know there were no small layouts at Scaleforum this year (shame), but this is a bit extreme for the future.....


In the spirit of the season Tim, Ho, Ho, Ho. :D

Of course having a simple test track like these along as a demonstration could well be useful to others but then of course you knew that. :)

Terry Bendall

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:11 pm

A couple of hours while it was getting dark allowed me to finish off the framing:

IMG_4737.jpg
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In stealing Martin's design, I was surprised to learn that the side frames are structural - acting to take twist out of the plywood surface and its bracing. Hopefully I'll get a chance to add some paint before judging!

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:14 pm

For the curious, the framing arrangements underneath:

IMG_4738.jpg
IMG_4738.jpg (30.67 KiB) Viewed 6472 times

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Flymo748
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 7:37 pm

John McAleely wrote:A couple of hours while it was getting dark allowed me to finish off the framing:

Looking good John... That's the first of the current crop of test tracks that I've seen come to a finished state. And with rolling stock as well!

Cheers
Flymo
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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:20 pm

Thanks Paul. My design is entirely stolen from Martin, who had his in a very finished state the the last workshop. He did want to add some feet to it, and he was so busy hosting and helping, I'm not sure he got the time to do even that!

Are you planning to add 9.42mm to the collection of track guages in CHEAG? :-) Or does Phil already use it for his Narrow Guage models?

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Flymo748
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:04 pm

John McAleely wrote:Thanks Paul. My design is entirely stolen from Martin, who had his in a very finished state the the last workshop. He did want to add some feet to it, and he was so busy hosting and helping, I'm not sure he got the time to do even that!

Are you planning to add 9.42mm to the collection of track guages in CHEAG? :-) Or does Phil already use it for his Narrow Guage models?

Well, I'll be using 9.42mm for the narrow gauge section of the Ulpha Light when it gets restored...

If I remember correctly, Phil is going Irish narrow gauge on 3'0" track, so that will be 12mm. Isn't there a 3mm Society kicking around somewhere???

Flymo
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Carlos
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Carlos » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:45 pm

John McAleely wrote:For the curious, the framing arrangements underneath:

IMG_4738.jpg


Good work, John.

I am trying to start building my own test track to iberian gauge (22 mm) next year, and Paul kindly provided me with a Templot layout, and I am very curious in the different ways of making the baseboard. Could you explain a bit how you did it and timbering sizes?

What other systems are people in the group using? I think I remember Paul's one with wide sides of thin laminate...

Any idea were to buy cut wood around Cambridge?

With best wishes,
Carlos

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Tue Dec 11, 2012 8:48 pm

Well, first off, I have to note the design was entirely Martin's. I did decide on the timber sizes in advance, and when I saw Martin's simple solution, I abandoned more complex ideas of my own.

So, the surface is 4mm Birch Ply. The battens which you can see making up the inner rectangle are 15mm x 20mm softwood. I bought both from Ridgeons (slightly intimidating as a retail experience, but I've been more pleased with timber I buy from specialists than the high street DIY stores). Martin encouraged me to cut the ply with a craft knife, which worked well!

The framing around the edge is 9mm x 44 mm, and was selected from the range of stripwood shapes available in Homebase (it was open, and around the corner...). I don't think the dimensions are critical - Martin had something I recall being a bit smaller.

All I wanted was something deep enough to hide the battens, and act as a stop for trains on the track (so 20 mm (battens) + 4 mm (ply) + 5 mm (track height) + some extra... = 44 mm)

The whole is assembled with PVA and nails.

Given the sizes, the frame was twisty until I had all the framing in place, so I wouldn't want to go much smaller on the timber dimensions, or much larger on the overall size. If I did, I'd change to a design with diagonals and triangles involved, more like Paul's.

The overall size is 1200mm x 300 mm (+the strip around the edge).

In the group we seemed to have split 50/50 between designs like this one, and ones more like Paul's. Those ones had a larger surface area, so you could add more stuff.

Carlos
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Carlos » Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:22 am

Thanks John,

The size I am planning is about 1200x450 (maybe I will be able to compress it to 1200x400 or less), so it is similar to yours. I found a Ridgeons not far from home so I will follow that route. Do you know if they cut the plywood or you have to buy a big panel (2400x1200)?

Will you add any point to your test track?

I hope to be able to meet the group during next year.

Regards,
carlos

Phil
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Phil » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:19 am

Flymo748 wrote:If I remember correctly, Phil is going Irish narrow gauge on 3'0" track, so that will be 12mm.


I am indeed but unfortunately I am having to abandon my aspiration to model it using P4 standards due to the lack of suitable wheels. Currently, therefore, my test track has reverted to a length of Peco H0m track nailed to a piece of ply. The gauge is, of course, spot on!!

See you all tonight,

Phil

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:30 pm

carlos wrote:The size I am planning is about 1200x450 (maybe I will be able to compress it to 1200x400 or less), so it is similar to yours. I found a Ridgeons not far from home so I will follow that route. Do you know if they cut the plywood or you have to buy a big panel (2400x1200)?


I bought a large panel 8' x 4' and they happily trimmed it into quarters. Whether they would cut it further I don't know.


Will you add any point to your test track?



I won't - I want to keep things simple on this track. I think the curves are as challenging as any point work, and my planned layout will not end up much bigger anyway. As a group we seemed to divide about 50/50 on that, and I did start thinking one would be useful (Thanks for the templot for that Paul!).


I hope to be able to meet the group during next year.



That would be great!

Terry Bendall
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:20 am

Phil wrote:I am indeed but unfortunately I am having to abandon my aspiration to model it using P4 standards due to the lack of suitable wheels.


At the AGM this year member John Crompton was showing how he models the Irish scene with mixed gauge 5 foot 3 ins and 3 foot gauge. If you contacted John he may be able to advise on wheels.

Terry Bendall

Chris Mitton
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Chris Mitton » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:18 pm

John McAleely wrote: I think the curves are as challenging as any point work,


Not sure I agree John - while your curve looks pretty challenging it is at least laid to reasonable standards and so continuous, whereas any turnout involves an abrupt change of direction at the switch blades when taking the turnout road. That's why my own test plank, although it looks like a simple reverse curve, is in fact built on the Templot of a B6 turnout, complete with the 1:32 set at the switch points - which I understand is what Network Rail require anything to be capable of negotiating.

Regards
Chris

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Tim V
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Tim V » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:55 pm

Phil wrote:
Flymo748 wrote:If I remember correctly, Phil is going Irish narrow gauge on 3'0" track, so that will be 12mm.


I am indeed but unfortunately I am having to abandon my aspiration to model it using P4 standards due to the lack of suitable wheels. Currently, therefore, my test track has reverted to a length of Peco H0m track nailed to a piece of ply. The gauge is, of course, spot on!!

See you all tonight,

Phil


Try Finney & Smith - 3mm suppliers, or the 2mm society do smaller wheels.
Tim V

Phil
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Phil » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:45 pm

Tim V wrote:Try Finney & Smith - 3mm suppliers, or the 2mm society do smaller wheels.


Finney & Smith is the current plan!!

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:06 pm

Chris Mitton wrote:
John McAleely wrote: I think the curves are as challenging as any point work,


Not sure I agree John - while your curve looks pretty challenging it is at least laid to reasonable standards and so continuous, whereas any turnout involves an abrupt change of direction at the switch blades when taking the turnout road.


This is what I like about this forum - confident sounding, but perhaps inaccurate, statements rapidly gather comment.

I didn't want the complexity of the pointwork (I want something simple and bulletproof), but the idea of capturing the exact rail layout of a curved road sounds interesting. Would the abrupt change occur on a curved point, or only if I lay it out so that it diverges from a straight line?

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Martin Wynne
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Martin Wynne » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:56 pm

John McAleely wrote:Would the abrupt change occur on a curved turnout, or only if I lay it out so that it diverges from a straight line?


Hi John,

All switches involve an abrupt change of direction, at the switch deflection angle, when entering the diverging route -- whether the switch is laid in straight track or curved. Here is a marked-up pic showing that abrupt change, or "set" on a common REA semi-curved switch:

Image
Thanks to Rod Cameron for the original pic.

Martin.
39 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:44 pm

That's very clear Martin - thank you. I'm going to stick with my plan as-is for the CHEAG Spot-On Ish competition (there's not time to change), and then re-jig the track after I've used it for a bit. I think my goal would be to add 'just enough' of the point to allow the test vehicle to always take a permanently selected curved road.

In preparation for the competition this week, I've finalised the test track for now, by adding some power feeds, and a teeny bit of 00 track:

TT3.jpg
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TT2.jpg
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The 00 track is there to make my Kadee coupling jig easy to use. You can see it in place (it's not a permanent fixture) in the picture.

The judging scheme was revealed at our last meeting, and I see there are points to win for multiple wiring arangements. So in a shameless attempt to win points (and what do points mean?), here is the board running in DCC mode:

TT1.jpg
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It's already been seen running with DC power earlier in the thread.

I am retaining one secret extra feature, to be revealed on the night...

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Flymo748
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby Flymo748 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:36 pm

John McAleely wrote:The judging scheme was revealed at our last meeting, and I see there are points to win for multiple wiring arangements. So in a shameless attempt to win points (and what do points mean?), here is the board running in DCC mode:

It's already been seen running with DC power earlier in the thread.

I am retaining one secret extra feature, to be revealed on the night...


Looking at it with those edges, it's clearly the ability to carry an entire round of Wherry for the enjoyment of CHEAG in one single trip ;-)

I hope that you've managed to gain a lift from one of the contingent to come from Audley End. I'll be coming up with Richard who has been passed fit for drivinbg again.

Cheers
Flymo
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John McAleely
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Re: A Spot-on (ish) test track

Postby John McAleely » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:04 pm

Flymo748 wrote:
John McAleely wrote:I am retaining one secret extra feature, to be revealed on the night...

Looking at it with those edges, it's clearly the ability to carry an entire round of Wherry for the enjoyment of CHEAG in one single trip ;-)


A close look at the results reveals that Flymo was not quite spot-on with this suggestion. The secret extra feature is seen in the photo of the result:

Image

Taken from the grand award night, you can clearly see the carrying handle I added after the pre-competition photography here was completed.

This would have nothing to do with me tidying up for the evening and discovering the handle afresh on my workbench!


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