Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Tell us about your layout, where you put it, how you built it, how you operate it.
Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:34 pm

I suppose I had better explain my track laying regime.
There are at least two basic approaches these day.
With functional chairs it is common to stick the templates down where the trackwork is wanted and build in situ.
With Ply and Rivet construction it is customary to construct trackwork off site and lay as a separate operation.
The latter method has always been my approach, but with variations.
Pre Templot, when either separate templates were cut and shut or templates drawn by hand, it was customary to draw lines on the baseboard for the track alignment. A technique I still use, primarily for straight track. It was also customary to temporarily solder spare lengths of rail across the top of multiple track formations to transfer them from the templates to their intended position.
Templot makes the going easy, at least as far as alignment goes. These days I use Templot printouts to accurately construct my curved track to the desired radius.
Earlier in this topic, I showed a picture with all the scenic boards covered with Templot plans. These are my master plans.
Each section of trackwork is fabricated on individual Templot printouts and here is where the fun begins.
The master plan for which ever baseboard is being attacked is carefully positioned before being held down by a combination of weights and map pins.
The track sections to be dealt with are then removed from their MDF back boards. The two Templot plans are then aligned one over the other. Theoretically there should not be any differences. If there are then the cause needs to be investigated. One minor variation I was expecting having modified the Templot design after building that section of track, but there was another that I could not fully account for.
If the alignment is OK then I push Dressmaking pins through the Templot plans in strategic corners between the outside of the rail and the sleepers or timbers. The pins are not vertical but angled slightly away from both rail and timber. One or two can also be used to advantage along the length.
If butting up to a previous track panel, pay attention to the gaps between the rail ends. Because I allowed a few extra mm on the ends of some of the track sections when building, these needed to be trimmed back to a good fit. Gentle filing is often required as an expansion gap is required especially if laying in cooler weather. The insulation gaps around any crossings also need to be considered if not already done so. It may be necessary to reposition the pins to achieve this. Once satisfied gently tap the pins in further with a small pin hammer.
A word here about the pins I use. I have a selection of steel dress making pins my Mother gave me plus others collected from new shirt packing. It was along time ago. These tend to be softer and bend easily. The others are diamond hard and cannot be bent or cut, as I discovered when I tried to use them to rivet locomotive valve gear together, but that is another story from another era.
The hard steel ones are much better for this job as they do not bend when being gently hammered into the baseboard bearing in mind mine are cork over Sundeala.
The next stage is to remove the track section with its backing plan by gently lifting the Templot plan and pulling the pin heads through the paper one by one. I usually hold the base of each pin with a pair of pliers whilst I do this to prevent it pulling free, not always successfully it has to be said.
Turn the track section over face down and gently remove the construction template by pulling a corner 180 degrees back on itself and and 45 degrees to the run of the track. This I find subjects the least stress to the track panels as the double sided tape parts company with the underside of the timbers. Any unsoldered joints will make their presence known.
The track section can now be replaced on the master plan accurately as the pins should realign things. What they won't do is correct any error introduced in the un-sticking process, but it will be possible to use the master plan to correct these.
Simply adjust any kinks or unwanted bends to align with the Templot plan once again.
So you then end up with a situation like this.
DSCF0747.jpg

There is a difference in the rail top height, but the weights should take care of that.
This is a view of the whole section to be tackled, one baseboard length. It will be done in two stages.
DSCF0748.jpg

And from the other end. The pins are very noticeable.
DSCF0749.jpg

Carefully remove the track sections making sure nothing moves out of alignment and place such that one knows where each part goes.
DSCF0751.jpg

Remove the plan leaving the pins in place.
DSCF0752.jpg

Replace the track
DSCF0753.jpg

and mark round the edges the extent of the ballast, for gluing, with a pencil or use a length of masking tape. (See Nottingham Area Group reports).
Remove track for hopefully the last time.
DSCF0754.jpg

This is the point of no return, although not totally irretrievable for reasons I shall explain later.
Apply glue to the bounded area.
DSCF0755.jpg

The next obvious question is what glue?
I used to use standard PVA wood glue, but now use a washable PVA version. Boyes again.
When new I use it as is, but if old may need a little watering down. It has a consistency similar to warm treacle.
A thin layer is all that is required and if not to be ballasted, as in the storage sidings, even thinner than shown.
A thin layer is applied with a paint brush usually 1", but I also have a cheap disposable brush as shown.
DSCF0761.jpg

Replace track checking rail end alignment as you go and add weights to gently press the track down into good contact with the cork.
DSCF0756.jpg

This is important as the next stage is adding the ballast and if there are gaps it can get under the sleepers with dire consequences.
Remove several weights and sprinkle a thin layer of ballast on the exposed track. (Woodland scenics N gauge).
DSCF0757.jpg

Replace weights and then remove the next few and repeat the process working along the track sections.
DSCF0759.jpg

DSCF0760.jpg

Wash out brushes.
Leave overnight to set fully, sometimes 24 hours needed if glue layer too thick and the weights do not help the air circulation to dry things out.
Remove weights and pins.
DSCF0762.jpg

Remove excess ballast by favoured method. I use a dustpan and soft brush, place surplus in jar for reuse.
Stand back and admire. Proceed to next section.
DSCF0763.jpg

Finally some pictures of the rest of the curve.
At this stage it was not glued down.
DSCF0741.jpg

It now looks like this.
DSCF0768.jpg

Facing the other way.
DSCF0750.jpg

The Check rail allowed me to experiment. Rather than the standard 2mm track rivets, I used some 2.5 mm headed ones I acquired from the EMGS.
These are wide enough to support both rails, but are not easy to reach from both sides with the soldering iron. The resulting track panels are totally inflexible. Which was a slight problem as I wished to alter one slightly.
Pushing a wagon through this track there is noticeable resistance to movement due to the check rail doing its job. I do remember flange squeal being a feature of the shunting here.

Wonders: have I made a rod for my own back?

Julian Roberts
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Julian Roberts » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:12 am

You're a true master Tony! Thank you for your answer.

Can I clarify - you make two Templot copies, one is the master and another, in small sections, on which you construct the track panels and pointwork?

It would cut out some stages to lay the track after its construction on the master template having glued the template to the cork. So the template is lost and becomes part of the trackbed. No more pins surely? (With attendant hazards as Martin described so abundantly!) But you must have reasons for not doing that. Maybe one would be the possible cockling of the paper - but if so what about printing the master plan on acetate? - maybe that would be too expensive?

Re the check rail - assuming you lay the curve with some sort of widening do you then use the check gauge to lay the checkrail? If it's binding the stock no one's going to know if you ease it a bit away from the adjacent rail! Or is it needed to keep stock on the track? - From my 2ft radius curve experiments I'd have thought while visually correct and prototypical it's not functionally essential? Except, I've just remembered, you're in S4 not P4 I think?

Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:46 pm

Julian Roberts wrote:You're a true master Tony! Thank you for your answer.

Hi Julian.
I don't know about that, but thanks anyway. My methods have just evolved over time and I devised the pin method to cope with Templot printouts although it appears I have reinvented the wheel, again.
Can I clarify - you make two Templot copies, one is the master and another, in small sections, on which you construct the track panels and pointwork?

Only for the scenic side of the layout. For the storage sidings only the construction prints are needed. Parallel lines being drawn on the cork for the rail positions.
It would cut out some stages to lay the track after its construction on the master template having glued the template to the cork. So the template is lost and becomes part of the trackbed. No more pins surely? (With attendant hazards as Martin described so abundantly!) But you must have reasons for not doing that. Maybe one would be the possible cockling of the paper - but if so what about printing the master plan on acetate? - maybe that would be too expensive?

I am not a great advocate of gluing the track plan to the trackbed, The fewer layers between the baseboard and track the better in my view and you have to be careful the paper does not stretch in the process.
The main reason for printing out and sticking together the Master plan is more to do with scenic aspects (primarily buildings) than track per say, although they did help determine the position of the track and trackbed for the cork. The straight storage yard boards are 1220 x 610 mm. The straight scenic boards are 1500 x 750 mm and the plans are wider than this, about 900 mm, being made of 12 of my large (300 x 840 mm) sheets of paper glued together in two groups of 6 each to cover half a baseboard. It can be difficult enough handling one printout sheet to build track on sometimes as when the track one is working on is more than about six inches away from you, parallax errors can creep in.
Once the cork is laid for the track bed areas, one no longer has a flat surface to glue the plan to anyway.
As for the pins, the only hazards I have found are with the sharp end and snagging my clothes on them, but I do like the positive location they provide when removing and replacing track sections.

Re the check rail - assuming you lay the curve with some sort of widening do you then use the check gauge to lay the checkrail? If it's binding the stock no one's going to know if you ease it a bit away from the adjacent rail! Or is it needed to keep stock on the track? - From my 2ft radius curve experiments I'd have thought while visually correct and prototypical it's not functionally essential? Except, I've just remembered, you're in S4 not P4 I think?

All my track is built with my original (Studiolith) triangular gauges. The checkrail being gauged with an S4 standards Check Gauge. Interestingly, as far as I can tell, the outer flange is in contact with the outer rail and the back of the inner flange in contact with the back of the checkrail, as per the prototype. I wouldn't call it binding, the wagon ran smoothly, just needing a bit more force to make it move. One of the reasons I wanted to model this was precisely because it DID have checkrailed curves.
In terms of absolute radius, this curve is actually larger than my main line, which should in fact curve gently in the opposite direction, as indeed it begins to do, before reversing direction. Another reasons for not attempting any super-elevation.
Regards
Tony.

Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:28 pm

I know some of you are curious about the lead weights and I have briefly explained a bit about them under the NAG area group section.
Many years ago. I used to cycle quite a lot. I noticed the balance weights from car wheels in the road occasionally and decided to stop and began collecting them. I amassed quite a few over the years and when a tyre shop opened across the main road from us, this provided a further source of supply. I had an Uncle in the building trade and he would often bring me old lead piping from replacement plumbing jobs, and so the collection grew. The original plan had been to use them for weighting models, especially locos. My Father came across an old ladle. Ideal for melting lead in. The question then was what to do with it. If the shape of the weights seems familiar, it could just be because I used a Humbrol paint tinlet as my pattern for casting in damp sand. Some experimentation was required to find the right level of moisture to hold the sand in place without causing spitting when pouring the lead into the mould. There was nothing sophisticated about it. I used ordinary sharp sand in a metal bowl, managing to cast about 5 or 6 at a time. This was not a job for the kitchen stove. The smell and fumes produced could be pretty foul at times, especially with the lead pipe from sink wastes. I well remember on one occasion my Mother coming down the garden to find out why smoke was pouring out of the open shed door. With the balance weights, the retaining clips would float to the top and could be fished out with pliers. The dross also needed to be skimmed of the top before pouring. These days car wheel balance weights are made of Zinc not lead and aren’t of much use.
This isn't a process I would recommend as there are potential dangers, obviously. All I can say is that I was very careful what I did and as far as I know, suffered no ill effects.
I now await the response from the health and safety brigade.
Regards
Tony.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Le Corbusier » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:09 pm

your description reminds me of watching this a few weeks ago Tony

Tim Lee

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby grovenor-2685 » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:48 pm

I dodged the melting and casting bit. After replacing lead water pipes I just cut them into lengths around 4 inches, bashed them flat with a hammer and have been using them for tracklaying ever since, As seen here.
Image
Regards

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Andrew Bluett-Duncan
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Andrew Bluett-Duncan » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:39 am

Andrew. My original comment wasn’t intended to be a serious remark. I would be much more concerned if I received no responses to this thread.
Regards
Tony.[/quote]

Hello Tony
Thanks for your reassurances and I’m very glad I didn’t take any liberties with the thread in your view; the problem with written word is the the inability to hear the tone of voice or see the twinkle in the eye!

Thank you for the detailed explanations of your track laying approach. It both very readable, clearly though out and educative. And I must say getting very exciting. I’ve been reading your story now for quite a while and I’ve been finding myself going back to see the progress often. To witness this sudden explosion of track laying progress in the last few days is really great to see and I imagine you must be really enjoying seeing the fruits of the last eight or nine years taking shape in front of your eyes?

One question that remains is that of turnout operation. You said on the previous page that you’d be using a different method between the front and rear of the layout, if I understood correctly? I’m interested in your thoughts on this and to ask you if you thought more about Howard’s suggestion of using Mike Norris’s method? I’ve made three so far for Yeovil and found them pretty easy to construct and I like the look of them, but maybe I’m too easily pleased?

Kind regards and well done on a very impressive layout and an even more impressive determination and vision.
Andrew

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Le Corbusier » Fri Dec 07, 2018 8:56 am

Andrew Bluett-Duncan wrote:....and well done on a very impressive layout and an even more impressive determination and vision.
Andrew

Absolutely :thumb
Tim Lee

Terry Bendall
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Terry Bendall » Fri Dec 07, 2018 12:32 pm

Tony Wilkins wrote:I now await the response from the health and safety brigade


Since you asked ... :)

I used to do a lot of casting when I worked in schools usually using aluminium allow with a melting point of around 650 degrees C - the exact temperature depends on the composition of the metal. I have at times cast lead at home for weights as Tony has done, but using a wooden mould and worked with casting pewter which has a lower melting point.

In industry sand is used for a mould, but it is a special moulding sand and it is designed to adhere together by mixing with water. However you do have to be careful since if there is too much dampness in the sand there will be an explosion and what will fly round the room is molten metal! :o Once the mould has been made, when casting aluminium or other metals with a higher melting point the sand had to be dried using a gas torch.

If it is a damp day, or you live near to the coast a wooden mould can get damp and cause the same problem. When I used to work proving health and safety advice to schools I heard of a demonstration of pewter casting where the wooden mould was damp and all the pupils in the class got sprayed with molten pewter! Not good! Even steel tools can get damp and when we used to scrape the impurities off the top of a crucible of molten aluminium the scraping tool had to be warmed up in a gas flame to remove the dampness.

There is a type of moulding sand which is bonded with oil which is safer but is more expensive since the oil in the sand next to the molten metal gets burnt off so that bit of sand has to be thrown away.

Provided that you take a bit of care, small scale casting of lead at home will not cause a lot of harm. However we all know that lead has some harmful effects and scrap lead may contain various impurities so a bit of common sense is needed. I have heard that some people who produce white metal kits have had health problems because of the amount of work they have done.

If you want to cast white metal, lead or pewter at home then a wooden mould is probably safer than sand and put it in a warm place to dry first. Where some eye protection and some strong gloves when melting and pouring the metal. Wear suitable clothing and footwear - no sandals or short sleeves and probably best to work outside if you can.

Someone I know well got hold of some short pieces of flat steel bar about 5 inches x 2 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch and used these as weights when laying track and that works well.

Terry Bendall

Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:27 pm

Hi Terry.
Reminds me of the time when my Father wanted to silver solder a nut to a bolt for a job he was doing. We got some house bricks to form a work surface and back shield whilst cooking them up to temperature with a blow lamp. As the components reached a dull red, there was a loud bang and the red hot bolt disappear, a search for it ensued rapidly followed by the smell of burning rubber as Dad had stood on it and it had embedded itself in the heel of his shoe.
We soon discovered what had happened. There was a crater in the brick surface where water absorbed into the brick had obviously turned to steam causing an explosion. Moral, make sure your bricks are thoroughly dry before heating. Don't use ones from outside as we had.
Regards
Tony.

Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Fri Dec 07, 2018 4:42 pm

Andrew Bluett-Duncan wrote:Thank you for the detailed explanations of your track laying approach. It both very readable, clearly thought out and educative. And I must say getting very exciting. I’ve been reading your story now for quite a while and I’ve been finding myself going back to see the progress often. To witness this sudden explosion of track laying progress in the last few days is really great to see and I imagine you must be really enjoying seeing the fruits of the last eight or nine years taking shape in front of your eyes?

Hi Andrew.
The apparent sudden explosion in track laying progress as you put it is a bit illusory. There were about six weeks between my two postings, so what to me seemed like a series of small steps appears like a giant leap when all put together. The limiting factors to progress are firstly, the quantity of weights, followed by the amount of plain track ready to lay and time. My approach to the plain track for the storage sidings will be detailed shortly.
Although I printed off and built that D-9 crossover some 9 years ago, that was done primarily as a test piece for using Hi-Ni rail. It has been modified / upgraded / repaired several times since to comply with my current specifications. Most of the real physical progress with this project has actually taken place since Scaleforum 2016, after I exhibited Green Street there with the help the Nottingham Area Group. I tend to regard Green Street as a small layout even at 18 feet overall. To others this may seem quite large, but it limits what I can run in terms of train length.
The research for Brimsdown began over 40 years ago, shortly after half the station buildings were demolished as part of the electrification expansion scheme, but the development of Templot really was the first step of turning my dream into something tangible. The first Templot iteration assumed a space 45 feet long, totally out of the question in London where I lived until 2007. Hence the existence of Green Street.
A move to Nottinghamshire changed the picture somewhat with a 33 feet space available but not usable until suitably dealt with. A second iteration in Templot followed, with many minor tweaks since. The current file is version 12s.
When I look back at my life and the steps that have led me to where I now find myself, I do feel incredibly fortunate that life has given me the opportunity to at least attempt to build my dream. This could get deeply philosophical, so best left here.

One question that remains is that of turnout operation. You said on the previous page that you’d be using a different method between the front and rear of the layout, if I understood correctly? I’m interested in your thoughts on this and to ask you if you thought more about Howard’s suggestion of using Mike Norris’s method? I’ve made three so far for Yeovil and found them pretty easy to construct and I like the look of them, but maybe I’m too easily pleased?
Andrew


I don't see the need for highly detailed switch blade mechanisms for the storage yard when functionality is all that is required. Perhaps I should warn you not to expect a masterpiece in every detail. This project is far to big for that. My hope is to create more an overall impression of the real thing to a consistent standard. I see this as the only sensible approach.
On Green Street, although the fiddle yard is primarily a large sliding sector plate, there are a few turnouts on the approach tracks. These use PCB tie bars to operate the switch blades, but not without the odd failure, usually of a solder joint. Ordinary electrical solder does not cope well when used for a mechanical joint. The scenic point operating units are a home made variant of the old Studiolith curtain track system. These have work well although I have had the occasional failure. I shall see if I can post a picture to illustrate the design. The main problem I am going to have creating the required number is that I am running out of some of the components I used and they are now obsolete.
I am certainly taken by Mike Norris's design and may well investigate or adapt this for my own purposes.
Regards
Tony.
Last edited by Tony Wilkins on Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Andrew Bluett-Duncan
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Andrew Bluett-Duncan » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:02 am

The research for Brimsdown began over 40 years ago, shortly after half the station buildings were demolished as part of the electrification expansion scheme, but the development of Templot really was the first step of turning my dream into something tangible. The first Templot iteration assumed a space 45 feet long, totally out of the question in London where I lived until 2007. Hence the existence of Green Street.
A move to Nottinghamshire changed the picture somewhat with a 33 feet space available but not usable until suitably dealt with. A second iteration in Templot followed, with many minor tweaks since. The current file is version 12s.
When I look back at my life and the steps that have led me to where I now find myself, I do feel incredibly fortunate that life has given me the opportunity to at least attempt to build my dream. This could get deeply philosophical, so best left here.

Hello Tony
Thanks for the background on Brimsdown, birth of an idea. I’m not sure I agree with you that the philosophy is best left there. Personally I find the stories, the thought and experiences that lead us to take on such huge projects in your case, are often really interesting, born, as they often are, out of some of our earliest experiences as children. So, like you, I feel very fortunate to have had the resources and the time to acquire the skills to build a shed in the garden big enough to accommodate my layout. And then to have the time and some of the skills to build the layout itself Then that word “fortunate” crops up and oft repeated phrases such as “one creates ones own luck” come to mind and here of course a bit of philosophy might rear it’s head only to be shot down by my desire to now get some sleep! But I wasn’t being flippant when I said I think these aspects of what draws us to this hobby make an interesting read, so if and when you feel inclined...?

In the meanwhile I’ll look forward to seeing any images you can muster of the tiebar system you’re intending to use on the scenic side.

Kind regards
Andrew
Last edited by grovenor-2685 on Sun Dec 09, 2018 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: added quote BB code.

Terry Bendall
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Terry Bendall » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:42 am

Tony Wilkins wrote:There was a crater in the brick surface where water absorbed into the brick had obviously turned to steam causing an explosion. Moral, make sure your bricks are thoroughly dry before heating. Don't use ones from outside as we had.


A far better solution is to use proper fire bricks normally available from a builders' merchant. Building bricks are not designed to be heated and will certainly crack and shatter if heated to too high a temperature. Keep the fire bricks inside somewhere

Silver solder is an alloy of silver, copper and for some grades, a small amount of zinc. There are three different grades with different melting points ranging from about 680 degrees C to 820 degrees C. It is normally used on silver and other non ferrous metals but can be used on mild steel. I have heard of it being used in model railway work for soldered joints that need to be stronger than can be obtained using soft solder.

Terry Bendall

Tony Wilkins
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Re: Brimsdown-The last grand project.

Postby Tony Wilkins » Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:20 pm

To bring this topic back down to earth with a thud, I would like to discuss plain track and how it relates to this layout.
The standard track panels in my era were 60ft, which equates to 240mm in 4mm scale. This doesn't always coincide well with our chosen baseboard lengths. In my case the scenic baseboards are 1500mm (6.25 track panels) and the storage yard baseboards are 1220mm, which is even worse. 5 x 240 = 1200mm. I had been considering making these track panels 244mm to fit. My Stepson offered to help make some for me as at the time he was between jobs and as I knew I needed a lot, I set him to work. However things didn't quite turn out as hoped as he took my instructions to file a slight taper on the rail ends to aid sliding on the plastic trackbases a bit too literally, meaning I subsequently had to shorten them to restore the full rail end profile.
There were further considerations. The K&L trackbases, of which I had quite a lot recovered from dismantling the old track, didn't fit 60ft panels without altering the end spacings anyway and there was the matter of track feeds and rail alignment at the joints.
I was tempted to try the Palentine droppers for track feeds with the plastic trackbases and purchased 5 packs from the stores at Scaleforum. I wanted 10, but as they only had 8, I decided to leave some for someone else, but as I was soon to discover, a large storage yard such as this has a voracious appetite for plain track. The calculations went something like this. Each baseboard, 5 track panels per road x 12 roads = 60 track panels per baseboard, x 5 baseboards = 300 track panels required ignoring any pointwork. Therefore at 4 droppers per panel, each baseboard would require 240 droppers. 5 Palentine etches = 250 droppers. A rethink was required.
Another thought struck me. At 88 panels per mile (scale or otherwise) I was looking at something approaching 3.5 scale miles of track for just the straight part of the storage yard. I began to have some appreciation of what it must have been like to work in a real P Way depot.
The solution I adopted is shown below.
DSCF0771.jpg

I have removed one plastic track base and replaced them with 8 ply and rivet sleepers. This will give me a safe area in which to solder the dropper wires and also allows for easy minor alignment adjustments where needed. As a general principle, it is not advisable to fix both ends of a long section of flexitrack, but I consider the likelihood of problems over these shorter lengths an acceptable risk. It is though probably better to lay track like this when it is warmer rather than cold as the track under tension will stay straight. Under compression it will tend to buckle. Each length is firmly stuck down though. Due to the length of the track panels varying slightly, I have also had to make a special panel (usually the middle one) to fit each road to the baseboard length.
As I have already mentioned, the quantity of lead weights tends to be the limiting factor to progress, 6 or 7 track panels at each session being about the limit.
A progress report will be issued shortly.
Tony.


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