Construction of a Test Track

Tell us about your layout, where you put it, how you built it, how you operate it.
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Colin Parks
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Construction of a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 18, 2017 11:44 am

I have put some photos of my latest project in 'another place', but think more appropriate to continue on this more specialised forum with some evidence of the progress so far. The Tim Horn baseboard is a 4' x 1' 'Lite' mdf board. It has been painted inside and out with acrylic primer. There are two more boards awaiting assembly at some point. The internal surface of those boards will be painted pre-assembly, with areas and edges to be glued carefully masked off. The track formation seen here could one day become a station throat. To the top of the picture, a printed area of platform can just be made out on the template.

Pictured here is the third and final B8 turnout, made with Peco code 82 flat bottom rail and Pandrol fixings. I am aware that Peco Pandrols are over-size, but it is that or bullhead track! Due to my eyesight not being what it was, I cannot envisage assembling minute etched parts for Pandrol fixings - nice as they are.

IMG_8299.JPG


Laying of timbering has begun. It was only at this juncture that it became obvious that attaching the dark brown plastic Pandrol bases to dark brown stained timbers will be challenging...

IMG_1701.JPG


The first set of timbers have been fixed to the Templot templates using Titebond aliphatic glue. It has a quick grab time, so laying a whole turnout's worth of timbers was really pushing it a bit.
Last edited by Colin Parks on Thu May 24, 2018 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Jan 22, 2017 12:02 pm

Lately, with two turnouts approaching the point of being ready to build onto the base board, thoughts have turned to stretcher bar brackets.

I have some very nice ones from Colin Craig's range of etched components, however, I do not think they strong enough to be used as parts in a functional switch unit on flat bottom rail (the switch blades being a bit stiffer than those made from bullhead rail). To be fair, The Colin Craig etches are intended to be cosmetic and used in conjunction with sub-base board TOUs. (I do have some Ambis n/s etched brackets, but these appear to be only suitable for bullhead rail and there is some delicate filing to be done to get them to fit into the rail web even on bullhead rail.)

It seemed worth a try at bending some brackets, just to see if it would be feasible to make a number of them to a consistent shape. The component is basically a rectangle of 0.2mm x 2.5mm brass strip with bends put in prior to being cut from the stock length and a saw cut up the middle. They are 6mm long overall. The brackets locate into the rail web and attach to a strip of GEL (glass epoxy laminate), which forms the insulated, flexible stretcher bar - as used by Howard Bolton on his Minories' superbly realistic trackwork.

IMG_8311 (2).JPG


I have made one set so far, with little difference in the time taken to make these as opposed to fashioning them a readily available product (such as the Ambis design). Apart from the initial bends where bracket locates onto the rail, the time taken in the bending process is the same in both cases.

It can be seen that one bracket has been made to incorporate a drive rod bracket, which reduces the number of parts required for each unit and hopefully will produce a stronger, more reliable mechanism. I still have to work out how to insulate the drive rod from the operating system below the baseboard, as the drive rod to each turnout will be live to one switch blade, which could cause a short circuit unless all the switches are driven from the same polarity. (Now there is an idea.) the only matter to resolve is to correct the slight splaying of the tips of the brackets, which is a consequence of putting the 90 degree twists in. There must be a good fit to the GEL strip for the Loctite 435 to produce a strong joint.

Only another five sets to make...

Phil O
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Phil O » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:43 am

Hi Colin, I have used Evergreen hollow square and angle section to make tou s with brass tube and wire. The wire is attached to the switch blades and feeds into the tube which is set in the square section that forms the tou. Two pieces of the next size up square tube are attached to a length of angle one at each end, the gap between the angles needs to be the width of the droppers plus the switch throw and a bit of extra for luck. Sorry I can't post a picture, but I am currently on holiday and won't be back for a fortnight.

Phil

sebring115
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby sebring115 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:31 am

Thats amazing, im working on a 4ft 8.5 layout and have ended up with a similar track layout to you. What size is the tanden turnout (b6/b8), im really struggling with that in templot .


Do you have a box file I could look at?

Thanks

Mark

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John Donnelly
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby John Donnelly » Mon Jan 23, 2017 1:12 pm

Phil O wrote:Hi Colin, I have used Evergreen hollow square and angle section to make tou s with brass tube and wire. The wire is attached to the switch blades and feeds into the tube which is set in the square section that forms the tou. Two pieces of the next size up square tube are attached to a length of angle one at each end, the gap between the angles needs to be the width of the droppers plus the switch throw and a bit of extra for luck. Sorry I can't post a picture, but I am currently on holiday and won't be back for a fortnight.

Phil


Pretty much the same as I did:

Image

John

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Jan 23, 2017 2:54 pm

Phil O wrote:Hi Colin, I have used Evergreen hollow square and angle section to make tou s with brass tube and wire. The wire is attached to the switch blades and feeds into the tube which is set in the square section that forms the tou. Two pieces of the next size up square tube are attached to a length of angle one at each end, the gap between the angles needs to be the width of the droppers plus the switch throw and a bit of extra for luck. Sorry I can't post a picture, but I am currently on holiday and won't be back for a fortnight.

Phil


Thanks for your advice Phil.

The method of operation I am hoping will work is to drive the switches like the prototype, with a drive rod going under one rail from the stretcher bar bracket to a crank, operated from under base board with rodding connected to a lever frame.

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Jan 23, 2017 3:08 pm

sebring115 wrote:Thats amazing, im working on a 4ft 8.5 layout and have ended up with a similar track layout to you. What size is the tanden turnout (b6/b8), im really struggling with that in templot .


Do you have a box file I could look at?

Thanks

Mark


Hi Mark, The track layout on the board pictured is one I have worked up as a test track initially, but there will eventually be a 4ft board either side, making what you see on the templates a kind of station throat. The tandem turnout consists of two B8 turnouts spliced together with partial timbering and a crossing added as per the Templot guide video.

The files are not perfect, as some rails are running through the crossings - I couldn't work out how to remove them, but it will not affect construction. I will attach the file if it helps, but to be honest I just followed the video and could not create another tandem from memory!
Super Test Track #4 extended version.box
(319.68 KiB) Downloaded 89 times
Excuse the quirky file name!

Hope that helps,

Colin

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Martin Wynne » Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:59 pm

Colin Parks wrote:The files are not perfect, as some rails are running through the crossings - I couldn't work out how to remove them

Hi Colin,

do > omit rails and joint marks, adjust blanking (CTRL+F3, or just 3), adjust overall length (F4), store multiple partial templates.

I have done it for you:

Image

Box file:
colin_tandem.box
(378.29 KiB) Downloaded 68 times

regards,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:42 pm

Cheers Martin!

That tandem looks much neater now. I must have missed that command in the video. I see you have even added the extra few mm of rail I had omitted between the tandem and the adjacent turnout.

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:23 pm

An update on the track laying:

Made a lot of stretcher bar brackets:



I have re-read Howard Bolton's atricle in S4 News 181 on the subject of fitting the brackets after laying the rails using an alignment jig, so will have to make one of those.

IMG_8314 (3).JPG


Three flat bottom railed turnout assemblies laid on the timbers. The alignments look good despite having to re-build one common crossing after cutting a vee point rail too short.

IMG_8324 (2).JPG


The common crossing of the turnout in the left foreground was altered when it was found that there was an 8mm gap between it and the adjacent stock rail. (Measure twice, cut once!)

IMG_8322 (3).JPG


I will admit the Peco Pandrol fittings are bit dumpy, but I think I can live with that.

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:41 pm

Some pictures of the rather limited progress on my test track layout. Ballasting is now almost possible with the addition of various rodding stools, crank bases and cable trunking.

In this view, the extent of the work on the point rodding stools can be seen. Calculating the positions of compensators in the rodding runs and crank pivot positions has been fun. There are quite a few facing point locks included in these runs. One drive rod assembly and adjusting crank can just be seen in the left foreground. My friend JFS (Howard Bolton) has kindly worked out a signalling diagram for the layout, which has removed the guesswork from the task.
IMG_8525 (3).JPG

The cable trunking has been fabricated from strips of styrene sheet, sprayed to resemble weathered concrete. For the three boards that will form the layout, quite a few metres of trunking strips were required, along with 'T' and 'L' shaped pieces too.

The trunking goes under the track to the site of the signal box. The areas for rodding runs between the sleepers have been marked in red and will need to be chiselled out to a depth of 2mm to give adequate clearance below the rails. Several sleepers might have to be shifted - something I had not anticipated when working up the track design on Templot, but easily fixed.
IMG_8527 (2).JPG


Finally, I have been given some of this product which is similar to Klear, to try as a fixative (for want of a better word) for the ballast. JFS has warned me of the possible consequences of using such things, which might have a short effective lifespan. I am going to try a test piece, though am minded to stick with PVA for holding the ballast in place.
IMG_8526 (2).JPG


Note: the rail assemblies are loosely laid on the sleepers and will be fixed post-ballasting.

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sat Sep 02, 2017 11:56 am

Hi Colin, :)

This all looks great and you have come across one of the things that Templot does not do for you and you have to remember to do for yourself during the planning stage. That is where to put the point and signal runs and leave clearance for signals. We used Templot on Burntisland during the early stages, back about 15years ago. Fergus did the planning and it made a difference when printing out the design,in one long single print.

The only thing was, there had been no provision made for placing of signals or, for the point and signal runs, which caused a few headaches for me at the time. Fortunately there was just enough space in one or two areas to squeeze signals in to their approximate positions, but given where the point mechanisms had to be placed there was no space left for the signal mechanisms of the station gantry.(4 of them) In the end I had to build an underbridge which went under the point mechanisms to then carry the signal mechanisms. A lot of extra work and perhaps a unique solution to such a problem created by us using narrow boards for the limited 18.83 sq ft space we were allowed in the competition.

Although you are seeing this as a test track, I assume that if it is successful it will be extended ( :?: )

I will make sure my starters Group have a look to see what you are up to as I am sure it will give them some good inspiration, which is what this is all about. :thumb

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Sep 04, 2017 10:27 pm

Thanks for your comments Allan. There certainly is a great deal to consider when planning the track and associated infrastructure on a layout. I do not think that my efforts will ever reach the epic proportions of Burntisland, but there will be boards either side of the one seen here.

The size of the boards I am using, 4 x 1 ft, are about the biggest that I can safely lift. The challenge is to fit everything in that should be present without it all being too cramped (not to mention the third rail fixtures, which will be added post-rail laying). Primarily, the idea of this build is to test out my ability to work to P4 standards. There is also the mechanical operating system using etched parts from JFS (Howard Bolton) to be installed sub-surface. More on that in the future.

All the best,

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:22 pm

Hi Colin, :D

You probably have not noticed, but I have been writing up notes on a new railway I have been building for my own use. (It is hidden in the Layouts section of the Forum) It is intended for it to be used for exhibitions specifically after all that I have learned over a lifetime of exhibiting. Like you I have decided on 4ft length baseboards but by 23inches across. I want to be able to take a layout about 24/5 feet long away in the car. I went to the trouble of measuring a number of family cars to see what the maximum was that they could comfortably take as I was not necessarily wanting to change my car. (Honda Civic)

I soon discovered that my car like all the others I measured seemed to allow for (this is with the back seat down on the wider side allowing space for one passenger in the back - therefore three travelling to a show together)boards up to 5ft (1.5M) by 2ft across. Like you 4ft I find easier to handle and I would like to continue to exhibit for a few years yet. Your comment about the safety aspect is relevant as I gave myself a hernia as did one of our other Burntisland team trying to lift pairs of very heavy boards. (We both :o :shock: required operations afterwards.)The present Wemyss layout I am building will be 24ft long and the slightly narrower 23inches to allow for some sort of carrying frame. It is designed for lightness as well.

My approach is to have a sub frame of 4ft units which will take 4ft top boards, with the sub frame used for more than one set of boards allowing me to build a number of projects without having to do a number of tasks over again. I want to be able to put the layout up in about 15minutes and take down in a similar time. (On my own if necessary) The sub boards will arrive already attached to the top boards - just in case you were curious.

Clearly Colin you have the ability and you have already done more with your test track than some people I know who have a much higher profile and reputation to keep up. I have never had a go at a third rail system and look forward to seeing the results - are you intending to have the third rail electrified or are you having all the trains using conventional two rail pick - up? Maybe you have said and I have missed that somewhere, if so forgive me. Hope to see it in the flesh, as it were, some time. :thumb

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:12 pm

Hi Allan,

Apologies for the late reply to your post. We have been away.

Your comments on the baseboard sizes to injury ring very true, as I suspect my own spinal injury was precipitated by by lifting a very heavy and unwieldy base board. While not overly large, your layout board dimensions are rather more ambitious than mine, though at 23 inches, far more scenic work can be included. The idea of a common carrying frame for various projects seems a good idea - at least you will know that any future layout will fit in your car if the width is standardised. I will have a look for your layout in the Layouts forum.

As for my test track, there will not be a working third rail as there is no way of operating EMU models with so little mass on such a system anyway. I do recall reading about someone who was building an Ian Kirk 2 BIL with axle-hung traction motors in P4, but even they were not proposing to use the model with working pickups on the third rail. The test track might eventually be finished, though it would be unlikely to appear at anything other than our local shows due to illness.

All the best,

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:34 pm

Before going away for the week, I did hastily ballast a trial section of Fast Track base on a strip of plywood, using Greenscene 2mm scale 'Ash'
ballast material, fixed with the Quick Shine product as featured in the 31 August post. This product has a surfactant, so it went on very gently (applied with an eye dropper) without disturbing the micro-aggregate. Any unevenness seen here is down to my own lack of care. On the test track itself, the sleepers will be ballasted before the rails and chairs/base plates are in place, making it easier to obtain a neat finish.

IMG_8550.JPG


The result of this trial was rather surprising in that the ballast was well and truly stuck! Going over the ballasted section, rubbing with a finger tip - or even a thumb nail did not dislodge much material at all, just a few stray grains came loose. This is much as would be expected if using dilute PVA as an adhesive for this process. The only downside is that there is a slight sheen to the ballasted material and it has darkened - though not by much.

The sheen could be eliminated by a waft of matt varnish from the air brush, but this set me thinking: what about fixing the ballast with diluted water-based matt varnish? So the next step will be to make up a concoction on water, matt varnish and detergent.

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:23 pm

Hi Colin, :)

One of the questions I was planning to have a go at answering myself was what technique to use for the ballast. It had been suggested that using the liquid floor wax would work. I have used it to help hold window material successfully. When I built Dubbieside all these years ago I evo-stuck the track down and used Marvin Medium with a little fairy liquid and water added. It worked perfectly and despite travelling many miles and going to so many shows I lost count years ago, the ballast has behaved well all this time. I have recently bought a ballast glue mix which has come on the market fairly recently and I thought I would do a trial of that. (I have my suspicions that the mix is a version of what I used all these years ago. I am trying to use as few water based materials as possible as well as using only minor pieces of wood.

DSC02249.JPG
Here is the ready made mix which comes with a really fine tube.


It claims that the glue is a similar one to that which the full size railway actually uses for holding ballast in places on the system.

I am also trying to make the layout fairly quiet so that I can add the proper train movement sounds. I noted on another internet site that American modellers often use a form of soundproofing available for sound proofing in cars - I feel a visit to Hallfords coming on!

Enjoy your week away -I may have my base boards finished by then and be working on track. My ballasting experiments I will post on here if that is OK and we can compare notes. :thumb

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:36 pm

Hi Allan,

Perhaps my last post did not make clear that we are actually back from our holiday now and modelling is underway once more!

Reading the label of the Ballast Bond product you have pictured suggests that it would be the answer to my quest for something effective yet not PVA-based for fixing ballast. It will be interesting to hear how you get on with it, as something that is specifically formulated for this job and leaving a matt finish is just what I am looking for. You mention using as few water-based materials as possible: why would that be? Are you using MDF boards? I am, conversely, looking to use as many water-based products to avoid toxic chemicals wherever possible.

One thing I am well aware of with my efforts is that whatever is used for fixing ballast and so on could affect the Tim Horn MDF boards that I am using. The top surface of these boards appears to be pre-sealed, and in addition, I have painted the boards with MDF primer, but in areas where switch rail stretcher bars are located, I have chiselled out channels in the board. These channels have been re-sealed with matt varnish. I now find that there will have to be some more channels between sleepers/timbers for point rodding. The last thing that I want is for the boards to swell when the ballast is fixed.

One more question: where did you obtain the Deluxe Ballast Bond?

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re6/6
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Re6/6 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:52 pm

John

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:20 pm

Hi Colin,

yes John is right, it seems to be freely available. :thumb

I bought mine at the Glasgow show (I think) earlier on in the year. My own baseboards are being built to be extra light and the tops are a sandwich of poly-board /MDF/poly-board, with the MDF primed and glued using the newer Evo-stick contact adhesive which does not effect the poly material. However the poly-board does have a thin card covering. The top covering will be cork again glued on using the same adhesive.

I have already made up my baseboard tops and had them sitting for a couple of months now and they are strong, light and show no signs of warping. I have spent this evening taking out all the nuts and spring washers from all six baseboard under-frames and replacing with lock nuts now I know everything can be, made permanent. The baseboards and under-frames are by no means conventional, but are based on what I have learned over a considerable period. I will be interested to hear from you how successful the MDF boards are and how light or otherwise the layout would be to transport.

As I am getting on in years I do not want to be carrying any heavy baseboards around and getting near 70 van hire may just become a bit more expensive. When we were building Burntisland in the early days I used to bring it home in the back of my Micra to work on in my garage and of course it was built long and thin and, including a basic fiddle yard, came to around 20+ Feet. The baseboards were long and thin but could at least be paired. So my new layout should go in the back of my car and three of us go off to a show somewhere.

Various layouts I have worked on from time to time have shown signs of warping due to dampness so I would recommend what you are doing and making sure that all is primed or varnished. It is always worthwhile taking a bit more time at the baseboard stage to avoid trouble later.

It has just come back to me that I bought the ballast glue from a small model shop down by the cross in Glasgow. I will do a trial later on this week and see how it goes, the fact that the track will be laid on cork I am hoping there will be no difficulty even if it is white glue based. :|

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:29 pm

Thanks John for the link to suppliers of Deluxe Ballast Bond.

I had never heard of this product. When reading magazine articles about layouts there is usually a line saying something like "the ballast was stuck down by the usual method", meaning dilute PVA with a dash of detergent, as if there was no alternative. There obviously is.

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Sep 10, 2017 9:50 pm

Hi Allan,

Your method of baseboard construction seems quite innovative and will result in much lighter boards than mine in relative terms. In some kind of reply to your question re. the weight of my boards Alan, I think that they weighed about 3 kg as delivered. (I will weigh one to check this.) This figure is going to increase with the addition of track, ballast, point operating mechanisms and so on. Hopefully the final weight of the board pictured in my posts, the one with most of the point work and associated equipment, will not exceed 5 kg. Having been advised not to lift objects weighing more than a bag of shopping, I have to keep the weight down where possible.

I shall order some of the Ballast Bond adhesive and see how it works.

Colin
Last edited by Colin Parks on Tue Sep 19, 2017 5:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dal-t
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby dal-t » Mon Sep 11, 2017 6:41 am

Like most products from that producer, "Ballast Bond" seems absurdly expensive. If you want to dry ballast (and I'm certainly tempted by the technique) cascamite from your local Jewsons, ground up finer if you think necessary, seems a lot more cost-effective.
David L-T

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Mon Sep 11, 2017 2:49 pm

Hi Colin, :)

I am sure you realise that at the moment I cannot comment about the material as I have yet to try using it myself. I have in the past used materials like Cascamite and Copydex, but with mixed results, certainly would not recommend either. I would steer well clear of black foam underlay as it is difficult to get ballast to stick properly to it. It does have some uses - particularly for stock boxes. I returned to cork some time ago except for floating track boards which I used on Dubbieside on the continuous run. The storage yard on my Grayrigg layout also has floating track on black foam underlay.

Much of the Wemyss exchange yard will be ash and coal dust and I will be making my own mix. I will also use my own mix for the Buckhaven branch which had steelworks slag as its ballast much like most of the branch lines in the area - it was quite course even by today's standard. Individual pieces look like moon rock - yes I have seen moon rock close up - full of small holes similar to limestone used in the steel works after use.
I may use a technique I used on a 00 layout built by myself and a few friends based on Kilconquhar on the East of Fife line which was also a slag ballasted line where I used a form of bird grit and fine ballast mix, painted using acrylic mixes and then highlighted using oil pastel.

The type of ballast can tell where in Britain exactly you are portraying - so enjoying looking at many pictures just now, particularly the colour ones. One thing I will not be doing again is using creosote to tint the wooden sleepers! - Not good in a bedroom! The smell disappeared from Dubbie some years ago now and it was rather nice to have the background smell at exhibitions so reminiscent of sitting on the platform on a warm summers' day listening to the rail expanding and looking for the next train with flowers arriving from the Channel Islands.

Not sure whether I am going to add smell-o-rama to the next layout, have tried it on a couple of occasions with a bespoke unit - however visitors to the exhibition thought the place must be on fire! I did know a modeller who modelled the little railways of India and kept a curry going all weekend at a show, my friend Richard Chown, sadly no longer with us, was known to keep a fish under his layout of Kyle of Lochalsh during exhibitions. :shock:

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:25 pm

Allan Goodwillie wrote: I did know a modeller who modelled the little railways of India and kept a curry going all weekend at a show, my friend Richard Chown, sadly no longer with us, was known to keep a fish under his layout of Kyle of Lochalsh during exhibitions.


Brilliant :D

On a similar line of thought I was vaguely musing over the weekend whether you could have speakers ranged along the track at regular intervals and arrange for a chip in the engine (and indeed carriages or wagons) to connect such that it played sound through the speakers in relation to proximity ... so you get sound linked to the loco moving along but with higher quality sound and of course avoiding all the gubbins in the loco itself.
Tim Lee


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