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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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:20 pm

Now that plan is interesting Howard and thanks for posting it. There are some cranks where the rods crosses over each other. Due to the nature of my trackwork base board bracing and location near the frame, there are several instances where Iwill have to do the same, though I thought it was an invalid arrangement!

Relieved to hear that the crank angles look right in my latest picture. It will be out with the Polyfilla tomorrow to repair the surplus holes in my once pristine white base board!

Colin

JFS
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby JFS » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:22 pm

Hello Colin,

No problem "crossing" the rods - just bend the two arms of the cranks - one up ward one downwards by a small amount so that the two rods are not touching.

It is worth remembering that for any given situation, there are three or four different ways of mounting the crank which can get you out of trouble when several cranks need to occupy the same real estate!

I confess I did not bother with the fller - there are a couple of places where it looks like a pepper pot!

Also - as in this pic - it is useful to mount the cranks on a sub-board rather than work in the confines of the baseboard, then mount the whole thing when it is all done.

Underside genera smalll.JPG


(wow - there is a lot more under there these days!)

Best Wishes,

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:57 pm

Hi Howard,

Wow, that is the first time I have seen the underside of Minories like that! Many people will surely be interested in seeing what in the round what has been glimpsed in your articles (or is it just me that has seen any photos?!) The arrangements of your cranks and rods are interesting to study. I note that the lever frame is well away from the main action in terms of wiring and pointwork and there are some aspects which can be copied.

Unlike you, I have placed the nexus of control on my board just off-centre, next to the station throat where almost all of the point work is situated. While this makes for a good position for operating, on the underside there are a multitude of droppers to avoid and also the cross bracing of the board to negotiate. Given these impediments, work has proceeded slowly on the linkage for a second crossover. Working out the crank and rodding design has almost scrambled my brains, because of the logisitcs of linking two escapement units 600mm apart. Photo to follow when the solution has been found...

All the best,

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:22 pm

Photos of the work on rodding this week. In each case, the final rod to each (as yet imaginary) lever has yet to be added, as does a rodding run to one cross over on an adjacent board. Working out the best way to avoid all the obstacles for two of the rodding runs required some thought, but it has all turned out fine - so far.

These runs involved some trail and error to get around the side of other escapement unit and droppers and avoid the cross bracing of the board in the case of the top left hand unit.

IMG_8663 (2).JPG


The unit second from left in the above picture links up with this one, via some twists and turns around the droppers on the way:

IMG_8665 (2).JPG


...forming a cross over. Due to perhaps an unorthodox arrangement of the scale cranks above board, this crossover has one unit pulled and the other pushed, which explains the tricky set up cranks seen here. Next up is the installation of the micro switches which will control the polarity ofthe crossings.
Last edited by Colin Parks on Fri Oct 27, 2017 5:27 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 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:29 pm

Lately I have been ballasting. Having tested several pieces of track base with Green Scene ballast and the Quick Shine floor product it was concluded that the result was as strong as the Deluxe Ballast Bond (PVA formula?) and spread more easinly too when used with Green Scene ballast. However, when testing the Quick Shine with some granite ballast from Gaugemaster, the result was not ideal. The strength of bond was as good, but the ballast was, well, shiny! I can only conclude that the Green Scene ballast soaks up the excess liquid from the Quick Shine, giving a matt finish when dry. Anyway, here are some photos of ballast progess:

This is the platform end of the station throat with the area for the platfrom masked off. It really was not necessary to have used the masking tape, a pencil line would have been enough. When one piece of tape was removed it tore the paper template and caused a lot of damage to the ballast shoulder. The track to the right will be ballasted with some sort of ash material. The paper template has been coloured with ebony coloured wood dye so that the ballast can be shallower without the white paper template showing through.

IMG_8696 (2).JPG


This shows the area for a signal box to the left and channels cut into the base board to accomodate point rodding runs. The channels were water-proofed with varnish then coloured with wood dye. The square piece of brass has been use to tamp the ballast.

IMG_8699 (2).JPG


This is a side view of some point timbering with channels cut for switch stretcher bars. In this shot the area between the ballast shoulder and trunking is yet to be done. (See photo above.) The timbering has been distressed with a Peco track rubber, which removes some of the wood dye and leaves anive grey-ish patina to the wood.

IMG_8700 (2).JPG


This end-on view of the ballasting so far reveals that although the ballast looks neat and tidy from above and the side, it is less than satisfactory when seen looking down the tracks. The ballast material that I have used appears to have settled when wet, leaving an uneven 'top' to the track bed.

IMG_8703 (2).JPG


I have started to remedy this shortcoming by re-working the track bed tamping in more ballast and the resultant length so treated looks much better.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:20 pm

This is looking really promising Colin. Nice to see some more ballast and sleepers insitu prior to track laying ;) Looking forward to seeing the transformation when the track and rodding goes down. Have you done any weathering to the ballast at all yet?
Tim Lee

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:34 pm

Some progress on the test track. It was mentioned that the ballast was going to be corrected to level the 'top'. This has now been done, along with replacing some of the rail droppers, which were slightly too short to go right through the base board to allow for easy soldering of electrical connections. All the droppers have been tinned on the ends, which should facilitate soldering the wiring and they have also been examined and checked for dry joints, of which there were a few. That was the easy part.


IMG_8709 (3).JPG


Thoughts have now turned to the more vexing question of the operation of switches on flat bottom railed turnouts. A quick experiment was conducted by holding a switch assembly by the stock rail at the toe and heel position while opening the switch proved interesting. The stock rail, which is rigidly bonded to the switch at the heel end, moved inwards following the switch. After some consideration, I decided that some mechanical means of restraining the stock rail was going to be necessary. The best idea I could come up with is to pin the rail in position by way of 0.5mm nickel silver rods inserted at strategic places along the stock rail, the holes for which can be seen in this shot:

IMG_8704 (3).JPG


There are holes in three positions which seem the most effective places to restrain the rail. But this set me thinking: is the switch going to be too stiff to be operated by a: the surface mounted scale-size adjusting crank? and b: are the GEL (glass epoxy laminate) stretcher bar strips are going to be rigid enough to drive the switches? As is obvious, in a pair of switches, one will be pulled and one pushed in operation. I just wonder how the GEL material (0.3mm thick) react - it could bend rather than move the switch.

Oh well, it is a test track after all!!

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Allan Goodwillie
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Allan Goodwillie » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:28 pm

Good progress Colin, :)

I am still experimenting with ballast before it goes on to the layout - being a coal railway it is mainly ash ballast and coal dust, so it may even be painted on as a slurry! The Buckhaven branch part of the layout will be done using budgie grit sieved as it simulates the slag ballast quite commonly found on many of the Fife branches.

Hope everyone has had a good Christmas :D

Allan

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:45 pm

Hi Tim and Allan,

Thanks for your comments. Re. weathering the ballast, what I had planned to do is give it a waft of track colour applied with an air brush once the rails are laid and painted. There is a section in the sidings, not shown in the pictures above, which has recieved a few trials try and achive an acceptable ash ballast appearance. So far, the sidings have a layer of 2mm granite ballast coloured with ebony wood stain, which dries to a dirty matt black.

This trial area has been given another soak with favoured Quick Shine floor polish then sprinkled with chinchilla dust. Tomorrow, when all is dry and the surplus vacuumed away, the result will be seen. It looks promising so far, as the dust has not turned to paste. If this does not work, I am interested your idea Allan, of painting a slurry mix between the sleepers.

All the best,

Colin

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steve howe
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby steve howe » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:19 pm

Looking good Colin,

The Greenscenes ballast looks very good and suitably 'granular' without looking overscale. Am I right in thinking the Quick Shine floor polish you mention is the present version of Johnsons Kleer? I have just about used up my supply bought years ago, and will need to find a substitute. I found it is far preferable to diluted PVA, soaks in quickly and spreads well and does not gum up fine detail, although it is inclined to darken the colour of the ballast a little (I used Woodland Scenics fine ash ballast on the present project which dried a little darker than the original grey) you can also spray it to hold scenic scatter in place.

Interested in Chinchilla dust....a trip to Pets at Home may be in order!

Steve

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Re6/6
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Re6/6 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:47 pm

Steve, here's 'Chinchilla Dust' that I used on the test board with some tatty old 'FastTrack'. It's tamped with a homemade tamper but unglued. It is a 'grit type' material as opposed to Greenscenes 'ground husk' which in my eyes is a bit too round and pebble-like. The shade of grey doesn't matter to me as I lightly airbrush all the ballast with brake dust weathering and suchlike.

Anyway you can judge if its just right or too fine!

Any tips for using 'Kleer' as I do have some of the stuff. I tried it once with mixed results but didn't persevere.

005.jpg

004.jpg
John

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:31 pm

Hi John,

Thanks for posting your photos. The chinchilla dust looks neatly tamped, but it will be of interest to see how you get on with sticking it down! I found that or using the dilute glue and dropper method or the floor polish made it clump up and the result was not successful. The dust seems to be a kind of dried clay, which dissolves readily and turns to paste if touched when wet.

However, just this afternoon I have been trying the dust again, but this time it has been scattered on top of granite ballast which has already dried. This was pre-wetted with Ballast Bond adhesive flooded between the sleepers. Hopefully this will give an effective ash texture once levelled and coloured. (Picture to follow.)

Re. Kleer, I have never used the stuff. Quick Shine floor polish does work well with the Greenscene ballast material, though as I have said before, it does have leave the ballast with a slight sheen when dry. This will be weathered down, so no problem there.

All the best,

Colin

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:43 pm

Steve[/quote]

The Greenscenes ballast looks very good and suitably 'granular' without looking overscale. Am I right in thinking the Quick Shine floor polish you mention is the present version of Johnsons Kleer? I have just about used up my supply bought years ago, and will need to find a substitute. I found it is far preferable to diluted PVA, soaks in quickly and spreads well and does not gum up fine detail, although it is inclined to darken the colour of the ballast a little (I used Woodland Scenics fine ash ballast on the present project which dried a little darker than the original grey) you can also spray it to hold scenic scatter in place.




Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comments on the ballast. I do like the Greenscene dark grey ballast as it has a pinkish tint to it which looks just right for the Southern Region, which is my area od interest.

Re. Kleer and Quick Shine, I not know if the products are connected, but the friend who gave me the bottle of Quick Shine to try said that he understood it was a replacement product for Kleer. Quick Shine is slightly opaque and tacky to the touch, plus it has a surfactant that helps no end when ballasting. I did once have a bottle of Kleer (literally like water), which was of the later formula and was useless. [quote="steve howe"]Looking good Colin,




All the best,

Colin

BrockleyAndrew
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby BrockleyAndrew » Sun Dec 31, 2017 10:13 pm

Am enjoying all the shots of ballasting, prototype and modelled.

I had an idea of using our 5"thick oak coffee table as the flat baseboard template for my test strip of track.
Collating various bits of information from the various threads that have discussed ballasting recently I decided to use a thin strip of balsa and let that be my baseboard, but let the sleepers and ballast be the medium that set the block in flat facsimile of the coffee table top. So I glued my track plan to my balsa strip, glued down the sleepers, glued one side of rail according to the print out and ballasted and weighted it down and waited. However, I didn't perforate the paper plan and found that even after two days of drying, the paper was trying to delaminate in odd places as soon as I removed it from being weighted down.

I will try this again and will make sure the balsa/paper/sleeper/ballast mix are glued/wet as one. I also wondered about ballasting in two stages, the first providing a waterproof set block on which the final ballast detail sits.

Hope you are all having an excellent New Year's Eve.

Andrew
Brockley, London

Julian Roberts
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Julian Roberts » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:25 pm

Hi Colin
Regarding your switch rails. Is not the problem model rail is much stiffer than the prototype?

https://goo.gl/images/jC13y3

My limited experience of 4 B8 turnouts in BH was to make the place where the switch rail is fixed quite a bit further from the tips than is realistic. But no one can see. About 4 timbers further away. I imagine with FB rail the problem is that much more. Problem is I think you have a 3 way so the switch rail becomes the stock rail at a fixed place. Maybe you will need to make tiny serrations in the base of the rail to let it flex more?

I am enjoying your thread. Hope you don't mind my interruption. Happy New Year

JFS
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby JFS » Mon Jan 01, 2018 2:33 pm

Colin Parks wrote:Some progress on the test track.

is the switch going to be too stiff to be operated by a: the surface mounted scale-size adjusting crank? and b: are the GEL (glass epoxy laminate) stretcher bar strips are going to be rigid enough to drive the switches?


Hello Colin,

Happy 2018!

Great to see continuing progress - all looking very nice! Just re the GEL - I have no problems to report 5 years and three exhibitions on (touch wood...). It is tough old stuff and it take cyano-type adhensives very well indeed.

As you know, but others may not, my switches are jointed to the wing rails with (Exactoscale) insulated fishplates to minimise the load, though I also use a functional switch anchor to increase it again... For people who make theirs in one length with the closure rails, I would just mention that it might be worth slightly easing the bends in the switches so that they both tend to want to sit in the mid position. That way, the load is halved so to speak.

The GEL tie bars do bend as the switches move (they have to as they are pivoted in different places) and that is why on the real thing they were called "Flexible Stretchers" and the GEL copes well with this. It also explains why apparently stronger, but more rigid solutions, will actually always fail more quickly!

Very Best wishes,

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:02 am

Thanks for your replies Andrew, Julian and Howard.

Since last Friday, a section of siding was treated with chinchilla dust, which was sprinkled over partially ballasted areas whichg had been pre-wetted with Ballast Bond adhesive. On inspection when dry, the resulting mess was a mixture of dissolved dust (the dust I am using not a sand material), patches where the dust had not adhered, and areas where the dust was too thick. It was one of those occasions where you look at something, hope it will be OK, but ultimately come to the realisation that it has to be done again.

Odd hours have been spent chiselling off the top layer of dust and chaos over the past few days. Fortunately, the method of ballasting in two stages allowed the removal of most of the offending matter. The area has now been ballasted with Gaugemaster 2mm scale granite stuck with Quick Shine polish with some acrylic black paint added, which has given a light grey hue to the ballast. Coincidentally, this method is similar to that described by BrockleyAndrew and although obviously more time consuming, does give a nice level top to the ballast - especially when using thick sleepers/timbers.

Moving on to Julian's comments on switch blades, the area of concern for me is not so much with the bullhead rail tandem turnout, but the other turnouts constructed with flat bottom rail. On the flat bottom turnouts, I have fixed the switches to the stock rails at the timber positions 9 and 10 from the switch toe (these all being B8 turnouts) with n/s strip soldered to the underside of the rail. This has resulted in robust electrical and mechanical connection, but does not allow for the blades to be given more free movement. This also means that I cannot use Howard's, method of having loose-heeled switches*.

Re. switch operation, I shall gently adjust the flat bottom switches as Howard suggests, so that they lie in the mid-point of travel. It is encouraging to know that the GEL material has proven to be durable in extended use.

If, as expected, the ballsting in the sidings has been successful, things have now reached the stage where the rails can be fixed permanently. This is quite an exciting moment after over a year of fiddling about with this one baseboard and its track!


* This last sentence has since been retracted. Howard's switches are not loose- heeled!
Last edited by Colin Parks on Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jan 03, 2018 10:22 am

Colin Parks wrote:On the flat bottom turnouts, I have fixed the switches to the stock rails at the timber positions 9 and 10 from the switch toe (these all being B8 turnouts) with n/s strip soldered to the underside of the rail. This has resulted in robust electrical and mechanical connection, but does not allow for the blades to be given more free movement. This also means that I cannot use Howard's, method of having loose-heeled switches.


Colin,

Happy New Year.

Would you be able to illustrate this with a photo? and perhaps explain why it was required? Not sure I fully understand what you are describing here.

Regards

Tim
Tim Lee

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:06 am

Le Corbusier wrote:
Happy New Year.

Would you be able to illustrate this with a photo? and perhaps explain why it was required? Not sure I fully understand what you are describing here.

Regards

Tim


Hi Tim,

Having looked through an extensive collection of photos of construction processes, there is not one which shows a rail assembly upside down! I shall take shot of the underside of of a switch assembly later on.

The method I have employed is the same as that for common crossing assembly using metal strips. The reason the switches are bonded to the stock rails is to avoid reliance on electrial contact being made between the switch and stock rail. (This approach has always been hit and miss in my experience.) It also became clear that the stiffer flat bottom rail needed to be stabilised at the heel end of the switch to avoid problems with aligment to the closure rail. There seems to be little information available on the particular issues of constructing of P4 flat bottom point work, so techniques have tried and tested in an experimental manner and gelaning what information I can.

After reading recently in the RMweb topic on Peco Unifrog pointwork, it was said that wheels can briefly lose electrical contact with the stock rail as they pass over a common crossing. Leaving nothing to chance, I have bonded all the check rails to the stock rails on the bullhead tandem point. The flat bottom turnouts were constructed with the check rails as integral parts of the stock rail assemblies anyway.

Fortunately for you, using radio controlled self-powered locos, these problems do not exist.

Colin

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:01 pm

Colin Parks wrote: I shall take shot of the underside of of a switch assembly later on.

The method I have employed is the same as that for common crossing assembly using metal strips. The reason the switches are bonded to the stock rails is to avoid reliance on electrial contact being made between the switch and stock rail. (This approach has always been hit and miss in my experience.) It also became clear that the stiffer flat bottom rail needed to be stabilised at the heel end of the switch to avoid problems with aligment to the closure rail. There seems to be little information available on the particular issues of constructing of P4 flat bottom point work, so techniques have tried and tested in an experimental manner and gelaning what information I can.

Colin

Thanks Colin,

From what you say it would appear that you have come at the problem from the opposite direction to me. I have endeavoured to provide rotation at the heel and created a rigidish 'box' with the stretcher bars. It would appear that you have created a rigid heel ? relying on the flexure of the rail ? and then provided flexure within the stretchers?

I did wonder if it might be possible for you to create a pivot of sorts at the end of the heel via a pin captured below and use the pin itself below board for the electrical connectivity. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the problem ... and of course if the rigid connection works it is far simpler and I assume more robust?

As you say, my position is in many ways simpler with no need to worry about the electrical connections. As you know I am currently using a rotating rivet to provide movement at the heel. If as has been suggested elsewhere on my thread the rivet soldering may fail over time, I am tempted to revert to Howard's approach of relying on the fishplate .... failure of this would be a simple matter to replace. It worked well with just the fishplate during initial construction.

Sorry to hear about your trials with the chinchilla dust. I ordered what was called 'road stone' for this purpose from Attwood Agregates, which is very very fine sieved ballast that has the appearance of 'dust'. I found that this worked fine dry laying and then applying dilute PVA + washing up liquid with a dropper ... no balling or coagulating. Might be worth a try if you are still unhappy. I created a wet edge in an already bonded portion of courser ballast letting it be drawn into the road stone and never applying the glue directly to the dry mix - the capillary action drew the liquid in very succesfully.

(edit ... reference to Howard removed).
Last edited by Le Corbusier on Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Tim Lee

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:41 pm

Hi Tim,

The heels on my switches are rigid indeed! I could cut throught the bonding strips and rely on fishplates to keep the rail in alignment, but this would be at the cost of the appearance of the switch, which would become loose-heeled. The material from Attwood Aggregates sounds much better suited to the task than the chinchilla dust, so good luck there!

Here is a picture of a switch assembly which shows the arrangement of the droppers too:

IMG_8727 (2).JPG


Colin

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:55 pm

Colin,

Sorry to be asking all these questions but ....

The connection between your stretcher rod and the crank looks pretty fantastic. How did you achieve such a realistic pin connection?

Really looking forward to seeing all the track going down permanently. To my eyes it is all looking pretty fantastic :thumb

Tim
Tim Lee

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:08 pm

Some experimental work on sole plates, which are a composite of GEL strip for the base and styrene detailing for the insulated joint (which might be too close to the slide chair position on this example). The timber under the soleplate was thinned by 0.3mm to accomodate the thickness of the GEL material prior to laying. The toe end of the tandem turnout is shown here.

IMG_8726 (2).JPG


An overall view of the completed siding ballast work. It has dried paler than anticipated, but will be treated with wood dye and weathered with track colour to give an ash ballast effect in due course. There is still a trace chinchilla dust still showing at the exit roads of the tandem turnout.

IMG_8729.JPG


Some scars still remain from the hacking off of the chinchilla dust by the running line. I had at first tried to sand the dust level with the sleepers in the sidings and this has resulted in some interesting distressing of the stained plywood. Though some sleepers are down to the bare wood and need staining, the overall effect looks quite like tracks with old, partially rotten timber.

IMG_8731.JPG


Point operation for now consists of some rudimentary knobs fashioned from Exactoscale fishplate sprues.

IMG_8736 (2).JPG


The view under the base board shows a little more sophistication, with Maplin roller-type micro switches in place for changing crossing polarity. There is an insulated joint visible here above the l/h micro switch, made from Exactoscale sprue material. This ensures that the escapement is doubly insulated from the track, with the other insulated joint being in the brass turnbuckle which is placed in between the drive rod and the adjusting crank. (See picture one of this post.)

IMG_8734 (2).JPG

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Colin Parks
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Colin Parks » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:18 pm

Le Corbusier wrote:Colin,

Sorry to be asking all these questions but ....

The connection between your stretcher rod and the crank looks pretty fantastic. How did you achieve such a realistic pin connection?

Really looking forward to seeing all the track going down permanently. To my eyes it is all looking pretty fantastic :thumb

Tim


Hi Tim.

The pins are all made from cut down duchesse pins which have been soldered into place on the drive lugs and adjusting cranks. The clevis joints simply fold down over the pins, though soldering the clevises into place demanded some very precise work!

Colin

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track Construction for a Test Track

Postby Le Corbusier » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:57 pm

Colin Parks wrote:
Le Corbusier wrote:Colin,

Sorry to be asking all these questions but ....

The connection between your stretcher rod and the crank looks pretty fantastic. How did you achieve such a realistic pin connection?

Really looking forward to seeing all the track going down permanently. To my eyes it is all looking pretty fantastic :thumb

Tim


Hi Tim.

The pins are all made from cut down duchesse pins which have been soldered into place on the drive lugs and adjusting cranks. The clevis joints simply fold down over the pins, though soldering the clevises into place demanded some very precise work!

Colin

Clevis Joints?
Tim Lee


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