Tracklaying 101 …
Posted by Ian Millard
I have been pretty busy since the last post, getting quite a bit of track down. Already the centre road and the next one closest to the wall are complete between turnouts at each end. I am referring to the UP yard at the moment.
I thought I would share some tips on how I have been laying the track. This won’t be a comprehensive tutorial, as there have been numerous articles published in various publications over the years about handlaying track. It’s just the methods I am using.
As mentioned previously, the PCB sleepers go down first. At the left hand end of the UP yard, when viewed from the room, I have built five turnouts. These are complete except for the point blades and checkrails. As mentioned previously, I am using laminated etched vee crossings from Proto87 Stores in the USA. They have made building these turnouts a breeze, as there is no bending of rail, or filing of the vee. I won’t go into how they are assembled, rather here is a link to the Proto87 Stores’ tutorial.
Refer to the turnout drawing below.
The first part of the turnout that goes down is the straight stock rail. Then the crossing vee is located and gauged off the straight stock rail. Then the straight closure rail is fixed from the crossing to the heel. The heel is where the point blades are hinged.
The curved stock rail is next, firstly being fixed down near the toe (or start of the turnout). This rail is then slightly bent to clear the outside of the heel. This short section of rail must be straight where the point blade lies against it. It is then fixed again at the heel. Using gauges, the curved stock rail is then gauged off the other side of the crossing vee and soldered in position opposite the crossing only. Again, the short section of rail opposite the crossing must be straight. The rail then forms a natural curve from the heel to the crossing. This is then fixed down. Next comes the curved closure rail which is gauged off the curved stock rail.
The turnout is basically complete at this point, apart from the point blades and check rails which will be added later. It’s just then a matter of gauging the rest of the tangent track off the stock rails and crossing vee.
The centre road was laid all the way to the other end of the UP yard, where I have laid two and a half turnouts at this stage. Each of the remaining roads towards the wall will be laid, then I will start on the ones towards the outer edge of the benchwork. After the UP yard is complete, the process is repeated for the DOWN yard around the corner.
After this centre road was down, I made some jigs to set the distance of the next road from this centre road. These were made from some square brass channel that was a neat fit over the head of the code 70 rail and some larger C channel as the spacers.
Once the first rail of the next road is down, the second rail can be gauged from it using the normal gauges. I can lay rail this way reasonably quickly.
I hope this has been of some assistance to those who wish to handlay their track. The principles are the same whether you are modelling P87 or other standards.
Cheers for now.