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Kankool trackwork Part I …

Hi all,

Things have been pretty quiet since the last post, but there are always things happening behind the scenes and sometimes aren’t worth posting about.

I have been itching to get back into trackwork and have started building the first set of turnouts at the Werris Creek end of Kankool.

The Kankool (1941) signal diagram is shown below.  Click to open a larger version.


The first set of turnouts to be started are numbers 7 and 9 as shown above.  No.7 is the Up Main to Loop and No.9 is a catchpoint in the Main facing Down trains.  As can be seen above, there is a short runaway siding that extends from the loop through another turnout that is also designated No.7.  These two are worked from the same lever.  The runaway acts as a catchpoint for the loop facing Down trains as it is thrown for the runaway when lever 7 is normal in the frame (ie set for the Main).

In looking at photos I have that show snippets of this arrangement of turnouts at Kankool and a similar arrangement at Ardglen, I was intrigued to find that No.9 catchpoint is not a normal single blade type, but virtually a full turnout without the vee crossing.

catchpoint detail ardglen

The photo above shows a similar catchpoint at Ardglen.  Note the short run-off rail and the timber block where the inner rail ends at the stockrail.  The run-off rail extends under the point rodding.  There also appears to be some sort of ‘checkrail’ as well.

I decided to build the arrangement on the workbench, so out came the Greg Edwards Trackwork Handbook, and some photocopies of the 1:6 and 1:8 plain turnouts and 1:6 symmetrical turnout (wye) were made.  I had previously used some templates to get a rough idea on how the two would marry together.

My main workbench was found to be not perfectly flat, so I dragged out an old table I had and checked it – perfect!  I knew I had a sheet of glass somewhere that I could use to stick the paper templates to.  I started to lay out the templates, but soon found they had not copied accurately enough.  For some reason, and I’m guessing it was the photocopier, there was a slight kink in both templates.  Now, this error wasn’t helping me line up centrelines etc.

I decided to send an email to Greg Edwards explaining my problem and if he would be prepared to send me his CAD files of the turnouts.  Well Greg replied very promptly with attachments of the turnout drawings I required.  Greg’s only proviso in giving me the drawings was that I did not distribute them and that they were for my personal use only.  Thanks Greg!

I then proceeded to manipulate the drawings in TurboCAD to combine a 1:8 plain, 1:6 symmetrical and 1:6 plain together to produce a new template.  See below.

Kankool Turnouts Werris Ck end

The above result was a much more accurate template I could use.  As mentioned above, No.9 catchpoint arrangement can now be seen.  The road off the runaway at the top of the drawing will be extended more when in situ.

The template was printed out over three sheets of A4 size paper, cut and joined, then taped down to the glass.

Once the template was in place, PCB sleepers had to be glued down.  I started marking out where to place PCB in strategic locations but then changed tack to make every sleeper PCB.  This may seem like overkill, but it makes it easier than trying to position timber ones in place later.  Anyway, I thought I’d give it a go.

PCB sleepers in place

Clover House PCB strips were used.  Turnouts timbers are generally 10” x 6”, whilst general track sleepers are 9” x 4.5”.  Clover House #1266 scale out to approx. 10” x 5” and #1267 to approx. 11” x 5”.  They are a tad wider than they should be, and it’s difficult to see the difference, but the turnout timbers need to look ‘beefy’ compared to general sleepers.

Clover House PC Board ties

Once all the PCB’s were glued down, I started to think about laying the first piece of rail.  During these thoughts, I decided to have a go at laying the rails on etched tieplates for that extra bit of detail.  The tieplates were something I got etched as a detail item under the IR Models brand many years ago.  I’m not sure even if I ever ended up officially having them for sale.

etched tieplates

As can be seen from the image above, the tieplates came with a convenient centreline to assist in placement on the sleepers.  Firstly. the backs of the tieplates were pre-tinned with solder.  I then started by placing the etch in position over the drawn railhead on the template and with minimal solder, fixed them to the PCB.  This was repeated for the length of the straight stockrail.  In places where the curved stockrail converges on the straight stockrail, ‘half’ tieplates were used.  See below.

tieplates fixed in place

The straight stockrail was then soldered in place to the tieplates, again with minimal solder from the ‘rear’ of the rail (ie, the non viewing side).  Once this was complete, a 1:8 vee crossing was assembled and soldered in position, gauged from the stockrail.

fixing vee crossing in place

vee crossing support plates

The close-up shot of the crossing shows the support ‘plates’ the crossing is attached to.  These were made from strips of 0.1mm thick brass.  On the prototype, these ‘plates’ perform the same job as the tieplates under the rail.  The vee crossing was spiked in place to these.  On the model, they served the purpose of lifting the crossing up by 0.1mm which is the thickness of the tieplates.

The rest of the turnout complex was completed using the same techniques I used when building the storage yard turnouts.  Prior to fixing the tieplates in place for a second rail, individual plates were removed from the fret and placed at strategic locations, and with rail held temporarily in place with gauges, these initial plates were soldered in position.  The rail was then removed and the alignment of the plates checked against the template.  They were generally pretty spot on, so the remainder of the plates for a particular section were then fixed in place using the template as the guide, and the process of fixing the rail to these was again repeated using gauges.

The following images show some shots taken during the construction process.  Another vee crossing was also assembled, this time a 1:6 for the runaway turnout.

gauging the second stockrail

1:8 crossing in place with both straight stockrails

more progress

stage 1 complete

The final shot above shows the arrangement at the stage where all rails are in place.  I’m pretty happy with how it has all progressed.  Whether I continue with installing tieplates on future turnouts remains to be seen, as looking at a lot of photos, a lot of this detail is covered by ballast, and it is very time consuming.  I might wait until the Kankool turnouts and track are painted, weathered and ballasted before I make that decision.  After all, it will be a while before I need to worry about the Ardglen turnouts.

The next job is to fit the rail brace chairs, point blades and checkrails.  I also plan to fit the tiebars and associated apparatus, ready for the ‘wire-in-tube’ connection from the lever frame, all whilst it is on the workbench.


Tracklaying 101 …

Hi all,

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.

turnout components

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.

locating the crossing vee  gauging the straight closure rail

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.

gauging the curved stock rail gauging the curved closure 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.

LH end of UP yard RH end of UP yard

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.

road spacing jig jigs in position

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.

gauging the second rail

The black triangular gauges you can see were obtained from DD Wheelwrights in the Netherlands.  The orange roller gauges are from Railway Engineering in the US.

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.

PCB sleeper production …

Hi all,

After a suggestion from a fellow modeller, here is some information on how I cut the PCB sleepers for the storage yards.

Some years ago, I purchased large sheets of PCB in bulk.  I had attempted to rip these sheets into strips using a small Proxxon table saw, but this was unsuccessful.

I then came across a shear/bending brake from a tool supplier in Sydney.  This has proven a worthwhile purchase and makes cutting PCB sleepers a breeze.

The tool can be used as a shear or a bending brake, depending on the way it is configured.  In the picture above, it is setup as the shear.  The lever on the right hand side when lifted up and away from you, lifts the cutting edge up.

The PCB sheet is fed in from the rear underneath the black rectangular piece of metal.  In this instance, I was cutting pieces 30mm wide.  This method has changed from what I described in the last post, as I worked out it was more economical to cut 30mm wide strips than cutting long strips 3mm wide.

These 30mm wide strips were then cut into sleepers the required width, approximately 3mm.  The PCB is fed through the correct distance just by eye, as they don’t have to be that accurate for the storage yard trackwork.  When I come to building the turnouts for the scenicked sections, the dimensions will be more accurate.

For the longer strips required under the turnouts, I go back to cutting the thin strips then trimming them to the required lengths with the Xuron cutters.

The other day I managed to lay some more plain sleepers in the storage roads, and this evening, started back on soldering more rail in place through the turnouts.

I hope to post some progress shots later this week.

Cheers for now.

The first spike is driven …

…well, the first solder joint made anyway!

Hi all,

Yesterday, with help from Andrew, I commenced laying the storage yard trackwork.  In the time since the last post, I have drawn in track centrelines and have been gluing down PCB sleepers in preparation for rail.  I also assembled two etched frog kits from Proto87 Stores.  More on these later.

After the centrelines were drawn in, paper templates of NSWGR 1:6 turnouts were taped down in position.  There are a total of 32 turnouts in the storage yards, sixteen for each UP and DOWN yards, eight at each end.  After carefully setting the first eight out for the left hand end of the UP yard, I began gluing down the PCB sleepers.  These had been cut by myself from large sheets of 1mm PCB into strips about 200mm long by 3mm wide.  These strips were then cut into short lengths approximately 31mm long.  The first batch produced about 400 sleepers out of a 300 x 200mm sheet.  I commenced gluing these down with PVA glue using a jig that I built from brass.

sleeper laying jig in position with PCB sleepers ready to go sleepers in place in the jig sleepers in place with jig removed

This jig enables ten sleepers to be laid at a time, equally spaced at 30mm intervals.

On the first two turnouts that lead into the yard (both on the centre road), I determined where PCB sleepers would be required here as well.  Using a sharp scalpel, I cut out the sections of the template where the PCB sleepers would go, cut these to length, then glued them down.

paper templates and sleepers in position

Since I wanted to lay the centre road first, these first two turnouts determined where and how the first sections of rail were laid.  I won’t go into all the nitty gritty of building turnouts, as there have been numerous articles published on the subject.  I had decided to build the turnouts in situ because it made it easier to align them all in the yard ‘ladder’, as well as being able to use full lengths of rail rather than building them on the workbench then fitting them in place and then connecting them with many short lengths of rail.  This also minimises the number of joins in the rail.


the first section of rail is soldered down

The picture above shows me making the first soldered joint.  Note the etched frog assembly has not been soldered in place yet.  It doesn’t get fixed down until the straight stock rail on the right hand side is fixed in placed, then the frog is gauged off that rail.


one turnout partially complete

The picture above shows the second turnout partially complete.  Both straight and curved stock and closure rails are in place as well as the frog.  The point blades will be fitted later.

So, over the next few weeks, there will be more of the same happening until these first eight turnouts are complete, less point blades, and the rest of the tangent track in each UP road laid close to the end of the UP yard where another eight turnouts will be built.

Here is a drawing showing the final arrangement of the storage yards.

storage yards final arrangement

Cheers for now.

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