A first attempt at track building

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Ian-IoM
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A first attempt at track building

Postby Ian-IoM » Wed May 12, 2010 9:36 am

Ok, here goes on the track build for the quayside suitcase layout. I may have exagerated a bit on my ham-fisted baboon status but I have never tried track building before and have only done soldering for electrical purposes so this is a new venture for me. In my defense I have been model making for thirty years and am comfortable with mechanical stuff, engineering drawings and so on. This is certainly not a "how to" thread, there are far more accomplished track builders than me on the forum, just a log of a first attempt - I'll be learning as I go.

Anyway, I've marked out part of the track on the board, glued down some sleepers (hand cut from pcb) and soldered on the first bit of rail (stripped from Hornby track, just because I had some):
Image
Closer spaced and longer sleepers are for a turnout, may need adjustment later but hopefully not too much. Actually soldering the rail down was surprisingly easy, I thought the heatsink effect of the rail might make it difficult to get enough heat but no problem there, three hands would be useful though. I'd better note at this point that the track will be embedded tramway style so it doesn't need to look pretty, just work :)
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Postby Panda » Wed May 12, 2010 10:45 am

Nice work!
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Postby Little Andi. » Wed May 12, 2010 11:54 am

Ian..............

Very interested to see how this goes, I myself am at the beginnings of laying track for the first instalment of Belle Lane! - Namely "The Top Yard".
I seem to have an affinity for and with - what it is you do, so my curiosity, understanding and abilities seem to run parallel [ish] to your own. This in turn usually means that following your threads is highly rewarding as I find my questions being answered by your own querying mind - your solutions make sense to me and your sense of reason invariably I've noticed comes to the same, or very close conclusion...... as mine own!?

My first question though - is.......... where on earth does one find this much vaulted PCB stuff, and how does one go about using it?......... I must admit the idea of buying expensive RTR track-work and then trashing it for a more realistic sleeper pattern does really stick in the craw somewhat. Plus I'm sure I'm not the only one that finds point-work incredibly attractive? - which means sooner or later you'll attempt to build some............ which means I'll get to see how you go about it.
This is not totally expedient you understand? - Just an abstract way of being supportive and encouraging!!!! [arf]!

Post your progress often and with lots of pic's, ;- enquiring minds need to know this stuff......................cheers......................
KBO .......................... Andi.

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Postby Ian-IoM » Wed May 12, 2010 3:05 pm

Andi:
We do seem to have similar way of going about things, although I can't claim to match your standard when it comes to detailing and painting. Nice to hear that Belle Lane is making progress and I'll look forward to seeing more of your work in due course :)

I got the pbc from eBay, just searched for pcb board and lots came up. Make sure you get the plain stuff though, not veroboard / stripboard. (In case anyone doesn't know it's "printed circuit board" for electronic use, about 2mm thick paper based laminate with a thin copper layer on one side. It's easily cut with a junior hacksaw to make sleepers, then it's easy to solder the rail to the sleepers - strong join and easy to move if it needs adjustment.)

Stripping Hornby track to get the rail is probably not all that logical - but I had some in the cupboard gathering dust so thought I might as well use it. Actually I could just build the points and use flexi track for the other bits, the sleepers will be hidden anyway, but decided that I may as well be hanged for a sheep as a goat (or whatever the expression is) and build all the track. (Avoids having to match sleeper thickness too.)

Ummm, anyway, I'll be posting updates as things happen. I'm feeling my way on this and it might all go to pigs and whistles but to me a lot of the fun is in experimenting with new things, so whatever the outcome it's good to have a go :D
Ian K

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Postby chris krupa » Wed May 12, 2010 5:26 pm

PCB is available from Maplins either from their stores or from their web site. It can be sawn with a hacksaw or a fine bladed band saw /circular saw if you have one. You can also buy it ready cut from a number of places. Off hand I can only think of Marcway in Sheffield but there are many other dealers.

When I built the track for Matthews Corner I already had quite a lot of Hornby set track which I bought second hand very very cheaply. It was a mixture of nickel silver (better in my view ) and steel (not so good, but OK I think). Most railway shows these days have second hand dealers and the track doesn't command very high prices. I think I paid about 10p a twelve inch length.

One thing to watch is that if you lay the sleepers before gapping them, be sure that you are very thorough about cutting the insulating gap. It can be very difficult to trace the recalcitrant sleeper(s) if there is a short. I prefer to gap and check every sleeper before laying them.

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Postby More_Cats_Than_Sense » Wed May 12, 2010 5:30 pm

PCB strip is available from http://www.marcway.co.uk/ the pcb strip can be found at http://www.marcway.co.uk/trackm.htm I used to buy all my pcb sleeper strip from them, though the last of it was about 15 years ago (where has the time gone? :shock: :shock: )
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Postby gfadvance » Wed May 12, 2010 5:31 pm

Little Andi. wrote:Ian..............

I must admit the idea of buying expensive RTR track-work and then trashing it for a more realistic sleeper pattern does really stick in the craw somewhat.


Andi, you can buy just the rail only, from Pecs if you want to save a few pennies and your determined to build your own track ... just remember to share with the rest of us your progress (and what code/size of rail your using :wink: )
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Postby Adrian » Thu May 13, 2010 12:24 am

G'day All

Andi, you can buy just the rail only, from Peco if you want to save a few pennies and your determined to build your own track .


Just be careful if you go down that path......a recent trip to the local model shop found that the Peco single rails were actually MORE expensive than buying flex track and throwing away the sleepers :shock:

Might be different on your side of the world though ?

Cheers
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Postby PeterH » Thu May 13, 2010 9:05 am

Looks good Ian. I couldn't tell from your photo if you have cut the PCB copper between the rails (you need to do this if power is being supplied by the track).
Peter

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Postby Ian-IoM » Thu May 13, 2010 12:44 pm

PeterH wrote: I couldn't tell from your photo if you have cut the PCB copper between the rails

Not yet, I was going to do it later. As Chris says it could be better to do it earlier but I hadn't thought of the fault-finding implications. I'm only making a small amount of track though, so not too worried.

btw, on the rail front - there's no model shop on the island that caters for railway modelling but there's a Toymaster shop that sells some Hornby stuff so I can get flexi track off the shelf. Ordering online is fine for a lot of stuff but lengths of rail are not the easiest things to get by post. I'd have to order enough to make it worth packing in a postal tube, and with the cost of that and postage it's probably cheaper just to strip the Hornby stuff. One of the joys of living on a rock in the middle of the Irish sea :?
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Postby dieselwater » Thu May 13, 2010 2:34 pm

Looks good Ian. I've been waiting for some more track building threads. I need the motivation and know how to get cracking with a Gnew project of mine. I bought some Peco set track whilst back in Blighty that I hope to convert into some little lines of sorts.
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Postby AndyB » Thu May 13, 2010 4:11 pm

Little Andi. wrote:Ian..............
My first question though - is.......... where on earth does one find this much vaulted PCB stuff, and how does one go about using it?......... I must admit the idea of buying expensive RTR track-work and then trashing it for a more realistic sleeper pattern does really stick in the craw somewhat. Plus I'm sure I'm not the only one that finds point-work incredibly attractive? - which means sooner or later you'll attempt to build some............ which means I'll get to see how you go about it.[arf]!

Try C+L Finescale
http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php
they do a range of rail and the pcb sleepers... and Track spikes :D if you want to try something different...
the sell pcb strips which allow you to create more prototypical length sleepers...
Andy
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Postby AndyB » Thu May 13, 2010 4:24 pm

oh and another supplier of rail is...
Karlgarin http://www.karlgarin.com/whatsnew.htm
regards Andy

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Postby More_Cats_Than_Sense » Thu May 13, 2010 5:03 pm

On the subject of gapping the pcb to remove the shorting effect, I tend to gap just inside the rails instead of down the centre. I found that the gap is easier to disguise if done this way than it is if it is along the centre line. I also tend to gap each sleeper inside of both of the rails, one gap is better than two in preventing a sliver of copper shorting across the gap :wink:
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Postby Ian-IoM » Thu May 13, 2010 5:35 pm

Ok, I've got a bit more rail down. I don't know the usual build sequence but decided to do the continuous rail on the other side of the curved bit and turnout:
Image
The theory here is that once these two rails are in place the positions of all the other bits and pieces is defined.

It's probably not visible on the piccy but I have filed a recess in the bottom of the rails to make room for the point blades. If it needs more work there I could use burrs in a mini drill.

I've also gapped the sleepers and tried running a loco - it worked :D (derails when it gets to the wide bit though :roll: )
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Postby AndyB » Thu May 13, 2010 5:38 pm

voice of experience here... :)
if you must use double sided pcb... make sure you gap both sides :twisted:

unless of course you enjoy the torture of spending hours looking for the total short circuit on the track that tested just fine with meter before you put in that track pin... :oops:


Andy :D
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Postby Ian-IoM » Fri May 14, 2010 7:39 pm

Some more done:
Image

The pointy bit of the frog was formed by filing the ends of the prebent rail to the right angle, soldering the two bits together then filing away the excess solder. This was done as a seperate sub assembly then soldered onto the sleepers, obviously it needs to be accurately positioned but soldering allows fairly easy adjustment.

So far so good, now on to the more difficult looking bits...
Ian K

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Postby Willow Creek Traction » Fri May 14, 2010 8:08 pm

Ian-IoM wrote:I've also gapped the sleepers and tried running a loco - it worked :D

Yea! 8)
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Postby Panda » Fri May 14, 2010 8:59 pm

that looks great! What do you use to gap the copper clad?
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Postby JackBlack » Fri May 14, 2010 11:43 pm

That turnou is looking really great!!
Jack

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Postby Ian-IoM » Sun May 16, 2010 7:37 pm

mogbass01: Sorry about slow reply, I used a half-round needle file to gap the copper. I mainly use basic handtools - knife, steel rule, small snipe nose pliers and a set of assorted needle files.

Ok, this was supposed to be a warts and all log, so here's a wart:
Image

Trying to solder a rail joiner didn't work, the solder wouldn't take and I ended up with a well toasted sleeper and a wobbly bit on the frog. I could have adopted my usual bodge repair method (a big glob of araldite), but I had cut the rail a bit too short as well so decided to try to do it properly. Out with the old and in with the new:
Image

Replacing a couple of sleepers proved fairly straightforward, basically breaking up the toasted bits with sidecutters, melting the solder then pulling the sleepers out. The new ones were slipped in and soldered in place, with the spacing adjusted slightly to allow more room for the rail joiner hinges. (Ignore the extra wide sleeper, this is left over from a different idea for mounting the point blades.)

With a new frog bit and point blade in place:
Image


I've tried the loco on the straight route through the point now - it works :shock: :D
Next bit to do is the curved route, probably a bit more tricky than the straight bit, but no major headaches so far...
Ian K

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Postby Korschtal » Sun May 16, 2010 8:15 pm

I'm envious of your courage and success.
How do you file the rail down to make the point blade?
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Postby Ian-IoM » Sun May 16, 2010 8:51 pm

Korschtal wrote:I'm envious of your courage and success.
How do you file the rail down to make the point blade?

Thanks, I've always thought of building track as something of a black art but what I've done so far has been reasonably straightforward and it seems to work. Takes time though, the point blade was just filed by hand using needle files - file a bit, try in place, file a bit... repeat until crosseyed :roll:
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Postby dieselwater » Mon May 17, 2010 4:56 am

I second Andy's comment- I too am envious of your courage and success Ian. You're doing a good job of something I have yet to attempt.
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Postby Little Andi. » Mon May 17, 2010 7:08 am

Excellent series of updates Ian, warts and all helps us "others" to see the dead ends and blind alleys that we too might find ourselves in - and of course your "solutions" are invaluable. Just because it seems to have been easy so far for you.............. doesn't mean it'll offer the same courtesy to myself and others?

Also I rather tongue in cheek mentioned a certain affinity with the way you work a few posts ago!! Well I think a lot of it is I work in a similar fashion. I mean the whole "hand tools" thing, I also tend to work "In the hand" so to speak. I have a small modellers vice but I can never be bothered to set it up.

Keep up the great work - I'm inspired to try this at some point [s'cuse pun!].
KBO .......................... Andi.


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