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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

Please excuse my request but I'm only back into Railway Modelling and I'm hoping to model Bangor Station in North Wales.

I've recently purchased some Peco code 75 track and frogs and currently getting my baseboards completed.

So next step will be planning and laying my track.


Before I start I'd welcome some expert advice on how to go about using the flexi track and lining and cutting it into place!!

If you could keep it simple for me I'd really appreciate it!!

Thanks in advance!!
 

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I may not be with the mainstream here.....but I would start by ddoodling my trackplan ideas first........I know we live in a computer-literate age...but I find a pad of graph-paper and a pencil useful!

I'd start with my baseboard shape..or room dimensions...drawn out in as large a scale as the paper will tolerate.

Then I'd decide on my typical radius of curve, and cut out, from another piece of graph paper, some full or half circles to the same scale, for this radius.

With one's ddoodle to hand, see if it is practical within the allotted space...allowing a few inches around outside edges, if space is tight.

At this stage, I usually revise my minimum radii downwards!

Then measure a chosen turnout (point....frogs croak!) to see if clearnaces work....especially those 'points' which form the closest position a vehicle can stand to the point without fouling the other lines.

This is where I usually end up with curved turnouts for any loops!

Once you have something that MIGHT be workable...I'd be getting a roll af plain lining paper, some sellotape, a pair of scissors, and I'd mock-up full size the intended baseboards.

Then, using the old method of string, drawing pin and felt-tip pen...plus an example of one's chosen turnout...or two....try it all out full size.
This may require crawling around on the floor a lot.....if you have any stock, try out loop and siding lenghts, as well?

Erase or cross out any alterations clearly, so they don't get replicated lateer...

or the transition from curve to straight, it might be an idea to 'offset' the straight bit, outwards by a couple of inches.....then when laying track, the curved part can be 'stretched out' to meet the straight portion, creating a sort-of transition...apparently this technique, or the more accurate versions, can mean one can use slightly tighter radii than one originally thought!

Incidentally, this technique also applies to driving..ie cornering!!

At least, get all the alterations done at this stage...rather than ripping-up freshly laid track!

Also..one can pre=plan one's electrics as well...even DCC..but it also works for clockwork!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi,

Yes I've already got a plan drawn and have a rough sketch of track plan drawn onto baseboards.

All I need is some advice on how to measure and cut the track properly.

Thanks.
 

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have you decided on what underlay method to use yet?

How do you intend cutting the track?

Dremel-type cutting disc?

Side cutters? (Xuron, for example)

Or razor saw?

if the latter..making up a track-cutting jig is useful...a bit of wood, some grooves, anything to hold the track to stop it moving.

I tend to start with some pointwork, then work outwards.

Check all joints, etc by eye....often the eye will give a better, smoother result than any technical method.

making sure any trackjoints are actually exactly in alignment is important....again, work by eye...run a pice of bogie stock through the joint...movement of the bogies will also hilite any misalignement.
Don't forget....alignment also needs checking in the 'vertical' as well.

How do you intend fixing down?

Pins?
Glue?

If using pins, drill a hole in the sleeper first....beware of pushing the pin in too far, or too tight...the sleeper may well get bent, this technically narrows the gauge.......I suppose.

A point to remember.....one uses underlay to cushion the track, and provide sound-deadening qualities.

If ballasting and underlay has yet to be finalised..I would suggest one of the new, but pricey, pre-'moulded' ballast underlays...there's a dutch one out which looks very good.

For curves..either something like Traksetta..or a home-made trammel is useful.....a large cardboard cutout??

when cutting flextrack..don't forget to 'remove' a sleeper or two from each end.....to be replaced after trimming once each section is joined.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi,

1. Cutting with a mini drill
2. Underlay will be cork strips
3. Fixing with glue

So you suggest staring at a point and working away from it??

Thanks again for help and advice.
 

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I asked a question on how to cut track about a year ago. The thrust of the advice was to use a "Xuron". I bought a pair and I have to say they are absolutely brilliant. If you can bear it, you can read a blow by blow account of how I lay track in my blog entry "Back on Track". I think Doug and Neil also have entries in their blogs on how they lay theirs too.

David
 

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on the basis that points aren't too flexible....plain track CAN be re-aligned...however, the orientation of the point needs to be sorted first..I'd suggest light pinning to get positions first.....

for example, a simple loop....a nice piece of straight wood or better, some aluminium moulding or strip.....laying the points along the straight edge.........gets them in line!

Then, starting with a bit of [straight] flextrack...fit to the curved part of the point, sticking out in a line.....then ease it around towards one's chosen (marked) aligment......ease the sleeper strips along, since the variation in rail length due to the curve, will have to go out towards the 'free' end.......................I have found it easier, when laying the 'curved' part of a runround loop..to do the above from each turnout...meeting in the middle..hopefully on a fairly straight bit!

In fact, if a mistake has been made with the 'straight' bit, ie cut a tad too long...then cutting in the middle, laying relatively long pieces of track, lessens the likelyhood of a kink.

However, I re-iterate.....as has been stated elsewhere, railway modelling is very much an ART......precision measurement is all very well.....but I advise relying on the 'eye'....if it looks right, it probably IS right.....art over science?
 

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Hi dwb,

Thanks very informative just what I need to see!!

Not as easy as one would first think, glad I asked prior to cutting and measuring.

Nigel.

PS will use my laser level too, that was a great suggestion.
 

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>PS will use my laser level too, that was a great suggestion.
I'm glad somebody thinks so! The slagging I got for daring to mention it....


David
 

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QUOTE (Nitemare @ 24 Feb 2007, 20:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>@Alastairq

Hmmmmm NO!!

To be honest, I have always been disappointed by the 'shortcomings' of proprietary points, like Peco, etc.

Despite their 'quality' and ease of use....I always find SOME piece of stock that manages to lurch, or stall, or display general discomfort through the turnout.

So I read up a bit about turnouts, and what was to be achieved....this is all pre-tinternet, btw......basically, the idea of the frog bit, is to allow passage of the wheel, and to avoid it 'dipping' at the gap, the gap was to be narrow(wide?) enough, that at no point was the wheel TREAD to be out of contact with a piece of rail.

Given a constant wheel profile..[ie NMRA?}....this 'gap' set a standard.

Then, the second aim was to lay the rail so that a vehicle woud traverse the frog area, WITHOUT the need for checkrails.
If I was lucky, I got it right.....however, the checkrails were simply positioned so that, effectively, the prevailing layout/wheel back-to-back measurement was the same as the outer edge of checkrail, to inner edge of Vee....so to speak....thsi guided the wheel away from the wrong side of the gap!

I used to build points away from the layout, on a thin sheet of card or plasticard.....enough to keep the thing rigid....before inserting it on the layout.

I used copperclad stuff.....and if I didn't have enough, then I simply used sufficient to 'fix' the rails ..mostly in the frog area....inserting card sleepers to fill the gaps............tiebars were my nightmare!

I even built a 'curved' diamond crossing, for a double junction, on an NMRA module I made once.....at the time we had a 'shortage ' of corner modules..often not having enough arrive at the chosen venue...so I 'sorted' the problem in my own way, by designing and building a module with a double junction....capable of being used either as a straight, or corner, module.....it worked, was a scenic nightmare, but the curved Xing never gave any trouble.......however, US trains dont rush...and I inserted speed limit signs anyway!
 

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I cut flexi-track with my cordless Dremel. Wear goggles! You have to get close to see what you're doing. Raise the track slightly with a scrap piece of cork or two to get a perpendicular cut. Flatten the cut a little with the face of the disk when done. Practice a bit and you'll make perfect cuts after a while. Take your time. Eventually they will come out perfectly.
 

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Traksetta do a straight strip - ideal for ensuring straightas are straights.

Also equip yourself with a small mirror . You can use this to relect the track - kinks and doglegs tend to show up this way
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow thanks everyone for the advice!! Hope I can do it justice when I take the plunge and start cutting!!
 

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I also start with the most complicated point work and move on out from there. I use a small modellers saw to cut my track. I haven't used these xuron cutters but I don't have problem with the way I currently cut my track. I used to make model boats so I have a lot of the fine scale modelling equipment needed. I use a small vice to hold the track, saw it then file smooth all edges.

I put the track in place on the layout and mark where I need to cut by means of the initial saw cut. I then remove the rail and put the rail in the vice to ensure no slipage.

This is all obviously time consuming but if you're in the market for a fast paced hobby then model rail isn't the one.
 

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QUOTE (Nitemare @ 24 Feb 2007, 20:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi all,

Please excuse my request but I'm only back into Railway Modelling and I'm hoping to model Bangor Station in North Wales.

I've recently purchased some Peco code 75 track and frogs and currently getting my baseboards completed.

So next step will be planning and laying my track.


Before I start I'd welcome some expert advice on how to go about using the flexi track and lining and cutting it into place!!

If you could keep it simple for me I'd really appreciate it!!

Thanks in advance!!


Hi Nitemare,

LAYING FLEXTRACK SHOULD NOT BE A NIGHTMARE!

Lots of good advice on this topic have been given following your question. Follow the basic rules and you will not be disappointed.

It is true that whenever possible you should first lay the points and then starting at the points lay the flextrack away from the points. When you have to join the flextrack coming from opposite directions always try and join the tracks in a straight section - it is so much easier.

When you join flextrack on curves there is a tried and tested method you should use. Try to join the first 100mm of the section of flextrack going in to the curve on a straight section of track. Now feed the flextrack into the curve pinning it down as you progress. (As already mentioned always position the free moving rail on the inside of the curve). As you reach the end of the first section of the flextrack you are feeding into the curve, do not pin down the last 150mm but leave it straight. You will find that the end of inside free moving rail is now a little bit longer than the outside rail. Cut off the extra bit of track to the same length as the outside rail using any of the methods already described making sure enough rail is left after the last sleeper to slide fishplates on. Now prepare the second section of flextrack. Cut away two sleepers. (You can always replace the sleepers once the track is laid down). The space created by cutting away the sleepers will leave enough room for the tracks to move in the next step.

To ensure that there are no kinks in the tracks on the curve you must solder the joints. Many of us are apprehensive to attempt soldering but with a little bit of practice on a scrap piece of track you will quickly master the basics of soldering track. I am not going into a long discussion about soldering techniques as that is a subject for a different topic. I know you are itching to lay that track so here are the basics. First of all you must have a good quality 30Watt soldering iron, resin core solder 1mm - 2mm in diameter and some acid free flux. Also have a damp sponge available to wipe the tip of the soldering iron. Practicing on a scrap piece of track cut away one sleeper and slide on a fishplate. Ensure that the soldering iron has reached its operating heat and then tin the tip of the soldering iron. Touch a piece of solder onto the hot tip of the soldering iron and if it immediately melts it has reached optimum heat. Now wipe the tip on the damp sponge and the soldering iron should be left with a shiny tip. It is now properly tinned. The reason why the soldering iron should be at its optimum heat is that you want to move in and out with the soldering iron when soldering track to prevent the sleeprs from melting. Now take a toothpick or similar and dab a little bit of flux onto the rail/fishplate. The purpose of the flux is to aid the flow of the hot solder and to ensure a good joint and bond. Touch the hot iron onto the area where you applied the flux - it will melt immediately and flow into the joint. Now heat up the spot to be soldered by holding the soldering iron tip to the spot to be soldered for about 2 seconds and then whilst still holding the tip of the iron on the spot bring the solder to the tip of the iron. You will note that the solder immediately melts and flow into the joint. Simultaniously move the iron and the solder away from the spot. After a few seconds you will see that the shiny solder now starts to dull. You can now handle the object you have soldered but be carefull - it is still VERY HOT!

Using the same soldering technique as above first slide on the fishplates onto the ends of the first section of curved flextrack. Now slide the second section of flextrack into the fishplates on the first section of track keeping the joint straight and stable and making sure that the track ends meet in the middle of the fishplate. Weigh the joint down if necessary. Apply the flux to the OUTSIDE of the track and solder making sure that the solder flows into the whole lenght of the fishplate. If perhaps some solder finds its way to the inside of the track use a fine file to remove it.

Once the joint has cooled down check to see if it has bonded properly and then proceed to feed the flextrack into the curve until you reach the next joint. Using this method will ensure that you have well laid track. Usually the straight section of flextrack are not soldered as it is not necessary and also the unsoldered joints allow for the movement of track due to climate changes which in turn prevents kinking of the tracks.

Taking your time to lay track will richly reward you with the pleasure of operating your layout without anoying derailments, stalling etc.

Enjoy our exciting and rewarding hobby.

Kind regards.

Johan
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Wow Johan,

What a comprehensive and very knowledgable answer. I really appreciate everybodys comments so far and I hope I can do all your advice justice this week as I get round to some track laying.


Thank-you,

Nigel.
 
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