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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(I do have a serious query at the end)

I was trying to lay track in a straight line and despite the use of a straight tracksetta and then the edge of a quality one metre level, I was still veering one way or the other after a meagre 4 or 5 feet. From where I was laying the track everything seemed fine until I made two checks:-

1) Can I still fit the other running line, platform and two outer tracks in the space left before everything falls off the edge of the baseboard? If not, start again.
2) If I walk to the end of the line and cast my eye can I see a kink? If yes, start again.

Twice these checks failed and each time the deviation was barely perceptible at the point it started, neither did the straight edges I was using show it up.

Whilst pondering on my difficulty of keeping straight over a distance of 12 feet I wondered how you got to the moon without missing by rather a long way. Then I decided that it didn't matter, you just kept adjusting your course so that you were pointed at the moon, after all it is rather large and you can see it. But then I wondered what if you can't see your target such as the other half of a tunnel. A fraction of a degree off and as the joke about the 2 man quote to build a tunnel goes - "If we miss, then you get two tunnels for the price of one".

I realised that the Chunnel builders probably used GPS and lasers. But I didn't think that GPS would work to the tolerance I needed, though a laser level was a possibility. A quick google showed that basic models can be had for about £20 from Amazon but that still seemed like overkill, so before nipping down to B & Q I tried one last ploy.

I performed my number 1 check above at 4 foot intervals and secured a 4 inch piece of offcut track where the outer rail should be. Then I got a long half inch wide measuring tape - the kind builders use, it's about 28 ft long and doesn't like to kink left or right - and laid it between the rails of the 4 inch offcuts. Now I was able to use the tape as a guide to laying the track I wanted without any further dramas. The result is completely straight - a bit like the track from the opening of Once upon a time in the west - but it's near enough and once a train is standing on it you don't notice.

Query:
Whilst on (or near) the subject of the channel tunnel, I was thinking of using it this summer but I don't quite understand why there is a reasonable price and totally out of this world price. What are you not getting for the cheap fare? I have heard that maybe you get to wait a lot for some trainspotting if you haven't paid the ransom. Is this true?

David
 

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And they didn't use GPS - doesn't work under rock.

I assume they did a bunch of calculations and monitor the position of the cutting heads relative to the path they had cut.

It does curve quite a bit.



On my layout, I mark the track position first with a pencil on the baseboard. I then lay some cork roadbed, then I redraw the lines. I use a metre rule, keeping the centre of the track aligned with the line. If I need a parallel track, I use a Peco track-gauge which works quite well.
 

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Hi DWB
I like your tape idea, its simple and it would appear work too.

On track laying, I always draw a central pencil line along straight runs which is where I want the centre of that length of track.. Then I align my first length of track down the middle of this line. I use a one metre long metal rule which is place either edge on to the rails outer web or if space permits along the sleeper ends.. I pin the first length in place using the long rule to ensure the further point is in the correct place and then as I add lengths of track I simply move the rule along, keeping the rear part of the rule still against a good amount of the fixed track, this then ensures the track goes down nice and straight, but keep ensure its kept tight to the edge of the metal rule.


I use a Peco "00" track gauge (Little red plastic device with Settrack and Steamline track centring) where tracks run parallel to each other. Still keeping the metal rule placed along the newer track though, as this then ensures the correct inter track spacing and a nice straight finish to the track laying.


Of course the real thing isn't always that straight anyway!


As for the Channel Tunnel, I have been through numerous times and still can't get to grips with their pricing policy? We often pop over for a day trip (Beer and wine run etc) and get a £17.00-£19.00 day return ticket (2005)
but the normal period return is really expensive!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Drawing a line is an interesting idea. One of the reasons I was having a problem was that I don't have a reliable edge to work off. The roof trusses in the house aren't aligned well enough!

I can endorse both comments on the Peco track gauge. That's what I used to space in from the edge of the board. For determining platform width I turned the gauge over and used the outside edges of the Settrack gauge. It's a shade over two streamline jumps if you see what I mean. I've no idea if the platform will be wide enough but I don't have to use it 9-)

David
 

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Hi dwb,
Instead of drawing a line you could use a length of thread or string held taught by pins driven in to the base board at either end?

Laurie

P.S I have heard that the Blackwall tunnel on the Thames has a kink in the middle. Apparently the builders were worrying about parrallel bores missing in the middle so they drove them both at an angle as then they couldn't miss.
 

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Re the Blackwall Tunnels - I used to live near the south end before I moved a little north-westwards and out of London. I was told that the kinks in the old tunnel were to ensure the exit ramps were long enough to stop them being too steep for horse-drawn traffic, which was still predominant when this tunnel was built. The newer (1960s) tunnel has much smoother bends and is easier to drive through.

Anyway, back to laying straight track. I usually draw a line where I want one of the actual rails to go. I was fortunate to inherit a Moore and Wright steel straight edge from my late father. This is a weighty piece of steel 36 inches long, 2 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick (made before metrication, you understand). Having roughly laid the track in place, I then use the straight edge to align the ends of the sleepers before pinning down the track, usually for about 2/3rds the length of the straight edge before I move the straight edge along a bit. Seems to work.

Regards,
John Webb
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
>Thread
I considered string / wool rather than thread. Thread would have been a good idea. The job is now done and the loop was closed last night. I think the second line which I "keyed" off the first is slightly straighter. I would post some photos if someone could tell me how to refine a URL to a particular image in a photo album. I have an outstanding question in the bulletin board forum.

David
 

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Saw the heading of this topic and immediately thought,Oh God imagine the debt that two of them could run up.Then someone really spoils my day by telling me that there are THREE!!!!!!!
I'm going mad
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
>debt that two of them could run up
Not at all. It's one of those "Buy one, get one free" deals.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
>Thread would have been a good idea. The job is now done and the loop was closed last night
Since posting this comment, I have switched to Peco code 75 but continued to use the "thread method". Today I picked up a "laser straight" device and checked to see how straight the track laid with thread actually is. It's pretty much spot on, but in future I will use the laser. It's a lot easier to see in the dim conditions in the loft. Just remember NOT to look at the laser; always point it away from you.

David
 

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[ Just remember NOT to look at the laser; always point it away from you.

David
[/quote]

Unless your into DIY laser eye surgery

Arethusa
I got there first
 

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I'm in the process of laying a very large layout in N gauge
Getting true straights in OO gauge was quite easy, but N gauge is a different story

The two straights on the previous layout were about 12 feet long
A quick check along the length of the track, a small adjustment, a final recheck, and alignment was complete

I've just done the same in N gauge, but there are small kinks and deviations everywhere!
What makes it worse is that the fiddle yard has 14 parallel tracks, and although they are equally spaced a quick view along the length of the track and horror words come to bear!

Ironically when a train runs along each of them it runs almost true and straight, but when vacant it does look pretty awful
The trick might be to keep the fiddle yard full!

However, on the scenic side there will be 4 parallel tracks (ie traditional main running line)
Clearly these need to be almost perfect
So, the plan is to get the fiddle yard looking right first, and if that method works use that on the scenic area
I plan to take a tracksetta and run it up and down the entire length of each line, then recheck alignment
Over time this should iron out the kinks and deviations

I have performed this on the far away track on the fiddle yard it is almost perfect (making the other 13 tracks look awful!)
 

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if you are arranging fiddle yards then there is a tool you can use. it looks like about 8 dividers on a pantograph. i will try and find a pic for you

Peter

here it is. this is a very expensive and complicated one but i think squires do one for about £8.
You only have to get 1 track straight then measure all the others from that datum.

http://www.haff.de/reduktionszirkel_e.htm
 

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This might seem like a stupid question but why is it important to lay track in a straight line to this degree of accuracy?


Rail track is far from straight in real life. I kind of like my trains to "snake" through hills to give a sense of depth to my layout.

Just wondered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
>why is it important to lay track in a straight line to this degree of accuracy?
I don't know if this comment applies to me particularly but when you have a "tail chaser" it is important that you make both ends meet. It's a bit of a nuisance when you get to the end of a 16 foot length to find that you have drifted by half an inch or more. That can be the difference between getting round a bend or not.

David
 

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QUOTE I don't know if this comment applies to me particularly but when you have a "tail chaser" it is important that you make both ends meet.

No I just wondered. I have never had this problem. Probably because my layout is not 16 feet long.... yet
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I found another way to make use of it last night. I wanted to place a point about 6 inches along from an existing turnoff. One of the tracks from this new point was to be aligned with a track from this turnoff. By placing the laser level so that it projected along in the rail in the rigt direction, I knew that the new turnoff was placed accurately once the laser beam was shining along the equivalent rail.

Once the new turnout was pinned in place, I was able to cut a piece of straight track to fill the gap.

David
 
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