South Downs Railway

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Track Laying

Track laying tips

I've been given a few tips, which are reflected in the bullet points below:

  • Prepare fishplates before fitting them. I have a small piece of track in a pin vice, which is used to open out the ends.
  • Beware of  turning up the end of the fishplate when adding it onto a piece of track, and check it assembles before using glue.
  • When adding points, add the insulating fishplates to the point frog straight away: this makes it less likely they will be forgotten. Remember that crossovers will need all 8 joins to have insulating fishplates.
  • Don't forget to put the "cosmetic" extra two sleepers under the fishplates BEFORE joining the new track.
  • Points have a hole drilled for the point motor actuating rod BEFORE gluing down. Mark through the hole and drill through with a 6.5mm drill. It can conveniently be marked using either a very fine tip pen, or by stamping into the cork with a discarded piece of actuating rod. I try to "waggle" the drill from side to side under the baseboard to make the hole wider at the bottom.
  • After laying the bed of glue, put a small piece a raised wood (a "bridge") over the far end of the track section so the glue isn't touched until the first end has been joined onto its fishplates.
  • Where possible, I'm using the "Tracksetta" templates. However most radii aren't the "standard" ones, so I can only use them in some places. However they do provide a good guide as to whether curvature is approximately constant.

Track Laying Basics

The track is being laid using conventional techniques: I'm no expert in this field and I've taken a lot of advice. I'm indebted to the help given by Malcolm Alberry in convincing me to get on with it and stop worrying!

The track is laid onto 3mm cork sheet. The cork provides a flexible, sound deadening surface. The sheet is laid in the whole track area, and glued down with PVA.  After the glue has set, any bumps at the joins are sanded flat.

The track plan is marked onto the cork using appropriate measuring instruments. The curves are marked using a "trammel": essentially this is a large compass with adjustable length. For "internal" bends, the centre is over the baseboard and a fixed length of string would do; for "external" bends, a tripod has been used as the centre.

Read more: Track Laying Basics

Track Laying materials

The track is readily available from most model shops. We deliberately buy from a variety of suppliers, rather than just one, so as to spread the business around. Some are mail order, some local.

The point motors, similarly, have come from several sources. The SEEP point motors are available in discounted packs of 6 motors.

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