Onwards and upwards with track.

October 24, 2009


Sometimes, I wish I only modelled OO gauge instead of EM gauge. Hey-ho, now I have to build and lay a great deal more track. Work has started on the Kent Coast mainline in the scenic area of the Top Deck layout and that means I cannot just slap any old thing down. The picture above shows the placing of the Down line close to the position of the back scene. The curve and curved turnouts are a compromise – the real cross over is straight. In this design, to have brought this facing cross over to the front of the layout would have to reduce the length of train stabling and turn back roads to 8 coaches instead of 10. Not an acceptable compromise in that direction. So, curved turnouts it is! This illustrates one of the points about modelling a linear structure such as a railway in oblong shaped rooms – eventually, the design has to incorporate a un-prototypical  right angle curve to avoid it hitting the wall!


Sleepers placed in the Down direction. A hefty piece of wood provides a good straight edge for this stretch of line. Remember, this layout theme is supposed to be a scenic test track for my British outline models but is fact becoming a fully scenic model! A turnout is placed where there will be a trailing cross-over.


The same turnout looking in the Up direction.


Sleepers are individually placed on the Plastozote foam track bed before the rail and fixings are added. This type of concrete sleeper is by C&L Finescale and passes muster. It’s a long winded process but the end result looks good.


In goes the first running rail composed of Code 82 flat bottom rail: heavy enough for a mainline. Fixings are trimmed Pandrol clip and base plate mouldings by Peco.


Roller gauges set the correct gauge as the second running rail is fixed into place. Wiring and testing is not far away. I am considering a different approach for the sleepers on the Up line to speed the track laying process up and to introduce a different type of concrete sleeper. After that comes the conductor rail!


Track building for the Top Deck layout.

October 19, 2009

Remember the Top Deck of my fixed home layout? Well, things have been quiet on the blog front because I have made little progress worthy of reporting  – waiting for some track building tools to arrive – from Canada. I was far from keen on the hand filing of Code 83 flat bottom rail for turnout building without help. Furthermore, I as not hugely enthusiastic about copper clad sleeper turnouts on the scenic part of the layout (shown above) either, so decided to try C&L Finescale Timber Tracks turnout bases for the main line trackage; each one is laser cut from very high quality plywood.


I very much like the Fast Tracks turnout building tools, made in and supplied from Canada. I was first introduced to them when I bought an N scale turnout kit for five curved turnouts for the Montana Rail Link layout. I immediately saw the value of the point form tools for building the track on the top deck layout and for future use. The filing jig for HO/OO gauge switch blades and crossing vees is shown above: One for a No.5 angle and one for a No.6 angle turnout. They will accommodate rail sizes from code 70 to 100. You can buy jigs for smaller rail sizes too to enable construction of turnouts in N and Z gauge – see below for an N gauge one:


This curved turnout (above) is to 9mm gauge or N scale using Code 55 flat bottom rail. Built for my US-outline Montana Rail Link layout, it took an hour to build using the various point form tools and jigs supplied by Fast Tracks as a kit of parts.


Insert the rail, clamp up and file away until the correct profile for switch blades or crossing vee rails is achieved.


A lovely jig for soldering up the crossing vees accurately!


A combination of Fast Tracks point form tools,  C&L Finescale Timber Tracks turnout bases for UK practice and Peco Individualy track components has resulted in some pretty convincing flat bottom rail turnouts for the Kent Coast main line part of the top deck layout. Whilst such tools and turnout bases may seen expensive, the tools will last almost for all of my remaining modelling career and the laser cut point bases are brilliant to use. Furthermore, the resulting turnouts look far better and with better looking detail than those I may have built from copper PCB sleepers. And…no burnt fingers!

A new addition to the fleet…

October 3, 2009

I could not resist the limited edition Class 57, 57 601 offered by Model Rail magazine! This special issue Bachmann OO gauge loco has since been equipped to work on my EM gauge ‘Top Deck’ layout, allocated to charter traffic.

New-Out989_988A very fine looking machine it is too. 57 601 is one of my favourite locos and it has spent time up here in the Highlands working the Royal Scotsman. It has been to Kyle of Lochalsh during its recent career, a far cry from its beginnings on the Great Western.

Image 102 copy
Here’s the finished article, ready for traffic – a simple piece of work, really. Internally, a 21-pin decoder is fitted for use on the Top Deck layout which currently runs on Lenz equipment. However, with the imminent arrival of Duplex radio from Digitrax, that may change (my N scale layout on the lower and middle decks already works with Digitrax equipment, so another power district could be established very easily). Hornby air pipes decorate the bufferbeam and a Kadee is fitted at the opposite end. EM gauge wheels and a coat of light weathering to the underframes and exhaust ports on the roof completes the picture. This model replaces the FGW Class 57 which I once used on ‘Platform 4a & 4b’. A worthy successor!