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Author Topic: Installing the Brass track outside  (Read 3668 times)
Narrow Gauge Jim

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« on: October 17, 2012, 12:39:59 AM »

I'm going to install my outdoor layout this spring and need info on the best way to lay the track in the North East. Temperature ranges from 5 to 100 Degrees f. here. I'm worried about expansion and contraction tearing the track and lightly cemented ballast up. Any one with experience in this please share your thoughts. From what I have read most outdoor layouts take about three tries to get the track laid right so it will last! I'm hoping with your help to get it right the first time.
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Ron Tremblay

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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 07:57:10 AM »

Hi/Jim I installed my brass track in 2009. I live in ct.First I placed heavy duty filter fabric where the tracks going to be laid. then poured buckets of 3\4"stone, until it is level and wide enough for the track.Then install track. thenIbought 50lb bags of stone dust. place on track and level. I have gone as high as 4ft. with the 3/4 stone and never had an issue.Only thing i do is in the spring add and level stone dust. I hope this helps. It works great for me. Regards, Ron     
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2012, 09:16:04 AM »

Hi Jim,
 My Temp range is similar to yours.  I float my track on the ballast and have no problem with expansion and contraction.  I would not use any kind of cement, and recommend quarry fines as the top ballast.  make sure you do not use any kind of rounded stone like creek gravel. I have many friends and have seen all kinds of ways to ballast track, no matter what the method used, maintenance will be required depending on what mother nature dishes out.  In some ways we have it tougher that the big guys, a two inch downpour is nothing to them, but can be devastating to our track. Same with moles and other critters. Dead tree branches can fall on the track and cause damage.  A walnut falling from 30 feet can and will do damage to plastic locomotives, buildings and rolling stock, so avoid it if possible.  When you lay your base gravel tamp it down well, wet it and tamp it again, even with this you can expect some settling in the first three years. 

this last year we had drought here and after releveling my track in spring I never had to do it again for the rest of the year.  My layout is 15 years old and that is a first!  I normally have to relevel the track three times in a season, but I am fussy about my track.  If you are only running 4 wheel truck diesels like the GP-9 or GP-38 you can get away with track that is not perfect, but if you are running steam your track will have to be maintained at a much higher standard due to the long wheel bases of the steamers.  Many guys who have derailments often think something is wrong with their locomotive, when in reality the track is the problem, so you are right in wanting to get off to a good start laying track.

Sorry about the rambling response, but I hope some of it helps.
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
Colorado RR Museum-Brakeman-Engineer-Motorman-Trainman
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Chuck N

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« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2012, 02:50:48 PM »

Jim:

I agree with Ron and Bill.  I used the trench, weed fabric, crusher fines in Denver for 10 years and the same here in Virginia for about 19 years.  Your track will move with the temperature, especially if parts get a lot of sun.  If it is anchored too much you may have more trouble than you would like.  A friend of mine in Denver did such a good job of anchoring his track to the base that he came out on a hot day and discovered that his track has separated from his ties, not good.  If you choose to anchor it put the anchors 4 or 5 feet apart.

Chuck
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Narrow Gauge Jim

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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 04:15:55 AM »

A big Thank You to all who have replied !!
I was going to mix a little dry cement in with the base stone because I thought it might keep the stone from washing away in a torrential rain storm!  I was going to put stone dust on top and let it mix down into the base and then loose lay the track on top. One of my big concerns was expansion and contraction. My main line will be a basic oval 40ft X 65ft with rail clamps. I'm not sure how much movement I'm going to get with drastic temp. changes? I'm afraid it might end up half off the roadbed! How wide should the bed be? Should I use expansion track sections and anchor every 8 feet? My logging and mining will be inside the main and use 8ft and 10ft. radius curves  in various configurations with straights and switches.
As far as walnuts, Squirrels, deer, raccoon's, moles, gophers, possum, rabbits, dogs and cats. I have lots of remedies planed.  Its mother nature I'm worried about!
Thanks again , Jim
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 05:36:12 AM »

Jim,
I personally have never seen track expand to where it is half off the roadbed.  My sons layout in Denver has no expansion joints and is about your size.  You will definitely not need expansion joints every 8 feet. If you have long straight sections like 40 feet then that would be a good place for an expansion joint. curves may move but will be less of a problem, if at all.

I do not use expansion joints at all on my outdoor about 40 by 30 and indoor(in an unheated space) about 50 by 12.

This is my personal experience, others may have better advice.
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
Colorado RR Museum-Brakeman-Engineer-Motorman-Trainman
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
armorsmith


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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 02:47:15 PM »

Jim,

The coefficient of expansion for Brass in .0000104 inches per inch of length per degree of temperature differential.

So, if you have a 40 foot run, 40 x 12 = 480 inches.  I would recommend calculating the worst case average scenario, meaning take the coldest average temperature for the winter months and subtract that from the hottest average summer temperature, lets say the difference is 70 degrees.  Therefore, 480 x 70 x .0000104 = 0.3494, or just under 3/8" total.  The temperature variation that is difficult to calculate is the solar heating from the sun.  I have measured 145 degrees on the rail, so solar can be significant. (I live in the panhandle of Florida.)

Bill, and others will chime in, floating in the ballast is the least troublesome with regards to expansion and contraction.  The only items I would anchor might be the switches to maintain the integrity of the switch.

Bob C.
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 03:01:05 PM »

Thanks Bob, that is exactly what I was looking for.   After plotting the extremes, then plot the average temps.  The ideal time to lay the track will be on days when the temps are in the middle or average range.  In this way your ballast will be well centered and when fully contracted will only move half the average distance relative to the ballast and will also move half the average distance on the hottest extreme days.  This would assume you have layed the track after conditioning it  to the average temp.

Having said all this, I still have never personally found the need for an expansion joint, in floating ballast. 
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
Colorado RR Museum-Brakeman-Engineer-Motorman-Trainman
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
armorsmith


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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 10:50:20 PM »

Bill, et al,

FYI the coefficient of expansion for:

Aluminum = .0000123

Stainless Steel = .0000096 (Assuming grade 304 SS)

Hope this will help many.

Bob C.
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