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Author Topic: Making Tracks  (Read 2884 times)
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« on: July 26, 2008, 12:38:39 AM »

I've been playing around with some hand laid track, even though the track plan for my proposed 4 x 8 portable is still being developed.  I thought I would start with a stub switch.

The turnout has an all metal frog and is built from Atlas Code 100 Nickel Silver rail on cedar ties.  It is powered by an old Tortoise machine that had previously been repaired after it wore out in H0 service and had then been modified for use in G-scale.

I used cedar for the ties because I like the way it weathers with ferric acetate.

Because this type of turnout relies on "bending the iron," I used some Atlas H0 ties to serve as tie bars between the moving rails.  I may yet replace them with styrene rods with brass wire glued into the ends and soldered to the rails - it all depends on how they look once the turnout is ballasted.  That will have to wait until I finish building a "ballast grinder" to crunch up kitty litter to the right size.  (Note to Joe Satnik - no danger of cats visiting my house - my dogs won't allow it.)

I did a lot of hemming and hawing before cutting the ties.  In the end, I decided to cut them 5/32" wide by 1/4" high by 1-1/2" long.  In scale, that works out to 7-1/2" wide by 6' long, which may be a tad short.  The 1/4" height has no real scale meaning as they will be buried in ballast.  But that height serves two purposes - it means the spikes do not have to be driven into the Baltic Birch plywood under the ties and it makes the track a perfect match for Bachmann E-Z track.  Hey, you didn't think I was going to hand lay ALL the track, did you?  Where it is hidden in tunnels and a helix, E-Z track will be my E-Z way out.  The last photo shows a transition.

The ties sure look a long ways apart for a mainliner's eyes, but I laid them at 2640 to the scale mile, which I suspect is about right.


Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
Joe Satnik

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« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2008, 07:43:57 AM »

Dear Jim,

Hmm.  Hand laid track and turnouts.  Looks like someone has been bit by the On30 bug pretty hard.

I assume that you have seen Mink's thread and link to his article on tie length:,5666.0.html

If you wanted the proper illusion, I guess your tie length would depend on the prototype's actual gauge, 36", 30" or 24".

I'm not sure that it makes too much difference, but the math works out that HO standard gauge track is about 31.1" gauge in O scale, a bit bigger than 30".   

Your dogs deserve extra tummy scratching for their diligent efforts to protect your empire from feline influence (or would that be "outfluence").


Joe Satnik


If your loco is too heavy to lift, you'd better be able to ride in, on or behind it.
The Old Fardt

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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2008, 01:12:01 PM »


 Nice looking Stub switch.

 I have been thinking for a long time about making at least one for my layout. It seems like my plate is so full now, when will I ever get time to do it ?

Cheers, TOF
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2008, 05:01:00 PM »

Joe, I got bit and I got bit bad.  I haven't had this much railroading fun for years.  My H0 layout is used mostly for operating sessions these days, and spending 4 months of summer fixing up what 8 months of winter can do an outdoor G layout is starting to wear a bit thin, particularly as the pills I am popping these days make me feel like I am going to fall on my face every time I kneel down.

I hand laid all of my garden layout and built all the turnouts, crossings, slip switches, etc. for it and 4 other layouts as well.  I enjoy the process and don't feel pushed to have the layout up and running yesterday.

I had seen Mink's website already, but thanks for the link to his thread.  I agree with what he says about looking right as opposed to being perfectly in scale.  What he doesn't say is that "looking right" is greatly influenced by what we have seen, either in photographs or in person.  I think this is why so many narrow gauge models have grey ties sunk deeply into the dirt - their builders have seen existing real world narrow gauge railways that have old, old ties sunk deeply into the dirt.  But I haven't.  The only narrow gauge railway that I have had the pleasure of seeing up close and personal is the White Pass and Yukon back in the late 60's and early 70's when they had just upgraded to haul ore.  As such, the right of way looked new, just as I imagine a narrow gauge built in the late 1800's would look 5 or 10 years after it was built.  I suspect that if I had seen the DRG in recent years, my ideas on how I would like my tracks to look would be completely different.  Anyway, here are two links to photos that sort of shows what I mean.


Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.

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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2008, 06:53:20 PM »


I cheated on my stubs, I made a pair of rails that slipped into soldered railjoiner (Soldered on the track end) and let the tie bars move the somewhat loose rails. Works very well. I used commercial ties and an Atlas code 100 #6 switch for the other components.

After the one I went to conventional points and things were much easier. Switches now go very fast using the Atlas #6 and #8 code 100 switches. I did try code 83 and that works well but I have to watch flange depth.

My modular On30 railroad is completely hand-laid using 6'0" On3 ties. They look very good on On30

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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2008, 10:01:45 PM »

Doesn't Micro Engineering make On30 track? Also Peco, although it's more British style.

Check Steve Sherrill's SG&S out online for a REAL nice On30 layout in a WV setting.
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