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First Attempt at Handbuilt Track - A complete novice’s experience.





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#1 tender

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 19:43

I was starting on a layout for a small room and was finding the fixed geometry of Peco etc too restricting, so I decided the time was right to have a go at handbuilt track work.
I decided that 00-SF would suit my needs as I really didn't want to go the route of modifying all my RTR stock for EM. I purchased a set of 00-SF gauges from Brian Tully, some rail/PCB from C&L, and now have a copy Templot TDV thanks to Martin Wynne. I've picked up a lot of info/tips in various threads here and on the Templot forum.

At the risk of making a right pigs ear of it, the following is an account of how I’m getting on.

Please be gentle with your comments.

First step was to obtain a copy of Templot. Martin Wynne was a great help here, after registering on the Templot forum Martin added me to the TDV group and I was able to download a copy and register it to my PC.
Templot can look a bit daunting at first, but there are some great tutorial videos on the website and the forum members are quick to show you the way should you get stuck. I only need a simple template to see if I can build a working turnout before embarking on anything more complex. Templot loads with curved turnout template with an imaginary T55 gauge. It was an easy process to set the gauge to 00-SF, convert the curved turnout to a straight turnout, extend the lead in and overall length and add a short straight length of track to the turnout side. After calibrating my printer, the template was printed out (on 3 sheets of A4 paper) and stuck down to a piece of 6mm plate glass (to give a flat working surface) with double sided tape.

templot.JPG


I decided to have a go at soldered PCB track to start with. 4mm C&L PCB copper clad was cut to length using a pair of heavy duty cutters and stuck to the template again using double sided tape. My first problem is where the timbers divide on the turnout, they were interfering with each other rather than interleaving. A quick post on the templot forum sorted this out; you just nudge them along a bit using the ‘shove’ function. As I’d already printed out the template and stuck it down, I did this by eye. I also used a full length timber at the first split as this improved the spacing.

timbers.JPG

The vee was next, and for this I used a technique described by Brain Harrap.
http://www.rmweb.co....ck/page__st__25
A piece of rail is folded in half.
Opened out to the correct angle (I used a flat blade screwdriver)

vee3.JPG

Tack soldered to some scrap PCB to hold in place (the tip was also soldered, not shown here)

vee5.JPG

And filled to a point.

vee6.JPG

The completed Vee was then soldered to the timbers.

vee7.JPG

The same process was used to bend the wing rails.

wing1.JPG

Two 1mm shims were used to position the first wing rail on the vee, one as a straight edge for the alignment and the other as a spacer. I used Blue tack to hold it in place while soldering.

wing2.JPG

wing3.JPG

Similarly for the other wing rail.

wing4.JPG

Next the check rails were positioned using the check rail gauges.

check1.JPG

Followed by the straight rail using the gauge rollers.

straight.JPG

Well, that’s as far as Iv'e got to date, not sure what comes next, curved rail and match the curved switch blade to it or the other way round then straight switch blade?
Any Advice?

Ray.

Edited by tender, 18 December 2011 - 16:16 .

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#2 hayfield

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 20:06

Tender

Thats a good start, how are you going to stick the sleepers to the templare ?

My prefference is to run a line of thin double sided tape on both ends of the sleepers.

#3 tender

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 20:24

Hi Hayfield, I think your reply came in while I was updating the post. I also used double sided tape, but down the centre. I think the edges might be a better option. I'll try that on the next one.
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#4 martin_wynne

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 20:35

Well, that’s as far as Iv'e got to date, not sure what comes next, curved rail and match the curved switch blade to it or the other way round then straight switch blade?

Hi Ray,

Well done, that's a great start for a first attempt, especially the correct use of the check gauge tools and the crossing-flangeway shims.

Do the turnout-side stock rail next, and don't forget to put a set in it. It's important to get the stock gauge correct before fitting the switch blades. If you get the stock gauge correct the blades almost gauge themselves:

More about this here:

http://85a.co.uk/for...=491&forum_id=1

and a simple method to make the set bend is at:

http://85a.co.uk/for...1324&forum_id=6


A lot of this was on Old RMweb, but it's off-line at present awaiting a server upgrade.

regards,

Martin.
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#5 gordon s

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 20:35

Hi Ray and welcome to the world of hand built pointwork! That's looking very good. Looking at your pics, I see you are using double sided tape, so that's fine. I use a pair of Xuron track cutters for cutting the sleepers. Are you using the thinner pcb strips (1.06mm) or the thicker one which from memory is 1.60mm? I use the thinner one as it is much easier to cut and is the right height for SMP plain track.

I hope that's the flux I can see and not your blood..... :O

#6 tender

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Posted 15 December 2011 - 21:14

Hi Martin.
Many thanks for your kind comments, and them links re the stock gauge are really useful, I'd not come across this so is very timely.

Hi Gordon.
I'm using the 1.6mm PCB strips which I think might be a bit heavy for the Xuron cutters. I can't remember why I selected that over the 1.06mm, I'll see how it matches up with the few lengths C&L flexi track I have and maybe try some 1.06mm on the next one.

And yes, that is flux you can see. It's been a long time since I last used that stuff. I'm more used to cored solder these days. I must remember to give it a good wash off before it eats everything away.

I'm quite pleased with how it's gone to date, the crunch will come (tomorrow with a bit of luck) when it's complete and I try and push some stock through it.

Regards
Ray.
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#7 tender

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 15:41

I've just fitted the switch rails, but am wondering how far back towards the stock rails I should solder them to the PCB. I've gone as far as the center line intersection but there seems to be an awful lot of unsupported blade.

Ray.
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#8 martin_wynne

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 16:05

I've just fitted the switch rails, but am wondering how far back towards the stock rails I should solder them to the PCB. I've gone as far as the center line intersection but there seems to be an awful lot of unsupported blade.

Hi Ray,

Always have the switch blade clipped to the stock rail while fixing it, and pre-curve it in your fingers to match the template when it is so clipped.

For 00-SF, when you open the switch blade by 1.75mm at the tip there should be at least 1mm clear all along the back of the blade. If more than 1mm, clip it again and make another solder fixing. Then try the dimensions again. Repeat as necessary. (1.75mm is the thickness of a 20p coin, 1mm is your crossing-flangeway gauge shim).

regards,

Martin.

Edited by martin_wynne, 16 December 2011 - 16:18 .


#9 tender

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 16:25

Thanks Martin. Another useful tip, soldered up another 3 timbers towards the stock rail using this technique. I'll try and get some more pictures up later.

Ray.
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#10 tender

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 21:26

Following Martin's advice above the curved rail was next. First a ‘set’ was put in this as described in Martins article. For a ‘B’ switch this was 1:32 and 29mm long.

set1.JPG

The straight (lead-in) part of the curved rail was them soldered in position, again using the gauge rollers.

curved1.JPG

Next the ‘straight set’ part was soldered using a short scrap of rail to space out the gauge for the switch rail at the 29mm mark.

set4.JPG

The curved rail was then soldered at the crossing checking the flow of curve on the template.

curved2.JPG

curved3.JPG

Next the switch blades were prepared. With thanks to Alan Mellor for the demonstration at Wigan MRE. Two pieces of rail are clamped to a piece of wood ‘head to head’ and filed down to almost a point over a 29mm (for a B switch) length.

switch1.JPG

switch2.JPG

The lead head of each blade was then chamfered back to root of the rail at the tip.

switch3.JPG

The blades were then cut to length and soldered into position.

switch4.JPG

I wasn’t sure how far down the blade to fix to the timbers but Martin’s trick with the 20p piece seems to have done the trick (see post above).

Here’s the turnout so far still in need of a clean and the switch tie bar (and the rest of the timbers soldering).

complete.JPG

I tempted fate a pushed a 'southern van c' through it at this stage to see if anything was grossly amiss. Well, it didn't derail or jam so things are looking hopeful.
I'll be using 'DCC Concepts' colbalt switch motors, so the next stage is to decided how to do the tie bar. I've not got any ideas at present (will do a search here) so any advice please.

Ray.

Edited by tender, 18 December 2011 - 16:27 .

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#11 craigwelsh

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 04:22

Tie bars (as opposed to the prototypes stretcher bars) normally consist of either two right angle bent wires in a sliding sleeper above the board or passing through the board into a sliding bar underneath. The cobalt would then drive these solutions through a hole in the sleeper/bar. If you were using Tortoise motors then you could have used the Exactoscale mounting plates which use the underboard bar method.

The right angle bend wire is simplifying it slightly as you normally need a more complex arrangement that slots under the stock rails to ensure the switch rails can't rise up and cause issues. There is an example of this solution here http://www.scalefour...5&t=1700#p13237

Btw looking at your template there seems to be a mark on the switch rails which I assume shows the fishplate joint between these rails and the closure rails that joint the switch rails to the wing rails. For a prototype flexible pair of switches only two chairs would be fixed. This probably only works though if you choose to do longer prototypical turnouts such as a B7 etc. The approach you used seems to have worked fine here.


I tend to use a flexible surface (mouse/cutting mat) to file the blades against as it gives a natural curve down towards the tip which can be useful in the curved rail although not always prototypical (The GWR though always had curved switches).

Good work :).

Edited by craigwelsh, 17 December 2011 - 04:25 .


#12 martin_wynne

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 05:39

Hi Ray,

You will get lots of suggestions for stretcher-bars!

The worst design is to solder the blade tips directly to a moving timber. It will work for a few months, but eventually it will fail because of the twisting stress as the blade moves over. It also prevents the open blade from taking up a nice prototypical curve.

If you use a moving timber, the tip of the blade needs to be able to pivot slightly in the timber as it moves across. You need plain unclad laminate to make it easy. Overheat the copper with your soldering iron so that you can peel it off the laminate, or file or sand it off, or etch it off if you can get some ferric chloride. Do both sides if it's double-sided copper. Drill two holes and insert small brass pins from below to which the blade tips can be soldered. If you have a lathe you can turn a tiny collar to fit over the pin and engage the rail foot before soldering -- if not a twist of thin copper wire round the pin will do the same job of adding some strength to the fixing. Drill a third hole in the middle of the timber for the point-motor drive wire. When laying the turnout you will need to cut away the cork underlay to clear the pin heads.

Alternatively, if you prefer not to see a moving timber, there are lots of designs using dropper wires from the blade tips engaging various sliding devices underneath the baseboard. This needs some thought -- an essential function of the stretcher bar, on both prototype and model, is to hold the blade tip down on the slide chair and level with the stock rail. Otherwise the tip is likely to kick up under traffic and cause problems.

This means, if you use the dropper wire methods, the holes need to be outboard of the stock rails, and the dropper wires need to be cranked to rub against the underside of the stock rail:
Posted Image

The downside of this is that the pivot centre is no longer directly below the tip fixing, so the dropper wire needs to be thin enough to flex slightly.

regards,

Martin.
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#13 hayfield

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 09:03

Normon Solomon did a bit on this in the MRJ. In 00 he drills the holes 13.25mm appart.

He uses lace making pins, I have also heard of lill pins being used (may be one of the same). Also I have sanded the blackening off Peco long thin track pins and bent them over as per Normans method.

Realy good seeing another modeller take up track building, but also a slightly different build sequence.

You may find using one of the more liquid fluxes easier to clean off at the end. Also I have used very thin multicore solder with good effect.

Top marks for a first effort, wish mine were as good first time off.

#14 tender

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 09:23

Thanks guys for the suggestions, I've just downloaded an article from scalefour re Solomon/Rice article. I'll have a think about these different approaches over the weekend.

I've just noticed that all the pictures have gone AWOL. This is due to a server upgrade at work where they are stored, normal service should be resumed later today.

Regards
Ray.

Edited by tender, 17 December 2011 - 19:26 .

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#15 tender

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 13:50

Well I thought things were going too smoothly, I finished the soldering of the remaining timbers and decided to give it a clean and remove from the template. What a mess, this double sided tape just wont let go. Leaves a sticky residual even after a careful scrape with a blade.
There must be a simple way as it appears it's the usual thing to use.

Ray.
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#16 gordon s

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 14:22

Two things to you can do Ray. When using double sided tape, if you suspect it is too sticky, try dabbing it with a piece of cloth, a tea towel is fine, before attaching the sleepers. It just removes some of the stickiness and will ease getting it off at the end.

The other thing is to take the track and template off together and stick them in the sink or bath. You will have to wash all the flux off when you have finished anway, so I just put a couple of inches of hot water and washing up liquid in the sink and you will find the template will come off easily. You can always wipe off any remaining adhesive with lighter fuel or white spirit.

#17 martin_wynne

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 15:04

Hi Ray,

Print the template on a decent thickness of paper, ordinary 80gsm office paper is too flimsy. Stick the template to the work board around the edges only. After the turnout is finished you can then cut through around the ends of the timbers and remove the turnout with the template attached intact.

To remove the template, peel it right back very slowly at 180 degrees, rather than pulling it away at 90 degrees. If you go very slowly and carefully it is possible to remove it in one piece without leaving any residue.

There are several different types of double-stick tape -- some are intended to be permanent. It's worth trying a different make.

An alternative is to spray the template with SprayMount removable adhesive (blue can). You can build it up slowly to give the required amount of tackiness. After attaching the timbers, sprinkle between them with talcum powder to kill the unwanted tack. This stops the template getting too messy.

regards,

Martin.

#18 gordon s

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 15:17

Thanks for the tip re using a 20p piece Martin. Been building another complex for ET and your timing was perfect.

Well done Ray. The first one is always the hardest..

We'll have you building slips in no time at all. :)

#19 gordon s

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 16:26

Ray, I've just finished a turnout/slip combination for ET and it was well and truly stuck to the paper template. With a complex that was 2'6" long, it was very flexible and so easily bent. Picking up on Martins suggestion, I cut the tape holding the template to the glass sheet I use as a base and lifted the track plus template in one go. I turned it over and with my right hand applying pressure on the template/track, I was able to peel away the template using my left hand but keeping the track flat with my right.

That process kept the track flat and the paper just peeled back on itself. A wash in the sink to remove all the flux residue etc and job done.

Whatever you do, don't try to peel the track away from the template. You're likely to bend or distort something.

#20 Ian Fisher

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 16:45

I have had some success with using UHU to tag the "timbers" to the template just the mearest 1mm bead ran alomg the template on the outer edge seems to do the job for me, just another idea to throw into the pot!

Ian

#21 Gordon A

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 17:02

For sticking timbers I recomend the use of a Silver Prit Stick.
This was an idea I picked up from the 2mm boys.
Glue the full length of the sleeper. Give it a minute or so and the glue will take and fix the sleeper.
The advantage is that this glue is water soluble so the track can be seperated from the template using the shower.

For stretcher bars I use thin slivers of thin double sided copperclad fiberglass connected to the rails using 10 thou guitar string with two bends.

Gordon A
Bristol

#22 tender

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 19:24

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions. I think I had the more permanent double sided tape, well it seemed like it anyway. I was able to cut the template away from the glass plate complete with the trackwork Ok. After an initial tug at the tape it was clear it was going nowhere. I used Gordons suggestion of using white spirit. After a few minutes soak it came away easily. It also worked wonders for removing the flux residual, I think the tub of flux I had was well passed it's sell by date.
Here's a picture of the complete turnout minus the tie bar (still thinking about that one).

complete2.jpg

Sorry about the lighting, the daylights long gone.
Does it stand up to close scrutiny? I'll take some close up's and let you decide.
Next job, make DCC compatible (cut the PCB's) and see if a loco runs through it.

Ray.

Edited by tender, 18 December 2011 - 16:29 .

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#23 trisonic

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 21:38

Looks good to me. Well done!
I'd like to see an oblique shot of it from the toe end if possible.

Best, Pete.

#24 tender

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 22:40

Hi Pete.
Is this what you mean? Not easy to get any depth of focus artificial light.

toe.jpg

Here's some close ups.

frog.jpg

blade.jpg

Ouch! What the eye doesn't see, the camera doesn't miss.

Any advice for cutting the copperclad between the rails, I was thinking of using a dremmel with a disc cutter!

Ray.

Edited by tender, 18 December 2011 - 16:32 .

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#25 Budgie

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 22:50

Shouldn't there be cuts in the rails that form the V between bearers 1.X8 and 1.E1?
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