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Building and laying the track

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The station turntable

So to the final step in the tracklaying for Clachbeg—I can distinctly remember not all that long ago when I did not think I would ever reach this point! I have been lucky enough to have had some time off, and have been determined to get to this point before returning to work; laying the trackwork is an extended undertaking, whereas many other tasks are more discreet in nature.   The station turntable serves to turn incoming locos before they embark upon the six-mile return trip to Mains, and a

Richard T

Richard T

Closing the loop: building and installing the crossover turnouts

This template is the largest of them all, and includes the two nearly identical, straight, right-handed turnouts which close the station loop and lead to the goods siding and to the headshunt respectively.   Unlike the other turnouts these have straight 1:3 crossing vees, which should make construction rather more straightforward. The template includes one panel of inner loop track, as well as one-and-a-half panels of 9'-long 12 lb/yd tracks, being the start of the goods siding. The platform-s

Richard T

Richard T

Building the stonemason siding and turnout

The stonemason siding is just 18' long, straight, and is made of 9' lengths of 12lb/yd rail (salvaged from the original mine tramway). It will have a wooden buffer stop, and be faced by the stone platform of the stonemason shed. It holds two short wagons.   The stonemason turnout has the curving road as the main line and the straight road leads to the siding. The curve radius is 33', and the turnout is curved through the 1:3 crossing vee. As with all the CMER turnouts it has loose-heeled switc

Richard T

Richard T

Fishing the bridge and turnouts, and installing the loop tracks

The template with the entrance and mine turnouts had been glued in place onto the baseboard but was still not fished together with the existing track, so this was a satisfying task to tackle. At the same time I decided to place the bridge in place definitively, and lay the loop track sections, so altogether I needed to fabricate 64 fishplates and then use 128 nuts and bolts to fish the various rails together.     This is the joint from the branch line onto the bridge.     This shows th

Richard T

Richard T

Laying the mine spur turnout

After completing the station entrance turnout, next up is the extremely sharp turnout to the mine spur.   The mine spur actually pre-dates the station: it is the last remaining section of the ½-mile standalone track constructed of portable rail panels when the mine was first opened, along which a Highland pony named Blackie drew a single skip to carry the high-grade ore to an old iron furnace for smelting. That endeavour was unsuccessful and most of the track was taken up and reused, but the l

Richard T

Richard T

Laying the station entrance turnout: part two

I cut the sleeper timbers, distressed the top surfaces with a wire brush, and checked that I had them all (I cut the sleepers for the entire template while I was at it). I laid the sleepers out on the template to check all were present and correct. The long switchstand timbers have been moved away from the template locations to fit the width of the switchstand foot.     I could not resist laying out the rails at this stage to get an impression of the finished turnout. Also visible is the sw

Richard T

Richard T

Laying the station entrance turnout: part one

Finally I am tackling a turnout, the first I have scratch built in two decades. Having spent a couple of days procrastinating and reading whatever I could find about turnout building I decided it was time to take the plunge and stop worrying about getting it wrong.   The planned sequence of events is to bend and cut and shape the rails, then to cut and stain the sleepers, then to fix the sleepers to the template, then to spike the rails in place, remembering to arrange for the switch stand to

Richard T

Richard T

The culvert

The culvert carries the mine spur across the Allt Creag na Còsaig and is as simple and low-tech as the railway could get away with. Two 4" × 8" beams cross the stream and the sleepers are simply laid upon them.   As this spur sees traffic of a single wagon and lightweight loco once or twice a week, and axle loads are restricted to 1½ tons, this was deemed perfectly adequate by the Works Engineer.     The mine spur is laid with 12lb/yd rail (Code 143), necessitating lightweight fishplates

Richard T

Richard T

Bridge progress

Now that the sleepering timber has arrived I was able to cut the 6' long bridge sleepers and lay the rails.   I would have loved to have been able to fit a larger bridge into this layout, but it is after all only a micro layout and anything larger would have been disproportionate.   I am still in two minds about whether guard rails should be fitted; if they were fitted they would have to be made of two rail lengths each, in order to extend two to three feet beyond the abutments at each end.

Richard T

Richard T

First attempts at prototypical platelaying

This is the part I have really been looking forward to: laying individual prototypical rail lengths and bolting them together with fishplates... The CMER (as a reminder) was originally laid with a mixture of 12lb/yd and 25lb/yd rails, which are 2" and 2¾" high respectively. The main and branch lines were gradually all relaid with the 25lb/yd rail in 15' lengths, while the 9' lengths of the lighter rail were used in sidings. The original 36" sleeper spacing was retained in sidings, however as rai

Richard T

Richard T

Starting the bridge

I made a start on the branch-line bridge.   First up was to measure out and make the stone abutments for each side. I’d already carved away craft foam to the nearest layer down, which gave me level and known base heights (in the absence of scale theodolites a useful reference!). I then used the hot wire cutter and a craft knife to shape two rectangular blocks of craft foam, one for each end, into which I drew dressed stone outlines with a soft pencil (and forgot to photograph). These are visib

Richard T

Richard T

Track templates

I had the track plan—which measured 2500 × 2500 mm—printed out by a local printer in full-size sections, which I laid out and taped together across the craft foam to get a sense, for the first time, of the whole track.     Laying out the prints and taping them together.     It became easier when I cut away the unneeded paper (I followed the loading gauge lines which I had included in the print-out).   Note the coving filling the inner corner of the baseboard: simply craft-foam shape

Richard T

Richard T

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