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Track templates

Richard T


blog-0773486001397318927.jpgI 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 shapes glued to the side of the baseboard. The bottles are simply weighting down the 100g paper to flatten it, and the plastic sheeting will be taped to the backscene to protect it for the duration.




Here the gradients will start: up to the fiddle yard at the rear, down to the mine in the foreground.


With the whole track plan laid out, this was a good time to go over it all in detail, thinking through how to proceed, and what detail would be added where. The scale is new for me, and available space was suddenly far less than I had imagined.




Cutting away the baseboard layers for the descent to the mine.




Laying out the templates on 3 mm MDF for cutting out the templates.


Each template is as small as practical: some equate to individual rail lengths. I’ll glue the paper templates to the MDF and then build the track at the bench on these templates before installing them on the layout, so they have to be small enough to turn around as required for track laying.


Rail joints coincide with template edges. For this layout I feel that the smooth, flowing track work so often achieved by using flex-track would be inappropriate: I want some of the curves to be a little out of alignment, some of the rail joints to cause a small lurch to passing rolling stock. My plan is to build the track as well as I can—I anticipate that cumulatively the use of scale rail lengths, fishplates and separate templates will all contribute to the less-than-perfect effect I wish to achieve.




Cutting out the templates. A jigsaw cuts through the 3 mm MDF like a hot knife through butter.




A template taking shape.




The templates. Luckily I had thought to pencil in titles on each, eliminating later guesswork.




After adding the paper this is the crossover template. Plenty of space for marking out final adjustments, like the positioning of rail joints and tracing out where the turnout levers will be, as well as extended sleepers to carry point rodding. Note this template is 3' long.


I plan to build the track at my workbench template by template, then transferring completed and tested templates to the layout. The fishplates joining the templates will have to be fitted in situ on the layout, which will be challenging I am sure: it’s fiddly enough at the workbench, when at least I can turn the template at will...




Templates galore!


In time I added further annotations to each, noting the rail weight to be used, marking slight movements to the timbering, and also labelling each joint: the latter to avoid mix-ups as I begin to cut and bend rail lengths—after a few days’ interruption, the rails on my workbench can all look very similar to one-another...




Track gauges and curved rails, with the rail bender in the background (it works fine for code 205 rail). Now just waiting for the sleeper timbers to arrive.... This is the bridge template with long timbering.


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