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Fishing the bridge and turnouts, and installing the loop tracks

Richard T


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 the bridge rails on the left, a six-foot connection and then the entrance turnout on the right.




A close-up of the joint between the mine spur’s 12lb/yd rails on the left and the turnout’s 25lb/yd rails on the right: special fishplates will be needed to line these up. The problem is exacerbated here because I had not thought to elevate the last portion of the trackbed of the mine turnout to compensate for the ¾" (57 thou or 1.5 mm) difference in the rail heights.




The connection to the mine had not lined up very well, so some miniature crowbar effort would be needed to align the rails.




Several of the fishplates were prepared with elongated holes to accommodate differing gaps between the rails of the adjacent templates. When fishing together two rails on the same template this can all be adjusted on the workbench and the gaps cut to fit; despite careful measurement the same accuracy is not possible when fitting templates to the baseboard.




The fishplates for the 12lb–25lb joints were made from 2.5 mm bar and channel respectively. I drilled two holes closer to one edge and then filed off 0.5 mm to fit the lighter rail. Fiddly but not nearly as time-consuming as I had feared.




The joint to the mine spur, completed. Getting the rails aligned and the tiny bolts through their holes required a little dexterity. In this shot I have already trimmed off the tinned threads of the bolts. The rail tops do not align perfectly; later I filed the bump into a short ramp.




Close-up of the transition fishplate.




Close-up of the rail joint; I was pleased with this, although I shall try next time to shape the fishplate better to align the rail tops. The filed “ramps” on the heavier rail can be seen here: crude but effective. A wagon crossing this joint clacks but rolls smoothly enough.



The other joints were straightforward, and I proceeded with three very easy sections of track: three curved rail lengths of the station loop, each built on its own template.




This is a part of the outer loop, very straightforward and not too sharply curved.




After glueing the template to the baseboard I weighted the track down to ensure vertical alignment with the neighbouring template: the thin ply boards under the weights span the rail joints. Despite my best efforts with the multiple layers of foam board the surface is not perfectly plane, as the underlying shelving inherited some of the unevenness of the garage floor. I am not at all unhappy with the result (a couple of minor undulations of a few millimetres) as it gives the track a realistic look; geometric perfection does not go well with light railway budgets!




The outer loop rails fished together.




The inner loop rails receiving the same levelling treatment.



At this point the easy interlude is over: next up will be the three station turnouts: stonemason spur, and the crossover.

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I like the use of the weights!  As for fabricated fishplates with actual nuts and bolts - great stuff!

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