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Reflections on curves

Maurice Hopper


After a very early start we arrived at the RailEx just as the back of the queue was clearing.  This unexpected visit was stimulated by the offer a lift in the fourth seat of a very comfortable car.


As always, it was an impressive exhibition, and it was rather nice to be able to wander around with no responsibility for operating a layout.


Having made a comment to several people during the course of the day about the curve on the front of one of the 'Cameo Competition' runners-up, I thought I ought to put me mind to seeing if I could do better!  The layout in question included a reverse curve between the over bridge and the hole in the sky.  While the curve across the front of the layout was a gentle estimated c 7metre radius, after the bridge the line sudden took an approximate 2-3metre radius turn to the right, for no apparent geographical reason in the scenic context, to bring it more parallel with the low level lines in the fiddle yard.  Such a combination of curves is, to say the least unusual in the prototype and would have looked better if the geometry of the bridge and/or the fiddle yard had been slightly altered to make a straighter or more gently curved run-off.


So, if the purpose of going to exhibitions is to be inspired to make progress in one's own modelling, it worked.  How would I tackle the setting out of a curve.  While thinking about this on the return journey I decided it was time to make some progress with the track on my new, circular, FiNe 1/160 Klein Holtzapffel.  While being circular this layout does no offer opportunities for a reverse curve, there is an interesting link between two curved points at one end of the station.  The two points are based on Peco track templates (why draw them out when it is easy to print them off), but to avoid the look of set-track and to provide enough space for the platform between the running lines there is a short curve that has the potential to ruin the flow of the track.


I found the full-size track plans and mounted them on a piece of laminated chipboard.  To check the curve would look right I taped down some rail through the points following the template curves and and carefully marking out the rail position in the 'transition' section between them.  This is not a true transition curve and I have no idea of its radius.... But it looks right both with just the rail and when rolling stock is placed on it.




Viewing and photographing from several angles suggested where adjustments need to be made.




Having thought I had got it right on Monday evening, an early viewing on Tuesday morning showed ten sleepers needed to be moved slightly as the rails moved off centre.  The final picture shows the adjustment with a new centre line and the sleeper ends moved up to 1mm from the original marks.






At least in this picture the loco is running right line (trains run on the right in Germany).  


It is good to be challenged into sorting this out as a response to making a critique of another fellows work.


It is also good that this little project can run with a minimal amount of material already in stock.  I find it interesting after some years of exhibiting smaller, public transport travelling, layouts that there seems to be a greater interest in such things at least in terms of size.  I am not sure that in a changing world there can be any sound justification for large, resource consuming layouts ... just because it is possible either technically or financially.  In the great scheme of things, as seen through a mind set with concern about the climatic future, model railways are probably not even on the list, let alone the really important list.


Now to set about making three crossings (one for the other end of the loop) that will work in these curves..... but that will happen another day as there are young spinach, corn and beans to be planted out from the greenhouse and some work to be done replacing some track at the station end of the garden railway after improving the access to the soft fruit garden with recycled paving slabs and bricks.  We still have last year's blackcurrants in the freezer and this year is already looking good!  .... and the rhubarb needs weeding again!!





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I would be interested to see your FiNe 1/160 layout should it ever venture out. Interesting shape for a layout and interesting choice of scale/standard. Never mind the absence of reverse curves!

Edited by readingtype
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Venturing out (with layouts) is not really on my agenda these days.  It will probably get some further coverage here as work progresses.  The shape grow out of having some circular 16.5 gauge test track baseboards laser cut.  It was realised that these had potential for supporting a complete layout at 2mm.... and I look forward to setting it up so it can be operated from the middle ... probably on a swivel chair so one can easily follow the trains around!!



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