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Freelance Mixed Gauge - Handbuilt Trackwork

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Reading this thread has really got me thinking about 21mm for my dream layout. It just looks sooo right.

Luckily for now I don't have to make any decisions as I'm in stock collection mode for another couple of years (too many other building projects around our house for me to "get permission" to start a layout yet!)

21mm straight Flexi track might one day become available as a "commodity item" that would have a constant if small demand but a large selection of points will never happen. Market is just too small and if you have to hand build some points you'll probably build them all to save money. Straight track though is inexpensive and I would suspect mind numbingly boring to build by hand.

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26 minutes ago, murphaph said:

Reading this thread has really got me thinking about 21mm for my dream layout. It just looks sooo right.

Luckily for now I don't have to make any decisions as I'm in stock collection mode for another couple of years (too many other building projects around our house for me to "get permission" to start a layout yet!)

21mm straight Flexi track might one day become available as a "commodity item" that would have a constant if small demand but a large selection of points will never happen. Market is just too small and if you have to hand build some points you'll probably build them all to save money. Straight track though is inexpensive and I would suspect mind numbingly boring to build by hand.

Nice idea. As to a 21mm flexitrack product, a market size of 5-10 people may not attract a manufacturer. Any 21mm layout will be hand built track which seems half the attraction.

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I can’t speak for turnout building as I haven’t tried that yet, but building plain 5’3” track is rather rewarding and when the jig is set up you can build it fairly rapidly (7 mm scale copper clad PCB soldered track in my case)

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26 minutes ago, Noel said:

Nice idea. As to a 21mm flexitrack product, a market size of 5-10 people may not attract a manufacturer. Any 21mm layout will be hand built track which seems half the attraction.

Hi Murph

While I completely agree with you that the full 21mm looks great -

Out of 400 plus follk on my customer database, there are 10-12 folk doing 21mm - I know that because I supply my kits to them without wheels!

Happy to do the same for you!

That said, the Scale Four Society does a number of components to help.

Leslie (Provincial Wagons)

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It may be possible to have 21mm sleepers commissioned and then just thread your rail through them, saw some packs of sleepers down in the MRSI, think they were for EM gauge (18mm as opposed to 16.5mm)

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I know I would go straight to 21mm if flexi straights and two turnouts were available, that's just enough to create a prototypically Irish track layout of standard parts.

Edited by NIR

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The daft thing is its not that difficult,both Valencia and Courtmacsherry were built directly onto the boards,having drawn out the track basically 2 parallel lines first(tip here a 3ft steel rule on its side gives you lovely transition curves),copperclad sleepers then laid on double sided carpet tape and a soldering you will go.I can't remember how long Valencia took but Courtmacsherry took about 10 days in total,Andy.

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It's really very tempting in my case, despite the fairly big plans I have (the layout room is ca. 10' x 30').

I am at the stage where I haven't put any real money into track. Just a small test oval using H0 track.

If I plumped for 21mm I think I would almost certainly want to "keep it simple" (ie not go down the P4 route) as it's the track gauge that bothers me the most, not flange heights etc. 

I think copper clad sleepers with soldered rails appeals the most to me, perhaps using the 5:1 ratio with ply sleepers.

I will have to get a hold of some gauges and whatnot and just build a short stretch and see how I get on. 

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I see you're building that on your workbench. What is the general consensus on 'where' to build?

In-situ or pre-built as the work bench?

Just personal taste or advantages for any particular method?

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My experience is limited to 1 small layout but hopefully you’ll get more answers! I’m modelling a tertiary line with short rail lengths so can easily build straight panels on the bench. For curves, I build one rail on the bench then set the pieces on the layout and solder in rail no 2 when happy with the curve.

Edited by Galteemore
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Personally I prefer to jig build plan track with just one rail and the sleepers in the jig then with the use of tracksetta lay the track out in the location and use roller gauges to install the second rail once on site.

The plan is to build 21mm gauge track but to EM standards, while this is not so perfect, it does allow me to have a bit of leyway on back to back and clearances when it comes to building or converting locos and rolling stock.

if you want something simple check this site out there are Hundreds of simple Irish railway plans on here it is the heritage verition of Google

 http://map.geohive.ie/mapviewer.htm

I should add it will be up to you if you want plastic, wood and pin or copper clad sleepers, there are a number of modell trackbuilders on the web it is just a case of having a look out there the P4 society site is a good place to start as is the EM Society as well.

 

 

Regards

 

Colin Rainsbury

Edited by Colin R
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Murph, Old Boy, I'm in no position to comment on this, as my 21ft x 17ft is Peco's best Narrow Gauge!

But, aspiring to 21mm is good.

Why not a little on a modestly lengthed "practice board" to build up experience?

At 74, I will have to leave it to those who are younger to acquire the skills and for me to enjoy looking at the result - like Andy's sublime layouts.

I watched Galteemore's teenage son at a Scale Four track-building Master Class - the sooner you start picking up the techniques the better!

Good luck.

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Personally all my layouts which use handbuilt track (3 out of the 7 at the moment) are all built directly onto the baseboard that way once its drawn out you can better visualise what you are getting as well as especially with curves using a mark one eyeball you should be able to get much smoother flowing curves.One tip when making point vees/frogs keep the tails as long as possible that way you avoid the inevitable slight kink  the curved part of the point.(theres  a bit in one of the recent New Irish Lines on a simple foolproof way of doing the frogs).For gauges the Scalefour Society do them but they can be made up with some washers bolted together as can a back to back gauge.Incidently i always use EM standards which at least give you a fighting chance.Andy

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Great to see so many people coming to 5'3. Not that long ago, Andy was the only person doing 4mm/21mm gauge, so with Ballyconnel Road in 3mm and Arigna Town in 7mm, that was about it for exhibition layouts especially following Richard Chown's sad demise and Paul Green's S layout no longer on the circuit either.

 If we ever get back to having exhibitions again, a whole show of  correct 5'3 and 3' gauge layouts could well be possible. now there's a nice thought!

Edited by David Holman
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Ah

33 minutes ago, David Holman said:

Great to see so many people coming to 5'3. Not that long ago, Andy was the only person doing 4mm/21mm gauge, so with Ballyconnel Road in 3mm and Arigna Town in 7mm, that was about it for exhibition layouts especially following Richard Chown's sad demise and Paul Green's S layout no longer on the circuit either.

 If we ever get back to having exhibitions again, a whole show of  correct 5'3 and 3' gauge layouts could well be possible. now there's a nice thought!

Ah memories of the Westinghouse show at Chippenham ,October 1996, 8 irish layouts including Adavoyle and Castle Rackrent.I had Castlefinn there and had a visitor comment that there seemed to be a lot of County Donegal layouts there(3), something i've never heard before or since.Happy days Andy.

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The layout itself is no more,as i wasn't happy with the trackwork on the 3foot side its down to the point radius the stock runs through it all right but for bigger 3ft stock they don't look happy thats the main reason i built my own track for Arigna.Saying that the new Donegal layout Brucklees uses it as i had it in stock and just being a siding it shouldn't be an issue.However all the buildings and signals have been saved and who knows Strabane may rise from the ashes,that said i don't know when as the next irish layout is going to Ballinacarthy junction as i seem to be suffering from a surfeit of Bandon tanks plus it gives the Courtmacsherry stock somewhere else to play.Andy.

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Richard Chown's

Taking of all these Irish layouts who remembers a layout by the name of Killaney and built by a guy by the name David Walker? it was back in the 1980's as it appeared in the Novemebr 1985 RM. I wonder what happen to it. He was a friend of Richard Chown at the time.

Colin Rainsbury

 

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Are you guys using jigs to make the vee? A good how-to on YouTube wouldn't go amiss. Anyone know of any?

I've ordered a book called "Track" from the 2mm society. They claim much of it is scale independent.

I think I will end up joining the EMGS to get access to their stores.

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I'll try to get that thanks a lot. Mr. Rice's books were generally recommended but I didn't find that one. However I have ordered his "Introduction to 4mm Fine Scale Railway Modelling (RailModel Handbook)" which I found for €10 on Amazon. I will try to get the one you've linked to here as well. I like to read a bit before I attempt something, even if there's a saying in my host nation "Probieren geht über Studieren" (trying to do something is better than just studying it).

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Time in research is never wasted (I have many reference books!) but sometimes one also has to jump in and start as you say. As the Germans also say Aus Schaden wird man klug-  we learn from our mistakes. Like making sure one has gapped all the copper clad sleepers before testing the wiring.....🙄

Edited by Galteemore
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It is great if I am accidentally encouraging others to try 21mm track through my own efforts. Ironically, track building is one thing I do feel reasonably confident about!

For a beginner, a lot depends on previous experience of soldering, knowledge of track design and varies a bit depending on whether you are building bullhead or flat-bottomed track - and relatively modern, or very old. Once you become aware of the differences, errors become very obvious! I hadn't built any f/b track for a while, so the old brain cells are only slowly remembering the differences - hopefully before it is too late! Knowledge of Templot or access to authentic turnout plans also helps if you want to end up with a decent layout - but they are more for raising the bar once you have learnt the very basics.

The track book by the 2mm Scale Association is very good, though it concentrates largely on bullhead. Rice's track book though needs to be treated with slight caution, so I am told. For example, his method of creating the bend in the knuckle of the wing rails results in a sharp bend when in reality it should be a smooth and moderately generous curve to ensure smooth running.

Practice is vital. If possible, share your knowledge with local modellers who can physically help when you run into problems or even show you how, one-to-one.

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My planned layout (the"big idea" in my head) involves the Limerick Junction to Limerick line (possibly with branch to Foynes and an off-scene Castlemungret cement factory), with Limerick Station and Limerick Junction being the two main areas of interest, all modelled at waist height. Then (connected via helixes) a narrow shelf layout at slightly below eye level running all around the room (10*30 feet), carrying the Dublin-Cork mainline (really just a section of it north of Limerick Junction).

I am looking to model the early to mid 90s before CWR.

Am I right in thinking that bullhead would be appropriate for the mainline?

What about the rest?

Edit, I've just realised this is all a bit of a thread hijack on my part. I do apologise. I think I should move this to its own thread maybe.

Edited by murphaph
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1 hour ago, murphaph said:

My planned layout (the"big idea" in my head) involves the Limerick Junction to Limerick line (possibly with branch to Foynes and an off-scene Castlemungret cement factory), with Limerick Station and Limerick Junction being the two main areas of interest, all modelled at waist height. Then (connected via helixes) a narrow shelf layout at slightly below eye level running all around the room (10*30 feet), carrying the Dublin-Cork mainline (really just a section of it north of Limerick Junction).

I am looking to model the early to mid 90s before CWR.

Am I right in thinking that bullhead would be appropriate for the mainline?

What about the rest?

Edit, I've just realised this is all a bit of a thread hijack on my part. I do apologise. I think I should move this to its own thread maybe.

To be honest I think the thread had wandered quite a bit anyway, as they always do ;)

Looks like your main attention should be towards modelling weeds not track

6394583825_140ff53e3c_b.jpg

That is 1990, with a mixture of just about all manner of different track, not to mention the sheer quantity of track to model!!

This topic is turning into a useful reference for anyone building track, so I see  no problem with keeping things going like it is for the time being. I was going to start a separate topic for the layout proper, and for any stock I do in detail in any case.

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4 hours ago, RichL said:

It is great if I am accidentally encouraging others to try 21mm track through my own efforts. Ironically, track building is one thing I do feel reasonably confident about!

For a beginner, a lot depends on previous experience of soldering, knowledge of track design and varies a bit depending on whether you are building bullhead or flat-bottomed track - and relatively modern, or very old. Once you become aware of the differences, errors become very obvious! I hadn't built any f/b track for a while, so the old brain cells are only slowly remembering the differences - hopefully before it is too late! Knowledge of Templot or access to authentic turnout plans also helps if you want to end up with a decent layout - but they are more for raising the bar once you have learnt the very basics.

The track book by the 2mm Scale Association is very good, though it concentrates largely on bullhead. Rice's track book though needs to be treated with slight caution, so I am told. For example, his method of creating the bend in the knuckle of the wing rails results in a sharp bend when in reality it should be a smooth and moderately generous curve to ensure smooth running.

Practice is vital. If possible, share your knowledge with local modellers who can physically help when you run into problems or even show you how, one-to-one.

A few things about soldering:-

1) Make sure everything is clean before you start and make sure you use flux

Practise

2) Make sure you have a big enough iron and you are comfortable using it.

Practise

3) Practice soldering two pieces of copper wire together before you before you start work on copper clad.

Practise

4) Learn just how much heat to use to make a joint. Don’t leave a soldering iron on the copper clad for longer that you need as it will delineate (ie the copper foil will come away from the Paxolin base.

The following link may also help, the Carrs hand book on soldering is a useful item to have in the library.

https://www.phoenix-paints.co.uk/products/carrs/soldering/flux/c1210

Also check out You tube for demos on soldering.

Finally don’t be afraid of cocking it all up, we have all been there, read the book and brought the tee shirt. Rome wasn’t built in a day an hay have fun and enjoy.

 

Colin Rainsbury

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What are the bare minimum tools I will need to make a set of points? I see all manner of things available but what do you experienced guys consider the must haves?

You can assume I will join the EMGS to gain access to their information and stores.

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Does the EM gauge Society supply 21mm gauge track gauges? I really have no idea - just curious. I got mine from the S4 Society via a 'contact'

As for tools for 4mm scale track specifically...........

40w soldering iron with a pointy bit.

Several grades of medium length files for shaping crossing noses, cleaning up burrs etc, plus a very thin file approximately the width of the flange gap and a fine set of needle files for finishing off.

Reel of thin wire solder with flux core. Mine currently is a reel of 22swg 60/40 tin/lead alloy solder solder. Definitely don't use lead free solder. Liquid flux - Carr's Green Label works well, but there are others. Solder creams etc are difficult or impossible to clean off properly.

Fibreglass pen for pre-cleaning

Slightly more track gauges than you could possibly imagine you need - a mix of roller gauges and triangular gauges, plus flange gauges.

Some people use a jig for getting the correct angle on the crossing nose and also for the point blade filing. Others, like me get by just fine without these, but I have had a lot of practice.

Saw with lots of small teeth for cutting rail cleanly - razor saw, piercing saw or similar

Maybe a vice

A few small devices to hold things together while you solder, like hair clips or small bulldog clips

As a beginner, you should work from proper, accurate drawings - either printed templates or Templot kind of things and make sure they are exactly to scale when printed.

A few of the above are optional, but for the first few attempts you really need to make things easy for yourself.

 

 

 

Edited by RichL
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A decent soldering Iron of 30 /40 watts size

A soldering Iron stand most important dont want to start to burn the worktop on your first attempt or burn through the Iron supply cable (yes I have done that).

A flat screwdriver (to hold the rail down on the copper clad while you solder it, you don’t want to start to burn the fingers just yet) that is wider than the rail head so a 4 or 5 mm Flat should do.

Rail cutter from your local model shop (the orange handle make are good).

A disposable cheap paint brush for the flux (a kiddies type is good enough for this).

Double sided tape for the bottom of your Jig (you stick one side to the base of the jig and this then holds the sleepers in place while you are doing your soldering).

A standard pair of electricians Pliers.

A set of long nose Pliers 6 or 7inch size will be good enough for now.

A small 6inch flat file or two (get a modellers set  ie flat, half round, round and Tri square ).

A junior hacksaw for cutting the copper clad in the middle so  you don't get a short

Green washing up pads (for cleaning the copper clad).

Roller gauges

Disposable rubber gloves:- saves getting all that dirt and copper in the skin.

I think that is all I use, but sods law state’s that I will have forgotten something.

One other tip I forgot to mention always tin the copper clad before you try to solder the rail to the copper makes life so much easier.

Colin Rainsbury

I see both Rich and myself think the same things I forgot the Fibreglass stick which is most useful and another reason to get the disposal gloves.

 

Colin

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