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RichL

Freelance Mixed Gauge - Handbuilt Trackwork

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Thinking about the process, it might be best if one of us went through building a turnout step by step once you know what exactly you want to try first. I would be happy to show you my way and then let others add their own perspectives.

Doing a step by step on the diamond crossing I am currently building would be counter productive as it is very complex and doesn't need point blades.

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Don't forget the rail and sleepers! Best to try a flat bottomed rail turnout first, as chaired bullhead track has extra complications.

C&L are a good source for good quality copper clad sleepers, but idiosyncratic to deal with to deal with, especially you are outside the UK. Whatever the source, they normally are properly used in two widths, 3.3mm for plain track and 4mm for point timbers. For practice purposes it doesn't really matter. There are 2 thicknesses too (depth) - use one or the other of these, not a mixture, either around 1mm or 1.6mm. The diffferent depths allow a match with commercial plain track from different sources.

For rail, I guess code 82 flat bottomed rail is best for modern image - same sources as copperclad sleepers. Nickel silver rail is best for beginners as there is no risk of rust encouraged by use of flux.

There are other sources, like Marcway in Sheffield and the EMGS. I guess continental Europe has suppliers of similar components too, as there is an HO community building their own track. Using a non-UK source though the rail may not fit the 21mm gauges properly.

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Weinert do some peco track and their own plastic chairs if I choose to use them (h0 but might work) but I'm pretty sure I will have to source most of my materials in the UK. It's not so bad as I can redirect parcels via NI and have them delivered to my family home in Dublin. I'm home often enough to just pick it up there.

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Forgot to add that the full details of the solder I am currently using is as follows:

Rapid Solder Wire 60/40 22SWG 0.7mm 500g Reel

Order Code:  

85-0595

It has slightly different characteristics to the last make I used, now unavailable, but now I am getting used to it I find that works very nicely. One reel should last many, many years even if you are building layouts like Limerick Junction ;)

For F/B track I tend to tin the bottom of the rail by using flux and applying a very thin coat of solder via the soldering iron tip, using the tip like a brush. Then I solder the rail to the sleepers by applying the soldering iron and the solder wire to the rail/sleeper joint together, no extra flux. Very little solder is required for each joint as this solder flows very nicely.

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10 hours 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.

Your layout concept is ambitious and you seem to have the space to fulfill your ambition. Building such a layout in 21mm gauge with handlaid track would be a lot more time consuming, perhaps taking 2-3 time longer than in OO using flexible track and ready to lay points, but the choice between OO & 21mm really boils how to how you prefer to spend your modelling time building models or operating a model railway/running trains.

The difference in gauge is less noticeable and the view more realistic if the baseboards/track level is closer to eye level.

Bullhead track was the standard form of permanent way on the Dublin Cork and Waterford-Limerick main lines from the 1900 or earlier, heavy (95lb) flatbottom rail was increasingly used for main line renewals from the 1950s onwards, CWR on concrete sleepers was trailed on the Dublin-Cork line during the mid 1970s, before becoming the standard permanent way for main line renewals.

The Dublin-Cork main line was re-laid with CWR during the 1970s & 80s as CTC signalling was gradually extended southwards, Limerick Junction-Limerick may have been re-laid with CWR during the 1980s.

The Limerick Junction-Waterford Line was likely to be laid with a mixture of CWR, jointed bull head and jointed flatbottom track. 

Jointed bullhead or and flatbottom track was likely to have been retained at Limerick and the Junction until the stations were re-signalled/layouts rationalised during the last 20 years.

Photographs of a particular station or stretch of line is probably the best option if you want to model Irish track in detail due to the mixture of track material in use and condition even at a single station

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5 hours ago, Galteemore said:

Soak your fibreglass brush refills in dilute PVA and allow to dry. Minimises the amount of horrible fibres flying around....

thats a great tip wished i had though of that one.

Another link for you to look at

http://www.zen98812.zen.co.uk/track.html

Don't think about this gauge but it is the way they do things down that small hope it help, I think at this moment in time RichL would be the best person to give you a demo as most of my stuff is packed away thanks having to store stuff for other people right now.

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More Great tips. To be honest I am not going to be a stickler for this rail at that location. I just want to avoid the uniformity of cwr. I am happy to proceed using primarily flat bottomed rail for the main lines.

Sidings I'm thinking should look lighter though.

Let's say I use this approach (FB for mainline and bullhead for the sidings). Would that work and be somewhat realistic? If so, can someone advise which actual peco product numbers would correspond?

John I appreciate that it's a much longer road to running trains but I've been waiting long enough so I may as well take that bit longer and do it the way I want. I'll work in modules so I will be able to play trains even before the whole thing is eventually done. I would probably start with the shelf section for ease of access and to have trains running while I model the lower "main deck".

A layout like mine will need a large off scene storage area (fiddle yard/Schattenbahnhof) with long dead straight sections. Is there any approach to this sort of off scene track to speed up construction? Just wider spacing of the copper and sleepers?

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C&L do point kits and also prefabricated vees and blades. The kits comprise everything you need to build a point using just plastic solvent. Stick sleepers to the plan, slide the chairs on to the rail, fix the chairs to the sleepers with Daywat or similar and Robert is your father's brother.

 Only available for bull head rail, but they do the correct slide chairs and so on. A 21mm gauge is all you need to change to 5'3 as sleeper lengths are the same. Can be built in an hour or so once you've got the hang of it and if you buy the components rather than the kits, then you can configure any formation you like. Built several for a 7mm project and they really work well. Include complex stuff like single and double slips too.

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From the bit of reading I've done elsewhere, it seems if you buy the vees rather than making them, the cost rises dramatically. Would you agree?

I will have an awful lot of points to make and I think I will need to be able to master custom frog angles etc. rather than rely on predetermined crossing angles, or am I wide of the mark with that assumption?

I'm happy that I will be able to hand file the rails with some practice. I do hand file my chainsaw chain after all lol.

I'm also not a total novice with a soldering iron. I have an electronics background.

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If money were available you could get someone to build the whole layout for you, but where's the fun in that? ;)

It is the really long, modern high speed turnouts that are awkward as there is a lot of very careful filing to do. Around a station the turnouts are likely to be a lot shorter with sharper crossing noses, so much easier to file and a greater margin for error in the filing. Working from a really accurate drawing works quite well after a bit of practice.

I think most of the pre-made components like those offered by C & L are bullhead, not F/B.

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Unfortunately money is an issue and as my layout will have lots of track and many dozens of points, saving money by by building those myself is financially attractive, even if it's much slower.

I can use the money saved on great quality kits and RTR items that I could not realistically manufacture myself in the number of years I have left on this green earth!

I will make the off scene stuff and much of the eye level mainline track panels in jigs to speed up production and build the waist height station trackwork in situ most likely. But I'll have to get a feel for it. Seems it's a matter of personal taste.

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Stocking your layout will be the real killer, moneywise.

You can cut OO track in half and regauge it with a gap in the middle of the sleepers for the fiddle yard.

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Yeah my bank balance knows how expensive stocking the layout is 😞

Anyway it's a nice complaint to have. It wasn't that long ago we had no real RTR options to blow money on!

Interesting idea with the regauge for the fiddle yard. Is that going to work out cheaper/faster? Don't I still need to solder copper sleepers every few inches anyway? 

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Depends what you want. You can just cut the OO track down the middle into two parallel strips as Rich says, and glue the split sleepers down at the correct distance apart, using a track gauge. Can be a really cheap way to do it - can pick up oddments of track quite cheaply and off you go! 

 

Edited by Galteemore
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Point and crossing work assembled usually assembled using standard switch and crossing components with the rails between the switch and crossing tailored to form a particular formation, in practice 1:6, 1:8 & 1:10 crossing should be adequate for most applications.

The EM Gauge Society members received a detailed manual https://www.emgs.org/wp-content/uploads/MANUAL_1_2_3_1_pages_all.pdf on prototype and model track construction including information on the different systems and assembly techniques including switch and crossing filing and assembly jigs. TOM Trackwork Standards can be easily extrapolated from the EMGS Standard and EMGS track, point and crossing jigs can be blown up to 21mm gauge on a printer or photocopier if you are not too worried about a marginally wider sleeper spacing.

As Rick L suggested the best option is probably to build a small test track or a shunting plank with a couple of points and possibly a crossing as a test bed before committing to building a layout.

Going back to prototype trackwork, yard and siding trackage on the CIE/IE system was generally laid in relatively light flatbottom rail on base plates or spiked directly to the sleepers, with bullhead restricted mainly to running lines and passing loops.

The photo of the south end of Limerick Junction is a good example, the headshunt from the Waterford Bay with passenger train is laid in bullhead material, while the sidings between headshunt and the Cork Main Line appear to be laid in light flatbottom rail.

Peco Code 60 Rail https://peco-uk.com/products/code-60-flat-bottom-rail for sidings,  Code 75 or Code 82 for running lines if you want to re-create the contrast between 80, 85, 90 and 95 lb British Standard rails used up to the introduction of metric Standard BS/EN and UIC standard rails by CIE from the 1970s onwards.        I got to learn perhaps too much about trackwork volunteering on a UK heritage railway including assembling full size 60cm gauge pointwork.

 

 

DSCF4017.thumb.JPG.a35203313f8b008527d070102b0db326.JPG

DSCF4022.thumb.JPG.f4cac1479a23d21e29b0b93581020f2d.JPG

Loco and stock on Peco Code 60 rail soldered to copper clad sleepers, Code 82 rail on lines in foreground.

The layout was not a success I made the mistake of not allowing enough space in the 6' between parallel lines as they entered the curve and problems getting the double slip points to function correctly.

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Unfortunately, most published advice on track construction relates to Bullhead - something of an obsession in the UK - to the point that some people happily build or lay bullhead even when F/B is appropriate. In Ireland the balance between bullhead and f/b was far more skewed to f/b, as I understand it. Even then, early and modern f/b are quite a lot different, especially when it comes to pointwork. This affects the way such things are modelled.

With my own project, I decided to go for a small test track first mainly because I want to build up an eclectic collection of stock. This will take a long time. I have made the mistake in the past of concentrating too much on the layout and almost forgetting about the stock. With OO and RTR stock, this is not so much of a problem as the chequebook or credit card deals with the latter fairly quickly if you have the funds. With 21mm gauge though, even RTR needs regaugeing, This takes far more time and willpower than might initially be thought. It is easy to grossly underestimate just how much time and effort it takes. I found in the past that I reached a state of mental and willpower exhaustion long before I got to the stock.

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I have found the ‘cameo layout’ approach of Iain Rice helpful here. Take a small scenario and build/adapt just enough track, stock etc to fit that. Great way to start in a new scale and get a feel for it quickly. http://philsworkbench.blogspot.com/2017/01/book-review-creating-cameo-layouts-by.html?m=1

If you can face a wandering RMweb thread....https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/118661-creating-cameo-layouts/

 I jumped ship into 5’3” modelling last year and found this a really helpful approach. Just enough track to build to create interest without being overwhelming! 

 

Edited by Galteemore
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I hadn't read that particular topic before, but it quickly degenerates into the usual RMweb flippantry, irrelevance and argument - this one from just the second entry onwards! There are some good points as you progress through - it's just a pain finding them. An obvious candidate for firmer moderation!

The emphasis with cameo layouts is on portable layouts and presentation issues are most relevent to exhibition layouts, but much of the advice could equally apply to home layouts.

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3 minutes ago, RichL said:

I hadn't read that particular topic before, but it quickly degenerates into the usual RMweb flippantry, irrelevance and argument - this one from just the second entry onwards! There are some good points as you progress through - it's just a pain finding them. An obvious candidate for firmer moderation!

The emphasis with cameo layouts is on portable layouts and presentation issues are most relevent to exhibition layouts, but much of the advice could equally apply to home layouts.

Thanks Rich - I was revising the post on just those grounds as you were typing! 

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Building Track / Ian Rice...... You have to have a copy of this;-

659493015_FSTIanRice-0020200804_160030.jpg.1dee3c04cee2d277d868689dc8a01715.jpg

ISBN 1874103003

Eoin

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I will keep an eye out for it but it's not easy to find.What's the difference between that one and the pragmatic Guide to building, wiring and laying PCB track by the same author?

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6 minutes ago, murphaph said:

I will keep an eye out for it but it's not easy to find.What's the difference between that one and the pragmatic Guide to building, wiring and laying PCB track by the same author?

I'm not sure I know the book your referring to, but it sounds lake a broad scope book on building a full layout? Whereas the book above only deals with building track the Rice detailed way....

Eoin

 

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Here’s my copy of the PCB one and title page. I think Eoin’s one also covers ply track etc 

09D4AAD9-5016-48E9-8237-1132986D45DC.jpeg

8335947F-1125-4A97-A1F3-FEC274C25102.jpeg

DCDF8FC2-1BA8-46A7-ACB2-467E54C6F86F.jpeg

Edited by Galteemore
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@Galteemore yes, the book I referenced covers ply sleepers only, I had seen a copy of your book and wondered what's the difference- I'd say a lot of the info is the same except for the rail to sleeper fixing and finishing the ply....

Eoin

 

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I think mine is the bunscoil version for basic track work - yours is the finescale colaiste one Eoin! 

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The rail order arrived today, so I was able to make a bit more progress on the test track this evening. Hopefully one more session should see all the remaining rails installed

aDSCF7869.jpg.2ec53b248f92eeb76de32eb5533fe084.jpg

 

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