Sunday, February 24, 2013


Track and roadbed at Springfield have been permanently affixed.  With track centerlines marked, the cork roadbed was glued in place.  The sheet cork pads for the three major switch complexes (ends and the mid-town cross-overs) were faired to the heights of connecting standard cork roadbed.  This was accomplished with a Stanley Surform™ and 60-grit sandpaper.  The rest of the roadbed was sanded for uniformity.

Height fairing of cork sheet.

Rail (code 83 to code 70) and tie height transitions (Fast Tracks to Micro Engineering) were accounted for with cardstock glued to the roadbed where the transitions occur. 

Tie height transitions formed by cardstock.

Throwbar slots were created by first drilling a ¼” hole at the center and then expanding with a router bit.  I got a little “enthusiastic” with the router as I learned to handle it, so I needed to go back with some wood filler.  It’s an imperfect job, but I’d rather err on the side of free function of the throwbars.  I also had to drill holes for the frog wire feeders to the Micro Engineering turnout frogs.

Throwbar slot routing.

Another item that needed to be accounted for before laying track was creating holes and hatches for Kadee uncoupling magnets that will be mounted on hinged flaps.  Three of these are located on tracks well away from the aisle edge –locations difficult to reach for “manual” uncoupling.  I’ll describe my uncoupling magnet mounts in a subsequent post, once I complete the installations.

Roadbed hole for uncoupling magnet.

The final bit of roadbed preparation was a coat of paint.  This both seals the cork to slow its natural drying out over the years (I hope!) and provides a good basic gray color.

With the roadbed prepared, the track could be laid permanently.  Prior to attaching the track, I relaid the track to be sure everything fit where I expected it to fit.  I also took the opportunity to join groups of turnouts into continuous assemblies by soldering their rail joiners together.  I also joined two or three sections of flex track in the same way.  This ensures critical alignment for these groups and made handling them easier during the track-laying process.

I used Dap 230 caulk in both aluminum-gray and clear varieties to affix the track.  I laid a bead of caulk over a “fair stretch of track--often a run of multiple sections of flex track or a turnout assembly.  The caulk bead was spread (like butter) with a putty knife.  The track was then placed in position.  Track sections were joined and then final alignment set using several RibbonRail curve tools and the “Mark 1” eyeball.  The caulk provides decent working time, but also sets quick enough to allow work on multiple tracks without disturbing prior track laying. 

Track and roadbed permanently laid at Springfield.

RR-West end of Springfield and Marcola Branch track viewed from Westfir.

Now that the track is down, the wiring and switch machine installation begins!

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