Thursday, May 30, 2013


Once the track was laid in Oakridge, I cleared off the tools to make way for wiring.  I kept passing by the RR-East end of Oakridge and past the wye on my way to the center part of Oakridge and RR-West end.  Each time I walked past the RR-East throat I noticed a track alignment that seemed awkward.  Indeed, it was!   The switches along the RR-East leg of the wye retained an artifact of an earlier track layout that no longer had meaning.  Critically, the switch to the sand house “siding” used a left hand turnout instead of the much smoother right hand orientation.

Original track alignment at RR-East Oakridge.  Sand house “siding” is in the foreground with a left-hand turnout accessing the end closest to the wye.

After a couple of weeks of passing by this spot, I knew I needed to revise the track layout.  The left-hand turnout off a right-hand curving track  was a poor track alignment with an implied “S” curve.  The diverging route of this turnout will be used by all helper power and any other power serviced at Oakridge, such as the Oakridge Turn power.  Although diesels and Cab Forwards might not have a problem, ten-coupled locos such as a 2-10-2 might not “like” such an arrangement.

Out came some turnouts and a curve template to see what might be done.  Flipping the sand house turnout to a left-hand one and moving the wye leg curves closer to the rest of the RR-East switch ladders would fit.  It also turned out I could correct a misalignment of  the switches for the Maintenance of Way (MOW) spurs seen in the middle of the RR-East wye leg.  That misalignment was an aesthetic problem more than an operational issue.  It came about because of my need to solder frog wires to Micro Engineering turnouts before turnout installation on the layout.  The hole for the frog wire for the switch within the wye leg was in the wrong place, upsetting its alignment.

New track alignment trial with curve template and a pair of #6 turnouts overlaying the original alignment.

With some trepidation, I took a good putty knife in hand and began prying up the old track.  I used Dap 230 adhesive caulk to hold down the track.  This was my first time revising a track layout where the caulk was used.  I am happy to report the track came up easily with a little bit of care.  All three switches were pulled up and reconditioned for re-use.  One section of track came up easily and was re-used.  One other section was a bit tougher to get up and I ended up detaching ties from rails in a few spots—easy to do with Micro Engineering flex track.  I consider the track removal a success, as the high value items—the turnouts—were all saved and half the track was saved.  The damaged section of track contributed short  filler sections to the new track layout.

RR-East Oakridge wye tracks removed. And surface prepared for new track alignment.

With the old track removed and turnouts reconditioned, the new track was laid out and affixed.  The new alignment looks much smoother than the original layout and should not present operating issues.  The track alignment revision is something one should be prepared to do on any model railroad.  Its usually best to revise sooner rather than later, as that ends the frustration much earlier.  In this case, the track had not been wired yet.  It was not in service, and yet my experienced eye told me a change was necessary.

New Oakridge RR-East track alignment.

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