Thursday, May 12, 2016


During the house repairs, I covered the affected areas of the railroad with hardboard to protect the track.  The railroad had to serve as a work platform in three places, each of which had a number of switches installed.  After I painted the repaired ceiling over the railroad, I removed those hardboard covers.  Inspection of the railroad was the next task.

I was pleasantly surprised to find relatively little damage to the railroad.  Only one switch repair could be tied directly to the house repair activity.  The throwbar for the snow plow track off the Oakridge wye was broken.  This was a Micro Engineering turnout.  I have found their throwbars a bit frail and have replaced about a half dozen on the railroad so far.  Although I had to fiddle with the switch machine installation while replacing the throwbar with a pc-board tie, the job was directly accomplished.

One other switch repair was somewhat related to the house work.  The RR-West siding switch at West Springfield (outer edge of the turnback loop) looked like it could use some tweaking.  I got a bit too vigorous with my small file, catching the point, splitting it through the rail web and crumpling the head portion of the point.  The picture below shows my attempt at reforming the point.  I decided it would be better to replace the point rail.  This turned out to be an easy job—much better than trying to make do with the damaged rail.

Damaged point rail at RR-West Springfield.  The damaged point is on the right, not quite straight.

Switch with replacement point rail.  The replacement rail is unpainted.

A consequence of all of the drying action in the house was change in the moisture content of the railroad benchwork.  This showed up as warped track—like a sun kink on the full-sized railroads.  I had two of these warped rails or track.  A single rail needed to have a gap cut for expansion and the rail spiked down for about a foot in length in the midst of Oakridge yard.  A second spot, on the mainline out of Springfield, had the track pop up off the adhesive with both rails warped.  This one was a very simple fix of shortening the rails at the nearby rail joint and reattaching the track to the roadbed. 

Mainline track warped RR-West of Springfield.

Reattached track after trimming the length of the both rails.

A final track task has been a long-deferred systematic inspection and tweaking of my Fast Tracks switches.  Most of my original construction Fast Tracks switches were built without a notch in the stock rail railhead where the points meet the stock rail.  At least for me, this resulted in tight track gauge at the points and through the first couple of inches of the points.  Although I or one of my trusted helpers have gotten to many of these switches, now was a perfect time to systematically inspect and tune.  All of the rolling stock that has been on the railroad is in the staging loops in the “back” room.  Without equipment in the way, the inspection and tweaking proceeded very efficiently. 

It has been a long  down time for my railroad.  I am about to clean the track (another task made easier with no equipment nearby), vacuum the railroad (again) and finally turn the power back on.  That light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter!


  1. Glad not only you can report that nightmare is now behind you, but the layout survived with minimal damage!
    I hope you get some run time in on the RR soon. It seems as a layout owner here, its mostly during testing when I get the chance to hold a throttle in hand...

  2. Encouraging news - glad t hear it. It won't be long until trains are running.

  3. I really like the way you draw images of what you read in the text to support your ideas.