Sputtering start to a new layout

Stephane Savard May 24, 2018

  1. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Done! I used the eraser off the end of a pencil, then the alcohol in that one length of track in the video. I used the same locomotive, and was able to run it back and forth over the entire length several times without stalling or cutting out. It did stall one one end at first, but realized there was a bit of eraser stuck between the points. I even got it inching along the entire length at half the speed shown in the video.

    Then I ran it through the #6 turnouts, crossing my fingers... perfect! No more stalling!

    Thank you very much for the advise! This was bugging me quite a lot, especially now that I have no more time to work on it for the next few weeks.

    I'll start reading about the various track cleaning products out there.
     
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  2. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, hope you figure out the locomotive and track problem. Best of luck!
     
  3. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

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    Stephanie, I found that a bright boy works best for cleaning track and turnouts with alcohol after the track has been cleaned. Never use sandpaper, it will scratch the rails and produce corrosion.

    Joe
     
  4. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Well, in the past week I've been finally back to work, and that means I've also been in good enough shape to work on the layout. So this is a sort of major update since the last time!

    The electrical problems were solved with some track cleaning, and so I started working on the main line. I first needed to transfer my track plan to the foam, and my solution was to simply lay the full size printed plan onto the table and use a pin to mark the track center lines at roughly every centimeter. It was long, but with some good music playing in the background, it was a nice easy task to slowly ease my way back onto working on the table. Also, since I went to the trouble of creating easements on just about every curve in the track planning software, I figured this would make it easiest to get the right curves back onto the table.

    Unfortunately, the small holes in the foam are not very visible in the photos (if at all!) but suffice it to say that all the cork you see in the following pictures follow these pin holes.


    IMG_20181022_173416752.JPG
    Here we see where I'm laying down the first half of the Midwest n-scale cork - since it's laid down in halves, it's very easy to follow the track center line. I first pin down the individual parts and try to fit the turnout sections as best I can. I initially thought I'd have to use sheets of cork to cut out the turnouts, but discarded this idea real quick because the sheet cork I have, bought an a home improvement store, is a different thickness. However, it's just as easy to cut the trackbed to merge into each other at the turnouts.

    IMG_20181023_161938390.JPG

    I used the same latex caulk to glue down the cork road bed, nothing too special here. However, I did panic a little bit when the caulk caused most of the pin holes to disappear! With a strong light nearby however, I was able to find them again, and from then on I used a pin to scratch a line on either side of the cork when it was temporarily pinned down to the foam. Then, when applying the white latex caulk, the lines still stay visible.

    One thing I found annoying about the Midwest n-scale cork road bed is that when I separate the two halves from each other, the beveled edge is really rough on one of the lengths. I solved this by nailing a paint stirring stick to a piece of wood I had left over from building the table to create a neat little trackbed sanding jig.

    IMG_20181023_170307190.JPG

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    Using a sanding block (sandpaper spray glued to another piece of scrap wood), I can very quickly sand the bevel right back into the piece of track bed. In the above picture we can see how awful the edge can be, and the result of sanding it down. I also put the sanded shreds into a little pot. Might be useful later on since I did read in a book on scenery where the author mixed in some ground cork bits into his paint to give extra texture to his rock faces. The pictures in the book were sure impressive!
     
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  5. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen TrainBoard Member

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    that ground cork looks excellent for a freshly turned farm field, among other things. definite keeper material it will be great for some sort of scenery texture.
     
  6. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Not quick down updating for tonight...

    IMG_20181025_162526434.JPG

    A closeup of how the cork roadbed can be fitted for turnouts. One neat trick is that I can fill in the middle parts of forks by putting in the track bed upside down (i.e. bevel to bevel). The same principle is used on the piece of cork I added for the remote attached to the Atlas turnout... this is just a piece of upside down cork which I then beveled using that little jig.

    Note that I would have preferred hidden switch machines, but I couldn't stomach the cost on the 17 remote switches on my layout plan. I'd find a way to paint them or hide them to some extent.

    IMG_20181025_160805373.JPG

    And finally, all the cork for "phase 1" of the track installed and glued down. The cork currently ends at the river crossing, and on the other side, I will need to start climbing an incline for "phase 2". Basically, as can be seen in easier posts, my track plan is basically two reverse loops connected by a single line. I'm currently only concentrating on the first reverse loop (ends just before the river crossing).

    To deal with the different thicknesses of cork track bed and sheets, I just used a sanding block to get them equal.
     
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  7. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    Not done yet! I also got some track laid down...

    IMG_20181026_180108358.JPG

    IMG_20181026_175630920.JPG

    I started by positioning and pinning down the first curved turnout, and measuring the amount of flex track I would need between it and the next turnout (in the yard). This required soldering two pieces of track together. Based on tips I found online, I soldered the tracks when straightened out (not curved), and with the sliding rail on the inside of the curve. I then pinned the flex track in position and cut the excess rail from both ends. At this point, I unpinned the flex track, glued the curved turnout into place (latex caulk), soldered the flex track to the turnout, and then glued the flex track to the cork. I wasn't going to solder any of the turnouts to flex track, but had to make an exception for the curved turnouts, because well, curves.

    Here's another little series of photos showing the installation of curved turnout and flex track at the other end of the table...

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    Notice that card I put under the flex track? Well, I don't know if it's strictly necessary, but I noticed that PECO turnouts have slight thicker ties than atlas flex track. To make sure that the solder joint is lever, I would use the card to bring both to the same level.

    I also learned how to replace the missing ties that need to be cut off because of the rail joiners. I just trim off the excess plastic bits with sprue cutters and then sand/grind away some the plastic to allow space for the rail joiners. I gets old fast.

    We can also see my tools of choice for laying down the latex caulk.
     
    Joe Lovett likes this.
  8. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    And finally, enough for tonight, it's getting late. I leave you with what the layout looks like at this moment...

    IMG_20181104_171639778.JPG

    My next task will be to wire up the new track, and wire up the remote switches. After that, we'll see if I try tackling the second layer of track, up an incline and above the existing tracks.
     
  9. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looks good. I suspect that you'll find you like the manual turnout throws. They'll give you more of a feel of actually railroading than remote turnouts will.
     
  10. Stephane Savard

    Stephane Savard TrainBoard Member

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    I do really like the manual ground throws! I went with the remotes only on the main line sidings and on the staging area in the back. The table in three and a half feet deep, and although I can move the table easily and I can reach the furthest track (table is lower than average), I figured it would be easier with the remotes.
     
  11. NScaleKen

    NScaleKen TrainBoard Member

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    The other night I ran my yard with the power off, just pushed the switchers and flipped switches manually. it was extremely fun, it felt more connected and less demanding. It just felt more peaceful and less stressful, and made me part of the layout instead of just flipping switches to see what happens.
     
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