Laying Atlas track

Bill Oleneack Nov 30, 2021

  1. Bill Oleneack

    Bill Oleneack TrainBoard Member

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    Hello, I finally started laying track. I'm laying track on plywood with cork bed under the tracks and just nailing the track down. Last year I put in a large yard. I noticed this year, that some of the track is out of line in the yard. I had one section I had to re-leave the pressure by cutting the two rails, then putting them back together. The thickness of the blade was about how much I need to get rid of. When I laid the track I only put a nail in every 4th hole on the Atlas track. My question is. Should I put nails in every hole on the track? My layout is in the basement. In the summer its cool, and in the winter it is warm. Would this be causing my problem? If any one could help me, that would be great. Thank you.
     
  2. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Too many brads and the track might rip itself out of the ties.

    Yes, I'd say temperature is the culprit. Get to laying track; you want it all down before the basement cools back down.
     
  3. Bookbear1

    Bookbear1 TrainBoard Supporter

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    What he said! Fewer nails allows some flexibility so temp variations don't cause havoc. There won't be too much change (you saw how little there was when you cut), bu allowing for some 'wiggle room' is a good idea. Even temps year round is an even better idea, but that's not always possible.
     
  4. Bill Oleneack

    Bill Oleneack TrainBoard Member

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    Hi, I've heard of some people gluing down there track. Would that be the same as putting down to many nails?
     
  5. Bookbear1

    Bookbear1 TrainBoard Supporter

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    Unless you leave some sections unglued, I would imagine the problems would be the same.
     
  6. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Sure. The metal still expands, and still has nowhere to go.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2021
  7. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    Kudos to you if you have the skills to nail down the track on cork without bending down the ties. I use contact cement, which stays slightly flexible.

    I've found that plywood expands and contracts way more than rail does and due to humidity changes more than temperature. Only issues I had were on a long straight 6' Atlas viaduct; never seen a problem on curves. Solved by leaving unsoldered expansion joints at the ends. I also have an aisle-spanning bridge where the gap changes by about 1/16" in length from summer to winter.

    Anyway, I recommend not soldering the rails where you just cut the gap, as it may open up again when things get humid again.
     
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  8. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Never thought of that. No way I'm betting against you on that.
     
  9. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

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    I wouldn't use NAILS at all. Try using ADHESIVE CAULK. Latex based caulk ONLY. Try putting a bead down, spreading it THIN with a putty knife, and then, lay your track work. The caulk will give you time to adjust straight, curves and other details, before the caulk sets up. I used weights to hold track in place, while caulk sets up. I've used pieces of scrap wood, weighted down by BRICKS [cheap-reusable], to hold track while caulk is drying. Once caulk is dried, use same putty knife to separate track from roadbed if needed.
     
  10. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    We use water proof wood glue (white glue or water based wood glue has softened on us before but then we do have a mobile layout that gets out more than most). We put in gaps on purpose to allow for track expansion. The gaps are cut at an angle // (okay a bigger angle than that but there isn't a key on my keyboard that does that). If it is hot we don't leave much of a gap when we put the track down, if it is cold, we leave a bigger gap to allow for heat expansion. Having the gap cut at an angle will allow the track to slide by the other track if it gets TOO hot (and in Sacramento, it can do that) but the angled gap also doesn't cause a U when it is cold.
     
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  11. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    I always thought this was just plain old basic knowledge on how to do things but apparently, I was wrong. Anyway, to prevent wood or any fibrous material from expanding or contracting due to moisture you must seal it with a good wood sealer or paint primer. Be sure to seal all exposed surfaces. As for the track, once the wood is sealed you can then glue down the cork and the track. I do not recommend using nails. The only caveat here is that you allow for thermal expansion/contraction of the metal rails. A .015" gap every 30 inches is sufficient. That will suffice for a temperature change of + 70 degrees which is sufficient if you lay your track at normal room temperature of about 70 degrees.

    What some people do when using flex track is to insert a short section of track (say 6-12 inches long) between full sections of flex track. The reason for this is that thermal expansion of any metal is a co-efficient of two variables; they being temperature change and the length of the piece of metal. So, a shorter piece of rail will expand/contract less than a longer one for any given temperature change. Here is a short video on rail gaps:

    Perfect rail gaps with N scale flex track on your model railroad layout for better operation - YouTube

    Note that he uses an automotive feeler gauge set at .019 inches but he only gaps one end of the short track section. I would gap both ends and so would use a gap of .015 inches on both ends. Now if you don't have a feeler gauge there is nothing to worry about. A piece of K&S brass angle can be used. Each side of the angle is .015 inches thick. You could also use a piece of .015" styrene. So, seal the wood and gap the track and you are good to go.
     
  12. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I’ve always used a tiny drop of CA every foot or so. So easy to pop it up off the cork if any changes need to be made. I leave the turnouts free floating.
     
  13. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    Why is this post in the Swap Meet, and not in the layout discussion?
     
  14. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    When I posted, it was in the N scale forum.
     
  15. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    In almost 60 years of nine millimeter gauge model railroading (or other gauges, for that matter), I have never had a problem nailing track. All that glue and sticking things down seems like such a mess and finding things to weigh the track down until the glue sets - no thanks. Way too much work.

    All you need to do is not try to get the gaps between sections of rail real tight and you should be fine.

    Doug
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2021
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  16. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    I spike mine. Then when I get around to it, I glue it, salt and pepper to taste with plenty of ballast, and pull the spikes when the glue is tacky enough to hold but soft enough to cover the spike hole.
     
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  17. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

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    I use thumb tacks to hold the track while the glue drys.
     
  18. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    I know a guy who hates peas yet he keeps a dozen cans of them around. He uses them to weigh down his track until the glue dries. He also uses bags of frozen peas as re-usable ice packs.
     
  19. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Frozen peas last a very long time. I have had some over a year old that still tasted great upon cooking.

    :D

    Doug
     
  20. James Fitch

    James Fitch TrainBoard Member

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    Using train nails is not hard. Just don't drive them down to the tie, leave a little space. I prefer Atlas track nails to hold track down, at least until it is ballasted in place. Then you can pull the nails out.

    My objection to using adhesives is, you gotta have some way of holding the track in place and evenly, and to do that you either need to weight it down or hold it place with pins. With weights, they obscure the track while the adhesive sets up and it may set up crooked if it slips out of alignment. If you use PINs, you might as well use track nails and no adhesive. And with track nails, you can tweak the alignment a bit if need be before making things more permanent when gluing the ballast in place.

    This ^ Just solder on curves and leave most other joints unsoldered and have frequent power feeds. Leave a little space between rails at each joint to allow for expansion.

    Also, try to control the environment of the layout to avoid extreme temp and humidity changes. Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity down in warmer weather.
     

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