• Getting Started with hand laid track Part 1: Tools and Supplies

    This tutorial was inspired by this thread:

    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ment-tutorials

    In this tutorial, I am going to describe the minimal tools and supplies you need to hand lay track, beyond those required for laying flextrack.

    For laying flextrack, I expect most of you have the following tools and supplies available:

    • A tool to cut the rail (I use a pair of Xuron rail nippers).
    • An adhesive to hold the track in place (caulking, carpenters glue, etc)
    • A soldering iron (for feeders and rail joiners)
    • Wire Strippers (for feeders)
    • Small gauge Wire (for feeders)
    • Rail joiners
    • Solder (for feeders and rail joints)
      A set of jewlers files (for cleaning the ends of the rails and high spots on solder joints.)


    For hand laid track, you will need the following additional tools:
    • 2 or 3 three-point track gauges. You need two for straight track, and 3 for a curve.
    • A tie spacing guide. Mine was constructed from an article in Model Railroader. It consists of roughly a foot long piece of 1x3 with a 1/8" square plastruct styrene. The ties are spaced with n-scale 2x12's (from Northeastern Scale Lumber). This gives a tie spacing slightly larger than the Atlas or ME code 55 track I use elsewhere, but much closer than that of Peco or Atlas code 80 track.


    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1344834174

    And the following supplies:
    • Ties (for this tutorial, I am using wooden ties from Micro Engineering)
    • Rail (for this tutorial, I am using Micro Engineering code 40 rail).
    • Pliobond (an adhesive). We'll use this to secure the rail to the ties
    • Masking Tape. We will use this to transfer ties from the spacing gauge to the railroad.


    http://www.nscale.net/forums/attachm...1&d=1344834174

    The two photographic attachments to this article show all of the hand laying tools and supplies that are not required for laying flextrack.

    In part two, I will show how these tools are used to hand lay a short piece of curved track on one of my Free-moN modules.

    Paul
    Comments 13 Comments
    1. coxsj's Avatar
      coxsj -
      Awesome Paul! Thanks for getting this series started. I am wrapping up my dual diamonds. My next project is to do a few tutorials from the list.
      - Coxy
    1. Phill91's Avatar
      Phill91 -
      What size wires would be a good size for feeders?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by phillrulz91 View Post
      What size wires would be a good size for feeders?
      I generally use 22 gauge solid wire for track feeders.

      Paul
    1. NY Central's Avatar
      NY Central -
      This is great, thx. Looking forward to part 2.
    1. GM50 4164's Avatar
      GM50 4164 -
      why would you use solid wire instead of stranded for power feeders? What is the pros and cons of each?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by GM50 4164 View Post
      why would you use solid wire instead of stranded for power feeders? What is the pros and cons of each?
      I won't give pros and cons of each, but I use solid wire for two reasons:
      1) Stranded wire is more flexible than solid, so it is more difficult to snake through the layout's subroadbed and roadbed.
      2) Because solid wire is more rigid, you can bend it so that it hugs the side of the rail. Every feeder I place gets two bends, The first one is approximately 90 degree. and occurs where the wire exits the roadbed. The second one is also approximately 90 degree and occurs where the wire hits the rail.

      The second reason is really the more important one. This means I can solder feeders to the rail with two hands instead of three.

      Paul
    1. TwinDad's Avatar
      TwinDad -
      Thanks for doing this, Paul... together with some of the other threads about handlaying, I'm just about to take the plunge... or at least try to plan some tools purchases toward taking the plunge.

      Would it be safe to assume it would be a good idea to do some regular track before tackling turnouts?
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinDad View Post
      Would it be safe to assume it would be a good idea to do some regular track before tackling turnouts?
      I really think that ANYONE should know how to hand lay regular track. Most of the tools you need to do this come in handy for repairing and laying flex track as well, so you really don't need anything "special" (except the tie spacing guide) to do hand laid track.

      I hope to be able to get back to the next instalment soon. Unfortunately, the unexpected death of a colleague and friend has increased my workload this semester, so I have less hobby time than normal (and I am spending most of my "free" time with our 7 month old foster daughter).

      Paul
    1. epumph's Avatar
      epumph -
      Sorry to hear of your loss. Family and friends before hobbies.
    1. TwinDad's Avatar
      TwinDad -
      My condolences on the loss of your colleague. Take your time, and enjoy that girl!
    1. benjaminrogers's Avatar
      benjaminrogers -
      Paul,

      Can you explain the materials used in your jig? I understand using a tie to determine the gap but what did you glue to the 1x3 to get the correct tie gap?

      Ben
    1. pbender's Avatar
      pbender -
      Quote Originally Posted by benjaminrogers View Post
      Can you explain the materials used in your jig? I understand using a tie to determine the gap but what did you glue to the 1x3 to get the correct tie gap?
      The board has n-scale 2x12s glued to it to set the spacing between ties. The 2x12s are northeastern scale lumber strip wood.

      One edge has a 1/8" square strip of styrene glued to it to provide a stop, so the ties line up.

      Paul
    1. benjaminrogers's Avatar
      benjaminrogers -
      Awesome! So your spacing is set by and N Scale 2x12! Thank you!