A Good Iron Spike…

I have got all the rail down on Comstock Road. Wiring and point installation are pending as well as a lot of cosmetic tie plates and spikes but I am calling track laying complete.

Here is a status shot of the railroad for posterity.lastspike

If you squint, you will notice that the right leg of the turnout going off the front of the layout looks a bit odd. Since I don’t plan to launch any rolling stock into the ether, I have created a turnout with the frog removed. This is sometimes done to take a turnout out of service without abandoning or relaying track, just in case. In this instance, I laid the turnout as per normal and then pulled the frog and replaced it with a short piece of rail just as the prototype would have. I even put feeders under the dummy rails so I can restore things to operability if I ever want to.whatfrog

I also cut the last rail spanning a baseboard joint which I had forgotten to do. I rechecked all the other rails since attempting to pull sections apart would be a bad way to discover another oversight. Getting the jewellers saw into position required some excavation of prematurely installed foamboard.sawthenfoam


Four Closure Rails to Go

I am away from home this weekend so progress  actually on the layout is halted but before we set off, I managed to get everything but two sets of closure rails down on Comstock Road. This allowed me to push things through the other leg of the diamond to test things out. Putting down the closure rails require tweaking things so everything works so it is a non-trivial step but it is exciting to be able to see the “end” of track laying.

I anticipate getting the throw bars, linkages and servos installed on the remaining turnouts in the next couple of weeks.


It Ain’t Pretty But It Works

As the saying goes, it isn’t that a dancing bear dances well that is amazing but that it dances at all. I have got the diamond installed after much fiddling. It works but there were a few alignment issues with the frogs that make for imperfect lines through the crossing. I am impressed that my eye is less tolerant of variance than a finescale track standard. Anyway, I did not remake any parts but I will probably remake the whole thing at a future date. I will keep the functioning present version in order to get things running.

Here is a shot of the diamond from overhead. diamondinstalled

And an artsy track level view.diamondlow

Getting the challenging part of the trackplan inspired me to press on with the more mundane bits and now have the spur in front of the traverser tacked down as well. (I consider it installed enough for operational purposes when every third tie is spiked down.)diamondlong

All the track laying remaining to be done is at least partially visible in this shot:

  1. closure rails and points for the front track at centre back.
  2. inactive turnout and spur off the upper right leg of the diamond.

That is a refreshing short list! After that, I am down to point servo installation and wiring before I can operate Comstock Road. Well, that and banging together enough rolling stock…

This Diamond Might Actually Work

Not installed or trimmed to length but I got the second k-crossing done tonight and just had to pose the two bits in situ on the layout. So far, things seem to be going well which probably means I have overlooked something. I am still half expecting to have to scrap and redo something but so far so good.kcrossingsfinished.jpg

Freehand Rail Filing

Stephen Gardiner was kind enough to complement the quality of my incorrect filed angle and although I think he was just trying to make me feel better I did consider that perhaps describing my technique might be useful to someone. Having never done an instructional type of post, it will be a good exercise for me. All are encourage to ask questions if I have left something out!

So, you’ve got a piece of rail and you want to file the end to a particular angle.filingstart

I start by marking the angle on the top of the rail. I also sometimes mark the bottom as well or just the bottom depending on what seems necessary. If you are prone to getting an unwanted vertical angle as you file, do both so you can catch yourself at it. Machinists typically use a blue marking die which one either paints or sprays on. It is lacquer based so it smells and it takes a solvent to get it off again. For small jobs, I use a big Sharpie maker; an alternative I learned about in Simon Bolton’s books. The marker will do a 4″x10″ sheet of brass in less than a minute of vigorous scribbling if you need to.filingmarking

I then use an engineer’s protractor to get the proper angle and a machinist’s scriber to make a mark in the blacked area on the rail.filinglayout

The marker makes the scratch from the scriber easy to see.filingmarked

After that, we get to the actual filing. I use a 12″ single cut file for most of my filing. This is less aggressive than default double cut file you get at the hardware store. You can usually find the single cut ones if you look. As far as actual technique, I grip the rail in my fingers and rub it back and forth on the file which I either lay on the bench or my lap. I find it easier to see and check the angle mark as opposed to clamping the rail and moving the file.filinggrip

I check every dozen strokes or so to see how I am doing and adjust as necessary to try and keep the filing parallel to the mark on the rail. Eventually, I usually get down to the mark. If I mess it up, I either remark the end and take some more off or start on a new piece if I can’t spare any more length.filingfinished

Measure Twice…Oh, Bother!

diamondderpI bent up the second knuckle rail for the Comstock Road diamond and set about filing the two other running rails. I very carefully blued (with a big Sharpie marker), marked the angles using  a scribe like a proper machinist, and filed up to the line. The first rail works beautifully. The second one had a slight issue. (If you look closely, you can see that the second rail has the angle going precisely the wrong way.) Fortunately I have lots of rail and the filing process is not too time consuming.

I am also glad that I took the time to make up my set of roller gauges. They made setting the rails for the second half (side?) of the diamond a snap.rollergaugesftw

I also got the frog and the straight closure rail for the turnout leading to one leg of the crossing down. I plan to do the same for the other turnout before putting down the crossing since they are less mutable than the diamond itself.

Trackwork, Various

I managed a few trackwork related moments in the last week in amongst assorted excursions, tasks, crises, crises requiring excursions, etc… Most significantly, I got the first K-crossing for the Comstock Road diamond formed and pinned down ready for soldering. This took place on a larger pine board which I acquired for the purpose. I despaired at the price for a 1x8x6′ pine board until I spotted a stack of 1x10x5′ “pine shelves”  in the next rack over. These looked suspiciously like 1×10 boards and were a quarter of the price. The mysteries of retail!

Here is how far I got.firstkcrossing

While I was acquiring that bigger piece of pine, I also purchased an inexpensive engineer’s protractor. This is a handy way to measure and transfer angles and I wanted to make sure everything matched when I moved it over from the template. The crossing angle is 24° for those who were wondering. That bit of rail has marker on the end so I can mark the angle I need to file. This sort of protractor makes that much easier than the half circle sort.protractor

I also did some other things including getting the start of the second rail down on the main where it leaves the traverser. This rail will feed into one leg of the diamond. I also applied paper to the ends of the rails on each of the four frogs remaining to be laid, two turnouts and the ones I made for the diamond. Rather than rely on an air gap, I try to have something solid and unobtrusive as an insulator. I have used a mere layer of paint in the past but always worried that expansion would squish a short into being. Paper to be trimmed after the adhesive cures.froginsulation