Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Straco Layout, Part 7 - Laying down track

I said these screws were tiny!
Read all the installments of the Straco Express layout project here.

Figuring out how to secure the track to the board took some thought. I needed a method that would both hold the track tightly to the board, and do so in a non-destructive fashion. This was important, as later on I (or someone else) could remove the track from the board and have intact track sections, thereby not lessening whatever collector or historical value they may have.

The solution turned out to be very tiny screws. For both the Straco Express locomotive and the Bandai diesel, the gear mechanisms hang fairly low, so I needed a screw head that both had a lip to it, yet was small enough to clear the trucks (wheel and wheel bracket assembly) of the engines.

I did a simple test with a spare piece of track and some of the screws. Looking at the track straight on, I could see that the engines cleared the screws easily. And so I was in business.

 Note the placement of the scews between sections. This
helps keep the joints tight. The middle screw of each
section (far right) prevents lateral motion.
Since each screw only holds down one side of the tie its next to, I placed each one carefully. Every section of track is secured by three screws. The two outer screws are set to the inside of their respective ties (relative to the center of the track section), preventing the track from shifting back and forth. Because the screw for the adjoining section is also set on its tie's inside, the sections are securely held together.

A third screw on the middle tie of the section helps hold the track flat. For the most part, (save where pegboard holes made it impossible), I put the outer screws close to the inside rail, and the middle screw near the outside rail. This helped prevent the track from sliding from side to side. I also alternated which side of the tie I placed the middle screw on, to further limit any potential motion.

The end result was what I had hoped it would be. I don't think the track had ever been that level before, and the trains didn't bob up and down when I did some test runs.

Just a few things to finish up, and then I'll be ready for the post we've all been waiting for: running the trains!


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