Sunday, June 8, 2008

Driving the golden spike, er golden rail joiner.

The main line of the Franconia branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad (HO gauge) is finished today. A car coasts clean around the train room, no bumps, jumps, lurches or derailments, even when hand pushed at a scale 200 miles per hour. Gotta do some wiring before I can run locomotives under power. One thing at a time.
Lessons learned. After cutting the flex track to size with rail nippers, clean up the rail ends with a flat single cut file. File the end square, and then file a slight bevel on the tops, bottoms, and sides of the rail. This gives a smooth-to-the-touch rail joint, rather than leaving a burr that might help a wheel flange climb over the rail head. Use fresh new rail joiners. Lay a 4 foot straight edge along the straight tracks to make sure they stay straight and kink free before nailing the track down.
PL300 foam board adhesive has the pleasant property of coming off with just a sharp putty knife pushed under the roadbed. Comes clean from the foam without destroying it. How do I know this? Just one or two places I had to move the roadbed over a bit to make things fit better.
Nailing down the flex track to wood roadbed also lets me relocate track to eliminate kinks and other bad spots. Just pull out the track nails with long nose pliers and move the track. Easier to correct problems than had I glued the track down.
The wire guides (1/2 inch holes and dadoes in the under neath of the table work) are already doing good. I started the Cab A bus (#14 solid copper house wire) in the wire guides and lo and behold, it stays in place, runs straight, and it will be obvious just what wire it is even after the usual under layout rats nest of wire gets started.

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