Bill and Tom's EXCELLENT ADVENTURE in Logging and Mining

Discussion in 'Logging, Mining and Industrial Railroads' started by Doctor G, May 28, 2009.

  1. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLrdy tmkstkrail1.jpg SML 1 stckrl in pl..jpg SML filing stock rail.jpg SML mkg t find frg pl.jpg SMLrdy tmkstkrail1.jpg SML 1 stckrl in pl..jpg SML filing stock rail.jpg SML mkg t find frg pl.jpg this time I brought my camera

    We had a operating session @ the club today. W went, but didn't run trains. Dave believes in switchlists, and it is too much like work, so I'm pleased to work on the sawmill track , so that once the sawmill is in we can work on setting up some J. H. Patterson Coal and Lumber Company operations with tab on car.

    This time though I took my camera. so Here is the visuals for the next step in the hand laying switches tutorial.

    It all starts with the stock rail. this is the rail that the points set against, and the outside rail as the routes diverge. Before I start the stock rail I set it in place and mark it where I want to file out the spot the point sets into. recently I have made the notch extend a little past the slot I leave for the throw bar.

    In the first photo I take the marked rail and chuck it into a jeweler's vice I found on my mom's tool bench. I've made most of my switches without one of these, but mom had two ; I have both of them , and I don't think I'll build a switch without one .

    The second photo is out of sequence, showing the stock rail spiked in place. Once the switch is together working well, more spikes will be added.

    The third photo shows the notch filed into the stock rail before it is spiked down.

    the fourth photo shows the stock rail spiked in place, and I'm using the flangeway gauge on the NMRA standards gauge to draw a line that approximates the location of the rail that will go from the opposite point to the wing rail.

    I have more photos, and will continue the lesson later.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016 at 2:11 PM
  2. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML finding  the  frg #2.jpg SML 1st prt of a frg..jpg sml I like these  spikes.jpg SML 2nd prt of frg.jpg Next step

    I got dinner on the griddle, and I'm back to the tutorial.

    I spike the 2nd stock rail into place next. The NMRA standards gauge has a go- no go gauge for gauge, which show what is too wide and what is too narrow On most track I like to split the difference. that changes as I get close to the frog, where I want to be just as tight as I can get without being too tight.

    After I have the second stock rail in place I use the flangeway gauge on the NMRA standards gauge to draw a line for the approximate rail location. actual locations are determined by an NMRA standards gauge. I won't lay track with anything else

    the second photo shows the first piece of rail for the frog. It is filed to the same profile as the point , but it tapers to the full rail profile much faster.

    the third photo shows the spikes I like best right now, they are Micro marks small spikes. the micro engineering micro spikes are too small, and not sharp enough, and fold up. Nothing is as good as the Gold standard of Kemtron small spikes, but I used all of mine up years ago. There might be some of them out there, but anyone who lays track will horde them.

    The fourth photo shows the first two rails of the frog test fit together. the frog is not yet at it's final location. each frog rail will be moved back and forward, until they are butting together as close to the stock rails as possible, while still in gauge. As I said, I like the gauge to be as tight as possible at the frog, and on either side of the frog I start tapering from halfway between too tight and too wide down to the tight side of allowable @ the frog so the trucks don't have any wiggle room as they near the frog, and are forced to go the right way through the frog.

    these pictures are from the second switch in this four switch series, the first switch is done except for the throwbar and it's control . In the next installment I will show what that first switch looks like now.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016 at 2:12 PM
  3. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML swml sw #1.jpg SMLswml sw #2.jpg the first switch

    Here are the pictures of the first switch, which one diverging route leads to the passing siding off the main line, and the other one goes to the siding to the company store and the warehouse that will supply the logging camps.

    I build the switches without guard rails. After switches have been trouble free for a long time, I will go back and add gaurdrails. Guardrails can hide a lot of switch defects, and a perfect switch will work well without them, so I was taught by Terry Herweh, who made me learn how to hand lay track (the evil *********); to leave the guardrails off until the switch is reliable without them.

    Also once the switch is reliable I will go back and add a bunch more spikes,

    If both routes through the frog are dead straight, and as tight as they can be without being too narrow, the truck will be forced to run straightly right through the frog (if the truck and car is perfect, but we will cover that on a later lesson.

    a well made hand laid switch will look better and work better than a commercial switch, it will require more maintenance, but if you can build one you can repair it and fix it no problem.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016 at 2:12 PM
  4. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    After Monday's work session (If I can remember my camera) I will try to show how you determine the final frog location, and build and locate the wing rails to complete the frog.

    Bill Nelson
  5. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Track laying looks great!

    Way to go Bill. Your track laying crew got a lot done. That switch looks perfect. I like the tutorial format you are using. I hope others take the plunge and hand lay some track and turnouts after your very fine teaching.

    Looking forward to running some logging lokies through the new track!!!

    Doc Tom:thumb:

    Attached Files:

  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the encouragement Tom; and as for the tutorial format, does this make sence to folks so far? I have been building switches for more than 35 years, and first learned how close to 40 years ago, so this is close to second nature to me. If anyone has a question, or if I'm unclear on my procedures or terminology (some of which I might have made up), let me know, and I'll see if I can't confuse things even worse with a more detailed explanation.
  7. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    another thing I noticed looking at my photo's is the truck with metal wheel sets that is near the switch. as I work at positioning the wing rails (the part of the frog opposite the diverging side. I roll the wheel set through the frog, with my thumb on the truck where the bolster would sit.

    If the gauge is wrong anywhere, the truck will derail, and if the path through the frog is not straight, you will feel a bump through the truck. rolling the truck through the switch like this gives you some tactile and audio feedback, which can alert you to some problems that might not be immediately noticeable with the NMRA standards gauge alone might not reveal without very careful observation.

    under extreme conditions the path through the frog can be built on a curve, but in those cases it is probable that guard rails will be needed to make the switch work, where if the path through the frog is straight, and the switch is well built, the guard rails are cosmetic only, unless the wheel sets or the car is not right, in which case they may help.

    Next installment, locating the final location of the point of frog and making the tricky bend in the rail to make the wing rails fit right.

    Bill Nelson
  8. ytter_man

    ytter_man Member

    Very informative, i'm lookin forward to more :mrgreen:
  9. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SMLfnding pnt o f #1.jpg SML wingrail #1.jpg SML  wingrail #4.jpg SML F P O f #3.jpg SML wng rl pos #3.jpg working on the frog#1

    After the stock rails are spiked down and the first two rails of the frog are filed to a point I put in enough spikes to hold those rails in gauge with the stock rails near the estimated point of frog.. at that time the rails are loose enough so they can be slid forward and backward. This is important for finding the exact point of frog. as I said before, at the frog I like the gauge to be at the minimum allowable; that is as tight as the NMRA standards gauge will allow, so that the truck won't have any slop to try to pick the point. This assumes that the wheels are perfectly in gauge, but they need to be anyway.

    I move the rails coming into the diverging side of the frog back and forth, as I test the gauge on each rail, until I have them touching each other tightly; with them both in gauge with their corresponding stock rail, and as close as they can possibly get to the throw bar location while still being in gauge. That is the point of frog.

    once the rails are there, then I can spike them down to my hearts content everywhere but right where the wing rails are going to go in the frog- Don't want them in the way there.

    Now for the photos, which are not in order, I am going to start having to name my photos 1, 2 &3 or something so I can get them in the order I want- one more thing I need to figure out!

    The first photo shows the diverging rails @ the frog spiked down and ready to slide forward and back to find the point of frog. Note that they are very close to the estimated point of frog which we (I) located with the pencil lines using the flangeway gauge on the standards gauge as guide.

    Next we go to the second from last photo, which shows the gauge being check on one side of the frog. that side is just right as tight as the gauge will allow, the other side has been checked too and is right also, so this is out official point of frog. note how close it is to the pencil line approximation of POF (point of Frog). if either side was not just right we would slide the rail forward to back to move the point of frog.

    With the point of frog established we bend up a wing rail. (See the second photo) when making the bends in the wing rail it helps to have a small pair of pliers with straight jaws. If you grap the rail to bend it with a tapered pair of pliers, it is easy to introduce a subtle twist to the rail, and we don't want that, the web (base of the rail) needs to set dead flat on the ties, or there will be pain and suffering.

    getting the exactly correct angle of bend on the wing rail is tricky and critical. one leg of the wing rail must be perfectly parallel to the opposite stock rail so that gauge can be maintained, and the other leg must be perfectly Parallel to the adjacent diverging rail in the frog to maintain a perfect flange way, and both of these must be just right for a perfectly reliable switch. Don't get flustered if it takes several attempts to get it right, and if has been bent and re bent till it starts to look wavy, don't hesitate to discard it and start over. The creation and placement of the wing rail, and the proper location of the point of frog are the critical heart of the switch, most everything else can be filed on , tweaked ,or adjusted but if you have a bad frog, you have a bad switch; so it is imperative to take the time to do the best you can, and then test it twice at his point. If you don't have time to do it right now, when will you have time to do it over?

    The bottom photo shows the NMRA standards gauge being used as a straight edge to insure that it is a straight shot for the flange, following the wing rail, to find its way over that gap at the point of frog in to the opposite flange way, this is why we want the gauge to be tight here, that way the other axle in the truck forces the axle going through the point of frog to do the right thing and find that opposing flange way, rather than picking the point , and speaking of flange ways , two code 100 rails set right next too each other don't make a good flange way. the web of the rail is too wide, and will force the flange way to be to wide. for this reason it is necessary to file some of the web off of the wing rail where it is adjacent to the frog, until that portion of the wing rail can but up against the frog and make a perfect flange way (as measured by the flange way gauge on the MNRA standards gauge. This is critical also folks, the only thing that is worse than a flange way that is too wide is one that is too narrow.

    Once we have the wing rail bent to the correct angle,so that it can be in perfect gauge with the opposing stock rail, and flush with the frog with just enough of it's web fled off to make a perfect flange way, we spike it at both ends, so that it is movable fore and aft like the diverging rails of the frog were as we were searching for the perfect point of frog. One note here. sometimes it is necessary to put a spike on one of the diverging rails , in the area where it will be adjacent to the wing rail @ the flange way, in order to keep the two diverging rails together. When it is necessary to do that, the wing rail won't sit flush because the spike is in the way, and it is necessary to notch the web of the wing rail for clearance so that a perfect flange way can be established. When we have that notch, and need to move the wing rail fore and aft, it may be necessary to widen the notch. Alternately the diverging rails @ the point of frog can be soldered together, and the offending spike can be removed before the wing rail is fitted.

    with the wing rail loosely spiked we can move it fore and aft. If you look at the third photo you can see that the wing rail has been moved rearward from It's original position until a wheel following the opposite path through the switch, has just enough room to clear that bend in the rail. If that bend is too close to the point of frog, a wheel will have to bump over it, and if it is too far from the point of frog the wheel will fall into that hole between the bend in the wing rail and the point of frog. The larger # the switch the farther that bend in the wing rail is going to be from the point of frog. click on that third photo to enlarge . fixing the final position of the wing rail is something that seems easiest to do with a good truck with metal wheel sets. Rolling it through the switch with it's wheels pushed firmly against the stock rail on the opposite route I can feel for the bump of the wheel contacting that bend in the wing rail. I want that bend to be as close to the point of frog as possible, without having any contact with the wheel at that bend.

    I'm out of pictures to explain, and that means that we are done with this weeks lesson. Next week we bend and place that other pesky stock rail, make some gaps, and add some jumper wires to try to make these developing switches DCC friendly (this will be experimental I have never built a switch for DCC before, and I will have to make some modifications to my tried and true DC techniques, so wish me luck).

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016 at 2:12 PM
  10. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Hey Bill,

    Very clear, informative, and educational pictures there fellow. This has been a very interesting thread on "hand laying" track.

    Thanks for all the hard work,
    Doc Tom:thumb::mrgreen:
  11. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Thanks again for the encouragement Tom. I was struck when writing that that is was more work to accurately describe the process than it was to do it . Kind of odd, but trying to write about it cohearantly teaches me stuff about this that I wasn't really sure I knew.

    while it takes time to learn how to do it, the hand laided switch looks better than its commercial counterpart , can (if well done) be more relable (as far as running trains is concerned) than the commercial switch, and is much cheaper.

    On the down side, besides the time it takes to learn how to do it well, it takes time to build a switch. Back when I was building my RR, and making switches all the time I built one with code 100 (takes longer the bigger the code) on Dr Toms RR in less than 3 Hrs. there is maintenance involved, solder joints break, things get out of adjustment. The silver lining there is it is easier to fix a hand laid switch (assuming you know how to build one) often times when something breaks on a commercial switch you are done for, and it must be replaced. Likewise, if there is a spot where the gauge is tight or loose, there is no good way to adjust it on a commercial switch.

    The biggest plus to hand laying your switches is you can get an organic flow to your track effortlessly. in the dark days before flex track most track had a cookie cutter aspect to it, derived from snap track pieces. even after flex track that cookie cutter appearance tends to creep in especially at yards where you have lots of switches near each other. the hand laid track can flow, and that flow looks good, and can work better too.
  12. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    SML 2nd sw 2nd wing rail.jpg little progress this week

    I got very little done on the tracwork last night. Doing some HVAC work at the house to get the heat functioning in the addition we are living in while I'm rebuilding the main floor bathroom in my 130 year old farmhouse. the bathroom was originally a back porch. The 60 or 70 year old plumbing had issues, and the enclosing wall was beyond repair. the old wall is gone, and I'm completely replacing the plumbing, and getting ready to rebuild the floor and the wall, this time with proper insulation. all these house projects had got behind, and with the sudden onset of cool weather having heat in a part of the house that has plumbing as well became a larger priority than pre filing some switch points, and having them ready to go to the club.

    Dr Tom had an excused absence, cause he was at a meeting concerning medical care in Haiti. Eric got to entertain us with a story about his bulldog eating a freight transfer. Much of the train club time was spent studying a brilliant proposal Dave came up with considering the long grade up to the top level on the second peninsula,

    As it is set up now when trains leave the Altimont/Montegle area on the upper deck against the back wall , the track goes to the opposite side of the second peninsulas upper deck, behind a view block, and then circles the end of the the peninsula to come down the near side. Guest operators often loose their trains, and for those of us who might remember how it works it is awkward.

    Dave's plan would have us sever the tracks @ the base of the peninsula, and swap them around, which would not only make it easier and more natural to follow your train; it would also alleviate some scenic difficulties, where track at different heights were too close to each other to allow realistic scenery. also the tracks would cross one over the other. I could put the headwaters of copper creek under that spot, and have one bridge go over another, in the midst of some good mountain scenery, That spot would be just behind the two narrow gauge bridges @ the waterfalls. I might even be able to continue Copper Creek up onto the upper deck.

    All in all it is a brilliant plan, Dave has rebuilt the end of the yard and done very well there, has made big improvements to the base of the first peninsula. This plan would fix operational and scenic problems, so we are excited about it.

    Amid the excitement I got the second wingrail for switch #2 bent, tacked down in gauge, and then slid back and forth until I was happy with a trucks path through the frog on both paths through the frog. At this time there is some vertical bumpiness to this frog. Next week I will solder the frog together, file out the flange ways, and the vertical bumpiness will be addressed with a big fat mill file.

    the program next week, God willing, soldering tips, making and fitting points, and if time permits the beginning of building throwbars for these first two switches.

    Bill Nelson
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016 at 2:13 PM
  13. Hoorhaylowe

    Hoorhaylowe New Member

    Yes it is here that I saw the small spikes, they look as realistic as it gets w/o super-detailing the turnouts/track. I've found some cedar to cut up into ties in my stock, and I'll be starting on my tracklaying project soon!:mrgreen:
  14. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member


    The spikes on the switches are micro-Mark small spikes. they look small here due to the fact that they are next to code 100 rail. Back on my home layout, in Harlow where I have been working recently, I have code 55 rail

    the code is rail height in thousandths of an inch; and the rails have a different profile which affects the look of the rail, and most importantly, the width of the rail head.

    years ago I became enamored of the scale look of code 70 and code 55 rail, and built my home RR with code 70 on the main and code 55 on the sidings, and throughout Harlow. The rail head on code 70 is less than half as wide as code 100. with the smaller rail you have much less contact surface between the wheel and the rail, and so there is an operational sacrifice made for the scale look of the tiny rail.

    Were I to start over, I would seriously consider using code 80 rail for the main and code 70 for sidings, or code 100 for the main and code 80 for the sidings. Sure code 100 is oversize for all but the absolutely heaviest main line rail, and way oversize for a little backwoods outfit, but there is more room for them little free electrons to hop on to and off of my rolling wheels.

    earlier in this thread I have some photos of bridge decks that used the tiny spikes to spike code 70 rail to some yellow poplar ties where I had to pre drill the holes.

    Good luck with the hand laying efforts, it is hard to beat the look of wooden ties.
  15. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    more progress no photos

    I made it to the train club last night. Dave had been busy @ the upper deck @ the far end of the RR. he had removed all of the fascia. and replaced it with a fascia that had an undulating ground line, getting rid of the straight edge look to the end of the layout that drives me nuts.

    I poked and prodded on the two switches that are partly complete, and spiked some track from the second switch towrd the location of the third, which will have the lead to the coal mine as well as a lead through the backdrop to the empty log car storage.

    with a little longer piece of track I was able to toll a string of !880's style passenger cars through the main route through the two switches without much problem. (the point linkage is not there so the points for that route are temporarily spiked in place ). I started on the switch that leads to the coal mine as well, notching rails for the stock rails and starting to spike them in place.

    Bill Nelson
  16. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    At the train club tonight I got drafted to the second peninsula, where there was some inferior hand laid track. some problems had occurred during the last operating session, and some careful observation found some places where the rails wandered in and out of gauge going from too wide to too narrow, so at Bobs instruction, I pulled a bunch of spikes and re gauges one of the offending areas.

    there is more, so I will have to revisit the area several times , Back @ the Sawmill I got a frog built for the third switch I still need to solder up that frog and the frog on the second switch, and then it will be time to try to finish up the points for the first three switches , built the throw mechanisms, wire them up, and see if they work. once the first three are working, I will go and build the last switch.
  17. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for all the hard work. Sorry I missed the club. We had an important meeting of the Haiti team I had to go to.

    Looking forward to seeing the new logging spur ......heck its a new shortline branch its so big.....operational. Should be fun to haul some loaded log cars to the dump site.

    Doc Tom:p
  18. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member


    The Haiti project is important. The sawmill area should be a big plus for the railroad, once the tracks are in for the lumber loading, it will be the biggest switching location, on the RR, with the Altimont Mine a close second.

    We need to get in gear about planning the second logging area, for the surry parker. When we alter the track on the upper level of the second peninsula, to build Straka gap (or Straka Gorge- I'm not decided yet) we need to consider putting that 2nd spur directly over the mill. if we ran the log trains down grade from there, they would travel most of the length of the railroad.

    This next week I'm going to try to pre-manufacture some points, and do some studying on setting up the throws, hopehully we will have some of these switches functional in a couple weeks.

    I have been hunting for bits and pieces, and I think I can put together a company store/office very similar to the one in Crooked Creek.

  19. Doctor G

    Doctor G Active Member

    Hey Bill
    This would fit in well with our master plan to have the entire RR jammed up with funky slow moving logging trains. Lets start sketching out some preliminary plans. We could do handlaid track on a removeable section or flex track if we work "in place" because of the height of this scene. I am leaning toward handlaid as this will be a great place for photographs with that neat Surry Parker loader.

    Doc Tom :cool:
  20. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    if we did something on the top shelf above the sawmill, it would be assessable for loading the log trains. we could get by with a single siding. if we used a commercial #6 switch, it wouldn't take any time to spike up a siding, and we have ceder tie material on hand that just needs to be cut to size.

    I need to experiment with bull frog snot (a liquid plastic traction tire material) which is supposed to improve traction considerably, which perhaps could allow some of my surplus rod power to be useful at the club . I'm also considering upgrading the electrical pick up on one of my 3 truck Heislers, and trying to find a dual mode decoder that will fit, so that we could have some dependable strong power for log trains. (it would retain it's DG, CC & W RR markings). It might be possible to play with the CVs, to get it to run with the Bachman shay, and doublehead some large trains.


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