Getting ready to put track down

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by petersd, Sep 26, 2002.

  1. petersd

    petersd New Member

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the valuable information that I have received so far. I haven't posted in a while since I have been busy buying track, researching and reading everything that I can get my hands on and building the benchwork.

    Well, the benchwork is almost done with only about an hours worth of work to complete and I will be putting down the track bed this weekend. I was originally going to skip on building the benchwork and now that I have it almost completed I am glad that I decided to build it because I feel that it will save me a lot of headaches in the future. Since my track will have quite a bit of elevation changes the benchwork will make easy work of it by attaching risers to it and I will be able to easily add any rivers or lakes if I decide to.

    I decided that if I was going to do this as a hobby that I was going to do it right and take my time to do it right the first time rather than fixing things later. Besides, building the benchwork has given me confidence since I have never really built anything with wood before except for some things when I was younger that were lopsided. I took my time and the benchwork is looking really good.

    I will take some pictures this weekend to update on status and get ready to be asked a lot of questions moving forward on things like electrical, soldering etc...

    One question that I do have at this point is should the track sections have minor gaps before soldering (ie 1/16") or should they butt up against each other?

    What guage wire do you recommend for wiring the power to the track and what gauge for switches (turnouts)?


  2. NYCentral

    NYCentral Member


    It depends on a few things. If you have only minor fluctuations in temerature then you want to install them with no gaps.

    If you do have major fluctuations in temperature then it depends on the temperature when you install your track, if it is at the hot end of the flucuations, you wagain want no gaps. If you are at the Cold end of the flucuations then you want gaps so that when it gets hotter there is room for the track to expand.

    As for wiring, I use 18 to 20 gauge feeders with a bus wire of 12 to 14 gauge (DCC), DC I still use 18-20 gauge feeders attached to 16 gauge wire from feeder to control switch.

    I use 18-20 gauge for switch machines also.
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hello Dave, Regarding soldering track, if your layout is climate controlled soldering presents no problem, as far as gaps go, they aren't needed but a gap of 10/1000ths or so is nice visually and sounds nice with metal wheels. If either heat or humidity will vary widely only solder track on curves.
    Concerning wire sizes, I use 20 or 22 gauge for drops from the rails. These are only a few inches long. They are connected to buss wires of 14 gauge running beneath the layout. You will see 12 gauge recommended, particularly for DCC, I have DCC and the 14 gauge is fine. A relatively inexpensive source of either 12 or 14 gauge wire is romex cable, slit and throw away the sheathing and you have a black and white conductor, and the bare ground wire comes in handy for a ground for solenoid type switch machines if you use them.
    If you think this layout will be around awhile, I suggest soldering drops to each rail. Rail joiners will often fail to conduct power after a period of time.

    Have fun!
  4. petersd

    petersd New Member

    Its taking longer than I thought but overall I am quite pleased so far. Should have the trian up and running by this weekendl.


    Attached Files:

  5. petersd

    petersd New Member

    Batman looking forward to his railroad.


    Attached Files:

  6. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Kant think of a better reason to build it than for "Batman!" :D :D :D Good lookin' kid!
  7. petersd

    petersd New Member

    He loves trains, trucks, etc.... In fact he earned enough money to take a short trip on Amtrak this last weekend. He earns a dollar a day for being good and doing his chores and he uses it for train rides.

    In fact, everyday we have to stop by a railroad crossing so that he can see the Metrolink go by. Good thing for learning the schedule.

    Does anyone know a way to get schedules on freight trains. I would like for him to see more of them and since we are only a mile or so from tracks it would be nice for him to see but it is hit and miss to find them.

  8. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    Your son (I assume) looks like he can't wait to have trains running.
    Nice to see another Simi Valley resident online

    I forgot, here is a link to what I have been working on lately


  9. petersd

    petersd New Member

    He is really looking forward to it. Although he does have a Life-Like track set-up in the Living Room with is about 5' x 5' so at least I am not be highly pressured to rush. He is looking forward to the layout since it has a few tunnels and bridges and he really wants crossing guards which we'll be able to have a couple. Hopefully I can get running by this weekend and from there I should have the tunnels done in a couple of weeks and its off to landscaping and kit building.

    So, are you from Simi or around the area as well? We went to the train station in Santa Susana and got a kick out of the Model Railroad they have there. Believe it or not that was the first time I have seen it. My son is the one who got me hooked since I wanted to build a layout for him and when I started researching about layouts I was thouroughly impressed on what you can do. I am having a blast and if I do a good job maybe I can talk my wife into giving up the guest room to build a big layout. This layout will go in his playroom after I weather the tracks and the room is big enough to expand out another 4 to 10 feet since it is essentially the 3 rd card garage and is a long room.

  10. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    I live in Simi, in the area of Erringer / Royal. I myself got back into this hobby 2 years ago. I got my first Maerklin (I'm from Europe) when I was 6 and was crazy about trains until my mid teens. And now 15 - 20 years later I'm crazy again :) (at least my wife thinks so)
    I don't have any kids yet, but I will definitely do what I can to get them interested in trains.

    That was a bit of topic, but hopefully that’s ok with everybody

  11. msh

    msh Member

    Hi petersd,

    I'm in the same "hopper" as you are with my little man. Started with the Lifelike set last May when I began construction on the layout upstairs. He's been next to me the whole way, unless I had to shoo him out for some reason a four year old often creates, and is engrossed in the whole trains love affair. He had a real blast helping me with that messy old plaster mountain and lately loves our new DCC controls and the lights! Oh the lights! Turn off the lights Daddy, I want to watch the engines in the dark!
  12. Wolv33

    Wolv33 Member

    Hey, at least ya have his undivided attention, and he isn't going around getting into things. LOL!

    Also a little helper. Hmmmmmm... I need some helpers for my layout.

  13. petersd

    petersd New Member

    Yeah, he loves trains and this is one thing that seems to stay with him. I am still being slow and am in the process of wiring the switches prior to soldering the track.

    The funny part is that I always get on him becuase he like to play with the rolling stock and locomotive in the living room and I keep telling him to be carefull with the locomotive. I had the train up and running over the weekend on the new layout and while it was running I was adjusting a cross brace in which is temporary and as a result knocked the locomotive onto the garage floor. Well, needless to say, it broke. Fortunately it was only part of the trucks that broke and is fairly minor which can be fixed with epoxy. I think it is funny since it was me that broke it and not hime. Go figure.

    I will have to keep that in mind on letting him help with the mountain when I build it. Overall he doesn't get in the way to much and is a pro at wood gluing scraps of wood together.

  14. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Y'all should post some pix of the little tykes messin' up, erm, I mean helping with the railroads. I wish my parents had some shots of me when I was playin' with the trains. I guess I got my first battery powered one when I was 5.

Share This Page