Tetter's Layout Progress and Other Pics.

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by tetters, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Hi Fred. That was another idea that had occured to me as well. I'm at that point where eventually I'll have to paint the ties to complete my ballasting for the yard areas. I had thought that by removing the cladding the ties would take the paint better as well.

    I'll give it a shot, and see how it goes.
  2. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I ran out of spikes...dammit!

    So that means I shoved in roughly 1000* of the little buggers since I started on this little endeavour of mine.

    Here's what gets my goat though. I picked up a small baggy of what I thought was a good quality product at the Train Show a couple weeks ago thinking, "Yeah, I got a good stash to keep me going for a long time...I mean thats 2000 spikes."

    Well, the ones I picked up there are poop. They do not hold the rail well like the Micro Eng. spikes and just when you think you've got them pressed in, they pull out just by the magnetized tip of your spiking pliers. Good grief. Stopped by lack of ME small spikes...and no one stocks them?!? So once again, Fast Tracks website here I come! I'll order 3000 of the buggers just to be extra safe. So from now on its ME spikes or nothing.

    One other thing too...the LEDs I bought there...not so sure I like'em either. Today I stopped by the LHS and picked up a ten pack of Yeloglo White LED's from Miniatronics just for giggles to try them out.

    Holy Hanna! What a difference!

    Soooo much brighter. I definately like these better. Now, I have to go back and re-wire the LEDs for the first loco I did. Part of my goal is to be able to take believable night shots and run the layout at "night". Which means that yes the layout will be lit up like a x-mas tree, however I want the locos to throw out enough light to see the ground in front of them. Thus these LEDs from Miniatronics suit the bill perfectly.

    See for yourself.


    Maybe the proto-type didn't have headlights like an Audi and the first one is more realistic. The blurry photo doesn't really do them justice...I had to take it with the flash off.

    Oh and I mustn't be rude. Allow me to introduce, Gabrielle, Ghiselle, and Gilda. They all start with G...'cause they are all geeps...get it? I kill me! sign1

    I was almost finished with the east yard ladder too...just two more turnouts to go! Then I could finish the yard tracks, the engine facility tracks and the lead. Man...:curse:

    *I bent or lost about 20-30 of the little buggers...so not exactly 1000, but close enough.
  3. Thank you. I still think yours look better. Or at least as good. Heh. The FastTracks jigs really do help. And the instructions provided are top notch. Both printed and video.

    My Dad gave me a very nice jewelers saw a number of years ago. Strangely, it has gotten more use on those two turnouts than anything else. It's a bit of a pain having to thread the blade into the right place to make the cut, then fixing it place, making the cut, then unthreading it. But it sure does make nice small gaps.

    I'll keep that in mind when I get to the point of actually installing the turnouts. Thanks for the info.

    Well, I did manage to keep the test truck on the workbench, but then again, it is eight feet long. Heh again.

  4. Hi Fred,

    I've been reading what you have to say about handlaid track for a while now. Most informative.

    Way back before I took a 25 year hiatus from this great hobby, I was working on a small 4x6 switching layout based on one of Lynn Westcott's (I think I have the name right) plans. At that time, I was also building the turnouts in place. I used a two or three inch piece of hacksaw blade to cut the flangeways for the frogs. I didn't solder the guardrails though, only spiking them in place. Needless to say, I wasn't checking the gauge too carefully. You can see some of my handywork in this pic, taken last winter before I pulled it all up:


    Having now used the FastTrack jig, I can say that I much prefer to build them using the jig. Two main reasons, fast, and accurate. However, start up costs can be an issue. I really splurged and purchased everything I needed and then some. So far, those two turnouts have cost $250.00 each. (Like I said, I purchased everything I needed, except the jewelers saw. That included the soldering iron, files, solder, PCB and wood ties, rail, track bender, the works!) Of course, the more I build, the cheaper the overall cost becomes. Heh.

    Hmmm... That sounds like an interesting idea. I think I'll give it a try on my next turnout. I've got plenty of spare PCB ties at the moment. Heh.

  5. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!


    Almost there!

    I found a full package of ME medium spikes I bought awhile ago on that mess I call a work bench. They are obviously bigger and stand out more, however work just as well, maybe even better. That said I'll be glad when I get a good stock of the small ones again. At least I'm only spiking every tenth tie, so when I get the smalls again, I can go back and fill in the gaps with the small ones.

    What you are looking at is the almost completed East Yard Ladder.

    At the top right is a left hand turnout which will allow access to two tracks for engine and car servicing. I plan on placing a fair sized engine garage there, which is why the ballasting does not go all the way to the end. The track up at the far left is just an extension of the yard, a mini lead of sorts which will allow a loco motor to onto with a couple of cars if need be for switching duties. The track in the fore ground to the left is the caboose track.

    No locos running tonight though, I still need to finish spiking down the t.o.'s, cut the gaps, and wire the turnouts before I can run anymore trains. I would have kept going to, however I've had to shovel the driveway and walk twice today on account of a snow storm which decided to bless our grand city with its presence. I feel like I've been in a couple of big fist fights and went down swinging.

    On the plus side as it stands right now, I have a lot more track then I do freight cars...which is a good thing. :mrgreen:
  6. puddlejumper

    puddlejumper Member

    Can I suggest you try wiring a loco with the old LEDs on the numberboards and the new LEDs on the headlights? I think the numberboards on the 2 units on the right look too bright to be able to read them easily, the unit on the left the numbers look real good and prototypical. The headlights on the 2 on the right look great, the one on the left not so much.

    Just my opinion. Also, this thread rocks! Outstanding work!:thumb:

  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Shane, in my opinion, the lights on the 8416 look the most realistic. The others are too bright, and also too white. However, since I deliberately remove the lights from my locos :rolleyes: , I'll defer to your selection. After all it is your railroad. ;):-D

  8. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks for the kudos Dave and Doc. Much appreciated.

    I had thought of doing that further on down the road. For now though, I think I'm going to stick with the lighting on all three the way they are for now. I've lots of other things to finish first before getting into the nitpicking stuff.

    Here's another picture for comparison purposes. I still like the new lights better. :grin:


    I can't wait to get home tonight, finish spiking down the turnouts and wiring them up to some ground throws. Then I can run some locos and test out some car switching. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now regarding this stage of the track work. Then I can move on and touch up and paint the turnouts, ballast them etc.

    Then I'll move on to getting the roadbed down and ties glued for the sidings to service the industry tracks.

    Personally, I'll be glad when the track work is done, if anything so I can at least clean off the layout decking. sign1
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Tetters, I am curious. After all this, would you handlay on your next layout that you build, or use rtr track? Do you feel that building you own turnouts is worth the effort?

  10. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Honestly. It would all depend on the size. If I were to say have the opprotunity to build an around the walls layout in a 16 x 12 ft room with two levels, plus a lower level for staging and a helix...no. It would be just waaaaay too much work for me. If it were another small shelf layout like this one...I'd probably do it again.

    Like I said before there is an immense satisfaction of seeing a pile of parts come together into some rather decent looking track work. It's not perfect but it works without any derailments to this point and looks good to boot. I'm quite proud of what I've been able to accomplish so far, I'm also looking forward to shoving in that golden spike too. In a year or so I may add an additional four feet to the existing structure. So the potential for more hand laid track work is still there.

    I get into a groove when spiking...Once I start, I find I just start to motor along at a slow but steady pace. I put the track gauge on and do one rail first then come back along and do the second rail while checking the guage the whole time. It takes time, but once its done, its done.

    As for the turnouts...I've already purchased the jigs. I may end up picking up a #6 double x-over fixture in the New Year because, well the plans call for it, well, sort of. The x-over fixtures have to be the most versatile of the bunch. You can do a double, single or one t.o. all with one fixture. Makes me think I should have bought one from the get go. Besides, for every turnout I build the cost factor of each individual turnout becomes less and less. So I'd definately handlay my turnouts and spike them together to RTR flex track. They look nice on the layout and work beautifully so there is no reason to change there.

    Hope that answers your question.

  11. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Tetters, thanks for the honesty. The more I watch your progress the more I wish I had gone that route. I have so much invested in Atlas turnouts now that I can't afford to start over. But i sure am envious.
    Another question if you don't mind. I know that Fasttrack turnouts are built to a tighter gauge than NMRA specs. Are you laying your tracks to the tighter gauge also?

  12. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    My guage? What gauge??? sign1

    Honestly, my gauge is all over the place. Naw not really.

    In most places its bang on, in some places its a bit tight, in other places a bit wide. But all within NMRA specs. Like I said if the cars are not jumping off the tracks or falling inbetween the rails, I've accomplished a major victory. I have been dutifully checking it as I go though, so if its too far our of wack, I pull up the spikes and do it again spiking into different fresh ties.

    The hardest part actually is keeping the rail straight! When I was spiking both rails as I went, the rail would get really wobbly. In fact I left some of it like that, as in studying proto photos of the real world, a lot of old track photos show some pretty squiggly rails when eyeballing it down the rail. Actually, mine looks damn straight compared to the proto type. :mrgreen:

    Here's what I do. I plop the 3 point track gauge onto both rails and center them on the ties. Then I go along the length of track and spike only one rail in place as I go sinking in two spikes at a time, one on each side of the rail. Then when I've completed that length, I go back and spike the other rail in place while using the gauge to hold the rails, well, in gauge. I find that how I spike also affects the gauge too, placing the spikes in at a slight angle instead of straight down allow the head to clear rail head easier and also keep it from binding the rail against the other spike head. The slight angle also allows the spike head to sit flush on the base of the rail.

    For the joints, I'm using Peco joiners cut in half to cut down on their visibilty. When you cut them the cut end gets crushed so you need to spread them by shoving them on a piece of scrap rail with pliers. Careful! The cut ends are very sharp, and a few of the joiners have my blood on them somewhere on the layout. :eek: I also file the bottom of the joiners to get rid of any burrs while it is still on the scrap rail. The down side to using the joiners is that I have to shave a bit of the tie off with a hobby knife it sits on in order to keep the rail level. I also spike four ties per side on rail joints just ensure that everything stays in place.

    That probably more then answered your question, however I figured I'd put it out there anyways.

    Ooooo look at the time. Works over, time to go home and work on the trains! :twisted:
  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I hope that you didn't go to all that trouble with the headlights just to be able to include this remark in your post. :rolleyes::p

    It sounds as if you're cutting the joiners with side-cutters. A cut-off disk in a Dremel will do a neater and faster job, and you can use it to dress the ends so that the joiners slide onto the rail easily.

  14. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Oh, heck no! It's a bit of a pain in the arse, soldering together those small connections even with a conical tipped solder iron. The irony had occured to me though.

    Thanks for the tip. I'll have to give that one a try and see how it works out. :thumb:
  15. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Not much going on in the track department. I spiked down the east yard ladder and just need to wire it up, which I will do tonight, once I drill the holes for the ground throw contacts. I found a supply of ME small spikes too at an LHS. Told them to put two packs on hold for me to pick up on Thursday. Yippee!

    I ballasted the yard lead, which I was avoiding for some reason. I've been so focused on one end of the layout, that I keep forgetting that I'll need the lead at the west end if I want to practice some switching manoeuvres once I get the yard tracks all laid out. I gotta say I can't wait to start backing onto the lead with eight to ten cars and then start shoving them onto different tracks for the yard. All the while listening to the metal wheels go clickety clack through the t.o.'s. It's gonna be neato.

    Here is the ballasting still damp after whetting and glueing it down. I was experiementing with different grades of ballast. The tracks themselves are a fine ballast...however for the edges, I decided to go with a darker medium ballast. I'm pretty sure from there, since I've settled on a dirty urban scene most of my "landscaping" will be either dirt, mud or concrete with the occasional patch of tall grass, weeds or scrub poking out of the cracks.

  16. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    East Yard Ladder is done...well pretty much.

    I was feeling overwhelmed with all the work so I called in the big guns to help me out a bit.


    The boys worked their butts off, however got most of the work done. I must commend them for their first day of work on the job. Although they were a bit skittish with all the very large tools, pliers, snips and X-acto blades lying around. :mrgreen:



    The t.o.'s work great. The best part is, all I have wired to the main bus are the feeds for the ground throws connected to the frogs. I'll get around to wiring up the rail feeds tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'll also spike down the yard lead and get started on the engine tracks marked by the ties to the left of #8416 in the photo.

    I can now back a loco from the East end of the yard to the West end of the yard and back again using all tracks and t.o.'s available.

    I'm so thrilled I could just poop. sign1
  17. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Tetters, your track work looks great.

    Do you drive the spikes in the heads at a 45 degree angle to the rail? I do that and it allows me to adjust the gauge slightly...it also helps me to lay relatively straighter track than just driving them in.
  18. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks for the compliment. :thumb: I'm sure I've mentioned it, your models are also incredible.

    I do drive them in at an angle not quite at 45 degrees though. I like to try and have the head of the ME spike sit flush on the rail flange. Seems to hold the rail better for me.
  19. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I'll be able to claim my Silver Spike very soon! All of the track work for the yard is almost completed. Just a few short sections at the ends and finito!

    Once I finish the industry sidings and track work then I'll claim the golden spike. I have to get them started first though. :rolleyes:


    Yard Lead spiked down.


    Now I have some place proper to park my locos every night. I was getting tired of them hogging valuable track space in the yard. :mrgreen:


    Here's a last shot of the guys finishing up for the day. Time to hit the fridge and grab an ice cold one!

    Peace out! :thumb:
  20. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I've been bitting my nails about this for a couple of days now. Looking at the present trackwork for the yard, I'm not entirely satisfied with the East end facilities. I've been contemplating some changes which will involve some minor "re-routing" of the track work. I'm sure it can be done, it's just going to require some careful work and planning to make it happen.

    I'd like to install one more turnout on the left track leading to where to two locos in the pic are presently parked. This will lead to a RIP track. Seems like a lot of work for a Repair In Place track however, I did not like the idea of the loco facility sharing a place for freight car repairs. Plus I wanted a seperate RIP track however wasn't sure where I was going to put it. This however will also require the movement of the stub or mini lead coming off of the LH TO at the bottom of the yard ladder.

    Ack! Once I re-organize my corner of the basement and clean things up, I'm going to get started on this. I imagine its going to seem pretty scary at first, however, I'm sure it's going to turnout fine and make operations easier in the end. Wish me luck.


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