I’ve been making some good, but slow, progress on trackwork for Junction Dock. One of the main aims of this layout was to have a go at building trackwork; with the safe assurance that I’ll be able to hide most of the resultant horrors under a thick layer of DAS. I’ve found trackwork threads/posts on various sites incredibly helpful, so I hope me listing my first fumbling steps below might help someone else at some point. This is all PCB construction. The techniques here are pretty much pure Rice (steel rail, powerflow flux + syringe).
First step was to get some goodies, which I picked up from Railex back in May last year.
10m of bullhead, PCB, solder, and a set of gauges (OO-SF). What more could you ask for!? I had a crack at building one point, the classic B6L, which didn’t turn out too badly. The gapping is perhaps ‘enthusiastic’, but it actually filled out quite well. I’ve never checked this under power, but wagons seem to run through it OK. As you can probably make out, the set on the turnout road is not enough, and the flange at the crossing is perhaps a tad generous; but fairly happy as a first attempt.
Enthused, I moved on to junction dock. First thing was to make the crossing vees. These are not brilliant, but appear to be functional. I made a jig for a 1:6 vee when I made the first point, but then forgot about it and ended up just filing up the vees to a set of measured lines on a board (I won’t admit here that I had the board up-side-down, and didn’t realise the jig was still stuck to the other side…). After filing the tips to fit (just about), I held the rails down with blutac and soldered up with 180C solder. End result, 3x 1:6 vees, and a 1:4.5 curviform for the steeply curved warehouse siding. These won’t win any prizes…
Then moved on to laying up the turnouts. PCB sleepers chopped to size (just over size for the track gauge; stingy scot…) and then stuck to a template with thin strips of double-sided taped. The sleepers were gapped and electrically tested before I started adding any rail. As the track will be inset, I didn’t provide all the sleepers (or make them the right length). I tried to make sure there was one sleeper every 3-4 at least, but in reality the pattern is pretty much set by needing to have a sleeper at the ‘end’ of each distinct bit of rail.
(sorry for the v poor photo quality!)
Learning from some corrosion issues on the first couple of turn-outs (soldered up over the space of a week or so), I made sure I cut and prepared all the rail sections so that I could do the soldering in one run and clean-up immediately after. This means lots of blutak to check lengths and fits etc. Running is not as smooth as hoped at this stage…
Once everything was ready, the switch was soldered up in the order 1) stock rail 2) crossing vee 3) other stock rail 4) wing rails 5) check rails 6) closures + switches (one unit). Each piece of rail was mounted in place (with a combination of blutac+template and/or gauges where appropriate), and then soldered up a few sleepers at a time. I used powerflow flux in a syringe (about 0.8mm tip? green needle anyway) to put a tiny (~0.5mm) spot of flux on the outside of the rail. Then picked up a spot of solder (140C) on the iron (Antex 18W) and ‘fizzed’ it onto the joint. 1–2 seconds for the flux to fizz and the solder to flow; quick up-and-away with the iron; and I seemed to get a 95% reliable joint and a chair-ish shape (not that it matters for this track of course). I appreciate this may not be best soldering technique, but it seemed to work for me.
Final stage was to solder up the blade tips to a moving sleeper. This was the trickiest bit for me (perhaps ‘cos I ended up doing it late at night each time!). With hindsight, I might even take these moving sleepers off and use dropper wires to a sub-baseboard mechanism. Little gain with inset track, but I need to have the mechanism below the boards anyway…
Once each whole piece was built, I took it off the paper and gave it a good rinse, scrub (with toothbrush), and dry to get the flux off. This seems like a decent approach, and I haven’t noticed much/any corrison on the later turnouts. I did try to minimise the amount of flux used, with a tiny spot on each joint. I think I used <1ml total for the whole shebang. I did also notice that the flux definitely ‘goes off’ if left in the syringe for any length of time (e.g. week+). Was a frustrating 20 minutes of not managing to solder anything until I worked that one out!
Over the space of a month or two, I put together all the P&C I need for Junction Dock. Below shows, my 1st — 4th attempts at track making. I think I got better as I went on, which is always nice.
The last of the common crossings seemed to come out nicely, and seems to be the smoothest running (very little/no drop apparent)
So now I just have to do the plain track connecting all the bits up, and then get on with the wiring. I am slightly worried though that I’m going to run out of rail just before I finish! Doesn’t look like I’ll be crossing C&L’s path at any shows in the near future, so I might have to stump up the high (if understandable) postage cost to get some via courier Pleased however that I managed to score 1000 sleepers and 36ft of timbers (old SMP paxoline type) for a grand total of £5.50 at a show last week. Should keep me in PCB track for a while
Next job though, before any more track, is to finish off the wood work and get the backscence and proscen(ium) made & fitted.