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DocRef: JC17a

Methods of fixing your track

When tracklaying, the way you choose to secure your track to the trackbed will depend upon two factors.

Whether you are building an indoor or a garden layout.
The material which has been used to form the trackbed.

Indoor Layouts

A "permanent" layout, as opposed to portable one or an exhibition stand is the easiest to deal with. Your trackbed will most probably be of a timber sheet base such as plywood, MDF, OSB or some other "composite" product. This will easily take small wood screws or special "track pins", as sold by Cliff Barker, Peco, the G3S and others. If using track with plastic sleepers, drill a suitable 1mm size hole and do not force the fixing, either screw or pin too far into the sleeper. It will either go straight through or distort the sleeper. Some will say you should use a single fixing through the centre of the sleepers, at around a 6 interval spacing, while others claim it better to place the fixing outside the rail at the extremity. One point on which most agree is that on curved track it is better to fix only on the inside of the curve. This permits the "cant" or super-elevation of the outer rail to be adjusted, if necessary.

An exhibition layout can follow similar guidelines but you have to remember that special provision has to be made at "board joints" to ensure the rails align properly and are protected from damage. Some use removable rail joiners at joints while others carefully align and rigidly fix the track at the joints. You "pays your money and makes your choice"

"Monkton Priors", the exhibition layout of the G3S, uses the latter method.

Outdoor Layouts

The materials employed for the trackbed of a garden track can be of a variety of materials.

Many employ simlar materials to those used indoors (e.g. plywood) but of weatherproof grades (marine ply as an example) and then protect with further coverings, such as mineralised roofing felt.

Under these conditions, the method of fixing (screws or pins) can be similar to that used indoors.

In more recent years, it has become fashionable, for raised tracks, to use alternatives to timber products, overcoming the problems of weatherproofing and risk of rot and insect attack.

Such products include plastic and cement-based board, into which it is not possible to insert pins, so screws become the only option.

Other (particularly ground level) trackbeds may be formed of cast concrete, brick or just compressed earth and gravel binding. Where the trackbed is solid, and tedious to use plugged holes and screws as in concrete or flagstone, a builders construction grab adhesive may be used. This is providing it will cope with damp conditions. There is a myriad of different types, and most were tried in comparative trials when building Apple Tree Railway. The optimum choice has been a black polyurethane (PU) type construction adhesive called Puraflex 40.

In many cases, the track may (as in the real railway world) just float on the trackbed, with movement restricted by ballast. This method requires more ongoing maintenance than other methods, since rain, birds, etc. will erode the ballast. The use of a solidified ballast, such as resin, PVA or cement bonding, will sometimes add security to the fixing method of the track.

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Page last modified on February 27, 2018, at 11:21 PM