Saturday, October 4, 2014

Office Shelf Layout: Trackwork Updates

It's been far too long since I made any progress on the actual layout itself, so it feels nice to be able to post this update. I had some free time late last night and decided to jump into working on the track for the layout. That meant cutting a few pieces down to size and working on assembling them. The key to this is that I am using traditional snap track from a bulk purchase I made at a train show a while back. 

I know I could go ahead and use flex track if I really wanted to, but this seemed like the way to go since I had the pieces already on hand and it would only require a few extra steps to get everything connected. Before I get into the details of that process, here is a look at the track plan I have decided to go with. 

A look at my rough track plan for the office shelf layout.
As far as aligning the pieces, I started on the right side with the turnout and worked my way to the left. The near track was simple as it is made of three pieces of straight snap track. The far track was a bit more tricky because I had to custom cut the curve to get the spacing between track I was looking for. I also had to cut off the ends of the two pieces on the far left, which has already been done in the picture. It was actually pretty simple to do with the hacksaw I have. 

Once the pieces were all cut to size and assembled, I realized there was some detailing work to be done so it would look a bit more prototypical. The first step was repairing the turnout by removing the two large standoffs for the electrical connections. These just look awkward and I thought they needed to go.

A look at the turnout section before modification.
To remedy this issue, I took my x-acto knife and cut off those two large pieces. Then I took a scrap piece of track and cut off the ends of four ties and glued them onto the turnout as shown in the next picture. It was slightly difficult working with such small pieces, but it made the turnout look much better and more prototypical.

A look at the turnout section after modification.
Once that was figured out I had one other cosmetic issue to work out and that was the interface between sections of snap track where the rail joiners go. In these areas the ties are molded with a rectangular ring section in between the rails and I have always thought it looked strange when the pieces are put together. 

To remedy this, I took my knife and cut off the last tie on each end to get rid of the inner rectangular ring. This leaves a long section of rail exposed. To fix that I cut pairs of ties off of the scrap piece of track and used those to join the various sections together. This results in a much more seamless appearance. And since this is not going to be a powered layout, I'm not too concerned with maintaining a perfect electrical connection between the sections of rail.

A look at the sections of track with my improvised joining sections.
Here is a look at the near section of track from the layout after this modification. It almost looks like a perfect continuous piece of track unlike the far track where you can clearly see the inner rectangular rings where the rail joiners would go. It's a little bit of extra and tedious work, but well worth it for results like this.

A look at the results of my slight modification to the ties on the near section of track.
Now all I have to do is finish the far section and then I can move onto painting and weathering the track. I also have an idea for making the tie spacing a bit more realistic looking, but that will have to wait for another post as I am still trying a few things out with that method.

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