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Author Topic: Leveling Track  (Read 288 times)

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Offline Old Crow

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Leveling Track
« on: February 05, 2018, 04:08:38 pm »
As a newbie to "N", just wondering how you guys go about leveling your track. I've got the baseboard and surface as flat and smooth as I can and pinned the track down as well as possible. Still get the odd healthy click on points and joins. Do you file or sand for a perfect surface. I could use a flat sanding beam that I use for woodwork or even a perfectly leveled diamond sharpening stone and afterwards polish the rails with decreasing grades of wet and dry? Is this sensible - or not?
and do you recommend soldering of rail joiners?

Online austinbob

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 04:19:16 pm »
I think you're always gonna get some clickety clack over points and rail joins. Just like the real thing.  ;)
You could quieten the noise down by using an underlay like cork or by using Sundeala on your baseboard but you've already laid your track. The main thing is to get stock to run over points and joins reliably. Personally I quite like the clickety clack.
As for soldering rail joiners - I don't bother if the joiners fit tightly. Some people prefer to solder to get better electrical contact. If you solder them its more difficult to replace things like points. If you're really worried about electrical contact then you can wire droppers to each piece of track to connect to the power on your controller.
 :beers:
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 04:20:21 pm by austinbob »
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Offline greenlaneman

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2018, 04:31:22 pm »
Pinning track, especially if you have not pre-drilled the sleepers to insert the pins, can lead to bowing of the sleepers and thereby causing track not to be level around the place where the pins have been inserted. Track work does not require to dead level  and certainly does not require filing or sanding down. The only area to check for flatness/level is points, some of them are slightly bowed from new, requiring accurate pinning/securing to remove that bow.
Some people prefer not to pin but to use mapping pins to secure track work in place while the adhesive used to secure the track in place dries, when the map pins are then removed.
I am assuming you are using Peco track points, not pre-formed track work such as Kato?
Fishplates do not have to be soldered to provide electrical continuity, especially with DCC as it is recommended to provide feeds (droppers) to each piece of track, in fact some people argue that non soldered fishplates allow for expansion/contraction of the track.
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Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2018, 06:59:09 pm »
My personal approach is always to glue trackwork on the scenic parts of the layout as I hate the look of pins in the sleepers.  It is true that some pointwork can have a slight bow straight out of the packet, so it's important to correct this with weights while the glue dries.

Avoid using foam "ballast" underlay, it provides no support to pointwork to prevent bowing, and the older stuff used to degrade quite rapidly.

If the fishplates are properly located there shouldn't be any significant height differences, certainly not enough to warrant filing down.  Leave very slight gaps to allow for expansion, and this will result in a little bit of "clickety-clack" just like the real thing. I certainly wouldn't solder fishplates to the rail. 

I've actually noticed the Kato Unitrack I have for temporary tabletop test tracks tends to suffer rail height discrepancies at the joints far more than the Peco track I use on my layouts.

Generally I always try and begin track laying at the beginning of the transition into a curve so very rarely do I end up with a join on the curve itself.  For tight curves on hidden trackwork I find sectional track can be useful.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 07:03:14 pm by ntpntpntp »
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Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2018, 08:30:11 pm »
Do you file or sand for a perfect surface. I could use a flat sanding beam that I use for woodwork or even a perfectly leveled diamond sharpening stone and afterwards polish the rails with decreasing grades of wet and dry? Is this sensible - or not?


I would rate that as being on a par with letting WD40 near your model railway :stop:. Do not do it!
Anything abrasive on rails just gives crud somewhere to accumulate and (and I'm guessing here) might not do wheels fitted with traction tyres any good :hmmm:
As has been pointed out some points are bowed straight from the box so, if in doubt, run a spirit level over them. Like others, I quite like the stock clicking over joints and actually gauge my train speeds by the rate of clicks.

Online port perran

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2018, 08:41:14 pm »
Do make sure that the rail joiners are aligned properly. A good way to test is to rub your finger over the joint. It should be smooth and level (although you should be able to just feel the joint).
If using second hand or re-used track, I always fit new rail joiners. Old ones are easily bent or damaged when taking track apart.
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline Old Crow

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Re: Leveling Track
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2018, 11:02:55 pm »
Thanks guys, as a newbie, I really do appreciate your experience. I'm finding out just how sensitive and the degree of tolerance is with "N" and what flexi, will and won't do. Also curves and the run in to points and so forth. Quite frustrating at times but I'm getting there. Still find some points won't run perfectly unless "seen to" and I'm pulling my hair at times trying to trace the odd intermittent short. I'm finding out what I wish I knew beforehand but it's a lot of fun learning even at my advancing years. Wish my eyes were younger though!

 

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