Many modellers have layouts on modules, boards that can be separated and joined to enable easy moving of the layout. Getting the track to align across these joins and having them stay in position is usually done with copper-clad sleepers but Stephen Koffel of the trainthingsblog has come up with an alternative solution that intrigued me.
Over to Steve from trainthingsblog.
“Because I started laying track without a ton of experience with flexi-track specifically, and without a lot of model railroading experience at all, I was unaware of many modellers’ creative solutions such as soldering the end of your rails to a few PC Board ties [essentially the same as copper clad sleepers mentioned above – Andy, MRE], or otherwise immobilizing your rails near the end of your module for spot-on track work.
By contrast, my track was laid on a cork bed and fastened down with some kind of clear and slightly flexible caulk, so there was all sorts of misalignment and chaos when it came to aligning the modules.
Side note: I highly recommend this PC Board ties method. I would have used it myself and avoided the need for this article at all if I had dome some more research before hastily starting the shelf layout. For more information, this great video from M.C. Fujiwara, How To Make Beautiful Butt Joints is an amazing guide. The bad news is that I didn’t know about all that when I laid my track, and to adopt this method would have required me to rip up and re-lay all the track near each module’s end. I started googling around for other options and came across a very creative solution.
The folks at County Gate, modellers of the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway in 009, came up with a short drop-in-section of track to bridge between the boards. This was then secured in place with DIY barrel bolt – a hollow brass tube and a rod that slides through the tube to keep the rails aligned.
But this wouldn’t work for me because I’d already laid all the track. Instead, I modified their design to make it work on my layout and eliminated the removable sections and just decided to solder the brass tubing to the outside edge of the rails at the ends of both modules.
I picked up some 1.5mm brass tube and 1mm brass rods from K&S Precision Metals, as suggested by the 009 group. Even though I’m using shorter and daintier code 55 track, I figured those dimensions would still work for my purposes.
The tube was soldered to the outside of the rails (which was, I might add, very difficult. I’m not very talented at soldering, these pieces are very small, and my soldering iron is in bad shape) and pins cut from the brass rod. These were then bent into an “L” shape for removal purposes and threaded them through the tubing.
The key to success is soldering the tubing evenly and uniformly on both module ends, or else the tubing won’t line up and the pins won’t pass through.
My utmost gratitude to pioneers MC Fujiwara and the L&B Rwy 009 group for developing and sharing their ideas with the railroad modelling community. You can find MC Fujiwara on the N Scale forums and on Youtube. You can find the L&B modellers here.”
Thanks, Steve. You can read the more of his articles on trainthingsblog.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.