How one modeller joins track across boards

track joins boardsHow to join track across baseboard sections is one of the most common questions I get asked here on ModelRailwayEngineer. Here’s an interesting technique one modeller uses.

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.

soldering track

Bravery is soldering even when you’re not good at it.

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.

track soldering sectionsIt turned out well enough for me, and I’m happy with the results. It’s a fix though, and you’d probably be better off using the PC Board method to keep things lined up and running smooth.

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.

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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. Our club uses many methods of joining rails between tables. Use the ckt bd soldered to the rails (be sure to cut thru land patterns or you will have a short ckt) method, drill an oversize hole in the bd, insert screw. The screw can be adj up/dn and left/right to perfectly align the rails. The rails have to be powered independly as there is no connection between rails on each table. Also lay rails and ballast across the table gap then cut between tables with razor saw. Thanks

  2. I hope you will excuse my ignorance, but I don’t understand why securing and aligning two boards is done with the track rather than more securely elsewhere on the underlying boards – probably before any track is laid . If the two boards are securely locked together and one section of track is in place why is positioning the second piece of track such a problem? It sounds as if the method of joining the boards is not assuring a true alignment each time they are joined?

    • Hi David, this is for occasions when a section of the board needs to be regularly moved (lifted out) to allow access. You could have bolts underneath or even on the top surface of the board to attach the removable section but their very nature there would be some movement and even slight shift would cause alignment problems and connectivity issues for the track. The technique here is well used and common practice. Hope this helps but please come back if you have other suggestions. Andy

  3. hi, i just thought id mentions this, while this seems a great idea it doesn’t necessarily work on all rails. iv read your article as above, i have a OO gauge and needed to put the tracks across a join in the board. several weeks ago, i tried this idea as described, an iv have had nothing but trouble, im proficient with most things engineering, i used a 2mm tube and 1mm pins, i found that the tube was to high for the rail and the locos would ride up on the tube and derail, id never of imagined that would happen even though the tube was soldered as fare done the rail as it would go sitting on the chairs, the “peco” rail is 3mm high the tube is 2mm dia, the rail in the chair is 1mm all approx. after several weeks of perseverance iv had to remove the tubes etc, scrap both set of points and end of track. im not replacing all with copper board soldered to the track ends. all i can think your suggestion is for older taller style track, i would also suggest that using a piece of stiff plastic e.g credit card as a good fit and slide it between the rails across the joint to hold it stable and in line would also help. this is a comment not a complaint.

  4. Hi
    I have just come back to model railways after nearly 40 years just joined this site and came across Stephen Koffel,s idea for joining track across baseboard joint, this system was in use when I was member of the Southend Model Railway Club in the 1960,s we called it the Hardement joint after the member who brought the idea to the club thus proving the there is nothing new under the sun!! P.S it always worked well providing the ends of the rails were well fixed we use to lay the track across the joint then solder the tube to the rail then saw though the rail and tube you then clean up the hole in the tube with a small drill after separating the base boards.

  5. If you use Kato n track there is non of this messing about, they have an adjustable joining rail to join sections together, I cant understand why any other manufactures haven`t come up with something similar after all the years of model railways, what do their R&D do all day there is only so many things you can do with a railway track. At the last model railway show I went too all with out exception n gauge layouts had track problems, except the 2 Kato ones they worked perfectly.

    • Hi Michael, I’ve been playing around with Kato track recently and agree other manufacturers could pick up some tricks from them. Thanks. Andy

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