Track laying – exhibition layout update 3

laying model railway trackNow for the fun part.

I say fun because other modellers tell them they enjoy track laying but Personally, it drives me up the wall.

I have the track plan and had ordered the Peco 009 track parts I needed, it should just be a case of following the plan and fixing the track down.

And largely it was.

Adding a base to the baseboard

Before getting to the track, I first glued some foam sheets to the baseboard I’m using. This extra layer provides a surface layer I can cut into for rivers etc without having to damage the actual baseboard. I’ll come back to this in future.

Having as layer of foam between the track and baseboard also helps reduce noice from the track without (again I’ll come back to why I want to do this in a future post) and is easier, in my view, than cutting and placing cork along the track path.

(Cork of course isn’t just used for noise dampening but also to provide a shoulder for ballast. However the track on this layout is a narrow gauge industrial line which typically didn’t have raised ballast shoulders so that wasn’t an issue either).

Fixing the padding to the the Scale Model Scenery BB017 board I’m using was just a matter of skimming the wood with PVA, placing the foam sheet onto it and then weighing it down until the glue had dried.

With that in place I could then work on the track.

I attached droppers to the rails for every section of track, overkill on a layout of this size but I want resilancy in the wiring given it will be carted around for exhibitions and prone to damage, and also soldered a wire for the point motors to the point frogs and drilled the holes for these along the path worked out from the track plan,

I then dabbed latex glue along the course of the track, placed each section in place, pushed the rails into the joiners of the prior piece and hammered in track pins for good measure.

As mentioned, I really don’t like track laying, but this time it went quite smoothly and I had it all down in a day.

Testing the track

The proper wiring will come later but as to enable a testing, I ran a wire from my DCC controller along the length of the board and used scotch lock terminal crimps to temporally attach the droppers to this. The Tortoise motors were also installed to drive the points.

With everything in place I then tried one of the locos with some wagons and was pleased to see it trundle from one end of the layout to the other without stoppin, stalling or derailing.

Happy with the result and very aware I’d laid the track without major problem I then disconnected the controller and put everything away before noticing I’d got something wrong!


With the track laid, I applied the backscene I’ve picked to the layout.

I like to get these in place early as I can then fine position other scenic elements and buildings to fit the background but do it after then track is laid so the paper of the backscene doesn’t get torn or ripped by the metal rails of the track. (In a previous layout, I was adjusting the position of some flexitrack when I slipped and pushed the rail ends into and across the backscene, tearing it badly in the process).

At 15 inches this particular backscene, is a little tall so had to be cut down. I don’t want the lake / river shown at the bottom of the image so I cut the excess from the bottom and kept some of the clouds visible on the layout.

The Premium version I used has a sticky back so it was just a case of peeling off the protective film and applying to carefully to the wooden backing. With the paper fixed to the back wood, the gap at the bottom – between the back frame and flat surface of the layout base was filled with filler to seal it. Trees and hedges will go along here later so this gap won’t be visible but its nice to close it anyway.

The overall look works well, creating a valley feel, and frames the rest of the layout.

>This post is part of a series on the construction of a lifelike model railway for exhibitions. To read other posts in the series covering its development, track work, scenery and model building making, see building an exhibition model railway.


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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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