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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 3)

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project

Part Three

Following on from part two of this series in which we covered the track plan & track planning of the Scale Model Scenery BB017 Micro Baseboard layout. In this part we start to add the track & track bed underlay, along the way we’ll look at some track laying tools. 

Before we move on, this layout baseboard has had it’s 1st outing to a show which was the Great Electric Train Show at Milton Keynes. The baseboard & track plan recived a lot of intrest & feedback which has been great. Hopefully we’ll have the layout nearer to completion by the time it goes out on the road to it’s next show, which is the big one at the NEC, the Warley Club National Model Railway Show.

The track & point work & track underlay has now arrived, so it’s time to get cracking on with the next phase of the layouts progress. The track we’re using is as follows:

  • Peco Code 100 Flexi Track
  • Peco Code 100 Streamline Medium Radius insulfrog points

With this series aimed at the novice we’ve gone for the insulfrog points to keep things simple. On my own personal layout, my preferred choice of points are Electrofrog. Peco code 100 track is fully compatible with the likes of Hornby & Bachmann’s own brand track work.

We’ll now look at what tools we’re using for the laying of the trackwork on this project. Your track laying tools may be similar or different to the ones we are using here. It’s down to personal preference as to which tools you use for track laying. 


Full scale track templates

Download & print off track templates by Peco. Peco offer via their website a full range of pointwork templates for you to print off & try before buying actual pointwork. This saves you time & money prior to buying the trackwork as you can try out various point work configurations. 



Tracksetta track templates

These invaluable track laying tools are an essential item for any railway modeller. These track laying templates cover straight track as well as various radius curved track. Tracksetta make these tools for two different scales of track work these being OO/HO Scale & also N Scale. The curved radius curves offered for OO/HO scale is as follows:

  • 18 Inch curve
  • 21 inch curve
  • 24 inch curve
  • 30 inch curve
  • 36 inch curve
  • 42 inch curve
  • 48 inch curve
  • 60 inch curve 

The curved radius curves offered for N scale is as follows:

  • 9 inch curve
  • 12 inch curve
  • 15 inch curve
  • 18 inch curve
  • 21 inch curve
  • 24 inch curve
  • 30 inch curve
  • 36 inch curve




Peco 6ft Way Gauge Tool

Another invaluable track laying essential item for any railway modeller. The Peco 6ft way gauge tool is a small but useful item which helps ensures accurate spacing of double tracks in along both straight and curved sections. It also helps gauge platform height to the recommended 14mm (3ft 6ins in 4mm scale). The tool covers both the wider Hornby/Peco Settrack double track spacing on one side & the more prototypical narrower Peco Streamline track spacing. 

This cheap tool is worth having several of them in your tool box for working on longer sections of trackwork. Part number for OO scale version is SL-36. N scale look for part number SL-336.




Track Cutting Tool

When using flexi track or even in some cases settrack, you’ll need some form of track cutter. The ones we are using are the Xuron horizontal & vertical track cutters, as can be seen in the photo right. Other track cutting tools include a razor saw or hacksaw with fine tooth blade, rotary tool with cutting/slitting disc. The likes of Dremel, Rotacraft & Gaugemaster etc have various rotary tools in their ranges. 




Track Pinning Tools

Some modellers like to glue their track down & others like to glue their track down. The choice is down to your prefered method for fixing the track into place. If going for the pinning down method, then a small drill bit suitable for the size of track pin is needed. You can use again a small powered rotary tool or a small hand held jewellers type twist drill as seen in the photo right. 

For pushing the track pins in place you can use a small pin type hammer (be careful not to hit the rails with the hammer!), a pin pusher tool, or a pair of pliers. 




Track Pins & Rail Joiners

For pinning the track down (if you are using this method instead of the glue method), then track pins will be needed. The likes of Hornby, Peco, Gaugemaster etc produce track pins. Peco do some slightly thicker track pins which are less prone to bending than Hornby’s thing type track pins. 

Hornby/Peco Settrack come with rail joiners already fitted (bar their flexi track), but it’s worth getting a few packs of rail joiners in as spares. For Peco code 100 & 75 stream line track these are supplied without rail joiners, so you’ll need to buy the rail joiners as well. Peco Rail joiners (Code 100) are also compatible with Hornby track work too!

You’ll notice in the red bits box in the photo that there is some plastic rail joiners. These are for use with Electrofrog point work, & are used to prevent electrical shorts between pairs of Electrofrog points. As for this layout build, we are using Insulfrog points which are self isolating & hence won’t be needing the plastic rail joiners. 




Lets get started!!

Following our track plan drawing, we’ve drawn out on the baseboard where the track is to go. In the center we’ve used the Peco pointwork templates & positioned them where the points are to go on the baseboard. These templates can be glued down placed loosely upon the baseboard. We’ll start with the pointwork in the middle of the baseboard. 




Carefully slide two rail joiners on as as shown in the photo. Use a small pair of pliers to slide them on if they are bit tight fitting on to the rail. Be carefull not to catch & cut your fingers!! If the rail joiner is loose, it can be tighten up by squeezing them gently with a pair of pliers. 




The next piece of track to be fitted is a straight length of flexi track. Here we’ve placed it over the top of the point work & have marked off the two ends of the rails on the point work. These will be our cutting marks, we’ve highlighted them in the photo right.




Next cut & remove one sleeper under the cut marks, the sleeper can also be cut after cutting the rails instead as well.  We show both methods on the right. Don’t throw the sleeper away as we’ll need it later on.




Next we cut the track on the two cut marks we’ve made on the rails. Here we’re using the Xuron Vertical track cutters. The underside rear flat side of the cutting blades must face towards the track section that will be used to join up to the point work. The reason for this is that the blades cut perfectly flat on this side, which will give a smooth straight edge.




The track rail ends after cutting. Any flash that may be left on the rail ends, remove the flash by filing away with a small file. This will make fitting the rail ends into the rail joiners much easier.




Insert the rail ends carefully into the rail joiners. Leave a small gap of around 1 to 1.5mm to allow for expansion of the track during any hot weather. To will help prevent trackwork from buckling during any future summer heatwaves. We’ve highlighted the expansion gap in the image on the right.




For making sure that any straight sections of track work are straight, use a Tracksetta straight track laying tool. Insert the tool inbetween the rails as shown on the right. The tool can be slid along the track & this will straighten any curves out the track. At this point we’re only laying the trackwork configuration down loose, as the track bed still needs to be fitted before securing the trackwork down.




On opposing pointwork such as the cross over in the photo on the right, some sleepers may need to be trimmed back to allow the points to fitted together. In the photo right, we’ve highlighted where some sleepers are preventing the points to sit level & flush with each other. The sleepers highlighted will be trimed back slightly to allow the points to be fitted together properly.




Here on the right you can see the two sets of points fitted after having the sleepers trimed (highlighted in the orange circles). The The trimed sleepers allow the points to sit level & for the rails to align up correctly.




Before moving on to fix the track down, we need to install some form of track bed. This is down to personal choice as to what type you go for. The likes of traditional cork sheet, simulated ballast (foam roll with track indentations), Woodland scenics close cell foam type track bed being some examples. 

Here we are using the GM251 three millimeter cork track bed strips. This pack comes as a pack of six strips with each strip being 50cm long by 4.5cm wide. It’s pre-cut/slit with each strip having a chaffered edge which will help give the ballasting a nice shouldered edge.




The GM251 corksheet underlay strips come with full detailed instructions for how to get the best out of the product. GM recommend the use of Deluxe Materials Speed Bond PVA Glue. This you can find in our webshop here: 




The images shown right the pre-cut/slits in the cork sheet strips. Two strips per track, the split in the middle allows for the cork sheet to be bent/shaped to follow curves as well as straight track sections. In the photos right you can see we are removing two strips of cork sheet for the first section of track work on the layout.




Having removed two strips of the GM251 cork sheet underlay we’re now ready for installing it on the layout. Cut to length to suit the section of track work it’s going under.




Apply an even coat of Speed bond PVA or PVA glue to the cork sheet underlay as shown on the right.




Lift remove the track out of the way & placed the cork sheet glued side down on to the baseboard where the track bed has been marked out on the baseboard.  It sometimes pays to leave some heavy books on top of the cork sheet whilst the glue dries & sets. Once the glue has set, remove the books & re-lay the track. Save any off cuts of cork sheet as these come in handy for doing curves & filling in any fiddly bits etc.




Curved areas like along side the curved section of points for example, these can be filled in with another section of cork sheet underlay. Use a Tracksetta template as a guide for marking out the cut line. Once marked out, cut & trim the cork sheet to suit & glue into place, as shown in the two photos right.




The area marked F in the track plan opposite, is going to be set in a hardstanding section using our hardstanding kit modified to fit the track configuration. Here we are not installing the cork sheet underlay, the track will drop down slightly off the cork sheet onto the baseboard surface. 

To postion the two sidings at the correct distance apart we are using the Peco 6ft Way Gauge track tool. In the photo right it can be seen in use to postion the tracks at the correct distance apart. The two tabs on the tool are designed to fit with in the track, these then set the two tracks at the correct distance apart. It can be used on both straights & curves. 




We’re also using two of the tracksetta tools on this section. The blue one for the straight & the green one to introduce part of a curve hence why the green one is only part sitting in the track.




With the cork sheet underlay all glued into position & the track relaid, the next jobs will be to drill the holes for the point motors which will be fitted on the under side of the baseboard & to glue/pin the track down. Then the fitting of track power feeds & wiring up. 

To follow in the forthcoming next part… 

Happy modelling




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  1. Ant

    Thank you so much for showing a “NEWBIE” how to do this properly!! I really look forward to your next simple, straight forward notes and diagrams. This is very helpful to people like me who have had a stroke which has affected the brain! so I can read and be helped with your picture/diagram. Thank you for showing the tools and what makes you use. It is so important! Thank You

    • Iain

      You’re most very welcome. The next part going up today/tomorrow. A pleasure to assist 🙂

  2. wicky0570

    Another terrific episode! Very comprehensive! I was lucky enough to see the layout at GETS 2019 in Milton Keynes. Lookookiing forward to seeing it develop.

    • Iain

      Thank you 🙂 Progressing steadily with the build as we speak, the next article coming very shortly of this series.Great to see you at the GETS show.

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