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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 4)

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project

Part Four

Following on from part three of this series in which we covered the cutting of the track & fitting the trackwork & track bed cork sheet underlay. This time we’ll look at securing the track down, using Tracksetta track Template tools, installing the track powerfeeds, & prepping the board to take point motors. Let us start with prepping the the baseboard for taking the point motors. 

With the point motors temporarily in place, take a suitable pen or pencil that will fit in the center hole of the point work tie bar. Mark out either end of the center hole movement of the tie bar. Then draw a line to join up the two marks, make sure you make the line slightly longer than the two end marks to allow for the thickness of the point motor rod. The rod will run up from under the baseboard & into the hole of the point tie bar.    

 

 

Here you can see two marks circled in orange, these highlight the two slot holes to be cut for the point motor tie bar to fit through once the holes have been cut.

 

 

Using a suitable sized drill bit large enough to make a hole for the point motor tie bar, drill a hole at one end of the marker line as shown on the right.

 

 

Next drill another hole at the other end of the marker line as shown on the right, to give you two holes at either end of the marker line.

 

 

Now drill or cut the remaing bit between the two holes to leave a long slot hole as shown on the right.

 

 

The point motor we’ll be using is the SEEP type as shown on the right. These come in several versions, such as self latching, non latching, & with built in switching. The built in switching is suitable for use with the likes of Electrofrog points where the point frog polarity needs to switched over. Also ideal for switching accessories such as signals etc. We have covered in a previous article in the electrics series here in the club about Electrofrogs & switching polarity on the frogs of Electrofrog points.

 

 

Insert the long rod of the point through the hole on the underside of the baseboard as shown on the right & temporaily hold the point motor in position. Make sure that the rod is set at the half way point of it’s travel movement on the point motor & that the rod is in the center of the hole.

 

 

Move the point motor rod the full length of it’s travel in both directions. If the hole stops the rod during the travel, then the hole will need to be made a bit longer so that it dosen’t foul the rod. If the rod can fully travel it’s movement with out fouling then move on to the next stage. Place the point motor to one side for fitting later.

 

 

Fixing down the trackwork

Now you can either pin the track down or glue the track down, the choice is down to which method you prefer best. We’ll go with the pinning of the track down for this build. We’ll start with the pointwork.

We are using Peco Code 100 Streamline Insulfrog medium radius points for this project. Turn the points over so that they are facing the wrong way up. You’ll see in the photo a number of highlighted holes in the bottom of the sleepers. These need fully drilling out to take the track pins. 

 

 

Using a small jewellers type handheld twist drill tool with a suitable sized drill bit, drill out the holes we highlighted in the photo in the previous step above.

 

 

Turn the points back over & reposition back onto the baseboard. Make sure the point motor rod slot hole lines up with the point tiebar center hole. Once you are happy all is okay, it’s time to pin the track down. Our Preferred choice of track pin is the slightly thicker Gaugemaster/Peco Track Pins as these are more robust than the thinner Hornby track pins. 

To make things easier for fitting the track pins, use the jewllers handheld twist drill again with a drill bit a slight nats smaller than the diameter of the track pin. Instead of using a pin hammer to insert the track pins, use a pin pusher tool or a pair of thin nosed pliers.  

 

 

Using a small jewellers type handheld twist drill tool with a suitable sized drill bit, drill out the holes we highlighted in the photo in the previous step above.

 

 

For laying straight track sections we are using Tracksetta track laying tools. Insert the straight track tool into the track as shown on the right. The holes arrowed in the photo are for spacing out the drill holes in the sleepers. Drill a hole in one sleeper per one hole in the Tracksetta tool.

 

 

Carefully grip the track pin tightly in the jaws of the pliers, & carefully push the pin through the drilled hole in the sleeper & into the baseboard. Don’t push down to hard that it ends up distoring & end up bending the sleeper.

 

 

For curved track, use the appropriate curved Tracksetta curved track tool. As before, drill one hole in one sleeper per one hole in the Tracksetta tool.

 

 

For the track power feeds, we’re soldering the power feed wires directly to the track rather than using a hornby power track or Hornby / Peco track power clip. Where you fit the power feeds to the track depends on your individual track plan, we’ll take a look at where we’ll be fitting the power feeds to our track in a minute. 

To fit the track power feeds, drill a suitable sized sized hole to take one of the wires for the track power feed. Again we’re using a small drill tool to do this. 

The wire we are using is 16/0.2mm for this layout.

 

 

As mention above, the wire we are using is 16/0.2mm for this layout. As we’re using DCC we’re putting in a number of extra powerfeeds. The number of powerfeeds depends on your layout track plan, don’t rely upon just the rail joiners as these can become loose, dirty etc & cause problems to provide power from one rail section the next. To get around this as i’ve done on my own layout, is to provide power track feeds to each section of track. Thus if a rail joiner becomes loose, dirty etc, then power to the track won’t be affected. So folk on larger layouts fit power feeds once every meter or so, others like myself fit track feeds to every or nearly every section of track. The choice is yours.

In the photo on the right we’ve cut a number of 16/02mm wire to length, stripped both ends of the wire & also tinned (soldered) the bear wire ends. Next job is now to fit these wires to the track.

 

 

The wireswill be soldered to the rails as this gives a much more solid & reliable connection to the track, over the tradition push in power type clip. The wires can either be soldered to the underside of the rail or to the outside of the rail. We’ve gone for the outside of the rail option. In the second photo below on the right, can be seen a pair of wires soldered to the track.

We are using two different coloured wires, red for + Positive & black for – Negative. When wiring up a layout, make sure you keep the + Pos & the – Neg the same on all the track work around the whole layout. So here we are wiring it up as black (wire) to Back (Rear rail), red (wire) to front (Front rail). So all when viewing the layout from the front viewing side, on each track section the rail furthest away from you has the black – Neg wire. And the nearest rail to you on each track section has the red + Pos wire.

In the top photo opposite can be seen all the track feed wires which have been soldered to the track, these awaiting connecting up to the chocbloc connectors.  

 

 

With all the wires in place, it’s time to connect them all up. Here we are using 15amp type chocblock connectors, which allows quick access to fit & remove wires if necessary. You can of course solder the wires up instead, the choice is yours. The red + Pos wires of course, are kept separate from the black – Neg wires. The red & black arrows in the photo on the right, show where we’ll be running the two main power feed wires in from the controller. 

For wiring up your layout you can use any coloured wired, best practice is to pick a colour code for your wiring & stick to it. So for example you could use the following:

  • Power bus wire: Red + Pos, Black – Neg
  • Track power feeds: Red + Pos, Black – Neg
  • Point Motors: Red + Pos, Black – Neg, Green Common Return

The next job is to connect the layout wiring up the controller. Two holes were drilled in the baseboard side frame & two wires cut to length & the ends stripped & tinned with solder. The wires were then fed through the holes & then inserted into the chocbloc & the screws tightened to secure the wires. As you can see in the photos, we’ve kept to the colour code with Red + Pos wire to Red + Pos Wire & the same with black – Neg wire to black – Neg wire.

The last job here is to fit some wire/cable clips to keep the wire neat & tidy. 

For wiring up our layout on traditional analouge control, the photo right is one suggested method using two controllers. The red & black triangles represent the track power feeds (red being + Positive) (black being -Negative).

The blue line represents where a pair Peco plastic insulating rail joiners would need to be fitted, to isolate the layout electrically into two halves. This will allow two controllers to operate the layout without interfering with each other when runing a loco across the crossover at the blue mark line. The controllers would need to be set to the same speed & direction to run over the loco over the insulating rail joiners. 

Alternatively, you could omit the insulating rail joiners & use the insulating aspect of the insulfrog points to do the job instead. If going for this method, turn one controller off & use the other controller to drive the train across the cross over. Once across the cross over, stop the loco & set the points back to straight on position. Now use the second controller to operate the loco, whilst the first can now operate another loco.

The orange lines are suggested positions for fitting isolating sections. This can be done by cutting one rail & fitting a switch which turns power on or off to the section that is being isolated. This will allow another loco to be driven up to another on the same track without the other moving. Both the likes of Hornby & Peco do isolating tracks within their respective ranges. 

For wiring up our layout on DCC control which we have done, the photo right shows roughly where we’ve fitted the power feeds. The red & black triangles represent the track power feeds (red being + Positive) (black being -Negative). We’ve fitted extra power feeds to the points allow for more reliable running of the insulfrog points. With the layout being DCC controlled, we don’t need to fit any isolating sections due to the fact a loco can be driven up to another one on the same track. On DCC, the locos must each have a decoder chip fitted & will only respond when called up on the DCC controller, using the unique address it has been assigned. 

Wether you go for DCC or analouge control, is purely down to personal choice, budget etc. Each system has both it’s plus & minus points. We previously looked at what both systems offer in a previous article here in the club.

 

The last bit we’ll look at today, is the gaps at the rail ends. In the photo on the right can be seen one such gap at the joint between two track sections. 

 

With the sleepers that we removed earlier on during track laying, we now need these. Cut off the rail chairs from the sleeper as shown on the right. Make sure the area where the chairs where is smooth & flush with the rest of the sleeper.

 

Now insert the sleeper under rails to fill in the gap of missing sleepers between the two track sections.

 

For the ends of the point work you may need to trim down the length of the sleepers to make them fit properly, as we have done here. As you can see it’s a vast improvement over the large gap before.

 

In the next part we’ll look at adapting & installing the hard standing kit to fit on this layout. We’ll be also looking at completing the installation of the point motors in an upcoming article. For the time being it’s time for a quick test run… 

 

The first offical test run!! Video clip.

 

Happy modelling & we’ll catch you in the next part to follow.

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Daveharris

    Thanks Iain,
    Lots of detail, just what I needed to go ahead and put down my own track!

    • Iain

      Your most welcome Dave. Part 5 has now just gone live of this series 🙂

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