TRACKWORK

Having built the baseboards I was in a hurry to lay the trackwork, so I decided to use ready-made track.

For the rear of the layout, that is the area not visible to the public, I decided to use PECO code 75 track and medium radius turnouts which have a radius of about 3ft. This has proved to be very reliable, the only problem being that from time to time one of the over-centre springs in a turnout comes out of position, usually due to over-vigorous track cleaning. All the PECO turnouts are operated by PECO point motors mounted on the top surface of the baseboards on PECO base plates.

At the front of the layout all plain track was C&L bullhead. Unfortunately C&L do not make track that matches the design used by the LNWR, but fortunately I was able to apply ballast over all the visible track because that is how it was in loco sheds and, in 1901, the LNWR still had sections of main line where the ballast was carried over the sleepers. My main line was one of these! The rails on the main line have saw cuts in them and fishplates to represent the obsolescent 30ft. long lengths of rail that were still in use in some places on the LNWR in 1901.

The trackwork in the loco shed area includes three 3-way points, two with a straight centre road and one with a straight right-hand road, as well as several normal turnouts.

 I decided to adopt a minimum radius of 4ft. around the loco shed and found that Markway were the only firm that made track to meet all my criteria. This is where my problems started! Markway turnouts are not gapped and switched as is normally done with live-frog points. Electrical continuity is achieved solely by contact of the point blade against the stock rail. On the plain turnouts I improved this arrangement by soldering phosphor-bronze springs to the ends of the point blades, but this did not suffice on the 3-way points. The wheels of my longer wheelbase locos, such as the 0-8-0s, bridged the gap between stock rail and point blade and constant short-circuits were the result. This problem was only cured after I changed the gapping to the conventional arrangement and installed PECO micro-switches on the point motors to switch the polarity of the point blades.

All the loco yard turnouts are operated by surface-mounted PECO motors hidden either in the loco shed or behind the retaining wall at the back of the yard. This arrangement created two problems. The motors are connected to the turnouts by means of wires in copper tubes (GEM). The wires were originally steel but the water in the ballast mix caused them to rust solid in the copper tubes so they had to be replaced with 0.45mm. diameter nickel-silver wires. Secondly, I had not incorporated omega loops in the point operating mechanisms and there were constant breakages of the wires at the bends in them. Also, point blades were coming detached, usually on a Sunday morning at an exhibition! I eventually moved the point motors back far enough to enable me to incorporate loops in the operating wires. These loops were initially wade of nickel-silver wire but they fractured after a while. They are now made of phosphor-bronze wire and, touch wood, this has cured the problem.   

                  The Main Line                     Courtesy Railway Modeller

        The Coaling Stage Area             Courtesy Railway Modeller

            The Loco Shed Area                Courtesy Railway Modeller

The Front of the Layout

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