Just exactly how do you see hidden track to lay hidden track? Ok, so its not INVISIBLE track, just hidden, and usually under the scenery or benchwork. Now that I've explained that to my daughter, let's put down some rail!
Track laying requires a lot of small tools and lots of light. Luckily my layout already has great light, as most of my no-flash layout pictures can attest. Here is my adjust height metal desk for my tools, which has a swing light on it. Plugged up and ready to go.
First I put in the turnout. This is just a test fit to mark where I need to put the hole for the Tortoise Switch Machine.
Taylor is busy trimming and cutting the rail joiners (code 83) that we'll need to join the track. It didn't last long as Mommy was digging out Christmas decorations and that seemed to be more fun. That and she crushed almost all of my rail joiners, so a trip to the hobby shop tomorrow is mandatory. Got to learn some how. I'm sure I crushed a million of them, too.
I marked the ties and the center, and drew a dot where the hole will be.
For some reason the Tortoise throw rods are always too short. Like Thayne, I'm going to have to go get some steel wire and make longer ones. No installation tonight, and I need another one anyway.
The track gets connected and placed on the roadbed, and I use a small glass mirror to make the alignment adjustments. This is a great trick and the mirrors are like 3 for a buck at the dollar store. It will immediately show in the reflection if the track is out of alignment.
Taking my time, sipping a Bourbon and just enjoying some way too early Christmas music while I put down the track. Track laying takes time and if you rush it, you'll be replacing it.
All of my connectors are trashed. Thayne had a cool rail joiner spreader that I like over at his house. I had used a piece of rail before but never thought of putting a large handle on it. In the wood box was a large dowel and using a Zona saw and X-acto miter box, I cut about a 6" piece of dowel and drilled a small hole in the end.
I took a piece of code 83 rail and sharpened one end with a grinder. Then, using a small hammer, I drove the rail into the handle. Using my belt sander I sanded sharp the ends of the rail segment so that I could put a tight rail joiner over it. I labeled this one "code 83" as I use different rail for different things and may need more of them. Great idea, Thayne! Thanks for letting me steal it!
Each rail joiner should be snug, but not so tight you tear up the track putting it on. Often I use Xuron track pliers. If the rail joiner is too loose it may not conduct electricity or could derail a train. Snug is what you want.
At the end of the section I was careful to cut the ends level, and to file them smooth (including the web of the rail) using a jeweler's file. All my files are rusty so I'm going to add it to my hobby shop grocery list.
Micro Engineering track is known to cause cancer in California. Better you move to Idaho than die.
There! Taylor put the test caboose on the track and ran it back and forth. Nice and smooth, but I won't do the final adjustments until later. Right now we are looking just to get it down.
Let's start on the second section. Track is a bit of mix and match. So far I've put down Atlas Code 83. I'm going to use some Micro Engineering track as well.
Each section is carefully filed and fitted, then nailed to the roadbed. I never nail the track down, but for this hidden track I'm not going to ballast it, and I need a way to keep it down. Since this is low profile I can nail into the plywood so the nail won't back its way out. If you lay track on Homasote, the nails will eventually back out and knock your train off the track.
I just realized that during the commotion I left the retairers off the second section. No worries, I'll put them on this one and that still gives me plenty.
Wife wants me to turn in, so that's it for tonight. I'll come back and finish the track soon.