Saturday, September 25, 2021

One less siding, but better performance

If you want to find every place on your track that needs work, try running a brass steam locomotive over it. While today's diesel, and even plastic steam locomotives can run down a gravel road without a hitch, brass steam engines are the most finicky of all. 

I had one spot - a fairly broad curve - where the brass engines were all derailing (or stalling). Stalling is usually a power pickup issue - but derailing in this case was the fault of the track. 

I wanted to add a siding from the curve, and thought I was being clever when I bent a Micro-Engineering turnout to follow the curve, but I either didn't do it correctly or the brass engines were just a little too stiff to deal with the curve-into-tangent-into-curve-into-tangent arrangement. After thinking the matter through I decided the trains negotiating the curve reliably outweighed the benefit of having one more siding to set out and pickup cars.

Frankly while I fretted over this for a few weeks, but the fix didn't take more than a couple of evenings. The photos show a little more detail:

You can see the offending turnout at the top of the photo. Diesels, plastic steam locomotives, and cars went through it without a hitch. Brass steam locomotives not so much.

I pre-bent some Micro-Engineering flextrack to a curve so the new alignment would continue the same curve radius as the rest of the mainline. Note the difference between the old and new alignments.  

I covered the creamery building with a paper towel and then soaked the old track and ballast with water and alcohol mixture. After waiting about 10 minutes the track and ballast came right up. 

 A quick scraping with a putty knife removed any remaining ballast and dirt and leveled the roadbed. 

Laying the new track was a matter of pre-bending it to a constant curve radius (in this case 40", you can see the track radius gauge in place at the joint between two sections of track) and gluing the track in place with adhesive caulk. 

After the track was painted, weathered, and ballasted. I thought about moving the creamery track to the left as well, but I like how there's a gap between the main and the siding. Next step is static grass on this entire curve area and details like telegraph poles and the like. 



brujolito said...

But without the interchange track Sheldon Junction is no longer a junction, just a crossing.\

CVSNE said...

Guess I didn't make that clear in my post - the interchange track is actually now on the other side of the diamond. I'd post a photo of it, but that entire area is completely covered with scenery making stuff at the moment!

brujolito said...

AHA! I knew that you had modified the track plan for the visible staging, but did not know about the interchange change. Maybe you could update the track plan?

Matthieu Lachance said...

The scene looks more natural now without the sidings. Both a gain for reliable operation and from a scenic perspective. And if you managed to relocate the interchange somewhere else, nothing lost in terms of operation. Definitely a good decision!

Mike Aufderheide said...

Great post! So many people are unwilling to make changes like this, but what a difference.

CVSNE said...

Thanks to all for the comments.
Yes, I really need to draw up a current track plan - it's a task that keeps dropping to the bottom of the list.
Who knows, if I decide to pursue a couple of AP certificates it may move up the list!