Beginnings of staging and superelevation

I know it’s been a while since my last post, yet again. Nothing much is getting done, I’m still waiting for my turnout kits as fast tracks is moving manufacturing facilities…in the middle of my order. The nerve!

Anyway, I put in the benchwork for the staging yard, laid 12 feet of superelevated curve equipped mainline, and am thinking really hard about scenery.

I didn’t want the staging yard to be that intrusive, so I decided to build them to be less solid than the rest of the layout. I used 1/2″ plywood on a 1×3 frame with only 1 crossbrace. The frame ended where there was a load bearing support for the house, although the front bit of lumber continued on for its length. I screwed a 1×3 brace that goes from the bottom of the staircase to the frame that supports that end, as well as a small 1×2 brace to stop it from rotating. It gets the job done, at least. You can sit on the end nearest to the layout without it collapsing, but I wouldn’t try that with the other end!

Staging yard for Rossland sub. at Castlegar

At the Castlegar end, I wanted to screw the frame into the load-bearing wall, but because I  screwed up a calculation (GO ME!) I had a 3/8″ gap between the frame and the edge of the top. No problem! I’ll just use a small piece of that 3/8″ plywood I have…none of! Oh. Hey, look over there! That half inch ply has 4 layers, each an eighth of an inch thick! Why don’t I MAKE it 3/8″?

And so I did. Feel free to try this at home, it’s quite easy.

Makin' 3/8" ply the OLD FASHIONED WAY!

Anyway, that worked. It’s all super solid now, in part because I attached it to every stud in the wall behind it. Incidentally, that one crosspiece is at the same location as the middle stud, so I gave it a brace to the wall to stop any sagging on that side from whatever weight’s put on it. Once I get my turnout kits, I’ll cover how I’m wiring the staging yard and wye.

Also done is the one section of mainline with no turnouts in it. I WAS going to wait until I got them…but I needed something to do. I used the masking tape method of superelevation, finding 8 layers to be the right amount. Because some of my curves are so short, I was only able to manage 6 layers, and I think it shows. The thing about superelevation is you can’t go right into it, you need a transition, and I put each of my layers an inch apart, except on the short curves, where I was forced to put them 3/4″ apart. The strips of tape are 1/4″ wide, and theoretically 8 layers is about 1/32″, which is 5 inches of superelevation in N scale. My lovely wonderful lady lent me her cutting mat for this. Here’s a photo of me cutting the tape for the shortest curve, which only had a 9″ total length including easements.

Cutting masking tape for superelevation

Once I had those done, I carefully put them into place and smoothed them down with my finger, with the thick ends butting into each other. Track went down next…

Superelevated curves

I kind of jury-rigged in some easements, because in my original plan I was stupid enough not to account for them. S curves with no transition =  BAD IDEA. It all worked out in the end, at least.

One thing I’m doing right: I’m really getting the hand of soldering feeders, which is good, because I’m putting them on every section of flex. The trick is to make sure the wires are coming in from directly below together, and not at an angle, especially from each other. I remove 1 tie and push the others back, file the weathering off the rails, and then flux and solder before pushing the ties back it. After these photos were taken I painted the feeders brown so they’d look more like ties, and I suspect they’ll hardly be noticeable once I get ballast down. After I took this shot I realized the ties were too far apart and pushed them in more, too. Naturally, the feeders go straight down to the bus I put in ages ago.

Closeup of feeders

Gluing the track down was a little harder than on the helix, so I invented a new method of weighing the track down! It’s hard to clamp down track when it’s twisting with superelevation, so I just grabbed a bunch of cans that could lean whichever way they needed to.

Weighing down the track while gluing

And finally, actually running a train!


6 thoughts on “Beginnings of staging and superelevation

  1. Hi Matthew. Just took a look around and it looks to me like you’re doing a bang up job on your railway……my congratulations, keep up the good work. I’ll be starting my Kootenay Lakes Steam & Navigation Co. Ltd. sometime in December and will keep everybody posted of my progress over at BC-InteriorRR Group.


  2. Hey Matt,

    Interesting looking work! Do you have a track plan posted? Saw mention in an early entry, but can’t find a link or anything.


    1. Mark,
      A guy named Stephan Koenig did it for me, and I plan to have him do most of my fleet. The unit’s a Bachmann H16-44 with details, so the overall price is much lower than a kaslo kit with Atlas drive, however, I do plan on having Jeff do one of those for me as soon as I can find the money.

  3. This particular unit was $150, DCC equipped (This guy is fantastic!) and I can’t really say about the running, as I’m still trying to tweak my entire fleet. The only operating track currently is what you see in this video, plus the length of the train off to the right, so I don’t have a good test track. (It’s all a 2.65% grade here) I’ve been a little disappointed in the out of the box performance with my DCC system, speed step 1 seems to be twice as fast as it should be. The drives in my Atlas and Kato units are dead smooth at step 1, but the Bachmann drive seems a little jerky, although BEMF makes a huge difference. My biggest complaint, at any rate, is the headlight location. If you’ve ever used a blue box HO Athearn like an SD40-2, you’ll know what I’m talking about, with the headlight flooding the cab.

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