Friday, March 29, 2019

Track work for Adena - Part 4

In this session I'll wrap up construction of Adena Yard with the the two final yard tracks and the spur for the Adena Mill and team track. I've added a track diagram from the W&LE Valuation maps so everybody knows what is what in these blog posts. Red marks the tracks added.

Click on this sentence for the valuation maps for the entire W&LE at Rails and Trails's website.

Tracks added in this blog post 3-21-19, Valuation Map from

The last two shorter tracks south of the main need their west end turnouts and track laid. Here you can see the marks made with a silver sharpie to help position the tie strips and the turnouts once the adhesive caulk is spread. You can also see an invasion of my Son's modern equipment in the yard which I'm sure will cause some kind of time dimension paradox.

Below you can see the turnouts are now spiked down with the other yard tracks in place and connected to the turnouts.

While testing the two new turnouts I was concerned that particularly bad derailment could cause a quick trip to the floor. So I cut a strip of Plexiglas to serve as a barrier not only to a derailment but also an errant elbow or laundry basket. This step also pointed out the need for a layout fascia.

Due to the volume of hoppers that Adena handled there was a small RIP (repair in place) track that serviced the yard. This track extended from the bottom turnout that I just installed. Since I'm not sure of the final positioning or length yet, I left the track loose and unpowered for now.

Adena Yard RIP Track
In this photo of W&LE 6805 in Adena Yard, the RIP track can be seen to the far right with what looks like a Pennsylvania H-21 hopper sitting all alone on it. The other track that disappears to the right is the lead for the team and mill tracks.That's a great photo of the yard as well, check out the old caboose or car body acting as the car repair shed. The white fencing and pole lights surrounds the Adena High School football field.

W&LE 6805 in Adena Yard
I added the mill and team tracks in the same way, I left them both loose but I powered the team track as engines were often put on that track in between assignments. The foot print of the Adena Mill is to scale from Google Maps measurements. Last I saw in 2016, it was one of the few track side structures still standing.

Adena team and mill tracks.
And with that all major track work in Adena Yard is complete! Next up I start work on the Adena wye.

- Quick links

Track work for Adena - Part 1
Track work for Adena - Part 2
Track work for Adena - Part 3
Track work for Adena - Part 4
Track work for Adena - Part 5

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Wordless Wednesday #165

W&LE Caboose 0201 and a coal hopper sit in Adena yard, photo by my son Brendan Ellis

Monday, March 18, 2019

Track work for Adena - Part 3

With the west end turnouts all set I can begin work on the east end yard ladder. My goal is to place the first two mainline turnouts and then connect the main though Adena. Then I can lay the seven yard tracks building of the mainline route.

As you can see below, the valuation map of the west end of Adena yard is fairly straight with a gentle curve to the right after the bridge.
East end of Adena Yard. Cropped image from

My version of the yard ladder had to be severely curved left in order to fit along the wall. To help with planning I mapped the ladder out with printable Fast Track templates on a large piece of poster board.

The first turnout is a #8 30"/40" radius which I had already hand built from a paper template. The other turnouts I needed were five #8 32"/25" radius and one #6. Since I knew I needed at least six #8 32"/25" turnouts (one for the Adena wye) I felt I might as well order a new fixture from Fast Tracks.

Fast Track's Curved #8 32"/25" radius turnout

With the fixture in hand I made quick work of making what I needed and started committing the paper template to my rubber roadbed. First up was the #8 40"/30" turnout which beings the main yard. I used a silver sharpie to mark the final position of the turnout and to aid in placing the wood ties. The black sharpie is for marking rail to be trimmed.

In the below photo the first two mainline turnouts on the east end are in place and the ties have been glued down.

With the eastern mainline turnouts in place it was time to lay the mainline to connect to the other end and establish the curves through the yard. The "Fruit Can Express", as my son calls it, has arrived in Adena to help glue down the main. 

With the main line down I started forming the yard tracks using the orange 3D printed track spacers to maintain a 2 inch spacing. The marks at the bottom of the below photo are the outside rail location for each yard track.

The "Fruit Can Express" parks on yard track 1 during gluing.

While waiting for the adhesive caulk to dry in between gluing sessions, I began soldering feeders on completed tracks. This way my eager helper could test finished tracks afterwards.

Below, more yard tracks getting spaced and ready for gluing. In all Adena yard is eight tracks wide. I'll also note that for the yard tracks I cut out every 6th or 7th tie and re spaced the ties to give the track more of a secondary look. I apparently had forgotten how much work this was and my thought not to do it again but I'm glad I did.

View from the east end of Adena Yard.

The east yard ladder is almost complete in this photo.

The last switch in the main yard ladder only needed to be a straight #6 since the curve was nearly complete at that point.

Here's the last turnout for the shorter two south tracks in place. I found a low spot which I filled with flexible spackle and then stained black with my tie wash.

Finally in the below photo all east yard turnouts are in place and stained. I even organized my construction mess a little bit for the picture. 
I'll lay the two shorter yard tracks on the right once I have their opposing turnouts installed. But will have to wait for the next part in this series.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Track work for Adena - Part 2

Once the main line turnouts were laid in place in Track work for Adena Part 1, I turned my attention to the west yard ladder. These were also all #6 turnouts like on the mainline.

In the above photo the second turnout's ties are being glued down. With this turnout I changed tactics and waited to glue in the headblock ties until the next turnout in line's position was marked and cut to fit. The orange 3D printed track spacer helps maintain the 2 inch track separation.

Getting the rest of the yard ladder turnouts position marked for tie placement.

Tie strips have been glued down. Immediately afterward I lay a straightedge down on top of the ties  to hold them in place as I remove the painters tape. Then I lay the turnout on top of the ties and make adjustments before the adhesive caulk sets up.

Here's how things size up with other three turnouts fit into place. I'll spike them down after staining and filling the gaps between turnouts with extra Micro Engineering plastic ties.

The above photo looks east at Adena and shows the progress so far.

Up to this point I did not stain any of the turnout ties because I was eventually going to paint all my track work with either an airbrush or my trusty Camo Brown spray cans. Since I wasn't sure how soon that would be I decided to give them a quick wash of alcohol diluted India Ink in the meantime. I also went back and stained the other turnouts I already had in place.

I'm pretty pleased  how the India Ink wash turned out. It almost made me wish I had hand laid all the track with wood ties but I'll save that level of crazy for other people.

The Fast Tracks turnout building tools pull double duty as weights to hold the rails in place as I started to spike them down.

I use Micro Engineering small spikes with a bit of the spike head nipped off with my rail cutters. The pliers are nothing special, just the Crescent brand you can find at Home Depot in a 2-pack with cutters that are almost identical to orange handled Xuron sprue nippers.

I only spike one set of ties in between PC board ties on the turnouts and anywhere else the turnout seems to flex or lift from the ties.

I'm surprised how quick this step can go, and with a steady hand only a few spikes have managed teleport into another dimension.

Next up the east end curved yard ladder.

- Quick links

Track work for Adena - Part 1
Track work for Adena - Part 2
Track work for Adena - Part 3
Track work for Adena - Part 4
Track work for Adena - Part 5

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Track work for Adena - Part 1

As hinted at in the last Wordless Wednesday, track laying in Adena has finally begun.

I'd been delaying track work on Adena mainly due to needing to curve the east end of the yard which continues through the bridge at the end of the yard ladder. After I recently relaid the curve leading to this bridge and glued it down, I knew I could continue westward with track construction.

Most of us when trying to build from the prototype must at times make compromises due to space or operational constraints. The large wye at the west end of Adena plus the the yard would fit with reasonable compression along a 30 foot wall. Unfortunately my basement walls are about 25' long, so the best way I found to fit all of Adena was to curve the east end of the yard. The wye and the west end of the Adena are a signature scene so I wanted to preserve that side as much as possible to match the prototype.

The two turnouts that were laid first anchor the main line through Adena, the start of the wye for the Adena Branch and the west yard ladder.

The turnouts are constructed using Fast Tracks #6 fixtures and Mt. Albert ties which are glued down with Dap Clear Adhesive Caulk. After the caulk had set the turnout was spiked down every few ties with Micro Engineering small spikes.

In the above photo DAP adhesive caulk has been spread for the rubber sheeting I use for roadbed in large areas like a yard.

The rubber sheeting as been cut and rolled flat. I found with the rubber material you don't want to accidentally stretch it out too much when rolling it out or it will pull on the foam.

The next two switches that serve as anchors for the main line are the lead for the Adena Mill and team track, and a switch for two more yard tracks and the rip track. In the photo above, I'm making final adjustments to the wood ties that have just been set into the adhesive caulk. I built my own jigs to make turnout tie strips faster. I've since figured out to delegate this task to my son to get him involved more in construction now that he's older.

The turnouts have been spiked down and in the background the team track and Mill tracks have been loosely added. Even though I'll eventually paint all the track work I meant to stain the ties with a India ink wash but in my excitement to get track laid I forgot.

I've used a large sheet of construction-like paper to help design the curved east end yard ladder. Along with Fast Tracks printable templates I also used 3D printed track spacers to help layout the yard tracks. These 2 inch track spacers were found on and are free to download and use for yourself. I had my work place print several for me which have been great for the straightaways. I ended up using a manual 2.25 inch spacing on the curves which allowed Brendan's larger modern equipment to pass each other and didn't wreck my plans for this area too badly.

Here's a closer view of the 3D printed track spacers in action.

3D printing 2 inch HO track spacers
And a photo of them being printed. Each one takes about 30-40 minutes. The library I work at only charges $1 an hour for printer time and materials so the wait is well worth it. While the print resolution is not that great for models, it's just fine for tools and other things like servo brackets.

Coming up soon, more track work...

- Quick links

Track work for Adena - Part 1
Track work for Adena - Part 2
Track work for Adena - Part 3
Track work for Adena - Part 4
Track work for Adena - Part 5