Here’s more from Cameron.
If you missed the first installment, it’s here.
“Tunnels and retaining can be pretty expensive at a hobby shop. On a tight layout you can also end up needing allot of retaining. I for one got a pretty rude shock when I saw the price for my layout. I did some hunting around and found this great solution using silicone bathroom sealant and car body filler to make your own moulds.
Step 1 – Make Something to Cast
I guess I could of purchased a cheap tunnel for the mould but instead decided to make my own using some plastic brick sheets I bought off Ebay. I made a tunnel and section of retaining that would fit together. On the back I put some thick cardboard to build up the thickness of the original. A mould about 5mm thick seamed about right to me.
Step 2 – Make the Mould
Firstly make a small box from timber off cuts that is big enough to take your originals and deep enough to have a good layer of silicone under them. Then comes the best bit. Instead of buying an expensive silicone moulding kit I used some regular bathroom silicone sealant from the hardware (not the odorless one). Mix one ounce of regular bathroom sealant with 5 drops of glycerine and a drop of acrylic paint in a small cup. Pour the mixture into the box and press in the originals. The acrylic paint helps the silicone to set properly and the glycerin helps the castings release from the mould. I left the lot for 48 hours. Before I took the originals out.
Step 3 – Cast Away
You can cast either plaster of epoxy in the mould. I used some cheap car filler from the auto repair shop. Following the directions mix the car bog and the catalyst in a tub then pour it into the mould. The epoxy sets quite quickly so you can run off a mould every 30 minutes. If the castings start to stick in the mould wipe them with a thin layer of soapy water before you pour in the epoxy.
Laying some track in the next episode.
And now let’s fast forward to the next installment…
“Laying the track would have to be one of the most rewarding stages of building a layout. With all the centre lines marked out it is a simple task. Just work your way around from one end to the other. My track is Peco code 100 and the points are a combination of Streamline and curved Setrack points.
Before fixing any track I drilled holes in the middle of the track at every point slide to accommodate point motors in the future. The point motor manufacturers have guides for how big the hole should be and exactly where it goes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to use point motors but I figured this would be a lot easier now than retrospectively. It was just one little extra task but, as it worked out, well worth it.
To fix the track I used the larger track pins which I found to be a lot easier to work with and easy to pull out for adjustments. Map pins are handy for holding down curves before putting in the track pins. I first tacked down the track with the minimum number of track pins. I didn’t push them all the way in to make it easier to remove them if I needed to adjust. Before running the trains I cleaned the track and train wheels thoroughly with mentholated spirits.
I then ran the largest loco I had along with the longest rolling stock over the whole track multiple times in forward and reverse. There were lots of little adjustments to make along the way.
When I was happy with the running I pinned down a bit more track and repeated the process until the whole lot was fastened into place. I had a few weeks of running every train and every bit of rolling stock before I finally had the nerve to push down all the pins flush. It was great to finally see trains going round the layout.
One unfortunate outcome of the whole process was a small gap in the track where a curve met a point. This caused frequent derailments. I did however find a great fix which I have drawn a crude drawing if bellow. I slid the rail in question along until the gap was in a straight section of the layout. Then I cut a very short piece of track that was the same size as the gap and slid it into the fishplate. It was pretty fiddly but easier than ripping up a whole length of track. It worked so well I have a hard time finding it now.
Next installment will be ballast.
And now, breaking off at a tangent, I got this question in from Rev. Ron:
“Hi, Al ….. Enjoy your site and the layouts and info sent to you. I wonder if any can advise me re how to get constant brightness of lights in passenger cars, cabooses, and locos. I use conventional method right now (varying voltage via track). I have only one loco equipped for digital (MTH).There are 3 other engines that are not so equipped. So, lights vary in brightness according to speed. What is the best way to change all this? Do I have to put decoders in locos and get a DCS system? Someone mentioned voltage regulators instead. Is this possible? As you can tell, I’m a bit technically challenged. I got back into the hobby at the age of 70 (almost 76 now).
Keep up your good work.
Awaiting a reply.
And that’s your lot this time folks.
Don’t forget to let me know what you think by posting below – and have a look see at the latest ‘ebay cheat sheet‘ before you buy anything!