ADVANCED INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES
by George Huckaby
November 24, 2003
The prerequisites for this lesson are Lessons 2-2, 2-3 and 2-4, namely Prototypical Street Railway Track, ORR TRACK - Part One and ORR TRACK Part Two. Installing streetcar track is not snap track. It is not easy work. But it is not difficult unless you are not careful and fail to pay attention to detail. Attention is required because of the tight gauge requirements necessary to avoid derailments. It is usually difficult to repair such problems without tearing up a beautifully painted road. But if you take one step at a time and carefully continue to check track gauge, track level and all other considerations, flawless operation over this track will being years of enjoyment. Remember, there are many designated Master Model Railroaders that have never done this or hung any operable overhead wire.
In this lesson, we will be installing Specialwork. Specialwork is defined as turnouts and crossings. We have found that the placement and installation of specialwork can be difficult depending on your track plan. Complicated city intersections require planning and patience.
There are many of you who, upon reading this lesson or Part Two, or viewing the photos, will conclude that you have used better techniques for this activity. We welcome your constructive input to the Trolleyville Schoolhouse any time. We in NO WAY claim to be experts at the installation of this ORR Street Railway Track. But for the most part, our trackwork, installed using these methods, is virtually derailment free.
2. TURNOUT AND POINT-MATE INSTALLATION
Turnouts must be precisely located due to the holes that must be drilled in the homasote to accommodate the throw rod.
Note 1 - Before installing any ORR turnout, obtain a one inch piece of .09" brass tubing with an interior diameter of .06", place it over the switch tongue throw rod, except for the 1/16" closest to the bottom of the tongue. Solder the brass to the cast rod. Not leaving the final 1/16" clear may cause the tongue not to close fully. See the Before and After photos below:
After deciding the precise location of the turnout, drill a 1/2" hole in the homasote for the throw rod and install three sections of Clover House # module interface ties at the track edges of the turnout. Ensure that 1/2 of the tie extends past the end of track (See Note B in photo below).
Before soldering the turnout in place, spike the turnout in place and align the turnout properly in both axes. When location is perfect, and there is free movement in the tongue and the turnout closes fully and opens fully, then solder to ties.
3. COMPLEX SPECIAL WORK INSTALLATION
The most challenging installation on this module will be the complete curve D to A as shown on the sketch previously. There will be an intersection of three ORR TRACK crossings, a 2520 Right Curved crossing, a 2523 Left Curved Crossing and a 2590 Straight Crossing and they will impinge on each other forcing many cuts and fits, while paying close attention to alignment.
Note 2: There is a general rule for hand-laying curved crossings. That rule states to lay the curved portion first and fit the straight track to it, so the two curved crossings will be fit and installed first.
Note 3: Keep all trimmed pieces someplace handy. They can be used to correct small alignment errors later.
Note 4: It is recommended that you keep a test car, preferably an unpowered trailer, or a Micro-Mark Track Inspection Car, Item #82414 for checking each piece of each installation. Also test using a powered car. Since all of our track is grounded, two rail cars can not be used for this purpose. So we attach a very flexible wire with a lot of slack to the trolley pole as shown below:
Testing with powered cars is significant as most cars have only one truck powered and the car is usually run power truck forward. Most HO scale power trucks tend to twist in one direction or another when under power. If the direction of twist is toward the outside of a sharp curve, the truck will tend to "pick" almost anything.
Note 5. When installing the crossings, particularly the 30 and 45 degree rossings, care must be taken to ensure that the outer ends of the castings remain in gauge as there are no ties to maintain the correct position of the rails. In addition, the castings bend rather easily.
a. To demonstrate how ORR TRACK can make installation of these compound crossings much easier, we made use of the templates, which were formerly available from Richard Orr. They have been made available in this lesson. Size them with your print software to ensure that the one inch line marked on one of the individual items is actually one inch long and print as many as your need. There are two templates, the href="Turnout_Template.jpg" target="_blank">Turnout Template, which contains images of ORR TRACK items #2400, #2401, #2402, #2403, #2404, #2520 and #2523 and the href="Crossing_Template.jpg" target="_blank">Crossing Template, which contains images of ORR TRACK items #2530, #2545, #2560, #2575 and #2590. Below are the templates that we used for this portion of the intersection:
b. Note the plan after the templates are cut and pasted according to the track plan marked on the module.
c. The first specialwork items to be installed were the two #2400 right curved turnouts, ensuring that the straight track portions are properly aligned.
d. The next item installed was the #2520 right curved crossing (shown in green above), ensuring the straight portion is properly aligned with the adjacent track. A small portion of one leg of the crossing was removed to align with the turnout.
Note 6: Before soldering any specialwork in place, spike the piece in place and align properly in both axes. When location is perfect, and, in the case of turnouts, there is free movement in the tongue and the turnout closes fully and opens fully, then solder to ties and/or adjacent rail.
Note 7: It is prudent to trim slightly less than needed and hand file to fit. Cut too much or file too much and the piece may be wasted.
Note 8: Use a razor saw rather than a Dremel tool to cut track. Place the track in a vise for these cuts. This will result in more accurate cuts and fits.
e. Next, install the #2523 left curved crossing, shown in red above. Trimming is required here as shown in the previous photo to fit next to the #2520. Remember Note 4 above. All trimming in this area must be precisely done and gauge must continue to be checked at all times, both before and after the pieces are soldered together. Take your time here. Avoid the tendency to rush these steps.
f. The ninety-degree crossing is carefully cut and fit around the curved crossing as shown in the photo. This must be a precise fit so take your time...file a little...fit...file again…fit…until just perfect. Excess pieces were used to fill the area between the 2520 right curved crossing and the 2400 turnout. Note the blue pieces of track!
Note 9: When doing this type of trackwork for the first time, suggest that you acquire extra crossings and turnouts. You will not become competent at this until you ruin a crossing or a turnout.
g. After carefully and slowly grinding out some flangeways where needed with the grinding wheel of a Dremel tool, then install then next two turnouts, T1 and T2 as shown below.
h. Installing turnout T1 is actually done in reverse of normal since the curved crossing is already in place. After lining up the straight track of the turnout with the track already in place, turnout T1 can be spiked into the correct position and installed. This is one of the places that some of the pieces saved as instructed in Note 3 will be useful. When installing turnout T1, we needed to fill in between the turnout and the 90-degree crossing. Sharp-eyed readers will already notice that one of the straight rails of the turnout was missing. We used an older ORR turnout, from which the rail had been removed during the original installation.
i. Installing turnout T2 is an entirely different story. The original plan was to have this curve match the 9th & Chestnut St. plans. Since this article is being written as this module is being built, we ran into two snags here. First, the angle of the #2401 ORR TRACK Point-Mate Assembly does not match that used in the prototype, so the plan must be modified in both areas were the turnout is used. Second, in the original plan, the outside rail of T1 would interfere with the single point of turnout T2, so turnout T2 had to be moved further away from turnout T1. The oversize flanges currently used in HO scale force large flangeways and therefore larger than prototype single point switch assemblies. One of the newly available ORR TRACK #2401 Point Mate Assemblies was used for turnout T2. We also replaced the brass plate under the switch point with a two pieces of Clover Hose Module Interface Ties. (This may become a standard modification to the ORR turnouts for modules of the Southern California Traction Club.) One tie was placed under the pivot and the other under the point just ahead of the throw bar. After trimming turnout T2 to get it as close to turnout T1 without fouling the turnout T1 point, turnout T2 was installed. Notice that the name ORR which is cast into the T1 turnout had to be filed away to make room for the outside curved rail of turnout T2.
j. The final step in this portion of the installation will be to install the remaining track using #2300 series girder rail.
1) First, we finished the rail from the turnout up to the edge of the layout. Due to the nature of castings, sometimes the girder rail is not the same height as the cast crossing and must be shimmed with a very thin piece of brass to make the rail tops even. We examined several lengths of #2300 girder rail and they all have a web height (top to base) of .1 inch or 2.56 mm. ORR TRACK castings had web heights of .106" or 2.80mm. This small amount comes into play only when you are trying to line up girder rail to ORR TRACK.
2) Turnout T3 (see above) was installed using an ORR Track #2403 Left Hand Turnout.
3) Then, we added the missing rail from turnout T1 to the 90-degree crossover and from turnout T3 to the same 90-degree crossover. (See A in photo below).
4) The straight track from turnout T3 to the edge of the layout was installed using girder rail.
4. THE OGIVE CURVE
The ogive curve between turnout T3 and T2 was installed using the following methodology:
a) Using the 9th & Chestnut drawing, mark the inside rail on the homasote as a guide for the curve.
b) Bend a section of rail for the inside of the curve above, using the curving tool and the techniques described in an earlier lesson. Note the bent rail already cut to fit and ready to install in the last photo:
c) When the inside rail is cut and fit and ready to be soldered, bend a cut the inside rail to the same contour as the inner rail. Both rails are shown above:
d) The reason that this curve was chosen for this article is the fact that the outer rail of the curve must cross another track at the mate of the point-mate combination. A three-way frog will result here. The techniques used here can be used for similar difficult fittings.
e. Lay the outer rail in the intended location and cut carefully to fit snugly against the mate of turnout T1. Cut a little longer than needed and file until the correct fit is made. Ensure that correct gauge is maintained throughout the curve prior to soldering the rail to the ties. Install the final section of outer rail in the same manner.
5. FLANGE GUARD RAILS
Flange guard rails are used on the inner rails of sharp curves and opposite frogs and crossings in the outer rail of curves. Refer to the lesson 2-2 for a description of girder-guard rail. This is much different than the flangeway of girder rail. The purpose of the guard rail on the inner rail of a curve is to prevent the outer wheel flange from "picking" frogs and crossings in the outer rail. Therefore, the flangeway of the inner curve will, in the majority of cases, be narrower than normal. Since such is not currently available in HO scale, we need to fashion some of our own, especially in complex intersections where we have many frogs and breaks in the other rail of sharp curves.
a. Because the ogive curve described above has an extremely small radius, girder-guard rail on the inner rail would be not only desirable but also necessary to prevent derailments. Most model cars have some resistance to turning, especially the power trucks due to the drive train. Since girder-guard rail is not currently commercially available, we can create a simple guard rail our own by adding brass strip to the inner rail of the girder rail of the curve. Using reverse tweezers, place the strip against the rail in such a manner that the brass is slightly higher than the railhead (about one to two scale inches). Tack solder the brass adjacent to the reverse tweezers. Move the tweezers along and continue to tack and solder, ensuring that the brass is flush against the girder rail for the entire length. This results in a rail cross section which appears as shown below:
The previous method, shown in the next photo, is the simplest way to add a guard rail where needed. This works acceptably on sharp curves without any crossings or turnouts in them. However, If there are crossings and turnout frogs in the outer rail of sharp radius curves, the next method will be more useful as in these cases, it will be necessary to prevent the outer wheel from "picking" the frog and derailing.
b. During testing with powered cars, we discovered places in curved track in the intersection where the outer wheel "picked" points and sometimes derailed. These were the same areas that successfully were negotiated without a hitch with unpowered or test cars. We added a minimum of ten feet of guardrail to these areas. In these cases, we modified the girder rail to, in effect, create girder-guard rail by filing of grinding the original flangeway lip away to ensure that the guardrail was closer to the inner railhead. This resulted in a rail that looked very much like the cross-section below. The red rectangle represents the brass soldered to the side of the inner rail, forming a simulated girder-guard section of rail. By narrowing the flangeway, it prevents the opposite wheel from "picking" points.
The arrows in the next photo show the areas in the left turn curve where "picking" took place and some derailments occurred. This did not occur every time and with every car. Some cars handled the track without problems. All wheels on each test car were checked for accurate gauge prior to being used for the test.
c). In Case 1, the track gauge checked within tolerance but the opposite track was the tongue so we had to trim away a little of the point where the "picking" occurred. We anticipated that the three-way frog may cause problems. Had the left turnout not been soldered in place with all the modifications, we could have added a little brass to the inside of the tongue of the left turnout near the pivot. Once we created that three-way frog, that option disappeared.
d) In Case 2, the track gauge was also within tolerance but a true guard rail was needed on the inner track. The angle of the frog was a direct invitation to "picking". So a guard rail was installed as in the photo below using some angle stock from the turnout tongue to the frog of the next curved crossing.
Note 10: If you make this guardrail too high, it will interfere with the operation of some cars by contacting the underbody of the cars.. After you check the car for any unnecessary underhanging parts, the best solution is to carefully file the brass guardrail until the interference is eliminated.
The completed intersection is shown below ready for testing with Philadelphia Nearside Cars. In an earlier lesson, we noted that this track can be used in two rail operations. I would not want to try to do this in this intersection so, naturally and correctly, we will be hanging overhead wire eventually. Nothing disturbs a true traction enthusiast than to visit a model railroad where members can count the rivets on a 40 foot boxcar but have a trolley line running two-rail with the poles either missing and hooked down. But that is another lesson.
Periodically, at various stages during construction, we clean off the module and place all the structures and vehicles on it to see if we are achieving the look we want. By October 2003, the module looked as shown next. Arnold's Drive-In has yet to be erected but customers are patiently waiting:
That's It! We have tried to cover this subject in a simple, straightforward manner, based on our experiences over the past few years building modules for the Southern California Traction Club. At this time, the club has eight modules, which contain substantial amounts of ORR TRACK girder rail, turnouts and crossings. Just as in the case of hanging overhead wire, you either develop the knack or you don't. Be patient and you probably will. Should you require more information or experience a problem not described in this lesson, please email us at email@example.com. In another lesson, we will paving some of these streets!