Hand Laid Track Made Easy. Pins, pins and more pins!!!!!!

It has been awhile since my last post as work and spring chores have taken priority. I have been working on the branch line tracking as of late and I have some image showing my hand laid track procedures. It is quite simple but patience is required. All I use is scaled blocks, screws, a lot of pins and pliobond glue with a hypo needle. I prefer a glass hypo but good luck finding any so plastic works just fine but needs to be replaced more often. I have a tip for the needle that has been filed to the contour of the rail so it glides along easily without gobbing the glue up.


Here is the first image where I have used a piano key jig to align all the ties in a ordered manor with a center line down the middle. I use the center line on the jig as a guide to tape the edge of the 1/4 tape to. Then when I glue the ties on the roadbed I will ensure the edge of the tape is on the center line I have drawn on the roadbed. I spread wood glue on the roadbed, lay the ties using the center line and place strips of felt on the ties, then a small wood strips then clamps to ensure each tie is properly adhered to the roadbed. Every thing in track laying is based on this center line, I take care to follow it. The above image shows a few tie strip ready made and waiting to be glued. This is a great job for the kids or wife to help out with while watching tv.


Once the ties have been glued and dried I remove the tape and sand the ties so all are the same height and nice and smooth. I give the ties a quick wash of stain. I use black and brown shoe die with acetone. I don’t spend a lot of time staining as they will get a final colouring come scenery time. I then screw in a scaled blocks aprox. every 4 ties apart making sure to put the screw in between the ties as to not damage them. I then have 2 three foot pieces of rail that I keep separate which a very straight and pin them to the blocks with 1 pin in the middle on each side as shown in the above picture. Once both pieces are pinned I loosen each screw and re tighten it. The pins create a spring effect on the blocks and allows the blocks to perfectly position themselves along a curved or straight section of rail. Once all the blocks have been positioned and the screws tightened then the pins and rails can be removed.


This is what we should be looking at after the pins are removed. Notice all the pins. You can never have enough. It always ends up that you have a wet piece of rail in your hands with no pins. You can never have enough pins!!!!!


Then I cut and fit the rails making sure that any electrical gaps are where they are supposed to be. I use a pin thickness for gaps and have never had a gap close on me. I apply glue to the rail with the hypo needle full of pliopond and position it accordingly. I use 2 pins on each end of each block on both sides to apply enough tension to the rail an to hold it in place until the glue dries. This is important as if you don’t take care at this step, the rails will not be perfectly guaged which will cause problems down the road. Gluing time is aprox. 1 hour but I let it go for at least 2-3 hours. The nice part about this method is that if there is a problem down the road, all that is needed is to apply heat the the rail and it will reactive the glue which allows the rail to be repositioned and then sets up again once cooled.


Here is a close up. Lets watch glue dry together…….. Once it does you end up with a clean finished ready to run track that will be maintenance free for years to come. At each gap I spike the rails on the first and third ties to securely hold the gap in place.



Here are a few more images. I have not place the ties for the industry as of yet until I determine the building space requirements. I will have the 2 leading turnouts in place though shortly. Also in the background you can see the basic layout of my first town. I am nearing completion of the scenery for this town with the exception of the background buildings. I hope to post some images this weekend. What a difference scenery make to the realism of a layout.


3 responses to “Hand Laid Track Made Easy. Pins, pins and more pins!!!!!!

  1. these are awesome pictures and work . . . thanks!

    Thanks for your great comments. Check back often as more updates are on their way.


  2. very nice work,,hope i can do as well.

    Thanks for your comment. I am sure your layout will look great. I wish I had more time to spend on mine.
    Thanks again

  3. What intricate work, but the results surely have a huge payoff in the aunthentic recreation and pride from building such a detailed project.
    Very impressive!!

    Thanks. It does take longer than commercial track but I love the look, enjoy the work and if done correctly the first time without taking short cuts it should last for years of trouble free operation. No derailments yet on this end. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…….

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