So in Part 3 I showed how I create land contours on the “north” Franksville module (remember there are two modules that will make up Franksville, Wisconsin). For Part 4 we go back to the “south” module and add cork road bed from Midwest Products. The Midwest Products cork provides a roadbed foundation that I’ll glue down Atlas Code 55 flex track to. The cork is pre-split down the middle and I use a straight razor blade to gently cut through the rest of the pre-cut split so I get a nice clean split. What you end up with is two halves of the road bed. Once you draw the center lines where your track is going to ultimately go, you can glue down (I use clear Liquid Nails) the cork road bed one half to the left and right of the track center line you drew. The two halves but up against each other to create the shoulders of the road bed and keep your centerline intact so you can glue the track down on the same centerline. Here is the cork road bed down for each mainline. I run it off the edges of the module so I can trim it flush with a razor after the glue dries.
For the industry siding, I wanted something that sat a little bit lower than the double-track mainline, so I found some thinner 1/16th inch cork sheet material at Hobby Lobby. I put a couple pieces of track on it to see how it looked:
I also cut the 2″ inch building foam I got from my local Home Depot. I used a straight razor and straight edge to score it and then snap the pieces off. I haven’t glued them down yet as I want to determine land forms first and it is easier to trim these pieces before they are glued in place.
So the next step is wiring up the track pieces. First I laid the track in place to rough it in and determine where to run feeders. I need to watch out for the locations of turnout controls/Tortoises and a couple of structural members at the ends and middle of the module. Here is the overhead view:
Next is the process I use to attach feeder wires (see illustration below):
1. On the Atlas Code 55 flex track I flip the track piece over and cut one (or two depending on the section) of the plastic tie joiners.
2. Then I gently pull the ties apart
3. I take a flat file to the backside of the rails to rough them up so the solder sticks better.
4. Then I add a small pool of soldier to the rail. I try and minimize the amount of solder and also line them as evenly between the rails as I can. Before doing this step, make sure the rails are even at the ends as one rail is designed to slip through the ties so the track flexes.
5. I cut the wire to length, strip the ends and then bend a 90 degree angle into the end and tin them up with solder.
6. Lastly I solder the feeders to the back side of the rail and push the ties back together (I need to push these together a little more). Once the track is painted and ballasted, the feeder wires largely disappear. The only thing to watch out for is melting ties since you’re working in very tight quarters with the soldering iron.
Next, I use rail joiners and connect all the pieces of track for the northbound and southbound mainlines. Then I carefully mark the locations of the feeder holes and then drill them. I drilled the holes with a 12″ long drill bit that I picked up at Home Depot. To make it easier to pass the wires through the various layers of Masonite and birch, I turn the module over and use a larger drill bit to make larger holes on the bottom. That way the wires pass through a lot easier and don’t get hung up as much. Here is the track waiting to be glued down with the feeder wires already dropped through:
To glue the track down I used Liquid Nails Clear Seal All-Purpose Sealant. This is a completely clear material that comes in a tube. I’ve used Liquid Nails for Projects as well, but figured I’d try the clear stuff this time around. To attach the track I run a bead of the clear sealant down the centerline of the cork. Then I use my finger to spread it out nice and thin. This stuff remains tacky for a while and gives you at least 15-20 minutes of working time which is good if you need to realign stuff. I keep some moist papertowels around to wipe off extra sealant from my fingers as I spread it on the cork. You want the material to go on pretty thin so it doesn’t ooze up between the ties. Here is a photo of the clear sealant down (shiny stuff on the cork). You can see that I left a gap just to the right of the feeder wires where the turnout controls run across as you don’t want to glue those down (!):
And here is an overall photo of all the track down. There are a few gaps where the rail joiners are that I need to fill with extra ties. I also filled in the space between the cork where the crossover/switches are with lightweight spackle (white stuff under crossover).
Next up in Part 5 is painting the track to get rid of that nasty plastic shine. If you have any questions or comments on this story, click on the green button below to go to our discussion forums.
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