Hand laying track

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Bonita Grand Central

Well-Known Member
That's the first time I've ever seen a clear and precise video of hand laying track. I am convinced that Atlas flex-track is better for me as I'd go nuts driving all those tiny spikes. However many model railroaders swear by this method of laying track and say that they get a much smoother roadbed with this procedure. It certainly won't save you any money when you figure the time it takes. Anyway I see that you cut your own cork roadbed. I've always felt that the price of precut roadbed was way too much for what you get. Do you save any money by cutting your own roadbed and can you cut the full width or must you cut the half pieces and then lay them? Very good video. Thanks for posting it. Pete
 

White River Line

New Member
"Clear and precise" is about as good a compliment as I could hope for. So, thanks!

I get that this isn't a good path for everyone in the hobby. This kind of tedium is interesting to me, so it fits for how I want to build my layout.

There are considerable savings on cutting your own roadbed. I also wanted to use a mix of 1/4 and 1/8 so I would need to cut my own anyway. I only cut the half-pieces for curved portions of the track. You need to do this because the inside of the curve is so much shorter than the outside and the cork is stiff enough that it won't lay flat otherwise.
 

Bonita Grand Central

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the reply. I see you have many videos to view and I'll be watching them as I get time. One Question if I may. When cutting the ties why don't you cut four or five sticks at a time? The blade would be long enough I think. Like the cutter. It would be very useful for a lot of different model making. Yours is from Micto-Mark right? How about the turnout templates? Where did you get them from. Making turnouts would be better finacially than buying the r-t-r one's I think. I would imagine that after you make a few you could get pretty good at it. Pete
 

White River Line

New Member
Thanks for the reply. I see you have many videos to view and I'll be watching them as I get time. One Question if I may. When cutting the ties why don't you cut four or five sticks at a time? The blade would be long enough I think. Like the cutter. It would be very useful for a lot of different model making. Yours is from Micto-Mark right? How about the turnout templates? Where did you get them from. Making turnouts would be better finacially than buying the r-t-r one's I think. I would imagine that after you make a few you could get pretty good at it. Pete
I did start cutting 2 at a time eventually. I experimented with a few more, but managing more than a couple of sticks is a bit cumbersome. Yes, I got my from Micro-Mark, but there are others that probably work just as well.

The turnout jigs are from Fast Tracks. They are kind of expensive, but a couple of people lent me the ones I used in the video. Depending on how many turnouts you make it is cheaper. Although you'd probably need to make about 10 - 15 of one type to break even. In my latest video I started making turnouts without the jig. I know a few people that bought the jigs and learned how to make turnouts and then just started making them using paper templates and sold their jigs. They hold their resale value really well.

I just bought the cork sheet from Amazon. When I started I just used a utility knife to cut it, but switched to using a rotary cutter. The rotary cutter is faster, more precise, and less messy. I wouldn't recommend a table saw, the cork isn't rigid enough to push it through.
 

Bonita Grand Central

Well-Known Member
I saw where you used both cutters for the cork. Looked like the rotary one was the best. You certainly do have a great looking layout going. I really appreciate you posting the videos of all the different subjects that you encounter in the building process. Your videos are clear and well lit and easy to watch. I'll check out some more this week. Happy railroading.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
For an alternative t method of handlaying switches, I also have a You Tube video:


I have never used the jig method, although 30 years ago I built switches on PC ties. I've used just about every method without using jigs.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I'm sure that the process of hand laying track way back in the early days of model railroading drove quite a few modelers away from the hobby. Today, it's more of a sign of superiority in technical skills, sorta like those who build their own ham radio. Novel to look at but inferior to good operations when compared to flex track.
There is no way you can convince me that most hand laid track is as perfectly gauged as flex track.
So as far as hand laying track is concerned, it may draw a momentary appreciation from some of the more senior modelers but for the new guy, it's more of a "so what, who cares?" right up there with the ability to balance a chair on your nose.
 

rgeiter

Conrail Quality
Did some hand laying and switch building some 30 years ago. Had some great teachers. It just wasn’t for me. I love seeing it. I just didn’t enjoy doing it. Hats off to those who do.👍
 

Bonita Grand Central

Well-Known Member
I feel the same way rgeiter. However making your own cork roadbed looks pretty simple and certainly less money than buying what Midwest makes. I do like Midwest's roadbed but saving money by cutting my own is a good thing too. I will be trying this soon so I'll let you know what it amounts to after I use up all my precut stuff. Have to get a roller cutter too. Looks like that's a very useful tool. I also like the cutter that White Line uses to cut his ties. I build a lot of ship models and that would be useful too.
 

dave1905

Well-Known Member
I'm sure that the process of hand laying track way back in the early days of model railroading drove quite a few modelers away from the hobby. Today, it's more of a sign of superiority in technical skills, sorta like those who build their own ham radio. Novel to look at but inferior to good operations when compared to flex track.
There is no way you can convince me that most hand laid track is as perfectly gauged as flex track.
So as far as hand laying track is concerned, it may draw a momentary appreciation from some of the more senior modelers but for the new guy, it's more of a "so what, who cares?" right up there with the ability to balance a chair on your nose.
I've had more derailments on more layouts with crappy commercial track jobs than those with handlaid track. One of the reasons people handlay track is because the tolerances in commercial track sucks. I had more problems with gauge in commercial switches than I have in my handlaid switch and if I do have a problem I can fix it, unlike commercial track.

On my son's layout there are two switches, one Atlas and one PECO that trains continually stall on. I have jumpered the absolute snot out of both of them and it's about 90% reliable now. Don't have that problem with my handlaid switches.

Don't diss people for what they enjoy doing. There are people that enjoy working on cars rather than buying a sports car off the dealer's floor. There are people who enjoy wood working more than going to IKEA. There are people who enjoy painting rather than buying a print from Hobby Lobby.
 




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