Paying in sweat for a 7-year-old mistake

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IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Hi all, just wanted to share my experiences with embedded "street" track - what I should not have done, and how I'm correcting it.

You may remember a thread last year about my Iron Belt layout as I was adding scenery to it. A large section of it consists of steel mill trackage that I saved from my previous home. Everything worked perfectly fine there - because I hadn't added scenery to it yet. Well, as I was dismantling it to prepare for the relocation I decided to make the tracks look 'embedded' the way prototype steel mill tracks are. But I figured I knew what to do, just put joint compound on either side of the rails and cut grooves along the inside edge for the wheel flanges....right?:rolleyes: Well not quite, I didn't realize that the joint compound doesn't always dry exactly level with the rail. If it is even one micron above, that will cause the loco wheels on one or both sides to lose contact:

embedded_track.gif


I was blissfully ignorant of this blunder until I finally built myself a new layout 6 years later. I got all the large industrial structures in place and did some test-running, discovering that my switchers would hardly move at all on the embedded tracks!:eek: I was totally heartsick, thought I would have to live with that mess until I could tear this layout down and build another.

But luckily, I let a friend convince me to try Dremeling little depressions along the outside edges of the tracks (I had thought the cutting bit would go astray and chew up the rails so I was hesitant at first). Lo and behold - it worked - a test run of one of my mill switchers confirmed this! Only one problem: There was about 15 linear feet of embedded rail edges left to grind. So I have spent most of my evenings this past week, grinding little depressions along the outer rail edges:

pavement_grinding.jpg


I had to temporarily remove many of the structures and relocate some trains to prevent dust damage. Holding that dremel steady for hours, and coming up behind with a Shop-Vac to clear the dust, was exhausting work...but worthwhile, since the payoff would be smooth-running mill locos. Now all I need to do is repaint the ground-down areas.

Moral of the story: If you want to embed your trackwork, make sure each rail juts slightly above the surrounding 'pavement'.
 
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Steve B

Firefighter
I know what you mean Ken, i have only very limited embedded rail, when i did it i used a piece of styrene about 1/4" wider than the track gauge to scrape off the excess before the plaster set, all apears to be working OK, one point to note is this, if you have embedded track joints Solder them before you pour the plaster, it's a heck of a job to do later if you get problems
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I have a different embedded rail story. I embedded all my EZ- track under a 1/4 inch of foam and plaster just to raise the level of the landscape so that my freight cars would match with building loading docks. This took me about 6 months. Then I landscaped and ballasted. No sooner did finish than 3 turnouts failed sufficiently far enough apart that I would have had to rip up almost everything I did.

I gave up and am building a new layout.
 

Trucula

Drum Driver
Hey, don't look at it as a mistake but a learning experiance. This will help us with our problem too. We are making an area that has allot of concrete platforms by a station. One guy tryed a plaster fill and even placed an inner rail to keep it away from wheel flanges. We are having some ruff spots when the train cross and was cleaning between the main rail and the guide rail. I didn't concider the outside edge as you showed me. This will give me something to check. So much thanks there! Also looking at your picture I noticed the Deremel tool you use, Thats a hand full for long use. You need the attachement thats like a dentist tool. Then you can hang the heavy tool up and only have to hold a pencil like tool. (But your probubly done now :( )
Thanks again for the tip!
 

enjineerbill

Avid People Watcher
Ah Ken, you made my day. I thought I was nuts when I first encountered this problem. Later I found out I WAS nuts and that it had nothing to do with the track problems.

I had to do the very same thing a few years back and have dreaded the upper level of the new layout. In one scene the railroad will cross at grade with another line and, protoytpically I might add, the diamond is in the middle of the street! That'll learn us!!

Cool that you posted this so others can/may avoid the extra work.

Johnny
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
.., one point to note is this, if you have embedded track joints Solder them before you pour the plaster, it's a heck of a job to do later if you get problems
I hear ya Steve! Luckily, I'd learned not to rely solely on rail joiners after building my first layout so I was able to anticipate that one!

... No sooner did finish than 3 turnouts failed sufficiently far enough apart that I would have had to rip up almost everything I did. I gave up and am building a new layout.
I feel your pain Chip it always hurts to rip apart something we've really poured ourselves into. Better for the long run though!

... This will give me something to check. So much thanks there! Also looking at your picture I noticed the Deremel tool you use, Thats a hand full for long use. You need the attachement thats like a dentist tool. Then you can hang the heavy tool up and only have to hold a pencil like tool...
Good idea Truc, you're right I am done with the grinding part but I still need to pickup a few dozen felt buffing wheels for the final cleaning. Hopefully I can remember where I stored that flexi-shaft...
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Looks like you had some fun there Ken! Glad to see you're getting around to some more work though!
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Cool that you posted this so others can/may avoid the extra work...
That's what I'm hoping anyways, Johnny!

... Glad to see you're getting around to some more work though!
Work - you hit that one spot-on, Josh! I just discovered yet another serious track defect: The turnout to the blast furnace torpedo spurs was kinked vertically - not noticeable to the human eye, but the six-wheel buckeye trucks on those torpedo cars are very unforgiving of even the slightest imperfection in the track. Time to buy another turnout and do some more cutting, wiring and soldering, oh boy...!:rolleyes:
 

grove den

naturally natural trees
Ken L I do recognize your story too. Only I had to do 1 feet( scale N) on my new/old layout
Time to buy another turnout and do some more cutting, wiring and soldering, oh boy...!
It's the NEVER ENDING STORY.....:p ;) My thoughts are with you Ken;)

Jos
 




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