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Tricky Track – Common Track Laying Mistakes

We are eager to get the track down and start running our trains, but wait just a moment and read the article below to help you avoid a number of common mistakes.

If you think of building a house you need firstly solid foundations, this could be likened to the square and firm baseboard. The foundations are followed by the first course of bricks which the rest of the house will be built upon, and this can be thought of as the track work. If this is poor the rest of the layout could easily fail.

So lets get started with the possible challenges you may find along the way.

1. Plan it, don't make it up as you go!
First layout and connect the track and sketch around it with a pencil on the baseboard so you have a clear guide, and this allows you to test your design.

When permanently securing your track think through and work out your layout first and then mark the track path on the baseboard. Changing track route, no matter how slight the alteration after you’ve secured the track to the baseboard is likely to be challenging and possible expensive if damage occurs to the track work.

2. Keep The Rails Clean.
Some people prefer to pin their tracks, quite a few use a glue too. This is fine but can be messy, be careful not to get glue on the rails.

Take it from me, glued rails will prevent the trains running smoothly.

Use a wooden block to press the track down with and if like me you’ll have glue on your fingers, so have a damp cloth handy to wipe excess glue way.

3. One Direction
Everyone is eager to fix the track down, but take your time and work in one direction as there's nothing worse than getting to the start of a previous part only to find that you cannot insert the final section of track. The last thing you want to do is several hours of carefully unpinning the track ready to start again.

Take it from me there's nothing worse than needing to add a point motor to a section of track work that's already fixed down.

Take your time and plan ahead.

4. Offset Your Connection.
When using flexi track I have found the best way to make sweeping curves is to off set the rail joiners. I have found that when using two lengths of track to make a long sweeping curve with the joints facing each other can cause the track to spring apart as you fix it down. However when the outer rail joint is set to say 100mm to the left of the inner rail it helps reduce the tension on the joint, and secondly helps create a smoother curve for the locomotive to travel around.

5. Pointing The Way.
When fixing points in place I like to lightly pin them just in case I need to replace them should one become faulty.
If you follow this method, just remember to check and test the point as you fit it, to ensure that the point operates correctly and that the power feeds are working.

6. No Scenery Before Track.
I know its tempting to start adding your scenery as quickly as possible even before the track work is complete, but stop!
Have you tested all the track and does your locomotives run smoothly around it?

I did just that on one layout a few years back and its always in a section of the layout like a tunnel or other hard to reach part that the fault is in, so take a step back and test the track first, it will save you time and frustration.

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