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Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:51 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by; how many yards. There are not many hard and fast "rules" when it comes to track plan. While there are some very nice ideas, such as "S" curves, they may be harder to do than they're worth. It takes more horsepower to pull a train through a curve than on a straight. When you compound the curves, as in an "S" curve, you can really bog down a locomotive. Generally, you should have at least one full straight section between curves. In your case, 10' might be fine but it may be a little short. If you plan on a large sweeping loop, you can put a couple of straight sections between two curves. Obstacles, such as trees, fences, ticket stands, etc., need to be included in your track plan so you can keep the largest radii curves yet not exclude the features from your railroad.

Almost all landscape supply companies have crushed rock. Some with "mixes" such as 3/4 minus. If you can't get crushed washed, get the straight, screened, crushed. It's better to have straight crushed than have all the smaller (minus) "dirt" in the mix. This is specifically related to the best materials for the ties.

When you lay your track, many people will recommend using landscape fabric on the ground under the gravel. I believe, it's your choice. I have witnessed more dirt contamination of the ballast from the sky than I have from underneath. This is specifically Grand Scale not full size railroads.

Grand Scale is small enough to eliminate the "pumping" of the track. Full size railroad are very heavy and flex the track under the train. The ties are forced up and down or "pumped". Add a little moisture and you will get mud very quickly. Grand Scale rolling stock are too light to get any serious pumping if the track is laid on a decent bed of ballast and then infilled with more ballast to finish. Thus, I see some but not a whole lot of need for landscape fabric. Yes, it's a nice little extra but at how much expense.

Excavate your right of way to several inches below the surface. Make sure to remove all living materials like roots, sod, weeds, etc. Make sure to slope this sub grade away from your track bed. Fill with crushed gravel/rock and level. Lay your track on this. Then infill with more gravel between the ties. Now you can level the track side to side and grade it lengthwise. When done, the track should be a few to several inches above the original ground. This makes the water run down on to the original ground away from your track.

Ties. I sure understand the expense of buying new pressure treated 4 x 4s. I might suggest you keep an eye on Craig's list for your area. Specifically the FREE ads. Look for the free "large" pallets. These are often up to 8' long and the main supports are usually 4 x 4s. Break down the pallet for the 4 x 4s and the rest is firewood. If you don't burn, put an ad on Craig's list to get rid of it. You can sell it cheap or give it away for free. Pretty soon, you'll get the reputation for the large pallets and you will get calls to come and pick them up. Construction sites are also good sources of lumber. Be sure to establish a good rapport with the superintendent so he'll let you in. Make sure to get his permission to take what ever you want. Many sites have "Wood Only" dumpsters. Be VERY careful diving these as there are all sorts of hazards but usually worth it for the free lumber. Many times, the short stuff you're looking for is the stuff they throw away because it's too short for them to use economically. While all of this is NOT pressure treated, the price is right. You may or may not have a treatment plant in your area. I'm lucky to have a creosoting plant near by. I was planning on sending lumber to them for treatment after I cut it into tie length pieces.

Make sure to ask questions about things you do not understand. Also, please remember my post are JUST my advice. They are NOT the ONLY way and may not be the BEST way but they have worked for me and many of the Grand Scale railroaders I know. I have one requirement pertaining to the use of my advice: Take what you like and sounds good, Throw the rest away. I understand completely and will NOT be offended in any way. Not being there with you , Not know you, Not knowing your train and track, Not knowing your site, all make for circumstances where my advice may absolutely NOT work for you. One thing it will do: Broaden your horizons. You will know more than when you bought your train.

Good Luck,

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:00 pm

After rereading your post, for the fifth time (I'm a little slow sometimes), I figured out what your "yards" question was. Yards of gravel..

No there are no hard and fast rules about how much ballast is needed. In good hard, dry, ground, in moderate weather, the amount of gravel needed is much less than if you're building in wet grounds, shallow water table, lots of rain. Then you'll need much more. I would make an order for what you think you'll need to get started. Lay some track and see how far your order went. Then you'll have a good idea of how much you're using and will need to finish. If you don't use it all, that's OK. Next year, you need to level and align the track again. That will use up some more gravel. Not a lot but some. Keeping the ballast (gravel) level with the tops of the ties is important, it makes it easier to walk on and over. You don't want anyone twisting an ankle or knee on your track.

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:14 pm
by stuartpoage
I was grading thge site for a few hours today and decided to take a break and take 2 tracks and lay out without any ties to see how the trucks respond to a mild curve they bdid not like it at all the two peices were equally bent and am thinking that this is not how track would be layed would the inside be tighter than the outside mind you this is 15 inch trucks i did not have a tape measure with me however I let the truck spread thge rail . Once it came to the bend it quickly jumped off.maybe a spacing issue oR maybe tooi tight of a bend any thoughts?

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 4:19 pm
by stuartpoage
Also some of the wheels have some small chips on them I know at one point Glen talked about pressing new wheels on is this instead of turning new wheels because this would be cheeper.? seems like I have seen wheels on some sight that were not too expensive. I know my son could turn new wheels however im sure there is more to this than meets the eye again any thoughts

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 7:51 pm
by Glenn Brooks
A 30’ radius turn will have deflection of several inches all along the whole rail. So likely the bend in the rail is to sharp, or abrupt. Best thing would be to post a photo of the set up. Then we could say more.


Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:01 pm

When you did your "test" run, I believe you said the rails were NOT on ties. The trucks will quickly push the rails over sideways when they come to a curve. They want to go straight and the rails want to push them in a different direction. Without a solid and secure base to anchor the rails, the wheels will push them out of the way.

Wheels: Always a problem for Grand Scales. New wheels seem to be expensive while making your own seems a dauntless task. First, I have to say I am NOT familiar with Tom Thumb wheels/axles so these comments are very generalized. MTC has tapered end axles. The wheels have a mating taper inside the center and the wheel is pressed onto the axle, the mating tapers holding strong. Some wheels are a "shrink" fit. The wheel is machined to very close tolerance, heated so it expands and then pressed on the straight axle. When the wheel cools, it shrinks and is secure on the axle. Some MTC wheels are threaded in the center to mate with threads on the axles. A large jam nut, inside the wheel, secures the wheel to what ever gauge you set it to. Other wheels are keyed to the axle and held by a nut squeezing the wheel between a shoulder on the axle.

An extremely important fact is; if the wheels are on a solid axle, the wheels MUST be the same diameter and properly tapered on the wheel tread. You can Google railroad wheel profile and find a multitude of information. Your son can well turn a wheel on a lathe. Better if he can CNC it and then they will all be identical, which is what you want. You'll have to figure out how the wheel is secured to the axle first.

There is another possibility; retreads. Your son could machine the profile off of the existing wheels. He would then turn a profile tread to replace the machined off material. The treads are normally shrunk fit to the wheel. If he could CNC the treads, all the better.

Replacement wheels. This will, most likely, be the one you would like the most but darn near impossible to accomplish. Who makes Tom Thumb wheels today? What are the charging? Where are they located relating to shipping? Wheels for my train have long been OUT of production. Thus, my options are limited mostly to items listed above. I could always have new castings made from what I have. Then find a machine shop with a CNC to guarantee the wheels would all be identical. Then I would have to take out a second mortgage to pay for them.

Last comments: Chunks missing from wheel flanges are extremely dangerous when it comes to derailments. The damaged flanges will not be able to do their jobs of keeping the train on the track and derailments will prevail. You want deeper, smoother, flanges to keep the wheels on the track. Too deep of flanges will cause problems with track bolts, switch frogs, and other rail hardware.


Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:49 am
by elm53
Regarding Strr comment on joint bars,the bolts are staggered so that in the event of a derailment,the bolts are not all sheared least half the bolts would remain in place to keep the rail together....per full size practice.

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:47 pm
While I understand the reason for alternating bolt direction on full size railroads, is it necessary on Grand Scale railroads?

Full Size: Approx. 1" diameter track bolts with 100 TON rail cars.
Grand Scale: Approx. 1/2" diameter track bolts with 1000 POUND cars.

Has anyone seen a Grand Scale derailment in person? Were there ANY track bolts sheared off?

All the years I have been in Grand Scale, I have seen derailments. All of them MINOR with no injuries and little to no damage to stock or track. All of the widely publicized Grand Scale derailments have been tip overs due to excessive speed at a curve. Not going to shear bolts in a tip over.

Thus, I believe it's unnecessary to alternate bolts in the joint bars. It's perfectly OK to do so and will give a much more prototypical image. But if you can't or don't, I believe you'll be just peachy.

What I'm saying is: Make yourself happy. You can do it either way and still be safe. You'll also get my approval (as you should from anyone and everyone) on either way you decide on. All of us should be happy together. This hobby is dying and it needs every single one of us to be there all the time and not bickering between ourselves and presenting less than a stellar image.

Off the soap box. If you've read this far, Thank You. I appreciate your dedication.

Best of Luck to You ALL,
Terry Miller

Re: just purchased i believe a 15 guage rehabed mtc

Posted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:45 pm
by steamin10
OLD GUYS NOTES ON PARK SCALE TRACK: GET HELP. Find a friend or protege to help with the massive project of all the bull work. It is a BIG project, and we tend to gloss over the amount of working hours required to do the physical layout and construction of the track and grounds. Like eating an elelphant, it gets done one bite at a time. Plan your work and work your plan. Play trains with a flat car and something to move it, to have an excuse to run the railroad during construction. It will also define how well the track is laid pointing out errors and leans as you go. With only a flat car to work from, a tiny genset for corded drills and saw/grinder, you can attack the job of drilling and screwing track at a moments notice, just by getting things out before dinner or lunch. Track screws put in with a hammer drill of half inch size works marvelously. Put an extended handle on its side to keep the torque rotation from killing your wrists ( ask me about that snatch and grab stuff after the 1st 500 screws.) Make a triangular rail gauge and use it, to keep the spacing of the rails right. If you use spikes, get a rooster bar that fits to pull them, or a two head to lift the rail. Trust me on this. Pre drill for spikes and follow the base angle. (you can get a horror fright genset for under $100 to run a drill/grinder/saw. I bought mine at a pawn for less than $300 for a larger one> - New,or Used it takes the load off.)

Ballast: A huge expense. It takes many tons of rock to secure track just by the sheer volume required. Clean stone is favored without the fines, as it will go further weighing less by volume without the fines. The fines will settle and hold the track better, but as meantioned also keep ties damp limiting their life by many years. Use a plywood grader box to fill and meter out the stone, and lay the ties on at least a 2 inch bed. Lifting and leveling will increase this amount under the ties for drainage as you progress. Less skill in keeping the whoopde does out of the base will mean a lot more stone to level up. be picky with the base, you cant go back without tearing everything out. Learn to eye things by stake and string and trust the level. An 8 foot 2x4 with a level on top is dead simple to understand grade. One inch up or down on the end is one percent. Adjust accordingly. (ok 96 inches is close enough, your not building a rocket ya know, get going!)

Get your hammers screw drivers, drill and all such knee pas and gloves organized and keep them that way in your tool box/bucket push car. Make it easy on yourself, your back will thank you. I couldnt go more than an hour at a time without getting bent over. I made a garden cart fit rails in 1.5 scale and sat down and screwed track down. I only screwed one side rail down and then chased the loose rail. Dont forget to arrange the rail joints for stagger, at least 2 feet of separation, otherwise, you can get an annoying hobby horse effect as things may settle and the joints rise. Better to have a slight rock and roll than snake head jumps.

With some searching, you may find a fence company that does tearouts and rehabs. They may have a junk pile loaded with 4x4 trash that has been above rotted off posts. The upper works may still be usable for your lengths for free. Most areas have a sawmill, and they get trees that prove unsatisfactory for some pallet production. This could be mana from heaven, if they dont pre paln their work as many shorts for 4x4 will be tossed aside. If you have a chem treater in the area, it is an obvious no brainer to get your own ties cut up and processed for less than market cost. treating ties after they are cut will not expose untreated ends like cutting yard stock to size. This is a great advantage at keeping the ties from rotting grain end first.

Did I say this all takes time, money and fortitude? Well your labor of love will show too. Not all people can dumpster dive and salvage like I can, but you substitute money for time and materials. Just my experience, i wish you the best.