Handlaying track question.

Been looking at a couple model train mags I picked up at the hobby shop last week (inspiration). In some of the close photos where the track was
hand layed (hope that's the correct term -where you put each individual tie down then add the rails), I noticed the little nails are not placed on every tie. Is that common? Come to think of it, I've never noticed if spikes are nailed in every tie on a real full scale track. I'll look tomorrow.
It will probably be some time before I would attempt to hand lay a track but I also wondered if there was special wood used for the ties. I'm imagining a piece of wood that small splitting if a nail was put through it. So is it a special wood or maybe pilot holes have to be drilled for each nail? Lastly, does hand laying require a wood base instead of foam board? On these pictures I don't see any glue squeezed out from under the rail so assume the nails are what holds it down but it doesn't seem nails would hold enough on their own stuck through cork and foam.
~Brad fd64
p.s. There were a couple good posts in the Christmas thread. Working on responses. Bear with me as I post those which should end my adding to that thread and I promise to get back on topic. :)
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On Feb 11, 10:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

I was taught that it was four spikes per tie in the real world - modelers may take creative shortcuts. I also believe that the drilling of guide holes is usual and that the spikes are pushed in with a needle-nosed pliers rather than with a hammer. I also believe the ties are glued into place and the spikes (nails) don't go completely through them into the sub-roadbed. Haven't yet hand laid any track so I may be all wet. Thank you.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net wrote:

Precut wooden ties for hand laying are commercially available, in various gages. Check the ads in MR or look in the big Walther's book. Likewise model rail spikes are available. To hand lay, first glue a line of ties down to the roadbed. Use white glue for this. When the glue is hard, use a sanding block and level the ties. Keep sanding until they are all the same height. Clean up the sawdust and then stain the ties. New ties are quite black. They weather out to lighter and lighter shades of brown and eventually become driftwood grey on lightly used and poorly maintained sidings and branch lines. Main line ties get replaced by the time they reach the driftwood grey stage. Rail goes down, one rail at a time with track spikes. Just how many spikes is variable, but no one puts 4 spikes in each tie. Make sure the spikeheads are not so high as to strike the wheel flanges. Use track gages to space the second rail to gage. With three point track gages always place the single point to the inside of curves. Avoid kinks at the rail joints. Run a test truck, and later a test car down newly laid track. A good test car is simply a piece of transparent plastic with two trucks attached. Take great care to accurately mark the track centerline before glueing down ties lest straight track wander or curves have tight spots. Pay attention to clearances, both to adjacent track and to walls, buildings, bridge abutments and the like. Allow space for fingers to get in a re rail cars. Handlaying is not that difficult and many enjoy it. After mastering hand lay of plain track, you can move on to handlaid turnouts.
David Starr
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David Starr wrote:

David, I've taken the liberty of adding some notes to your summary.

I stain the ties first, then sand them down until I've just barely removed the stain on the lowest tie(s).

I stain the ties a medium greyish brown, then drybrush a variety of darker tones at random on the ties. Stain a few (very few) a dark brown. Glue a few "used" ties in appropriate places along the right of way.

I recommend MicroEngineering's spikes - they have very thin heads. Of course, that also means you'll ruin a few until you get the knack. :-)

That's easy on straight track. On curved track, solder the joints before curving the track. Avoid electrical gaps on curved track if possible, if not, gently bend a permanent curve into 4-6" of rail either side of the joint before laying it. I use wide-nose pliers, and work the rail until it holds the curve.

I suggest you use 6-wheel trucks, they are less forgiving than four wheel ones. Unsprung trucks will find every hump and dip in the track, too. :-)

One way to simplify this task is to make a jig. Glue a straight piece of wood or plastic onto a piece of 1x2 about 12"-18" long. Glue spacer ties at right angles to this straight edge. Then drop in the ties, and press a strip of masking tape along their tops. You now have a strip of ties that can be placed and adjusted.
It also helps to draw a line 1/2 tie length one one side or the other of the centre line. And before th glue dries, sight down the line of ties at a low angle. You'll see if you have an unsuspected curve.
Centering the track can be tricky. I still have a length of track in the yard that's off by a millimeter or two - enough to look bad. Oh well. I now carefully mark the position of both rails every 12" or so, spaced more closely at key areas like transition from straight to curve.

I've made a couple of clearance gauges that can stand on the track. One is a chunk of wood with a small tab on the bottom that slips between the rails and holds the gauge in place. The others are made from a several layers of boxboard glued together. I used an NMRA gauge as a template for the shape. Since you need more clearance on curves, the gauges are different widths. These gauges are very useful when placing trackside structures, building tunnels, etc.
Ah yes, handlaid turnouts. If adding after the rest of the track is laid, leave space calculated as length of turnout + 12" or more. That way, you can get a nice smooth, kink-free connection between the existing track and the turnout.

HTH
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Wolf has added a lot of good stuff. BTW, how cold is it up your way today? We are having a heat wave here, it's up to 20F. One other thing to add. Painting the rail rust brown improves the looks greatly. This works on Snap track, flex track or hand laid track. Dulling the shiny rail down to rust red makes the rail look smaller as well as more realistic. Code 100 rail is oversize. Code 83 is still still fairly large. Painted code 100 looks much smaller than bright and shiny code 100. Painted code 83 looks even better. If taking the time to hand lay track you might as well go with code 83 to make it look really right.
David Starr
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On Mon, 12 Feb 2007 12:28:42 -0500, David Starr wrote:

Or Code 70 to make it look even better if you're into non-Pennsy transition era or branch line.
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Steve

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FWIW I've always felt it would be best not to confine one's self to a single code. A visible differentiation between mainline vs branch line and/or yard trackage might prove very effective. It's just a thought. My present railroad is all code 100. I believe many of my older locomotives would find code 83 difficult and code 70 impossible. Thank you.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com spake thus:

Well, of course suggestions to use anything other than code 100 (at least when talking HO) need to be accompanied by the usual disclaimer, along the lines of "if you have any old locos with 'pizza-cutter' wheels, like Rivarossi, fuggadaboudit."
David "Steve" Nebenzahl
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On 12 Feb 2007 14:07:20 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

As David alluded to, if they have RP-25 wheels they should be okay on 70, and perhaps even code 55 (which makes really nice looking sidings).
Code 100 or code 83 probably aren't a bad idea for hidden staging tracks - one more possible trouble spot eliminated - and code 83 looks pretty good, especially when painted, for modern class one roads if you're into that sort of thing.
--
Steve

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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote: snip

I agree with you Jerry, but consider this:
NMRA Standard wheel flange maximum is .035 tho. ---- Starting with .070 for rail height for code 70, the base of the rail is at the most 7 or 8 thou. that leaves (.070 - .035 = .035 then .035 - .008 = .027) for spike head thickness ------ I don't remember many spikes with heads that thick. Heck, you can even run Standard flanges on 'glued' code 40 without problems. (I've done it) And it sure does make a difference visually.
Chuck Davis
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Chuck
I've never used the smaller codes and I'm certainly not going to argue that code 100 has anything other than custom going for it. However, when the subject of smaller codes began to get moderate coverage (I'm thinking late '50s) much concern on this issue was forthcoming. IIRC this was particularly focussed on operation through turnouts. My own steam fleet is mostly Varney, Mantua, Bowser, Pennline, Roundhouse, etc., IOW locomotives which made their initial appearance before that time. David and Steve are one hundred percent correct about RP-25 standards and Rivarossi's non-compliance with same. I'd be surprised if my fleet were to conform to this standard. If not too OT, I'd like to ask the following:
Does anyone have appreciable experience operating this generation of locos on smaller codes?
Were the NMRA standards more tolerant about flange depth at that time?
I will admit that I ask for purely academic reasons as I do not plan on replacing trackage and/or wheels at present. Thank you.
Jerry
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

My Mantua President, Varney Casey Jones and my IHC Moguls operate properly on hand laid code 83. The Mogul's have flanges somewhat deeper than RP-25 calls for and they work fine.

I don't believe the RP-25 standard has changed much since it was first adopted sometime in the 1950s. Only really old stuff or stuff from Europe does not adhere to RP-25. The standard is posted on the NMRA website http://www.nmra.org/standards/pdf/rp-25.pdf The date of Mar 1997 is a little misleading, that is really the last revision date, RP-25 has been out a lot longer than that. I vaguely remember seeing it discussed in Model Railroader in the 1950's.
David Starr
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David Starr wrote: [...]

Recommended Practice 25 (RP25) was named thus because it Recommended a 0.025" max flange depth. The Standard was and is 0.035" maximum flange depth. There were some other revisions of wheel profile compared to the Standard, but back to back and check gauge are standard. Thus turnouts built to the Standard will accommodate both standard and RP25 wheels.
NMRA also an RP for narrow tread wheels, sometimes called code 88. Standard wheels have a tread 0.100" wide. Code 88 wheels have a tread 0.088" wide. The width was removed from the outer face of the wheel, so a code 88 NMRA wheel otherwise conforms to the Standard. The narrow tread requires the minimum flangeway and exact gauge at the frog.
NMRA is reviewing its standards and RPS in light of improved manufacturing processes. The standards will, I believe, be tightened up (they've been tightened up at least once since the very first ones developed about 70 years ago.) One of the proposals is for a new Fine Scale standard or RP which would use different back-to-back and check gauge than the Standard.
HTH
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote: [...]

The locos you mention all IIRC had NMRA conformance warrants, so their flanges are max. 0.035" deep. Back-to-back, and check gauge will also be within NMRA specs.
If you handlaid using spikes with thick heads, you would have problems. Such spikes used for code 70 are high enough to interfere with 0.035" flanges. I used ME's thin-head spikes and have not had this problem. The ancient Mantua/Tyco Pacific I have runs on my handlaid code 70 track with no problems, except through one turnout that has a narrow flangeway between point and running rails. The wheels occasionally touch the open point and cause a short. But all long-wheel base locos have a problem with that turnout and even some 6-wheel diesel trucks. I should rebuild it I guess... :-)
Current code 70 flex made by Micro-Engineering has very thin plastic spike heads, which do not interfere with the 0.035" flanges.
Rivarossi used flanges about 0.045" deep. Such flanges will not work on code 70 track, and sometimes not even with code 83. Early Rivarossi also had incorrect back-to-back and check gauge, so they stumbled through NMRA standard turnouts (eg, Atlas.) Pity that Rivarossi didn't use NMRA-compliant wheels.
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Hi Jerry; Since I've not been keeping up with the details of 'todays' products, I'll just give you my feelings and experiences from 20-30 years ago.
The subject of 'flanges' Three basic types of 'common' "standards" (1) NMRA Standard. .035 thou. maximum, rounded profile. (2) NEM Standard (I think ~.045 thou. sharp profile [commonly referred to as 'cookie cutter']) (3) NMRA RP25 .025 thou., rounded profile. Also some domestic "toy" 'standards?' Often approaching or exceeding NEM.
The 'sharp' profile is prone to 'picking' any little 'sharp edge' of misaligned connecting rails at joints.
The 'rounded' profile is more forgiving of 'misaligned' rail joints. "Breaking" the sharp corners of the rail ends helps for both types of flanges. (Breaking = file the sharp edges off.)
Now, things get interesting. for 'Turnout Frogs', crossing frogs, etc. The way the REAL railroads do things, the 'cast/fabricated' frog, has the bottom of the flange ways filled in, to the point that as the wheel tread is losing support (because of the gap in the running surface) the flange itself is being supported by the 'filler in the flange way', minimizing the thunk, clunk, jolt to the wheel set as the frog is being traversed. (Thats the ideal. Real world, I.E. different flange height because of wear etc. means that things aren't all that smooth.) In the model world, these 'real world' problems are only exacerbated by the different 'STANDARDS'. For the real 'anal retentive', the fix is to make sure that all your wheel sets (loco's included) are to the same standard. For the rest of us, we have to accept a bit of 'roughness' in operation through turnouts. The Stable of locos that you describe (pre '50s) should all have .035 thou. flanges (that's before 'wheel wear'.) Commercial 'Flex Track' in any of the available 'Codes' should work all the way down to code 40. The problem comes in the turnouts. Some of the code 70 turnouts available do not have flange ways compatible with .035 flanges. They SHOULD, but they don't always. All you can do, is to hunt and try. Now what can be done, is to cut out the bottom of the problem flange ways with a section of 'hack saw' blade. (The insert in most of the commercial code 70 turnouts is plastic --- easy job.) Now you get to code 40 turnouts, and it's going o be touch and go, as to whether or not you can remove enough of the 'insert' without the turnout falling apart or not. Then you get to the 'brass nails into the roadbed, rail soldered to the 'nail head' method --- lots of 'fiddly' work there.
The final word is, where there is a will, there is a way. NOT always an easy way, but I have yet to run into a situation that CAN't be solved.
Chuck D.
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The current NMRA maximum flange depth for H0 is 0.028" The NMRA standard has changed in the last 50 years.

The correct NEM profile has a rounded profile, and if the front flange angle is correct, it will out perform the rounded RP 25 flange. See my web page for a detailed discussion on H0 flange profiles.

Not all railroads or railways use cast frogs and they were uncommon on most railways.
I suggest trying Peco code 100 track if you are using old coarse standard wheels.
Terry Flynn
http://angelfire.com/clone/rail/index.html
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NSWGR wrote:

http://www.morop.org/de/normes/nem310_d.pdf http://www.morop.org/de/normes/nem311_d.pdf http://www.morop.org/de/normes/nem311-1_d.pdf
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NSWGR wrote:

Don't know, could very easily be. BUT, since most modelers are running equipment that varies from 'current production' to "hasn't been made in years" (maybe 50 or more), the problem is to be as accommodating as possible in track construction. The main gist of what I was saying, is that for other that NEM & large 'toy' flanges, any of the commercial flex tracks should work, be they code 100, 85, 70, 65, 55, and even possibly 40.

That is true, and I didn't mean to imply that the railroads ONLY used cast frogs. They don't. Particularly when in industrial areas and doing 'to fit' trackage.

That's a solution that will surely work. But it does eliminate the possibility of any visual "Smaller rail" 'when not on the main line' effects.
Chuck Davis

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Charles Davis wrote:

I'm running a mix of European/NEM wheelsets collected over the last thirty years along with RP 25 wheelsets on ME code 70 rail and Peco code 75 turnouts. (code 100 Atlas/Peco/etc in hidden areas) The models that won't run get new wheelsets or the old ones reprofiled on the lathe. 90% of my stock runs without upgrading.
Regards, Greg.P. NZ
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Charles Davis wrote:
[...]

Er, no, that's not so. The flangeway is narrow enough that the tread is actually supported at all times by rail. The tread is wide enough to bridge the flangeway. The flange is about 1/2" deep. Check out a real frog sometime -- you'll see that the flangeway is much deeper than that.
[...]
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