Just wondering what most people do to solve this problem. Having laid the track and pinned it down and now need to fix that copper strip stuff adjacent to joins in the board. How do you cut out the sleepers or are you supposed to cut them out before laying the track. I find it difficult cutting out the bit of plastic that joins to the adjacent sleeper. The only thing I can think of is a very slim scalpel.
Cut it before laying. It's surprisingly easy to cut the sleeper web with the track upside down on a flat surface. The only problem is that the knife goes through the plastic relatively easily and hits the metal rail with a "clonk".
OK, I see, some people do that over here, too. Some people also add guard rails to help keep the wheel flanges from picking the join (which is called a joint over here.)
The standard for NTrak is a 6" gap (3" on either side of the joint) into which you drop a 6" piece of track with rail joiners slid back. Then slide the r/j forward, and presto, well-aligned track. A variation is to lay the ties right up to the join/joint, and slip in short (4" to 6") pieces of rail instead of a piece of track. Of course, these schemes work only if the track crossing the join(t) is straight, so that's part of the standard, too.
My layout is built for the inevitable next move, so each baseboard is sized to fit through a standard doorway and the tracks across the baseboard joins are either a standard length or rerailer track for the hidden sidings, a standard
100mm length of straight for visible joins, or, assorted specific curves for specific non-straight tracks. I have the non-specific ones marked underneath and a cardboard filebox with dividers to hold them all.
At the moment I am only messing about modifying the club layout to add some storage sidings. The board is removable because it is underneath an O gauge layout. I shall rethink the way I go about it. I was however about to embark on track laying in my own loft layout so was rather hoping to to lay all the track then only add the joining strips later. This is effectively a permanent layout. This will take a little more planning. I know I could just pin the track but I am assuming that soldering the rails will allow for an element of repositioning if anything moves over time or if I move house. I fancy the idea of a removable section but I assume with ballasting this option is not available unless there is a way of ballasing and not making the ballast rock solid. Is there any way of making the ballast more brittle so that it can be chipped away more easily.
This is not quite the answer to your question, but I put a strip of circa 1/4" thick foam rubber between the baseboard edges and then treat the scenery, ballasting etc as though there was no join. When the baseboards are separated a tiny strip of scenery is destroyed, but that can be restored. Because the ballasting, scenery etc is quite thin and baseboards are heavy the joins break away without trouble.
I may have given the wrong impression. It is difficult to lift track once it has been ballasted because the ballast sets like concrete. My club started to lay the ballast on a new exhibition layout and being the tight arses decided to use up some old ballast that they found in a bag under the club layout. Now they have had to buy new ballast to do the remaining 90% of the layout it is coming out a totally different colour. So some poor bugger had to chip out all the old ballast. Can it be laid so that it doesn't set quite so hard. For an exhibition layout I can see why it would need to be very durable but for a loft layout I just want it so it doesn't hoover up when cleaning the track.
Use acrylic matte medium, available in artists' supply stores. Thin it roughly half anf half with distilled water, add a dollop of isopropyl alcohol to improve the soak-in factor. Experiment a bit to arrive at a formual that works for you. Ballast made with this stuff is less noisy than ballast made with PVA.
If you use PVA, or worse, resin glue, yes, the stuff usually sets rock hard. There are some varieties of PVA made for use by cloth and paper crafters which do not set rock hard. 'Course, if your club members are such tight-arses, some of them may exhibit symptoms of apoplexy when they realise that matte medium costs more than PVA. :-)
A general principle I follow is: study any and all craft and hobby shelves, you will always find something that you can use on a model railway. Case in point: I wandered over to the notions while my wife was studying fabrics for a quilt, and found those T-shaped pins that quilters use. Very handy for temporary pinning of all kinds of things, foam, jigs, etc. They come in several sizes, too. There were also circular cutters and self-healing mats. Circular cutters are good for cutting thin styrene, paper, and light card. 'Nother case in point: "brick" colour offered in a line of model railway paints is expensive, craft paints in various shades of reddish brown and such are cheap.
My solution is to use PVA glue sold for children to play with, available in Early learning centres and similar places, its cheaper than regular PVA, dilute as Wolf suggests. This stuff is made to wash out of the childrens clothes after their junior Blue Peter sessions. It doesn't set up as hard as normal PVA and when you want to lift it a soaking with a water spray will soften it up so you can lift the track and scrape up the ballast. eg
Make friends in the hobby. Visit Garratt photos for the big steam lovers.
The hardness will depend on the type of glue used. The two normal sorts used are PVA and rubber type cements. Rubber type cements tend to remain rubbery and also in my experience tend to bite into the plastic sleepers. (Graham Farish)
I moved on from that sort of glue because it tends to glue only a thin layer of ballast, leaving the sleepers standing too high above the surface.
PVA sets rock hard but can be softened by applying water/moisture over several days. "Softened" is of course relative!
I guess reducing the ratio of PVA to water in the glue mix might result in ballast that is less firmly glued. Alternately there may be other water based glues available in the UK that I don't know of.
First the ballast glue. After using PVA for years I now use water based matt varnish. Dilute this 50/50 or 60/40 with water. Apply through a syringe with the needle removed from its base and the base fitted to the syringe body. Don't wet the ballast first if using this method. It will enable you to place the 'glue' very accurately.
Secondly, the rail ends. At our club we now replace the last two sleepers before the baseboard end with flathead brass screws to which we solder the rails and then fill in with false sleepers. These screws have saved us from a number of disasters when boards have been mis-handled.
If I was you now, I would take a pair of pliers and bend each rail to one side after cutting the sleepers away. Then fit screws as above, level them to the bottom edges on the rails, (whilst the boards are together) then bend the rails back into place and solder to the screws. Finish as above.
Best of luck.
How I usually do it is, with the two boards fixed together, mark where the track(s) crosses the board joint and put screws in (8. 4 on each board for each track) lay track right across the joint and level the screws with the bottom edge of the rails. Lay the track and solder the rails to the screws. Then cut through the rails with a razor saw.