Track Help


This area is for advice for anything to do with track.

  • Track laying
  • Ballast
  • Track layout planning
Lessons and techniques learned laying track for the Shelf Layout will be posted here.

Making Soldered Track

Written by David Head. Posted in Track Help


This tutorial will get you going making your own soldered track. All you need are N scale rails, circuit board strips and a lot patience!

Reversing Loops, one solution

Written by David Head. Posted in Track Help

Here is one solution to reverse loops. It uses the properties of a bridge rectifier to keep a train travelling in the same direction in the loop while you reverse your controller. This circuit is by no means unheard of. One drawback is the train will travel slower in the reversing loop.

It is NOT suitable for DCC or command control :


  1. The reverse loop requires gaps to stop shorts.
  2. Wire in the bridge rectifier ( or 4 diodes ) and the reversing reverser switch. 
  3. In operation the train goes into the loop in a set direction ( determined by the reversing reverser), and while the train is in that section you reverse your controller's direction switch. After setting the point you continue driving without stopping. 
  4. To reverse in the loop use the reversing reverse switch. 


Door Bolt Point Switcher

Written by David Head. Posted in Track Help


This page is about my trial with my version of the door bolt point actuator. This directly comes from Joe Fugate's DVD demo. 

The door bolt is used, but with my own spring mechanical (diagram to come) - consisting of a bit of "L" girder, a long arm, a spring, a micro-switch and screws. Both are joined by fishing line.

They came about because I needed a strong manual throw system, and these seem to do the trick. They take no space in the aisle. They are very rugged. when I first saw them (be honest) I was amused by the concept of door bolts at point motor actuators. But it kept on coming back to me as a neat solution. May I eat my words for breakfast, or eat a lot of humble pie !!

This is a test install. The final fascia is still to be laminated onto the other "fascia splines". As the point's normal direction made it opposite to a easy string straight to the fascia, I went all over to the rear baseboard member with the fishing wire. I also added a extra eye bolt to act as a slack adjuster. I did this as when I first tried it - I pulled the point blade right out (more throw than needed) - So I wanted some adjustment so when fully thrown it moved the required distance...

I found them very easy to install (Yes I re-watched Joe's first DVD to refresh myself) - in fact the easiest mechanical I have ever installed for a point motor. I had pre drilled some large then screw holes into the "L" base and made installation very painless.

The micro-switch is for power routing the live frog. You could use it for any interlocking of point, signals etc.
(Thanks to the Rail-page members for pointing that out)

I reused the latch part , as purchased as a hiding the hole- bought it, might as well use it. The test shots show the fishing line hanging out, as I said a test ! At the moment I drilled a hole into the fascia without a grommet will look into that wear aspect later.

Underneath detail showing the complete setup. Click on the image for a larger view.  Underside view of baseboard, Click to enlarge















Curve Tolerance

Written by David Head. Posted in Track Help

It's very simple really, your curves, be it a yard on a curve, a double track mainline etc; you have to allow a clearance factor so your trains do not hit when passing on a curve. Rather than finding out before making and laying your track, it is best to plan beforehand. To do this simply find the longest item of rolling stock that also has the longest overhang, ie a long wagon that also has its bogies well back, so when going around a curve, it swings out more. A long loco is also a good thing to try. A Big Boy articulated steam monster loco is another.

To test and ensure you do not sideswipe a train when passing, simply draw out a curve, the tightest you wish, then draw a parallel arc/curve at the next radius you propose to use. I used a stick screwed to a wood and a hole up the other end for the pencil. To change radius I drilled more holes to reposition the screw rather than the pencil. You then simply place your rolling stock onto the paper to compare and see the tolerances and clearances. It is good to have say three items of the same wagon, but you can mark the clearance points as well.

The pictures show me doing this very thing to test some ideas I have for out exhibition layout. The inner curve is 30 inches, our absolute minimum radius. On straights we use 45mm track centers. But for such a sharp curve we wan to allow a wider track center to allow for wagon and loco swing. In this test I set two track centers, 55mm & 65mm. I tested the closer tolerance first with my longest wagons - 80ft container wagons. - they passed with flying colours. Yes they could get a little closer, but we have a margin here for error and longer & wider locos/wagons.


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