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Moving - Need advice on layout tear down

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  • Member since
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Moving - Need advice on layout tear down
Posted by gary233 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 6:43 AM

Hi all,

Finally got my wife to agree to leave NJ. We bought a home in Virginia. Some of you are familiar with my layout but I don’t think that matters. I’m looking for advice on what is worth removing and taking with me.

anyone ever do this?

What do you take? Other than the obvious (DCC System, Locomotives and Rolling stock) do you remove and take Turnouts? Switch Maxchines? Control Panel, structures???

Thanks

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Sunday, September 30, 2018 8:32 AM

Are you going to rebuild the same layout or a new one?

I removed and boxed all my structures but left the benchwork in large pieces with the track attached.  If I'd had time, I would have probably taken up a lot of the track, too.

I'm not settled in a new house yet, so I don't know how much I can re-use as is.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Sunday, September 30, 2018 8:44 AM

If you don´t plan on moving the layout, salvage those bits and pieces you may need in building your new layout, i.e. buildings, lights, billboards, vehicles, switches, groundthrows or switch motors, control switches, trees. get a few plastic boxes with lids to store those bits until you will use them again.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 8:51 AM

When you get all the cars/details/track/structures off, its "reciprocating saw" time for the benchwork & remaining scenery.  With the proper blade (long limb trimming blade) the benchwork will be in manageable sizes to dispose in no time.

That said,  know that "the first cut is the hardest".  I know that from experience.

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by gary233 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 8:52 AM

Not rebuilding the same layout. 

Can I take turnouts or will removal damage them?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:03 AM

gary233
Can I take turnouts or will removal damage them?

Yes and maybe. 

If you used excess caulk, they maybe hard to remove.  People say that soaking the ballast will allow it to be cleaned off.  I made the mistake of soldering my turnouts and that did not go well.

Congratulations on the move.  I'm looking at the Shennandoah Valley as well.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by gary233 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:07 AM

Turnouts are soldere on at least one end in most cases. They are nailed not caused. 

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Posted by davidmurray on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:14 AM

If you do not try to remove turnouts they are scrap, if you try, they will probably be good.  Painted fkex track becomes very very difficult to resue.

Dave

 

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:28 AM

I live in northern Virginia and my wife and I sold our townhome in which I had a 10 x18' layout finished to the degree shown below.  Track was fastened down with Atlas track nails or ME spikes:

I did solder much of the track together but not the turnouts, because the layout was meant to be somewhat temporary.  That said, you could get some heat sinks and carefully heat the sold and pull the turnouts apart to salvage them.

In the below photo, I was soldering the feeders to the feeders to the rail joiner, and the turnout was left to be pulled loose when it was removed.  In a few cases when dismanteling the layout, I simply cut the rail of the flex track just outside the soldered joiner with Xuron rail nippers to be quick about it.  The flex is still good to re-use, albeit a little shorter than before.

Half of the layout had hard shell plaster over cardboard strips scenery which I demolished and saved the basic benchwork open grid frames for future use.

As you can see above in the second & third photo what the basic open grid frame which was typical of what was saved.  Legs were bolted or screwed on and easily removed.

This layout was built with mostly drywall screws so it was fairly easy to take a drill driver and back out all the screws to remove the risers, subroadbed etc. while taking out the scenery and breaking it all down to basic components.

Here is the otherside with track being removed and stacked - I carefully stacked the flex in bundles and put in a long box to move, along with all the turnouts, track nails were even saved (stuck to a magnet), spikes, rail joiners, drywall screws etc.

It's up to you how much you want to save and move but everything possible that I could re-use, even scrap lumber in boxes or bundles was saved and moved to the new basement.  Two sections of the old layout benchwork have already found a spot to drop-in to the new layout track plan - two 2x8' sections - track plan area outlined in red below:

The basement for future layout is only framed in at present and electrical outlets going in now, mostly done; drywall.

It all depends on what you can creatively save for re-use - it is money saved and possibly time saved on getting a future layout underway.

Here is much of the layout components moved and waiting for re-use:

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by Attuvian on Sunday, September 30, 2018 10:47 AM

gary233

Turnouts are soldere on at least one end in most cases. They are nailed not caused. 


 
Gary,
 
Here's a tip on unsoldering stuff during a teardown process: it gets nasty (and destructive) in a hurry if you de-solder a connection while the track, turnout or gizmo you're trying to save is in place.  This is especially true where rail joints have been soldered.  Whether rail joints or electrical leads, I always opt first to isolate that which I want to save by making a cut a short length beyond the connection.  That will leave a short excess of material that is much easier to deal with.  Do this before removing the screws, nails, or caulk that is attaching your item to the roadbed or benchwork.
 
Once the turnout or other item has been physically removed from its location, it's very easy to remove those excess stubs of rail or wire without having to overheat the goodies.  Often the excess will drop right off, can be picked off easily, or can be ejected from the soldered connection by simply shaking or abruptly tapping the item (or the hand holding it) against your work surface.  If the latter, just be prepared for a little splatter.  Or you can use a solder sucker or the fine, braided wire that's sold for solder removal.  Final cleanup or dressing of the old connection site is a snap - if necessary at all.
 
The only major considerations in employing this process are proper eyewear, the nature of your work area, and the relative delicacy of what you're saving for use on your rebuild.
 
John
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Posted by selector on Sunday, September 30, 2018 10:57 AM

I recovered a lot of the flex and all of my turnouts by soaking and then gently using a butcher knife to slice the ties free of the DAP Alex Plus acrylic caulk with silicone.

Then, I purchesed an eight foot length of  4" PVC conduit/drainage pipe and sawed it in half.  I purchased a suitable PVC cap and glued it on one end.  I filled the pipe, standing and supported so that it would fill, with a solution of warm water and TSP.  I let all the items sit for three or four days and then proceeeded to clean them up by pulling the bits of latex caulk off.  It took time, of course, but I harvested most of my flex and all turnouts successfully.  Sure made me proud when I began to insert those things on my most recent build.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:18 PM

I'd definitely recommend removing the track and turnouts.  While I've not had to move my layout, I have moved or removed both ballasted track and turnouts, and all were soldered in place.
Using appropriate heat sinks, heat the soldered joints, then use the tip of an old X-Acto #11 blade to slide the rail joiner away from the joint.  Leave the joiners in place, then re-use them when you build the next layout.

A good soaking with "wet" water will loosen ballast if it's been applied using white glue, and once the nails have been removed, a scraper or putty knife will lift the track or turnouts easily.
Selector's method for cleaning the track and turnouts sounds like a good one, but all that should be needed, since no caulk is involved, would be water and some dish detergent.

Depending on how your benchwork was built, it might be worth salvaging, too.  Mine is open grid, using 1"x4" "Select" pine, assembled with screws, and pretty-well everything (scenery, roadbed, and platforms for structures) is on risers which are screwed onto the gridwork - I'd scrap those, but keep the grid sections or dismantle them, and save as lumber, as it's easily re-useable and otherwise expensive to buy.

Wayne

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, September 30, 2018 1:45 PM

If the track is soldered just snip either side of the joiner and pull it up. Nothing says you can't reuse flex track that is a cm shorter. It would take me hours to unsolder all my track.

You can soak your track like Crandell suggested, however I am much too impatient to scrub the ballast and goo off so I lay it on the driveway and hold it very gently with my foot and hit it with the pressure washer. One pass each side and it is like new.

The last move I made was 23 years ago and the final bill was determined by the weight of my stuff when the truck went over the scale on the highway. So this time I will be taking all my foam with me as it is expensive up here and leaving the lumber as it is really cheap up here. Unless I am moving a short distance and can get the layout into the new joint. It is not portable, however, I designed it to come apart and be moved in a 5-ton truck.

It cost a lot to move and we will be leaving most stuff behind this time. With what we will get selling it and what we will save by not moving it, we can get good quality new stuff at the new location for not much if anything more.

I worked in logistics for the Federal Government and was indirectly involved often with relocating people and offices. It was often much cheaper to mail all boxes than to have a mover move them, depending where they were going. Then the mover would just take the big stuff. 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 2:11 PM

BATMAN
If the track is soldered just snip either side of the joiner and pull it up. Nothing says you can't reuse flex track that is a cm shorter. It would take me hours to unsolder all my track.

I've done that on some of the track when tearing up my last two layouts. I de-soldered some of the track, but in other cases I took a pair of Xuron rail nippers and just cut the rail.  Yeah, the track might be a half inch or inch shorter but the rest is still good for res-use.  I often trim track when installing it so thats all part of layout building.

The OP did say: "Turnouts are soldere on at least one end in most cases. They are nailed not caused."  I think he meant not caulked, for whatever that is worth since many posts giving solutions to recovering caulked track.

BTW, this is why I love nails and spikes, no soaking etc. just pull them out and the track is loose.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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Posted by gary233 on Sunday, September 30, 2018 5:05 PM

Yes ”Soldered” and nailed not “caulked”. Sorry.

I’ll give it a go and let you know what happens. Probably start next week.

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Posted by selector on Sunday, September 30, 2018 5:26 PM

I can only speak for myself and my experience (my personality), but dismantling a layout isn't exactly like your second birthday party.  There's nothing the least exciting about it, and I find it a thorough bummer.  It will require you to steel yourself to be patient and focused. It would help if you have thought a bit about what you're going to do while you stand and can look around at the layout.  

You will experience 'shrinkage'.  I have begun to cut soldered joints with a Dremel cut-off disk only to have one rail snag on the spinning disk and rip itself out of 20 spikehead nubs, breaking most of them.  You'll possibly ruin at least one turnout for some reason, even if you find it ruined only when you go to use it again at the far end.

I guess my message to you would be one of 'Go easy.  Take it slow, and don't sweat the odd mistake.  Save what you can, and be grateful for any amount of success."

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Posted by mobilman44 on Tuesday, October 02, 2018 5:23 AM

Hi again,

When I tore down my last layout (HO 15x11 two level) in 2008, I came up with a process that helped salvage the turnouts.

All were soldered to flex track.  Rather than trying to desolder them in place, I used rail nippers and cut the flex rails about 1 inch from the ends of the turnouts.

This allowed me to clean off the layout pretty fast, and I was able to store all the turnouts (with the stub flex track ends) in a box for a later desoldering effort.

When "later" came, I put a nail in the workbench, slid the turnout over it, and thus both hands were free to desolder the ends of the turnout.  One hand had the iron, the other a pair of small pliers.  As I heated a joint, the pliers could easily pull the flex rail stub and joiner off the turnout.  

I kept a wet washrag handy to cool off the turnout ends to avoid any tie warping.  Given I had 25-30 turnouts, this mass effort went pretty fast.

When I reused the turnouts on the new layout, obviously some of their "legs" had solder residue on them.  So it took a little heating with the iron to push on new joiners.  

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, October 02, 2018 9:23 AM

Excellant suggestion Mobilman

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Posted by gary233 on Saturday, October 13, 2018 5:44 PM

Ok, retrieved several turnouts w/o any problem by following Mobilman’s suggestion.

How about ballast? suppose I could gust pry it up smash it and sift.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, October 15, 2018 1:24 PM

Your call but I'm not sure if I would try to recover ballast; might be a lot of work for a minimal recovery of something usable.

As for turnouts, I avoid soldering the anymore because it's a pain remove them; most of mine on my last layout were not soldered but I soldered feeders to the bottom or sides of the rail joiners and made sure I had plenty of them so there would be no loss of continuity.  Then if you need to cover or remove turnouts, especially if they haven't been ballasted, it's /that was easy, easy!

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

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