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Securing flextrack with no nail holes

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, October 4, 2020 1:28 PM

rrinker
- it is important to relieve the pressure after laying a bead, or indeed a whole lot of excess will continue to squirt out in a thing little line.

I use dripless caulk gun, for everything I caulk, windows, siding, doors, and putting down track.  They work great.

When I'm done, I do relieve any pressure from the plunger, and seal the end with a piece of duct tape. 

Painters tape works too.

Mike.

 

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Posted by Medina1128 on Friday, October 9, 2020 7:53 AM

Ths picture below illustrates how thin the layer of caulk should be. While the caulk sets up, I either use weights or pushpins to hold the track in place. The gaps cut into the rail are for wiring the layout in blocks. I bridge the gaps with styrene glued into place with CA, then the styrene is trimmed with a new #11 Xacto knife blade. 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 9, 2020 12:12 PM

 Great pic. That's exactly how to do it. And it will NOT come up or move on its own after the caulk sets up. But slide a putty knife in there and you can remove the track without damage if needed.

                                      --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, October 9, 2020 3:12 PM

We found the same thing. The caulk sets up fairly slowly and I'm pretty sure ballast will stick to it just before it finally cures. Our plan is to spread a very thin layer of ballast onto the curing surface of the caulk before it fully sets up. Then ballast as usual.  Not at the turnouts though because any ballast stuck to caulk isn't going anywhere ever. 

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, October 9, 2020 6:42 PM

A concern with 'wiping out' to very thin involves whether it is better to use a flexible blade, like a thin silicone bowl-scraping spatula, to make sure the caulk layer is thin and even, or a stiffer blade (including the previously-mentioned old credit card) to tool the top of the caulk smooth and level to match the crossties in the flex-track strip.  You'd get more feet of track per 'tube' out of the former; much better lateral and likely vertical retainment with the latter.  Which 'style' do the experts here prefer?  (Note that this is a difference between 'extremely thin' and 'very thin' for most roadbed: even the thickest layer would only reach full coverage of the tie 'footprint' when the track is weighted to hold level for the caulk setup time...)

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, October 10, 2020 7:25 AM

On foam track underlay the important layer to get smooth and thin is under the foam underlay so there are no humps. However, very little caulk is actually required. For plastic ties on top of the foam underlay so little caulk is required that  the ties can be pressed flat into any slight irregularity there. Ballast will cover any slight oozing up around the ties. Because the track is pretty rigid it would not be necessary to be very precise. Making a very thin layer is desirable because you need so little caulk to create an effective bond.

The photo shows excellent work with no oozing up the ties. Note that cork underlay would make a much better harder surface to achieve that thin layer. On top of foam I would use even less caulk. You do not want any surface irregularities that might create uneven railheads. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, October 10, 2020 1:30 PM

I usually use a putty knife. The 'credit card' I was mentioning would be more int he category of a soft tool - not a real credit card, rather those fake ones that come in many of those throw-away offers, which are little more than a thinly laminated piece of paper, not hard plastic like a real credit card.

 As for wastage - my old layout,t he 8x12 donut one, all the track and all the roadbed, except the yard, was done with one tube of caulk. I had to open a second one to start the yard. At that time, I think a tube of the Polyseamseal brand I used was $1.99. I doubt I wasted much, but even if I did, if I somehow wasted 25% I would have only been out 50 cents. Not even a consideration. I DID waste more on the last layout, because I worked a lot slower, and had to clean out the nozzle a lot. I think I used 2 whoel tubes ont hat one, partly because I found that cork roadbed needed more caulk to stick to the foam than the WS foam did on the one before that. I also indescriminately used the same caulk to fill low spots and glue other foam bits together, so it's hard to say just what went to the track and roadbed, and what went to general construction. At any rate, it's cheap enough that excess left over after spreading a section with a putty knife was something I just scraped off the knife on the edge of a scrap piece of wood and didn't concern myself with. If I was using something that cost more like $5 for ever 10 feet of track I put down, I'd be more carefuil of the waste rate.

                                          --Randy

 


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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Saturday, October 10, 2020 1:54 PM

I use contact cement to lay flextrack and turnouts. Then ballast and glue.

Robert

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, October 10, 2020 2:08 PM

ROBERT PETRICK

I use contact cement to lay flextrack and turnouts. Then ballast and glue.

Robert

 

Contact cement is usually pretty much permanent. Have you had occasion to lift and reuse any track?

Alyth Yard

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, October 10, 2020 3:54 PM

I also used contact cement to secure cork roadbed to plywood on the partial upper level of my layout, then used it again to cement Central Valley tie strips to the cork, and then to secure pre-soldered lengths of rail to the ties. 
The cork was positioned to a drawn centreline, with sheets of waxed paper between the two surfaces to allow proper alignment, slipping each sheet out as needed.
The same procedure was used for tie alignment, using the centreline of the cork and centreline nubs moulded on to the tiestrip.
I again re-used the waxed paper when adding the rails, but it was a simple matter to line them up with the tieplates moulded on the ties, slipping the waxed paper out as I went along.

I'd guess that the cork could be lifted, if necessary, but not likely neatly enough for re-use.  The tie strip material is fairly thin, so unlikely to come up cleanly and probably in small pieces.

The rail should be fairly easy to reclaim, but I'd guess the tearing up will be done after I've left the scene, with likely little interest in saving rail. Structures and trains will likely be salvageable, and might generate some cash, but it won't be a concern for me.

Wayne

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Saturday, October 10, 2020 4:28 PM

Lastspikemike
ROBERT PETRICK

I use contact cement to lay flextrack and turnouts. Then ballast and glue.

Contact cement is usually pretty much permanent. Have you had occasion to lift and reuse any track?

Yes, I've removed track from the club layout using two putty knives in a leap-frog lifting lever technique, taking it slowly and firmly to avoid kinking or twisting the flextrack. The track came up easily enough, but the real problem was removing the ballast and cleaning up the residual clumps.

I've not (yet) had to remove, realign, or relocate any track on my layout. I designed the layout using AutoCAD, and I had a pretty precise track plan that I was able to loft (a particular style of drafting full-size to scale) the alignments onto the benchwork.

Based on the first paragraph above, I would probably not reuse track unless it was absolute necessary. I understand budget constraints and whatnot, and I don't think I'm too haughty to use used track. It's just that the effort required to clean up the old track to an acceptable degree would be significant. My time is more valuable than my money.

I never intend to say what others should do, just what I would do; and what I have done.

Robert

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, October 10, 2020 4:59 PM

 After ballast is applied, ripping up and reusing becomes WAY more complicated, regardless of how you attached the track. Just look at all the soaking in long shallow totes they did on the MRVP series on redoing the Jones Island section. Is it worth it? For turnouts, maybe, since none are exactly cheap these days. For anything less than full lengths segments of flex? I don;t think I would bother, and concentrate more on getting the layout area where the track was all smooth and clean and just use fresh track.

 Before ballasting is when you have a fighting chance to pull up the track, adjust it, and reuse it elsewhere. I've had no problems doing so with caulk attached track. And that's also a good reason to do at least some wiring after the track is down to test run things BEFORE ballasting - it's a lot easier to fix things before everything is covered in a layer of scenery.

                                    --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, October 10, 2020 6:02 PM

Lastspikemike

 

 
ROBERT PETRICK

I use contact cement to lay flextrack and turnouts. Then ballast and glue.

Robert

 

 

 

Contact cement is usually pretty much permanent. Have you had occasion to lift and reuse any track?

 

I have never remotely considered reusing track that has been ballasted, no matter how it was attached, glue, caulk, adhesive caulk, or nails.

I too would not presume to tell others what to do, but I'm not using my time to clean ballast off track........Atlas sells that stuff by the box of 100 pieces, that's how I buy it.

I have from time to time salvaged some rail.........

And I have salvaged turnouts from stagging areas which lacked ballast.

I too am a careful track planner and have seldom changed track after laying it. And I have never taken a layout down "just because".

Sheldon

    

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Posted by joe323 on Saturday, October 10, 2020 7:54 PM

A pin vise can drill the holes in flex track.

I have soaked and reused track but mostly it was ez track which can be soaked and scrubbed clean fairly easily.  I use ez track for an extention over my work bench which is unsenicked and unballasted.

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, October 10, 2020 9:10 PM

I've not found it at all difficult to take up ballasted track and re-use it, although I've not had to do a lot of that.
I recall recently posting some photos showing that, but am not sure where they are, so I'll add them here.

I had a new industrial structure to add to my layout, but the proposed site would have placed part of the loading dock adjacent to a turnout.  Here's the site...

I  unsoldered the rail joiners and slid them onto the rails of the turnout, then pulled out the nails holding the track in place.   I then sprayed the turnout and the adjoining tracks with wet water, to soften the white glue which holds the ballast (and track) in place. 
In 15 minutes-or-so, the glue was softened and I used a scraper to lift the track and turnout, easily rubbing-off the softened ballast with my hand...

...the area was then cleaned-up and the adjacent tracks were then re-aligned to better-suit the turnout's new postion...

...the turnout was installed in its new position, and then connected to the re-aligned tracks...

The turnout and adjoining track was then re-ballasted...

...and the new industry (still under construction at that time) fitted into its new location...

Using white glue and "wet" water for ballasting makes child's-play of removing track and and turnouts and of reclaiming it for re-use...simply spray with wet water, wait a bit, then take it up, cleaning away the ballast while it's still wet enough that it's no longer affixed to the ties or rails - a handled-brush with fairly stiff bristles works well for that task.

Wayne

 

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, October 10, 2020 10:25 PM

Wayne, I'm sure removing ballast is just as you describe, but many of these guys seem to be talking about salvaging large quantities of track from total layout demolitions. 

I'm not doing that, no how, no way. Never even considered the idea. 

Of course my track and install choices over the years effect my views.

My first layout was TruScale wood roadbed track with brass rail and sharp curves, no reason to save that in 1973 when that layout came down.

My second and third layouts were hand layed, no way to save anything but the rail.

My next layout I glued down flex track to homabed and some TruScale wood roadbed in all the visable areas, did save some straight lengths from some staging yards that was just nailed in place. And saved the turnouts from the staging and areas not ballasted yet.

I have lots of salvaged rail, I may consider some way to reuse it on the new layout, but removing Atlas flex track that has been glued to homabed with PolySeamSeal is just not happening. And even some "lessor" caulk still seems like too much work to clean up.

I have no interest in returning to using track nails, I really like the glued down track on the firm base of homasote, it is more like hand layed track.

If a homasote roadbed product does not become available, I am seriously considering making my own, or making wood roadbed.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Pruitt on Saturday, October 10, 2020 11:38 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Wayne, I'm sure removing ballast is just as you describe, but many of these guys seem to be talking about salvaging large quantities of track from total layout demolitions. 

I'm not doing that, no how, no way. Never even considered the idea. 

Sheldon

I've done exactly that, several times. Some of my track is on it's fifth (and hopefully last!) layout. Of course, none of it was ballasted - as soon as I get to the scenery stage, I always wind up moving (so I'm starting scenery really early on with this layout in a deliberate attempt to break that streak). Last time I had finished scenery, including ballast, was on a layout I built back in high school in 1973-74.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, October 11, 2020 11:08 AM

 Sounds like me. I was in Jr. High, and it was 1978, but yeah, had very little in terms of scenery since. Had a shelf switcher - never got past the track. Donated it to the club I belonged to with the caveat that when they went to add scenery I was there to help and learn, came back the next time and it was compeltely done....  Got as far as having the track painted 2 layouts ago, but no ballast. A few unfinshed (just the walls glued together) structures, otherwise, just trains. Last layout - I actually had a small section ballasted, and all the pink foam had a basic brown coat of paint so at least it didn't look like some surrealistic landscape, but that was it. Yup, last layout I built that had ground cover, roads, structures, trees, etc. was my N scale layout from 1978. I even managed to get one of the Woodland Scenics diorama kits some time ago, I started it probably 12 years ago. Still have it - exactly where I left off - the base and the 'benchwork' part of it are all built. Not even the short piece of track is in place on that. I got that to learn/practice scenery since it uses just about everything - plaster gauze, rock castings, ground cover, ballast, etc. One of these days I'll finish it, makes a great loco display.

                                         --Randy

 


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Posted by Medina1128 on Monday, October 12, 2020 9:01 AM

rrinker
I usually use a putty knife. The 'credit card' I was mentioning would be more int he category of a soft tool - not a real credit card, rather those fake ones that come in many of those throw-away offers, which are little more than a thinly laminated piece of paper, not hard plastic like a real credit card.

 --Randy

I agree with the fake credit junk mail credit cards. Now, they're made from cardstock instead of the plastic ones. I glue two of them back to back to make them even stiffer.

 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, October 12, 2020 9:13 AM

Medina1128

 

 
rrinker
I usually use a putty knife. The 'credit card' I was mentioning would be more int he category of a soft tool - not a real credit card, rather those fake ones that come in many of those throw-away offers, which are little more than a thinly laminated piece of paper, not hard plastic like a real credit card.

 --Randy

 

 

I agree with the fake credit junk mail credit cards. Now, they're made from cardstock instead of the plastic ones. I glue two of them back to back to make them even stiffer.

 

 

If you use caulk to stick the cards together, you could peel off the used side and stick a fresh one on, like utility knife blades.....

 

8-)

Alyth Yard

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 8:03 PM

riogrande5761

So far I prefer track nails to hold flextrack down.  No wait for caulk to cure, I can tweak it as I go, and if I need to adjust or relay, simply pull the nail out and relay.  I like that flexibilty and "instant-down" method of track nails and ME spikes so much I don't see myself jumping on the caulk bandwagon.

 

 
doctorwayne

I've never had to use a hammer for track nails, either...simply push them in using pliers - works on cork, wood, and plywood.

Wayne

 

You must be a good deal stronger than me - and most others complain that the nails bend when they try to hammer them into plywood.  I've had similar experience using plywood and/or OSB, and bend some nails but keep going and get the job done.  Cork is soft so can push through that NP.   My yard is all Homasote and I can push track nails in with a nail set just fine. That's my experience.

This has been going down past few weeks old school.

 

What sort of 'track set tool' are you using to put the nails in?

I was leaning towards the caulk idea, but I don't care for the waiting time involved with caulk, not the shifting around that might occur.

I also wish to nail my track down over the very exacting full scale track plans I've made up,...then MAYBE try pulling the paper plans out,...or just leavin them there if that becomes difficult.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 8:08 PM

 Even with one fake credit card, you have 4 edges to work with until it's time to get a new one. Bonus is there's a bit of a handle for using the last two edges.

 There's not much of a wait time with caulk. At least, nothing that stops you from laying track until you either have it all down, run out of track, or just get tired and call it a night.

                                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by Track fiddler on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 8:14 PM

I'm sure it's already been mentioned here but T pins and Alex Plus works great.

This experiment I let the Alex plus dry before I put down the track and put a 50/50 Carpenter glue water mixture after the track was down.

 

Just try it out with your favorite pocket knife and see if it holds

 

Guess what?, ...It Does!

 

 

 

Wink TF

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 8:18 PM

I take from his post he uses a simple carpenters nail set, that's what I use for the few track nails I use on turnouts. Rio's trackwork is very nice.

As for gluing track with caulk, if you use the right caulk, there is no long drying time or fear of movement.

Everytime this topic comes up, I explain that I use PolySeamSeal or Phenoseal adhesive caulk. It is not like regular caulk, it is twice a thick, it is much stronger, when it takes a set it holds tighter much sooner. And, you are not peeling it up and reusing the track.

After hand layed track and TruScale wood roadbed track for years, I never liked that the flex track could "wiggle" between the nails until you got it ballasted.

So when I saw the first article about using adhesive caulk I was in. And the first published article on the topic used what I use, not cheap DAP ALEX painters caulk.

Lazer straight flex track glued to homasote roadbed:

 

 

With smooth flowing curves at both ends.....

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by rrebell on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 8:11 AM

Dap makes a painters caulk which is not as good as the Alex plus. If you put it on too thin, it can be jared loose which is both good and bad. When that happens though I just pin it in place and use thin superglue, problem gone.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 8:52 AM

For final setting of track pins an ordinary nail set works fine. Smallest tip is best.

For aligning track and foam underlay while the  caulk sets the T pins work fine. I use Foam Nails from woodland scenics because they are easier to press in by hand. You don't need holes in the ties. I push the pins in at the corners of the ties and rails. Holds curves well if you pick your spots accurately.  For harder substrate like wood or plywood a light blow or two on the T sets the pins.

I also find using a hobby hammer works best. I use my planking hammer from model ship building. It also has replaceable hammer faces and weighs only a few ounces. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 9:01 AM

railandsail
What sort of 'track set tool' are you using to put the nails in?

I have a special set of Xuron pliers for driving and setting track nails. They work great.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 9:28 AM

rrebell

Dap makes a painters caulk which is not as good as the Alex plus. If you put it on too thin, it can be jared loose which is both good and bad. When that happens though I just pin it in place and use thin superglue, problem gone.

 

The point remains, Alex Plus is thin and dries slow, PolySeamSeal is thick and tacky, dries quick, and is much stronger. 

Laying my 36" radius curves I don't need any temporary pins or nails at all. A couple of full soda cans sat on the track for 15 min is all it takes.

In my work we put in vanity tops, kitchen counters, back splashes, and solid surface tub/shower surrounds with it, stick it on and done.

And when I need a caulk like Alex at work, the Sherwin Williams product is much better.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 9:41 AM

SeeYou190
railandsail
What sort of 'track set tool' are you using to put the nails in?

I have a special set of Xuron pliers for driving and setting track nails.

I believe he means #82839 "Spike Insertion Plier" -- nose pictured here:

https://www.micromark.com/Web%20Store%20Images/82839_R-1.jpg

(Those unwilling to cough up a quarter-Benjamin plus shipping might be able to groove the tip of a pair of smooth-jaw needle-nose plliers to get the same effect.)

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, October 14, 2020 2:01 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
railandsail
What sort of 'track set tool' are you using to put the nails in?

 

I have a special set of Xuron pliers for driving and setting track nails. They work great.

-Kevin

 

These would be ideal. 

It seems to me there are two different types, one for setting and driving snd the other for withdrawing track nails. Should also work for spikes.  

We're off topic at this point since holes are made.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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