|BUILDING TRACK PANELS
APRIL 7-15, 2012
SCREW HOLE TEMPLATE - This gizmo is used to make precise dimples in
the ties for the size of ties we're using. Ties are 13.75 inches long.
I finally got around to picking up a batch of rails - 64 ten-foot pieces - on April 7. Before the
end of the day, I had a large number of those rails spray painted and two 10-foot track panels
completed. Now that I'm getting practiced at this, I can build a panel in 30 to 40 minutes.
Here's how it's done.
HIT WITH THE HAMMER - Once the ties are lined up, hit each one with a
hammer about where the dimples will be.
READY TO DRILL - I normally dimple 3 ties at a time. Some ties are thicker
than others and the holes on the fourth one often get off center.
DRILLING - The drill press is set up with a wedge to make a 5-degree angle
and we're using a 1/8-inch bit. We drill the holes about one inch deep. The
drill press is located close to the track template so there is no wasted
LINING UP THE TIES - The ties go directly from the drill press to the
track-building template. Every two or three ties are reoriented so that the ends
are not exactly even on one side and random on the other.
TRACK SCREWS - Two per tie, all 29 ties. The screws are one-inch #10
hex head plated screws. I get them from Real Trains for a price of $23 per
thousand, well under the price you'd pay locally.
SECURING THE RAILS - One rail (the one we're drilling in the photo) gets
both screws, tightened using a torque setting of 19 on my Craftsman 19.2-volt
drill. The other rail just gets 5 screws on the outside for now, the rest when it's
DELIVERING PANELS - I've been delivering one panel at a time using the
golf cart. Oftentimes Charlotte and the dogs walk alongside for exercise.
PANEL PILE - So far we've assembled 13 panels in 7 days. We have
enough rail for 30 sections plus a turnout. Hopefully the new track will be in
place by July 4.
BOTTOM VIEW - Those dimples are the ends of drywall screws drilled in
from the other side. If any are too deep or not deep enough, it's easy to adjust.