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
movement.
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
on site.
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.
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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.
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