After much careful thought and reasoned argument, we finally decided to renew and improve the whole bottom track. The idea being to to make running less problematic, easier point operation, more siding space, provide shunting opportunities and make the working of the layout more visible to the viewing public.
We broke the task down into three main phases. Phase 1: The front of the layout from bridge to clubhouse. Phase 2: The Rear of the layout from bridge to clubhouse. Phase 3: The Back Loop.
The back loop (Phase 3) was the first to be completed. Four days of hard work and fine weather allowed us to get the job done. After some minor work following torrential rain, the track looked great and worked well.
The next step was to start Phase 1, the front of the layout. All at hip height, this section would be easier to do but still a major task. Bad weather held us up but we made a start on the siding nearest to the clubhouse on a Monday. An unexpected improvement in the weather encouraged us to risk restarting on the Wednesday and getting it all done in two further days.
An old photo on the MRT website and some test digging made us believe that most of the old track was laid on slabs. In order to maintain a level from the steel bridge, we needed to raise the track through the station by about 2cm to 2.5cm (an inch) but lower the track into the siding. We had acquired some small paver bricks to make a firm surface for the sidings but these were too thick for the main track.
The layout being built by Calvin Green in 1990. Clearly showing the original track before the top circuit was built. Test digs confirmed that the slabs were still in place but the surface was somewhat crumbly.
After some discussion over the choice of materials we settled on a set of Filcris (recycled plastic) strips. Why get so complicated? Well the relay involved a complex set of curves and turnouts, all of which needed to be screwed down. The Filcris provided an easy surface to get a self tapping screw in, was available in 2cm by 4cm strips and took cement reasonably well.
Elliot took the photos.
Buckets, trowels and lots of muck. We started on the siding near the cabin.
A workbench and saw was set up so that the Filcris could be cut up.
There was a lot of measuring.
To keep the track reasonably level we would have to do some digging.
We cemented in pavers to support the track.
More were needed to support the points.
It was important to get it right.
We wanted to extend the siding space so some of the spacing was tight.
A bit of cutting was needed.
And lots of measuring with the spirit level.
The blocks were excellent, a bit hard to drill but...
...enabled a satisfying job.
Don was in overall control...
...with Mike as chief track layer...
...and John as design consultant.
Don using his management App...
...and John doing the mixing.
More cement please...
Looking a bit deep.
...blimey it's Australia says Eric.
Are you sure the spirit level isn't broken?
Right, that's it...
...fill in the gaps...
...its home time.
Two days later, after monsoon weather, we return to tracklay on our pavers.
But there are a couple of days of good weather forecast...
...so we take a chance and rip up the whole of the front track.
Clean out the bed to expose the original slabs.
A bit more cutting. Don loves the angle grinder.
If Glenis finds out then I was never here, says Eric.
What? Aluminium? Oh no, what's going on?
These concrete slabs are so hard that drilling is a nightmare.
So an aluminium top sheet, cemented in place, makes an easy surface to drill and screw.
It all looks very interesting, says Lucy.
Meanwhile, in the sidings...
...track laying continues at a pace.
End of the line,
Tight bends and turnouts...
...gives pause for thought.
Meanwhile, at the shiny end, the first bits of Filcris come out.
Come and hide with me, says Eric, they've all gone mad.
Right, this is the plan, says John.
More Filcris Elliot (Elliot and Lucy cut the Filcris without realising that the saw is blunt. A cunning plan to avoid accidental amputations).
Who's idea was it to lay these pavers.
Keep away from me, you're mad, says Eric, prepared to defend himself with a trowel.
Meanwhile Michael, Doug and Ash had arrived for a Wednesday run. Well the top track was open.
Sidings now done and we are nearly at the end of Day Two.
Just a few more bits of Filcris and it's done.
Day Three, Just need to finish.
Track laying begins at the bridge.
And in the middle around the station platform.
The Filcris mostly stays cemented down...
...and is really easy to screw into.
Progress is rapid...
...but slows down in the complicated bit near the junction to the sidings.
What we've done looks brilliant but...
... the junction is very tricky challenge.
Mike and Don work really hard.
There isn't much space.
The designer comes in for a lot of stick...
...and Don has him by the throat at this point.
But then suddenly it was done.
Tested all ok.
From the bridge...
...to the clubhouse...
...through the junction from hell...
...and into the curve to the existing track. Finished. Home. End of Day Three. Amazing.
Many thanks to all involved especially Eric, Mike, Don, Clive, Dave, Lucy and Elliot.>
Photos by Elliot
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