Hand Laid Track

Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:25 pm

I've started this separate subject so that the diorama build doesn't get over whelmed with spike talk. Feel free to post your ideas and comments on hand laying track using Clover House wood ties and the use of resin cast tie sections.

The discussion centered around spikes small enough for use in TT to spike Code55 rail to ties. I proposed using pins with cut off heads. A question on Rail Line Forum brought forth the use of phosphor-bronze wire. So I experimented with the wire. Results show .020" dia. wire works good. The use of pins will also work but they are a bit larger in dia.

I use the pins to temporarily hold the track down when using glue, such as Pliobond, until the glue dries. The PB (phosphor bronze) wire I discovered when making spikes is that the head breaks when squeezing the wire flat first and them bending the flat part 90°. I had the same problem with the pins. I then bend the wire first and then flatten it to form the spike head. Worked much better on both the pins and the PB wire.

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I laid two strips of resin ties on either side of the Clover House wooden ties for an experiment of spiking.

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I spiked one tie with a pin and the second tie with PB wire. Note that the tie with the pin split. This can be solved by using a drill first for a pilot hole. The tie spiked with the PB wire didn't split. After forming the head of the spike I used a pair of side cutters at an angle to cut the formed spike. No hole drilling is necessary with the PB wire.

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I have another idea for the combination use of the cast ties and the wooden ties. I'll post on that next when I get it all set up.

Comments, suggestions welcome.

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:33 pm

After I posted the last post I figured an explanation of how I go about doing this is in order.

Here are the tools I used. From left to right, Xurcon sprue side cutters, a pair of flat nosed pliers from Michaels in their bead department, needle nose pliers, a second pair of needle nose pliers and the .020" dia. phosphor bronze wire.

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The needle nosed pliers have two grooves ground into the jaws at a 90°. This helps hold the spike and keep it from twisting while pushing in the spike.

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A pair of Xurcon spruce side cutters.

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The flat pliers from Michaels from their beading department.

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First I make a 90° bend in the wire.

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Next I squeeze the wire as close to the pivot as possible because of leverage.

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The rough head of the spike.

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I trim the end of to shorten it.

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Then I cut the spike off at a severe side angle to give it a sharp point.

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The spike is placed into the pliers with the two notches.

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Hold tightly and push the spike into the wood tie.

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And the end result. Also note the two spikes 5 ties further up the picture.

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My conclusion is that it's possible to form spikes from .020" phosphor bronze wire. The wire is stiff enough to use in this way. This may seem like a lot of work to spike rail to wooden ties, but I believe the end result is quite good looking. If you are into building a highly detailed layout then this is the way to go. If you are building a layout to operate as soon as possible then this could be a deterrent. But we have to start some where.

As always comments and suggestions are welcome.

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Tom Dempsey » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:53 am

I assume the phosphor bronze wire is half-hard? Generally drilling a starter hole in the ties is considered standard practice, if there is such a thing in handlaying track. I actually sometimes use a No 16 or 20 sewing needle to make the hole because I'm too lazy some days to set up a hand motor with a drill bit and plug it in (sad?, yeah it is, I'm old, oh well).
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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:34 am

Yes the wire is half hard. I annealed a bit of it and was surprise how limp it was, almost like solder. I did discover the you need to bend the head on it first before flattening it or the bend will crack. A needle or drill would make it easier to locate the spike properly. I was surprised how easy it was to push the wire into the wood. Now I need to design a jig so I can make up multiples of spikes at one time. I wonder how Micro Engineering does it and what the machine looks like.

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:14 pm

A question came up on the Rail line forum about the comparison between Micro Spikes and the PB wire spikes. Here's the answer.

I just happen to have some very old Micro spikes on hand. These have to be 30 years or older. Micro Engineering makes Micro Spikes as does Micro Mark. Micro Mark says their micro spikes are for Code83. Hard to tell from the picture. I also read somewhere that Proto87 store sells micro spikes, but didn't find any. I think this was one of the reasons for finding another method of securing track to ties, such as glue or PC ties spaced along with wooden ties in the small rail sizes.

Here's a comparison of a PB wire formed spike versus a micro spike. They are almost identical in diameter.

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Here's two micro spikes next to two PB wire spikes in wooden ties. The micro spike seems to have a larger head on it than the PB spike.

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I dumped a bunch of micro spikes out on the bench. I noticed that I have two different lengths. A closer look with a magnifying glass shows the micro spikes are not that well formed. I guess you could pick out the better shaped ones to use.

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I think I'll stick with making my own spikes using the PB wire. I don't need to hand lay 2 scale miles (88 real feet in TT scale) of track. Also the holding power once a hole is poked into the wood isn't that great. I haven't tried wooden ties on cork road bed yet. The spikes might hold better in that. Looks like another test needs to be preformed.

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby ConducTTor » Thu Nov 12, 2015 8:03 pm

Your PB wire spikes look better. I would stick with them.
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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby richardedmonds » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:56 am

Bernd I really am enjoying your experiences and experimenting with all different things. To me at present you are single handedly trying to push TT further forward. You have really made me want to try this for myself just for the pleasure of it. Thank you for posting on this forum for us all to see :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:40 am

ConducTTor wrote:Your PB wire spikes look better. I would stick with them.


Ya, I think I stick (pun intended) with the PB wire. Looking into making a jig to crank out several at once.

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby Bernd » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:42 am

richardedmonds wrote:Bernd I really am enjoying your experiences and experimenting with all different things. To me at present you are single handedly trying to push TT further forward. You have really made me want to try this for myself just for the pleasure of it. Thank you for posting on this forum for us all to see :clap: :clap: :clap:


You're to kind Richard. :oops:

Well that's what this hobby is about, sharing ideas. You may not like some, which is OK and you may get inspired by others, that's great.

More to come as I get time. :dance:

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Re: Hand Laid Track

Postby TinGoat » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:53 am

(Copied from Other Thread and expanded.)

More spike stuff...

I think that there are several factors.

Length

Thickness

Head

Ties, roadbed and sub-roadbed.

The length will determine if you are just spiking the tie or penetrating through to the roadbed or even into the sub-roadbed. The ties themselves don't usually hold the spikes very well and you need to penetrate the roadbed.

Cork, Homasote or pine roadbed will hold spikes well.

There's the slower process of pre-drilling all of the spike holes but it may save you the aggravation of bending the spikes.

A thick spike will likely crack and split the ties unless you pre-drill all the holes.

Powering up a Dremel is overkill. Use one of the spiral hand drills like this http://www.micromark.com/micro-hand-drill,7045.htmlImage or http://www.micromark.com/spiral-push-drill,6757.htmlImage

For me, personally, the most objectionable quality of a spike is the size of the head.

:shock: Obviously, that's the part you see when everything is done.

The Micro Engineering Small Spikes that I have been using are fine for On30 Code 83 rail.

But I think they are too big for TT on code 70 or code 55 rail.

I wouldn't want the spikes to be any shorter, but I want the heads to be smaller.
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