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    • March 22, 2017 9:32 AM EDT
    • Greg,

      I agree that securing the track at 3 ft. intervals gives a little wiggle room for expansion.  It's worked well for the last ten years, and yes, it is pleasant here in Pleasanton.

    • March 21, 2017 5:32 PM EDT
    • Dan, I think one of the keys to your success is that you only secure the track every 3 feet and that is also somewhat flexible from your description.

       

      The guy with the glued LGB track had virtually ALL the ties at both ends of each section glued, like 4-5 ties...

       

      Also when I started about 10 years ago, the common thought was a screw every foot or LESS... all of those layouts did not last in that configuration.

       

      Anyway, sounds like weather is Pleasant in Pleasanton  ...

       

      Greg

    • March 21, 2017 10:14 AM EDT
    • I live 2 blocks away from Jim so I can give my experience with track expansion in our area.  My layout is 10 years old, my track is brass Aristocraft screwed together.  I used 8" plastic stakes at 36" intervals that are secured to the tie strip with SS screws (see illustration).  We have no freeze thaw problems.  I have only had one track expansion problem and that was on my trestle at 106 degrees during an open house that resulted in a derailment. Fortunately the cars fell to the dry side of the trestle.  I have no dedicated expansion joints and have had no other problems but the trestle.  Jim is going to have a full summer to see what happens.  I don't plan to run trains at over 100 degrees anymore unless it's an open house.

       

    • March 21, 2017 8:22 AM EDT
    • The way you have it with the expansion joints is the way the real RR did it when jointed rail was used.  Walk down any track that is still that way, and you will find the expansion joints that allow the rail to move.  The real railroad did experience heat related kinks, but those are rare.   Now, that has changed a bit with the advent of welded rail.

       

      I have also been visiting a RR for 8 years with concrete roadbed with the track screwed to it and expansion joints.  Temperatures range from below zero to over one hundred and he hasn't replaced a piece of track due to expansion yet.

       

      I would give it a chance.  Daniel Smith wasn't waiting tables yesterday and laying track today.  He is pretty experienced in what he does and had laid far more track than any of us.

       

      Chris

    • March 21, 2017 8:10 AM EDT
    • This is why I like the floating method.  Just let your track float on top of ballast and not use boards as a base to support and secure the track.  I have used stone dust for years and never had any issues with movement or expansion.  If I have, its not very noticeable.  My layout can see winter temperatures well below zero and summer temperatures can hit 100.  I get tropical storms to blizzards and the track has lasted through it all using the floating method.  I know if I were to use the ladder system or boards I would run into nothing but problems.  

       

      What is the advantage to using the boards as a base?   You can get a pretty solid base using stone dust or something similar.  

       

    • March 20, 2017 10:06 PM EDT
    • The good news is that nothing is permanent... if you experience problems you can make changes.

      I do have a friend that insisted on having narrow strips of concrete for the track base, and GLUING the track to the concrete.

      Now some people have worked out how to do this, solid base, drainage, rebar throughout, especially between sections.

      Well a few years later, the concrete moved, so it was no longer level side to side and worse, the sections of concrete were no longer level from section to section. The concrete was not reinforced, and the area was actually in a depression so ground water did not help either.

      So the sections that lifted pulled the rails out of the ties of the lower sections... and torqued stuff up... Also installed with no expansion gaps in the full sun, so even gauge problems. (All LGB sectional track, so no rail sliding possible)

      Basically the whole thing needs to be torn out after considerable expense for the concrete laying and LGB track.

      Just the results of trying too hard to not let stuff "breathe"..

      Your construction should not have these severe problems.

       

      Greg

    • March 20, 2017 6:35 PM EDT
    • Thanks Greg. You present the problems nicely. Of course it all comes down to how much expansion difference over how long a span, etc. I'm a bit nervous about all of it :-). Physics has a history of being pretty unforgiving.

       

    • March 20, 2017 5:14 PM EDT
    • If you can keep the ties completely fixed and only the rails move, you will either get big gaps or kinks, or both.

       

      Pretty hard to fight the laws of physics.

       

      Adding gaps was a good idea, but why butt the rails and then cut gaps? I guess the "nails" around the gaps are really tie spikes? I think you will find that over time, if you cut gaps on curves, the nails won't maintain a smooth curve at the gap.

       

      One thing I've seen over the years is the progression of "thought". In the early days people bolted everything down to keep anything from moving. Normally if the ties were solidly fixed, the rails began to rip out of the ties.

       

      The next "school of thought" was that ok, fix the ties, but let the rails slide. Well, the specter of physics rears it's head again, as while it seems to make sense, the issue is that the friction of the rails in the ties is not consistent (for many reasons), and you are back to big gaps in places and kinks in other areas.

       

      Finally, the evolution has come to most that you loosely locate the ties, and let things move like the real trains do. Many people will try to argue that our scale does not work like the 1:1: but it does.

       

      If you look at the prototype, they go to the effort to do the complete opposite of letting the rails slide in the ties, and lock the rails to the ties.

       

      One of the big issues we have is the radically different expansion of the rails vs. the ties. By locking them together at multiple points, then the ballast is the thing controlling the movement of the track, again like the real thing.

       

      Anyway, you have 3 different expansion coefficients going on now, the rails, the ties and the boards. Your temperatures might be mild enough that virtually anything works, but a good inspection at the temperature extremes is what will tell.

       

       

      In any case, your workmanship is superb so if anyone has the chance of success, you will. (But I still would recommend SplitJaws at your gaps)

       

      Regards, Greg

    • March 20, 2017 4:41 PM EDT
    • I don't think I need to change any of my behavior to have loose screws!

       

      I'm impersonating Daniel Smith here so may be wrong, but his approach seems to be to keep the ties in a known spot, and let the rails move only in the direction of the rails, with the minimum gaps necessary for the max temperature.  I don't have enough experience to know whether that's the best approach or not, and it may also be an approach that works for a limited temperature range (in my case that's from about 35 to about 105, with our track put in about halfway in that range).

       

      So we very carefully, as we laid track, butted the track ends up as close as possible (i.e. no gap at all) at the track boundaries, using the plastic joiners, and then cut gaps for the rails to expand into, even on the curves. Note that we also added extra nails to hold the ties on either side of the new gaps so they don't move at all.

       

      If/when it screws up I'll update this thread so a lesson can be learned.

       

      Cheers!

    • March 20, 2017 1:42 PM EDT
    • Jim

      Did you enlarge the hole you used to screw the track down ...some will enlarge the hole and place a washer and leave the screw loose , so the track can move a little.

      Then you can say you have a couple loose screws! 

    • March 20, 2017 1:37 PM EDT
    • John Caughey said:

      From my experience, I know my curves moved laterally (up to an inch) and there is no way to ensure they return the same way, meaning gaps can be over size.

      I approach the layout as a whole and allow movement. I use curves to break long tangents which can be most disruptive.

       

      I would be wary of making cuts on curves.

       

      Good Luck,

      John

      No matter where you put these cuts, if'n it were me, I'd put some slip joints on those rail ends to keep the rails in alignment.  Don't count on the tie strips to maintain alignment. 

       

      Why not just use the existing ends of the flex track for those expansion joints?

    • March 21, 2017 1:55 PM EDT
    • Stan Cedarleaf said:

      Hi Andy......  When I first read the post headline, I was a bit concerned about this undertaking.  

       

      It's my understanding that Memphis is 257 miles or so south of Nashville..   You're a few miles south of Nashville so it's probably closer to 253.  Laying all that G gauge track is going to take great effort and then you'll need to walk along side the trains all the way, have battery charging stations every few miles and places of rest and refreshments.  

       

      You might consider moving up to 7 1/2 inch "Ride-On" gauge so you could at least sit in the control car and have the locomotive powered by the gas engines pulling the trains.  That way, you could run the track through towns on the way to Memphis and "gas up" as needed.  Although, you may have quite a bit of gas. 

       

      Anyway, just a thought.  Just thinking of your well being.     Have fun with the project....  

      Stan, trust me, there are some days that I really believe we are building the railroad to the true Memphis, all 257 miles of it...   

       

    • March 21, 2017 1:51 PM EDT
    • the Builder, that was supposed to arrive 4 hrs earlier, was just pulling in.  Amtrak, in their wisdom, decided not to hold the Starlight for the late Builder.

      Now there is customer service for you.

    • March 21, 2017 1:20 PM EDT
    • Bruce Chandler said:
      Steve Featherkile said:

      Wow!  I had no idea.  A visit is on my bucket list, fo sho.

      Come this October!    You should probably avoid the train, though; the Empire Builder to Chicago is 40 hours late!

      The Builder is always late.  BNSF is still trying to find their way through Marias Pass.

       

      A couple of years ago, I planned to take the train from Spokane to Ontario, CA, to visit my son at NCB 2 in Port Huineme.  I thought about leaving from Spokane on the Portland section of the Builder, have a 4 hr layover in Portland, the south on the Coast Starlight.  Then, realizing that it was December, I elected to drive to Portland early, spend the night with my daughter and her husband, and head south the next day.  I drove through a blizzard on the way to Portland, so I thought that I had made a wise choice.  Little did I know how right I was.

       

      As the Coast Starlight was pulling out of the Portland station, with me on it, the Builder, that was supposed to arrive 4 hrs earlier, was just pulling in.  Amtrak, in their wisdom, decided not to hold the Starlight for the late Builder.  I would have missed that train, and the event that I was going to California, for.

    • March 21, 2017 10:21 AM EDT
    • Hi Andy......  When I first read the post headline, I was a bit concerned about this undertaking.  

       

      It's my understanding that Memphis is 257 miles or so south of Nashville..   You're a few miles south of Nashville so it's probably closer to 253.  Laying all that G gauge track is going to take great effort and then you'll need to walk along side the trains all the way, have battery charging stations every few miles and places of rest and refreshments.  

       

      You might consider moving up to 7 1/2 inch "Ride-On" gauge so you could at least sit in the control car and have the locomotive powered by the gas engines pulling the trains.  That way, you could run the track through towns on the way to Memphis and "gas up" as needed.  Although, you may have quite a bit of gas. 

       

      Anyway, just a thought.  Just thinking of your well being.     Have fun with the project....  

    • March 21, 2017 7:52 AM EDT
    • Steve Featherkile said:

      Wow!  I had no idea.  A visit is on my bucket list, fo sho.

      Come this October!    You should probably avoid the train, though; the Empire Builder to Chicago is 40 hours late!

    • March 20, 2017 6:54 PM EDT
    • Steve Featherkile said:

      Wow!  I had no idea.  A visit is on my bucket list, fo sho.

      Anytime, Steve...   

    • March 20, 2017 1:17 PM EDT
    • Wow!  I had no idea.  A visit is on my bucket list, fo sho.

    • March 20, 2017 9:46 AM EDT
    • Thanks Bruce...    Actually, that picture is almost up to date....  Those 2 white squares on the triangle dirt are the 2 skids of rocks that made up the wall between Freeman Spur and the Memphis mainline...

    • March 20, 2017 9:39 AM EDT
    • Very impressive Andy.

      Hope it's done by October! 

      I also hope that Google gets a more updated picture before then...