|Catalog Number 15S1A, 15S1C or 15S1D - Train Set Track|
Train Set Track
Catalog Numbers 15S1A, 15S1C or 15S1D
Drill with 3/16" bit, 5/16" and 3/8" wrenches, c-clamp or locking pliers, tape measure, small file, power screwdriver or drill (optional), spacers for ties.
The train set is furnished with a basic oval of track (see figure). This is delivered as curved sections forming a circle of eight segments and two straight sections. The curved sections have a radius of 10 feet (3.05 meters) measured at a point equidistant between the two rails and cover an arc of 45 degrees. The straight sections are 10 feet (3.05 meters) in length. Additional track and switches (turnouts) are available.
The track consists of aluminum rail having a proper scale model profile of the prototype. The rail is joined with joint bars (also called fish plates) that are bolted to both sides of the rail through holes provided in the joint bars and drilled to match in the rail.
The ties (called sleepers in some areas of the world) are approximately 1.34 inches (34mm) square and slightly less than 12 inches (304mm) in length. The rail is attached to the ties with track screws.
You should select a location for your track that will prevent people and pets from being on, or tripping over, the track. If the track is to be installed and left for some period of time consideration must be given to preventing the growing of grass or other plants up through the track. The track is fully weatherproof and may be left outside indefinitely or may be taken apart for moving or storage. Track to be located on a hard surface should have some type of padding placed under the ties to prevent them from slipping. Outdoor carpeting intended for patios that has a rubber back works well for the purpose. The track may also be ballasted (filled around with gravel) if the installation is to be permanent. Use of stone dust, or similar products that "set up" hard like concrete is not recommended.
Your location should be large enough to allow the full size of the track plus at least several additional feet along both sides of the track. This allows for the width of the train equipment and the passengers. It is not recommended that the track be placed near trees, posts, edges of high walls, etc. because a derailment could cause the train and passengers to hit or fall over these objects.
One issue to be aware of is what is known as a reverse curve (see drawing). If you have a curve that turns first one way, then the other you can create a problem if the two directions of the curve are too close together. This is not an issue of wheelbase but of coupler swing between two cars (or a locomotive and car) and usually shows up with your longest car, especially if it is coupled to something much shorter. To prevent problems separate the two curves by the length of your longest car. You can reduce this somewhat if you have a tight place, especially since such an area will probably be limited to low speeds. Also be aware that this applies to the curve within a switch followed by either another switch or curved track.
Your location must also consider the "grade" of the track. Grade is defined as the amount of slope, or the change in elevation in a fixed distance. Grade is usually measured as a number of feet (meters) in 100 feet (meters) with 1 in 100 being called one percent, etc. Your train set will operate best with a maximum grade of two percent. Since the basic loop of track is approximately 82 feet (25 meters) around you can calculate the maximum change in elevation as two percent of one-half of this value (this assumes that you will be going up for half the time and down for half the time). This gives a value of 20 inches (500 mm) for the total grade. You can check your selected location with a piece of string and a device known as a "line level" (a small bubble level that hangs on the string) available at most hardware stores. If your grade is greater than this value you should relocate your track if possible. Moving of dirt (cuts or fills), bridges, etc. may also be used. Be sure that whatever is used is capable of supporting the track while in operation.
With your layout design finished you will want to begin to move dirt. Large construction equipment does not work well on making the narrow widths we need for our roadbeds. You should consider smaller equipment such as rototillers and walk behind loaders that are commonly used in gardening. Be sure that fills (areas where dirt was added) are firmly compacted. Slope the dirt away from the track either uphill or down as needed and try to keep this slope at an angle of 45 degrees to limit erosion with rain or irrigation.
Consideration must be given to preventing the growing of grass or other plants up through the track. Materials known as geotextiles are sold in home centers that can be places between the dirt roadbed and the ballast rock. Being porous these materials will allow water to soak in but stop weeds from coming through.
Construction of bridges, tunnels, ponds and similar features are beyond the scope of this paper but you must remember that they must be capable of supporting the weight of loaded trains, allow sufficient room for passengers and overall meet safety considerations.
Gauge is the distance between the inside edges of the two rails. The track discussed here is for use with equipment designed for 7 1/2" gauge. It has been found that making the gauge slightly wider allows equipment to operate better on curves without affecting operation on straight track. For this reason you will find that the track furnished with this set is slightly wider than 7 1/2" inches. This is not an error.
The tie material is made from recycled materials (milk jugs and sawdust). When new you will find some natural color variation. This is due to the types of materials used for a certain batch of tie material, and to how much sun they have been exposed to. When installed outdoors and left out the ties should all reach a similar gray color in two to three months. If used indoors you may want to leave the ties outside so that they all age to this color. The ties may also be painted using any standard exterior oil base paint or stain intended for wood.
The ties have two grooves that position the rail the correct distance apart. When installing the rail try to keep it centered in these grooves. However, small variations will not effect operation of the train. You will notice that some grooves are deeper than others. This is due to natural variations in the thickness of the tie material. The depth of the groove is determined as a constant amount above the bottom of the tie so that the rail will remain level if the ties are placed on a hard flat surface.
The rail is attached to the ties using track screws. These screws have a 5/16" hex head and a self-drilling point. Installation is best done with a power screwdriver (first choice) or power drill having a magnetic insert hex driver bit to fit the screws. They may also be installed by hand with a socket wrench, nut driver, or screwdriver.
When installing track screws they should be placed vertically (see right side of drawing) and driven straight downward. Since the base of the rail slopes it is natural to want to drive screws at that same angle but it is not recommended. Screws placed at an angle will allow the rail to move sideways out of gauge if they come loose. Screws driven vertically will maintain gauge even if loose. The screws should also be located so that the side of the screw does not cut into the edge of the rail. Install the screw until the head touches the base of the rail (left side of drawing). If you are installing permanent track that will be ballasted the screws should only slightly touch the rail. This allows the rail to slide through the tie as it expands and contracts with temperature. For track that is to be portable, or disassembled for storage, the screws should be tighter so that the ties remain in position when the track is moved.
When installing track screws at a joint between two pieces of rail the tie should be centered below the joint (see drawing). The track screws should all be placed on one side of the joint to allow the joint to be disassembled (for permanent installations use two screws on each side of the rail, one on each piece of rail). Note that the head of the track screws will be on the base of the joint bar, not on the rail. Use care in locating these track screws so that they do not interfere with the installation of the bolts and nuts that hold the joint bars.
Joint Bar Installation
The rail that is furnished has been cut to length. The cutting operation or shipping may cause small burrs on the rail ends that should be removed with a file. The rail must then be drilled for the joint bars. Before drilling all the rail, please read the next section and follow the procedure there. To do this drilling measure and mark the center of a joint bar. Align this mark with the end of the rail and clamp the joint bar to the side of the rail using a small c-clamp or locking pliers (Vise Grip brand for example). Using the holes in the joint bar as a guide, drill a 3/16" hole through the rail at both locations. Several extra joint bars have been provided in case they are damaged in this operation.
To attach the joint bars place one on each side of the rails. Place the hex head bolts through the holes with the heads located between the rails (so that the nuts will be on the outside). Thread the nuts on to the bolts. While holding the bolt head with a 5/16" wrench, tighten the nut with a 3/8" wrench. These nuts are self-locking and become harder to turn before they are fully tight. Make sure that all bolts are properly, but not overly tightened.
In permanent installations it is necessary to provide for rail expansion and contraction. This is usually done by drilling the hole in the rail (but not the joint bar) out larger (typically 5/16") so that the joint bars may slide along the rail. You need to modify the location of the holes so that the gap between the rail ends and the gap between the bolts and the holes are the same. You will also need to accurately estimate how much gap is needed depending on the temperature at time of installation. For help with these issues it is recommended that you contact persons with experience in laying track in your area.
The rail furnished consists of eight inner (smaller radius) curved rails that have been marked with black paint on the bottom at one end, eight outer curved rails, and four straight rails. Ties are furnished based on a spacing of 4 1/2" or 114mm center-to-center. This results in 21 ties for each curved section and 27 ties for each straight section. Necessary joint bars, track screws, bolts, and nuts are also included.
If you have purchased additional track or switches, please modify the following to fit the desired shape of your track. If installing the basic oval, begin by joining two inner curved rails end to end with two joint bars, four bolts, and four nuts. Do the same for two outer curved rails. Working on a reasonably smooth surface, center the joint of each of these on a tie and attach the rails to the tie using track screws. Place additional ties under the rails (you can use a spacing much larger than the final one at this time) ending with a tie centered under each of the ends. Use a tape measure to check the radius at this point (remember it is measured to the center of the ties) by measuring from each end to a common point (you are measuring two radius ninety degrees apart). Rail can spring after being bent and can change in shipping and some adjustment may be necessary. Also check that the ends of the outer and inner rails are even at each end and that the curve looks smooth and of constant radius.
If everything appears close to correct at this point, add an additional section of rail to each end of the curve making a half circle. Here again you should check to make sure that the radius is correct, the ends are even, etc. If you have a half circle that appears correct you may go back and add all of the ties under the rail and screw the rail down. Note that each one-eighth circle segment has 21 ties counting the one under one end joint but not the one under the other end joint (which is part of the next section). If there are problems take time to locate them now. Trimming of the rail ends may be done but should only be done if all other items have been checked first.
Assemble another half circle using the methods above. Connect these two half circles with the straight track and the track work is completed.
Ballast must be compacted firmly enough to hold the track. It is not recommended that you use concrete, paved areas, or other hard surfaces to support your track except where absolutely required (such as a road crossing) since track must give under the passing load of a train. This also means that products such as rock dust or slag that will set up hard over time should not be used for ballast.
You will find that the simplest way to lay track panels is to place them directly on the dirt or geotextile of your roadbed. You should adjust curves and install joint bars to get a finished track before you install ballast.
Ballast can then simply be dumped over the track. Use a rod with a hook formed on its end (a sprinkler valve wrench from the hardware store makes a good starting place for this) to pull the track up through the ballast so that some rock is under the ties and use your judgment to establish the approximate level of the track. Add more ballast as needed and tamp the rock to hold the ties (the end of a shovel handle makes a good tamper). Use whatever levels or other equipment you have to gradually work the track into its desired slopes, curves, etc.
You should be careful to make sure the track is level from side to side. Variations up and down along the length of the track may look funny and will feel like a roller coaster but will generally not cause a derailment. Small variations from side to side on the other hand will cause all sorts of problems that are often hard for the beginner to find. Spend time and check this carefully.
You will find that newly laid track will settle no matter how careful you are in first laying it. Plan on some time to recheck and adjust your track during the first season of its operation. In areas where the ground freezes you must also plan on some work each spring as the ground thaws.
If the track is to be disassembled it is recommended that the sections be marked so that they can be assembled in the same order. Disconnect sections by removing two bolts and nuts from each pair of joint bars so that the joint bars remain attached to the rail that is screwed to the tie. Use care in handling and storage because this track is both heavy and flexible.
Replacement Parts List
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