Track Details

There is a reason why William Cornelius Van Horne paid thousands of navvies to lay the CPR: it is remarkably tedious work! I mean, really, four spikes for every tie! Is it really necessary?

Tonight I shook the frets out of the Proto:87 Stores packaging and tried out some of their joint bars and spikes. The joint bars work fine, if a little subtle. The spikes will drive me crazy!

Track fiddly bits

For the joint bars, I cut a few from their fret and deposited them in a little pile that would surely disappear in an instant if I were to sneeze. Then, I placed a drop of CA on each side of the rail where the joint would be, and tweezered them into position. I didn’t worry too much about precise placement of the joint bars as its hard to see both sides of the rail anyway, and they don’t protrude far enough to be visible from above.

Note that the Canada Atlantic laid their track with the joints opposite one another, and supported by a tie. If you’re modeling just about any other road, don’t copy this. Most track has the joints offset, and the joint bar spans a pair of ties, with the joint itself falling in the middle.

Next came the spike test. “Test” is an apt description for these are probably the smallest spikes ever made! The packet comes with a warning label that essentially tells you not to inhale!

I followed the instructions, which suggest using tweezers to twist one spike off at a time and drive it into the tie. I found regular cosmetics tweezers worked better than my pointy modeling ones, which had a tendency to launch the occasional spike into the ether. I also found that, while the spikes are robust enough to drive into the tie themselves, it is easier if you make a pilot hole with a needle or pin.

I can probably spike about two lengths of rail before I’ll go blind or crazy, and so, this is going to have to be an activity that I complete a little at a time for months if not years. I will also have to carefully consider whether all the track needs to be spiked. In many places, you can’t get close enough to see them anyway.

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