North switch ballast and rail preparation

I am getting the bulk of the ballast in before the rails go down on Pembroke. I’ve always found that ballasting after the rails takes a lot of fussing, and then it moves anyway. I’m leaving the areas around solder clean until they are proven to work, but the plain track, which is glued, is getting ballasted. The ballast is a mixture of Pembroke sand (real dirt from Pembroke) and sanded grout. There are some white flecks, which I think are glue that hardened inside the bottle. I’ll have to come back and correct them later.


The first step in preparing the rails was to form the point of the frog. The two rails had been ground to the correct angle with my screaming banshee rail grinder some months ago. So, it took only a few minutes to file the foot of the main route (which is actually the diverging route) so the other rail could nestle in against it. I then held them on the hand-drawn 1:7 angle template with my left hand while I soldered them together with my right. Good thing I have asbestos fingers!

Here is the bottom of the frog so you can see how it goes together.

Next, I bent the stock rails and the frog ends so they more or less lie where they ought to without any pins or glue. For this, I used my Fast Tracks Rail Roller, finishing up a couple of places the old-fashioned way, with three fingers swiping down the sides of the rail.

I then bent the slight angle in the diverging stock rail that is just before the toe of the points and which enables the points to fit against the stock rails without large sections of out-of-gauge track.


On previous dioramas (Pembroke is my first Proto:87 layout), I have left the stock rails whole, as my prototype probably did. I know I can make these work, but I also know it takes a lot of fiddling to get them to work reliably. So, on Pembroke, where you are hard-pressed to look down into the switches anyway, I am notching the foot of the stock rails to allow the points to fit in easily. This, I did next, followed by some more fine-tuning of the curvatures.


Next, I used my diamond cut off disk in my Dremel tool to slit the ends of all the rails so they would accept the Proto:87 Stores rail joiners. I align these slits with the bottom of the rail web so they all work together vertically. I soldered the rail joiners in place.


While the soldering iron was hot, I also tinned the foot of the rail in every place where there is a PC board tie, except the point of the frog. Then, between these locations, I dribbled Pliobond, straight from the tube. This must be the only adhesive that works best straight from the tube! There is no Pliobond through the switches. I use CA to bond the rail to the printed plastic.



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