What I’ve written here includes both things I did and things I wish I had done when building Shandin Loop and while participating in building NorCalF’s new Mojave Yard. I’ve also incorporated comments made by other Free-mo modelers as well. If you’ve never built a module or installed trackwork before, following the recommendations presented here carefully and without compromise will result in excellent trackwork.
Even the most beautiful locomotives, equipment and scenery are no pleasure if trains don’t stay on the track or don’t look great traveling along it. While prototypical modeling occasionally results in models that simply aren’t suited to reliable operation, most derailments and other operational and appearance problems can be traced to avoidable trackwork problems.
Remember that the Free-mo objective is to create trackwork that is as prototypical, operates as well, and looks as good as our best locomotives and rolling stock. This means that trackwork needs to be treated as an important part of your overall modeling work and made as reliable and faithful to the prototype as your prize models.
The time and care
invested in every step of planning and installing track will invariably
be paid back many times over.
This is especially true for modular trackwork.
While applicable to all trackwork, the emphasis in what follows
is on Free-mo trackwork.
Everything recommended here is intended to conform to
U.S. Free-mo standards.
Northern California Free-mo has created a set of
guidelines providing more detail while remaining entirely consistent
with the Free-mo standards. The group's
DCC guidelines can be found in a separate document.
Northern California Free-mo has created a set of guidelines providing more detail while remaining entirely consistent with the Free-mo standards. The group's DCC guidelines can be found in a separate document.
In many of the subjects covered below, I emphasize the need for flatness, very gradual transitions between different track heights, etc. A good quality square, a long straight-edge (like a metal yardstick) and between the rails straight and curved track templates will help to determine if you have accomplished what you intended. Even though you have and use these tools, nothing will substitute for the following “invaluable hint”.
An invaluable hint: After using all the tools available to check your work, sight across and along the module framework, roadbed and track at rail top level. It’s often amazing what is revealed when you do. You’ll observe things that your tools might not have exposed. Dips, rises, twists, kinks, crooked track and turnouts, and all manner of other deviations from perfect cabinetry and trackwork will show up with surprising (and sometimes embarrassing) clarity. Do this frequently as you progress through all phases of building your module and your track