Trackwork Handbook


[Appendix 1: Planning]     [Contents]     [Appendix 3: Track]

By Gregg Fuhriman

1.       Endplates that are not vertical cause the following problems:

When the top of an endplate is tilted “inward” toward the body of the module, the gap for bridge rails is lengthened and custom-length bridge rails must be made on-the-fly. An unsightly gap at the inter-module joint occurs as well.

When the top of an endplate is tilted “outward” away from the body of the module, there is a tendency during setup to tighten the C-clamp all the way down to force the bottoms of the adjoining end plates together. This puts a lot of pressure on the end plates as the bottom edges try to flex outward. This can break or loosen framework joints, etc.

Warping or twisting of endplates will also introduce variations or combinations of the above problems.

 2.      End plates on existing modules, as well as during construction of new modules, can be checked using a carpenter’s “L” square.

One leg of the square is placed flat on the rail top while the other leg is allowed to hang down over the end plate vertically. Gaps between the L-leg and the endplate will reveal problems in the vertical direction (tilt inward or outward). Corrections can be made by carefully measuring and marking the endplate and removing material with a hand plane, belt sander, etc., to make the end plate perpendicular to the track vertically.

3.       For flatness, a 24” straight-edge may be used.

Slowly pass it horizontally over all areas of the endplate, watching for any gaps between the straight-edge and endplate. These gaps will show where the “low spots” are on the endplate.  Carefully measure and mark the endplate and remove material to knock down “high spots’, with frequent re-checks to avoid taking off too much material.

 4.      Testing for track perpendicularity to endplate horizontally can also be done with a  carpenter’s “L” square or a combination square.

Position with one leg against the side of the rail or ties and the other leg along the length of the endplate. Correcting problems in this case is more difficult. Either the track position must be corrected or the endplate modified. Of the two, it seems as though the track would be easier to adjust, although on a finished, ballasted module, even that is a daunting task.

 5.      The best solution is to avoid these errors in the first place.

When constructing end plates and module frames, double and triple check that endplates are flat and vertically perpendicular to the track subroadbed.

 6.      When laying the track, make absolutely certain that it is horizontally perpendicular to the endplate surface.

The material used for endplates should be carefully considered.  Experience has shown that pine dimensional lumber is not desireable since it can warp and twist even after being assembled into a module. High quality plywood is a better choice.

7.       Consider locating pins for intra-module joints

Railroad Model Craftsman, February 2011, included an article on the used of locating pins for aligning intra-module joints. While this approach isn't suitable for inter-modules joints, it may be well suited for intra-module joints between segments of a multi-segment module when combined with the "loose-rail" approach. Here are photos of the pins and their installation.

[Appendix 1: Planning]     [Contents]     [Appendix 3: Track]

Gary M. Green