So, I started the morning early since I couldn’t sleep. I assembled the first production 6 foot section of track. I decided that the maximum length of any section would be 6 feet since the metal rail is 6 feet in length. By approaching the construction of the straight sections this way, I will be able to take down a section if it gets damaged and I also minimize the number of rail cuts I need to make.
What I decided to do for the sections is to start each run with a tie offset by 1 tie width. This will make it so that the begin and end of the section meets with the next section and has a transparent seam between the sections.
To make sure that the work bench stays flat since I am going to be putting weights on the ties to press them into the glue, I took a poplar 6 foot section and glued it to the bottom of the plywood work bench. I then drilled and made countersunk holes so that I could screw through the plywood to the poplar beam and get a really tight fit.
Then, I put two 6 foot beams on the table and screwed down a spacer at the head of the table and laid out the ties with spacers all the way down the beam till I got to around half way (3 feet). I then screwed another spacer in the position that was the right space to fit between two ties. I continued down the end and put a spacer at the end. The spacers are just cross members that are permanently attached to the work bench. After getting these in place, I marked the beams at 2 feet and 4 feet. I then glued a cross member between the beams so that it fit between the ties. Finally, I took the ties off the board, marked where the permanent cross members are, clamped the cross members in, lifted the board, drilled pilot holes in the wood with counter sunk holes, and screwed the cross members in. I cut 5/16 dowels and glued them in over the screws and let it sit for about an hour to set. The last step was then to use the hack saw and cut the ends of the 5/16 dowels close to the edge of the beam. I then took the naked beam with cross members and put it on the table sander and smoothed everything down just like I did for the curves.
After getting everything cleaned up, I cut a 6 foot poplar board into 3 two foot sections to be used with clamps and weights to press the ties into the glue to get a good bond. I then started laying the ties one by one. I put a dab of glue on the tie and pressed if firmly onto the rail so that the rail fit into the channel that I routed into the tie. When I got to the first cross member, I put one of the 2 foot poplar boards on the group, clamped it, and continued with the rest of the rail. Once everything was clamped down and all ties were on the board, I put 10 pound weights on each 2 foot section and let it sit for about 5 hours. After the 5 hours, I lifted the unit up, pulled out all of the little spacers, and has my first production rail. Here is a picture of the rail during the 5 hour setting period.