On Saturday I put the rail on the first half of the S-Curve. So, this morning I installed the track with the rail. I was really surprised how well it fit together.
I think what surprised me the most was how well the wood track lined up when the metal rails were connected together. The metal rails butted tightly together while the wood had a tiny gap.
The only disappointment in this assembly is that the wood rails are not exactly the same thickness. In the above picture of the rail juoint, I haven’t put the screws into the curve section yet so the curved part is a little high. But, still, when the wood is at the same level, there is still as light difference. I think what happened is that the cheap table saw I was using allowed the fence to move under the vibration of the saw and so the wood is not perfectly the same height. This is OK as long as people are not looking to close at the joints.
The real excitement began when I put the rail on the second part of the S-Curve and installed it. Note in the picture below that I decided to put in the ceiling mount in the area where there is no joist in the ceiling (right in front of the white car in the picture below). I looked at it with and without and decided that the symmetry in the curve benefited from the extra mount. I was quite thrilled when I put the second half of the S-Curve up and the metal track matched up perfectly as did the wood track. From a distance you almost cannot tell that there is a break and the ties space out nicely at the joint.
So, now that the S-Curve was up and in place, it was time to start on the curve near the bathroom door. Again, the wood and metal rail matched up perfectly with a tiny gap between the wood and no gap in the metal rail.
Note that the clamp in the picture above is holding the curve tightly to the installed straight piece of track. This is because I don’t have the steel connectors to force the wood to stay in place. After putting up the curves and the two straight pieces, I had a 4 foot gap between the sections. So, I took an assembled 6 foot section without rail and marked it in place. I cut it with the miter saw and it fit in perfectly if not a little to snug. I then tacked on the metal rail and put it in place.
The one thing that I didn’t think of was that putting a section of straight track in the middle of two pieces would make joining the track very difficult since the little metal joiners are very tight. I tried completely opening up the metal joiner but the nickel-silver is very brittle and broke off when I tried to bend it back in place. So, I took another approach and opened the joiner slightly and tapped it on so that it was completely onto the new piece. I then installed it in place, and used the nail tap to gently tap the joiner to slide over the end of the other rail. It worked nicely and I used a pair of pliers to pinch it down on the track.
The only thing missing on this section of track is the power supply. The order from Whole Sale Trains contained a 75 foot track to power supply wire bundle. But, the wire has not shipped. I am thinking of stopping at Lowes and getting some 14 gauge wire or something appropriate and hooking things up so that I can see if I have continuity in the track. I can test this with the Performer car since it has lights that pick up power off the track.
Now that I have about half of the track installed, I took the cars and pushed them down the track. I was disappointed at how much friction the cars have in their wheel mounts and how much noise they make just riding the track. I think I can improve on both of these with some lithium grease or something appropriate for metal wheels on plastic mounts.