East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Building Turnouts

The revised track configuration for the Piedmont-Standard requires two new turnouts.


I initially assumed I would build the new turnouts in place and just drew the new shop siding on the plan without a lot of thought given to frog angles or track geometry.

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It occurred to me to pull out my old Fast Tracks fixtures to see if I could use any of them to build the shop siding turnouts. Using the fixtures is preferable to building the turnouts in place since they make it much easier to maintain consistent dimensions and tolerances. I have built turnouts in place but it is a long process of fitting, adjusting, and tuning. FasTrack fixtures get me 90% of the way toward a reliable turnout and allow working at my bench rather than reaching over the benchwork.

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My curved fixture with a #6 frog angle was close enough to what the shop siding needed for me to give it a try. Over ten years since the last time I used them, the instructions, tools, and materials still felt familiar and the process went fairly quickly.

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I built the turnouts with overly long stock rails coming off to tie into the existing track work, hoping that would give me some "wiggle room" to splice new track into old.

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Test fitting the new turnout for the shop siding west end.


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New turnout for shop siding east end sitting on top of the old Ariel Church siding.

Installing Flex Track

Having decided to use cork roadbed for the standard gauge track, it was time to install it.


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Liquid Nails adhesive was used with plenty of weight applied until it set.

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And so it went with the new sections of Homasote roadbed.

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Once installed, the new Homasote roadbed was painted dark gray to seal it.

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Micro Engineering On30 code 70 flex track was installed on the hidden sections.

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New and revised On30 tracks that are not hidden will be hand laid.

Standard Gauge Roadbed

My meager supply of leftover Homasote went toward new roadbed.

I was able to piece together sections of reasonable length to do the hidden tracks.

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The long, straight standard gauge sidings would have required a puzzle of Homasote scraps, so another approach was needed. I had good results on the Railroad Display for the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler using Midwest cork roadbed and Atlas 2 rail O gauge flex track.

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Setting some O scale cork roadbed in position with a stick of O gauge flex track on it did not look right to me. The cork roadbed appeared too wide, and the flex track did not have the look of an industrial siding.

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Three strips of HO cork roadbed are narrower than two strips of O cork roadbed and appeared to be a better fit under O scale crossties.

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I went with three strips of HO cork roadbed for the standard gauge sidings at the mill site, which will be hand laid to P:48 gauge.

A Place for Everything

For years I made frequent trips to the Quarry Gardens at Schuyler

I worked on the Railroad Display in the Visitor Center there.

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Still in Quarry Garden mode one year later

While at the Visitor Center, I would compile a list of items I needed to bring with me on my next trip. Back in my shop, I stocked a shelf rack with the tools and supplies that regularly showed up on the list. The night before heading back to Schuyler, I would use my list to pull what I needed and load the blue box at the bottom of the photo. Upon my return I would unload the box back onto the shelves.

One year after the last trip I made to the Quarry Gardens to work on the Railroad Display, the shelf rack and blue box still looked like I was planning to go back to Schuyler the next morning.

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What a pile of stuff!

The day finally came to clear the shelves and put everything away. A complete rethink of my storage system was required.

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Organized and arranged on the walls

I bought clear plastic containers, choosing sizes that both accommodate the contents and efficiently fill the space under the layout once construction progresses to the point that I can move them there. The taller containers will go on the floor, with two short containers stacked on top, total height coming up to 3 inches from the bottom of the benchwork. Something to keep in mind when installing the fascia.

For now, everything is organized and put away on shelves around the perimeter of the shop. So far I have been able to find things quickly.

Installing Roadbed

With the sub roadbed ready, risers were cut and installed

Spirit and line levels were used to set the height of new roadbed.

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sub roadbed for hidden track along west wall

All new track is level, which made installation pretty straightforward.

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Sub roadbed for hidden track in northeast corner

I had enough leftover Homasote scraps to piece together roadbed for the new tracks. For the most part, it was a simple matter to use the plywood sub roadbed as a pattern for cutting out Homasote roadbed.

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Location of new locomotive servicing area

Locomotive servicing used to be in the northeast corner of the train room, but that is now the location of the transfer with the standard gauge Piedmont & East Blue Ridge Railroad. Narrow gauge locomotive service is now along the east wall near the junction with the northeast hidden track. I mocked up some small buildings to help visualize how the service facilities would fit in this small, odd shaped space.

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The mainline runs between a company access road on the old Scale Track grade and the new engine shed

There was no new section of plywood sub roadbed that could be used as a pattern to cut out the Homasote roadbed for the new locomotive service track.

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Full size plan of locomotive service area

I laid out a full sized plan of the new service track on the shop floor and used building mockups, locomotives, and rolling stock to make sure the plan was workable.

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Full size planned positioned on layout

Once I verified that the plan was OK as is, I placed it in position on the layout. I was able to use the plan as a guide for cutting the Homasote roadbed for the new locomotive service track.

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New roadbed for service track

Barely having enough leftover Homasote to try this one time, I carefully cut and fit the new roadbed.