Tram/Trolley Tracks, how do you make them?

Discussion in 'N Scale' started by Bernard, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    I'm trying to make a Tram layout and need to know how members here make their Tram/Trolley tracks with inserts in the middle of the tracks for roads?
    What materials do you use and if you could post photos that would be a great help. Thanks.
  2. ArtinCA

    ArtinCA TrainBoard Member

    Check around, Kato is making tram sets in Japan that have street trackage..
  3. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the reply, but I've already have laid down the flex track and the release for the Kato tram track won't be for awhile.
  4. ArtinCA

    ArtinCA TrainBoard Member

    In that case, stryene would be one option. Do you have a copy of John Pryke's book?


    Well worth having for reference. He covers techniques on street trackage as well as city modeling.
  5. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

    If you're an experienced enough modeler, perhaps "handlay" your track and pave over it with your desired street-paving material. Streetcar track has much tighter curves than mainline track, and so you're free to model those kinds of curves with your own track. Even the ties of commercial flextrack will get in the way.
  6. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    ArtinCa thanks for the link to the book.
    Here is what I've done as 2 tests to make the Trolley tracks using Lite Spackle. The 1st test covers the inside and outer side of the rails. The 2nd test just the outside. I'm considering the 2nd test with styrene sheets cut to fill in the middle of the rails.

    Attached Files:

  7. ArtinCA

    ArtinCA TrainBoard Member

    I think either would work. The only trick with the plaster in between is carving the flangeways. But the stryene would make that alot easier.

    Since I mentioned the I had to dig mine out (no easy task!:tb-biggrin:) and have a look at how he did his streets. His are done with .020" poster board on the outsides of the reals and stryene on the insides, supported with strip wood. One thing he mentions is that the poster board expands and contract with moisture, so it may or not be a good idea. But stryene used for both with work.
  8. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    If you've got straight street sections, its a snap with styrene. Here is one with I did with styrene layers and .020" styrene brick.


    And one I'm doing next.


    BTW, .060" x .25" strips fit perfect inside of the rails.
  9. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    gpa - Thanks for the photos they look great!
    I am a little leery about using the lite Spackle between the rail, and I'm leaning now to the styrene inserts. Where did you get the styrene sheets and stripes that you used?
  10. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    I use light weight spackle all the time for grade crossings. Sometimes I will use wooden ties to edge the rails, sometimes just spackle.

    The lightweight spackle cuts and carves easy enough. It is not hard at all to cut the flangeways. If you have to do quite a few of them, I would probably create a jig out of a couple of x-acto blades to make sure you get them uniform.

    These are on my son's 3x3 layout. We just did them this past weekend and have not dressed them up yet but it should give you the idea...



    I haven't been brave enough to do a turnout yet but it can be done with the same technique. Just make sure it works flawless before you "cement" it into the road.

    The trick to the spackle is to pre tint it before you apply it. I mix up small 1 pint tubs with a little black and a touch of brown paint to get the grey color I want. This way the road is the same color all the way through. For the grade crossings I applied it thick so it completely covered the rails then after it was dry, sanded it back down to rail height. When the rails were exposed, then I cut the flangeways with an X-axcto knife. These were done free hand, just eyeballing the spacing I needed. Another option is use the NMRA gauge to scrape the top of the pavement to give you a guide as to where to cut the flangeways.
  11. gregamer

    gregamer TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The styrene strips and sheets are made by Evergreen Scale Models. They are sold in every hobby shop in my area and most online retailers too. Also check for Plastruct products.

  12. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    Greg - thanks for the link to the styrene.

    Skipgear - I have to be honest I'm not sure if I'm following your idea of making a "jig", could you explain?
    Also now that I see that someone else have used Spackle and I have to cover the entire track with it, is there any way or thing that I can insert to the inside of both rails, Spackle over the rails and before it sets, pull them out so that there are grooves in the spackle for the flanges?
    Here is a video of the "Portram" line that I will have around a city, it's very simple:
    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4hEL3ii6hU"]YouTube- Portram Day 1[/ame]
  13. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    You may be overcomplicating things. The light weight spackle cuts very much like high density foam. There is no need to try to form it. I used to do that and it never came out the way I wanted. I have started putting it on sloppy, then cutting off what I don't need and it works much better.

    Maybe jig was not the right word. Here is a tool I just drew up quickly that could be made in about the same amount of time it took me to draw it....


    I think the picture is self explanitory, the grey items are Xacto #11 blades glued to styrene spacer blocks. Just run it inside the rails after the spackle has completely dried, then carefully run a pick tool or other blade along the rail and pull out the waste. You may even want to try making just half the tool and doing one rail at a time.

    Those grade crossings took about 5 minutes to apply the putty, wait overnight till it is dry, another couple minutes sanding to get it smooth, then a few minutes with an Xacto knife to clear out the flangeways. It is not a hard process.
  14. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Before you get too excited about any one system, make sure you try and clean the track with a Bright Boy first. It's amazing how much damage that little eraser does to rail height level scenery! Another problem you will find over time is that styrene is very unstable both for heat (resoldering jumpers later) or UV resistance (it'll curl up permanent over a few years, faster if you have natural light in your train room!)

    Be aware that those little rail nibs that hold the rail down will also curl up the edges of your street filler. Normally to get a good fit you need two pieces, one narrower on the bottom to clear the nibs.

    Off to the railroad to fix a road crossing after a rail got snagged by a lawn mower. Yep, a real mower!
  15. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    The nice thing about tinted spackle is that it is the same color through out. You can clean the rail till it has worn away completely and the road will wear with it if need be, staying the same color.

    The spackle has a tendency to shrink a little, especially where you put it on thick near the rail head so if you level it to the top of the rail when wet, it will shrink down a couple thousands after dry. It takes a lot of cleaning to wear that much rail off.
  16. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    Skipgear - Now I understand and thanks for the diagram. This would make the process a lot easier and less complicated.
  17. SteamDonkey74

    SteamDonkey74 TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I will second the lightweight spackle. When it dries, it's almost as "carve-able" as foam insulation board.
  18. Gordon Werner

    Gordon Werner TrainBoard Member

  19. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the invitation, I'll take a look at the group.
  20. Bernard

    Bernard TrainBoard Member

    I've decided to go with the Spackle and here is another video of the work in progress and the results:

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGkGuXb9-co"]YouTube- Broadcast Yourself.[/nomedia]

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