Friday, October 19, 2018

Electrical wars, Part 16

In the previous post, number 15 in the series, I described adding feeders to a stretch of track which was exhibiting a really difficult defect: intermittent lack of power. An engine operating on this track would be fine for multiple moves in both directions, then the track would be dead for a  move or two, then the track would be live again. Though not certain of the reason for the problem, I attacked it with a solution that was shown in a previous post (you can see it at: ).
     There is another problem, possibly related to my intermittent power issue, which has arisen a few times on my layout, and I have become vigilant in searching out places where it could happen in the future. This has to do with electrical gaps. I always cut them very narrow, both for appearance and smooth operation over them. But this raises the possibility that thermal expansion and contraction of rail, as well as the thermal and humidity expansion and contraction of the layout structure from season to season, can close one of these gaps. It may,of course, not be visually obvious at all.
     I showed in a previous post in the Electrical Wars series how gaps can be secured with a small piece of styrene glued into them. This is a technique demonstrated on my layout by Jim Providenza, as shown in that post (it can be found here: ).
     My previous work adding feeders to my intermittent-power track section should fix the problem, but I could not rule out problems arising with the gaps which define the track. Accordingly, I went back to each of the gaps, verified that it was open at the moment, and began by gluing some styrene into the gap, using CA adhesive. I usually use Evergreen scale 1 x 4-inch strip, or sometimes scale 2 x 4-inch strip if gaps are wider, as in the photo below.

     I allow plenty of time for the CA to cure, then use a fresh razor or hobby knife blade to slice off the styrene right at the rail head. Sometimes I add a little CA to fill any gaps that may remain.

Any styrene showing on the gauge side of the rail is carved off, and the sides of the insert painted medium or dark brown. The white styrene at the rail head is not very noticeable compared to the silver appearance of the surrounding rail. Shown below is an example of these kinds of filled gaps, right about at photo center, demonstrating that they are close to invisible.

     I don’t know that there were any gap-closure problems contributing to my intermittent power issues on the track in question. But at least now I know that gap problems cannot be a factor in that area in future.
Tony Thompson

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your detailed posts. I ended up purchasing a number of Bitter Creek ground throws for my own layout based on your recommendation.