DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections – Crossovers

Back to the project afer a short break. I continued to lay missing sections which I then isolated followed by the turnouts and finally the crossovers.

The nice thing about working on small modules is the ability to turn them around and work on them from the back. It allows me to get in very close. This will be particularly important when detailing the track bed. Here I have turned the module so that I could work on the back side.

Isolating the track is intensive fiddly work and it gets messy and dirty. It’s not exactly fun but once you get going it can be done quite quickly. Using my grain of sand bulb I isolated all the straight sections and then the turnouts. The biggest and most upsetting issue was the fact that I had to make large cuts into the copper surfaces of the PCB ties to get them to isolate them properly. These cuts will not look good in close-up photographs so I  have to fill them somehow. I’m going to try wood filler, plastic filler and finally my favorite: Woodlands Scenic’s foam putty.

In order to quickly isolate the copper-plated ties I used my Dremel to cut the ties quickly. The result are these grooves in the ties that are quick thick and don’t look good. I’m going to have to fill them and hope that the grooves will not be so noticeable in close-up photos.
One of these fillers will have to do do the job. I’m leaning away from using the green putty. Each has a different consistency and may or may not be easy to lay down with the tips of my fingers.
I did a quick but clumsy test filling gaps with the green putty and it clearly doesn’t look good. I need to be a bit more careful as poor workmanship is visible in closeup photography. The turnout will look much better once it has been painted and ballasted.

And so to the hardest and most important set of track work: the crossovers. the each have to have the corners isolated from each other as well as the rest of the track work. Ugly cuts have to be made in the center of each section. I started using a razor saw for the first crossover which cut very thin gaps in the rails.

Cuts were made in each rail using a razor saw. I also made cuts in the center of the PCB ties along each track. Most of these ties will be covered as the rails will be level with the surrounding ground as in the inset picture.

The hardest part of this project was the double crossover. It didn’t look pretty to begin with and certainly after chopping and cutting it looks even more messy. However all the sections are now isolated and ready for wiring. I gave up on the razor saw as I wore out the blades and switched instead to the Dremel. The cuts are wider and more noticeable. Once again I had to cut into the ties quite deeply but once again the ties will be covered over as the ground will meet the height of the rails.

The red arrows show the cuts in the rails. The yellow arrows show the cuts in the ties. All these ties are going to be buried. Any visible ties will have their gaps filled in.
These gaps were made by my Dremel saw and are quick thick. I may fill them in with some kind of plastic rail but once the ties are hidden the whole look of the track might improve and the gaps seem less noticeable.

So with the track mostly laid (the coal spur will be laid once I start working on it.) it is time to start wiring. There are two sections. Each will have its own bus which will be fed from two SPST switches. The traction line has a couple of isolated spurs powered using SPST switches. See diagram.

Once the buses are installed with switches I’ll connect them to the controller that I purchased. This is a hand-held device from Stapleton Electrics in Canada. It is small and saves me having to build a platform for my other controller. More on that another time. I’ll start wiring tomorrow.