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Thread: Track layinig for beginners, some suggestions (Must use X-tracks)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Jacksonville,, FL, USA.

    Post Track layinig for beginners, some suggestions (Must use X-tracks)


    This applies mostly to newbies. As you know, I usually produce very smooth track. If you wonder why, it is because
    for nearly 12 years in the late 60s, early 70s, I was in charge of track inspection (by geometry recording car) on the
    Southern Rwy. (not NS, that is an imitation of the real Southern). So here are a couple of my methods.

    First, I lay about a mile of track, and keep it flat regardless of what the final gradient will be. Doing this allows me to
    get the horizontal alignment right. I work from digitized markers which I create using any of the several methods
    mentioned elsewhere in this forum. I absolutely avoid the use of the dynamic track piece, although I would hope that
    OR comes up with a dynamic piece that does not so wantonly mess up database rebuilds. I also avoid using any
    250M or 500M piece unless the ends of it fall well within a tile boundary. In regard to tile boundaries, I turn on the
    blue lines and plant an object where the tile boundary is along my route to be laid, usually just a default tree. This is
    to mark the spot. When I come to a boundary, I adjust the lengths of pieces of track so that if possible there are no
    joints within 10-15 meters of the boundary. This is especially true if the crossing angle is shallow, i.e. small. Also
    if a line of track fall within 10-15 meters of, but does not cross, a boundary, I will adjust the route slightly to stay in
    that limit. Then I go back and add in the gradient, being careful to be sure the joints lock in correctly, especially on
    right-hand curves.

    When laying a curve, it is important that the exiting tangent line up very closely with the digitized route. So to do
    this, I will temporarily put a 250M or 500M piece on the end of the curve and sight down it until I get the desired
    aligntment. Probably within 1 degree is the best you can do.

    Now suppose we have laid out a siding with some weird curves in it, perhaps odd track spacing, such as I use to
    provide room for supports under a bridge or coal loadout. How can we connect the track together. I find that
    it is useful to use two pieces of dynamic track, and it is fairly easy to make this joint if a curve or turnout is
    involved. You will have to adjust the last curve in one track or the other, and then juggle the dynamic lengths
    until you get a smooth, carefully aligned joint. There can be no curve in the dynamic pieces, these must be
    straight. Now record the values of the dynamic pieces and replace them with whatever combination of X-track
    pieces is required. You can have a small gap, or overlap, and still get a connection. There may be a wiggle as
    the train passes over that spot, but this is usually in a siding or yard, so it does not matter. Main tracks must
    be done more carefully.

    As soon as I have 3 or 4 miles laid, I set up a test activity and look carefully for an aberrations in the main track.
    If an aberration cannot be avoided, I make sure that it occurs more in a siding than the main track. These are
    most common when laying multiple curved sections (i.e. like an A2---- section) on a gradient.

    Hopefully others will add their two-bits to this thread.

    J. H. Sullivan
    (aka landnrailroader)

  2. #2


    Jerry, the method you describe for lining up curve joints works equally well with Scalerail. The Dynamic track looks odd, but as a measuring tool, it's effective.

    To get the horizontal alignment correct, I've relied on the ObjRot spreadsheet to calculate my Qdirection for me, and have rarely been disappointed with its accuracy over several miles. It may seem a little dangerous for a new beginner, but it will save hours of frustration using hit or miss.

    First, I place an unconnected piece of straight track where I want the straight run to start, and do a rough angle placement. Then, I place another section or an object where I want the straight to end (I use a pole).

    Using the tile XYZ coordinates of those two objects and entering them into the ObjRot tab for a straight alignment, you'll get the QDirection necessary to hit it dead on.

    Save your work, and exit the RE. Backup your route. Immediately.

    Next, open up the W file in Notepad, and locate the straight section that is roughed in, and replace the QD with the value from the spreadsheet. Reopen the RE and go to the starting coordinates for your straight run. You may see the TDB line and blue pole angled differently from your track. That's expected. Click on the track piece, and click on the terrain. The blue pole and TDB line will be reset to the new direction angle. Now you can run your straight sections, and hit your bullseye.

    When laying out track, I will go thru that process between two towns or a junction, laying all the straights before going back and doing my curves per Jerry's method.
    Last edited by eolesen; 06-29-2014 at 04:21 PM.

  3. #3


    Just to add my 2 cents regarding curved joints, I place dynamic tracks at the ends of the joints, save, use the world file coordinates & q directions in the object rotator curved joint sheet, get the measurements for desired curved radius (250,500,1000 etc) & use equivalent regular track pieces to close up the joint (after deleting the dynamic track of course).

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