Dead Mans Gulch








A Maxitrak Blog



I decided to use the same section of angle for the girder construction so as to keep the same look to the complete bridge. The ends of the girders are supported on two towers each consisting of four upright angles with diagonal bracing. These were stood on bricks standing on the sub soil in the same manner as the A frames. The two girders were then welded up with the top angle extended. This was then bolted to the top of the towers at each end, the ides is that each welded section is bolted to the next so the bridge can be disassembled if necessary and is also not too heavy to be put in place by one person.
The girders and towers are actually quite light and can easily be carried in to place.
The next section of track was welded up using extended heavy duty sleepers on the girder section, spanning across from girder to girder. This had to be aligned carefully as the track is curve over the bridge. The sleepers alone are not enough to hold the weight of the train so a diagonal brace was put in under every second sleeper transferring the weight to the bottom of the girders on each side. To prevent the girders spreading under the load a second lower brace was put in between each girder. This has given a strong light construction to the bridge section, there appears to be minimal deflection regardless of the weight put on the bridge.


Crossing over
 It was suggested I should invite a few stout friends for a ride to test the bridge for strength, in the event I used bags of ballast (more easily replaced than friends). The end of the bridge only required two more A frames to match up to the end of the existing embankment. The shorter of the two is the only part of the bridge to require any additional maintenance, as it was put in the embankment it did not reach the hard sub soil and has needed a bit of extra packing under the brick foundation.
The safety boards on each side of the track were extended over the bridge with a wider section on the girders where the track curve makes the bridge wider. It only remained to make a slight realignment to the track on the embankment and we were able to run the whole line in one go, about two hundred and fifty feet end to end.


Crossing over

Once complete the bridge was inspected by the family, “I’m not going on that! You know I get vertigo” was my wife’s comment. My daughter announced that Maddie was not going on it as it was too dangerous. My mum enquired what I was going to do with the hole, when I replied put rocks and ferns in it she suggested I leave out the rocks and put in some nice soft bushes to land in. As we have started to run trains attitudes softened, and everyone has now ridden the line including the bridge. All in all this section of the line has given the least trouble and required the least maintenance. Derailments are very rare on this section, christened “dead mans gulch” by the family, may be because everyone sits very upright and holds their breath on the high trestle.



© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

Share Station - Building from scratch



 

 



Well what a strange week it has been, from blazing sunshine and scorching tempratures over the bank holiday to fantastic lightning storms and downpours that caused flooding in the village we are based.  even with the poor weather we still got sent some fantastic images to share with you.

Galloping goose

We speak to all types of enthusiasts on a daily basis. From the well established engineer with vast knowledge and a skillset to match, to the amateur who has just begun to scratch the surface on this fantastic hobby. It can be daunting to start out, we at Maxitrak always try to keep it simple so that our models can be enjoyed by people of all ability levels. The owner of the locomotives in this weeks share station was once a school metal work teacher, and finds great enjoyment in building his locos from bits of office furniture and motors from the scooters discarded by grown up children. 

Playmobile train

He even took the time to transform a 'Playmobile' train to 5" gauge so that the younger generation could join in without the concern over more precious models. I personally love the idea of creating something to involve children, be they youngsters or grown up children, part of the joy of this hobby is the ability to share it with those around you. You knever know, you may just inspire the next generation of engineers! 

vexen.

This project is perhaps my favourite. Having the ability to form his own castings has really made this project his own. Each 5" cart requires a colossal 50 castings! The name Vexin was embossed to break up the panel and has a personal meaning to the owner as it is the name of the national park where they live. If you ever visit Paris and decide to climb the Eifel tower be sure to look out for this little railway as there is a chance you can see it from there.

I will leave this weeks Share Station with some words of wisdom from this talented engineer;
 "If you are trying to build, do not give up. It costs a fortune at first and absolutely everything needs a special tool and then it fouls up. To crown it all having thrown ten precious examples into the bin all you ever get from others at the best is a grunt of acknowledgement when you at last make a perfect one." It's not all smooth sailing and sometimes things go wrong, but every mistake is a learning experience. Learn from those around you, at clubs or online. You never know, they may be able to answer your question.

IThank you to everyone who has sent us their pictures and don't forget you too can share your photos by emailing them to Info@maxitrak.com with the subject line 'Share Station'

© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

Still Building Bridges








A Maxitrak Blog



I looked forward to the bridge construction with some trepidation, to finish the bottom loop I required a trestle bridge thirty feet long with a six foot single span section over the “big hole” This all had to be on 20ft radius just to add to the difficulty. I was originally going to make the bridge in wood like the traditional American trestle, but decided to stick to steel construction for ease of construction and maintenance. It then occurred to me that the length was actually quite short when you look at elevated track construction, many portable elevated tracks are much longer and are assembled, used and removed easily in a day.

Most steel elevated tracks use angle iron to give strength to a relatively long span between supporting legs. The rail usually forms an integral part of the structure adding to the strength rather than just sitting on the top. I was not able to use angle in any length on my bridge because of the curve required so instead I opted for the largest section steel flat that I could easily curve. I did think of having two or even three lighter rails to increase the strength and to give check rails in case of derailments but decided against this because of the difficulty of keeping the gauge and avoiding distortion when welding. In the end I opted for the rail in black mild steel flat 10mm by 20 mm, this size was about top whack for our set of bending rolls. As the rail was relatively light it did not allow a big span between supports, I put in an A frame every half meter run. As there were quite a lot of A frames they were made of relatively light construction using 25 by 25 by 3mm steel angle. The track was welded up in approximately two meter panels with sleepers made from 25 by 3mm steel flat every quarter meter. The sleepers did not need to be very stout as they either stood on an A frame or only served to hold gauge between the supports. The top of each A frame was extended to give a mounting point for timber side boards to support the train in the even of a derailment.


Crossing over


I commenced this part of the construction while pondering the design for the single span part over the big hole. To begin with there was a complete change of tooling, gone were the gentile battery drill, screwdrivers and BA size spanners. In came the big stick welder, angle grinder with cutting and grinding discs, mains power drill, large hammers etc.
I should at this stage say that I do not consider myself a great expert with the arc welder, I can usually stick two bits of metal together but the result may not look very pretty.

My first encounter with this form of welding was when working part time at a local boat yard. A Land Rover required a plate on the back of the chassis for the towing hook, I was persuaded to have a go. I was well used to gas welding having “practiced” on a number of old vehicles over the years but arc was new to me. I gave no guarantee as to the strength of the repair but fixed the plate in place. On my next visit I was gob smacked to see the same Land Rover pulling a very large boat out of the water on my welded tow hook, I simply could not watch and just had to go and do something else while this trial of strength was taking place. To my immense relief the hook staid in place!
I started by welding up the first track panel and set of A frames. I have learned with welded track to attach both rails to each sleeper at the same time, this reduces distortion as much as possible. Even so one panel got a bit of a twist in it. It is an indication of the strength of the panels when the only method that worked to remove the distortion was to lay the panel on the ground, drive the car over one end, place a large piece of timber through the other and then jump on it!

Crossing over

As the ground level fell away from the end of the embankment the A frames were made longer ranging from about half meter to one meter for the longest. All parts were given a coat of black Hammerite rust resistant paint and laid aside to dry.
Each A frame stood in a hole dug down to subsoil level, this hole then had a half brick laid in the bottom for the A frame to stand on. The holes were not easy to get to the correct level, I found a triangular paint scraper the best tool for cutting a flat base in the hard soil at the bottom of the hole. A small amount of soil was added or removed from the bottom of each hole until the brick and A frame stood at the correct level. The track panel was then placed on the A frames and a 6mm bolt used to bolt each A frame on to the sleepers. I expected to have to use several diagonal strips to strengthen the assembled bridge section, in the even only one was necessary. The finished section stood very firmly on its brick foundation but still allowed some final alignment before filling the earth back round the A frame legs. The second track panel was laid in the same manor with the track joint made by welding an angle to the end of each panel and bolting the two angles together below rail level with two M6 bolts. Once again only one diagonal brace was required, the whole assembly forming a very rigid structure joined to the existing rail formation with two cranked fishplates. This got the track to either side of the big hole, it only remained to make the girder bridge to complete the bottom loop.


Crossing over




© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

Building Bridges








A Maxitrak Blog



The embankment has seen some settling over time, and requires frequent rebalasting. All in all an interesting experiment but the trestle bridge has to be the easier option. The far end of the embankment curved away from the wall to form the bottom loop on about twenty foot radius. This is where this line stopped for a while as the other part of the loop was constructed, the two parts to be joined by the thirty foot long trestle bridge. The prospect from the end of the embankment was a little daunting to say the least with a miniature version of “The big hole at Delabole” to be confronted. This is a large slate quarry in the north of Cornwall, worked since medieval times and said to be the biggest man made hole in England.
During the war my Aunt was stationed at St Merryn airdrome near Padstow, developing and printing reconnaissance photographs taken over enemy territory. Apparently aircraft returning over Delabole had the altimeter “throw a wobbly” as they flew over the big hole, quite disconcerting when you rely so much on this for accurate height readings during clandestine flights.
When the bridge is complete passengers on the train can experience a similar phenomenon in miniature, so long as they are clutching an appropriate instrument.

Crossing over
A few years ago I bought a copy of a large scale map of our area from 1860, It shows the house in some detail, even including the garage (which must have contained a one horse power car at that time). The map showed a path round the garden, edged with decorative rocks. A “Time Team” type dig in the undergrowth revealed the path complete with some of its flint edging. The railway line from the pond follows the path but at the loop the line needed to cross the path curving right, then cross it again curving to the left. This part of the path could not be walked as trees had grown too near its edge so it was decided to cross the path on two low bridges skirting the edge of this tree. A diversion path was put in beside the track to avoid walking this section.
The two bridges are only some four inches off the path and represent the type of bridge you might find over a river or canal, they also had both to be on curved sections of track so the first type of bridge was quite unsuitable.


I started with two stout lengths of angle iron, supported on engineering bricks set in the ground on edge. The two pieces of angle were placed facing each other so over size timber sleepers could be placed across to support the rail. The angle was arranged far enough apart to get the curved track in place on the top. Only two of the sleepers needed to be bolted to the angle with long coach blots, one at each end. The rest of the sleepers are trapped between the two pieces of angle and held in place by the rail screwed on top.
The two bridges have been successful, and have not needed any significant attention. Like the other bridges it is the embankments either side that tend to settle while the bridge stands it’s ground so to speak. I have not felt the need to use concrete so far in the construction of the line, I like to think that things can be adjusted at a later date if required. The bridges are a good example of this though in soft ground the bridge supports would benefit from a bit of extra foundation work.

Crossing over

As the track sections were laid they were curved to place over the bridges. At this point I realized that it looked better if the line was laid with curves adjusted by eye rather than to a set radius. If you look at the full size you will see most track meandering through the landscape in a series of gentile curves. It is easy to get in to the “train set” mentality of straight or curved track panels all to a set size, this is not the way full size lines are laid.
To get a less toy like garden railway I would recommend setting the levels carefully but having the curves going the way they want to rather than keeping rigidly to set radius panels. This is only possible so long as you keep over the minimum radius of the line, it is useful to have the odd track panel curved to the minimum radius so it can be tried in place on the track bed to guide marking out. I used several aluminium sleeper track panels on this section of the line, curving them to suit and ending in a small embankment leading to the start of the trestle bridge.

With more bridge building to come, join us week as we tackle the trestle bridge.


© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

Share Station - Sun's out and Steaming










Isn't it nice when the sun is out and you can get outside and let off some steam?

Train puns aside, we really do love hearing from all our customers, seeing what you have done with your Maxitrak products and most importantly seeing those smiling faces that make all the hard work worthwhile. This week we have had some wonderful photos of a customers beautiful garden railway set up. Don't you just love the attention to detail

Garden Railway

Of course many of our customers build their locos just for fun  others build to share their love with the younger generation. How fantastic is this little trainee train driver jacket.I'm sure a young enthusiast has been created here, with hours of fun riding around this stunning garden railway.  

in training

Finally we have a proud customer with one of our Rustons. Looking lovely in a new coat of blue paint. I'm told there is still work to do but I think it is already looking brilliant

Ruston Blue.

Thank you to everyone who has sent us their pictures and don't forget you too can share your photos by emailing them to Info@maxitrak.com with the subject line 'Share Station'

© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

Making Tracks








A Maxitrak Blog



Having got the points in place the next step was to lay the line on from there; I started with the left fork, running down the front of the garden towards the gate. At this point I went against all the advice so far given and laid a reverse curve on ten foot radius and on a one in forty grade! This may not be quite as obtuse as at first appears when you remember this is part of the return loop so can be worked in either direction. With a bit of point changing this line can always be run in the downward direction, the rest of the loop is laid on a gently rising grade with a couple of level track panels on the other leg of the point so as to be able to get heavy trains away after a stop. If the line is operated normally then every other time round you will be going up this section, as there is a straight leading into the reverse curve you can have a good run at it. This has not been too difficult, three adults have been taken up this section by a Ruston (rated at four adults on the level).

If you are stopped with a heavy train you may need to set back and have a run at the bank. This was quite common practice in steam days on a difficult section, I recall as a child standing on the old Whitstable and Caterbury line bridge over the Kent coast main line at Whitstable in the late 1950’s with my Dad. Trains leaving Whitstable set back to get a good run at the bank, then stormed up under the bridge we were looking over. This left me covered in soot and smuts “I can’t take you back to your Mum like that” said my Dad producing a grotty old hanky from his pocket. He gave it a big lick and rubbed the smuts off my face, it still makes me cringe to think of it!

On the rails


From the curves down to the gate we are running on the big embankment, this is about the most labour intensive part of the whole line. Spare soil was dumped here over a number of years, this was added to by soil excavated from the track bed and roughly laid by eye. When I got the laser level in action on this embankment I was amazed to find I was about four inches low at the far end. As this was the end of excavations for the lower section I was a bit stumped for more soil. The answer was to dig a hole, using the soil for the embankment and then using the hole as an additional feature for the line to run over.
Embankments are best made from sub soil as it is more solid than top soil, so the hole got deeper. The embankment consumed larger and larger quantities of soil so the hole became increasingly large.

You can imagine the amount of soil needed to make an embankment some thirty feet long, two foot six tall and about four feet across at it’s highest point. As it transpires the trestle bridge took a lot less making and has required a lot less maintenance, if you do not have a lot of soil to use up somewhere then a bridge is the easiest option. The embankment was not wide enough initially, ballast was washed away by the rain so even more soil had to be added to form a trough to keep the ballast in. I was also a bit wary of a derailed train coming off the embankment and rolling down the bank if the top was insufficiently wide.

The Embankment

Join us next week for the daunting bridge build.


© Maxitrak Ltd
10-11 Larkstore Park,
Lodge Road,
Staplehurst,
Kent,
TN12 0QY
Email: Info@maxitrak.com

in training

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