T-TRAK Modules – The single mainline track modules, part the Third.

Friday afternoon and Saturday morning saw some more scenery and other work done. First up was connecting the slide switches to the corresponding points with the classic `wire in tube’ method. The sliding switches are of the type often labelled as ‘miniature’ or ‘sub miniature’. Normally I use the ones that have a square slider, as I have done with the switch next to the fuel siding that works the mainline point;  but I had run out of them and it is 130km to the nearest stockist! I had hiding away in a parts tray several of the same sized switches but with a taller cylindrical slider enclosed in an aluminium looking sleeve. I simply removed the sleeve and drilled the hole for the actuator wire as per usual. The actuating wire is some small diameter `piano wire’ that I bought at a model shop. The sleeve for the wire is from the binding wire now used to hold children’s toys (and other items) in their packaging. With two kids in the house we get a fair bit at Christmas and birthdays! The wire itself is too pliable but the plastic around it can be slid off and does an excellent job of covering the actuator wire provided the whole thing is super glued down for most of its length! The accompanying photo shows both the actuator wire etc in place and a sample of the packaging wire laid across it.

My basic procedure is to locate the slide switch (with the hole already drilled for the wire) and fix it down in a rectangular hole cut in the base board (in this case 3mm plywood – see a later BLOG on one way to build a T-TRAK module). Using a pair of pliers I make a small 90 degree bend in one end of the wire to fit into the hole on the throw bar of the point, entering the hole from underneath. This may mean cutting away a little bit of underlay to get it in. As the photo shows I then lay a thin strip of material the same thickness as the underlay between the point throw bar and the slide switch. Laying out the wire between the throw bar and the switch I measure the length of sleeve material I need, allowing for the throw of switch and throw bar. I use a craft knife to cut though the covering on the packaging wire at the length calculated. I can then gently and firmly, and with a bit of perseverance, slide the covering off the packaging wire and slide it onto the actuator wire. After cutting and bending the actuator wire to fit into the slide switch I testing its function by holding down the wire and sleeve with two fingers from one hand while sliding the switch with the other hand. After adjustments to make it all work well I fix down the actuator wire and sleeve by applying super-glue to the sleeve and strip of under lay material. Keep about 10mm of the length of the sleeve from each end free of glue as it can get caught up inside the sleeve and stop the actuator wire moving, I know from experience!!! Scenery and buildings can now be built up around and over the actuator wire without interfering with it.

The next job was to glue some balsa wood walls around three side of the slide switches to keep them free from scenery materials. Once they are in I placed some acrylic gap filler (my usual scenery base material, but you can use plaster) around the three sides and dolloped some earth coloured paint onto that when it had surface dried. The fourth wall has yet to be fitted, it takes a bit more work because a slot has to be cut for the actuator wire.

The two slide switches in the next photo are located close to the points because of the large wooden blocks used under the module to hold the height adjusting blocks getting in the way. Consequently I used a larger diameter wire and directly linked one point without a sleeve and used an empty ballpoint pen ink tube as a sleeve for the other. Some tricky ballasting work has still to be done here!

After a fair bit of use I discovered and change two things:

  1. The packaging wire in the plastic sleeve developed a increasing amount of resistance, hence all of that was replaced with stiff wire in empty ballpoint pen tubes.
  2. The slide switches needed a bit of `heft’ to move and sometimes the modules would begin to move. This was also due to the direction of movement being at right angles to the long axis of the modules and so there was low resistance in comparison to the long axis. So Caboose Industries ground throws were installed on little `outrider’ blocks.



On the Friday I also painted the buffer-stops the usual VR white and then built up some scenery base in the are surrounding the point switches for the fuel siding and the goods shed siding. This was brought up to a level that just covered the 6mm foam-core at that end of the module. I let it dry overnight and on the Saturday morning I covered it in a thick layer of plastic paint (Mother Earth colour by Dulux). While the piant was wet I sprinkled on some basic dirt cover and left it to dry for a couple of hours. Then I carefully lifted up the module and overt turned it so that any loose dirt fell off the side of the module and onto some newspaper spread beneath it. The result is shown here:


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