Beginning of the end. I'm reminded that I bothered to paint tie plates on this section of main... The rocks do belong in the area (they surround a section house) but they're really just a test for a future seawall.

Beginning of the end. I’m reminded that I bothered to paint tie plates on this section of main… The rocks do belong in the area (they surround a section house) but they’re really just a test for a future seawall.

Completely out of the blue this evening I decided to rip up the mainline on my depot module. It had been laid before I realised that I could make my own ties (both PC board and wood) and suffered accordingly. With my new system of 3/4 depth ties I no longer have to lay .015″ shims on plain track (a big time saver), nor do I find myself having to wait for an unpopular item to be shipped from a far off land (like Ontario or Alberta).  Anyways, the old main was laid with scale depth ties that were a touch wide, which, when laid out to scale mainline spacing look a bit tight. Since they also ride high on shims they complicate module joins. By just getting rid of the old stuff and making my own ties I kill many birds with one stone. Commence labour!


And before: Looks like the morning after one of those parties I never get invited to.

And before: Looks like the morning after one of those parties that I never get invited to.


6 thoughts on “Kablammo

  1. I read in your post that you’re cutting your own N scale PC board ties. I tried this once some years ago but never had any luck. Attempts that used a shear left me with curled ties. A friend and I had once tried sawing through a sheet of PC board stock on a carefully modified table saw. The latter worked reasonably well. I apologize if I’ve missed where you described how you were cutting your’s. How are you doing it?

    • Hi Chris,

      You didn’t miss anything. I haven’t posted to the blog about tie making but intend to do so in the near future. I too have curled PC Board tie strips using a shear but found that with a little persuasion they can be straightened out satisfactorily. It’s a lot easier to work with nominally 1/32″ material both in terms of shearing the material and in limiting the curl and warping as compared to 1/16″ material.

      Here’s the only picture I can find of the modified shear:
      Andrew demonstrates his tie cutting machine

      The work table is clamped and bolted to the frame and the strips are indexed along the paper print-out.

      You probably have a good idea as to the abrasive qualities of PC board. My reasoning was that the shear was about $80 on sale at KMS Tools (imported Magnum house brand) and that it was cheaper to buy the shear and create my own supply of ties than rely on outside sources and all that that entails. Along the way I figured I’d end up with a surface grinder and the blade getting dull wouldn’t be an issue but so far the blade is hanging in there. On balance it is better than using my dad’s bandsaw. And a lot better than using my own saw.

      Speaking of saws , I needed some PC board the other night for a switch slider and realised I’d need to assemble the shear if I wanted to use it. Above it, up on the wall, was a dull junior hacksaw. Not the most accurate cutting I’ve ever done but goes through PC Board like butter! I trued everything up with a super aggressive bastard file. For small jobs it can’t be beat.


      • Good evening. Thanks for the details.

        I may have to revisit the shear approach. When I tried it my closest alternative was pre-cut tie strips from Clover House and while I appreciated them they were a mail order item and were curled (I think they also cut them on a shear). With that in mind I had been exploring alternatives. I’ll never forget the adventures in Hamilton with my friend Ron Lackie as we tried cutting 1/32 sheet on a table saw. We lost a lot of material in kerf but those ties were among the finest I’ve ever cut myself. I once tried using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel in a sort of homemade modeller’s table saw and also liked the outcome.

        After all these attempts I really felt like I appreciated the ties available from Fast Tracks. Indeed they are expensive but quite nice to work with.

        I’ve now built some track using only PC ties instead of the previous wood and PC tie blend and think that it’s a direction I’d like to be headed in. Given that this involves a much greater consumption of these ties, I’m starting to look at alternatives. I’ve long been fascinated by the finescale approaches for N and am ready to start engineering that leap. I really enjoy making track so am keen to lay in some tie stock for these projects.

        Thanks again.


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