STREET TRACK HELP PAGE
NOTE: The Electric Avenue track system is suitable for regular HO and OO model use provided the rails are laid on a flat firm surface, the streetcars are only run at resonably scale speeds and the gauging instructions followed exactly.
PLEASE READ IN CONJUCTION WITH THE THREE IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS AND MODIFY YOUR INSTALLATION ACCORDINGLY>
1. Use a very flat, stable and smooth glue-able surface for the street sub-surface (track bed). A fine upper side finish 3/32" Ply works well and provides a good extra height difference if you are joining the street track to regular track at some point. Make sure any joints are equally flat.
2. The track plan shown should be replaced by using appropriate sections cut from the "printable templates". The double lines on those can be used to position both rails quite accurately, although the best way is always to use the reference truck to gauge the second rail from the first.
You can glue the printable templates permanently to the surface if you use spray polyurethane varnish on them after they are stuck in the right place. You can also use the spray varnish as glue to stick the templates down first. Do not use homasote as street track bed, as it is bumpy, rough and forms myriad hard dust bunny type gritty balls of glue, if you are gluing down track.
3. The "flat wire" brass shim should be used under each rail joint for electrical continuity. Cut approx 1/4" squares from the flat wire sheet with scissors, and pre-tin, then re-flux the upper side. Then stick them down to the track bed under the open rail end, before using the alignment pin and adding the next rail. Once the rails making the joint have been stuck down, it is a simple matter to just heat the top of the rail with a dry iron (or through a piece of dry aluminum kitchen foil) so that the pre-tinning flows and sweats the rail ends to the shim. You do NOT want to get
solder in the groove, or anywhere on the upper side of the rail.
Let's start with a picture of what we are going to achieve
Here the "Setts" texture is fitted on the straight sections and "asphalt/concrete" texture is used on the curves, because it has no directional pattern.
First we need a firm flat street sub-base and then mark out your track plan on it.
Draw, or (recommended) use our downloadable templates printed out, to mark the exact rail positions your want on the bare street subsurface. You may glue the templates directly to the sub-surface if you also varnish them to make them permanent, before laying the rails
Cut the rails from the fret, at the point where the rail is no longer full thickness. Be careful not to bend any part of the rails.
Xuron rail nippers or (best) a dremel fine cutting disk will do .
Here are properly cut rail ends shown together
Before we begin laying, we are going to need tweezers, some "gel" super-glue, an appropriate track gauge (or reference wheelsets in a truck) and (not shown) a fine pointed end craft knife, to lift up rail ends slightly
In addition, a file may be useful for squaring up any ragged rail ends.
The first piece of rail is laid with it's gauge line exactly on the drawn gauge line. Use small dabs of glue in the center and only up to 1 cm of the ends. Do not put any glue on the last 1 cm of each end.
This glue-free gap at the rail ends allows the insertion of the tinned flat wire squares and the pin wire alignment pins and for the flat wire "sweating" soldering to be done later.
Cut an alignment pin ready for the next rail piece on the same side of the track.
DO NOT lay the rail on the other side of the track yet!
Also please note the "flsat wire" squares are not shown in the following pictures
Grip the pin in the tweezers and hold the knife blade flat to the laid rail end.
Using the knife blade to just lift the rail very slightly, (1/2 mm max) slide the pin HALFWAY into the slot under the rail
Don't lift the rail too high, or it will bend up permanently!.
Now we are ready to lay the next rail on the same side.
Note, it isn't actually necessary to draw the second (opposite) gauge line, but it helps in more complex parts of the track
Use the same gluing technique, keeping the last 1 cm at each end glue free. The first end will lock onto the pin and the free end should again be aligned exactly to the drawn gauge line.
To lay more rail on the same side, just repeat the steps above.
Two IMPORTANT things to note before going further.
1 Every three sections or so, leave a 0.010" gap to allow for expansion rail movement.
2 Lay any "flat wiring" conductors that must pass under the rail (and insulating pads if needed) down before laying the rail over them. This may take a little forethought, but will make subsequent power wiring ridiculously easy and simple.
Here we have switched over to laying the opposite rail.
Now instead of using the gauge line, we use a "reference" truck or bogie if using regular HO/00 operation. " What's a reference truck you ask? Well, it's a truck with wheels that are set to same "back to back" setting as all the other wheels on all the other vehicles you are going to use on the track. One of the conditions for using HO/00 operation is that ALL the wheels you use will have the SAME consistent "back to back" settings.
NOTE: This is because the Electric Avenue rail flangeway is so close to scale width, for HO/00 coperation, the track must NOT be set to the true 16.5 mm gauge, but must instead be set to have the flangeways be positioned exactly underneath the tips of the wheel flanges.
Note that even if your wheels are consistent, you must of course still make sure the track gauge does not deviate to any noticeable extent as you lay track for HO/00 operstion.
This possibly sounds more difficult than it actually is, but on a good quality, well maintained system, HO/00 cars running at reasonable speeds, will give a good level of relianble operation.
Be careful when soldering the flat wire squares. Getting excess solder INTO the flangeway is easy, and filing it out afterwards, very arduous. But any excess solder in the flangeway MUST be removed, as it will cause derailments. The extra wide exansion gaps mentioned earlier, every 12" or so, will prevent any distortion due to expansion.
Power wiring should be run to the rails and soldered in a similar fashion as the flat wire squares at the rail joints. The alignment pins alone cannot be relied on to transmit current reliably over time. The "Flat Wiring System" will allow the rail joints and power connections to be done very easily on the surface.
Moving finally on to tackle the finished street surface.
While we supply a range of several different textured plastic sheets, you can also use card or a plaster/putty method, with optional scribing to form appropriates stones, etc. in the road surface. As an example, Werner Jurkowski's wonderful technique and tutorial are at:
Just remember to always keep the street surface BELOW the rail height, so the wheels don't get lifted off the rails, and also so that you can clean the rails without damaging the street surface.
We recommend a surface thickness of 0.020" vs the rail height of 0.028". That is the same thickness as our plastic surfaces.
The cutting and laying of the plastic texture is really self explanatory. There is no particular "right way". One does have to measure well and cut perhaps a little "over", then trim for a final good fit. It is possible to use spare pieces of rail to act as templates for marking and cutting the curves more easily.