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Plain Track Option – Use and Features Overview.

Option Parts and Set up:

The option consists of:

Two parallel Tie Framer Strips.
Two Tie frame “Z” Spacers with alignment dowels
One Tie Plate Placement Jig

All the parts are normally used face up. I.e. with the lettering on them visible on the top surface. One of the two tie Framer strips is rotated 180 degrees so that the spacing of the “teeth” between the two matches the desired tie spacing. (e.g. Main or Branch).

Prepare the jig for use by first laying a fresh thin plastic tie base sheet on the flat surface, of your Switch- Works base, then following the directions below to set up the jig on top of the plastic sheet

Insert one dowel pin into the top left and bottom right outermost sets of three holes of the Framer Strips. Choose which hole of the set to use, by the tie length and regularity desired. The holes nearest the ends of each strip will later set the frame the exactly correct distance apart for 9 ft tie lengths, the center hole for 8-6 tie lengths and the inner hole for 8 ft tie lengths.

Now do the same with two more dowel pins inserted into matching positions of the same top left and bottom right innermost sets of three holes of the Framer Strips. Finally you may add one more dowel pin in the matching position into the center set of three holes between one of the existing pair of inserted dowels to square up the frame. Alternatively, for squaring up, you can later just set the frame spacers edges firmly. against the alignment edge of the Switch-Works base.

Now position and add the two spacers as shown in the picture, so that their 3 sets of holes align with the 3 sets of holes in the Framer Strips and the appropriate hole drops onto each of the dowels. The LH Spacer will have the “END” label toward the top left and the RH Spacer will be rotated 180 degrees and have the “END” label upside down toward the bottom right.

Now just add magnet clamps to hold the parts firmly down, first ensuring that the tie framer is exactly aligned over the plastic base sheet and you are ready to lay ties.

With the ties are all laid, you only have to place the tie plate jig on top of the dowel pins of one tie frame strip to lay the plates on one side of the track, then rotate the plate 180 degrees and place it on top of the dowel pins of the other tie frame strip, to then lay the plates on the other side of the track.

As always, pre-painting the parts will make it very easy to have each separate part the right color and save any extra finishing work after construction is complete.


Feature Selection inMore Detail.

The plain track option provides an enormous amount of variation in plain track construction. But of course, in order to select the particular variation you want, it is necessary to have a range of parameters that the user sets, which will cause the exact desired outcome.

In the case of the option, the settings fall into three simple categories:

Tie length, and Regularity
Tie spacing
Tieplate type and position option

Setting Tie Length.

Tie length is set by placing the dowels in the appropriate one of the three holes provided in the Tie Frame strip. . The holes nearest the ends of each strip will later set the frame the exactly correct distance apart for 9 ft tie lengths, the center hole for 8-6 tie lengths and the inner hole for 8 ft tie lengths. These settings will give the most regularity and precision of placement for those length of ties.

However, it is also possible to place the ties with more, but correctly constrained, irregularity to represent specialized, older or less well maintained track. . Using a tie length setting one size greater than the actual tie lengths will result in ties that are not only more varied in their transverse position, but also show more rotational freedom. One can also use mixed in smaller tie lengths if the prototype requires it. In the extreme case, using 8ft ties with a 9ft setting and branch line spacing will give a quite rustic but still realistically placed appearance.

Specialized applications, such as modern West Coast Main Line track with a mixture of precisely centered 9ft (new) and 8-6 (old) ties, can be easily laid by setting the jig for the smaller size first. Lay only those smaller ties and then add a few tieplates at each end for position reference. Now increase the jig tie length setting to the larger size, using the tie plate jig to align the new width centrally from the previously laid tieplates. Then lay the rest of the ties and finish laying the tieplates as normal.

Setting Tie Spacing.

This is probably the simplest parameter to select. Just rotate the tie frame strips to have matching branch or main spacing facing inwards.

Tieplate Type and Positioning.

The Tie Plate jig has its most commonly used sets of matching dowel alignment holes in a row along its center-line. These are used to set LD and MD tieplates correctly for HO Standard Gauge track. Rotate 180 degrees as necessary, so that the tieplate spacing matches the tie spacing in use.

It is also possible to lay HD Tieplates at Main spacing on Tie Frame 9 ft or 8-6 tie length settings. Position the tie plate jig as though for Branch spacing, then move it inwards until the dowels engage the second other row of dowel alignment holes. This feature also works with mixed length ties, sucha sthe West Coast Main Line track mentioned above.

Finally, the jig will also position a row of narrow gauge tie plates on dual gauge track. Use the Branch line and 8 ft tie setting for the tie frame and the matching branch setting for the tieplate jig. Now move the tie plate jig inwards until it engages with one of the double holes in the second row. Use the least inward position to set the tieplates for 12mm dual gauge, or the most inward position for HOn3 gauge.