So this is where we left off:
A rather blank looking canvas of ballast, grey track mat glued to the baseboard. Next up we need to actually lay the track down.
For this you'll need some 'pins' which are essentially a model railwaying term for 'nails.' Again you'll get these from any decent model shop and of course eBay. I got mine on the same trip excursion to John Dutfield in Chelmsford as the roles of track mat. You shouldn't have to spend a fortune on these... I'd avoid the Hornby branded ones as you only got about 10 in a packet. eBay will definitely be able to furnish you with a bag of 50 or so for half the price. There's very little difference in track pins, as long as you get ones for 00-track they should fit no problem.
Some model shops will also stock a sort of 'pin applicator' to PUSH said pins into your baseboard. On research however these only look like they'll really work if you've got a softer baseboard, one made of cork or jelly for example and I can't really see them working very well on our plywood. Therefore we'll opt for the good old fashioned WHACK approach. (Off to homebase for a hammer we go - don't forget it needs to be narrower than the width of your track gauge. In the case of 00 track this is 16mm).
Next up I laid out the track in full plan once more. Partly to see how good it currently looks but mostly because I'd recommend doing this rather than taking an as-you-nail approach for the reasons I'm about to explain.
Laying out your full plan first will enable you to make absolutely sure there are no kinks in the track (by this I mean where two pieces join) and to make sure double/triple tracking is correctly spaced. If you head back to http://www.freetrackplans.com/Geometry.php you'll be able to double check some of the official track spacing measurements. If you've chosen to have crossovers and loops that diverge from a single oval these track spacing's SHOULD take care of themselves. Referencing my layout you'll notice there's a crossover between the inner and 2nd ovals and that the 2nd oval spur the outer loops. I've followed the advice on Free Track Plans Dot Com Forward Slash Geometry such that these all have uniform spacing between ovals. You can of course choose to ignore these geometries, which I'll mention are officially supplied by Hornby, and opt for your own but you'll need be absolutely sure the space between lines accommodates your stock without accident!
To double check it's worth loading your ovals up with some stock to make sure their loading gauges don't overlap. The loading gauge is the space required either side of the rails to accommodate your rolling stock. On curved track your stock will have a natural 'overhang' from the bogies. If the loading gauge does overlap it means two trains may touch each other as they go round curved sections of track. Here I've chosen some of my longest ex-BR Mrk iii and iv coaches (which logically being long have large loading gauges!) and they fit perfectly. (I'll also mention they work perfectly on the inner two ovals too..).
So no more dawdling! Time to nail it down. Keep making sure your track hasn't shifted, maintaining your track spacing as you whack away. I actually found that because of the rough surface created by the track mats the non-nailed down track didn't shift about as much as I expected. The ply wood really did take the nails with ease and the job was done in a good 20 minutes!
Here's a picture of my board sitting in storage with track nailed down. Remember the gaps (top right) enable sections of the non-nailed track to be removed for storing.
You'll remember from the last episode that I talked about the track mat being a bit 'flaky' and some of the ballast effect ... erm ballast... was coming off and making a mess. My flat mate, Mike Cramer (full credits there matey), suggested: 'Isn't there some sort of spray on glue you could use?' Why yes Mike that's a genius idea! Now you could go and buy some 'glue spray' from your local hardware sure - such an item does exist. However I just made up a solution of left over PVA glue and water (this time it was more a 50:50 ratio) and used an old detol style kitchen spray cannon to apply the glue. Be quite liberal with it and apply as much as possible. At this stage I do wish I'd thought of it BEFORE nailing the track down, and I hope you're not following this blog in a similar step by step process as you'll also be regretting not doing the same! This was mainly because I had to be careful not to get any spray on the track. I therefore had to 'miss out' areas of the track mat which is still causing some shards of ballast to come unstuck. I will say however that this has helped massively the problem. You'll notice from the picture above that some areas look 'discoloured' - this isn't the shadows in my boiler room this was caused by the glue. Now, I rather like this, as in real life ballast and rock is not a perfect uniform colour so it has given my layout a more natural effect. If you're not so keen on that idea then I'd recommend going for a track mat that was more felt based than mine thus avoiding the need to spray-glue the flakey bits.
Next, well I had some fun with it next!