Hand Laid Track Attempt – Part II


I took a little time in the train room this evening, I glued some more ties on the other side of the trestle and started spiking some rail down on the dry side. As I mentioned in the last post this is my first time spiking track, it took me a bit to figure out the best way to get started. Since this is a straight section I figured out where I wanted the one rail, spiked a few ties to get a firm mount and then used my 3 point gauge to position the other rail and start spiking it down.

A few misplaced spikes and a damaged tie or two and I got a decent start


It feels a bit tight on the left but it fits the gauge and I ran a wheelset over it (probably doesn’t help that the right side isn’t spiked down). It will probably be something I’ll need to revisit later.

The best part so far has been the modeling time I’ve gotten out of it for just a few dollars in supplies, and it’s almost all been things that I can do a small amount at a time when I have free time. In other words doing something when I’ve got a little time rather than doing nothing because I don’t have a lot of time.

Update: A couple more pictures. I was able to get some more spiking in. I got the once side completely spiked and got a couple spikes started on the other.

Overall view

Overall view

Close up of spikes

Close up of spikes

10 thoughts on “Hand Laid Track Attempt – Part II

  1. Matt, did you spike at every tie for a specific reason? Ignore this if you already know, but most people spike very fifth tie or so, except in instances where the track might be prone to moving (by being bumped at a lift-out, for instance).

    Also, it looks like you’re using Micro Engineering spikes. Have you tried Walthers code 70 spikes? I like them because they have more consistently shaped heads, they’re much stronger (you’ll bend fewer of them), and the heads are much smaller, which makes them less conspicuous.

    If you love the ME spikes, I have a bunch of them that I’ll mail to you.


    1. I had been spiking every tie (the fact that I haven’t done the rest is just because I haven’t done anything train related in quite a while).

      I didn’t know about the rule of every fifth tie, that would be very good to know when I move on to bigger hand-laying projects 🙂

      With respect to Walthers spikes I haven’t tried them, I will have to give them a try. The extend of my experience with hand laid track is this project and discussions on podcasts like MRR and MRCS. I was ordering track and PCB ties from Fast Tracks to fix piece of track that spanned a sub-module joint and so I got some spikes as well and he carries ME so I just got them.

      I haven’t had too much problem with bent spikes, but definitely can see the weakness. I’ll have to look into trying them.

    2. Hunter, I was at the hobby shop and they happened to have Walthers code 70 spikes (which was weird since they carry no other hand laying supplies) so I picked some up.

      Definitely feel stronger and look better but I’m splitting more ties. Is this something you’ve seen yourself or is this an anomaly or tie problem on my side?

      1. You problem might be the amount of glue you used to glue the ties down. There’s a real art to this. If you use too much glue, it will ooze up the sides of the ties when you set them in place. That will prevent any stain from soaking into the sides of the tie, leaving an ugly, bare surface on either side. If you don’t use enough glue, the ties will split when you spike them.

        I typically use yellow carpenter’s glue. I lay down one bead along the centre, and then use a piece of cardboard or something to spread the bead out. The glue needs to be thin, but it also needs to be spread so that it glues down the entire tie, from end to end.

        That’s all I’ve got 🙂 Let me know if it makes a difference.

      2. This must be a problem of too little glue, I was spiking some of the ties for a turnout and I had used very little glue so I wouldn’t accidently gum up the points or glue the throwbar down.

        I use the same process you describe for straight track but haven’t yet worked out a way to place and glue switch crossties for my turnouts.

    1. This particular project is a little weird because it’s very small and has a bridge (and will probably end up being more of a display thing than a regularly used thing because of it’s size) but had you not mentioned something I probably would have spiked everything 🙂

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