Thursday, October 11, 2007

LL Roadbed Joints

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Joints in roadbed are a trivial affair until one needs to move it, or chooses to reuse the wood. The culprit is loose joints when you don't use glue, and impossible to separate joints whenever you do use glue!

Biscuits and the Biscuit Joiner.

I got a jointer but have hardly ever used it. I have thought it would be a good idea for along time but until tonight, I never got around to trying it. As for reasons why I think biscuits might be good, here are a few that come to mind as to why I would want to use splices (butt joints) using technology like biscuits.

1. Wood joints in particular; we have all fought the nasties of sub-roadbed misalignment. One of the things I see with experienced modelers is a focus on certain details that are preventative in nature. I want my trains to run smooth and like everyone, I hate derailments! Biscuit joint benefits include
- Additional strength of a joint is always valuable
- Surface alignment perfection, biscuits force proper alignment and ensure a smooth joint for roadbed.
2. Maximizing vertical clearances between tracks
- Building a helix where clearances are a problem
- So many times a splice appears right were tracks need to criscross each other, making proper clearances problematic.
3. Least importantly, I have had a high quality biscuit joiner for five years and have never really had a need to use it.

My first layout, the Atlas Midland Central was built following the 'plans' provided in the Atlas book. I followed their direction using 1 X 6 & 1 X 8 #2 pine. What a disaster! The boards warped and getting smooth joints was extremely difficult. The main reason I abandoned the project was the inherent difficulties I had built into the foundation of my layout.

I believe there is a very good reason why most modelers use plywood or spline roadbed.

I have also considered using 45 minute epoxy glue instead of tight bond to make the joints. I have read in several articles where the master builders have used epoxy glued sub-roadbed to ensure alignment of critical areas like bridge abutments etc.