COPPER CLAD POINTS: BUILDING A SIMPLE TURNOUT
  
  
The objective. A handbuilt point in the running line at Boursson.
  
  
Overview

A number of people have expressed interest in the methods that have used to construct the points for the AFK . I have, as a result, been persuaded to prepare this article for the benefit of any-one thinking about adopting this method of construction. It is, therefore, aimed at beginners (but it is not restricted to my chosen scale of 7mm narrow gauge). I suspect that experienced point builders will find little of interest herein (and plenty to amuse them!) as I would by no means claim to be an expert or a paragon of virtue in using good practice. Having said that the AFK has around 100 points which are expected to perform consistently without problems. This isn't always the case, of course, but the more unreliable ones are rebuilt until their performance improves. As an aside I have constructed similar points in various scales from N gauge through to SM32 for the garden using the same basic techniques, although the SM32 one required much more filing and a larger iron! Three stages of construction have been considered. The fixed parts of the point, the moving parts and finally electrification.
  I
  

A general consideration of copper clad sleeper points.

Before looking at the actual construction techniques it might be as well to consider some background factors which might not initially seem obvious. Most articles that I have seen about this construction method simply take these things for granted whereas they are important considerations for anyone setting out along this route for the first time.

Cost:
I have not calculated the cost of one point but I would be surprised if, all up (i.e. including switches and mechanisms) that one individual unit cost more than a few pounds. This price is based on the average cost of one unit in a batch build. Most of the materials cannot be bought in very small quantities so it might be better to contemplate the costs for four or five points against commercial prices. £20 for 4 points against circa £50 for 4 Peco points at current prices, perhaps?

Construction time:
Again this is difficult to calculate as speed increases with experience. I might suggest that at least one set of points could be constructed and fully commissioned in an evening by some-one experienced and determined. This obviously has to be weighed against the convenience of buying something ready to use off the shelf. There is also the problem that confronts any scratchbuilder that things do not always go as planned. Parts will sometimes have to be adjusted or remade and on occasions only sheer bloody mindedness will produce a positive result! The copper clad system is quite forgiving of errors and allows a number of 'second attempts' although eventually the copper will delaminate from the backing due to constant reheating of the glue and the sleeper will disintegrate. Even then all is not lost and a replacement sleeper can often be squeezed into an existing formation.

Reliability:
Once set up properly the points should be as reliable as commercial products, if not better, otherwise there is little point in building them. The beginner needs to bear in mind that attaining this reliability will entail a bedding in process of making minor adjustments. This amounts to not automatically expecting the point to work first time unlike something bought off the shelf. On the other hand it was my experience of the declining reliability of a very well known commercial brand over time that prompted me to begin to build my own! There is also the advantage that if you have manufactured the parts in the first place there is no inhibition in replacing them with something better rather than trying to correct some-one else's design. Commercial points are built to a price I suppose!

Operating mechanism:
Commercial points come with an operating mechanism built into them. This might be an over centre spring or a handle alongside the blades. Hand built copper clad points need to have mechanism provided, something not always made clear in articles about construction. My personal preference is for a simple hand operated system controlled from the edge of the layout. It is possible to power these points although I would be dubious about their longevity if activated by solenoid motors.

Switches:
As the construction method relies upon soldering metal components there must be some form of electrical switching to change the current on the crossing (or frog if you must use that horrible term!). This is provided by a microswitch operated by a metal finger on the operating rod. This does add to the complications of construction and setting up, but it gives better running qualities than some commercially made self contained points as all the rail carries current all the time. The standard commercial point circumvents this with plastic dead spots, of course, but the problem is that these wear over time if they are too small, giving poor physical running, or are so large that in overcoming this problem they give poor electrical continuity.

Robustness:
Once fixed to a baseboard copper clad points are very robust. It is unrealistic, however, to expect to retrieve these points for re-use without some difficulties if the track layout needs to be changed. I have occasionally successfully removed points but more times than not they will disintegrate. Without doubt this is where commercial points will offer an advantage over hand built ones.

Flexibility:
Track planning with commercial points means working around fixed formations. Want a 30 inch radius point for instance? Forget it!  We only sell a 24 inch or 36 inch unit. No such constraints with hand built track. Determine where the track needs to go and build it to that radius, subject to it being above a predetermined minimum of course. Most of my points curve through both legs and any diamond crossings similarly curve along both legs.

Philosophy:
Some people can design track formations and build them with precise accuracy on a workbench away from the track. I cannot do this. My approach is to vaguely sketch in the arrangement that I want and to build it on site adjusting any adjacent plain track to match the formation as necessary. I suppose that this is the approach of a pragmatist rather than an idealist!

Tools and materials:
I aim to use the simple tools that most modellers would expect to find in their toolbox or obtain from the local hardware store. These are;

Soldering iron (smaller end of what can be bought from the local ironmongers). If it is too large it will delaminate the sleepers.

Solder (obviously!). Standard solder from the same source.

Cutting disc tool and a large supply of discs. (These will have to be bought at a model shop).

Various files including a nail file and small needle files.

Pliers (preferably needle nosed and flat nosed).

White glue and cardboard for fixing the sleepers.

Copperclad sleepers. These are available commercially and most scale societies (such as the 7mm NGA) stock supplies appropriate to their scale/gauge.

Peco code 100 rail. This can be obtained directly from the factory if the local model shop cannot supply (as is usually the case in rural Norfolk.) The cross section of the rail obviously varies with the scale and I prefer to use Z scale rail for scratchbuilding in N gauge.

Tweezers. Usual standard type and fine nosed type.

Track gauge. Mine is homemade and has been used for all the pointwork. The back to back dimensions of the wheelsets on the AFK have been pushed out from those supplied commercially so the model's wheels and track are adjusted to each other rather than to a nominal standard. Commercially available gauges can be bought.

Fibreglass brushes for cleaning solder from rails.

Screwdrivers for prodding rails into place as well as their designed usage.

Sheet metal cutters for producing various small metal parts.

Rizla cigarette papers to prevent components accidentally being soldered together.

Electrical screwdriver, the sort with a bulb inside it which lights up when a circuit is made.

I also use a commercially made two foot curve template because this is the minimum radius that my stock is expected to traverse. Such templates can easily be manufactured from cardboard if they cannot be bought.
  
  
The fixed parts of the point.
  
  
1. The early stages of construction, although not quite at the beginning of the process. A cardboard base (old cornflakes packets) has been provided to lift the (thinner) copper clad sleepers so that the railheads roughly align with the Peco plain track. The sleepers are made from 7mmNGA strips broken to length with pliers. They are glued down with white glue. This has been removed from the sleeper tops, once dry, with the fibre glass brush once sold by the Association. The rails' positions and the tiebar have been marked with a pen using the track gauge but these are only approximations and will be adjusted as necessary. This sloppiness accounts for the points being built on site rather than from a drawing at a bench.  The sleepers have deliberately been cut over long to accommodate this drift and will be cut back once the job is finished.  
  
  
2. The fabrication of crossing vees and the recesses for the point blades are filed into the rails on the work bench. The wood has had a groove hack sawed into it to take the web of the rail.
  
  
3. Depending upon the amount of effort needed a range of files is used. The nail file helps with final adjustments in situ and is not used on the bench.
  
  
4. The prototype used a variety of methods to ensure that the blades seated properly against the outer rails. Each of these, and the various parts of the point, had their own specialist terminology, which is mostly lost on modellers who seem to have gone their own way on this, as in many other things. Not being a PW expert I intend to keep things as simple as I can. Apologies to any aficionados! The recess for the point blade has been filed into the rail. It is tempting to make this recess too short to save on elbow grease but this is a false economy! This area needs to have any trace of the rail web removed otherwise the blade will never seat properly. This one required further attention in two places to remove the web, one of which is shown by the arrow
  
  
5. The initial heavy work is finished. The two components of the nose (or vee) have been filed to a sharp point and the two rails with recesses are finished. Oh and yes ~ make sure that the recesses are filed onto the correct side of the rails so that you have a pair otherwise you will have two identical pieces which is no use at all! Do not ask how I know this! The rails are overlong to allow for cutting to fit on site.
  
  
6. The first rail has been laid. The "Tracksetta" two foot curve template has been placed against the rail to ensure that it meets the AFK's two foot minimum radius. This point is in a tight location but usually I do not bother with the template because most points have a much larger radius. Already the actual build has diverged from the lines marked onto the cardboard using the same template! The screwdriver is useful for pushing rails into position whist heating them with the iron. Notice that very few sleepers are soldered to the rails at this point. This is a deliberate policy because it is much easier to make minute shifts in the rail positions if needed when only one or two joints have been made.
  
  
7. The  second rail has been placed into position. It has been cut slightly too short as the recess does not quite clear the tiebar position, as shown by the red arrow. It is possible to get round this problem by slightly shortening the blade but it is easier to cut the rail back with the disc at this point. It is also noticeable that the point has drifted by 3 or 4 mms from the original position and that a sleeper has been removed at the green arrow to allow the plain track to be fitted later. As noted, I have a pragmatic rather than idealistic approach to building points! The track has been set to gauge here, acting as a reference point for the rest of the construction. The depth of the recess filed into the rail head, clearly visible here can sometimes be a problem if the blades do not quite align with the recess thereby creating a sudden bump for a flange. Filing this back cures the problem and is one of the 'fettling' procedures necessary with hand made points. Some builders prefer to set the recess a little further to the right from the tiebar and allow some flexibility in the blades as they seat against the rail. My own preference is to remove this flexibility by soldering the ends of the blade onto the tiebar.
  
  
8. The position of the nose is determined using the track gauge. This was placed against each rail and the sleepers were dotted with a marker pen (arrow). This gives a rough positioning and indicates where solder will need to be applied.
  
  
9. The rail is cut to shape using the mark made by the pen (arrow). Once again this is hardly high tech and the exact position of the cut will determine the exact position of the nose.
  
  
10. The first nose rail is now soldered into place. This is a critical point in the construction. The nose was set with the track gauge against the top rail in the photo (red arrow). This required two or three goes with the iron but it must be accurate. The lower rail was then adjusted to gauge with soldered joint on the sleeper (green arrow). This may give a weird shape to the rail at this point but simply applying heat to the two joints at the right creates a smooth curve. The easiest way to do this is to push the one at the right outwards (or inwards if necessary). When the iron is applied to the middle joint the rail will flex into position by itself.
  
  
11. As noted in 10 the position of the nose is critical to the finished point's running so it must not be disturbed if at all possible. The second rail of the nose has been roughly attached with solder by the green arrow to make sure that the nose's point is not moved. The two rails should form a sharp vee shaped point (red arrow).
  
  
12. The basic work is now finished, although slight adjustments might still have to be made. The nose has been soldered up and its rails have been soldered to all the sleepers nearby. It is important to file the point as sharp as possible and to remove any solder which has got onto the inside of the rails. It is also vital that both rails forming the nose are level as a slight difference in elevation will result in the wheels being pushed away from the higher rail leading to poor running. This was checked by rolling a wheel set over the nose, between the fingers, and filing until it was level. The gauge was checked once more and, unsurprisingly given that this was the last rail in, it was found to be slightly tight with the bottom rail. This was readjusted and checked with the two foot curve. I suspect it might be slightly too tight but I do not anticipate any problems. It would have been better to have had a larger radius had space allowed and then the slight tightening would be of no consequence.
  
  
13. The two closure rails which will form the knuckle of the point are formed from the trimmed back lengths of rail. These are simply nicked with a triangular file and bent to rough shape. As can be seen I nicked one rail on the wrong side but this is immaterial. The length of the closing rails is unimportant at this stage as they can be trimmed back later. For the sake of neatness it is better that the two check rails beyond the nose are of the same length, although this is not critical. These have been splayed by bending with the flat nosed pliers. What is important is that the angle should roughly correspond with the vee of the nose which can be achieved by holding the short end in the pliers and bending. On a sharp radius curve such as this it is also worthwhile to slightly bend the rails between the fingers so that they roughly correspond with the outer rails' radius before fitting
  
  
14. We now come to another critical point in construction, the fabrication of the crossing (or 'frog' if you really must use the non railway term). The knuckle rail has been soldered in place by one joint only so that it can easily be moved if necessary. This is where things start to get complicated. The closing rail should align with the nose (green line) and in this case it does not. At the same time the wing rail should be at the correct spacing (red arrow). If this is too wide the wheel (travelling in the direction of the green line) will drop into the gap creating a bump and rough riding. If it is too narrow it will pinch the loco and stock wheels running into the upper road creating a bind and jerky running. One of the prongs on my home made gauge is supposed to set this distance but nine times out of ten it is done by empirical observation. Incidentally, on a sharply curved point such as this one this is easier to get right than it is on a more gentle curve.
  
  
15. The crossing has been correctly aligned and fixed into place with further solder. It has also been checked for gauge against the bottom rail. There is usually a little bit of flexibility in adjusting the knuckle with the iron by using a screwdriver. It also vital that the knuckle and nose are vertically aligned. This might seem to be an almost automatic feature of building on a flat baseboard but do not be fooled! A very slight discrepancy in height will result in the wheel being pushed to one side or suddenly dropping resulting in poor running. We are talking fractions of millimetres here rather than huge steps. I try to detect this at this stage in construction and initially adjust it with an iron. A few passes with the file can sort out minor discrepancies.
  
  
16. The horizontal alignment can be checked by eye and tested by running a wheel set over it.
  
  
17. If there is a slight misalignment a nail file can be used to correct it. I believe that their proper equivalents are known as warding files but the AFK uses cheapo easily available stuff out of Boots.
  
  
18. The knuckle is now complete along with the check rails. I test the running properties with a spare coach bogie kept for the purpose. The wheel backs have been pushed out to gauge of course. The bogie is a preliminary test and no substitute for the later testing using a locomotive under power.
  
  
19. The points to check for at the crossing are shown here. The knuckle (green arrow) must align with the nose on both sides and be wide enough to let wheels pass through without catching them. If this happens vehicles will lurch towards the nose resulting in poor running. The knuckle can be opened up by curving the nail file and filing it wider but I doubt that this would be viewed as good practice, although I have done this at various locations. The other trap for the unwary is the back to back setting of the wing rail and the check rail shown by the red arrow. It is again easy to get this too tight for the wheels' back to back measurement causing binding or even derailment. The check rail is pulling the wheel away from the nose so that the flange does not hit the point. I deliberately try to force a spare wheel set down the wrong side of the nose to check that it is doing its job. The flangeway at the blue arrow must be tight enough to do this whilst at the same time letting wheels through without tightening the dimension of the red arrow. I have opted to push the wheels on all my stock out slightly to allow a little more leeway here and to also give a closer to scale dimension. I suspect that most people's stock would get a rough ride on the AFK!

The static parts of the point are now completed and from here on in we have the complication of moving parts. If I am constructing a complex track layout I usually move on at this point to make sure that all the fixed parts of the track are tenable before adding the blades.

  
The moving parts
  
  
  
20. Back on the work bench the blades are fabricated. This is basically the same procedure as for filing the recesses into the rails, although, obviously, it is carried out on both sides of the blade. The rail web has been removed from the right hand end to the arrow, a much greater distance than the recess. This is to allow the blade to flex, which it will not do if the web is there. Once again I file a long way back because of past experience in finding the blades too rigid if this isn't done. Notice also that the filing has introduced a curve into the blade. This can or cannot be a good thing depending upon the direction. It is easily corrected at this stage, if necessary, by finger pressure.
  
  
21. One thing to watch for is vertical distortion in the blade, as has happened here during the filing process. This will cause problems if left uncorrected because the blade will spring above the rail causing a vertical bump, and sometimes derailment, for any wheel entering the point. it is cured by gentle bending in the pliers.
  
  
22. It might seem possible that vertical misalignment could be cured by filing of the blade end but all that will happen is that the part in contact with the rail will develop a pronounced v shape as shown in these two examples withdrawn from service. The lower blade has almost totally been filed away and is an extreme case whereas the upper one has gone past the point of no return. What happens is that the wheel flange rides up the sloped leading edge onto the top of the rail. The wheel set might not derail immediately but it will do as the blade curves away from the rail. These old blades are kept to either be placed as scenic items, as spare blades near to points on the layout, or to save too much filing for shorter blades if I am feeling lazy.
  
  
23. the final finishing of the blades takes place against a steel surface (which once acted as a weight for a wagon I believe). The blades need to be sharp and the wooden surface will wear away too much, hence the steel. The blade will be finished by having a slight notch filed into its upper surface to prevent wheels form picking it. The blades removed in the previous photo had suffered from this notch enlarging.
  
  
24. the moving parts have now been constructed and are ready for fitting. The two blades have had solder added to their insides to allow for easy fitting. Make sure that the outside has no solder whatsoever on it otherwise the blade will stick to the rail. The sleeper will act as the tiebar does on a real point, although it is an obvious fudge. This sleeper was hand cut from double sided copperclad sheet. The adhesive of the standard sleepers tends to fail under heat stress after the iron has been applied a couple of times. This sheet is more robust but delamination will occur if too many adjustments are attempted. Sometimes it is possible to turn the sleeper over and use the other side and sometimes it isn't. Although I hope to avoid it I find that replacement of the tiebar is a common problem in setting up the points to operate properly as many small adjustments are made to get the blades to seat correctly. The piece of brass has had a hole drilled into it to take the operating rod. This will be soldered to the tiebar. Soldering the operating rod directly to the tiebar will induce stress resulting in the joint breaking sooner or later.

  
  
25. The final preparations for fitting the blades have been made. These would normally include the cutting back of the closure rails forming the knuckle, although it was not initially judged to be necessary in this case. The ideal is to have two blades of the same length to avoid introducing uneven stress in the moving parts. As a tip it is worth keeping partly worn discs (if you can get them before they shatter!) because they fit more easily into confined spaces and avoid nicking the outer rails. The copper cladding of the two sleepers adjacent to the tiebar has also been stripped with a disc as, being ham fisted, I find that I sometimes solder the tiebar to these sleepers. The outer ends of the sleepers have similarly been treated where the operating rod will enter.
  
  
26. The tiebar has been marked and two lines filed (or cut) to mark the positions of the blades. Cutting these slits allows the blades to be soldered just inside them. This should avoid the problem of solder accidentally creeping under the blade and jamming the moving parts by soldering them to the fixed rails. I often omit this preliminary preparation and cut the slits with a disc once the tiebar is in place. The operating mechanism (a piece of rail) has also been supplied. Unfortunately in this instance it became a source of problems as the point is built on a portable layout intended to be operated from one end rather than from the front edge of the layout.
  
  
26a. The point used as the heading shows a more typical AFK arrangement. The point at the top of the photo is operated by a simple rod from the layout edge (bottom). A chocolate block connector provides a handle and is easily hidden in the vegetation. The rod is restrained by simple wood screws which can be tightened or slackened as necessary to provide the tension to hold the blades in place. In this example a tail from the tiebar works the microswitch which changes the polarity of the crossing. This is hidden under a building in the background (see header photo).
  
  
27. The operating mechanism has been attached to the tiebar. I prefer to take this step before attaching the blades because any problems with the operating rod can be sorted out now in the clear knowledge that this is the problem rather than any other parts attached later. The connection was made with an opened out paper clip (for cheapness and convenience) which has been folded back onto itself to form a loop. I prefer this to a simple hook as I have found that the hook can sometimes disengage from the hole, particularly if the blades are stiff to operate.
  
  
28. The blades have been installed and there are problems! They will not seat properly because insufficient metal was filed from them on the workbench. The second problem which became apparent was that they were too short to get the soldering iron into the space available to provide more than one soldered joint. Thirdly the pressure of moving the blades has caused the right hand sleeper to come loose resulting in the point flexing and the rail joints to the plain track working loose. The upper blade is also slightly too long and will not fit into the recess.

  
  
29. This is where this method of construction offers hope to the ham fisted but persistent modeller! The blades have been removed and the knuckle cut back to give a better fixing point for the blades, with two sleepers for attachment. The blades will be replaced by longer ones to suit the new arrangement. They will have more metal removed this time around!
  
  
30. Here is the point mechanically completed. This took some time to achieve, partly because of issues with a crank in the operating mechanism. Numerous adjustments were made to reach this stage as is apparent from the untidy soldering. A number of tiebars were broken and had to be replaced. Sometimes this is not necessary but whenever this occurs the build time elongates. The important thing is that the point does now work and has been tested with the coach bogie which runs smoothly through in all directions, although this endorsement must be regarded with scepticism in terms of the finished article. It is important to make sure that the blades are physically separate from the knuckle for electrical purposes. I usually stick a knife blade down the gap between the two, if in doubt, and apply the slitting disc.
  
  
31. A close up view of the point shows some areas to be examined. The back to back dimension of the blades is critical (red arrow) particularly as this is a wye point with the entry track from the right curving back towards the top of the picture. Inertia will force the wheels against the bottom rail and if the top blade is not set far enough away from the top rail the flanges will 'pick' the blade and lurch or derail. The blade should seat properly against the rail (green arrow). Arranging this is often much more easily said than done, particularly as it is easy to get one blade into adjustment but find that it goes out of adjustment when the second blade is soldered. This blade, despite appearances, is giving a smooth ride to the top road with the coach bogie because of the recess (although the solder on the rail head needs removing). Whether this will accept an electrically powered long wheelbase loco is open to question! It is possible to get the blades into gauge at the tiebar but find that they have tightened elsewhere, or sometimes gone wide to gauge (yellow arrow). This can usually solved by exerting pressure upon them in the appropriate direction (with pliers if necessary in difficult cases!) The width of the flangeway at the orange arrow also needs monitoring during this process. Finally, for electrical continuity, it is important to make sure that the outer rails and the blades are bonded together as shown by the purple arrow. The sharp eyed will notice that a pin has been inserted at the bottom right to stop the sleeper from moving.
  
  
31a. Occasionally it is necessary to insert an auxiliary tiebar to keep the blades in gauge as was necessary on this point at the northern entry into Ithilarak. The operated tiebar is on the right of the photo and the additional gauge spacing tiebar is worked by a piece of paper clip soldered to it. This has proved to be a difficult location to obtain smooth running and a check rail has been introduced on the viaduct to the right with minimal clearance between it and the lower blade. As an aside notice that the blades are soldered to the tiebar with a generous fillet of solder. Whilst I admit that I am not a neat worker with the iron experience has shown that a substantial joint is needed to prevent the blades from springing away form the tiebar requiring attention later. There are other, more sophisticated, methods of attaching the blades to the tiebar but these are beyond my personal experience.

  
Electrical arrangements.
  
  
  
32. The point as it stands will short out any wiring connected to it. It is essential that the blades are electrically separate from the knuckle as shown by the gaps at the green arrows. The crossing will be independently powered by a microswitch driven by the operating blade. Slits need to be made along the red lines to ensure that the feed and return are kept apart. It is difficult to illustrate the commissioning procedures necessary to ensure that the point works correctly. An electrical screw driver, bought from the hardware store is a essential for detecting that all is well. The easiest way to determine that the gapping process has been carried out properly is to place a loco on the plain track to the right of the photo. If it powers up the slit between the point blades has been made correctly. If it runs past the blades and over the knuckle before stalling (because the crossing is unconnected) then the gapping has been done correctly for whichever road it has run along. This obviously needs testing for both directions. If the loco will not run at any stage of this procedure it has detected a short circuit and the gapping will have to be checked. There is usually a very small piece of copper somewhere providing an electrical circuit between the feed and the return causing the short. It is easy to remove with a triangular needle file. One word of advice for the unwary. It is easy to destroy the mechanical integrity of the sleepers by gouging them too deeply with a slitting disc which can have unintended consequences such as gauge widening or disintegration of the tiebar.
  
33. The crossing polarity is selected by a microswitch. This will be activated by a finger fixed to the operating rod. The red arrow shows the contact at the base of the switch's operating arm which always connects with the nose (which means soldering a wire directly from the nose to the contact shown on the microswitch. The blue and green arrows are connected to the feed and return wires on the traction circuit. These can be taken from the rail itself or from contacts under the board. I usually connect the wiring looms under the board by using drawing pins pushed into Sundeala board. I have to be honest and say that the blue and green arrows are soldered onto their pins by simply turning the track current to 12 DC, connecting a circuit detector to the track (i.e. screw driver with a bulb in it) placed between the nose and the road towards which the blade is pointing) and ascertaining which one lights up to complete the circuit. Hardly scientific but it works!
  
34. This is the actual installation for the point in question, demonstrating some untidy wiring! The operating rod is at the top of the photo and the finger is a piece of code 100 rail soldered to it. One problem with this arrangement is ensuring that the finger activates the microswitch arm (usually revealed by an audible click) without restricting the full movement of the blades. The switch is held in place by two long pins which is a better option than glue. Besides gumming up the operating arm the glue will not give a sufficiently resilient bond to resist the action of the finger.

  
  
35. Assuming that the electrics have been correctly connected a loco can now run through the points. In the unlikely circumstances of it running through in both directions on both roads without any problems whatsoever:~ congratulations, you have a functioning set of points. Remember that to date the only vehicle to have traversed these points is a hand propelled coach bogie, okay as far as it goes but not exactly what we can normally expect. Most AFK locos are six or eight coupled rigid wheelbase machines which are not quite so easy going as the test vehicle. Their long wheelbases are unforgiving of minor inaccuracies.

Reality being what it is the most likely outcome is that there are some problems. In this particular case the far blade was slightly below the stock rail resulting in the loco being pushed to the front of the photo, A couple of passes with a needle file solved this. Another problem was that the check rail on the near side was tight but this too was easily solved by applying the iron and gently opening it out with a screw driver. The blades also, as suspected, did not allow a trouble free passage causing bumping and lurching as the loco entered the point. This is the usual source of problems with most points. A Rizla cigarette paper was placed between the blades and the stock rail to prevent them fro being accidentally soldered together and the iron was applied to the blades which were pushed into place with a screw driver. A little attention with a needle file also helped.

After these adjustments the points are now provisionally fit for service, although judgement will be reserved until the AFK's prima donnas have passed this way without problems. Those familiar with the layout will appreciate that this is a reference to the 2-10-2T and the Swedish diesel.

There are two remaining jobs to complete the point, although both are cosmetic. One is to solder all the sleepers to the rails to give the impression of shoes and the other is to cut the sleepers back with the slitting drill to give a neat appearance. In this case it is probable that they will be embedded into the ground and will be left as they are.
  
  
36. As an addendum, here is the finished point in all its glory. The sleepers have been cut back and al the joints soldered. After painting the sleepers and adding the ballast some of the cosmetic blemishes could be hidden. The ballasting of the AFK mainline is rather indifferent as is apparent from the heading photo.
  
Another section has been added which looks at the construction of some of the layout's more complex track formations.

Click on the button below to view these.
More complex trackwork