Laying some track

Well after a lot of planning, quite a bit of saving, a good clear out in the garage and a bit more saving, the time came to get some baseboards. Now here’s the thing…buying wood takes time and a big car or van. And have you ever looked for a straight piece of wood that isn’t a bit warped. No matter how hard you try, the storage facilities for many DIY stores don’t keep the wood flat and free from bends. To be honest, building baseboards is a chore.

George Street  was built using baseboards supplied by one of my local model shops, Great Eastern Models. They build their 2×4 ft baseboards on site using good quality soft wood frames with sundela tops and are pretty darn good. I certainly had no problem with mine!

Without being unkind to the good folk of my local model shop, I needed to take a step up with my next layout and so I looked to the world of laser cut baseboards for the solution.

These are primarily made of plywood and can be cut to various sizes. As they are laser cut, their accuracy is very good and they are very robust.

While there are a number of baseboard manufacturers listed in various model magazines, I opted to use Tim Horn, a great bloke who is based in Norfolk, so ideal for me!

SO… I placed an order for three 4ft x 3ft baseboards which were supplied with all the necessary bolts and metal work to bolt them together. In due course, I ordered a fourth board of the same dimensions which gave me a total scenic area of 16ft x 3ft. I also obtained some back and end  boards for the back scenes which bolted onto the baseboard sections.

I collected my boards from Tim and only needed tools and wood glue to assemble. Once completed they really did look excellent and were really strong.


One of my baseboards and a lot of household clutter!

So my boards were built and I had this blank canvas ready for me to start work. I was surprised how overwhelming this point was. It had cost quite a lot of money to get to this stage and now I had to be brave an commit myself.

There are many ways of fixing track to baseboards. Some people use glue, some use pins. Some use pins and then pull them out again once the glue in the ballast has set. Many modellers also use cork beneath their track too. This can help to reduce the sound of the trains over the track but it also gives a nice impression of a ballast shoulder. I decided I would also use cork under my track in the scenic areas, so once I had decided which piece of track was going where, I had to cut a piece of cork to go under the track. I did find that this slowed down my progress. I also found that the reality of the new space made me doubt my original plan and I ended up playing around with the points again to see if I could come up with any thing different. I guess this bit of ‘play time’ ensure that the final layout was the one I wanted.

I decided to start my layout at the back. I needed to work out where my platform would go and allow space for any scenery at the back. Very slowly, pieces of cork and track were laid and a model railway started to appear. I chose to stick my track down with PVA glue and hold in place with paint tins over night while the glue dried. I did this to avoid the sight of track pins in close up photography. I have now doubt my layout will not be perfect in every area, but here was one pet hate, I could eliminate from day one.

Once the track was stuck in place, I gave it a dusting of Humbrol dark earth. I have used this method for a number of years and still like the effect it provides. I like the idea that the sleepers lose their plastic appearance and the track gets a shade of brown too. I paint my rails in due course but this first stage helps the naked track to lose its toy like appearance.