The Track

Getting off the drawing board and onto the baseboard.

Full size printed plan on baseboard

I printed the XtrkCad design full size on many pieces of A4 paper and stuck it to the baseboard with undiluted PVA glue applied with a paint brush.

track plan cut out and glued to baseboard

This is the top left corner of the track plan where the track curves around the turntable.

turntable placed in baseboard

And this is the turntable

plan laid for goods yard

the front where the goods yard is

plan laid for back corner

and the rear right corner (all seen from the operators well).


I'm using Peco Streamline Flexitrack and points and AMI Instant Roadbed for underlay. AMI is a sticky malleable mastic that comes on a roll. One simply lays the roadbed on the baseboard according to the track plan. The track is laid on top of this and the roadbed holds it firmly in place, no glue or nails are required. (Note: as far as I can tell, AMI have gone out of business but you can still find it in the shops for the moment.)

I'll start by placing 2 points and then running flexitrack between.

holes drilled for actuator pins

The first step is working out where a point is going and drilling a 10mm hole for the point motor actuator pin

holes from another angle

then vacuum all the dust up because it sticks to the AMI instant roadbed.

A strip of instant roadbed laid

Lay the instant roadbed over the track plan

hole cut in roadbed

and cut the hole for the point motor pin with a scalpel (a drill just gets gummed up).

point laid on roadbed lined up with actuator pin hole

Lay the first point on the roadbed lining up the draw bar with the hole. Don't press it down yet. The roadbed holds the track quite securely enough at this stage.

wax paper under the point's drawbar

Cut a strip of the waxed backing paper from the roadbed to put under the draw bar to stop it from sticking to the roadbed. You can use different material if you don't like the colour, AMI recommend black insulation tape.

Cutting and Joining

The usual rules apply for cutting and joining flexitrack

flexitrack and scalpel

Remove the "baseplate" and cut the sleeper under each rail to make room for the joiner (fishplate)

flex track stuck to roadbed

Lay the track on the roadbed, pressing lightly to stick it in place. Mark the rails where you want to cut them with a scribe or similar etching tool.

wax paper under track to catch metal sawdust

I put a strip of backing paper under the rail while I was cutting it to stop the dust getting into the roadbed.

trying to fill gap between two laid pieces of track

Inevitably, when laying track, there's a short gap to make up and you've always got another piece left over that is almost, but not quite, entirely the wrong length.

soldered track join

To avoid the kinking that sometimes occurs when joining flexible rail on a curve, I soldered the joiners in place before bending the next piece of track. I didn't even melt the sleepers. Well done, Me!

finished loop

And here is my first loop completed.


The final stage of track laying is to press the track into the roadbed and apply the ballast. The roadbed should squeeze up between the sleepers until it's almost level with the top but this can be hard work. I used a hair dryer to soften the roadbed and a block of wood to press the track down with.

Sorry I wasn't able to get photos of this process but I couldn't work and hold the camera at the same time.

track on roadbed

Ballasting is easy with AMI instant roadbed because it's sticky so no glue is required to hold the ballast in place

some ballast added

You just pour a heap of ballast over the track, press it into the AMI Instant Roadbed with your fingers and sweep it along to the next bit.

more ballast added

I used an old makeup brush to sweep it and a mini dustpan to recover the excess afterwards.

ballast completed - pointwork

Sometimes there are 'bald' patches left when you sweep the loose ballast away. These can be patched by pressing a smaller pile of ballast into them.

ballast completed - two parallel tracks

The trick is to press on a thick pile of ballast, otherwise the roadbed just picks up the dust from your fingers.

ballst completed - turntable track

this is the track leading into the turntable which clearly shows the shape of the finished product.

The Turntable

turntable and loco

This is the turntable. It's a PECO kit. The bare plastic is a sort of cream colour so painting was essential but, having no idea what colour a turntable should be, I just painted the bridge a rust colour and the well a boring grey colour approximating concrete.

underneath turntable showing mechanism

I've motorized it using a 3V motor & gearbox set from Dick Smith electronics attached directly to the base with self-tapping screws. I haven't worked out how to control it or index it (line up the bridge of the turntable with the rails leading from it). No hurry.