The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading
  NUMBER 131


 © May 10, 2009   

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How to make your own
Large Scale Backyard Railroad
part 2: Reader Responses

Written by Tom O'Connor
photos by Tom O'Connor

continued from How to make your own backyard railroad, part 1

The following is a ....


The main description of the Backyard Track System® is posted on this website in the previous article.  This article is in response to a reader question from “Laurence”.  Laurence uses groove track but is interested in ways to prevent the rails from popping out of the ties.  This is a typical problem with the groove track system.   Laurence asked the the following:

Q  “When you were drilling the angle holes in preparation to run the screw through the rail into the ties; how did you keep the drill bit from sliding down…  did you center punch or what?”

A.  The following is a description and photos that hopefully will give you a good idea of how I handled the problems of drilling pilot holes into the steel (after it the rail was already set into the ties).  I’ve also included details of how I was able to make the track rail ends and the joiners line up perfectly with each other for simple and fast rail joining.  Thanks for the question Laurence.

A better way to drill the holes into the rails

I came up with a pretty easy way to drill holes into the rails and with far greater ease. I laid out my ties and inserted the rails into them. Then I used a tool that I came up with to drill the angle holes into the outer face of the rails at each tie. It is quick and easy and sets the rail pilot hole in just the right position. This jig also prevents the drill bit from wandering as it first bites into the steel. Here are some photos of the tool I came up with.

The tool itself is a solid metal block that fits over the rail and straddles the tie. I drilled a hole into the block at a 45 degree angle and inserted a hardened drill bushing into it for a 3/16” drill bit. The hardened bushing holds the drill bit in place and the bit is unable to distort the hardened bushing. The tool I made self centers the deck screw pilot hole in the middle of the tie with. First use a #2 Center Drill to start the hole in the side of the rail. This set up will make a nice angled starting hole without walking around the bar stock as it goes. This is a starter hole and need not go too far into the metal. Also the #2 center drill bit is short and not likely to break while inside of the hardened bushing. Then use that same tool to drill the completed pilot hole for the deck screw. For the 2nd bit it is best to use a parabolic drill bit such as the: DeWalt No. DW1212: 3/16". The Parabolic flute design is for improved heat dissipation, material removal and increased life.


More about Rail Joiners

This is additional information to the rail joiner information I listed in the previous article of this series.

From the previous article: Rail joiners were rather easy, but I had one very strict discipline in mind. I wanted the joiners to be standard and universal as well. What I mean is that I wanted the ends of each track to match up with any joiner. I wanted to make a standard straight and standard curved track. In this way I could design and layout my backyard railroad much like I designed and laid out my train layout on my Lionel train set when I was a child. So the joiner becomes critical as far as being universal with any of my track sections. For this reason I made a jig to force identical specifications on my joiners and track ends. You’ll have to make your own adjustments for what scale you build, but these specs. are for my 13” gage track.

I used this jig to place every hole in exactly the same location.



In part 3, I’ll tell the story my 13” gage train…

"Choosing Your Backyard Train"

Continued in Part III

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