The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading

  NUMBER 156


© August 08, 2010   

 ©Discover Live Steam. This material may not be published, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.


 | Read other articles Send in an article |

MOW Rolling Track Level


Written by Warren Schroeder

After much derailing frustration with my backyard railroad of 400’ I decided to take a close look at the track. After using the level here there and every where I realized this needed to be looked at in a methodical fashion. So I came up with this rolling track gauge. It is simply a rolling platform with attached level and two spray line stripers.

Operator's View

Looking down the “operators” view you will view the bubble (right) as you roll along the track. Ok so now you come to a section which is not level. You simply pull the trigger of the sprayer on the low side.

Now you know where you need the gravel. Or your follow up “gravel crew” can come in with some fill. I like to use the level tool from Cannonball (far right) to finish the leveling job. It make the job fast and easy

One long mark = Start

3 dots = Stop

Spraying and Pant Markers

You will probably find long sections of out of level track. Rather then run the spray all along the section and use up the spray. (yea the can empties real fast) I use the long mark as a start point and three dots as the stop mark. Rustoleum® makes a spray chalk spray which last 15-30 days.


The spray arm is a Rustoleum® “marking wand” .

The wand is attached at the bottom to the frame (without the wheel) with one bolt and rests on the tread plate I used two length of 1” angle. Cut two lengths about 30” long Clamp the angle iron together when you drill the 4 bushing holes so they are in alignment. The wheels are 22” apart center to center.

The wheels and axle assembly is captured in the frame using brass shoulder bushings (sized according to your axle).

Next cut a 12” x 18“ 1/8 piece of tread (diamond) plate, align everything up square clamp and drill holes to bolt plate to angle iron.  Then attach a ¾” pipe flange to the tread plate.

Using a plastic spirit level (above) cut off the ends so its about 12”-16” long. Bolt the level to the front of the frame as shown.

Connect a 30” section of ¾ pipe to the pipe flange (photo A) and a ¾ tee fitting at the other end with two 6” nipples as handles.

photo A

photo B

The pistol grips of the spray wands are attached to the handle by drill a hole through the handles and passing a ¼ drill rod through the pipe. Capture the drill rod at each end with ¼ collars on each end as shown in the above photo A.
(Alternately you could use ¼ - 20 threaded rod and nuts.) NOTE: use caution when drilling the hole through the pistol. You must drill at the extreme right side of pistol grip so as to not drill into the trigger pull rod inside the handle.

Final Touch

I know your going to be coasting on the down grades just for fun so you better add a brake!  Just a short length of ¾ sq tube bolted to the frame (see below).


Total Approx Cost $200.00

  • 2 lengths 1x1x36 angle iron @ $8.00

  • 1 12x24x1/8 tread plate $35.00

  • 2 spray paint markers @ $20.00

  • 1 Level $15.00

  • 4 3/4 brass bushings @ $4.00

  • 3/4 x 30"Pipe 1 flange, 1 tee 2 3/4 x 5" nipples $20.00

  • 2 wheel and axle sets @ $50.00 (from Plum cove studios)

Have Fun!!


Written by Warren Schroeder

the end

Would you like to discuss
the ideas in this article? 
Post a comment or question here.

Write to
(the subject line must contain the word discover)


Have an idea for an article? 
We need your article on ....

Technical Issues such as problems and solutions associated with steam locos, hydraulic drives, electric drives, track laying and maintenance, signal systems.

Construction Projects, mostly looking for car projects (let's leave the steamer building to the print magazines). How about scenery construction or building a hand car?

Full scale railroads and museums.  If you work for or volunteer for a railroad, if you've visited one recently and have a few photos and can write up a half dozen paragraphs on it, we'll be happy to put it up on the web.

Live Steam Railroads. How about a little background and a tour of your railroad or one you've visited.

Please share what you know with us.


The On-Line Magazine of Ridable Model Railroading

Read Other Articles

| Live Steam Railroads | Suppliers | Postings | For Sale  |
 | Events Calendar | Books | Magazines | Videos  | Photo Contest |


Hit Counter