Since You Asked.... (RE: HHC 2019 Conference update)

Roger Hill rhill at
Sat Aug 17 14:18:25 MDT 2019

Hi Bruce, Brad, Richard, and all,

Thanks; glad you enjoyed the photo!  I did not actually go so far as
to set up a foundry and make my own rail.  You can buy 3-foot lengths
of rail at model railroad hobby shops in various cross-sectional
sizes.  I cut and filed and soldered them to make the switch points
and switch frogs.  The rails and switch components are fastened to
hand-laid wooden ties using miniature spikes that one pushes in place
using needle-nosed pliers.

In the 1950's when I started building my HO layout, modelers usually
used brass rail because it was easy to work with and solder, but it
doesn't look very realistic.  Steel rail was also available which
looks much better, and this is what I used.  During this time
nickel-silver (actually an alloy of copper, nickel, and zinc) started
to become available,  Nowadays it is used almost exclusively; besides
looking good it is also less prone to electrical contact problems due
to corrosion (its oxide is a good conductor).  I don't know if you
can still buy steel rail anymore at the hobby shops.

My first version of the layout used prefabricated track (available at
hobby shops); many of the store-bought switches came with black fibre
or plastic ties clipped to the rails.  Some of the components were
available with steel rail, while with others I had to put up with
brass.  Then I found an article in Model Railroader magazine showing
how to build a Double Slip Switch (baslcally a crossing combined with
4 switches allowing trains to go from either track on one side to
either track on the other side).  I had seen double slip switches on
various trips to Chicago and other places, and the Pacific Electric
(the "red car" system in the LA area) had some, and I decided that is
just had to have one on my layout.  So I built and installed it and
it worked, and it looked so good that it made the rest of the track
look sick, so I eventually tore up all the other track and replaced
it with hand-laid track on wooden ties.  (The double slip switch is
in the center of the photo attached in my last E-mail.)

The interurban cars I bought already painted and lettered (I also
have a lot of others that need to be painted).  Indeed they look like
they just came out of the shops, but there are various weathering
techniques that I may try out sometime to make them look they have
been used.

See you in Reno.

-- Roger

------------ On Bruce Bergman's message ------------
Looks awesome Roger! I'd love to work on that one. It would give some
great pics too, not to mention operation. Thanks, Bruce 

------------ On Brad Barton's message ------------
That track is amazing!  It looks like the real McCoy.   It must've
taken a lot of time.  Cars look great too, but a little too clean.
Great details on both.


------------ On richard nineteenfortyone's message ------------
I am curious about how you made the track.  Did you draw heavy gauge
copper wire through a die (or a series of dies)?  How did you make
the die?

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