Orangeville, ON (James Doan) Probably the most important requirement for proper operation of your model railroad is to have correctly fitted joints on your track.

It may seem to be quite obvious, but failure to ensure good joints is the primary cause of most track operation problems. Most, if not all, model train derailings are caused by bad track assembly.

As a conscientious model railroader, develop the practice of consistently making an inspection, both visual and manual, of each track joint as you lay it. This extra effort will noticeably improve the ongoing running of your model trains. By simply taking a quick run of your finger across each joint, you will detect any flaws in spacing or level. Always keep any space between the rails being joined to a minimum and shim any variance in track levelness. Soldering each joint will not only keep the joints solid, it will also improve the conductivity of the electrical circuit. A light filing of the area can correct any step in the joint.

When laying your switches, you may encounter a switch that has a blunt end on the movable points. This can lead to binding the wheels of your train as it passes, causing a derailment. derailment. Employing your favourite small file, simply sharpen the moveable part of the points. Be sure to check the finished rail gauge in both switch positions.

You should make it a standard practice to check all of your track gauge as you work along. It is generally easier to make any necessary adjustments at this stage, rather than later on.

If the track gauge is too tight, the wheels may bind or ride up and out of the track. If the gauge is too wide, the wheel flanges may drop in between the rails, leading just as easily to a derailment. You can make minor gauge adjustments using a soldering iron to gently heat the rail You can then ease the rail into the proper gauge before allowing it to cool in place. If the gauge error is too big, replace the faulty track section or switch.