Scratchbuilding a Rail Bumper

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Scratchbuilding a Rail Bumper

Basic soldering skill and some PC ties is all it takes …

I have gotten hooked on building my own track sections on the workbench, then taking them to the layout. There is a tremendous sense of accomplishment that accompanies
a train rolling over a double-slip switch that you have built, piece-by-piece, with your own hands.  What got me into this aspect of the hobby we all love is a computer
program called Templot2. This program allows you to create very complex track patterns and print full-size templates on which to build your track. It is an extremely powerful and as a result, a program with a steep learning curve. But the results are worth the effort, as they are nothing short of spectacular.

 

Download below:

Click here to read all about Templot

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The Templot website and user forum are administered by Martin Wynne in the U.K. Martin is a great guy who seemingly has devoted his life to this program, and is always monitoring the forum to eagerly answer questions and add to the user experience. Be forewarned, however, that almost everything on the website, forum, and program is in U.K. terminology. For instance, a “tie” is called a “timber.” Don’t let that scare you off. I am working with HO Code 83 rail, and I have been able to build trackwork that works flawlessly with U.S. rolling stock.

After making all the trackwork for my small switching layout, I needed rail bumpers for the ends of all the sidings. I did a lot of research and have collected pictures of a wide variety of scratchbuilt rail bumpers. I wanted to use components I had on-hand for my bumpers, i.e., tie and rail material only.
So, I started drawing and fiddling, and after some trial and error, I came up with a pretty simple to build and good looking design that even looks like it could almost be prototypical. I have built a half-dozen of these, and here are the steps I use.

Anything Model Train Related is EXPENSIVE. – Don’t Make These Mistakes!!

STEP 1:

I build a 2″ piece of straight track with six ties, two of which are printed circuit board (PCB) ties, one in from each end. Note the full-size template produced by Templot2.
The sixth tie (wood) is not installed at this time. I wait until I’ve installed the track on the layout, then I slip wood ties under the rail joiners before painting and ballasting.
Also, remember to file a gap in the copper on top of the PCB ties so you don’t have a short circuit.

step1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note the full-size template produced by Templot2. The sixth tie (wood) is not installed at this time. I wait until I’ve installed the track on the layout, then I slip wood ties
under the rail joiners before painting and ballasting. Also, remember to file a gap in the copper on top of the PCB ties so you don’t have a short circuit.

STEP 2:

Next I cut the various components: two 1-1/4″ and two 1/2″ pieces of code 83 rail, plus one 5/8″ and two 1/4″ pieces of wood tie. I file the foot and head of the rail down
almost to the web for the last 3/16″ on opposite sides of each 1-1/4″ rail piece and the last 3/32″ on opposite sides of each 1/2″ rail piece.

Step2

 

 

 

 

 

2: Here are the individual pieces required for the bumpers.

STEP 3:

I then assemble the components. I solder the 1-1/4″ and 1/2″ rail pieces at 90⁰ angles to each other, making mirror pieces. I wire-brush any solder residue from the rails.
I glue (using fast setting CA) the two 1/4″ wood tie pieces next to each other to form 1/4″ wide pad, two ties high. When dry, I glue the pad to the top of the 5/8″ wood tie
which becomes an upright support for the pad.

Step3

 

 

 

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3: These are the three sub-assemblies required to make the bumper.

STEP 4:

Now, I glue the bottom of the upright pad support to the side of one PCB ties facing the middle of track section. When the glue dries, I lean each 900 rail piece onto opposite
sides of the top of the upright pad support behind the pad. The end of the 1/2″ rail piece should rest on the PCB tie and the end of 1-1/4″ rail piece should drop between
the other PCB tie and the last wood tie. Make sure the ends of the 900 rail pieces are touching the inside of stock rails. Touch top of 90⁰ rail pieces with a drop of glue, and
wait to dry. Then solder the ends of the 90⁰ rail pieces to inside of the stock rails.

Step3

 

 

 

 

 

 

4: This is the completed bumper ready for installation.

STEP 5:

Step5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5: Here’s what the bumper looks like with a coupler against it.

There you have it. Now all that is left is to add rail joiners, wood  ties under the rail joiners, install on your layout, then paint and ballast to match the rest of the track on your layout.

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Anything Model Train Related is EXPENSIVE. – Don’t Make These Mistakes!!

Also remember to visit the recommended Model Railroad Resources Here

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