4. Old-Fashioned Tracklaying

A retro layout is going to have retro track, naturally, but I took it all a few steps further by using "old fashioned" tracklaying methods as well. I started with good old Atlas Code 80 Snap Track, which I haven't touched since about 1975. Plus, I've never used cork roadbed—ever; since 1987 I've been using double-sided foam tape, and prior to that I just laid track directly on Homasote.

I secured the cork to the lauan plywood using Weldwood contact cement. Then, I nailed the track to the cork—yes, I nailed it! I must confess that it was strangely satisfying to lay track like it was 1972 again. To ensure trouble-free electrical performance, I'm soldering all of the rail joiners. One challenge will be finding some vintage ballast, like Campbell's...

In a matter of an hour, I had about half of the track laid; I'd have kept going except that I'm waiting for a shipment of used turnouts. Also, since I'm sticking with Rapido couplers, I'm using Minitrix uncouplers—ten of them (which I happened to have on hand).

One minor cosmetic improvement I've made along the way is to clip off the lamp mount from the Atlas bumpers (above; before, left; after, right).

By 12 April 2019 I had most of the track laid; I was just waiting for a few more turnouts to arrive. And on 15 April, at around 3:30 PM, the golden spike was set; the B&M boxcar (upper right corner) marks the spot:

The next day came wiring—my goodness there are a lot of wires for such a small layout: over 65 of them, comprising almost 40 circuits.

After soldering all of the rail joiners and masking off the switch points and uncouplers, I sprayed everything with flat dark brown; I'll hit those brilliant switch points with NeoLube after ballasting. And speaking of ballasting, while I did manage to score a vintage bag of Campbell medium grey ballast for the mainline, I may be forced to use modern ballast for the rest of the layout. We'll see...

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