Building the Hitop Part 3

Today we talk about laying the switches and track on the Hitop. Again, I had quite a delay while waiting for the supply of cork worldwide to loosen up. As I recall, the wait was in the range of a month or so. In the meantime, I was building some of the kits I had already purchased. More on this later.

When more cork was available, work was ready to begin. As those again who have the MR series of articles, please follow along with the appropriate issue. Several types of switches were used, Walther’s, Peco, and Atlas snap switches. Atlas 18″ radius snap switches were used as I assume they are the most compact available to be able to get all six tracks into the front of the layout. As it was, these had to be cut down, as MR did in their project.


In the photo above, you’ll see a different type switch laying there, in fact it’s a Peco curved turnout used elsewhere on the layout. Of course, the “switch machines” on the Atlas switches were removed. In the photo above, the tracks were being laid out and adjusted to fit the plan before going down, as of course the cork base is not down as yet. That came next. Will Lohmann from the Colorado Great Western club was a great help in cutting these switches down to fit. Brent Rush from the same club was a great help tackling the same switches in the mine area. I must back up a bit and remind those that following a plan also means following the track centers. These have to marked on your base of whatever material to insure your tracks are in the right position to fit your plan. Remember as well you have to leave enough room between sidings and mainline tracks as well as yard tracks.

The next step as cutting these switches down to fit was to put the cork down. Midwest Products cork was used, as was their cork pads for Dickinson yard and the mine area. An extra piece of cork pad had to be cut and fitted to completely fill in the yard area.

Push pins were used as shown to hold the cork down while drying. For the cork pad areas, weights were used to hold everything down. In the right photo above, some of the foam used for the hills can be seen. The coffee container contains track nails. Cork turnout pads from Midwest were used to connect the switches off the mainline. You’ll also note several blocks of wood at the end of the foam piece, which was placed to hold up that part of the branch, as we found we had to take out several risers towards the end of track to adjust them to clear the tunnels. I must add here that even following a strict plan, sometimes things must be tweaked to fit. This was true with MR’s plan as well, as some minor tweaking of the track plan had to take place, as well as some of these risers.

When I got to the switch on the left hand side of Dickinson yard connecting the main with the yard lead/branch, we had to tweak the plan a bit again. We had to use a Walther’s switch on the yard lead instead of the  Peco code 100 curved switch. Again, we had to switch these up to get the track lined up to fit properly. We did use the Peco code 100 coming off the mainline to connect this yard lead as shown below. Not sure why it called for these to be honest in the original plan, but I am assuming that these were the only ones with a tight enough radius to get these tracks connected properly. I must again back up and tell you for the track I used Micro Engineering code 83 weathered track, but I also had to use some Atlas snap track in the curves to get everything lined up correctly. For the curved switches in the yard, we used the method when it came to soldering that MR used as well, we placed the rail joiners of the code 83 track on top of the code 100 joiners, to get these level. Again, not sure why MR did this, as for the Peco code 100 switch at the beginning of the siding on top of the branch, we simply used code 83 to 100 transition joiners, and these were a snap to use. You’ll also notice I used industrial staples to actually secure the cork to the plywood, so in other words I used glue held down by the push pins, then when dry went back over the cork with staples. Probably overkill, but I didn’t want anything coming up later.


Once I got this area worked out, I proceeded around the layout, carefully putting the cork down on the centerlines, then before gluing, making sure the track lined up with it. Cork was then secured, then the track secured with the track nails.

More of the cork and track progressing, with the mine area done, and the yard finished, also showing most of the tracks and cork down, except for the area over the tunnels at the end of the branch. This before installing the last piece of wood base, the “handy panel”.

In the right photo above, you can see how I pieced extra cork pad in to cover the entire yard area. In the left photo, you can see the nearest mine track needing to be snipped off to fit. Finally, you may notice that the layout has been moved back down into our garage.

That’s about it for today. Next comes the handy panel being installed, the track painted and wired. Stay tuned…..

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