First, I grade the area. It's important to grade it to the same level as the existing track's subroadbed grade. I like to have between 3 and 6 inches of ballast under my ties (where practical.) After grading and compacting (I like to grade an area about 3 months before I lay track there so it settles) I lay landscape fabric which allows drainage, stops weeds and keeps the dirt out of the ballast. I then lay about 1.5" of ballast on top. I have a large pile of driveway gravel the trucking company delivered to me instead of the washed rock. So I am using it for all the subroadbed ballast.
Once this is spread out, I load up the train with the pre-gauged ties (I'll show how I do this in a later entry) and all the tools. I also know what the curves are to be so I pre-bend the rail (more on this later too...)
The train ready to go, flatcar loaded with empty ballast buckets.
At the end of the "front," the track being expanded, I first need to connect the new rail. I like to stagger my rail joints which helps prevent kinking of the rails. Some joints have fish plates (joiner bars) which require drilling and bolting the rails. Here's how those are bolted together:
The rail is fit into place, the holes marked.
The holes are then drilled and the rail returned into place.
The rails are bolted in - notice the direction of the bolts are staggered - that is so a derailment does not sheer off both nuts at the same time.
Gauge bar in place up from the joint.
The new tie is slid into place. The plates are already pre-gauged.
When the screws are next to the rail and the plates aligned under the tie, I screw them down.
First I add the outer rail's screw. This holds the tie in place for me.
Then I add the other screw. Note that the screws are staggered. This prevents the ties from twisting off the rails.
Then I tighten the other screws.
Then it's time to move on to the next tie. To space the ties out evenly, I made me a gauge. It's 3" wide which seems to be right on for my narrow gauge railroad.
The other style of rail joiner I use is manufactured by Train Mountain called a sprall rail joiner. It wraps around the rails but allows some flexibility so the rails can expand and contract with the changes in seasons.
The rail just slides in.
Using two gauge bars, I align the tie (which has only one plate on it) under the joint.
I then put 4 screws around the joint. There is also a hole in the joint which I also (using a self-taping screw) drill through the rail and into the tie.
Then the new ties is gauges and secured.
This is what the first 10 feet of new track looks like with the next rails secured waiting for its ties.
The completed 20' of track. It still needs some good, clean 6/7 ballast to be leveled, superelevated and tamped. In a year, it will need another tamping and more ballast as the ground compacts.
Pine Hill. The train is on the mainline. The siding is to the left, switchback to the right. Ahead, the mainline is on the left and the engine house track right above the tree.
Note - the trackage is not aligned exactly where it will be. The next curve (to the right) will aid in the final alignment of the upper tracks further from the retaining wall. But it probably will not move much more than 2".