Track for Port Rowan

My friend Rich Chrysler and I were talking about the line to Port Rowan a few weeks ago and track came up.

Looking at my notes from that conversation and my few photos of the line from Steam Echoes of Hamilton* by Ian Wilson and Hamilton’s Other Railway* by Charles Cooper, I’ll use Code 70 rail to represent the prototype’s 65 lb iron, and lay it on well-weathered and distressed wood ties from Mt. Albert Scale Lumber*. I’ll then have to ballast with a mix of ballast, dirt, ground foam and static grass to achieve the prototype’s “tip-toeing through the weeds” look.

I’m a long way from laying track: there’s still old On2 layout to remove, and new benchwork to build. I have a plan for that, though.

In the meantime, I’ve ordered my rail and track-building fixtures from Tim Warris at Fast Tracks*. Anybody who has not tried this system for laying track is really missing out. It’s straight-forward, it takes the guesswork out of hand laying, and the results are spectacular.

I’ve also run into my first quandary: Were tie plates used on the Port Rowan branch? I’m working from photos in books and frankly, I can’t tell one way or the other. Certainly, I’m not seeing them; but is that because they’re not there, or because I’m not looking closely enough? Or maybe they’re hidden in the weeds?

(Likewise, I’m not seeing any in the photos of the Port Dover branch, which also ran out of Simcoe. But I DO see them in photos in Simcoe itself.)

The railway itself is no help as it assigned a 15 mph speed limit on the Port Rowan branch. Was that simply light rail and deferred maintenance? Or also an acknowledgement that anything faster, without tie plates to support the rails, would drive the rails right through the ties in no time at all?

To be on the safe side, I’ve ordered tie plates. I like the look of well-detailed track and if it turns out that my prototype did not use them, I may have to actually build my model track to a higher standard. I haven’t decided.

Regardless, I’ll still distress the heck out of the ties: I don’t want the line looking too well kept!

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

1 thought on “Track for Port Rowan

  1. Update:
    It’s interesting to review posts like this one, which was published in August of last year, and see how far my decision-making has come.
    I found enough prototype photographs to answer the “Tie plates or no tie plates?” question – there were none. And I decided in the end that I was not such a sucker for punishment that I would build my model track to a higher standard than the prototype. Most of the rail is now in place on the layout and I’m actually glad I didn’t have to install all those tie plates in the end – I wouldn’t be nearly as far along as I am.
    What convinced me? It was doing some ballast and adding some static grass around the moving points in the switches before laying the rails. When I put the switches in place, I could barely see ANY detail around the ties – it gets lost in the grass. For the same reason, I doubt I’ll be spiking every tie – although I will be doing every third or fourth.

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