One thing you will discover about the construction of this railroad is that if I discover a better way of doing something, and I am not too committed to alter my plans, I generally make the change and adopt a better way of doing something. This post is one of these revisions.
After visiting Jim Reising’s website for The Oakville Sub, I have decided to use masonite splines for constructing the subroadbed instead of the plywood I cut out previously. While every method of construction entails some compromise, this method seems better suited to my goals than cutting out plywood. I will use it on both the mainline level and the staging level. The advantages of this construction method is that you can gracefully curve the track and avoid any of the problems associated with piecing plywood, such as improperly radiusing a corner which results in a scrap piece. Plywood is good for vertical transitions, but is obviously inflexible horizontally. Splines are very good for horizontal transitions such as curves.
This required the purchase of a new table saw, as the old one had died years ago. After finding a cheap Ryobi model that fit my meager budget, I commenced sawing the masonite panels into 3/4″ strips. I got the guy at the local home improvement big box storet to cut the sheet in half lengthwise for transport on the roof of my old Volvo sedan. This manageable size was also appreciated when it came time to feed them through the table saw. What a messy job! The amount of sawdust was quite remarkable. I cut the splines in the driveway as I did not want to coat everything in the garage with sawdust. It was threatening to rain, so I hurried through the multiple cuts and did not take time to photograph the operation. I was concentrating on not losing any fingers.
Per Jim’s website, the strips are then positioned on the benchwork one at a time and held in place by small nails. As strips are added, they are glued in place and clamped. I staggered the ends a few inches so that each section will interlock with the next section. I was able to cut 60 strips out of 1 4′ x 8′ sheet of masonite. Due to the limited stock on hand, I had to buy 3/16″ masonite, which requires 6 splines to support the track. It was thinner than I desired, but they don’t seem to stock much these days. This works out to 10 8′ splines per sheet. While labor intensive, the curves are very natural and smooth!