Track Plan

Track Construction

Trestle Construction


Signal System

There are two main activities in building the track: 1) building 10' track sections and turnouts (switches) and 2) constructing the right-of-way, including the site work.

Site work / Constructing the right-of-way:

The right-of-way consists of 11" of ballast (3/4" crushed stone) under the track with additional ballast spread between the cross-ties.  To avoid problems from frost-heaves in the winter, we first dug down 3' to 4' below grade and filled the trench with 1-1/2" crushed stone.  Then we added the 3/4" ballast on top of that.

It is critical to get the track level, so a transit (sight level) was used to insure a level right-of-way or a smooth grade with the desired slope.  Grades were limited to approximately 1.75% (a 1' 9" rise in 100' of track) to facilitate operation of longer trains and minimize slippage on wet or icy rails.


Here are some pictures of building the MVRR's right-of-way.

Mini-excavator clearing the right-of-way
Digging a trench for the right-of-way
Loading ballast using a skid-steer
Filling the trench with ballast
Ballast in place
Our home-made tripod for the transit's target
Laying out the yard tracks

Building track:

One of our design goals was to allow engines with longer wheelbases to be able to operate on the MVRR, so we decided to build our curves with a minimum radius of 45'.  Our predescessor railroad, the Westchester Central RR, had 20' radius curves which restricted the size of engines that could run on the WCRR.  We want to run larger engines on the MVRR, so our minimum radius is 45'.  We would have used even longer radius curves, but property boundaries precluded that.

Tracks are built in 10' sections, either straight or curved.  We made track jigs to facilitate track construction and our Master Track Builder - Jeffrey, can build a section of track in about 1/2 hour with a perfect 7-1/4" gauge (7-3/8" for curves).  Turnouts are built by John and take about a day each to construct.  We have 17 of them on the MVRR.

Each 10' section of track uses 2 ea, 10' pieces of rail.  These are aluminum extrusions formed into the profile of 1-1/2" scale rail.  We've purchased our rail from Railroad Supply Corporation in Nashua, NH dating back to 1989 for the WCRR.  RRSC has been a supplier to the hobby since 1970.

Each track section requires 35 cross-ties to hold the rails in exact position.  The cross-ties on the Westchester Central RR were made from 13-1/2" long pressure-treated 2/4's.  The chemical formula of pressure-treated lumber changed in 2003 to eliminate the arsenic compounds, but the new formula attacks the zinc-plated hex washer-head screws used to secure the rail to the cross-ties.  The only other material we found for the screws was stainless steel and stainless steel attacks the aluminum rail.  So, we were forced to find another material for the cross-ties.  Some of the live steam clubs have used composite materials with varying degrees of success, but our Vice President of Operations - Liz came up with a suggestion to use cedar 2x4's for cross-ties and that has proved to be very successful.

We get 7 cross-ties from an 8' 2x4.  We've used approximately 9200 cross-ties or over 1300 2x4's.  Since each cross-tie is secured to the rails with 4 hex washer-head screws, we will have used over 36,000 screws, each one installed individually by our track crew.


Here are some pictures of our track construction.

John cutting cross-ties
Rachel operating the rail bender
Jeff building a straight track section
Maggie checking out yard track construction
In September 2008 we added a steaming bay.  Here are some photos from the construction.