Running Track Construction

Part 1 – Main Board

Parts Required:

Top Board (the outer edge is shown at the top):

Bottom Board (the outer edge is shown at the top):

4 off Side Walls:

The side walls are slightly longer than the board edges, and the fingers might need a small amount of trimming to fit together.

Note that four of the Running Track boards have a square edge with slots and wiring holes in slightly different positions – in each case, the outer board edges are longer, but they use the same construction method:

There are also different lengths and types of Side Wall and End Wall supports for these boards – ensure you use the correct wall!

2 off End Wall Supports:

Insulation Board (1200x600mm):

2 Pairs Pattern Makers Dowels (with screws):

14 Colours of 16/0.2 Wire

15 Way D-Type Plug, Socket and Covers:

8mm Braiding:

When cutting the braiding, make sure the ends are sealed with a hot soldering iron to avoid the braiding unravelling.

Two sets Toggle Clamps:

Board Assembly and Wiring

Note that this 3D view shows a ‘curved’ board with the walls before they are cut…

Use exterior PVA to glue an End Wall Support to the back of each End Wall. Use the thin ones on the female dowel side; the thick ones on the male dowel side. Ensure the dowel holes line up, and pin with a couple of short nails.
For the Edge Boards, note which dowel goes on which End Wall – it’s the same way around as the standard boards.

Ensure the dowels are fully recessed and screw them to the End Walls.

Lay the End Walls and Side Walls upside down with the long edge at the top, with the dowels sticking out on the right hand side:

Lay the Bottom Board with the outside edge uppermost on the walls and test fit the walls to match the Bottom Board – the walls are designed with a bit of leeway on the joints. The wall fingers will overhang the Bottom Board – don’t attempt to trim them at this point!

Use a small square to ensure the walls are both vertical and line up with the Bottom Board edges, then PVA glue and nail the Bottom Board to the Side Walls and End Walls.

Use white Frame Sealant to fill any small gaps in the wall joints.

Turn the board over and temporarily nail the Top Board to the walls (do not glue the Top Board as it’ll need to be removed later) ensuring the walls fit the Top Board. Check that everything is square and clamp until the glue is set.

Side Wall Joints

Cut/sand the excess fingers from the side wall joints. Remove the Top Board.

Insulation Board

Cut the Insulation Board to fit the frame – it’s best to have this a reasonably loose fit to avoid pushing the walls out. Ensure the cuts are square. Trim the top/bottom foil 5mm from each edge to avoid it rucking – this also makes it easier to sand the edges evenly.

Turn the assembly over and mark the Insulation Board to match the wiring slots in the Bottom Board.

Remove the Insulation Board and cut away the wiring slots, including under the ‘bridge’. An old kitchen knife works well for this. Trim the foil away from the edge of the slots.

Glue the Insulation Board into the frame using Spray Contact Adhesive (2 coats) for the bottom and a thin bead of Stixall glue for the sides.

Turn the assembly over again and use the Top Board to mark the wiring holes on the top of the Insulation Board with a small screwdriver.

Cut channels in the top of the Insulation Board from the wiring holes to each slot, and a larger channel between the slots as shown here:

Put the Top Board back on, and check that the surface is completely level. If necessary, pack with card sheets glued on to the insulation board.


Thread the ends of 14 wires through 300mm of 8mm braiding and solder to the D-Type plug as follows:

Pin Colour Track
1 Violet/Brown* Outer rail of outer O track
9 Grey/Black* Inner rail of outer O track
2 Brown Outer rail of inner O track
10 Red Inner rail of inner O track
3 Orange Outer rail of EM track
11 Yellow Inner rail of EM track
4 Green Outer rail of outer OO track
12 Blue Inner rail of outer OO track
5 Violet Outer rail of inner OO track
13 Grey Inner rail of inner OO track
6 White Outer rail of future track
14 Black Inner rail of future track
7 Pink Outer rail of N track
15 Green/Yellow Inner rail of N track
8 Unused

* There is only a limited quantity of this wire – don’t waste it…

The lead should be positioned such that the connector fits under the ‘bridge’ in the slot and the end of the sleeving at the outer edge of the board:

Twist the pairs of wires for each track with a battery drill and thread the ends of the wires through the channels on the left side of the board as shown above – the Outer O track is at the top.

Leave a few inches of wire at the end of each channel.

May19 Update for the N track and future track:
  • Solder each pair of 16/0.2 wires to a single 7/0.2 wire inside the board.
  • Insulate each joint with heatshrink sleeving.
  • Countersink the wiring hole to allow the 7/0.2 wires to lie flat.

Repeat this for the other end of the board, this time using a D-Type socket. Note that the pin numbers on a socket are reversed compared to a plug.

Now run a wire of each colour from the end of each channel through the centre channel to the matching wiring hole at the other end. Twist these pairs together.

There should now be two pairs of two wires by each of the 14 wiring holes. Put a piece of tape over each channel to stop the wires jumping out during final assembly.

Untwist the ends of the wires and push a short piece of 4mm PVC sleeving over each group of wires. This will help with the Top Board assembly later.

Double check that the right colour wires are coming out of each hole (see the table above) as mistakes would be very difficult to correct later!

Place the Track Alignment Jig on each end of the Top Board and mark the track sleeper positions at the edge on the Top Board. The holes in the jig will line up with the wiring holes when it’s the right way round.

On each Edge Board, draw a line across the board 605mm from the square end.

Use the Track Alignment Jig to mark the sleeper edges on this line.
This marks the points at which the straight track transitions to a curve.

Test fit the Top Board, threading the sleeving through the holes. If all is OK, and that none of the wires are lifting the board, glue and nail the top board down (PVA for the wood, 2 coats Spray Contact Adhesive for the foil). If the side walls need easing out to align with the Top Board, use a screw – the hole will be covered by the Side Frame later.

Clamp until the glue has set.

Remove the sleeving and save it for wiring the next board.

Top Board Wiring

Glue and nail the copper strips at each end of the Top Board as follows:

  • O gauge: Use 60mm strips on a 2mm foamboard base.
  • OO/HO/EM gauge: Use 1.5 mm x 35mm strips.
  • N gauge: Use the thin strips.

Ensure the two halves of each strip are insulated from each other by cutting the copper in the middle. For any double sided strips, ensure both sides are cut to avoid any nails creating an intermittent short between the tracks.

Final Assembly

Drill small holes and fix the ends of the D-Type leads with P-Clips on the top board.

Trim and solder the wires to the copper clad in the order shown in the wiring table above. Wire the

May19 Update for the N track and future track:

Wire each 7/0.2 wire to the outside of the copperclad, leaving enough spare wire to fit under the track.

Use the Controller Box, a 9V battery and adaptor, and a Track Tester to check that each copper clad strip has the right track power – with this set-up, the outer tracks should have positive voltage.

Side Frames

Glue and screw a Side Frame to each side (make sure you use the correct side for the board in question), and ensure the tabs point downwards:

The height of each Side Frame is set 10mm up from the bottom of the board using the Side Frame Guide:

Ensure the Side Frames are accurately positioned to allow the finished boards to stack on each other.

Toggle Clamps

Fit a pair of Toggle Clamps to both the inside and outside of the board.

The Latch part should be at the same end as the male alignment dowels, with the Hook part at the end with the female alignment dowels.

Use the template to position each Toggle Clamp on the Side Frame as shown, and fix with 3/4″ x 6 woodscrews:

Ensure that the Hook parts used for the inner edge on the angled joints have a black stripe on them – these have been ground down to account for the internal board angle.

Adjust the Latch screw length for a tight fit when the boards are clamped together.

All done!

Part 2 – Testing

Once all the boards have been assembled, the entire running track needs to be erected and tested for mechanical alignment, and any adjustments made.


Part 3 – Fitting Track

Erect the entire layout, and clamp a long support board between the two lines on the Edge Boards, put a nail in the centre of the support board and draw a curved line for each track around the curve. Ensure this goes through the centre of the board edge fixings.

Repeat for the other end of the running track.

Now lay the track and test…