Yard Art Notes–using Bachmann indoor track outdoors

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Bachmann has a very inexpensive indoor track that most large-scale railroaders have only because it comes in Bachmann train sets. It is bright silver, hollow (meaning not very durable) and is only suitable, for reasons we’ll get to in a moment, for indoor use.


For a static display of outdoor yard art where you are not trying to actually run trains, and you want the line to look abandoned and/or unused, nothing beats Bachmann indoor track.

First, as mentioned, it’s really cheap (as am I)! Since the RR scenes I create for my front yard can be subject to vandalism or theft (although I have not yet experienced either) I’ve not wanted to use brass track.

Click to enlarge, use back button to returnSecond, I want a totally abandoned and/or unused siding look for my yard art scenes. Bachmann track, when used for actually running trains, is only suitable for use indoors. When subjected to outdoor weather it quickly rusts and the line looks totally abandoned. Here you can see track that has been out not quite a year.


Finally, the hollow nature of the track makes it fairly bendable and since you get a lot of curved pieces in a Bachmann set I often find myself having to straighten out the curved pieces to something less curved to fit some pre-existing trackwork being used for my static display. However, straightening the track and dealing with the gaps this creates requires some simple tools and techniques to resolve.

Click to enlarge, use back button to returnTo re-bend the curved pieces of track to suit your purpose you first need to separate the plastic molded rail backing on the underside of the rails. I do this on my hand powered miter saw. Just saw until you hear the scratch of metal and you can make short work of cutting the plastic rail holders. Once cut you’ll find you can bend/straighten the hollow rail quite easily.

Click to enlarge, use back button to returnNext you may need to deal with the gaps created when bending and forcing this type of track into trackwork designed and built for more typical AristoCraft brass track. Here you can see a gap of about 3/16ths of an inch where two piece of track come together. But I’ve had instances of nearly a full inch or more. Fortunately there is a fairly easy way to remedy this problem.

Click to enlarge, use back button to returnJust make some custom connectors out of scrap rail taken right from a piece of the Bachmann track. You’ll need a piece of track and a hobby saw like the one shown here. I generally cut up scrap rail into one and a half inch pieces.


Click to enlarge, use back button to returnWherever you wind up with an unsightly gap in your rails you just push the custom connector over the two adjoining rails and crimp each end with a pair of pliers.




Click to enlarge, use back button to returnIn this picture you’ll see where the gap between the rails is covered by the connectors (circled in red).




Click to enlarge, use back button to returnOnce it gets a good covering of rust you can’t really see them.





Please leave comments or suggestions and let me know about your projects!

(Originally posted 4/3/2016)

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