About the MFR

The Metaline Falls Railroad (MFR) is a proto-freelanced model railroad based on the Pend Oreille Valley Railroad located in northern Idaho and north eastern Washington State. For the very latest on the layout, please visit my YouTube channel and follow along with my Instagram account.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Joint Bars and Hills

This weekend I started the slightly tedious work of adding a large number of Details West JB-921 joint bars to my track.  I started by measuring and marking off rail every 39 scale feet. (approx. 5 3/8 inches)  I then carefully attached the white metal bars to both the outside and inside of the rail using liquid Medium CA. I also attached my fingers to basically everything in the layout room in the process.

I have not notched the tops of the tracks at the "joint" yet and I am unsure if I will.  It seems like there would be a tradeoff of more noise and a rougher ride for rolling stock for what seems like a very minor detail in my mind.

About halfway through the process I came to realize that I was going to be woefully short on joint bars.  It takes a surprisingly large amount of them to complete all the trackwork on a layout as small as mine.  I've ordered another 12 packages and am currently waiting as patiently as I can for them to arrive so that I can complete the job and glue my fingers together once again.

I noticed while taking pictures that a few of the bars are bent a little bit.  The white metal is very flexible and it is kinda difficult to apply them to the rail perfectly straight.  Even so, the results look very good and I can't wait to paint them up to see the final result.  It is a project that has turned out to be far more expensive than I had initially thought. Given that this is a detail that perhaps 5% of the modelers out there would notice and appreciate, I am not sure it was completely worth it.  That said, if I didn't add these little details, it would have bugged me for years.  So, at the end of the day, I am happy to have put forth this extra little bit of effort.

I also finally figured out what I wanted to do with a large empty area in the front of the layout.  Given that I would have to reach across this area to uncouple cars at the paper recycling company located on the rear tracks, I knew I would be unable to place a delicate structure here.  I had a bit of an epiphany when I realized that lowering the fascia and building a small slope would allow me to work the back of the layout in a more relaxed manner and allow for more arm clearance as I reach across scenery.  It also gives me a good snail's eye view of trains passing by, so that is an extra bonus!

I am excited to finally start into the scenery!  Creating scenery is my favorite aspect of the hobby and it feels really great to finally get that going.  More to come very soon!


  1. Matt,

    Try an extra fine permanent marker and draw in the rail joints after weathering the track.


  2. That is an interesting idea Tom. I am not sure how well it would stand up to cleaning though... I'll have to mull it over a bit. Thanks!

  3. Oops, I had my diorama thinking cap on with that one! The marks would not survive the first cleaning.