Did you figure out what was different about the trackage in the photo from #12? At least one individual came up with the answer I had in mind. Congrats Trevor!

It might be hard to see in the original photo but, the joint bars are not offset from each other as is typical American practice. I don’t know why the railroad laid things out this way on this particular stretch of track. It seems to be confined to just this short section between the junction turnout and the edge of the highway crossing. Beyond the crossing the joint bars are offset as you would expect them to be. Two railroad track joint bars side-by-side.

It makes for an interesting detail that will certainly generate comments of disapproval from the “experts” who, of course, haven’t added the first joint bar to their own trackage. I admit that I missed this detail myself, or I would have spaced the joint bars on the curved track that leads into the staging cassette differently. I still can make that change, and it’s now on my ever growing list of things to do when there’s nothing else to do on the layout.

I read somewhere that the reason the rail joints were offset is that it made a smoother ride. I read about one Canadian branchline (that well known P87 modeler, Rene’ Gourley uses as his prototype) where things got interesting when a train reached a given speed. The engine and cars tended to develop a bouncing motion due to the flexing of the track at the weaker rail joints. Kind of like riding an inner tube behind a speed boat. Well, maybe not that bad. The other thing that really catches my eyes about this track is how some of the ties are just buried in mud and surrounding debris. The alignment isn’t the best either. Notice too, that there are more than a few bolts missing from the joint bars in the photo above. Could we do this by drilling out a couple of cast on bolt heads on some Right-O-Way joint bars?

Once I noticed these rail joints, I also noticed another oddity on the former NYC main a few steps away.

Short length of rail

This short section of rail, if modeled as shown, would also generate the ire of those same visiting experts, who naturally use those oh-so-prototypical folded slip on rail joiners. I’ve seen this application used on the Norfolk Southern mainline at home. I really don’t know why this is done and won’t show any more of my ignorance by guessing. Notice that the  joint to the left on the foreground rail is insulated and that there are bond wires on both, indicating something to do with signaling perhaps?

The take-away for me is that prototype track continues to amaze me with its diversity. Don’t let those experts get you down. Especially the ones who write books.