Using a Mirror to Align Track

How many of us get ourselves into all sorts of contorted angles so that we can position our head on our layout board to look along the track we have just laid to see how straight it is ?

Here's a handy little tip: Use a mirror.

Here we show a mirror located on a layout. It's a good idea to use a mirror with no edge beading so that there are no limitations on what you can see:

Here, we position the mirror to look along our track to see how straight it is. This technique is also handy on curves, particularly to check whether joints correctly follow the curve and don't bow outwards.

In the picture below, the bottom edge of the mirror is the white line across the picture with the rails in the reflection just above the white line.
We can look at our track from the side to see how level it is. This is also good for checking whether we have painted all of the sides of our rails too:

In the picture below, we use the mirror to look 'up' at our track, again, for checking levels. There appears to be a dip in the track. This is actually because the track is on a curve and it is canted (super eleveated). Of the three tracks in the mirror, the middle one is the 'continutation' line and we can see how this consistently curves away to the left.
The right track continues upwards because it is also canted, but needs to be on a higher plain since it started from the outside of the curve:

With the advent of digital photography, this tip also has another handy benefit: you can use a mirror to take photographs which appear to be from angles on your layout which you would never normally be able to achieve. Load the picture into your graphics software and swap the image left-to right (it is reversed by the mirror) and there you have it!

Graham Plowman (14/01/2012)

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