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  • The Plug Track functions are experimental and still being developed. Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.

    For an updated overview of this project see this post.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see The Book of Plug Track.

    The assumption is that you have your own machines on which to experiment, or helpful friends with machines. Please do not send Templot files to commercial laser cutting or 3D printing firms while this project is still experimental, because the results are unpredictable and possibly wasteful.

    Some pages of this and other topics include contributions from members who are creating and posting their own CAD designs for 3D printing and laser-cutting. Do not confuse them with Templot's own exported CAD files. All files derived from Templot are © Martin Wynne.

Tip of the day - printing background maps

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Martin Wynne

West of the Severn UK
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If you are printing a background map behind your track templates, there is something to bear in mind.

Using the map as originally captured from the NLS web site, it might look like this:


That would be printing the off-white background across the entire page, using a lot of ink and maybe causing the paper to cockle. Also it will be difficult to see the rail edges against the magnified dark map detail.

It's worth using the map clarity functions to improve the printed result -- but take care with the settings because you could easily make matters a lot worse with a dark background across the entire page!


Use the 2-tone reduction function, and be sure to set the high colour to white. Click the change button to set it.

Also set the low colour to a mid-to-light grey colour.

The threshold setting will need some trial and error according to the actual map, but a setting around 180 will usually be a good starting point. Lower settings tend to lose some of the detail. Higher settings cause the detail to clog up. (Too low is better than too high.)

The result should look something like this:


which when printed will look like this:


You can see that the rail edges are still not very easy to see, and I could have used a much lighter grey for the low colour without losing any wanted detail, such as the outline of the cattle pen or signal box. Or if you have plenty of colour ink you could set a bright colour instead of grey for the low colour, to contrast against the black rail edges.

For details of how to include maps in the printed templates, see this post:


For more about capturing historic maps and using the map clarity functions, watch this video:

The above map is at Witton, Birmingham. A wayside LNWR goods yard "Witton Wharf":

This is one of the excellent 125" Town Plans series from the NLS. Unfortunately they are available only for large urban areas, and only for early pre-grouping days -- this is the 1886 survey. Notice the common pre-grouping practice of using a short switch even in a long turnout. This appears to be a 9ft switch in a 1:10 turnout, which would be regarded as a strange turnout size nowadays. 1954 picture of this location:



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