I’ve been spiking rail on my layout, and I’m experimenting with Proto:87 spikes. These things are tiny but hold the rail surprisingly well.
I was asked about the tools I use for spiking, so this post gives a quick outline. Because the question asked specifically about spiking tools, we’ll take the obvious things like files and soldering iron as given.
The black handled tool in the above image is a simple but small pair of serrated needle nose pliers. That one is a junky generic tool, but it has served me well for such light duty. The serrated pliers are good for those times when a (regular) spike is being stubborn. I’ll hold the head of the spike in the serrations and press down in increments equal to the teeth of the serrations.
The other three tools are by Xuron, and if I could afford it, I’d buy every tool they make. Good stuff, Xuron is. The first Xuron tool is a vertical rail cutter. Its use should be obvious. Next is a flat nose pliers, which works well with the Proto spikes. I place about 1/3 of the spike into the the corner of the tip of the pliers, place the spike right up against the base of the rail, and drive it about halfway into the tie. I adjust my purchase on the spike and then drive it home. When I’m finished, I place the pliers over the rail and seat both spikes at once, then give them a little squeeze to be sure they’re snug. and last is a spiking tool.
The tool on the far right is an archetypal spiking tool, essential for driving the likes of Micro Engineering and Walthers spikes. No surprises there.
One last word about the Proto spikes. Today I tried a method whereby I lined up the rail using an NMRA gauge and then pinned the rail with Walthers spikes between the ties. Afterward, I went back and inserted the Proto spikes, again using a gauge as I worked down the rail. I found I was having too much difficulty manipulating the tiny Proto spikes in the pliers while trying to hold the rail in place and gauge it. I can do that with regular spikes, but not with Proto’s microscopic slivers. Here’s a photo showing the near rail already spiked with Proto spikes and the far rail pinned in place, ready for Proto spikes.