1st handlaid turnout!

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Freelancer, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    Yep... it's official...I have finally cracked....I have officially lost my mind. I decided to try my hand at handlaying a turnout. It isn't the prettiest, and it barely works, but I am pretty proud of my first attempt.
    I am now trying to decide if I should continue in this manner, or if I should just pay good money for manufactured turnouts. Any thoughts, opinions? What about any tips on how to make better quality turnouts?

    Thanks, Freelancer

    Attached Files:

  2. zedob

    zedob Member

    Looks pretty good to me. I'd bet money that the next one will be much better.

    My first ones looked pretty shoddy. The more I made, the better they looked.

    however, this round, I decided on the CV turnouts. I haven't built them yet, but they look pretty good at first inspection. If you decide not go the handlaid route, try the CV ones. It's close to handlaying and the switch detail is far better than I've ever been able to achieve before.
  3. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I admire those that are brave enough to handlay track. If it works, that's great.
  4. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I agree with the others. It's going to be a factor of what you want to spend your time doing. Some people love the idea of hand laying tracks, and that's fine others like scenicing or making structures, and others enjoy running trains. You just have to balance the time you have with what you like to do best. Me, I enjoy doing scenery and building structures so I leave the trackbuilding to Atlas.

    Nice start though...
  5. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    double post remove.
  6. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

  7. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    Thanks for the replies. I have to admit that I have a sense of satisfaction by building it, but it definitely isn't my favorite aspect of the hobby. The main reason I wanted to hand lay the turnouts was to save some money.

    Is there a way to build your own jig? I checked out some jigs, but they cost so much it defeats my purpose of building them. I am just affraid that all of the turnouts I build will turn out like this one, and I will have waisted my time trying.

    Thanks again for your input.
  8. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    you can get templats of turnouts and build your own jigs i do using oak 1 by 4 and steel pins.
  9. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Freelancer, it looks good to me. I have yet to make a complete turnout myself and your first try it much better than mine. I have a friend who can make turnouts that will knock your socks off. He can build in place or on the work bench. While your time maybe worth more than a commercial turnout, you will get better and faster as you do it. Try again, I bet it will be better than the first and take less time too. :D

  10. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    It looks good to me, and I'm sure each new one will get better.

    I'm planning on getting a Fastracks jig kit, given the number of turnouts I have planned the cost of the jig will be about the same as if I'd just bought Atlas but I'm hoping the appearance and operations will be more inline with the more expensive turnouts like Shinohara or Micro Engineering. Plus if anything goes wrong with it I'll know how to fix it since I built it in the first place. Building over a template doesn't look t0o hard if you're on a budget, but does look like it takes longer and I'd rather get the tracks built and move on to other things.

    There's lots of information on handlaying track at:


    This place makes turnout jigs and other tools for trackwork, but there's tons of great information in the documents section and in the forums.
  11. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    Looks like you did a great job for your first effort. No way would I ever attempt such a thing, jig or no jig.

    You said the main reason you wanted to hand lay the turnouts was to save some money. While I'm sure you did, how much is your time worth? I guess if you're retired, time may be easier than money. I guess I'm fortunate that my job affords me the ability to buy pretty much whatever I need (although I spend like a miser). What I don't have is time. I'm curious, how much time does it take to make one of those?

  12. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    Thanks for your encouragement! I thought about it last night, and when I woke up this morning I felt pretty good about trying another one. Hopefully you guys will be right, I guess that practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect but "better".

    Thanks for the link. They sure do have some nice jigs! Looks like one of those would sure help move things along. Wouldn't mind picking up one, but the price is well..... :eek: I read the instructions that they provided, and that has gotten some wheels a turn'n in my head. I think that I will try a few more the way I have been doing it, and then if all else fails look into one of those.

    My time? Well, my employer doesn't think that my time is worth much, so I guess the time it takes me to build them doesn't matter. :D Right now I am not too concerned about time, just because I have no layout to be working on just yet, so I am kind of lally gaggin around experimenting with different things. Once I begin the benchwork though, time will become a huge concern.

    Doc, it took me about a week to build this one. :oops: It took me that long because I was in no hurry to frusterate myself. :curse: It also took me a little while to get the tools I needed. I hate it when I can't find the tools I am looking for. Then once I did start, I would only do a little bit each day. If I had of devoted myself to it, then I probably could have done it in much less time. I am hoping that this next one will only take me a couple of hours.

  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Freelancer, if you want to handlay primarily to save money, don't bother with jigs. In all honesty, it doesn't matter what your reason for handlaying is, my advise would be forget about jigs. Why would you want all # 6 (or 4, whatever) turnouts? One of the beauties of handlaying is using whatever frog # you want. Draw in your centerlines and just build in place, as long as you can reach comfortably. I've handlaid a bunch, but I've spiked into ties. I don't think it makes any difference which way you prefer when it comes to laying in place. Properly gauging the rails is the most important thing. Once you've figured where your throwbar will be and lay headblock ties there, lay in the stock rails, notching them for the points to fit in. Fasten the stock rails well past the frog area. Now bring in the diverging routes rails, their tips filed to a blade on top, leave the bottom flange. Check constantly with an NMRA gauge, and note where the ends need to be to have a tight gauge on the adjacent stock rails. Fasten. Now fabricate the points/closure rails. The NMRA gauge has the required clearances on it. The only "difficult" part of this approach is where to bend the point/closure rails. You may try several times the first few turnouts. Then you'll have it. And you will be amazed at how easy it is, if a bit time consuming (an hour or two) And your turnouts will out perform commercial ones. Handlaid turnouts do not look as good as some options tho. CV turnout kits are nice and are easier. They look superior and only limit your freedom slightly, since they are available in many sizes and you can curve them a bit. But they are not cheaper than Atlas, for instance.

    Good luck whatever you decide.

  14. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    As a modeler who has always used commercial turnouts and will always use commercial turnouts, I am in awe sir. Well done!
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Well done :thumb: I have at times come upon situations where I have to handlay, my current gauntlet bridge being one of them but I prefer commercial track. Again, well done :thumb:
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Even if you decide not to build all your turnouts, you can acquire some skill now. At some point (English pun!) you will need a special piece and you will be able to just pick up your tools and set it in place. I need a crossover between 28" and 30" radius curves and I'm afraid I'll have to build it.
    At some point, you may think you're good enouigh for a contest or a certificate.
  17. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    May I ask, what specifically does not work about this one? It looks fine from the photo. I may need to build one of these of my own very soon, in HOn3, and could learn from others' mistakes. Did you have any issues with the PCB ties?

  18. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    That is true, the experience will definitely come in handy especially if I am ever to become a professional modeler like you guys.

    Kevin, I didn't have any major problems with the PCB ties. They definitely stink while cutting them, and I would highly suggest cutting them in a well ventilated area. Also, I had made the mistake of losing my patience and pulling the brass finish off of a couple ties when I made a mistake and didn't heat the solder up enough. It makes it very difficult to solder when there isn't anything to solder to. (hence all of the globs of solder on the sides of the rail :oops: )

    As for the turnout, it works, but is very tempermental. The picture makes it look a lot better than it actually is. (Hmm...isn't it usually the other way around?) When I sight down the turnout, the straight route actually bows in, so there is a slight curve in the rail. Both rails do it, so it pretty much stays in gauge the whole way, but it looks bad. I don't know how it happened, my guess is it might be the pressure of the curved stock rail? I also have a problem with the closure rails. The straight route is fine, but when a car goes through the curved route, the inside of the wheel nails the gauge side of the straight route closure rail. Does that make sense? I moved the straight route down, further away from the frog, and that helped the curved route, but created a gap that was too large for the straight route to perform smoothly. I have gotten it to a midpoint so both routes work, but it still gives me problems. It is a tight fit for four axel cars, and a completely different story for a four axel locomotive, (I don't even want to imagine six axel)

    This brings me to my question. How much space do I leave in between the frog, and the closure rails? Gary, you say that I just have to try different spacing on each of the turnouts, but is there some technical way of figuring this out? How do I go about this? That probably had to be what gave me the most trouble there at the end.

    Thanks, Freelancer
  19. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Freelancer, I'll try to explain this in a straight forward way, a pic with labels would be better. As a point rail becomes the closure rail it moves further away from the stock rail the points lead from. Use the NMRA gauge's flangeway tabs to determine where the bend in the closure rail must start. Hold one of the flangeway tabs against the stock rail and the opposite tab dictates where the closure rail should bend. Start the bend too late and the gauge won't fall in the flangeway, and the closure rail will foul wheels following the opposite route. Start the bend too soon and wheelsets will drop in the frog. The adjacent guard rails should keep the wheels on the track in the latter case, but ideally you should be able to run thru turnouts without guard rails with no problem. Hope this is of some help.

  20. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    I finally got around to making another switch. I was on CV's web site and found that they had downloadable templates. I printed one out and tacked it to a piece of wood and built the switch over the top of it. It sure made things a heck of a lot easier, and I didn't have half as many problems with the closure rails. I think this switch looks twice as good as my first, and so far it seems to be operating ten times better. I have pushed a couple cars through, and some locos, but I would like to have the loco go through on its own will. Where do I cut the electrical gaps? I need this to work with DCC, I know that I have to gap each of the ties, but I don't know where to cut the rails.

    Also I was wondering how I would mount this switch and get the ground throw secured to it. I think that they are Caboose Hobbies ground throws (got 10 used for $2 at a show) Any who, so I was wondering how I attatch these to the turnout.

    I also went to my LHS, and was looking at the track gauges, but I am not sure which one to get. There were three different ones from the NMRA. Which one is suggested?

    Thanks again for all of your help and encouragement.
    Thanks Freelancer

    Attached Files:

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