Breaking it down - Freestyle!!!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by tetters, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Tetters, I LOVE looking at yor handlaid trackwork, especially as you lay it. I am tired of having trouble with the store bought switches, and your track looks far more durrable. Anyway, my questions are about how much might one spend making turnouts and track in code 82 track, and also where you find the layout you have in your pictures? I am thinking of handlaying track on my ore dock approach, and then the (possibly curved if possible) wye at the top.

  2. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Thanks for the compliment Kevin. :thumb:

    All my track work is built with Micro Engineering Code 83 rail. :mrgreen:

    Cost is relative. You can go the cheap route like I did with this one, download and print off paper templates. Tape it to your workbench and grind your frog points using a table top belt/disk sander. Or you can use that template and attempt to make your own jig. Or you can cave like I did and purchase a jig from FastTracks. In fact the jigs are a good learning tool and helped me get comfortable with handlaying. It's really hard to screw up the trackwork, when the jig holds everything together for you. After building this, I'm already planning on designing more unique trackwork, soley for my layout to make it truely personal.

    The jigs from FastTracks are by no means cheap though! The double x-over kit which includes enough rail to build two x-overs is $250 bucks!!! :eek:

    However, the last time I checked, a complete RTR cd 83 Peco x-over costs about $130 dollars. A single turn out can cost anywhere from $30-40 bucks as well. The real cost savings happen when you start to build more of them. I mentioned it in a PM to roch that were I to buy a jig all over again, I'd fore go the L/R No. 5 turnout jig and buy the No. 6 x-over jig.


    Because with the x-over jig you can build a single turnout, left or right, a single x-over or a complete double x-over. Waaaaay more versatile as far as fixtures go. You can even build just a crossing with it. I really wish I had bought that fixture instead. I still :wink:

    So you can see, that once you own the jig, you can continue to build your own track work and only need to purchase further printed circuit board ties and rail. On the FastTracks website an 11pc bundle of 36" ME cd 83 rail goes for $20. The PC ties sell in bundles of 100 and go for $10. With that alone you can build a stack of over 20 turnouts. I should know...I did it!

    There is also the cost of tools if you don't already own some. A brand new flat mill file is must for filing the frog and points. An old rusty file makes crappy points. A decent soldering station 30 watt minimum! I picked up a standard 20/40 w iron with a pencil tip and it works fine for me. The 20 w setting is good for delicate electrical soldering. 40 watts for the track work. If you don't already own one am NMRA track gauge is a must!!! Its great for inspecting your flange ways and track guage as you go. Plus a good benchtop belt/disc sander is a great piece of machinery to own. I bought it for turnout construction, but now use it for all kinds of things on the layout and around the house.

    The construction does require some patience, good soldering techniques and you will put in a few solid hours on your first build. So if you think about it the cost your own "labour" goes into making the turnout. I know when working for myself on something I enjoy doing, the going rate on my time and labour is really fact its F-R-E-E!!! :mrgreen:

    The track plan was something I designed and then let the peers on this board have their way with it! Russ & Brakie were a huge help in getting me sorted out operationally speaking and I am thankful for their help. I learned a lot and still am. I also took inspiration from Kurt's cnw1961 track plan which he so graciously e-mailed to me...I still have his original idea saved on my harddrive. I just looked at it the other day as a matter of fact.

    I've deviated from the plan in my album somewhat, however, its still basically the same. A curved wye is definately possible, however depending on the direction of the through and diverging routes, you might be better off with a curved t.o. instead. Like this...

    Without seeing your idea, I'm not too sure what you are after though.

    Well...I've rambled on enough for one evening. Feel free to ask me more questions if you have any.

    Take care!
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    When I started out, a yard of brass rail could be had for 15 cents, and enough wood for the ties might be another 15 cents. A years worth of spikes was 60 cents. PC board was unknown.
    Doesn't FastTracks also have jigs for filing points and frog rails? I know our club's handbuilt track expert made his own with a saw and a piece of hardwood.
  4. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!


    FastTracks has a point form tool for making the frog and switch points. Which makes filing them almost fool proof.

    The beauty I'm finding about handlaying is there is any number of ways to do it. You just have to find what works for you. The creation of new tools to help a new generation of modelers like me discover its potential for unique and interesting trackwork is I think IMHO a great thing. I see nothing wrong with using modern techniques and materials especially if its an improvement.

    That said I'd still like to try spiking a turnout in place at some point. Just to give it a try. No solder, no PCB ties.

    I also remember when gas was 30 cents a litre, and I could get Coke in a glass bottle and a Mr. Big from the corner store for under a buck. :mrgreen:
  5. electric130

    electric130 Member

    where did you get the template drawing from? i have access to CNC and EDM machines at work and could probably get a template made.

    what all tools would you consider essential to completing this? such as gauges, point form, etc?
  6. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I posted a link to the FastTrack website in one of my previous posts #22. You can follow that link and pretty much go anywhere from there. Good luck with making your own template. I wish I had access to a CNC milling machine.

    The basic tools I used I already mentioned in that post as well. I'm not trying to be a jerk. I just don't want to plug up the board with duplicate postings by repeating myself.
  7. electric130

    electric130 Member

    no, you're not being a jerk. i know the tools you said you used, but i was just wondering if any of them were like the Fastracks template where you could take it or leave it.
  8. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I did use a # 6 point form tool for the four of the frog points on the parallel tracks which is available from Fast Tracks website. The diverging points I had to guess-timate using my high tech plastic protractor and sanding disk. I have a set of small jewelers files and a jewelers saw to cut the isolation gaps as well. I think that's pretty much it.

    I'm not sure what your experience level is. If you've never handlaid before, I recommend you watch the video on their site on how to construct a turnout. It covers all the basic steps involved.
  9. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You could easily make this a lucrative business. As a warning from someone (me!) who has a business that started as a hobby, there are two things I've had problems with:

    1. having a business related to your hobby can sap some interest, time, creative and physical energy from your layout.
    2. you'll make a nice chunk of money from this, but consider if it's worth problem #1.

    Great things about starting a business:
    1. you're the boss, CEO, CFO and everyone else.
    2. business will usually find you, although ads help too, in a way.
    3. train shows will be alot of fun because you're now a vendor, and you're making money for your hobby, so if youwish, every show is like a shopping spree! ;)
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I grew up with gas at 39.9 cents a gallon, and the coke was either 7 or 10 cents.

    And we had to live in a shoebox in a hole in the road. :cry:
  11. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Ok you got me beat there. You left out the part about having to walk 10 miles to school in the middle of winter through five feet of snow aaaand it was uphill. Both ways! sign1
  12. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Tetters, you forgot to mention that he did not have no shoes ...sign1

    Did you find a place for your double cross over on your layout? You just can’t waste it stored in a box ........
  13. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Oh I'll find a place for it. I've already dreamt up a spot for it on my layout. I have plans for it be fully operational and not just for trains to roll on straight through.

    I've been waiting on my latest order of rail to come in so I can get started on the trackwork for the first set of sidings to go into to. Then I'll post up in my layout thread. I still needed something to do this weekend and there is a lot of housework that needs doing...instead I decided to give it all the slip...



    I still need to soldering in two of the remaining guard rails. Then I have to cut the switch points off and make hinges out of rail-joiners for the points. That will be the make it or break it part of this diversion. Once I have the hinges installed I can solder the points to the throwbar and finito! I may have a use for this as well. I've been thinking about working it into my engine facilities somehow. I'll keep you posted.

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