building a turnout

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by t. alexander, Mar 3, 2003.

  1. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    Chris, I get my PC ties from Clover House, they are not too expensive, $4 for 10 x 1' strips, sooo.

    Glad to hear that you took the plunge, I'm sure you are going to enjoy it. If possible, can you show us some pictures, I always enjoy seeing pictures of hand laid tracks.
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Hi Chris, and welcome to the Gauge. You've received some good replies and links already. Jesper, it's funny that you think spiking requires more holy guac than soldering, since I think the reverse! I'm sure it's because we're both familiar with our particular method. The only soldering I've done is throwbars on the points of my turnouts. BTW, the photos you've posted of your HO work look fantastic. Chris, bear in mind there is no one right way to handlay, there are several valid options and which one to use is simply a matter of your preferance. Although spiking code 55 requires a lot of care to make sure spike heads clear wheel flanges. In fact, if it weren't for others posting it's possible, I'd think it wasn't possible!

    As far as your question regarding building turnouts at the work bench goes, I've never done so so can't offer much help there. I supose if I had a situation where the turnout was in a location too awkward to work on in place, I might consider making a section of the roadbed removable so I could lay the track at the bench, then plug it in to the existing track. I'd use homasote for this, but others may prefer other materials. You'd have to draw accurate track centerlines on the roadbed while in place, then take it to your workbench to build.

    Good luck and have fun!
  3. chipmonk

    chipmonk Member

    Well i layed my first turnout! and id have to say for a first try it was a success it works machanically wiring needs some work though, not as hard as i thought it would be. BTW i have nothing against laying track w/PC ties i would actually like to try that method also perhaps for some paved over track or maybe in combination w/wood ties like jaspers module.
    i am planning to get some pictures up but the dog chewed though the pic upload cable for my camera sooooo il have to fix it first!

    Anyway thanks again for the advice
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Great news CM! Look forward to a piccy!
  5. chipmonk

    chipmonk Member


    Heres a pic of my first handlayed turnout sorry about the poor photo quality.

  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Nice Chris, that looks darn good! I see you have another turnout planned on the diverging route, you could have used a longer length stock rail for the right hand side stock rail and filed it for the points of the second turnout, eliminating a rail joint. Same thing for the rail coming from the frog, by making it longer it could become the left side stock rail of the next turnout. Required gaps can be cut later with a Dremel cutoff disc. While drops can be soldered later as well, I prefer to plan where they'll be needed and solder them to the underside of the rail before laying, making them invisable. But I have to say your first effort looks real good!

  7. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    Looks great Chris. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

    The only comment I have is that the gap between the frog and the diverting guardrail (just checked, it's called the wing rail of the frog) seems to be a bit larger than normal, but I guess it wouldn't affect the operation as long as you guard rail has the correct gap to the stock rail

    Looking really really good!, and it's spiked C55 rail, so what spikes do you use? ME spikes or something else. Hmmmm I'm really considering getting some spikes and give it a try.
  8. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Cool! That will look so nice when it's weathered and ballasted!
  9. chipmonk

    chipmonk Member

    Thanks for the feedback!
    i would have to agree that the wing rails are a little off but i set the outer guard rails using a frieght truck and it seems to work ok

    i would have to say i also should have set the frog angle perhaps on the bench or maybe just payed more attension as its more of a #3 than a #4, this is just a test module so im not to worried but its something to think about for when i start my layout.

    I used micro engineerings small spikes and code 55 rail though i would STRONGLY recamend NOT using the pre-weathered rail as it makes it almost inpossible to solder for frogs, points or, if you're using PC ties, the rail to the tie.

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Chris: The function of the wing rail is to support the tread of the wheel across the gap until the point of the frog can pick it up again. Watch your wheels as they go through the frog -- there should be no drop into the gap. This is why wheels with thick flanges have wide treads.
  11. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Chris, you mentioned positioning the guard rail using a freight truck, do you have an NMRA gauge? One side of it has a pair of nubs to gauge the flangeways, using it and making sure the flangeways accept those nubs is key to a good performing turnout.
  12. chipmonk

    chipmonk Member

    This is true i do not have an HO standards gauge. Before starting to hand lay i didnt really need one but now i think i should pick one up. so the standards gauge has a gauge for the distance between say the wing rails and the frog or gaurd rails and stock rails?

    oh, one other question when i goto build my layout i was thinking of trying homasote on plywood. should i just cover the ply with homasote and spike away or should i put cork on that? im not sure which is more prototypical since cork seems to high and just flat homasote may be too low. Note that my layout is going to be a small branchline/switcher if this could influence how high the track is off ground level.

    Thanks for everyones help! Great forum!

  13. jkristia

    jkristia Member

    I would recommen you to get one NMRA standard gauge, 2 ME 3-point gauges, and maybe some roller gauges from

    The roller gauges are not an absolutely must, but the NMRA gauge and the 3 point gauges are, I think.
  14. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Chris, there are a bunch of ways to go with roadbed and all have strong and weak points, it's pretty much a matter of preferance. Since you are spiking, homasote and soft pine hold spikes best. Many swear cork holds spikes fine, I'm not one of them. Perhaps those who ballast after spiking have better luck with spikes being held in cork due to the glue used. I ballast prior to rail laying so lose that advantage. If you want a shortline with modest height roadbed, a good way to go would be homasote on plywood, as you mentioned, with N scale cork roadbed. When you align the sloped edges of the N scale roadbed at the proper spacing for HO, you'll have a space in the middle. You can use a 3rd strip of roadbed cut to fit, or if you have a hot wire foam cutter, cut foam to fit. The foam won't hold spikes worth spit, but the spikes ought to line up over the cork. The N scale cork is thin and the spikes will go thru into the homasote. Except for those places where you need to spike, you could fill in that space in the N scale roadbed with spackle or similar material. Run a knife over the top of the roadbed to level.

    Rather than deal with getting 4x8 sheets of homasote home and then cutting it, I buy Homabed (California roadbed Co. , I think) which is homasote made into roadbed similar to cork. I think its a bit higher than cork, perhaps 1/4". I don't know because I don't worry about it. When I want the roadbed to be less high in comparison to the surrounding land, I fill in that land, usually using a mixture of sawdust, earth colored latex paint and carpenters glue. This stays soft enough to plant weeds and such for 12 hours or so. And its cheap!
  15. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Chris: the standards gauge has tests for all the parts of the switch - gauge and flangeways -- and on the side it tests wheels for gauge and tread width and flange depth.
    The HO gauge also checks clearances.
    Usually the Homasote is considered a direct substitute for the cork. It depends if you use it only under the tracks or extend it out to be the whole surface. It is a half inch rather than the quarter inch of the cork. so the track sits much higher. If you're building your own track, I would use Homasote instead of cork.
  16. chipmonk

    chipmonk Member

    Hi all chris again, thanks to everyones advice, some thinking i decided on a rather less mainstream roadbed idea. i put homasote on 1/2" ply for my sub-roadben and cut 1/8" by 1 1/2" pine strips for under the track. the advantages seem to be that the pine is a hard flat surface, that's easy to spike into yet holds the spikes better then cork or homasote! Better yet its practically free! i cut some out of some left over 3 foot scrapes 2x3 lumber and about 4 strips did a whole 2x4 module. So a full 8 foot 2x3(costing about $3) would yield enough for quite a big layout
    its also lower profile then cork which i think looks better for my branchline layout.
    The only downside is it does take some time and some tedious work on a table saw.

    thoguht maybe this would be some useful info to pass on since everyone has been so helpful!

    if anyones interested i can post a pic or two


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