Hand laying tracks and meaning of #6 vs #7?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by keqwow, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    So I love the way real wood ties look. Are Fast Tracks the only way to take advantage of real wood ties or are there other options?
    Secondly, can someone please explain the difference between the size numbers on turn outs and other intersection track...like #4 vs #7 turnouts etc? I appreciate the info.
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    To use real wood ties, you will purchase bare rail in 3 foot lengths, make or buy wood ties, purchase your spikes and lay the track basicly the same way the prototype railroads do. I'm not sure what you mean by Fast Tracks. Do you mean the sections of track with the plastic ties?
  3. hminky

    hminky Member

    I make my turnouts using templates as it is more flexible:


    I have a "what-I-did" at:

    Handlaying On30 trackwork with PCB ties

    Fast Tracks has templates and pcb ties. I strip rail from flextrack it is cheaper. I have used their fixture and it works well but limits what trackwork you are using.

    Thank you if you visit
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I use a combination of Hminky's and this method to build turnouts.

    Handlaying Track

    The number refers to the degree of curvature in the turnouts. The higher the number, the broader the curve.

  5. mentor63

    mentor63 Member

    Just to add my two cents, because I had the same problem, a #4 or #5 is a sharp curve normally used mainly in yards, whereas a larger #, such as a #7 or #8, is a more gentle curve normally used in main lines where trains are more likely to be at higher speed. Also, locos with longer trucks (3 axles vs 2 axles and 2-10-2 vs 0-6-0) normally can't make it through the tight curves of a tight turnout like a #4.
  6. conrailmike

    conrailmike Member

    This answers might help: "The numbers refer to the frog angle. The higher the number, the smaller the angle and the longer the turnout. A number 6, for example, turnout is measured by 6 units from the point of the frog to where 1 unit between the diverging rails occur. A unit can be an inch, cm, or whatever. Again, the higher the number, the "broader" the turnout. A number 6 is considered the minimun for satisfactory mainline (model) performance IMHO. In the prototype, we find frog numbers of 20 and up."

    The "number" of a turnout is the ratio of its divergance.
    In other words, with a # 6 switch the tracks diverge 1" in 6 inches of distance. With a #4 switch they diverge 1' in 4' of run. The lower the number the 'sharper" the switch. Rule of thumb is that 4 axle engines and 40 ft cars will go through a #4 switch ok. 6 axle engines and long cars go through a #6 switch ok. Everything goes through a #8.
    By the way a typical prototype yard switch is a #8, a typical industry switch on the main is a #10, a typical siding switch is a #14 or #15 and a higher speed mainline switch is a #20 or #24 switch. A #20 crossover is over 4 feet long in HO."
  7. keqwow

    keqwow New Member

    So how can the size number be translated to radius? Everyone is always saying that the smallest radius track a big-boy will go through is something like 18"....so what does that translate to in # turnout? etc. Thanks for the info.
  8. conrailmike

    conrailmike Member

    On properly manufactured turnouts, there is no radius at the end of a turnout, the end is supposed to be straight. IMHO, I wouldn't go any smaller than a #6 with a big-boy, but that's just me. If you're handlaying them, without a template (like Fast Tracks) then you could make them any radius you wanted.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Jim Krause: FastTacks is a metal jig system for building turnouts and other special work. There are a couple of threads on using them somewhere.

    The NMRA standards list radii for various turnout numbers. These aren't absolute as thee are various ways to get from the points to the frog.
    There are at least 2 radii associated with a turnout. One is the actual minimum curve on the bent track; the other is the curve that a turnout would replace. The limiting radius for your big boy is the first; the other is much larger.
    Train set turnouts (snap track, EZTrack, etc.) are circular and these do not have a measurable frog number.

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