Questions about turnouts...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by NewGuy, May 2, 2005.

  1. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member

    I have a few actually...

    1) I have noticed MANY different designs for turnouts. But the one thing that I really notice is that the best looking turnouts actually use curved rail for the switch points. These turnouts are much more realistic looking, and I wish to go with those. What manufacturers make those, and what types of success has people had using different brand?

    2) What do the number of the switches/turnouts mean (i.e. #4,#6,#8)?

    And now a side note question...

    Most of the rail I have acquired is the pre-made length and radius style. And I do not like the way the rail is ended to leave room for a rail connector at the last tie. Is better to not use these at all, or is there an easy way to trim the rail or ties to make more realistic in apperance?
  2. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I can answer #2.....

    The numbers indicate how sharp the diverging track on the turnout is relative to the straight track. A Number 4 tells you that the turnout's curve angles away from the straight track one inch for every four of the straight route. Sixes and eights are less sharp which makes them great for mainline tracks while fours might fit well into tight industrial areas.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    There are a few ways of dealing with track ends. The worst sectional track has openings with big bits of plastic holding partial ties. Somewhat better are end ties with a depression to clear the rail joiner.
    You can get flexible track in one yard or one metre lengths; this reduces the number of joints. You still have joints at switches.
    If you are a master solderer you can solder the ends of the sections together.
    Most of us use rail joiners and either cut a groove under the rail in the end ties or cut the ends off and put extra ties (wooden) in the space.
  4. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member


    Thank you for the suggestion. At least I do not have to throw out all this rail. Is all nickel/steel rail the same color? I have some stuff that I was told is NS, but looks brass to me...

  5. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member


    Thanks for the switch clarification. That is exactly what I needed to know.

  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi JD,

    I think that the best looking track is MicroEngineering. It has a fine appearance and is much "less" noticable than the Atlas Code 100 stuff (flex or "snap track" (sectional)). However, you must spend a lot of time getting everything just right to operate reliably on the finer track.

    If you want to stick with the common Atlas snap or flex track, you can use turnouts from another manufacturer. Walthers/Shinohara has a great looking line of Code 83 DCC friendly turnouts. This is what I will be using on my modules...

    As for materials for track:

    Nickel silver is the standard these days. Bright, shiny silver appearance, even though it is actually a derivative of brass. Conducts well, and the oxide also conducts, so you can get away with less cleaning.

    Brass - the old standard. Yellow/gold colour. Conducts better than NS, but only if it is clean. Oxide does not conduct electricity, meaning frequent cleaning.

    Steel - I believe Bachmann and/or LifeLike use steel in some of their roadbed track. Not bad, but may require frequent cleaning as well.

    Painting/weathering/ballasting will improve the look of whatever track you decide to use. My suggestion is that you take what you have and try before you make a decision to change. The "gaps" and joiners in the snap track ties are really not that noticable once you're done with installation.

    Good luck!

  7. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member


    I fiddling with some the track I have now and using my cork road bed, the track, and some ballast, I did manage to cover up the joints quite well. And I did all this 'playing around with out glue and tacks, just so that I know what it would look like. And you are right, once I have more that two sections together and ballasted, I will look fine. Just going have to work now of weathering of the ties and rail. At any rate, all this stuff I have now is GREAT for testing.

    Now on to the weathering... (should be intersting.....)

  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Good observations on track cleaning. But it's not just oxide that makes track less "conductive", there are all sorts of particles, from soot to dander, dust, etc., that are floating around and eventually settle on your track. So keeping track clean needs to be an on-going operation. I have developed a device for doing just that-it's posted on ebay at this time. Search for HO TRACK GUARD-check out the description and the comments from buyers. You'll be glad you did!
  9. babydot94513

    babydot94513 Member in training

    Ralph - thank you thank you thank you. I have always wanted to know the answer to this but was afraid to ask.

    Rookie in training, JD

  10. Zman

    Zman Member

    Just a small clarification on Ralph's comment. What he meant to say was "unit", not "inch." The size of the unit depends on the scale.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Actually it doesn't matter, as long as the "units" are the same for both measurements.


Share This Page