Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Old_Bob, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    Ok, don't want to start a war here, but which kind is most realistic? The snap-action type or turtles? Or has this subject been covered somewhere already?

    I see turnouts discussed all the time, and some of you like one kind or the other. But as for realism, is a fast acting snap movement more realistic or is the real thing slower. I'm planning a layout that will be focused around 1930 to 1940, with steamers.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    In your era, most turnouts were thrown by hand, so slower is better. And even now, I don't think the real thing moves as fast as a snap switch.

  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Most of the powered prototype tunouts I've seen sound as if they have some sort of screw mechanism inside them and move at that sort of speed. I think hand-thown ones may be faster.
    The powered ones sound a lot like a tortoise, or even those older kits we had with a motor running a long bolt.
  4. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Tortoise. :)
  5. Slow motion turnouts are always more realistic, no matter what the era I think. Nothing wrong with using snap switches on your layout if you want, unless you want full prototypical realism. If you're going to go slow motion turnouts, I'd recommend the Tortoise switch machines. Makes it more expensive to get the turnouts plus the machines for sure, but it's well worth it I think. They last forever! I've got Peco code 83 Insulfrog turnouts on my small DCC layout with Tortoise switch machines and I've had zero problems with them.
  6. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Not to be pedantic, but some definitions are in order. The "turnout" is the trackwork that directs the train to one or the other track. I think in the prototype these are also called switches, but we avoid that terminology in the modeling world, since we have something else that we use the term "switch" for. The "switch machine" is the device that switches the turnout from one position to the other. A "switch" is the electrical switch that operates the switch machine.

    Did I get that right? :)

    Also, I am finding that my Tortoise switch machines tend to snap anyway. Perhaps this is due to the need of some refinements to the turnouts. The frog seems to sort of stick, then release and move quickly. So, I'm not getting the slow prototypical action. There are other advantages to these machines, however, including their being hidden below the benchwork, and the fact that they hold the frogs against the rails nicely with the tension in the spring wire.

    I'm using the fancy Walthers Shinohara turnouts, and am finding that each one is different -- some have been worked on a bit at the factory to get them to operate more smoothly, and some need yet more work. Have others had this experience? (But I don't mean to hijack the thread...)
  7. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    The switch is the moving part of the turnout in prototype terms, too. The "turnout instead of switch" story seems to be something that was invented by the modelling press.

    I recall reading an article about the Shinohara "factory." It was nothing more than a small number of people building turnouts by hand, no real factory or automated assembly line. This was quite a long time ago, and things may have changed, but your experience seems to fit the hand assembled scenario. Perhaps they still build them that way.
  8. Yes you did indeed get that right. I found that my Peco switches had a spring in them which snapped from one side to the other. The Tortoise machines were not actually able to overcome the spring, so I cut the spring wires on my turnouts. Perhaps your Walthers ones have a similar spring? This could be the cause of your snap motion, despite the slow motion machines.
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The moving part of the switch is the "points". (In Britain and Europe, the entire turnout is called a point.) I agree on the latter statement, but I can see why that terminology was invented. Unambiguous terms are better.

    Tangential: I use US terminology. However, I find that sometimes I envy the British for their less ambiguous terms. For example, "bogie" for truck and "sleeper" for tie. Also, they have the convenient term "carriage" for passenger car. In the case of freight cars, though, the British don't have a convenient term at all: they use "wagon" for an open-top or tank car and "van" for an enclosed car!
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If the Toroise isn't moving the points slowly, it may not have been installed properly; either the pivot point for the wire is in the wromg position or the hole under the tiebar isn't big enough.
    AFAIK, only Peco have the over-center spring to hold the points in position. It definitely frustrates the slow motion.
    The Brits are still having a debate about the word "frog", with some holding out for the term "common crossing".
    And if you insist on calling it a turnout, do you call your SW9 a "turnouting engine"?
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Supposedly, one of the reasons that the twin coil switch machines are not as widely used as they were at one time is that they were very rough on the soldered joints of the moveable points. Never having owned one, I can't say whether this was due to improper installation or merely the nature of the machine. I have only one electrically operated turnout, controlled by a Tortoise switch machine. While it is satisfactory, the best switch machine with which I'm familiar was a motor running a gear drive, made by Fulgurex. It ran on 12 volts DC, controlled by a momentary contact switch. Very smooth, very positive, and very expensive. I don't think they're available any longer. All the rest of my turnouts are controlled by Caboose Industries ground throws, which are somewhat oversize, although dependable. Operation is as slow as the fingers of the operator.:D Or in my case, hopefully quick enough to correctly line a switch before an onrushing train becomes lineside scenery because I wasn't paying attention sooner.:rolleyes: :oops: :D
    Btw, the prototype's electrically powered switch machines are not "snap" machines.

  12. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    Thanks for the replies, guys. I got more information than I expected and I sincerely appreciate that!
  13. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    To me, snap-switches vs. tortoise begs the question because they're both electrical, and when was the last time you saw a real railroad with electrical switches/turnouts/whatever? I grant you, scale-sized manual turnout throws are just about impossible in any scale below "S", but manual turnouts are all I use on my HO railroad model -- and I have about 50 of them. Manual turnouts slow the action down, just like the real world where somebody has to jump off the train and go throw the switch/turnout/whatever.
  14. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    River, you do have a point there! I have been thinking in terms of my turnouts being too far away to be manually operated, but currently thinking about my layout (still in my head!) that isn't so. I'll have to consider manual operation.
  15. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Oh man, now here we go again!!! When was the last time a giant hand bigger than an SD40 swept down from the heavens and threw a switch?:mrgreen:

    And actually, on the prototype, there are plenty of switches around that are controlled by electric motors.
  16. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

  17. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    hey santa fe...

    yeah, that has been my experience with shinohara, too. Sometimes it pays to go over them with an xacto knife to remove flash before screwing them down. I only use the HOn3 ones. I have noticed different shipments of them are of slightly different design. All work okay, though.

  18. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    That's what I have been doing, yes. Each turnout has needed a bit of tweaking to get it to switch easily.

    And as for prototypical operation, considering the lack of verisimilitude of electrically-powered switch machines and giant fingers, I am working on a solution. The idea is to breed a very small race of HO-scale people and train them to be railroad operators. They could live on the layout. I expect the hard thing will be getting them to behave, and accept pay cuts and job loss -- just like the prototype! :-D

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