Walthers curved turnouts out of gauge

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by MopacNut, May 1, 2006.

  1. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    Hey guys,
    This weekend I was working on replacing a broken curved Peco turnout and I decided to try out the better looking Walthers Code 83 32"/36" radius right hand #8 curved turnout it its place. This looked like a really good option, because this turnout is used where my single track mainline splits into a double track line, so it gets a lot of traffic, has to be reliable, and the gentle curves are easy on the eyes and should be less prone to derail.

    However, before installing it, I checked it over with an NMRA gauge since I had a little trouble connecting it to the flex track. I should do this every time, but I confess that I don't always think of it. I was shocked to discover that just before the points, the NO-GO part of the gauge dropped easily between the rails. (see attachment)

    A quick measurement with the calipers showed that the actual gauge was .6785", well beyond than the NMRA maximum of .672". I do run some fine scale wheelsets, although on a curve this could potentially wreak havoc on any type of wheelset.

    I called Walthers about this today, and they said they hadn't heard of this before. Have any of you discovered this yourselves? Of course they suggested I return it for an exchange (I bought these from M.B. Klein half way across the U.S.) but since I have two of them and they both measure the same, wouldn't I likely just get two more defective turnouts?

    Attached Files:

  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    My guess is that they will be the same. I can't remember which brands of turnouts I've checked gauge in that location, but several anyway. And as I recall, most of them got wide just prior to the points. I think it is intentional, as if they are concerned with making clearance for the points. I rarely had problems with performance, ( no fine scale wheelsets tho) but on occasion I would apply a bit of heat and glue the rail in gauge, perhaps using a spike if it looked ok. More important is the gauge thru the frog, it should be tight and if its wide by much you'll have problems.

    Hope things work out for you.
  3. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    being a bit wide gauged on a curved trunout is ok i built one on last layout that was right on the money and had some problems with 6 wheel trucks derailing till i made it a bit wider .
  4. zedob

    zedob Member

    Have you checked it with a 3-point guage? I know that they will purposely spread the track gauge a little for curves. I'm sure that's what Walthers (Shinohara?) designers were attempting to do.

    That, or they made a bunch of junk turnout's.:cry:
  5. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    I did try a 3-point gage. The rails are too far apart for the gage to engage them.
  6. zedob

    zedob Member

    Wow, that's strange. I can't believe the designers would be that sloppy, or that the QC dept didn't pick that up. There's no reason for a molded component to expand like that, which is a possibility, but not likely. Not being able to stick a 3-point would mean that the mold has to be way out. Maybe they used an out of gauge set of trucks for an in-process inspection and figured all was good and no-one else complained.

    Guess it's soldering iron, spikes and mini pry-bar time.
  7. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    My guess is that they didn't notice the relatively short (but critical!) area was out of tolerance. As far as I can tell, only the short (1" or so) ahead of the points is completely out of gauge. I'm convinced that the mold must be improperly designed in this area, because I can't imagine creep being this severe in the ties with no signs of stress, creep, or relaxing in the little spikes.

    So far, I have thought of three ways to potentially get one of these modified to get it to work until the updated ones are released.

    1) Cut the ties down the middle, trim enough tie material from the gap to allow the rails to be held in gauge by a 3 point gauge, and glue a thin sheet of styrene on the bottom of the ties to hold the whole assembly together

    2) Use a sheet of brass instead of plastic and epoxy or ACC the same way as above

    3) Cut the ties away and replace them with PC board ties, and solder them to the rails while the rails are held in gauge by the 3-point gauge

    What do you guys think?
  8. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Option #3. I have done this before on a turnout I ruined by leaving it in the hot arizona sun, but never acctually used it because I eventually just bought a new one.

  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Before committing to turnout surgery, I would suggest laying one of them temporarily with some track attached, and see if you actually have a wheel drop problem. Check using some fine scale wheels (if you use any) on short wheel-base trucks.

    If you do have wheel drop, you might consider handlaying your own turnouts, and returning these. It might easier to handlay what you want from scratch than butchering and reassembling an already assembled turnout. You obviously have the skills based on your proposed fixes. Central Valley makes some nice turnout tie strips that are curvable if you feel uncomfortable totally rolling your own.

    Of your proposed options, I like #2 the least. I find it difficult to get glue joints between metal and other materials to hold over the long term. Option #3 presents difficulties in painting the PC board ties to match, and shimming to make them the right thickness.

    Another option you might consider is cutting out the plastic ties in the affected area, substituting wood ties, and spiking the rail to correct gauge. The long term effectiveness of this approach depends on your roadbed material. If the roadbed is cork, wood ties and spikes will likely have problems in the long term due to the cork either drying out and crumbling, or "giving" under pressure from heavy trains pushing on the rails. Plywood roadbed requires spikes short enough not to go all the way through the ties. Foam will not hold spikes, but this doesn't matter if the ties are properly glued to the roadbed. Homasote is the "gold standard" roadbed for spiking rail.

    my thoughts, your choices
  10. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    Thanks for the great feedback, Fred!

    My thoughts exactly on the options. I'm not comfortable venturing into the handlaid track yet, especially since I'm using foam roadbed. Option 1 is my favorite at the moment. Option 2 makes me nervous because I'm not convinced ACC is stable over long periods of time (although after glue soaked ballast is in place it may work OK) and epoxy often fails to adhere to some plastics, and like you said bonding plastics to metal is often difficult at best. Using an air eraser (like an airbrush sized sandblaster if you're not familiar with them) to prepare the surfaces helps immensely, but it's not perfect.

    I've thought about the Central Valley kit a lot. The thoughts roaming about in my head are concerns about the soft foam roadbed combined with the flexing would potentially result in the same problematic glue joints between the metal rails and the plastic ties as mentioned above, aggrivated by the smaller surface area of the joints, but metal spikes could be added to improve the situation.

    Last night I did set one of my Athearn Genesis Gunderson box cars (which use fine scale wheels) and it doesn't result in dropping the wheels. So, it's hard to say if derailments will be likely during acutal operating conditions (I do like to run very long trains of these things, such as 30-40 cars) but either way the difference in gauge is big enough that it's difficult (requires considerable "convincing") to connect the turnout to the adjoining track. It's this abrupt shift from in-gauge to out-of-gauge that concerns me the most.

    Am I forgetting something? Other thoughts?
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You might consider changing the roadbed immediately under the offending turn out to homosote so that you can spike the rails as needed to get the rails in gauge. Once the track is ballasted after you get reliable operation of course, the change in roadbed material will not be visible.
  12. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Regarding cementing the rails to CV turnouts, they recommend Barge cement, similar to Pliobond, and I've had no problems with it giving up the bond. Mine are only a couple years old, but I know someone who used Pliobond 20 years ago, who has no problems. Unfortunately, these adhesives aren't really an option for you, you need to seperate the rail from the ties. I would lay the turnouts as is, and if derailments occur, heat one rail (sight down the track and see if you can determine which side is best) witha soldering iron, pushing in to reduce the gauge. As soon as the plastic ties get soft enough to yield a bit, remove heat and maintain pressure with a file or knife tip. Then add a drop of ACC, then ballast.
  13. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    you might try a heat gun(high temp hair drier) to see if it would shrink the ties a bit.
  14. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    Regarding how severe this problem is, check out these pictures! I brought out an Athearn 60' hi-cube boxcar (these come with fine scale wheelsets) to get a grip on how severe this problem might be. It was as bad as I had feared. Here's a picture, and a closeup:
    I decided that I was desperate enough to get the layout working (many many months will be required to fix a mold problem like this and get parts back into the US)that I decided to modify one turnout and try to use it. I chose option 1. Here are the results.
    I installed the modified turnout last night, and ran several trains through them. Performance was perfect. Here's the finished installation:
  15. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    That looks like it worked just fine! Glad you are good to go!
  16. zedob

    zedob Member

    Too bad one has to go to those extremes for something that should not even be near that far off. I'd send a link to this page to Walthers and ask them why they haven't gotten any other complaints.

    Still, good remedy.
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm not sure that a link to this thread would get their attention, but I think some before and after pics sent directly to them would get their attention. If Walthers doesn't respond, send the pics directly to Shinohara's American distributor. Also if you bought the turnouts from a local hobby shop, take pictures to them to enlist their help in getting the turnouts corrected.
  18. MopacNut

    MopacNut New Member

    Honestly, I've been pretty impressed with the response from Walthers. They were concerned as soon as I described the problem, and within an hour they had checked their stock and confirmed that they had the same problem. The guy I talked to asked me what I would do since he knew I needed the turnout, and he even offered to send me a replacement if the modifications weren't successful so I would have one that was returnable.

    I bought these (I have two of them at the moment) from M.B. Klein, and they've offered to pay the return shipping, a full refund, plus to contact me when the newly designed/updated ones come back in stock.

    I don't think either one of them could have done much more in this case. Since I was able to call Walthers with actual measurements (using a micrometer) and I knew what the NMRA tolerances are, they understood it was a real problem and they needed to take action. It sounds like they're doing it. The web site now shows that they have none in stock, and they had eight the day before- so they did pull them off the shelves. The Walthers guy also said they were working with Shinohara to get the changes made, but of course didn't know how long it would take. Mold modifications and validation does take considerable time to get it right, and I suspect this may require a new mold, especially since this was hardened production molds.

    I really don't feel like I can complain about the response, but yeah, I shouldn't have had to go through this and it should have been right the first time. However, the response seemed pretty appropriate.
  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think what Walther's and M.B. Klein have done/offered to do is all that anyone could reasonably expect anyone in the wholesale/retail end to do. Now it is up to Shinohara to correct their problem with these turnouts. Knowing the way the Japanese do things, I would be surprized if the problem is not fixed in as quick a timeframe as possible.
  20. zedob

    zedob Member

    It's good to see that they are interested in helping to resolve the problem. Although it didn't solve the original problem at hand, you probably saved alot of people from future headaches, including the manufacturer.

    I wonder how many people purchased those turnouts, found out that they were out of gauge and then just tossed it to the side only to grumble about how walthers turnouts suck, without ever giving the company any feed back?

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