What does everyone prefer?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by trainsteve2435, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Hello everyone, im curious as to everyones preference on turnouts..... What do you prefer the most and why??? Hand layed turnouts or the readily availiable comercial brands? Im doing sort of a poll before i make my mind up. Thanks for all the input!:wave:
  2. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    I use turnouts ready made but I have never done handlaid before.

    I think that is might be fun but time consuming so for now,I will stick to the ready-made comercial brands like ATLAS and Mirco-Enineering
  3. metalfrog

    metalfrog New Member

    well i've used and like atlas mark3 t'o's...they work very well for me and the price is right.i do have a few of the code 100 peco and likewise, they work well and after weathering and ballasting them they look good also.terry.....
  4. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    All Pecos for me...I've handlaid several turnouts before, but with 40+ turnouts already laid, and more to come, it's impractical (for me...). Besides, the Pecos are better than my handlaids ever were...!!!:D
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Atlas customline and snap for me. Mainly because of the price and the easy to install switch machines.

  6. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    My standard gauge turnouts are all PECO. They are excellent.

    On my narrow gauge (H0n3) I tried some Shinohara turnouts, but I'll handlay most of them. BTW: If you plan to run bigger narrow gauge engines (say a D&RGW K-36) forget #4 turnouts! I learned from experience :curse: and settled for #6 turnouts now!

  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Atlas Code 100 snap switches: I had them on my old 4x8. Servicable, but not overly pretty...

    Micro-engineering Code 83 - used on a friend's layout. Look great, and he has them working flawlessly.

    Peco - the Code 100 "euro-look" are standard at the local modular club (www.hotrak.ca). They work very well, but may be pricey, and have a slightly foreign look ;)

    Walthers-Shinohara Code 83 - this is what I have for my current modules under construction. Beautiful looking. Work well, although some sort of ground throw, spring, or switch machine will be needed to keep the points over. I have #4s and #6s. I will use a #8 or two in the future.

    Hand-laid - on another friend's layout. They work well, and look great. All are activated by ground throws.

  8. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    My entire layout has Walther's Shinohara code 83 turnouts and flex track. I stuck with one brand for compatibility, and this brand has the variety that I need. So far, I'm happy with it, but have not yet installed the track. Ask me in a few months. :)
  9. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I would perfer Pecos for their quality and reliability but pricewise I usually choose atlas. Atlas is pretty good quality as well.
  10. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I prefer hand-laid turnouts. I can fit them where-ever I need them, I used a curved frog rather than a fixed #, so they're very smooth and look great, and best of all, with ties, rails and spikes, the cost me less than $5 each.
  11. FiatFan

    FiatFan Member

    I have built turnouts and they worked well. But I would rather install rtr turnouts in the interest of time. I want to see the trains run!

    If I had to pick a brand, it's a toss-up between Walthers-Shinohara and Micro Engineering. Both are beautiful looking products.

  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Our club layout is switching from Atlas to PECO. The old Atlas were causing problems and we went with PECO because of better workmanship and operation. I use Micro Engineering turnouts on my code 70 logging line because of the more protypical look of the code 70 rail and the turnouts, as noted above they are beautifully made.
  13. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    i prefer working turnouts.

    after that, i suppose peco is the way to go!
  14. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    Are you going to hand lay your turnouts if enough of us tell you it's great? How about if your wife or girl friend tells you she likes commercial turnouts better - which way will you go then? Will you give me all your steam engines if enough of the others tell you that's the right thing to do?

    My obvious point is that you should be making your choice not on a poll of us, but what's best for you and your situation.

    Yes, I prefer handlaid track in general. But I'll use sectional or flex track in situations where they suit my needs better. For instance, my test loop or a Christmas layout - I'm not going to use handlaid track in those situations. And if the right radius curve is available, I'll use sectional rather than flex for those layouts.

    For turnouts in particular:

    - handlaid turnouts are cheaper unless you use Fast Tracks jigs. Then the $ calculation comes to how many turnouts of a given size are you going to build to amortize the cost of the jigs over.

    - handlaid turnouts take more time to build. I've never used Fast Track jigs. Laying a turnout in place on the layout takes me about 4 hours spread over 2 evenings. My starting point is bare Homasote roadbed in place. My finish point is wired with live frogs, linkage and throw installed, weathered rail and ties, ballasted, etc.

    - turnouts handlaid in place on the layout can have any frog number you desire, and have no visible gaps between them and the rest of the handlaid track. The trackwork flows, unlike commercial turnouts and flex track, where the joints between the two can be spotted many feet away. There are no blobs of black plastic pretending they are frogs or guard rails - everyhting is made of real metal like the prototype. If you need to make stub or dual gauge turnouts, or want to use a rail size that doesn't have a selection of commercial turnouts (code 70 and 55 in HO), handlaid turnouts are the obvious solution.

    - Handlaid turnouts, if carefully laid, will have many fewer problems and derailments (should be none unless a train runs a turnout thrown against it) than commercial. In one Model Railroader check, not one commercial trunout was fully NMRA standards compliant. When you hand lay track you can set the track gauge where you want it (right at the narrow tolerance is generally preferred) to resolve any tracking issues. But you need to spend the time to get everything right the first go-around.

    - if hand laying, you can do your track in close to prototype sequence. I lay my ties and put down ballast before spiking any rail in place. Ties are stained before using, and rail is painted (weathered) before spiking.

    - Visuals. If modeling 1920s and later Class 1 track with creosoted ties and tie plates on every tie, Micro Engineering flex track and Central Valley ties strips look better than most handlaid track with too-large spikes every 5th tie. There are scale size spikes, tie plates, joint bars, and other details available for handlaid track, but the time factor goes up when you add those details to every tie. On the other hand, pre-1900 track with some rough-hewn ties, no tie plates or creosote, etc, is easier to model via hand-laying.

    Finally, remember track is a model, too - one that's up front and visible all the time. To my mind, track should look as a good a model as your rolling stock. Others may prefer to spend their time on other parts of their layout, and consider commercial track "good enough".

    my thoughts, your choices
  15. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    Of the commercial turnouts, I suppose Peco are the most reliable. Micro Engineering look great, but I don't have any long-term experience with them. If I have a complaint about the newer Atlas and Code 83 turnouts, it's that the point rails are stamped from sheet material, not ground from rail stock.

    The club I used to belong to had been in place since 1943, and had tried all the brands over time. The main problem with Shinohara/Walthers turnouts is the rivet that holds the pivot of the point assembly. Over time, it loosens up, and doesn't make contact, causing the closure rails to lose power and locos to stall. Same problem with the older Atlas (and code 100 Custom Line, IIRC) - the rivets work loose.

    As for tangent track, I find it's just as cheap to use flex track as it is to hand-lay. And the new Atlas code 83, when painted and ballasted) looks almost as good as handlaid. If it's a high-visibility area, like right under my nose, I might use the Micro-Engineering flex for looks.
  16. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    I prefer Atlas's line of track and switches.
  17. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    I have used Peco, Atlas, Walthers/Shinohara, and currently have a Micro Engineering switch on a module. All have worked nice, but the ME one loos the best, though the other 3 are 6+ years old. I really want to order some of those hand laid special order ones through Walthers, umm, BK enterprises makes 'em. I've also wanted to test out the CVT ties & turnouts.

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