Poor mans jig built turnouts

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Poor mans jig built turnouts - MRH Sep 2011

 

 

 

 

 

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Right Time for This Article

Joe,

Thanks, I have my code 55 turnouts in position to install on my Sahwatch Street Yards over this holiday.  This came at just the "right time" with some great hints.

Thanks

CM Auditor

Tom VanWormer

Monument CO

Colorado City Yard Limits 1895

I was expecting the Sept. issue on Monday.

I was surprised to get home at about 11:00 p.m. last night and need to "unwind" a bit before going to bed and finding when I opened the web site that the Sept issue was ready for download.  I downloaded the issue and started skimming through it, until I got to this article.  I was getting kind of tired, but I read about half way through and then skimmed the rest of the article.  Great article.  I can't afford the Fast Tracks jigs to build complete turn outs, and am debating on whether to buy just the jigs that Joe mentioned in the article, or go ahead and buy the $10.00 turn outs from Proto 87 Stores that Joe mentioned in the article.  I think it is definitely a great and timely article, and particularly of value as it has come to light recently that there are 0 ready made commercial turnouts that meet NMRA standards.  There fore the only way to get a turnout built to NMRA standards is to either buy a jig and build it, buy a kit built with a correct jig, build your own jig, or buy a completed turnout built by someone with a jig and experience building precision turnouts.

Jurgen Kleylein's picture

There's one more way...

Or you can build them the way I do, the old fashioned way--I hand lay them in place with only some NMRA dimensions or a prebuilt turnout for reference.  When you set the flangeways and point locations using your NMRA gage, your turnout will be NMRA spec and you don't need any jigs to do that.

Jurgen

HO Deutsche Bundesbahn circa 1970

Visit the HO Sudbury Division at www.wrmrc.ca

The preceding message may not conform to NMRA recommended practices.

dfandrews's picture

It's the way to go

IMO, this is the way to go.  It's the cheapest way to get quality turnouts; they are bullet proof; and you can combine switches and butt them up close together for custom trackwork. 

I just finished a back-to-back pair with the diverging route of one mating up to the straight route on the other, with the tips of the frogs 2½" apart.  I have four 2" PC ties spanning the frogs and both routes, so alignment stays put no matter what.

For the frog, I have the frog portion of a CVT switch tie printout glued down on my work surface, and have rail spikes in several locations to hold the two rails in place for a poor-man's jig.  I file the rails in the Fasttracks tool, then slide them in place for soldering.

I use Clover House #266 PC Board ties (pack of 10: 12" long), but I use their #267 Turnout Throw ties for the throw bars, as they are about a third wider, and thus, give more material around any holes drilled for throw mechanisms, and a wider surface for soldering the points to.

By the way, the Clover House PC ties are copper clad on both sides, so you can use the bottom copper clad instead of wire to route power to the rails beyond the gaps at the frog.

 

Don

Rincon Pacific Rwy, 1960.  HO scale std. gauge - interchange with SP.

DCC-NCE, CMRI, JMRI

Great idea. I built several

Great idea. I built several of the CVT turnout kits with the plastic frog already. The frogs are rather finicky. I wish this had come out a few months ago. Oh well.

Now how about a curved turnout built at the desk without a downloadable template, say a 25 1/2 inch outside radius?

 

 

joef's picture

Curved turnouts are easy

Traniman:

Curved turnouts built using the CVT ties are easy. I just cut through the nibs holding the ties every other tie on the outside of the curve and then bend the tie strip to fit the radius.

I've built a couple of these - very easy to do and they work great.

Way back in the Mar/Apr 2010 issue of MRH, I showed a photo of me short-testing a curved turnout I had just built using the CVT ties, this one is a code 83 #8 I believe ...

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

wp8thsub's picture

CVT Frogs

I built several of the CVT turnout kits with the plastic frog already. The frogs are rather finicky.

I've built a total of three CVT turnouts on my current layout, and would be willing to try more.  The kit instructions for the frog looked like a losing proposition to me, so I used the turnout diagram provided with the instructions as a template for making soldered frog points.  I installed each completed frog point onto the plastic tie strip, inserting into the kit's "frog block" casting.  This arrangement has proven quite satisfactory and durable.

Rob Spangler

Joef,  Did you cut the nibs

Joef,

 Did you cut the nibs in the frog and point area also? The instructions said not to, but that has lead to some rather strange looking track geometry. After some filing and tweeking, I got them to work ok.

 If you use the plastic frog castings, watch where the rails go into the frog ( code 70 rail and #6, #7 switch kits). I was having problems with the wheels shorting on the other rail. The frog also seems to sit higher then it should causing locomotives to lift off the rail and loose contact. I run mainly small ( 4-6-0, 2-8-0 ) steam.

  I have 2 kits left. I will try the ideas in the article and see how they work. Looks like it will be a good strong turnout. Even better if I can build them at the workbench. (now if only I can find that scrap piece of homosote...)

 

Your article

Very nicely done, Joe......and timely for me, too.  I'll very soon be ordering turnout supplies from one of the jig manufacturers and will begin laying rail when my supplies arrive.  Of particular interest to me was the soldering tips you provided, thanks a lot!

wp8thsub's picture

More CVT Frogs

If you use the plastic frog castings, watch where the rails go into the frog ( code 70 rail and #6, #7 switch kits). I was having problems with the wheels shorting on the other rail. The frog also seems to sit higher then it should causing locomotives to lift off the rail and loose contact.

That's another problem with the CVT frogs as designed.  Having learned of the potential for shorting before building my examples, I gapped the closure rails at the end of the frog block.  This left a short (1/4" or less) piece of electrically isolated rail adjacent to the frog, which prevents the shorting you've encountered.  You could probably cut gaps at this location to eliminate the shorts with your turnouts.

I haven't experienced anything lifting off the rails through the frogs.  My kits were all code 83, which may make a difference, but I also only have NMRA RP 25 wheelsets.  If your steam locos have any deep flanges, the CVT flangeways will cause them to bottom out.  Regardless of the reason, you could probably use a file to deepen the flangeways at the frog.

Rob Spangler

Barge and other rubber cements

Just a quick comment about Barge Cement.  When I bought a can I found Barge is the name of the company.  It is just another higher strength neoprene based adhesive.  I've used both Barge and Pliobond.  Both work well when bonding rail to wood ties, but I prefer Pliobond.  I use them primarily on bridges where I can't spike the rail.  They both have one irritating characteristic.  If you solder a wire to rail that is only held down by these adhesives, they will soften from the heat, the rail will expand and when it's all over the rail will no longer be straight.  While this isn't such a big deal on a bridge, you wouldn't want this in a track switch. 

Since I use powered frogs I put the insulation gaps at the track clearance point and about an inch or so toward the switch points, giving me some extra rail to spike and hold the frog securely in position.  I found I could drive a spike through the plastic CV ties for added security.

Kevin Rowbotham's picture

Great Article!

The turnouts I have built using this method are solid, durable and look great.

I found the best deal (2 - #5 Turnout Strips for $6.91) on Central Valley Turnout Strips at MRH Sponsor Dallas Model Works.

If you don't see the strips you need on the DMW web site, just send Craig an email letting him know what you want.

With a little practice, I've become pretty good at making spot on turnouts for my layout.  I've even built a #5 WYE using Central Valley Turnout Strips.  Next I want to tackle a curved turnout.

Thanks for the article Joe.

~Kevin

Appreciating Modeling In All Scales!

traintalk's picture

Using Fast Track curvable wood ties

I have been using the Fast Tracks curvable wooden ties to build my switches, using the method that you have demonstrated.

http://www.handlaidtrack.com/Curvable-Wood-Ties-HO-Scale-6-Trn-Right-p/tw-ho-t-6-r.htm

With wooden ties and I do not have to worry about melting the plastic ties. Once the switch is painted, weathered and ballasted, everything seems to blend in with the plastic flex track ties.

Plus I have to deal with only one supplier, Fast Tracks, to get all of my supplies. Nothing against other suppliers, it is just that Fast Tracks seem to have everything I need and the cost of wooden ties and the CVT ties is about the same.

Bill.

joef's picture

All true, but ...

With wooden ties and I do not have to worry about melting the plastic ties. Once the switch is painted, weathered and ballasted, everything seems to blend in with the plastic flex track ties.

Plus I have to deal with only one supplier, Fast Tracks, to get all of my supplies. Nothing against other suppliers, it is just that Fast Tracks seem to have everything I need and the cost of wooden ties and the CVT ties is about the same.

All true, but the Fast Tracks wood ties don't have spike head and tie plate detail cast in. To many that won't matter, but to me it does matter.

If you're talking anything but HO standard gauge, then Fast Tracks is about your only option. But for us HO standard gauge guys, having that nice tie plate and spike head detail in the Central Valley turnout tie strips really makes the turnout blend in a lot nicer with MicroEngineering flex track.

If you do a lot of railfan-eye-view photography like I do, the lack of tie plate and spike head detail stands out, so I like the fact it's automatic with the CVT strips.

A stock HO standard gauge Fast Tracks turnout on their ties just looks naked to me for a class 1 railroad.

P.S. Don't forget Proto87 Stores has a turnout jig system that includes tie plate detail - and I love the Fast Filing jigs even though I don't use their turnout soldering fixtures. If they did a fixture that lined up with the Central Valley ties strips, I might consider it, however, if I had a lot of turnouts to do like when my layout was new.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

traintalk's picture

Did I forget to mention

Joe;

I did forget to mention that I model in Sn3, so CVT is not an option.  I assume that they only have strips in HO, maybe N scale?

One of the other reasons that I like the wooden ties, is so that I can hand spike the rails. But I do like the looks of your turnouts.

Once you move out of the main stream HO, things get a little sparse for us non-conformers.

Cheers

Bill

 

Great article but.....

The article is really great and very instructive. I like to scratch-build my switches and I have purchased several of the Fast-Track jigs. I have used them to build some nice switches, including a #8 double-crossover. I have also built many custom, in-place switches on my layout, including a curved 38" / 36" radius switch. One problem I have with PC board ties is that the thin copper film on the tie is not a good mechanical connection for the pressure placed on that point by a stall motor or sprung hand-throw. My solution was to drill a small hole at that point and reinforce the joint with a small piece of brass rod. It provides a bit of strength to the connection and removes the stress from the copper film. One caution. Make sure to gap the copper on BOTH sides of the tie to prevent a "mystery short". Don't ask how I know this. <grin>

 

One small "peeve" I have is the fact that those of us "old guys" that still use the horribly, over-sized Code 100 rail, do not have an option for using Central Valley ties. I know the rail is over-sized but if you have been in the hobby for a long time, all that was available when we started was one size, Code 100. You had the option of Brass or Nickel Silver and nothing else. My investment in track is pretty high and although I have built some newer sections in Code 83, most of my layout was Code 100. I am in the process of rebuilding but I cannot afford to replace my track with code 83. Is there any manufacturer out there that makes nicely detailed tie strips for Code 100 ?

Thanks for the great article.

Nick Kulp

Kevin Rowbotham's picture

Too much heat?

One problem I have with PC board ties is that the thin copper film on the tie is not a good mechanical connection for the pressure placed on that point by a stall motor or sprung hand-throw. My solution was to drill a small hole at that point and reinforce the joint with a small piece of brass rod. It provides a bit of strength to the connection and removes the stress from the copper film. One caution. Make sure to gap the copper on BOTH sides of the tie to prevent a "mystery short"

I'm surprised that you found the copper on the PC ties unreliable.  It is possible to  begin to delaminate the copper from the board with a little overheating though, so that could be a factor.  In any event your solution of using a brass rod is one I'll keep in mind.

I've seen where a hairlike piece of copper cladding from one side of a tie can get folded down in the cutting process so that it contacts the edge of the copper on the other side of the tie.  Gapping both sides of the tie makes sense.  I like to lightly dress the sides and ends of each tie on a fine file to clean them up before I use them in a turnout.  I find this takes the hairs off and clears up those mystery shorts.

Turnouts made this way are not for all scales.  Nor are they for all situations or modeling tastes.  They are a good way to quickly reproduce quality, in gauge, standard and curved turnouts, with good detail, at a reasonable price and without too much invested in tools up front.  At least in my experience.

~Kevin

Appreciating Modeling In All Scales!

DKRickman's picture

Is there any manufacturer out

Is there any manufacturer out there that makes nicely detailed tie strips for Code 100 ?

Probably not in HO scale.  One of the casualties of the prototype fidelity movement has been the use of code 100 rail in HO scale, outside of hidden trackage and toy trains.  I've seen it done and looking quite good, but no serious modeler would admit to using it these days.  Too bad, really, because it's cheap and reliable.

Ken Rickman

Danville & Western HO modeler and web historian

http://southern-railway.railfan.net/dw/

poor man's turnouts

Joe,

I have a couple of tips I've learned using the Fasttrack point forming jigs you might fine useful:

After you've filed the point rail down to the web put the rail in the other side of the jig and file only the railhead portion.  This creates a stronger smoother point rail. 

Where the point rail taper ends there is a sharp angle left in the base of the rail.  I continue the taper freehand at the base to creating a rail that flexes better and is far more elegant looking.

Where the diverging stock rail and the point rail meet I put a very slight bend in the stock rail. The bend shouldn't be more than the point rail's angle.  This makes for smooth through running on the turnout and it allows the switch to stay in gauge for the diverging route and also very smooth running.

When I solder the point rail to the throw bar I slip a piece of paper not much wider then the throw bar between the point rail and the stock rail, then under the stock rail and over the throw bar.  This creates an 'L' shaped barrier that prevents me from soldering the two rails together.  The advantage is I can line up the point rail exactly to the stock rail. If needed I can temporarily spike it down until it soldered.  Making sure the throw bar is pushed up against the stock rail.  Put the same piece of paper in the other side in the same manner.  Then put the little block of wood behind the joint just made to assure your points correctly spaced.  When the paper is removed you have the perfect relationship between the two rails and the throw bar.

I hand lay all my track and make my switches on the layout.  I think the biggest advantage to this is the switch geometery is very smooth flowing trackwork.

Turnouts cost about $2.50 and with my own under layout switching mechanism a total cost of about $5.25.

Dave Croshere

dfandrews's picture

Code 100

Nick,

Your comment reminded me of an observation I made during track-laying, that I forgot about until now.  ( I use Code 100 for hidden track; even the old stuff.  In fact, I even have a couple of straight sections that are Atlas fiber tie with the staples for "spikes".  )   When I went to transition to Code 83 for the visible areas, I found that the Code 100 seemed to seat in the CVT ties acceptably.

I just miked the bases of some Atlas Code 100 and MicroEngineering Code 83, and they are about 0.012" different in base widths, and the Code 100 fits snugly in both a piece of CVT tie strip and a CVT switch tie strip.  The ME Code 83 (of course) has a bit of play.  I want to emphasize the Code 100 fit is "snug".  I had to examine it under a magnifier to confirm, but it fully seated on the tie strip.

So, for switch construction in Code 100, I would give it go.   Switch ties retail at CVMW for $8.95 for two,

http://www.shop.cvmw.com/CVT-Ties_c5.htm ,   and I'm told they are available for less at some of the MRH advertisers' sites.

 

so if you fabricate your own points and frogs, that's about 5 bucks a switch.  Not bad for an experiment that has a good chance of success.

 

Don

Rincon Pacific Rwy, 1960.  HO scale std. gauge - interchange with SP.

DCC-NCE, CMRI, JMRI

Kevin Rowbotham's picture

Price

Central Valley Listing from Dallas Model Works

Items CV-210-2501, 2502, 2901, and 2902 are curve-able, left and right hand switch ties, 2 per package.  Items, CV-210-2981 and 2982, are #9 switch KITS, not just ties, thus the higher price.  If you want a turnout number that is not listed, just email and ask.

Membership is free.

~Kevin

Appreciating Modeling In All Scales!

coxy's picture

Small safety item

Great article. Thanks for sharing. I did note one item that could slow a modeler down though!

In figure 55, the assembly is being held while a cutoff disk is being used to cut gaps around the frog. Cutoff disks rotate at high speed and can occasionally catch and kick sideways along the plane of the disk. As held in fig 55, the fingers holding the assembly are aligned with the plane of the cut off disk and are at risk to a serious injury should the disk kick sideways.

Because of the speed of the disk, it can quickly travel the short distance from the frog rails to the fingers holding the assembly, faster than the fingers can be pulled away. It is safer and less risky to hold the assembly away from the plane of the disk or even better to use a clamp.

Hope this is helpful,

Cheers, Steve

 

 

joef's picture

Yes, we noticed that too

Yes, we noticed that too - too late to change it - that the fingers are in the same plane as the cutoff disk.

However, the danger is not as great as you might guess, since the cutoff disk was spinning at its slowest speed. Most often rather than be thrown to one side, the disk will simply clog and stop spinning at that slow speed.

I do use the slowest speed deliberately because I don't want the disk to catch and for the tool to be thrown off to one side or the other and then nick the stock rails by accident. I'd rather the tool clog and stop than catch and be thrown.

Still, it's always good to get in the habit of keeping your body parts out of harm's way!

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

Code 83 vs 100 is not that

Code 83 vs 100 is not that big of a problem. I don't consider myself an old timer, others might though, and my layout was built with all code 100. I replaced all 55 switches using fast tracks with code 83 rail. As I got better at laying the track I started to rip out some of the 100 flex and hand laid code 83 in various areas. You don't have to do this, but I enjoyed the hand laying process. All I am saying is that don't let the code 100 be a barrier for installing code 83 switches. You just can't beat the reliability of a true NMRA turnout!

Steve 

Turnout construction and track standards

I find it of concern that many track builders use the NMRA  flat aluminimum gauge to build turnouts. The design of the gauge is really for checking dimensions after track is built. The tool required to build turnouts accurately is a track gauge that holds the rail firmly in place. The tools that do this are either roller gauges, 3 point track gauges, clamp type gauges used with precision spacers or the fast track style jig. My experience is If your gauges are correctly dimensioned, there is no need for post construction adjustment or fine tuning. The MRH article features the NMRA standards, yet today there are alternative standards ( http://www.amra.asn.au/standards.htm ) and track gauges ( http://www.railwayeng.com/gauges.htm or the UK alternative at  http://00-sf.webs.com/ ) that allows the construction of turnouts suitable for RTR RP25-88 wheels to operate without wheel drop, yet still work for RTR RP25-110 wheels. My experience is, if using RTR wheels these alternative standards will produce better looking and better tracking turnouts compared to the NMRA standards.

Everyone has their own variations on track and turnout construction. I typically use 3 roller gauges to hold my rails in place during construction, and start with the straight stock rail. Then I construct the crossing V (frog), and use gauges to position it it to the straight stock rail. Then I lay the curved stock rail, again using roller gauges to position the curved stock rail. This method of construction results in the setting of accurate track gauges for both routs at the crossing V and allows accurate positioning of the crossing V. It is easier  in my opinion to use this order to achieve accurate crossing V"s, rather than using the order of construction in the MRH article.

Terry Flynn

 
http://angelfire.com/clone/rail/index.html

HO wagon weight and locomotive tractive effort estimates

DC control circuit diagrams

HO scale track and wheel standards

Any scale track standard and wheel spread sheet

AMRA standards http://www.amra.asn.au/standards.htm

 

Kevin Rowbotham's picture

Jig Built Is Key

It is easier  in my opinion to use this order to achieve accurate crossing V"s, rather than using the order of construction in the MRH article. Terry Flynn

Except when using the Central Valley ties as a jig, as in the MRH article.  In this case the jig, like a Fast Tracks jig positions the rails,  The gauge is mostly a check gauge in my experience.  Of course we can never have enough tools so having the extra gauges would be great too.

~Kevin

Appreciating Modeling In All Scales!

joef's picture

Kevin is right

Kevin is right - by using the rail slots in the CVT ties, the rail is held in proper gauge already.

I simply double-check the track gauge using the NMRA Mark IV metal gauge - or a micrometer - taking all of maybe 15 -20 seconds and then out comes the flux and soldering iron.

Once I'm done with the soldering, I'll do another quick check with the NMRA guage or micrometer and generally no change is needed.

Once in a great while the rail will twist or pop up out of the slots, which will mean resoldering. But that's rare.

The CVT ties rail slots take the place of the need for constant use of track gauges during turnout construction. The NMRA gauge is used just to quickly double check that the rail stayed put during soldering.

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line

aclmark's picture

Great article, really great video

Great article on assembling turnouts using the CVT tie strips- I usually use basswood ties and my NRMA gauge to build my own, but the article is very compelling.  I need to try this.  Maybe of greatest interest to me was the video on soldering...I'm anxious to get out my iron/gun and practice on a few rails and feeders.  I can't say that my soldering efforts have ever looked that easy and clean!  Well done!

Thanks, mvh

Wolfgang's picture

Those Central Valley tie

Those Central Valley tie strips are great, this way you get wonderful turnouts. I did this with my module Diamond Valley. I've changed the throw bar and the frogs.

Too bad, Central Valley does not offer H0n3 turnout tie strips. sad

Wolfgang

joef's picture

Soldering video

Yes, we could write pages and pages on the soldering technique and still not have conveyed how it works as well as my little 3 minute video.

As much as has been written about making sure you heat the piece first and then touch the solder on the joint - that's mainly for soldering larger things like copper pipes. For small work like we often do in model railroading, using flux and a solder-loaded iron often works better to get the job done quickly and not overheat the area.

It works especially well when the goal is to not damage nearby plastic or to not loosen other soldered work (like when constructing something with brass).

Joe Fugate
Publisher, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

Joe Fugate's HO Siskiyou Line


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