Hand made points/switches

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  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Arizona (high country 7k ft) USA
  • 650 posts
Hand made points/switches
Posted by Rex in Pinetop on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 4:53 PM

About ten or so years ago I decided I could make my own switches or points from the excellent articles in GR.  Because I'm cheap I made a bunch of them.  This is an update on what went well and what I had to change.  First some pictures:

Big switch:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small switch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the issues: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My spikes worked out and some ties shrunk.  I used cedar fence boards, again because I'm cheap.  That was not the right solution.  As you can see the tie on the left is no longer in contact with the rail and the spike in the center has pulled out.  This becomes a major pain each year resetting spikes.  My brother-in-law was a logger all his life so I went to him a few years ago and asked what I could do.  He told me my problem was the wood I was using and that I should try cyprus.  I had to go to a specialty store to find it (can you believe Home Depot doesn't stock it).  He was right.  I made my next two switches out of cyprus.  It doesn't shrink and it holds the spikes tight.  It's also as good or better weathering on the ground plus bugs don't eat it.  They have been on the mainline now for five years and are the only ones I don't have to repair each year.  I have some 19 switches so this will not be a quick fix but at least I know what works.

Rex in Pinetop

  • Member since
    February 2013
  • 635 posts
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 9:20 PM
Interesting post, Rex. Material selection has been something I have been experimenting with. Some of my father-in-law's buildings, made from that famous wood called "scrap," have lasted, and others are showing the wear (delaminating, rotting, whatever). Our own efforts, often craft sticks on core material, seem to wear depending on location based upon sun exposure or drainage. Being cheap myself, finding affordable, available material has always been a challenge.
  • Member since
    November 2011
  • 1,832 posts
Posted by Postwar Paul on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 10:14 PM

I like handlaying track. My first experience was in HO, with code 83, and dual gauge code 70 track. I've never actualy done any switches, however. When one ( un named) brand of G gauge track came apart due to Southern California sunshine, I was left with some brass code 332 rails in great shape, and no ties. So handlaying was required.

In my case, my G gauge handlaying has evolved over time:

originally, I wanted the scale look. At first , I used scale sized ties made of Redwood with small tacks as spikes, and polyurethane coating. What I learned from this experience is that Redwood is a very soft wood, and does not hold up over time. Then came various experiments with treated lumber.

Success came with oversized 1x1 poplar( hard wood), in 4 inch length for narrow gauge. Treated with a deck stain/ polyurethane coating. I used wood screws for spikes.

I like rugged! But that's just me.

The most recent experiment is 1x1 garden stakes cut to 4 inch length. Very rugged, we'll see how it holds up!

Thank You forsuggesting another wood to try!

Paul

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Arizona (high country 7k ft) USA
  • 650 posts
Posted by Rex in Pinetop on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:50 PM

Some good scale spikes are available.  I think I got mine from Sunset.  I use a modified pair of needle nose pliers to "push" them into place.  I don't think I could do that with hardwood which cracks for me after a winter under snow anyway.  Treating it sounds like you've found the solution.

R ex

 

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Arizona (high country 7k ft) USA
  • 650 posts
Posted by Rex in Pinetop on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:59 PM

The whole reason for making my points was to save some bucks.  Large turnouts cost $200+ each and I made them for about $15 each discounting the fact that I was able to use a lot of scrap rail I had on hand.  Most of my cost was for the air powered operators which I would have had to add to the commercial points anyway.  I don't remember what I paid for cyprus but I'm sure it was more than cedar fence boards.

Rex

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