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Handlaying switches

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Handlaying switches
Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 8:16 AM

While building some switches on the layout expansion, I created a video on how I handlay switches.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 8:16 AM

There is also a handout describing the methods on my website:

https://wnbranch.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Switches3.pdf

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 11:09 AM

Dave,

That was a very well-made video.

It actually made me believe I could build a turnout!

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 1:52 PM

Nice video Dave, pretty similar to how I was taught, nice work.

These days I only build specials when I need them. 

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 3:52 PM

There were a lot of techniques and special tools in the video I had never seen before.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 5:47 AM

One thing that Dave mentioned at the beginning of the video was that he was going to build the turnout "in place", that is, directly on the layout.

My question is, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 5:51 AM

.

Alton Junction

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Posted by gregc on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 7:18 AM

might be difficult with spikes.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 7:41 AM

richhotrain

One thing that Dave mentioned at the beginning of the video was that he was going to build the turnout "in place", that is, directly on the layout.

My question is, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

Rich

 

You solder the rails to a few strategically placed printed circuit board ties, them move it to the layout. I never liked building them on the bench, but I did pre assemble my frogs on the bench.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 7:45 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
 
richhotrain

One thing that Dave mentioned at the beginning of the video was that he was going to build the turnout "in place", that is, directly on the layout.

My question is, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

Rich 

You solder the rails to a few strategically placed printed circuit board ties, them move it to the layout. I never liked building them on the bench, but I did pre assemble my frogs on the bench.

Sheldon 

The issue that I see with building the turnouts in place on the layout is accessibility. What if you cannot reach the turnout site, at least not easily, on the layout?

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:43 AM

richhotrain
What if you cannot reach the turnout site, at least not easily, on the layout?

If you can't reach the spot, how can you lay any switch or even track?

How will you maintain it?

Maybe if its in a hard to reach spot you use a commercial switch at that spot.  There is no rule that says "Thous shalt not use commercial switches!".  I use Peco  switches in my hidden trackage.  But for the 99% of switches that are in an open area and accessible, handlaying is fine.  Inaccesibility should be a rare exception, not the normal.

If the majority of your switches are in places that are impossible to reach, you have more problems than worrying about whether to use commercial or handlaid trackage.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:47 AM

That was a great presentation.  As Kevin said, it made me feel that I could build one! even though I never have hand laid any track, or built a turnout.

Rich, I've watched the prototype 1:1 replace turnouts, and they graded an area flat, next to the excisting, built the turnout, than moved it into place.  It was quite a show.

Another situation on the CN, they built the turnout, then used 2 big track  backhoes and moved it about 600' to it's position.

I'm sure we've all seen the prototype haul completed turnouts in gondolas.

Mike.

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:53 AM

richhotrain
My question is, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

You wouldn't use ties.

When I have done that, I built the switches on a paper template glued to a piece of Homasote.  I spiked down the rail just like I was building a switch on ties, just using the minimum of spikes.  Then I cut thin brass sheet into long narrow strips and soldered them to the tops of the rails in a three or four places.  Then I remove the spikes on one side of the rails (just one side).  Then I slide the switch away from the spikes, carry it to the layout and spike it in place. 

Then just unsolder the brass strips. They can then be reused.  When I build the next switch, I already have half the spikes in place to build the switch on the Homasote block.

I also used this method to recycle laid in place switches.  I solder the brass strips across the rail tops, unspike the switch, cut any feeders and lift the switch off the layout.  

Here's a link to an blog post on "unhandlaying' switches.

Unhandlaying Switches | Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine (model-railroad-hobbyist.com)

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:54 AM

dehusman
 
richhotrain
What if you cannot reach the turnout site, at least not easily, on the layout? 

If you can't reach the spot, how can you lay any switch or even track?

How will you maintain it?

Maybe if its in a hard to reach spot you use a commercial switch at that spot.  There is no rule that says "Thous shalt not use commercial switches!".  I use Peco  switches in my hidden trackage.  But for the 99% of switches that are in an open area and accessible, handlaying is fine.  Inaccesibility should be a rare exception, not the normal.

If the majority of your switches are in places that are impossible to reach, you have more problems than worrying about whether to use commercial or handlaid trackage. 

Well, that is why I added the phrase "at least not easily" to my question.

On my current layout, none of my turnouts are inaccessible, but there are a few that are not easily accessible, meaning that I would have a difficult time doing the tedious work of handlaying a turnout in place. What with my back problems, it would be far more comfortable to do the work on the bench and that is why I inquired. 

So, yeah, I agree that I could, should, and do use commercial turnouts on my layout. Meanwhile, I guess my question remains unanswered, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

I must have reached your dark side this morning. ConfusedConfused

Rich

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 9:08 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
but I did pre assemble my frogs on the bench.

I've done that too, but I ended up deciding I preferred doing it in place.  I found it was easier to lay the stock rails and match the frogs to the stock raisl than to build the frog and then match the stock rails to the frog.  

Personal preference.  As I said at the beginning of the video, I have used many different methods and they all worked.  The video is just my current way and the way I prefer.  There are about two dozen ways I've seen to attach the points to the throwbar, I've tried a half dozen of them and gone back to the simplest.  Once again personal preference.

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 9:17 AM

richhotrain
So, yeah, I agree that I could, should, and do use commercial turnouts on my layout. Meanwhile, I guess my question remains unanswered, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench?

As I said in the previous post.  The construction is the same if you want to use the brass strip method or else you hav to use PC board ties which is a completely different method.  With PC board ties allt eh rails have to be positioned exactly before you solder them, there is no adjustment.

Here is how I did it using PC ties.  I glued a switch template to a piece of Homasote.  I used rubber cement to glue PC ties at strategic spots on the template.  I then used ME small spikes to spike the rail in place, putting the spikes on the sides of the the ties, not through them.  Once I had the rail all positions I soldered it to the PC ties.  You solder each rail as its positioned.  You can try and  wait until the end to do them all but its more difficult to get things like the frog soldered properly.  Remove the spikes and lift off the switch.  Rub the rubber cement of the bottoms of the ties and cut insulating gaps in the PC board. 

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 9:51 AM

richhotrain
What with my back problems, it would be far more comfortable to do the work on the bench and that is why I inquired. 

 Meanwhile, I guess my question remains unanswered, how would the construction of the turnout differ if it were built on the bench? I must have reached your dark side this morning.

Sorry, I read a different tone into your post.

I also have a different perspective, having done so many switches and so many ways, it doesn't seem like such a big obstacle to me.    In my mind the switch fabrication is the same, its just how you attach it to the ties that's different.

And that's the rest of the question, a lot of it depends on HOW not easy is it to reach.  If you build it and use the brass strips methods you still have to spike it in place.  If you build it using the PC board you still have to lay ties and finish it in place.  Even if you use commercial track, if its visible, you still have to ballast it.  

To a certain extent the amount of pre-fabrication required (desired?) depends on how hard it is to reach, with commercial being the method of choice if access is severly restricted.

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 5:30 PM

Dave,

 

Very well done video. Love the clear pictures and the pace. 

Thought you might be interested in my last (years ago now) scratchbuilt turnout. I built it at the bench and before I mounted it on the layout, I powered up some track to test it.

I had not completely cut through the copper on the PC board ties and the copper traces left went up in a spectacular (but brief) little fire when DCC voltage/amperage was applied. It was over before I could react and nothing was damaged. The joke is that the turnout is "flame broiled". I installed it on the layout and it works well.

 

 

Guy

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 5:50 PM

Toasty.

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Posted by selector on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 8:10 PM

Rich, the way I do it is to lay a length of flex atop what exists, especially if I have to customize the turnout to fit into a curved path (done this on two successive layouts now), and trace onto paper the general curvature.  From there, I make the through route and then add the diverging route as everyone else makes the, with a few key ties.  In my case, following the Fast Tracks method, they're PCB ties, soldered to the rails.

I test fit, first by cutting the rails to fit nicely between the ends of the tracks in place.  If it looks good, I go ahead and add the frog, guards, points, and frog rails.

So, generally, I lay out my curve, leave a gap, place a sheet of paper, lay over a curved length of flex to fit across the gap accurately, and then mark up the paper to give me the impression of the path and curvature needed for the stock rails.

If your back is only good for so much bending, and then for only so long, I would strongly recommend the bench construction.  But, you'll still have to make a template of some kind IF...you have laid some tracks along a planned centerline already and need to place a turnout somewhere, inserted.  If I were you, I would make do the template process in three or four 2 minute sessions, and the rest you can do in stages as you see fit at the bench.

Lay paper under the two pairs of rail ends where they form the gap.

Overlay a length of flex, tack it into place with some brads or whatever works.

Use a pencil and make marks at the ends of ties, maybe tie outlines, which, with a track gauge when you go to place the rails and ties for the construction, will guide you nicely. 

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