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Hand laid turnouts with Fast Tracks jigs

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, August 4, 2006 11:37 AM
This thread is inspiring me to try constructing my own turnouts--the potential combination of better quality, lower cost (?), and not having to wait for backorders sounds unbeatable. 

But I have a question for those of you who are using FastTracks.  How difficult is it to get commercial flextrack and your handlaid turnouts to look similar?  Don't you end up with ties looking substantially different (and spikes or lack thereof)?  Or are you also laying all of your own track by hand?  Building turnouts sounds like a fun challenge--laying a hundred feet of track sounds tedious.
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, August 4, 2006 8:14 PM

 fulton wrote:
This thread is inspiring me to try constructing my own turnouts--the potential combination of better quality, lower cost (?), and not having to wait for backorders sounds unbeatable. 

But I have a question for those of you who are using FastTracks.  How difficult is it to get commercial flextrack and your handlaid turnouts to look similar?  Don't you end up with ties looking substantially different (and spikes or lack thereof)?  Or are you also laying all of your own track by hand?  Building turnouts sounds like a fun challenge--laying a hundred feet of track sounds tedious.

On that 1980-built module I mentioned, all of the track is hand-laid, four spikes to the tie.  I had a lot of time on my hands and that was ALL the railroad I had.  It wasn't really tedious, because the longest single track is only a couple of (full scale) feet long.

On my just-dismantled layout, and on the one I'll get started on as soon as the oven (my garage) cools to working temperature, I can take advantage of a special situation.  In 1964, my prototype converted from jointed rail on wood ties to welded rail on concrete ties.  I'm modeling a one-month time frame during which the concrete ties for single track had been put in place but the specialwork was all on wood ties.  The heavier welded rail had not been installed, either (some of it had been unloaded onto the ballast shoulder,) so there will still be two wooden ties every 20 meters (actually 250mm) supporting the soon-to-be-eliminated (simulated) rail joints.  At each such spot there will be two concrete ties laying off to the side, awaiting 'der tag.'  (It's scheduled for the small hours of 5 October 1964 - but my timetable loops back at midnight on 30 September, so the day will never come!)

 Chuck

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Posted by tomwazy on Friday, August 4, 2006 11:23 PM

I can't say enough about how great these jigs are. I have been handlaying track for over 30 years and handbuilding turnouts (switches to railroaders). The ease and time saving,not to mention the dollar saving if one is going to build more than a few turnouts far outweighs the intial high upfront cost.While the old fashioned way of handbuilding tirnouts with templates and hand filing the points and frog is cheaper,the time saved using these jigs is worth the cost. If you have a small bench sander,all the better.I have built over 30 turnouts so far,and I can do one,start to finish,in 35 minutes,using a bench sander to grind the points and frog point.I also find it less tedious using the jigs,almost on par with a shake the box freight car kit. If you grind the pieces in advance and have them ready,it's a breeze.As for wear on the grinding jigs,I haven't noticed any.I use a small bench sander as opposed to a mill file,so that has less wear and tear.Someone asked about the different look of flex and handbuilt...once the track is painted,ballasted,and weathered,it can only be noticed if you actually look closely...and with my less than perfect eyesight,it takes a magnifier!...lol..I highly reccomend these jigs for anyone with even basic soldering skills and a desire to save dollars over commercial turnouts.Although I've never used a commercial turnout,from those I've seen,the turnouts that come from the fastracks jigs are far superior,and another advantage is the ability to make the gap between the point and stock rails more prototypical as opposed to the big gap commercial turnouts use.The only downside is for specialty trackwork. It's not cost effective to buy a double slip or double crossover jig if you only need one or two on your layout.For those I guess I'll have to continue scratchbuild as in the past.What would be nice is if Fastracks offered a rental option for those unique uses,as Home Depot does with specialty tools for one time projects or Netflix does with DVD's.

 

            Tom

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Posted by selector on Saturday, August 5, 2006 1:24 AM
I believe that Fast Tracks is commencing a used jig service.  Some folks make the numbers they need, and then want to sell the jigs at a substantial savings to the next user, and Tim Warris is apparently willing to give it a go.  I am likely to build at least one more layout before my best-before date, so I will keep mine.
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Posted by betamax on Saturday, August 5, 2006 7:33 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE><table class="quoteOuterTable"><tr><td class="txt4"><img src="/trccs/Themes/default/images/icon-quote.gif">&nbsp;<strong>tomwazy wrote:</strong></td></tr><tr><td class="quoteTable"><table width="100%"><tr><td width="100%" valign="top" class="txt4"><P>I can't say enough about how great these jigs are. I have been handlaying track for over 30 years and handbuilding turnouts (switches to railroaders). The ease and time saving,not to mention the dollar saving if one is going to build more than a few turnouts far outweighs the intial high upfront cost.While the old fashioned way of handbuilding tirnouts with templates and hand filing the points and frog is cheaper,the time saved using these jigs is worth the cost. If you have a small bench sander,all the better.I have built over 30 turnouts so far,and I can do one,start to finish,in 35 minutes,using a bench sander to grind the points and frog point.I also find it less tedious using the jigs,almost on par with a shake the box freight car kit. If you grind the pieces in advance and have them ready,it's a breeze.As for wear on the grinding jigs,I haven't noticed any.I use a small bench sander as opposed to a mill file,so that has less wear and tear.Someone asked about the different look of flex and handbuilt...once the track is painted,ballasted,and weathered,it can only be noticed if you actually look closely...and with my less than perfect eyesight,it takes a magnifier!...lol..I highly reccomend these jigs for anyone with even basic soldering skills and a desire to save dollars over commercial turnouts.Although I've never used a commercial turnout,from those I've seen,the turnouts that come from the fastracks jigs are far superior,and another advantage is the ability to make the gap between the point and stock rails more prototypical as opposed to the big gap commercial turnouts use.The only downside is for specialty trackwork. It's not cost effective to buy a double slip or double crossover jig if you only need one or two on your layout.For those I guess I'll have to continue scratchbuild as in the past.What would be nice is if Fastracks offered a rental option for those unique uses,as Home Depot does with specialty tools for one time projects or Netflix does with DVD's.</P>
<P> </P>
<P>            Tom</P></td></tr></table></td></tr></table></BLOCKQUOTE>


Sorry for the long quote...

But this reply tells me that if I want to build my own turnouts, the Fast Tracks jigs and tools are the easy way to go. Sure beats a lot of fustration trying to figure it out on my own.

As to "bench sander", do you mean bench grinder?

I have to install about 20 turnouts in the yard, so assembling my own means significant savings. Besides, it's something to do when I don't feel like laying track...

Thanks to all those who replied, gives me the confidence that it is possible to quickly and accurately make my own turnouts with the Fast Tracks system.
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Posted by tomwazy on Saturday, August 5, 2006 10:38 AM

When I say a bench sander,I mean a small bench mounted(or not) belt and disc sander. You can find them at Home Depot,Lowes,Sears...any power tool retailer. The one I have has a 6" disc and a 16" belt. It cost less than one of the Fastrack jigs,around $60 as I remember. I started out using the mill file method,but soon bought the sander,it saves quite a bit of time. I'd say a third of the time before was in filing,now I can build a turnout in 30-40 minutes.

 

      Tom

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Posted by WickhamMan on Saturday, August 5, 2006 1:53 PM

Great thead guys. This is the type of information I like to see on the forum (I'm sick of reading compaints to Bergie! Smile [:)]). Reading this has also inspired me to take a crack at "rolling my own" using the Fast Tracks jigs. I've watched a couple of their online tutorial videos. It looks like a solid company and your impressions of their tools seems to make it a no-brainer for me to build my next layout using their jigs.

Thanks.

Ed W.
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Posted by tomwazy on Saturday, August 5, 2006 2:22 PM

Ed

  Fastracks has been a pleasure to work with,as a business. I've ordered from them 3 times,one order didn't arrive on the scheduled time (using their order tracker).After advising them of the "lost" package,they promptly sent another. Good response and easy to deal with.Kudos! Not to mention it's a great product! Going to the basement now to make a few #5's for my yard and watch the Yankees on satelitte.         

 

           Tom

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Posted by WickhamMan on Saturday, August 5, 2006 4:47 PM
 tomwazy wrote:

Ed

  Fastracks has been a pleasure to work with,as a business. I've ordered from them 3 times,one order didn't arrive on the scheduled time (using their order tracker).After advising them of the "lost" package,they promptly sent another. Good response and easy to deal with.Kudos! Not to mention it's a great product! Going to the basement now to make a few #5's for my yard and watch the Yankees on satelitte.         

 

           Tom

Wow, I was starting to like you right up until you said "Yankees". Pirate [oX)]

Ed W.
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Posted by Tom Bryant_MR on Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:45 AM
 tomwazy wrote:

Ed

  Fastracks has been a pleasure to work with,as a business. I've ordered from them 3 times,one order didn't arrive on the scheduled time (using their order tracker).After advising them of the "lost" package,they promptly sent another. Good response and easy to deal with.Kudos! Not to mention it's a great product! Going to the basement now to make a few #5's for my yard and watch the Yankees on satelitte.         

           Tom

Tom, could we entice you, or anyone here, to post a picture of the finished turnout ?  I have some 50+ of these #5's to either purchase or make.  I am seriously thinking of FastTracks.  I especially like the idea of stock rolling through these smooth as butter and no clickety-clack.

Regards,

Tom

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Posted by Pruitt on Sunday, August 6, 2006 6:23 PM

I'll be happy to [ost a [icture, but it will have to wait a few weeks until I update my website again. I'm sure someone else will post one sooner than that, though...

Another idea that might work well for those who are budget-limited or who would rather "roll their own" when it comes to laying the rails is getting just the frog and point filing tools. Each frog number is a different tool, but the one for #6 HO will handle code 70 to100 rail. Those tools are about $40, and they take all the uncertainty out of filing frog and point rails.

Geez, I sound like a salesman, don't I? Blush [:I]

 

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Posted by dwRavenstar on Sunday, August 6, 2006 7:09 PM

Heyas,

It sounds like we have two options being described; Fast Tracks and Proto:87.

Looking at handlaying an extensive expansion of an existing pike which method would be better and why so?

Also, if the initial pike is built from commercial (Atlas) track how would the Proto:87 wheels and methods respond to the "old" section?

Thanks in advance.

dwRavenstar

If hard work could hurt us they'd put warning lables on tool boxes
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Posted by sundayniagara on Sunday, August 6, 2006 8:39 PM
This sounds very interesting.  Can someone please show N scale turnouts that were built with these jigs?

Mark
http://www.hon3forums.com http://www.americandragracing.com http://www.sundayniagara.com http://www.yorkreunion.com BE THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Posted by selector on Sunday, August 6, 2006 11:21 PM

I can't seem to post pictures, so here is a link to a scan I made of a partially completed #8. All that is left is to add the ties and to spray the whole shebang with an appropriate weathering paint.

http://www.railimages.com/albums/crandelloverton/abl.sized.jpg

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Posted by fwright on Sunday, August 6, 2006 11:31 PM
 dwRavenstar wrote:

Heyas,

It sounds like we have two options being described; Fast Tracks and Proto:87.

Also, if the initial pike is built from commercial (Atlas) track how would the Proto:87 wheels and methods respond to the "old" section?

Thanks in advance.

dwRavenstar

Proto87 wheels are true to scale wheels, and will not run on NMRA spec (commercial and handlaid) turnouts.  Key differences are the width of the wheel treads and flanges, and the width of the flangeways and the check gauge of the turnout.  For good performance, wheels and track specs must be a matched set.

There are really 3 sets of specs:

1) NMRA and code 110 wheels (HO).  The wheel code refers to the width.  There is some slop in the spec with the track gauge being set a couple of scale inches wider than wheel gauge.  Best performance comes from track laid to minimum gauge spec.

2) Fine scale or semi-scale and code 88 wheels.  These are generally used in HOn3.  Code 88 wheels will run through NMRA spec, but may "rattle" somewhat with some wheel drop as they go through the frogs.

3) Proto:87 and code 64 wheels.  All components built accurately to scale. 

You can use Proto:87 components to build NMRA-spec turnouts, but you have to know which comonents are usable, and which are not (spikes, tie plates are, cast frogs are not).

As Chuck pointed out, many who hand lay their track build to NMRA specs, but build custom trackwork on the spot to suit their desired appearance and track geometry (I fall into this group).  You do not have to use a commercial "system" to handlay track.  These "systems" exist to help you produce a particular result - Fast Tracks emphasizes speed of construction with good operation, Proto:87 emphasizes accurate models of 20th century prototype track, Central Valley tie strips offer fast construction with flexible geometry and looks as good as Micro Engineering flex track.  You can also do as I and others do, and buy rail, spikes, ties, gauges and go at it yourself.  You select the ties, tie plates, spikes, rails, and other details to achieve the level of detail and look you desire.

For somebody starting out, I would recommend giving it a try on a spur or two near the front of your layout.  If you get into hand laying track, you'll soon be replacing the more visible non-realistic commercial track with your own model track!

yours in handlaid track

Fred W

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Posted by Tom Bryant_MR on Monday, August 7, 2006 1:40 AM
 selector wrote:

I can't seem to post pictures, so here is a link to a scan I made of a partially completed #8. All that is left is to add the ties and to spray the whole shebang with an appropriate weathering paint.

http://www.railimages.com/albums/crandelloverton/abl.sized.jpg

Sheesh ... that frog is nice.  I downloaded your pic and zoomed that baby in.  It looks sharp ... no pun intended.

Good job.  I'm going to have to try one of these.

Thanks

Tom

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Posted by dwRavenstar on Monday, August 7, 2006 8:59 AM

Thanks for the insight and complete explanation.  Smile [:)]

I've been considering the Fast Tracks jigs and handlaying for some time now.  The initial layout is about 3/4 completed but it will represent only about 10% of the final display if and when it ever gets done.  If I can't pass away till it's done I'm gonna live forever.  Big Smile [:D]

Sounds like the Proto:87 is an all or nothing involvement and more of a commitment than I have cash or desire for in the near future.

dwRavenstar

If hard work could hurt us they'd put warning lables on tool boxes
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Posted by RicHamilton on Monday, August 7, 2006 10:19 AM
 dwRavenstar wrote:

Sounds like the Proto:87 is an all or nothing involvement and more of a commitment than I have cash or desire for in the near future.

What I was reading and understanding at http://www.proto87stores.com/p87stores/frtrck.htm is that there are three different styles of turnouts.  Ready to Assemble, Craftsman and P87 Craftsman, the first two worrking with NMRA specs and Semi scale wheels and the last one just for the P87 boys


 

Ric Hamilton Berwick, NS Click here to visit my Website
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Posted by jpwc50 on Saturday, January 13, 2007 12:33 PM
I was wondering if anyone has built any fast tracks HO #8 double slips and if so, how long are they? Am trying to plan some fancy trackwork for a station throat and knowing their length would be helpful. Thanks!.....John
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Posted by selector on Saturday, January 13, 2007 1:52 PM

I meaured one of my #8's from just before the points to immediately after the frog gap that you must cut.  I get roughtly 11", give or take 1/2" ( I was reaching and looking toward a window from below it in my semi-dark basement).  You can count on that as an absolute minimum, but if you do, you may not get the separation between your parallel tracks that you figure you need if you begin to curve the joining rail at that point or if you hook that exit to a, say, #6 diverging route.  The best thing you can do is print a 1:1 template from www.handlaidtrack.com, cut out the actual drawing of the double slip and place it in the area of interest.  That will show you what you are dealing with.  In any event, you can make them a minimum of about 11" and go on up right out of the room if you have such an inclination.

I just went back and re-measured.  From the points to the place where the two frog rails diverge up to 1/2" (about 3/4" past the mandatory gap) is 11 3/4".  This particular turnout, as a whole, is nearer to 15" based solely on how long I cut the rail segments when I was building the turnout.  I made all six ends extend beyond the ends of the jig by about 1" in order to leave myself a fudge factor for fit.

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Posted by jpwc50 on Saturday, January 13, 2007 4:01 PM
Thanks Selector, I appreciate the quick reply......John
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Posted by SpaceMouse on Saturday, January 13, 2007 5:46 PM
Well, I ordered my jig on Friday, shipped today. I have 23 turnouts to make for the Rock Ridge, and I am bound and determined never to have to rely on an EZ turnout again. (except that I'm bringing 3 EZ turnouts to the new layout as part of the Rock Ridge Module. These babies will really pay for themselves if I expand the Rock Ridge even further.  

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by jfugate on Sunday, January 14, 2007 1:56 AM

Yes, I can tell you the sad story of what I did on my now 16-year old Siskiyou Line.

My layout has 120 turnouts on it and I started out handlaying the turnouts ... but it takes be about 6 hours to handlay a turnout from bare roadbed to finished and operational turnout. I built the turnouts in place and all the cutting, fitting, measuring (and re-measuring) took time, then I would spike something in place, only to have it shift slightly and now more fiddling.

After about 30 turnouts or so and a couple years later, I decided this wasn't cutting it so I held my nose and went with commercial turnouts. Now 16 years into my layout, I'm paying the price, since the commercial turnouts are giving me nothing but constant maintenance headaches.

Were I starting over, I'd go Fastracks all the way. Building your own turnouts at the workbench is the way to do it, and having a jig like Fastracks to make your resulting turnouts NMRA RP compliant and "goof proof" is the way to go. And after 6-8 turnouts you will have paid for the jig as compared to commercial turnouts.

MR did a study of commercial turnouts a few years ago and they found out NONE of the commercial turnouts are to NMRA RP spec. The NMRA specs are designed to give you maximum reliability through the turnout if you rolling stock and locos are in gauge. This means with commercial turnouts, even if your equipment is to NMRA spec perfectly, you will regularly get some derailments. On my Siskiyou Line, it's unusual for a train to traverse its entire run without some kind of tracking issue -- invariably at one of those dang commercial turnouts.

And as the layout ages, it only gets worse. I'm now considering getting some Fastracks jigs and replacing the worst offending turnouts on my layout. There's a saying: if you take your worst component and make it your best component, you have improved the entire layout.

My biggest issue with handlaid turnouts has always been the time element. Building in place doesn't work for me because when I'm contourted all around trying to spike down those guard rails, I rush things to get an uncomfortable job over with -- then I pay for it from then on. I want fast and no-brainer -- and it appears the Fastracks jigs do that for me.

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

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Posted by tmak on Sunday, January 14, 2007 6:53 AM

Good Morning!

 I also been "looking" at Fast Track for awhile.  My one remaining question is: How does their ties match up with Central Valley ties?

 I am using Central Valley ties and would want to continue using them.  Any problems doing that?

Tom Makofski

NorthEastern Wisconsin Free-Mo

Total Membership of 2 and Growing!

tmak@new.rr.com

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Posted by selector on Sunday, January 14, 2007 11:47 AM

The PCB ties are a thing unto themselves, but are they ever indispensible from an engineering and electrical point of view.  They are the electrical hearts of every Fast Tracks turnout.  Just pay close attention to where you must file a fine gap between the different rails.

Their wooden ties are wonderful, but they are thinner and about 0.004" shallower than the PCB ties....a tiny disparity there.  The wooden ties, I would say, closely approximate the ties typical on a Walthers/Shinohara turnout.  Accordingly, on roadbed that you have carefully groomed, the PCB ties will be the ones doing 80% of the weight bearing.  Because of the distribution of the PCB ties throughout the turnout, the turnouts that I have built are quite rigid, though, and you should not expect a great deal of flexing or sagging anywhere.

I am not familiar with Central Valley's ties, so I am unable to make a comparison.  I hope what I have provided will help.

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