Turnouts are sections of track that allow trains to travel from one line of track to another. The points control which way the train will go. The switch rod is connected to the points and is pulled back and forth by the switch mechanism which can be either a ground throw a lever operated manually or by an electrical switch machine like a solenoid motor. Whichever switching mechanism is used the basic effect is that the points are changed from one side to the other which then changes the direction of the train. There are basically 2 types:.
The last time i was back there about 8 years ago some of those switches are still in use. Your switch must be in place and the trian has to be mechanically connected to it. I use a PC board tie soldered to the white brass CV points. I have had to rework below-grade throw mechanisms due to wear and changing environmental conditions, but the Diy model train turn outs is bulletproof. Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox! Marklin, Iuts, and Shinohara are the only manufacturers that we know of who make them.
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Fair enough. I will admit the first was a dud. Don't forget I am modeling in Nscale, by the way, it's a tiny scale Anal gaping picture the use of Fastrack jig is extremly helpful to build accurate Diy model train turn outs and the tools mentionned are a must in Nscale. Member since July, From: North Dakota 8, posts. Train motors generally have a 2 mS to 5 mS time constant and therefore the PWM period tutn be at least five to ten times traim long in order to have good slow speed control. If you want the best possible turnout, mkdel it on-site - and use full length 36 inch or 1 meter stock rails if electrical gapping allows. Download FREE full-size templates to build ouuts own turnouts for gauge-1 track. I know dead-bug haywire looks bad, but the diode-relay logic does everything I want to do. I made a full size CAD drawing of an Atlas 6 turnout. As many signals as needed. Get Gay boys party. Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, March Diy model train turn outs, AM. Good Morning! I built the unit I use and is in the article by using a.
Model railroad switches, just like real-life railroad switches are used to route rail traffic.
- I have the right to remain silent.
- Turnouts are essential mechanisms for a functional model railroad.
- Turnouts are sections of track that allow trains to travel from one line of track to another.
- Ron Hoffman October 1, 22 Comments.
Switches, also called turnouts or points, are an important part of any model railroad. The larger the number, the longer the switch.
The number equates to the length of the run divided by one unit of separation for the diverging routes. In other words, it takes four inches of length for the tracks to separate one inch, you have a No. Obviously, the prototype doesn't measure in inches, but the same principles apply. Mainline crossovers might be as large as a No. There are exceptions to this, however. Especially in O Gauge , switches which correspond to the popular curve sections O, O, etc.
In these cases, the switches will be numbered accordingly. A wye switch takes its name from its shape. Unlike a traditional switch where one route is straight and the other curves, in a wye, both routes diverge away from each other.
These switches are commonly used in the track arrangement of the same name which can be used to turn a locomotive or train. But they can be used in other applications as well. Since both routes diverge, the overall length of the switch is cut in half.
For example, a No. A curved switch is exactly like what it sounds. Both routes of the switch curve in the same direction, with the inside route curving at a sharper radius. Some very long switches have a small difference in track separation but still have a tight radius. However, they can be a tremendous space saver on any railroad.
Used selectively, they can be well worth the cost. An alternative to expensive and fixed-radius commercial turnouts is hand laid track or turnout kits. Both switches are shaped like an "X. On a double slip switch, a crossing route or both diverging routes are options. On the prototype, these elaborate switches are only used where speeds are low and space is very tight.
Because of their complexity, premade models of this type of switch are also rather expensive. They have their place on a layout if you are trying to duplicate prototype track arrangements, or if you too are very short on space and want to throw something interesting into an industrial switching area or yard.
A 3-way switch is simply two switches in one. One route diverges left, another right and the third goes straight up the middle. That being said, the saved space comes at a higher cost and greater difficulty in fixing switch machines on the tightly-spaced points.
The spring switch is a specialized track that uses a coiled spring to keep the switch points lined to the "normal" position. Trains facing the diverging routes will only go the normal way. Trains coming from the diverging route will be able to push the points over with their own weight. The switch then springs back into position. These are not commonly found on the prototype but they do have their uses. Common installations include the end of passing sidings or runarounds where traffic only goes one way through the switch.
This saves the expense and time of having to line the switch for the repetitive route each time. These are also seldom modeled, though again, they do have their place on a model railroad.
Some switches come pre-wired and powered. You can also add power to manual switch machines with aftermarket motors. Model switches are generally powered by one of two devices. Which is right for you? That's all a matter of preference. And you can use different types on the same layout depending on your requirements. To control your powered switches, you have several options.
A standard on-on or on-off switch will work for motors depending on how you have it wired. If your railroad uses DCC, a stationary decoder can be used to control the switch with your cab. This can put the entire railroad control at your fingertips, or you can go a step further and integrate these switches into a complete signal system or even computer control.
This can sometimes create a problem for locomotives with short wheelbases or limited electrical pickups stalling on the switch. This problem is fairly easy to remedy with a few wires and a relay.
You can solve this problem in minutes by making a powered frog. Power routing switches turn track power off and on to the diverging track routes based on the direction of the switch. There are many places where a feature like this could be a nuisance on a layout, but there are also some applications where it is very beneficial. Some companies make power routing turnouts, but they are easy to make using a switch machine, relay, and some insulated rail joiners.
See how. Now that you've learned your switches and installed them completely, it's time to make them look as good as they'll work. Adding ballast to the many moving and close-clearance parts of a switch can be a challenge, but it is part of making it all come together. By the Numbers. Curved Switches. Slip and Double Slip. Continue to 5 of 11 below. Spring Switches. Powering Switches by Installing Switch Machines.
Twin-Coil machines use a simple twin-coiled electromagnet to throw the points. These are inexpensive and commonly found in factory-powered switches. Switch Motors are small motors which move the points back and forth.
This cannot be done with a timer. R5 starts charging C2. Garden hand tools snapshot. Sign up. Since then, I have built a number of odd turnouts that had to fit specific and unique requirements, and they work well. I work with two three point gauges on the rails and an NMRA flat gauge in the hand that isn't holding the spiking pliers. The current needs to cut off completely in the event of a short circuit or any other form of overload.
Diy model train turn outs. How to make and install a turnout model railroad control
I lifted it out of my last layout and inserted it on my latest build. Works like a hot damn. As Chuck would know, and stated in his post higher, my first couple were nothing to brag about, but they worked, and they're still together. A Jig really doesn't do any good if you need a specal type of turnout to fit a tight area on the layout. My last hand laid trackwork was a crossing - one side was straight but the other was an 18" radius curve - that one was interesting to build.
This was in an industrial area. Count me as another hand layer whose first and subsequent turnouts lasted the lifetime of the layout they were laid on - 9 years. These were laid on Celotex - a material a little softer than Homasote. The only failure I have ever had was an Atlas kit turnout - yes, they made turnout kits in the '50s - that I bought second hand. The turnout didn't really fail, but the cork roadbed it was spiked into dried out and crumbled. I don't always learn from my first mistake.
Less than 5 years later, the cork had crumbled in the box it was shipped in. Even Atlas products were out of my reach. I was surprised at how easy it was, and how well it worked. As TT has explained, Fast Track jigs are unnecessary for even a ham-fisted baboon like me. The Fast Track jigs, materials, and instructions are great for giving the fearful confidence to hand lay. If you don't believe me, just try spiking a piece of straight track on a piece of redwood or cedar for a display or hand lay a spur on your layout with some code 55 or 70 rail.
I am really tempted to try my hand at hand laying a turnout, but this all sounds difficult for a complete novice. Unlike many of the above posters I have not been blessed with the micro-engineering skills required for hand laying turnouts. Subsequently I invested in two FastTrack jigs to build all the turnouts for my current layout. I will admit the first was a dud. In the end I was making a complete turnout in about 45 minutes. All turnouts are very smooth and reliable.
Talking to another MRR'er in a hobby shop one afternoon I shared my experience with him. He has since borrowed by FT tools to construct several turnouts for his own use.
He reciprocates by assisting me with elements of the hobby I struggle with - like scenery. For me the FT tools have been a win-win and then win. Finally, the article in the current MR mag is a great summary of the lessons I collected those years ago. Even if I'm modeling in Nscale I use Fastrack jigs from a while. For straight turnout buy the crossover jig of the frog number you are asking for; why? In the tools offer of fastrack there are only two I recommend, the point form tool but buy the one for number 12, whith this one you are able to build point for turnout from number 4 to a number Don't use the tie stick offer by fastrack, they are quiet expensive but put wood ties under the turnout.
This is how I put them in place. How to put wood ties under the turnout. Don't forget I am modeling in Nscale, by the way, it's a tiny scale so the use of Fastrack jig is extremly helpful to build accurate turnout and the tools mentionned are a must in Nscale. Making some progress on the wye. I have the roadbed nailed down and joint compounded awaiting sanding and painting in the morning and then on the the fun part, hand laying the track and switches.
The two curves are 26 radius. Building in HO with code 83 track. Code and Code 83 with no jigs. The last time i was back there about 8 years ago some of those switches are still in use. I have use hinged points, continuous points, solid throwbars, hingedthrow bars, insulated frogs, non-insulated frogs. I have laid code , code 83, and code 70 I will have some code 55 on the new layout. I've done it.
I'd rather be stewed in my own juices. For me it's nothing but misery. I have been working on the first turnout the last couple of days. Thanks to Charlie Comstock's excellent U-tube video on hand laying turnouts with homemade jigs, I finally got started. I built the jig shown in the video and it works just as shown. It took longer for the glue to dry than it took to actually build the jig. Picture of the jig and the first no. Started spiking track for this switch this afternoon.
Fast track is great if you want to sit at a workbench and build turnouts. I got a fast track jig with acc. If you need a turnout that is not normal, you can modify a factory one, learned how to do that buy trying to use a changable curved Shinohara turnout and applied it to regular turnouts needed a couple of those for a tight lead into a car float area.
Check out our. Login or Register. Latest Headlines. Popular Topics. Model Railroading Tools. Model Railroader. Model Railroader Video Plus. Latest User Videos. New Products. In Our Store. Current Issue. Scratch building turn-outs and wyes views. Order Ascending Order Descending. Member since November, posts. Member since July, From: somerset, nj 2, posts. Posted by gregc on Saturday, February 28, AM. Member since September, From: Dearborn Station 18, posts.
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 28, AM. The current issue of MR magazine. Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, February 28, PM. Chuck Modeling Central Japan in September, Steven S. Member since May, posts. Posted by gregc on Saturday, February 28, PM. Posted by selector on Saturday, February 28, PM. Member since September, From: Southeast Texas 5, posts. Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, March 01, AM. Good Morning! Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, March 01, AM.
Member since October, From: Fullerton, California posts. Posted by hornblower on Monday, March 02, PM. Posted by selector on Monday, March 02, PM. Member since January, From: US 1, posts. Posted by cmrproducts on Monday, March 02, PM. Real hand laying of a turnout is the only way. I use the PC board ties to hold everything together.
Member since November, From: Colorado 3, posts. Posted by fwright on Tuesday, March 03, PM. Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, March 03, PM. So let's say that I want to try to hand lay a turnout, no jigs, no templates. What do I buy? What else? Posted by gregc on Tuesday, March 03, PM. Member since July, From: Alberta, Canada posts. Posted by da1 on Tuesday, March 03, PM. Hello James. Just my opinion and experience.
Dwayne A. Member since December, From: belgium posts. Anyway I want to thanks Tim Warris the maker of these fabulous Fastrack jigs. These are a few Nscale Fastrack turnouts This is how I put them in place How to put wood ties under the turnout Don't forget I am modeling in Nscale, by the way, it's a tiny scale so the use of Fastrack jig is extremly helpful to build accurate turnout and the tools mentionned are a must in Nscale.
Posted by dehusman on Friday, March 13, PM. Guess what, every method worked. Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch. Bayfield Transfer Railway. Member since July, From: west coast 4, posts. Posted by rrebell on Saturday, March 28, PM. Users Online There are no community member online. Search the Community. The wiring is relatively easy….
Each solenoid remote switch has 3 wires that come out of it that you need to hook up to the toggle or slide switch on your control panel. To get the wires to your remote switch, you will have to splice extensions on the wires, or connect the wires to a terminal strip under your layout, then attach wires from there to your control panel. Follow the wiring directions that came with your remote switch, but usually, the middle wire from the solenoid goes to the center connector on the Atlas SPDT switch.
The other 2 wires go to either of the side connectors; however, you should test which way the points go when the toggle is thrown one way versus the other. You may wish to wire the switch so that throwing the switch to the right will always line up your turnout for the through track and throwing it to the left will line it up for the branch.
When your remote switch is wired, if the points change to the wrong direction when the switch is thrown to the right, just reverse the 2 side-connecting wires to get it right. These often fit better on a small control panel. The wiring is a little different than with the Atlas switches as shown on the "Wiring a Solenoid" page. The following is a schematic of 2 turnouts each controlled separately by its own control switch.
Note that you can connect the common middle wires from each remote together, and then connect to one common wire that goes back to the control panel For example, if you have a passing siding connected to your mainline by a turnout on each end, you may wish to throw both devices at the same time.
Similarly, if you have a crossover from one mainline to another, you will have 2 turnouts — one on each line — that will have to be thrown for the train to make the crossover without derailing. In this situation, you can connect the middle or common wires to each other and splice them together with a third wire that goes on to the middle of the switch on the control panel.
If both turnouts are required to be thrown to the diverging side at the same time, the one side wire from one solenoid can be connected to the same color wire from the other solenoid and spliced to a third wire to connect to the control switch. Likewise the other side wire should be connected to the same color wire from the second solenoid and spliced with a third wire to go on to the opposite side connector on the control switch. At the control panel, orient the side wires so that the points are thrown in the direction that you want when the control switch is pushed one way or the other.
Test the connections by throwing the control switch. The following is a schematic of 2 turnouts controlled at the same time with the push of one switch There may be a situation in which you want to make 3, 4 or 5 turnouts all change with the control of one switch.
If you want your train to travel 2 different routes at different times, you can wire all of these remote devices so that they line up correctly with the push of one momentary switch on the control panel.
There is a limit to the number of these that will work at the same time depending on the amount of power your transformer will deliver. In this case, using a terminal strip would be very helpful in making these connections. In other words, all of those connected switches would have to be lined up either one way or another.
They couldn't operate independently unless you had additional electrical switches to isolate individual control switches. This gets a little complicated. If you have a ladder of tracks in a freight yard, the "all-or-none" problem would be prohibitive for proper operation of the ladder with just one switch unless you set up a diode matrix.
You can also have one solenoid machine connected to 2 different control switches. You may want to have one control switch located on your control panel and another located on the fascia close to the location of the turnout on your layout. The above wiring for remotes can be used whether your track power is analog or digital-controlled, since power to the solenoid motors and control switches is coming from the AC terminals of your transformer and are not dependent on track power.
However, if you have a DCC control unit, you can control remote devices with your walkaround digital control unit. You just have to have decoders installed and programmed for each switch machine.
These are available by catalog and online if not in your local hobby store. Just follow the directions that come with the decoder with regard to the wiring and programming. Tortoise switch machines are becoming popular these days. Again, follow the wiring directions that came with your model for proper installation. They are installed under the layout - a rod comes up from the machine to the switch rod to throw the points in one direction or the other.
These are electrical switches made by Atlas that can be connected to your remote control switch on your control panel that will activate other additional accessories at the same time your remote turnout switch is thrown.
For example, if you want to have station lights come on when a diverging switch is thrown, you can connect a relay switch between the station light and the remote control switch. Similarly, if you want a light on your control panel to come on when a turnout is thrown in one direction or another, connect a relay switch between the control switch and the light.
Model Railroad Switches, Turnouts or Points
I am getting ready to attempt building wyes and turn-outs in HO. Plan to use Fast-Trax templates. Any other tips would be greatly appreciated as you all really helped me on hand laying my first siding with your tips and suggestions. He builds them on the layout for a custom fit. If you want the best possible turnout, build it on-site - and use full length 36 inch or 1 meter stock rails if electrical gapping allows. I hand-lay turnouts with a method that is Definitely not patented - and if you enter that in the search block and go to entries you'll find all the details.
I work with two three point gauges on the rails and an NMRA flat gauge in the hand that isn't holding the spiking pliers. There is a learning curve to hand laying turnouts, but the old carpenter's maxim, "Measure twice, cut once," is a good place to start. Once you master the techniques you'll be able to tackle anything, even a station throat full of double slip switches.
The cost is nice, too Chuck, your reply interests me because I remain fascinated with hand laid turnouts although I have never done one. I understand that there is a learning curve, and it has to be tremendously satisfying to complete a flawless turnout.
But, what about cost? You mention that "the cost is nice". Is it really less expensive to build your own after taking into account materials, jigs, and templates? There must be a breakpoint between building a few and building many.
Rich, my jig cost is ZERO. My template is made by bending flex track and running a pencil along the tie ends. I estimate that my hand laid turnouts cost about as much per each as a single length of cheap flex track. The fact that the rail geometry is what YOU want, not what you can buy in a bubble pack or box, is even better. You really don't need the jig. If you're going to be mass producing dozens of them, then the jig would probably be worth the cost.
If you're doing a small layout than it's probably not worth it. Add up the cost of all the jigs you'll need and divide that by the number of turnouts. That's the additional cost you'll need to add on to each turnout. The nice thing about not using a jig is that you're not limited to certain sizes. You can custom fit a turnout to a particular spot.
Steven S The nice thing about not using a jig is that you're not limited to certain sizes. I first tried building a turnout on a scrap piece of homasote without ties using rails from an old piece of flex track. On my layout, I followed Tony Koester's steps, building it in place without a jig. It turned out well enough and encouraged me to build all my turnouts. Rich, a jig is handy, especially to help learn and to keep the rails in place while you fumble your way through the first couple of constructions.
There came a time, maybe after building five 8's and a couple of double-slip turnouts using jigs that I understood how building custom handlaid turnouts could be done if one used the gauges often and properly. Since then, I have built a number of odd turnouts that had to fit specific and unique requirements, and they work well. One, my latest, looks horrible, frankly, because I had to fiddle with it a bit, but I can tell you in all honesty that I can smoke a BLI Niagara and a long set of smooth-side and heavyweight passenger cars through it in either direction at a scale mph.
I was puckered up down there the first time I gathered the courage to give it a determined try, but when the Niagara got through, I knew I was away to the races. If your track geometry is anything near a 6 or higher and you have your gauge and clearances set to the standard, or better, your trains will like what they get from you. At the risk of being a "naysayer" - I much prefer "devil's advocate" - may I say It takes a well skilled and knowledgeable person to hand build a turnout or even to hand lay track.
I am familiar with "fast tracks" templates and they are a help, but the cost and time add in learning curve is hard to justify that pathway. For those with the skills and the time and the need for "special fit turnouts", I say "go for it". But for the rest of us, it is an exercise in frustration and patience. Just for grins, I wonder how many of the good folks on this forum have built their own turnout s and the result was a keeper that stood the test of time.
I know a guy who spent a few hundred dollars on the fast tracks jigs and materials. He got one keeper, one reliable turnout. It took many tries, lots of scrap, and stretched his patience. He then sold the fast tracks jigs. Without the jigs, he would have been all but incapable of building even so-so turnouts. Anyone who can lay Shinohara flex to a consistent curve can build hand-laid specialwork.
For this stiff-fingered arthritic old coot it's simply a matter of cutting, bending and filing rail and keeping everything in gauge and securely anchored while applying soldering tool and solder. Filing points is a skill easily and quickly learned, even points with a non-standard form that work with notchless stock rails. Much as I admire the product, I agree. Back when I was a newbie there were no jigs, and if you didn't hand-lay you didn't have any specialwork.
The best part of hand laying - even better than the price - is the ability to set your own track geometry. If you can bend flex to each route and run a train over it, you can build it.
Hence three way switches with two routes curving left, turnouts connecting two curves where the 'straight' route is a spiral easement, puzzle palaces of double slips Back in I built a terminal station roughly based on the trackage I had seen at a colliery at Shime, Fukuoka-ken, Japan. The only pre-fab track product used was a shortened length of straight snap track - it rotates around a nail in its center track nail hole and served and still serves as a 'foobie' turntable.
Total size, 15 by 96 inches. It has been part of six different layouts and is destined to be installed as the highest level trackage on my present garage filler. Even though it is operated regularly trains arrive and depart via cassette the above-grade trackwork has never given me any problems.
I have had to rework below-grade throw mechanisms due to wear and changing environmental conditions, but the trackwork is bulletproof. All of the specialwork on my double garage filler is hand-laid, I've been operating for close to ten years and there have only been two incidents of problems with turnouts.
One was a rolling stock problem underweight cars put into service uninspected couldn't spring the point of a spring switch and one was the result of inadequate cleanup droplet of solder on the railhead on the outside of a curve. I don't count the pileup caused by backing a train into points set for the opposing route, which was pure operator error Moi.
The auto-stop DID stop the loco - five cars too late. My suggestion? Try hand-laying a turnout. The first one will probably be seriously ugly - but it will probably be at least as reliable as one bought in a bubble pack.
So use it where the sun won't shine. I have already built about fifty turnouts for my 10' by 19' double deck layout still about 10 to go. All have been keepers. The only problem I have had is the occaisional point rail popping loose from the throw bar easily re-soldered. I also use a flat mill file, a soldering iron and a single NMRA track gauge. I made my own jig by gluing a copy of the Fast Tracks 6 Turnout Template from the catalog they sent with the PC ties and filing jig to a piece of plywood, then using a thin plywood blade in a table saw to cut grooves across the jig where the PC ties were to be located.
The template includes both left and right hand 6 turnouts so one jig serves both types of turnouts. I glued short pieces of PC ties into the grooves as stops to make locating the various PC ties a little faster.
I also found that stripping the rails out of lengths of flex track is cheaper than buying individual rail stock. This also gives me plenty of extra ties to use filling in gaps under the track joiners. Yes, it takes a little practice and patience, but my very first turnout is fully operational and on my layout.
Best of all, I figured out after making a few regular 6 turnouts that I could make virtually any turnout I need using the same skills and tools used for the 6 turnouts. I have built curved turnouts, constant radius diverging route turnouts, and constant radius wye turnouts for use in special locations. Virtually anything is possible now. How do they operate? Very nicely if I do say so myself. Far better performance thay I ever got on my previous layouts using Atlas turnouts.
How many of mine have stood the test of time? All of them. Even the scratched one I had to build in place because it was unique. It's a long curved 10 or so.
I lifted it out of my last layout and inserted it on my latest build. Works like a hot damn. As Chuck would know, and stated in his post higher, my first couple were nothing to brag about, but they worked, and they're still together.
A Jig really doesn't do any good if you need a specal type of turnout to fit a tight area on the layout. My last hand laid trackwork was a crossing - one side was straight but the other was an 18" radius curve - that one was interesting to build.
This was in an industrial area. Count me as another hand layer whose first and subsequent turnouts lasted the lifetime of the layout they were laid on - 9 years. These were laid on Celotex - a material a little softer than Homasote. The only failure I have ever had was an Atlas kit turnout - yes, they made turnout kits in the '50s - that I bought second hand.