New Adventures in Hand Laid Track

I built two turnouts on my shelf layout over the past weekend.  They both seem to work, but I won’t really know how well until I power up the rails and run some trains.  But I have rails spiked to ties now.  That’s progress.

Here’s a shot of the two turnouts.  They’re both #7, using code 55 rail.

IMG_0266I rediscovered the art of building turnouts while I fumbled my way through the first one.  I might tear that one out at some point and take another run at it.  The second one went together better.  Both still need guard rails, but I’ll get to that when I have some bits of leftover rail.

My friend Steve Lyons let me borrow his Fast Tracks jigs for filing the points, stock rails, and frogs, and those greatly simplified the process.  After investing a substantial amount of time in the construction of these two turnouts, and having been suitably impressed with the Fast Tracks jigs, I decided to invest in the Fast Tracks turnout building fixture.  I’m hoping that the fixture will speed up construction and still yield consistently high quality turnouts.

My shelf layout represents the trackage at a paper plant, so all of the rails are going to be code 55.  When I expand the layout to include the town of North Tonawanda, I’ll have more robust rail on the mainline, represented by code 70 rail.  Yard tracks in town will be built from code 55 rail.

Steve builds really nice turnouts, so on his advice I used Walthers Code 70/83 spikes for the two turnouts in the photo.  The spikes are strong, very consistent, and have nice small heads.  During my last visit to Trevor Marshall‘s layout, I took note of his fine trackwork, and so I’ve decided to follow his lead by trying smaller spikes from Proto87 Stores.  I also ordered some etched tie plates and rail joiners to experiment with.  Those came in the post yesterday, so I’ll muck about with those soon.  I won’t be building more turnouts until my Fast Tracks turnout fixture shows up, but there’s plenty to keep me busy until then.

4 thoughts on “New Adventures in Hand Laid Track

  1. Tim Warris gets a lot of praise for his jigs – and with good reason. I’ve built many turnouts freehand, and many using the Fast Tracks fixtures, and the ones I did in the fixtures are far, far better. Faster, too.
    Enjoy the spikes. I find they work really well. You need good light to see what you’re doing, and a good pair of long-nose pliers to hold them.
    Happy modelling!

    • I’m with Trvor on this. I have some Fast-Tracks jigs as well and they produce great turnouts! Your pics look great Hunter, good job.


  2. I haven’t tried the Fast Tracks jigs yet but I’ve seen plenty of turnouts built using them. There’s no doubt that they yield a better and more consistent turnout than any two or three I’ve ever made up on my own. Where I find his tools really shine is in the frog area. Not only does it seem like that point is sharper but tolerances in this area seem just that much more tight. I found that as I moved toward larger turnouts, these gaps just keep getting bigger and my thoughts wander toward options to tighten up the gap and the question of finally plunging into fine scale standards.

    I loved the look of code 55 rail on the two HO scale layouts I used it on. There’s no doubt I’d use it again if I ever returned to HO. I read that you’ve ordered some spikes and tie plates from Proto 87 Stores. I haven’t had a chance to try this either but can already imagine just how terrific things would look.

    Great work. Thanks for the updates.

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