Tune-up, Tear-out

I spent part of Thanksgiving Day tuning up the turnouts that I spiked into place last weekend.  Those of you following along know that I’ve been building the skeletons of my turnouts on a Fast Tracks assembly jig and then spiking them into place on ties that I glued down in advance using Fast Tracks templates.

Six turnouts are now securely spiked in and working well.  One more is already working well with only the minimum spikes holding it in place, but the turnout leading into the coal track was giving me grief.  It was showing signs of having issues last week when I first put it place, but I was convinced that I could sort it out once I came back to it with more time.

After fussing with it for about an hour, I decided to cut my losses.  I pulled all the spikes and put the skeleton back into the assembly jig where I immediately saw the source of the problem.  Somehow, I soldered the turnout together with a very slight twist.  I unsoldered about half of the joints and carefully inspected the individual pieces.  One point rail needed a very slight correction to its curve, and I discovered a very slight bow in some of the ties.  I tossed the four ties that looked looked suspicious and made up replacements.

With the skeleton back in place on the ties, I was displeased with all of the spike holes, including all the extras that I drove in an attempt to fix the turnout while it was in place.  I decided to rip out the ties and build this turnout on Fast Tracks Twist Ties.

IMG_0872The glue is drying on the coal track switch, but it’s already clearly apparent to me that a Fast Tracks turnout built on Twist Ties is more attractive and precise than anything I can build free-hand.  That includes building the turnout on ties that I placed according to the  the Fast Tracks templates.  The turnouts at the paper plant are in place now, and they seem to be working well, but I think I’ll use turnouts built on Twist Ties for the rest of the layout.

2 thoughts on “Tune-up, Tear-out

  1. What you are experiencing is modelling hyperfocus. It’s something that people usually only experience on a small layout or smaller, detailed construction project. Every detail is critically analyzed separately, and the tendency for some of us is rework it until it’s perfect. I’ve been there, and abandoned a few projects because they would never meet my expectations.

    Working with a huge project like the Sudbury Division has given me some clarity as to what really matters when a layout is taken as a whole. Yes, there are certainly some places on the club layout which make me cringe a bit. Quite a bit of it is less than ideal. Nevertheless, taken in its entirety, even in its (much) less than complete state, my overall reaction is that it’s a kick-ass project, and coming along very nicely.

    Those damaged ties are what brought me to that observation. We have more than a few ties at the club which are mangled because of slips of the pliers or a rail which had to be forced a millimeter or two because of a misplaced spike, sometimes requiring the whole spiking operation be moved to a neighbouring tie because the old tie was just too far gone. Sometimes we would replace the tie, but more likely it would be left and (if we got that far) buried in ballast. These things seldom catch the eye unless you’re looking for them. A few mangled ties actually looks more realistic sometimes, depending on the trackage you’re talking about. In any event, unless you’re putting in all those tie plates and putting 4 spikes in every tie, the track will not hold up under real scrutiny anyway. It’s a supporting character in the layout’s story at best.

    When you start thinking of the track as a model in its own right, you may find yourself checking out where the track joints and fishplates are (now that is a detail which really makes track pop, in my opinion) and noting that on the curved rails often there are kinks at those points, to say nothing of vertical waviness. When you start reproducing that kind of thing, then you have truly gone over to the dark side. As long as you have the time and inclination, it can be a satisfying challenge.

    • Sage advice Jurgen. I’m trying to keep some perspective, but I feel the tug of so-called hyperfocus all the time. My layout is small, and it’s at chest height. The offending turnout is right up in the foreground of a scene that’s only 14″ deep. I know I’m going to have to live with some compromises, but this one wasn’t one I could bear. I do need to keep reminding myself that I’m trying to keep moving forward.

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