Two brands that have streamlined the construction of my layout are Fast Tracks and Blue Point.
Back in the summer, I bought a set of Fast Tracks turnout construction fixtures. I built seven turnouts with code 55 rail over the course of about seven or eight evenings. Anyone who has used the Fast Tracks fixtures won’t be surprised to hear that I’m thrilled with the way they streamline the construction of very precise and consistent turnouts.
My layout has eight turnouts, and you may recall that I had built two of them free-hand before deciding to buy the Fast Tracks fixtures. After I built the remaining six turnouts in the Fast Tracks fixture, I decided that one of my freehand turnouts should be considered a “learning experience.” It worked fine, but there were some proportional issues that I wasn’t completely pleased with. Let’s just say it came out much faster than it went in.
My friend Steven Lyons came over last Sunday and we held a marathon work session. He taught me how to build a simple and robust system of setting up Blue Point turnout controls. First, he had me fashion some brass tube into a “L” shape of specific proportions, then I bent up some .025″ music wire to slide through the turnout throw rods to nest in the brass tube. Speaking of throw rods, Steven made up some really nice throw rods that leave the points free. Check it out.
Step 1: Drill out the hole in the arm and the pivot to accept a 1/16 brass tube.
Step 2: Make a bunch of “L” shaped thingies out of brass tube, 3″ on the long side and 1/4″ on the short side.
Step 3: Hook the brass tube into the Blue Point as shown and crimp the short side of the “L” so it doesn’t slide out. Then line them all up like soldiers for a photo.
Here’s a close-up of two of them, showing both sides.
Step 4: Solder feeders to the terminals. The green wire in the middle goes to the frog. The red and black wires go to the track bus.
Step 5: Bent some .025″ music wire into “L” shapes measuring 2 1/2″ by 1/4″
At this point, I had eight Blue Point turnout controls and the music wire all set up and ready to install. Steven built a drilling jig out of an aluminum block, so I want around and drilled all 8 turnouts. The holes line up perfectly with the four screws that will hold the Blue Point in place. While I did this, Steven was building new throw rods out of bits of brass tubing soldered to special PC boards he made up.
Steven’s really nice throw rods consist of tiny hooks fashioned from brass tube and soldered to some PC boards he made up. There’s a barely visible hole in the middle to accept a piece of .025″ wire.
It all goes together nicely once all of this work is finished. The Blue Point controls fit in perfectly and require minimal adjustment.
Three Blue Point turnout controls under the layout.
Steven put six turnout controls in place and modified my turnouts with his custom throw rod. The last two turnouts weren’t ready to be set up on Sunday afternoon, so we left those for later.
We spent the whole afternoon working on these and got six turnouts set up. I’ve been spiking the turnouts in place and I’ve started spiking rail to connected them together. In one afternoon Steven helped me make huge progress.
Six of the turnouts are spiked in place. One had to be torn out and replaced, and another needs a custom linkage because I put it an awkward spot.