…. so we’ll just have to see how things turnout.
The PCB ties would only be here temporarily to fold the rails in the correct orientation so no great effort was made to get fantastic solder joints. Also, this being a stub turnout the switch rails don’t extend all the way to the blades.
Once soldered the skeleton turnout was lifted from the aluminium jig. It was turned upside down and had bits of waste etch from kits soldered across the rails in the gaps between the ties so as to hold the rails in place without relying on the ties. Most of these were intended to be temporary but those holding the check rails to the stock rails and a pair binding each switch rail to its stock rail were permanent.
The next job was to mark out the shape of the frog on to a piece of brass and cut it out. This was soldered to the underside of the rail using my resistance soldering unit as this allows you to get it all set up and in position before applying any heat and continues to hold it whilst it cools.
The track then has the PCB ties removed leaving a bare rail skeleton as shown. Why? A personal choice. I haven’t seen a convincing treatment that makes the PCB ties match the other wooden ties that are added next so opted for putting it all on wooden ties.
The open end of the switch rails on the real thing are held in place by bits of steel and spacer block and they also provide a plate for the sliding rails to slide on. If you click on this image to see the large version you can see this one has a rudimentary facing point lock in place aka a bit of wood.
Further into the foreground there are more steel plates for the rails to slide on. These are all just nailed or spiked down to the ties.
The sliding plates are cut and filed from brass and then drilled with a 0.8mm drill in a pin vice. They took the best part of an afternoon and I ended up with a blister from the drilling. I feel an etch coming on!
Next it was bath time.
I made a shallow tray out of some plastic strip that surrounded the turnout and allowed me to pour metal black in and cover the turnout. The logic here was to colour all the metal parts so there would be less shiny stuff showing, largely because I hate painting rails. I am not sure I would do this again and would probably spray it all with a primer and then a rusty colour whilst its still at the metal skeleton stage.
I also didn’t give any thought as to how to empty the bath. Pipette to the rescue!
For this (and future turnouts) I made myself a building platform to work on. In the past I have built turnouts in situ and have had to compromise with the side you can’t see or reach. This time I wanted the turnout on the bench where I could turn it every which way so as to always work at a comfortable angle.
On to this the 2mm MDF piece cut for the location of the finished thing was fastened down using the superglue and tape trick (explained here). To this I glued a printed template from the Fast Tracks website. This was stuck with the dilute craft glue. Ties were then cut to length and glued down with Super PHATIC ALIPHATIC Glue.
It was only after all this was stuck down I realised that I cocked up. The frog area now had a plate under it so those ties needed carving away. Can’t really see a way round that so will continue with it.
However, a whole load of ties at the switch end of it all needed to be thinned to allow for the thickness of the sliding plates. That proved to be a pain in the rear end so, in the absence of a scale planer/thicknesser I think I’ll build the next turnout with a couple of layers of card under the bit that doesn’t need to be thinned.
Now it was time to start assembling the turnout. The underside of the rails on the skeleton were lightly smeared with 5 minute epoxy as was the underside of the rail end tie plates with a generous dollop in the underside of the frog as I carved a bit too much wood out. All sorts of heavy things were placed on top whilst it stuck.
The switch rails were then prepared. The flexible bit is 60mm long and just on the fixed side of this a rectangular brass plate was soldered on. This has holes for pins to be added. The rail head was partially cut to represent a rail joint as was some of the foot. Cutting the foot increases the flexibility.
The switch rails now had the tie bar and three stretcher bars slid on and spaced to avoid the ties. Helpfully these held it all to gauge whilst they were glued down with some epoxy on the underside of the pivot plates and the tail rails. Again this was weighted until set.
Things then got fiddly and a bit tedious. Some brass pins were blackened and then shortened. These then went in all the plate holes to represent the spikes holding these down.
Next it was spike time. This turned out to be quite tedious! Not only did they have to be shortened it turned out the heads were too large/long so that if you drill next to the rail foot the head is too long to just sit on the foot and had to be held in a pin vice and filed a bit.
Spikes: The spikes I have are Micro Engineering small spikes. I would try their micro spikes but they are out of stock. They need to be shortened because they need to remain within the tie and 2mm MDF base boundary or the turnout would be nailed to the building board. I can see why it is not unusual for modellers in the USA to only spike 1 in 3 ties as it takes ages.
I have a plan B: Narrow Gauge and Industrial magazine had and article on making your own out of staples and in chatting to Roy Link about them he made me some samples. These would be ideal but at the moment I am reluctant to use them for two reasons: –
- We used to exchange items often but these were the last things he sent me before he passed away and
- There aren’t enough of them
It might be some sort of tribute/memorial to use them but it would be a better one to replicate the production method and do the whole layout with them.
Well that’s the first turnout done and despite its intended location is behind the shed out of direct sight I am not sure I am going to use it. I learnt a lot making this one and it took way to log but the lessons learned mean the next one will be both quicker and avoid the mistakes.
Addendum – Cock Up Alert
Not the clearest photograph but a last minute check round the turnout revealed it was out of gauge at the stub end.
Not by much, the proverbial gnats wotsit, but enough. Its also one of those things you can’t un-see.
The gauge is one I 3D printed for myself as the commercial ones I have didn’t fit between the switch rails
The printed frets for the stub end plates come like this and there is no logical reason to print them that far apart (vertically in this view) unless it is to represent tie rods holding them to gauge.
Turns out its a reasonable approximation but out by the Gnats wotsit. A look at the real thing, like I should have done sooner, reveals no tie bars here. For the future they’ll prove to be an aide during construction to stop bits flapping about but to be removed at the point of gluing them down.
Pulled the pins out. Slid a blade under the left hand plate and cut the glue under the plate and back past the previous tie. Set it in place with my gauge and squirted under the tie plate with some slow setting superglue. Once happy it was pressed down and in place a squirt of cyanoacrylate accelerator set it solid.
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