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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
my track plan calls for 6 right hand turnouts with a radius for curve of about 3 ft (6ft diameter) but turnouts with that geometry are hard to come by so i decided i am going to make my own with aluminum bar but im not sure how to go about it can somebody give me some pointers
 

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On all my scratch built turnouts, I have used nickel silver rail, so that I can easily solder it especially for things like the nose.
With aluminum bar, not too sure how you would go about it.
Cheers,
David Leech, Canada
 

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Accucraft Ruby, Accucraft 1:20.3
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Came across this thread just as I was about to post my own.

I'm about to take on my own scratch build switches. Fn3 #10 switches in 332 don't exist on a shelf. The switch builder at llagas Creek contacted me about doing them custom, the price he offered wasn't too far off from what they or sunset valley charge for normal inventory.

I'm still considering hiring it out if it becomes overwhelming, but part of the fun I get from the hobby is the challenge.

I've done some looking into these past threads
Hand laid turnouts
Scratch built turn outs
Greg's page about building turnouts
One way to build a switch

The first link gave me the program templot that will print your 1:1 template for any switch you dream up. The last link gives you the instructions, just substitute in your template from templot.

I was going to ask if anyone had jigs to lend, or advice on sources of ties, spikes, ...
 

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I was going to ask if anyone had jigs to lend, or advice on sources of ties, spikes, ...
The only jig I used 20 years ago was a short piece of a yardstick. I cut slots for the rails, which was easy as it was already marked in inches!

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I was making dual gauge turnouts, so there are more slots than you'd expect.

Most of my spikes came from MicroEngineering, as did tie plates when I used them. A small cordless Dremel was useful for starting holes for the spikes, which were inserted with thin pliers from Micromark.

But you found most of the useful threads, several of which have links to other threads. I can only suggest you read them all carefully before you start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Came across this thread just as I was about to post my own.

I'm about to take on my own scratch build switches. Fn3 #10 switches in 332 don't exist on a shelf. The switch builder at llagas Creek contacted me about doing them custom, the price he offered wasn't too far off from what they or sunset valley charge for normal inventory.

I'm still considering hiring it out if it becomes overwhelming, but part of the fun I get from the hobby is the challenge.

I've done some looking into these past threads
Hand laid turnouts
Scratch built turn outs
Greg's page about building turnouts
One way to build a switch

The first link gave me the program templot that will print your 1:1 template for any switch you dream up. The last link gives you the instructions, just substitute in your template from templot.

I was going to ask if anyone had jigs to lend, or advice on sources of ties, spikes, ...
i already tried that and i found my computer could not run templot at all (a very common problem for me i havent been able to run most programs that aren't browser based)
 

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Accucraft Ruby, Accucraft 1:20.3
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Are you looking for a straight mainline with a 3 foot radius turn out to the right? I could take a stab at it and give you a pdf. Im not sure if it will do constant curve branches, but I'll poke around. It will be good practice. One question, what scale are you looking for?
 

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my track plan calls for 6 right hand turnouts with a radius for curve of about 3 ft (6ft diameter) but turnouts with that geometry are hard to come by so i decided i am going to make my own with aluminum bar but im not sure how to go about it can somebody give me some pointers
Hi, this is Pete with Sunset Valley Railroad. We make #4 switches in Stainless steel, these have a radius of 40 inch, close to the 36 inch you are looking for. Check the website sunsetvalleyrailroad.com and you can see what they look like and if they may be suitable for you.
 

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GarrattGuy,
I attached, or am attempting to attach, a pdf of a switch with a 36inch radius diverging curve. Its in 1:32, Im still working on setting up the custom scale profile for Fn3 if that is what you're looking to model. all it would change is the Tie Spacing.

Tyler
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I was making dual gauge turnouts, so there are more slots than you'd expect.

Most of my spikes came from MicroEngineering, as did tie plates when I used them. A small cordless Dremel was useful for starting holes for the spikes, which were inserted with thin pliers from Micromark.

But you found most of the useful threads, several of which have links to other threads. I can only suggest you read them all carefully before you start.
GarrattGuy,
I attached, or am attempting to attach, a pdf of a switch with a 36inch radius diverging curve. Its in 1:32, Im still working on setting up the custom scale profile for Fn3 if that is what you're looking to model. all it would change is the Tie Spacing.

Tyler
im more concerned about getting the rails to be in the correct places rather than the tie spacing
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ah well i am very much an idiot the solution to my problem was sitting right in front of me and i didnt it thanks for your help as usual
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
GarrattGuy,
I attached, or am attempting to attach, a pdf of a switch with a 36inch radius diverging curve. Its in 1:32, Im still working on setting up the custom scale profile for Fn3 if that is what you're looking to model. all it would change is the Tie Spacing.

Tyler
is it 1:1 so i can just print it and use it or does i have to something to it
 

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is it 1:1 so i can just print it and use it or does i have to something to it
It should print 1:1, my trials did. I would just measure the inside gauge after printing.
 

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Hi there: I have considerable experience making turnouts starting in HOscale when I was 12 years old and moving on to gauge one later and applying the same recipe I had learned in HO from articles in the Model Railroader magazine in the sixties (In those days HOn3 modelers didn't have any ready made points in the market). Presently I have over 20 turnouts on my layout that are handmade and one crossing.
My technique is to start making a drawing of the switch including tie placement.
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Then start by one of the stock rails, preferably the straight one (if you are going to make turouts on a curve it is better to have had some experience with a straight switch before hand). Then make up the frog angle starting from the tail end of the switch. It is fairly easy to follow your drawing here and get your angle right. You file your short rails where the crossing is (I later learned some refinements in the G1MRA newsletter written by the late Stewar Hines in the late '70 or early '80s) it is good to slightly bend the end of the rail beforee filing the end so that the web of the rail is directly under the nose making for a sturdier nose. Also do note that in the frog erea say for about 4 to 6 inches the curved side should be straight, this gives the tapered wheels a chance to center and therefore not need the guard rails) you must also file a bit of the rail base so that it stays a constant width. Because you are also filing the rail head into a point for the last inch or inch and a half from the point. This of course leads me to the choice of rail which with my method is automaticaly: brass or nickel silver (or steel for indoors) , because once machined and formed (the curved end of the frog) it all is soldered together.
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Once soldered you can place the curved stock rail as in the photo.
I use Oak ties and therefore have a very particular way of fixing the rail to the ties: IE I drill the base of the rail and insert a brass pin through into the tie. As these come loose much like spikes on real track, I have developed an improved technique which consists in making four holes in the tie and making copper U shaped clips that are inserted into the tie from underneath then bent over the base of the rail on each side with plyers, this every 5 to 7 ties to absolutely hold together the critical geometry of the switch even when it has most of its "spikes " (pins) are out somewhat. This makes for points that have stood in a humid Parisian climate for over forty years with very few tie replacements (Once creosoted). If you are using spikes and say redwood for ties it is much easier you just spike on each side of the rail. However beware that the spikes will rust out doors and that the wood does get soft after some years.

The next step is to bend the frog wings of the closure rails making a small bend to the outside of the end of the rail so that wheels entering the frog from the tail end can enter and not climb over the rail. There is another slight angle about a couple of inches in the wing so that through the crossing the wing rail and the frog point we have just made are absolutly parrallel, this little improvement will gently force the wheel flange into the frog. Be carful to have enough space where the two closure rails nearly meet and where you must make a fairly sharp bend. Then spike your closure rails to the point where your railjoint with the switch points will start. It is also essential that you check for alignement between your closure rails and the frog point we made in the first part. Do not forget that this portion of your turnout is straight and should not be part of the radius of the turnout.
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A considerable improvement in my pointwork has consisted of fitting a brass plate underneath the frog and soldering the whole assembly, this keeps the geometry correct at all times and also insures good electrical continuity in my live frogs when working electric with track power.
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Pease not that the flaring out refered to above as a slight bend in those wings of the frog is not apparent on that photo but is on the following one (Which also has the brass plate filed to its definitive shape following SNCF practice:
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This little detail really helps the fange guide the wheelsets into the frog coming from the tail end. Do not forget to file the tie where that plate will be not to create a bump. Ditto for where the rail joint with the two switch point blades.

Next on the bill is making the switch point blades, and here one of my little secrets is revealed as this job would amount to a considerable filing job. Thanks god, when I made my first turnouts I showed them to a big Paris Hobby shop who asked me if I would like to make some commercialy which I did for a very short time in the late seventies as I was between jobs then. One Spanish customer asked me to make turnouts in LGB size rail, which of course was a real pain in the B... with a file especially since I had four or 6 to do. That is when I experimented with a grinder. The idea is to do the main forming of the blade with the grinder and finnish with a file, Now that I have gotten the hang of it I almost do not need to file them for finnish!
Now about those blades one must know quite a bit: First as Stewart correctly pointed out on real turnouts the point is milled with a planer in such a way that a good part of the web remains (as much as possible for strength) and actualy is formed to mate with the stock rails web (inside of it) which not only makes that fragile part of the point stronger but also keeps them level with the stock rail, an important detail. This I have found nearly impossible to do correctly as it would entail filing longitudinaly the rail head and base for ages. (Unless it is milled or someone has a planer). This leads me to another important aspect of this, its the problem of holding the wing rail in the vice while you mill it to shape (in particular during the work done with the grinder). It is a very tricky part of the job with the blade often poping out of the vice jaws, but dont despair persevere and you will get it. Then to make that blade really come up to the stock rail I usualy file a small bevel on the underside of the point rail towards the outside this helps overide any part of the stock rail's base (Don't overdo this otherwise when you drill the hole for the pointrod it may prove too fragile). The next tricky operation is to file the rail head into a point just over the rails web for about a two inch long taper. The resulting point blade should be less than a milimeter in width and you may make a small angle bevel on the inside so that flanges dont ride over it.
It is important to know that theoretically you should not file the stock rail where the switch point blade comes into contact with it. All I do is to file the rail base on the inside of the turnout there insuring a good mating which is essential for preventing derailments.
I then drill two 1,5 mm holes diagonaly about less than a cetimeter from the switch point blade ends from the inside angle between the web and the base though to the underside of the rail and fit a 1,5mm rod which is bent over one end to go into that switch rail's end hole and then back to the other switch rails end and bend it into that hole then backward to the switch throw. where I make a Z bend for spome springing, essential for electric operation. This means that my points are live with live frogs and I use insulated rail joints at the two inside rails coming out of the tail end of the point with jumper wires to create electrical continuity.
Those running on track power should know that it is important to allow much greater width between the open switch point blade and the coresponding stock rail, to prevent the back side of your wheels touching both and creating a short. I usualy allow about 7 or 8mm between the two. Because of this I have found that using Sunset Limited throws are essential due to their permiting some adjustment to that throw and also because of their locking feature good in electric. I hear that the owner would be retiring, it would be good if someone took up that production...
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Not to be forgotten are the two guard rails along the frog these should have the same bends made as on frog part of the closure rails that is a big bend near the end and a much more progressive one about an inch or two from the end on both sides of both guard rails. Here it is essential that when placing and spiking these guard rails you respect the back to back distance of a bit over 40 mm otherwise you wheels will climb out.
That about rounds up the work on making turnouts that are reliable and long lasting. in the photos I show some N° 10 points but i usually use n° 8 ones except in yards and engine terminals where i can go under that size. These N° ten points are supposed to represent what the prototype situation would have used N° 20 switches for medium speed operation. Lets every one understand that crossovers for reliable operation with buffers and hook couplings on continental stock require N° 8 points or 4 meter 50 radius. Some of my turnouts where set in the middle lof a curve and yet work reliably. The three on the outer track to the left have about 38 years service behind them and were converted from left hand to right hand for reuse on my new track after having been salvaged from my older layout. Some alignement on the wye had to be done when that photo was made as well as the link to the steaming bay still not laid down then. One of the advantage of building your own is this conversion from left hand to right hand!
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Cheers and try it you will like it!
du-bousquetaire
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It should print 1:1, my trials did. I would just measure the inside gauge after printing.
thanks i just need to get that old printer working and then i can make some turnouts for much cheaper than buying from piko and hopefully i can 3d print frogs since im planning on running battery power
 

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The plastic won't wear well from the wheels and flanges of your locos and cars, and you have tight curves as I remember.

Print the tie base, and slide metal rails into it. Make the frog separately, as the point of the frog will take the brunt of the wear...
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The plastic won't wear well from the wheels and flanges of your locos and cars, and you have tight curves as I remember.

Print the tie base, and slide metal rails into it. Make the frog separately, as the point of the frog will take the brunt of the wear...
ive got plenty of wear restistant plastics i can use if necessary i might be able to modify my 3d printer to print with nylon but i think PETG or ABS will be better
 

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Others have been there and done that, you are not the first to state wear resistant, and you absolutely free to learn the hard way. I will be there to say "I told you so".... If a metal frog can wear, plastic will have less life, and you are not building #10 turnouts I'm sure.

Greg
 
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