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You guys are awesome and with your help and input I am getting a bit of grasp on some of this.
Here is where I am at. I have decided to go with:
Brass 332 flex track as a base to get the ball rolling.
Track power
Simple DC for now (one day DCC or DCS)
Keep my curves to at least 10’ in diameter if at all possible.
Now that I have some of that sorted out, I am hoping you all will be gracious enough share with me your knowledge of switches/turnouts/ track spacing and so on.

Right now I am a bit confused on the switches vs. turn out thing. Is there a difference between the two or is it simply terminology?:confused:

Regarding switches/turnouts, I have seen them referred to by numbers (#4, #6, and even something like Large #6, etc..). I am sure they each have their uses, but can you please explain the difference and where one may be preferable over another? I would one day like to have a switching yard. Would the switches be smaller there then on say a main line?

Lastly â€" Main line spacing. I want to run a double main line in certain portions of my layout. Can you tell me approx how far apart the average spacing is and is that determined by the switch/turnout?

As always your wisdom and opinions are most valued.

Happy Railroading,

Todd
 

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"Switches" are what they are called by "railroads".
"Turnouts" are what they are called by "toy train players".

So... if you are planning a backyard toy train, then it is okay to call them turnouts.

If you are planning a backyard railroad, then the elite cognocenti call them switches, just like the 1:1 folk do.
 

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Alas.. a switch by any other name would derail just as badly... on my RR anyway..

Call 'em switches..

Since your planning on 10' dia curves anyway, save yourself some headaches and invest in Aristo Wide switches or Aristo #6 .

I bought a bunch of "std" radius switches (4' dia I believe) , a mix of Aristo & LGB, and I'm gonna have to spend the same money all over again and repace all of them.. fortunately I only have 5.

Glad to hear that progress is a brewing in your neck of the woods..

Just ask any of the folks on here.. I plotted and planned for a year and then some, building and rebuilding my line in my head and on paper over and over. Once I started actual construction, I had the entier line operational in two and a half months and with very few unforseen issues. There were a few "bumps", but no nightmare scenarios.

Lesson.. take your time, plan and plan again, ask a lot of questions and weigh all the answers, THEN build your empire..

Most important...

HAVE FUN !!!!!!
 

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It was my understanding that in the UK the proper terminology was "turnouts". So, if that's the case, it's not just a case of being a rivet counter or a toy train player.

--
craig
 

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Posted By Dave F on 09/04/2008 3:49 PM
Alas.. a switch by any other name would derail just as badly... on my RR anyway..
Call 'em switches..
Since your planning on 10' dia curves anyway, save yourself some headaches and invest in Aristo Wide switches or Aristo #6 .
I bought a bunch of "std" radius switches (4' dia I believe) , a mix of Aristo & LGB, and I'm gonna have to spend the same money all over again and repace all of them.. fortunately I only have 5.
Glad to hear that progress is a brewing in your neck of the woods..
Just ask any of the folks on here.. I plotted and planned for a year and then some, building and rebuilding my line in my head and on paper over and over. Once I started actual construction, I had the entier line operational in two and a half months and with very few unforseen issues. There were a few "bumps", but no nightmare scenarios.
Lesson.. take your time, plan and plan again, ask a lot of questions and weigh all the answers, THEN build your empire..
Most important...
HAVE FUN !!!!!!




Switches it is! And #6 Aristo Wide Switches at that /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/satisfied.gif

Yea, I have a grand idea in my head for the layout… but the more I am on here the more I want to do and the larger the layout gets :eek:)
Of course that will all come with time.

My next big decision is roadbed.
I was leaning toward the whole dig up the grass, level the dirt, put down some rolled roofing to prevent weeds and going from there… but this ladder thing seems like it might be a better way to go? Since I want the railway raised some it seems like it would be a lot easier to level and then back fill over and around the track then to try and dig up grass and roots and dig up dirt.
 

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In UK, they're called "Points."
 

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Posted By Semper Vaporo on 09/04/2008 11:33 AM
"Switches" are what they are called by "railroads".
"Turnouts" are what they are called by "toy train players".
So... if you are planning a backyard toy train, then it is okay to call them turnouts.

If you are planning a backyard railroad, then the elite cognocenti call them switches, just like the 1:1 folk do.




On NS at least, we use both terms! A switch is the track element that we're all familar with. We use "turnout" when we're talking about a powered, signaled main line switch, like when going from single to double track, or into a signalled siding. I've heard turnouts called switches, but never switches called turnouts.

Confused yet? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif I think that, technically, "switch" should refer only to the movable portion, while "turnout" should refer to the entire switch & frog assembly.

But we all just call 'em switches!
 

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Posted By DKRickman on 09/04/2008 5:08 PM
Posted By Semper Vaporo on 09/04/2008 11:33 AM
"Switches" are what they are called by "railroads".
"Turnouts" are what they are called by "toy train players".
So... if you are planning a backyard toy train, then it is okay to call them turnouts.
If you are planning a backyard railroad, then the elite cognocenti call them switches, just like the 1:1 folk do.

On NS at least, we use both terms! A switch is the track element that we're all familar with. We use "turnout" when we're talking about a powered, signaled main line switch, like when going from single to double track, or into a signalled siding. I've heard turnouts called switches, but never switches called turnouts.
Confused yet? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue.gif" border=0> I think that, technically, "switch" should refer only to the movable portion, while "turnout" should refer to the entire switch & frog assembly.
But we all just call 'em switches!




That is the first I have ever heard of a real railroader refering to a switch (of any type) as being a "turnout". The real railroaders I know look with distain upon anyone that talks to them and says "Turnout". They say that when they meet folk and they say "turnout" they know the person plays with toy trains under the Christmas tree and knows nothing of Railroading.
 

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My understanding of the switch/turnout thing is that years ago
when small scale model railroading (HO) was gaining in popularity
and people were wiring all kinds of electrical things on their layouts
and using switches to turn things on and off the terminology became confusing
as to what switchm was being talked about, track or electrical.

Model Railroader magazine and I think Linn Westcott led the movement to change
the track switch name to TURNOUT and leave the electrical ones to be called switches
thus ending the confusion in discussions.

I think you will find most old model railroaders still call them
(track switches) turnouts.

Later
Rick Marty
 
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Yeh, last Pink Floyd concert that I attended had a turnout of 85,000 fans..

did they have a "turn in" before?
for me, being not a born english speaker, the naming of these mostly "V" or "W"-shaped things, that make trains change their direction, is a bit confusing.
seemingly it turns out, that a switch has to be switched by a switch that the train may turn out.
an important point is, to place the point at the right point, that the trains switch direction at the desired point, when these are switched.
luckyly most switches are constructed in a way, that the switch may be fastened on either side of the switch. meaning, that the point is, that the point can be installed at places, where there is no room at the normal point, where the switch of the switch would normally be situated.
but at least everybody seems to agree, that the flanges should not kiss the frog.
i hope, you all got my point about switches.....

turning out, korm
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That is hilarious…/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif No wonder I am confused more often then not.
Thank you all for your input… this is now clear as mud.

When talking to a person who has a toy layout (“HO” and below), I will call them “turnouts”..
For larger scale (toys) and any 1:1 real railroaders I talk to, I will call them switches..
Of anyone across the pond… they will affectionately be called “points, that switch the train onto the turn out”…ha-ha

And from now I will preface my conversations with “so, what scale trains do you run and where ya from”… there by allowing me to intelligently discuss how to direct a train from one track to another witout sounding slightly less then briliant.

Thank you again for the lighthearted input…

TGIF!

Todd
 

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As with anything there usually is a good reason for doing what we do. "Turnouts" refer to the entire thing while "switch, points, frog, etc... refers to the individual parts of a turnout! Now, the generic term for a turnout is "switch" (which I have no problem with) and most people refer to turnouts as "switches" including most railroaders. Does this mean that people who use the correct terminology are just "guys running their toy trains trying to impress people with their knowledge?" Not necessarily. One could have made the observation, "Most 1:1 railroaders that I have met use the term "switch" rather than turnout." If it was your intention to be condescending to model railroaders using accurate if not "correct" terminology then you have succeeded. Personally, I like "switch" as everyone knows what we mean when we say it! It's probably going to be easier to get my son to do what I want if I tell him to "Throw the switch!!!" rather than "Change the points on the turnout!!" ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Posted By Steve Stockham on 09/05/2008 10:53 AM
As with anything there usually is a good reason for doing what we do. "Turnouts" refer to the entire thing while "switch, points, frog, etc... refers to the individual parts of a turnout! Now, the generic term for a turnout is "switch" (which I have no problem with) and most people refer to turnouts as "switches" including most railroaders. Does this mean that people who use the correct terminology are just "guys running their toy trains trying to impress people with their knowledge?" Not necessarily. One could have made the observation, "Most 1:1 railroaders that I have met use the term "switch" rather than turnout." If it was your intention to be condescending to model railroaders using accurate if not "correct" terminology then you have succeeded. Personally, I like "switch" as everyone knows what we mean when we say it! It's probably going to be easier to get my son to do what I want if I tell him to "Throw the switch!!!" rather than "Change the points on the turnout!!" ;)" border=0>




/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif
That condescending part seemed a bit harsh?
If you or anyone else was offended by my response I apologize. As someone building a “model� railroad in my backyard I too would be lumped into the category you say I was "condescending" toward.

That being said my intent was not be condescending in the least.
After reading through all of the responses and seeing the “Pink Floyd� comment and the unique and clever way that korm responded making his point about the terms, I simply wanted to lightheartedly express my appreciation for the individuals who took the time to humorously point out that the English language can be both difficult and contradictory.
Add to that, that there are different model scales and different countries that use different railroad terminology and this whole thing can be a bit confusing for not only a newbie but anyone.

I was not looking to offend anyone nor start a debate. I was simply wondering if there was a physical difference between a “switch� and “turn out�.
I think several of the post indicate that while they are most commonly called switches on this forum, they can be called many things… and that as long as I get my point across (pardon the pun) it is not that big of a deal what I call them.

Again â€" to all those who have posted and specifically to you I offer a heartfelt apology if my humor was taken as “condescendingâ€�.

Todd
 

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When I hired out on a railroad as a towerman/telegrapher/relief station agent in late 1949, I never heard of turnouts. We controlled the route of trains using armstrong or pistol grip levers that aligned the switches.

First I heard of turnouts was in the Model Railroader when it began using 'turnouts' for track work and 'switches' for electrical work to avoid confusion in describing circuitry that controlled track movements.

Of course this was in the middle of Illinois and other areas of the country could have different jargon.

Art
 

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Todd,
My observation wasn't directed at you. Perhaps I was a tad bit "thin skinned" but I feel that information can be imparted in a more "friendly" manner. As a matter of course, we are all toy train operators! Even the gentlemen running live steam scale models are operating "toys!" Nothing wrong with that! ;) It just seemed to me that it could have been conveyed without the negative connotation. That's all I was getting at.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you for clarifying.
The last thing I want is someone thinking I am being condescending.
I thoroughly enjoy asking questions and not only getting answers but hearing all the different information that some impart.
I am learning that some people take this very seriously and others take more of an easy going approach... I prefer the easy going approach but some of the more serious members have some great input (it they write it in terms I can understand :eek:))
Thank you gain for your input and have a great weekend.

Todd
 

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Posted By Idraw4u on 09/05/2008 12:12 PM
Posted By Steve Stockham on 09/05/2008 10:53 AM
As with anything there usually is a good reason for doing what we do. "Turnouts" refer to the entire thing while "switch, points, frog, etc... refers to the individual parts of a turnout! Now, the generic term for a turnout is "switch" (which I have no problem with) and most people refer to turnouts as "switches" including most railroaders. Does this mean that people who use the correct terminology are just "guys running their toy trains trying to impress people with their knowledge?" Not necessarily. One could have made the observation, "Most 1:1 railroaders that I have met use the term "switch" rather than turnout." If it was your intention to be condescending to model railroaders using accurate if not "correct" terminology then you have succeeded. Personally, I like "switch" as everyone knows what we mean when we say it! It's probably going to be easier to get my son to do what I want if I tell him to "Throw the switch!!!" rather than "Change the points on the turnout!!" ;)" border=0>" border=0>

/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif" border=0>WOW…Steve,/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/ermm.gif" border=0>
That condescending part seemed a bit harsh?
If you or anyone else was offended by my response I apologize. As someone building a “model� railroad in my backyard I too would be lumped into the category you say I was "condescending" toward.
That being said my intent was not be condescending in the least.
After reading through all of the responses and seeing the “Pink Floyd� comment and the unique and clever way that korm responded making his point about the terms, I simply wanted to lightheartedly express my appreciation for the individuals who took the time to humorously point out that the English language can be both difficult and contradictory.
Add to that, that there are different model scales and different countries that use different railroad terminology and this whole thing can be a bit confusing for not only a newbie but anyone.
I was not looking to offend anyone nor start a debate. I was simply wondering if there was a physical difference between a “switch� and “turn out�.
I think several of the post indicate that while they are most commonly called switches on this forum, they can be called many things… and that as long as I get my point across (pardon the pun) it is not that big of a deal what I call them.
Again â€" to all those who have posted and specifically to you I offer a heartfelt apology if my humor was taken as “condescendingâ€�.
Todd





Hee hee... Idraw4U: I thought he was talking about me. And I WAS intending to be condescending (in a way)!

I was condescending to people like ME that play with toy trains in the backyard.

*AND*

People like ME that try to use "accurate" and "correct" terms when referring to the piece parts of toy trains when playing RAILROADER in the backyard.

But like I said... the REAL railroaders that I know find calling a "switch" a "turnout" to be the sign of someone that knows nothing about railroading yet generally "thinks" that they do. I have seen, more than once, a real railroader "roll his eyes" when confronted with a 'toy trainer' that mentions "turnouts". I have seen them turn and walk away without so much as a "by yer leave"!!!

I know just enough about railroading to know that I know nothing about railroading and that many, if not most, of those of those that play with trains in the backyard (or basement, or around the Christmas tree) know a bit less than I do, but don't know that they don't know it.

What was that quote not long ago that created such a fervor in the news media... (I'll use single quotes to signify that I am not sure if I am accurate or correct about the wording):

'There are things we know we know, things that we know we don't know, things that we don't know we know and things we don't know we don't know.'

Seems to me that fits in all situations and disciplines, but most especially in military intellegence and toy trains.
 
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