08 June 2010

How I built my #8 turnouts using Fast-Track tools

I just wanted to share how I managed to build #8 turnouts using tools and jigs I bought from Fast-Track. Actually, it's nothing new at all neither any advanced techniques. However, I thought someone might be interested to see how I built those turnouts saving some money and -hopefully- having some fun.

First of all, many of what I'm going to show is either borrowed or adapted from the great documentation, instructions and videos Fast-Track made available on the web. So, I strongly suggest anyone interested in having a look at them.

Second, the idea of building turnouts using templates printed on papers is not new at all. Many have done this before as Joe Fugate for his Siskiyou Line Forum or Evert's thebige61 YouTube video channel, to name a few.

So, it looks like there's no reason to write this post neither to read it. Anyway... I did it.

Let's start. I begun printing a #8 turnout template using the PDF file available on the Fast-Track site, then I cut the left-hand one and taped on a piece of cardboard.
Then, I took some PCB ties and cut them to length and gapped according to the template. Each tie is then glued onto the template with a very small bead of glue.
This step, actually, could be avoided but I found it much more easier to work with a turnout that is fixed on the template rather then align ties and all the rest each time something moves away from its correct position.
That's a picture after these steps

Then, I used the QuickStick ties as a reference to cut to length a piece of rail. This is going to be the first stock rail, the straight one. Now, I placed the rail in the exact final position and marked the part that needs to be filed away in order to give place to the point rail to come close to the stock rail.

I put the rail in the StockRail filing tool and filed it.

Now, I placed the stock rail again on the ties and using the filing jigs to keep it in the right position I soldered the ties.

Pay attention not to put solder where the points need to move or the guard rails needs to be soldered, just solder on the outside of the rail.
This is what I ended up with.

Now it was the time for the diverging stock rail. Again I cut it to length, marked the part to be filed and used the filing jig as I did before.

At this time having one of the Fast-Track jigs makes the difference. In fact, from now on each rail we're going to put down needs to be in gauge with the others. So, I had to use a MicroEngineering code55 gauge to keep the second stock rail at the correct distance from the first one while soldering it to the first tie.

As you can see I started on the throwbar side of the turnout and then soldered all the other ties aligning the stock rail to the template.
That's the turnout with the two stock rails soldered.

Using another piece of rail I made the first point rail. I put it in the #8 frog-point filing tool and made the first point, the curved one in this case.
Building all these turnouts I found useful to file a bit more of the base of the rail then what you get with the filing tool. In fact, for small angle turnouts (I think #8s and above) it helps to have a little more clearance between the stock and the point rails and this can be easily obtained filing the base of the point rail further down the wing side.
Then, I put the point in the exact position and marked the point where it has to be bent and where the wing rail end. I cut it to length and filed the wing rail as per the Fast-Track instructions.
That's the point rails ready to be soldered in place.

Here you can see a detail on the wing rail and the notch used to exactly bent the rail.

I soldered the point in place keeping it at the right distance from the stock rail using the ME gauge.

I did exactly the same for the other point rail and that's the result.

At this point I build the frog using the frog-point filing tool again and then the frog helper tool I bought to solder the two frog rail at the exact angle. Since I have the #6 turnout building jig I decided to get the #8, #10 and #12 frog helper. If I ever wanted to build larger number turnouts I already have the frog tool. I don't think I'll never build smaller turnouts than #6.

And now comes the difficult part. It's time to solder the frog rails and to make sure each rail is in gauge and the frog point was close enough to the wing rails to have a smooth transition of truck wheels. Oops, I forgot to mention that I used a MicroTrain truck with low profile metal wheels to check every step of the building process. I think is very handy to test how the truck goes through the points and frog area before having soldered all ties and rails.
With a little patience that's the outcome.

Note that at this point I hadn't soldered the wing rails yet. Once everything is in place and you're sure wheels go through the turnout flawlessly you can solder the wing rails. It's a little bit easier to make small adjustments with the wing rails still unsoldered if that's the case.

I was almost done at this point. I cut to length the two guard rails using the template as a reference, bent them and filed. Finally I soldered them in place.

I took the turnout away from the paper template and was the time for the last step: the throwbar. Thanks to a tip I read somewhere -I think it was from Enzo's blog "The Valley before Silicon" or forum, I don't remember- I bought HOn3 1/32" thick PCB ties to be used as throwbar instead of the regular N scale ones. HOn3 are wider and it's much easier to drill a hole for the actuating wire with respect to the narrower N scale PCB ties.
I filed the two sides of the throwbar to be sure it would fit freely inside the wooden protecting ties, marked where to cut the gaps in the copper cladding and drilled a hole with a #60 bit.
Then, I used the QuickStick laser ties to keep the turnout, the throwbar and the ties in the correct position and soldered the two point rails to the throwbar. I used a piece of tie to keep the points away from the stock rails while soldering.

That's the final result.

I cut the gaps in order to isolate the frog area as explained in the Fast-Track instruction.

I finally tested that no shorts were present between rails, frog and point and I was done.

Clearly, it took a little longer and it was a little harder than using the turnouth building jig. Though, I hadn't to build a lot of turnouts and in the end I found it relaxing to hand build turnouts.

See you soon...

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