Freerails Home 
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register
Freerails > Model Railroad Forums > Technical > Hand Laid Switches - Tutorial

Freerails IS ACCEPTING new Members ... To join Freerails ... See how to Register as a Member in the 'Joining Freerails' Forum

Hand Laid Switches - Tutorial
 Moderated by: . Page:    1  2  3  Next Page Last Page  
New Topic Reply Printer Friendly
 Rating:  Rating
AuthorPost
 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 02:33 am
  PMQuoteReply
1st Post
Herb Kephart
Moderator


Joined: Thu Jul 19th, 2007
Location: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 6017
Status: 
Offline

There are a number of reasons to hand lay switches as opposed to buying them ready made. With the later, you are stuck with the geometric layout of a #4 or a #6 switch when what is needed is a #5 or a #5 1/2. It very difficult to get smooth flowing track work like the prototype under these conditions. For years I built and ran O scale trolley cars, and the track in that case isn't what you would call flowing, but rather switches built on a 9” or 12” radius, both of which are common in the prototype, along with overlapping switches and crossing/ switch combinations. Incidentally, while the term “turnout” prevents confusion with the thing that turns the light on, I have never heard anyone who made their living on a railroad or trolley system use the term, at least in this part of the country.


There are jigs, which make switchbuilding easier, and are highly regarded by those that use them, but the above constraints apply- plus, I believe that a different jig is required for each “number” switch.

And what if you need a switch like the one below, salvaged from on of my old layouts.





So the following is the way that I have made switches for years- the method came from an article in Model Craftsman, written by Bill Schopp, I believe in the very early '50's. It isn't the only way, and might not even be the best way for someone else, but it has worked for me. Recently I was asked by a good friend to build a dual gauge HO scale switch, for a spot on his layout where a commercial switch just didn't fit..I decided to take photos of the process, and I hope that they will prove useful, along with a description.


One thing to be VERY careful of, with dual gauge, is which side the common rail (the rail that both gauges use) is on- it seems to make a difference I have been told!!


I started out with a tracing of the curve that the switch will be installed in. Although it might not be evident from the photo, this had a changing radii, right where the switch wanted to be- called a compound curve. I am a firm believer in prebending the curved rail in switch work and crossings. This switch, being code 70 rail, I just formed the curve with my fingers, even though I have a homemade rail bender.






Now one important point about this system is to lay all the curved rail first. I spiked it down to a piece of Homasote, and laid the two other rails to gauge





Another thing that I like to do is to put a piece of .010”shim brass under the frog and guardrails. This is thin enough to spike through, but adds a lot of strength to the frog and to the guardrails after soldering. Normally, at this point I would cut a piece the shape of the frog and slip it under the curved rail at the point that the frog will be located, but in this case, because of the complexity I put a large piece under the whole midsection. Also at this time, the straight stock rail was spiked down





Now, straight pieces of rail are cut on an angle, to fit against the curved pieces. Because the base of the rail is wider than the head, more of the base has to be filed off than the head.I took two shots of this,and neither one shows what I'm talking about clearly, but if you take two pieces of scrap rail and try to fit them together you will soon see what is needed







Now the reason for putting the curved rail down first becomes evident. It is far easier to line up two straight pieces on either side of a curved section than the other way around. The picture below shows what is not recommended for a dual gauge switch- what is wrong with this picture? More importantly, what is wrong with the imbecile that did this?





That F****p fixed, and the frog wing rails are installed- note that at this point there are no flangeways in the frogs.





Now, take a fine toothed hacksaw blade and using the straight rails on either side of the frog as a guide, saw the flangeways. With this small rail, I had to take the width of the blade down in thickness with an oil stone, so as to not cut the flangeways too wide. Check the width with a track gauge. With wider flangeways in larger gage  I sometimes do some touch up with a thin file





Another important point is to do the frog area first, and then move the outside rails to correct gauge. At this point I slip another narrow strip of shim under the area where the guard rails will be located





Adjust the outside rails to gauge, file and fit the points. Double check all the gauge points, flangeways, and wing to guardrails distances. Because this switch is not being built in position on the layout, brass strips (.015”-.020”) are soldered across the tops of the rails in key locations to hold all the gauge dimensions until the final spiking to the layout





The switch was unspiked from the Homasote, and the bottom shimstock was removed from visible areas between the rails. After final spiking down in position, I like to take a large fine flat file and go over the top surface of the rails, to remove any small local high spots





Oh and by the way- the object in the right side of the second picture will be used if anyone else wants me to make one- You have been warned!




Herb:old dude:





















.


Last edited on Wed Mar 10th, 2010 01:02 am by Herb Kephart



____________________
Fix it again, Mr Gates--it still works!"
Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 04:01 am
  PMQuoteReply
2nd Post
ytter_man
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status: 
Offline
That's very impressive, but i'm guessing since it has a brass underframe your switches would be used on overhead electric or RC equipment only?

A very solid construction method! :apl:

Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 02:41 pm
  PMQuoteReply
3rd Post
Herb Kephart
Moderator


Joined: Thu Jul 19th, 2007
Location: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 6017
Status: 
Offline
Jake-

Yes, for switches that I build for myself, that is true. The dual gage job is going to go on a standard 2 rail layout, so after spiking down in the final position the owner will cut appropriate insulating gaps with a Dremel.

The owner also is into R/C, but he has a number of locos that still run two rail.

Herb



____________________
Fix it again, Mr Gates--it still works!"
Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 06:08 pm
  PMQuoteReply
4th Post
W C Greene
Moderator


Joined: Fri May 4th, 2007
Location: Royse City, Texas USA
Posts: 8217
Status: 
Offline
Golly Gee Hosephat! Or as Spock would say to Capt Kirk-"most impressive"...Herbie, that is some stuff, but then you knew that. By the way, what is the pistola for? Is it some new kind of track gauge or does it help with spiking track?  I was gonna send a photo of my single point "kick switch" but after this......! I have built a couple of turnouts using your method of frog assembly and  ain't gonna  bend and grind frog parts any more...goodness, my font has changed...actually, I kind of like it. Back to the frogs, after cutting flangeways into mine, I found that I didn't really need wing rails or guard rails but added them just to satisfy the picker section. Using your frog method, I might be able to build John Allen's "Timesaver" switching layout, turnouts & all, in one afternoon! Hee Haw...           Woodie



____________________
It doesn't matter if you win or lose, its' how you rig the game.
Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 07:16 pm
  PMQuoteReply
5th Post
ytter_man
Guest
 

Joined: 
Location:  
Posts: 
Status: 
Offline
I've got an interest in kick switches, post em up plz? :bow::bow:

Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 08:57 pm
  PMQuoteReply
6th Post
W C Greene
Moderator


Joined: Fri May 4th, 2007
Location: Royse City, Texas USA
Posts: 8217
Status: 
Offline
OK Jake-here's a "kick switch" which is thrown by an ancient Lambert HO ground throw, not by a real 1:35 scale man's foot. The 15" (HOn3) track is code 55 and is part of the smelter tramway. The moving point is pinned to the tie and just throws back & forth.



I got so crazy doing this one, I will make another for the other end of the smelter tram.          Woodie



____________________
It doesn't matter if you win or lose, its' how you rig the game.
Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 10:37 pm
  PMQuoteReply
7th Post
Lucas Gargoloff
Registered


Joined: Fri Sep 5th, 2008
Location: La Plata, Buenos Aires Argentina
Posts: 723
Status: 
Offline
Hey Guys, you´re doing a nice work with those great switches!!! I´m interested in handlaing my own in a future, I have to find correct tools for it.

Cheers



____________________
Lucas Gargoloff - Argentina

See My Facebook Page at:
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/ScaleDreams
Back To Top

 Posted: Wed Mar 18th, 2009 11:25 pm
  PMQuoteReply
8th Post
Herb Kephart
Moderator


Joined: Thu Jul 19th, 2007
Location: Glen Mills, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 6017
Status: 
Offline
Holey Moley Boudreaux

I put too many parts in mine!!:bang:


Herbie



____________________
Fix it again, Mr Gates--it still works!"
Back To Top

 Posted: Thu Mar 19th, 2009 12:21 am
  PMQuoteReply
9th Post
steammodeler
Registered


Joined: Mon Jan 23rd, 2006
Location: Tampa, Florida USA
Posts: 107
Status: 
Offline
Herb,

It's great to see a master at work, and as shown in your 2nd pic; with absolute authority! I must admit to being a "turnout" cheater and use all the jigs and other gadgets available for the task. Having built several dual gauge turnouts at this point I have begun to push the jig envelope into making other turnouts not routine with the jigs as you mentioned in your beginning. I noticed that you also have made use of hinged points in this example. Because my dual gauge jigs are #6 I have not had to do this as of yet but I have a few curved dual gauge units that I am toying with that will need hinged points due to the curve and shorter rail lengths. Another point that you made is that you cut the flangeways last. I did this on my last turnout with much better results as it is a very fine line for the narrow gauge wheels to roll thru or be dragged thru the flangeways. This is not so evident with the standard gauge wheel sets but the narrow gauge wheels will snag, drag and screw up everytime if it isn't right.

Excellent guidance for the task!

Woody, You make it look so easy with your "kick switch"!

James 

 



____________________
James

Hurricane Pass Mining & Timber R.R. Co.
Back To Top

 Posted: Fri Mar 20th, 2009 12:34 am
  PMQuoteReply
10th Post
Bob H.
Registered


Joined: Sat Oct 11th, 2008
Location: Wichita, KS
Posts: 512
Status: 
Offline
Nice switches! BTW  nice side arm Herb.



____________________
Chief Dog Scratcher & President Possum Ridge Railway.
Some people are like Slinkies... they're really good for nothing
...But they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs.
Back To Top


 Current time is 04:26 am
Page:    1  2  3  Next Page Last Page  

Freerails > Model Railroad Forums > Technical > Hand Laid Switches - Tutorial
Top



UltraBB 1.172 Copyright © 2007-2016 Data 1 Systems