Jigs for building HO hand layed turnouts and crossings

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Are there any manufacturers that produce jigs for hand layed HO turnouts or


Britt Harrington
Miami, Florida

Re: Jigs for building HO hand layed turnouts and crossings
Check out www.handlaidtrack.com/
The reviews of this product I have seen on some of the Yahoo Groups are
very favourable.

Quoted text here. Click to load it
turnouts or

Re: Jigs for building HO hand layed turnouts and crossings
On 25 Jan 2004 15:34:42 GMT, FBritt wrote:

=>Are there any manufacturers that produce jigs for hand layed HO turnouts or
=>Britt Harrington
=>Miami, Florida

The only jigs you _might_ need are for the frog and the point rails But I've
found you don't need them. I build the turnouts in place on the layout,
laying one stock rail first, then the frog, then closure + wing rail, then
the opposing stock rail, then the opposing closure + wing rail. The points
are custom fitted.  I use three-point and NMRA gauges throughout the process.
Some people lay the wing and closure rails separately, which has certain
advantages (see below.)

The rest of this post is a very short account of how to build a turnout, and
you can skip it if you want. :-)

a) To make a frog, clamp a short piece of rail (3" to 6") sideways in a vise
at an angle. The angle should be about half the frog angle - a little less,
actually. (A jig or gauge might be useful for this, but that's cut easily
enough from a bit of card.) The lower foot's edge should just clear the top
of the vice's jaws. Now file parallel to the vice;'s jaws until you have
filed a nice point on the rail. Do the same for another peiece of rail. If
you now put them together, the two points combined make up the frog - but
don't solder them until you've actually spiked them down to gauge on your
turnout, and the wing rails are in place and adjusted so you get straight,
properly dimensioned  flangeway through each side of the frog.

b) to make a point, bend 1" to 2" of a piece of rail (about 3" long) to about
half the frog angle. Clamp this in a vise, and file away on the _outside_ of
the bend until you almost break through the web.  Now clamp the rail the
other way round, and file both rail head and web, but not the base, on the
opposite side so that you get a straight edge along the rail head, and a
point at the filed end. There's your point. Do the same with the point for
the other side - the bends are mirror images of each other. The base that's
left on the inner side will be wide enough for a variety of methods for
fastening the points to the throwbar (switch rod).

a) and b) are the only tricky steps in building a turnout, and you may have
to toss a few pieces of rail while you learn how to do it right.

If you use a solid throwbar soldered onto the point rails, a soldering jig is
useful but not necessary. I found that spiking down the point rails on a
piece of pine held them at the correct spacing while soldered a solid
throwbar between them. To make the throwbar, I looped a piece of solid copper
wire (salvaged from house wiring) around a small nail, then flattened the
whole thing in a vice. It looks like a line with an O attached on one side. I
cut it very nearly the correct length, making sure the O was in the centre,
then flattened each end some more (vices and small hammers are amazing metal
working tools :-)) Do a bit of judicious filing and fitting until the
throwbar fits on the rail base between the points so there's room for the
wheel flanges to pass above the throwbar attachment. Touch solder to each
end, do a little filing to clean up, and drill out the hole so it clears an
00-90 screw (for attaching to the plastic throwbar), and you're done. Gently
lever up the spikes, slide the point assembly out, and take it to the turnout
to cut and fit it in place. I use railjoiners to attach points to the closure
rails, but there are other methods.

I haven't built a turnout for some time, but this is the best way to get
nicely flowing track work, and you don't have to worry about frog numbers, or
making a bench-built turnout fit, etc. Last time I did it, I could build a
turnout in about half an hour.

Should closure rails be of a piece with the wing rails and the frog?  That
depends. Here are two ways of thinking about; there are others.

If closure rails are separate, they can be electrically isolated from the
frog, which may have certain advantages for control. If you also use a
plastic throwbar, so that the points are insulated from each other, you can
connect each point + closure rail to the its stock rail, and so have
realistically narrow flangeways at the points without fear of wheel backs
shorting out at the points as they brush against them.

If wing rails, closure rails and points make an electrical unit, the turnout
will also automatically switch the  power when it is thrown, but narrow
flangeways at the point will then entail a risk of shorting as wheel backs
brush against the points (for stock rail and points will have opposite
polarity here.) OTOH, you can then use a solid metal throwbar to connect the
points, which is somewhat more robust.

Note that whichever way you do it, there will be situations where the frog
must be insulated from the track beyond the turnout.


Wolf Kirchmeir
If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train?
(Garrison Keillor)
<just one w and plain ca for correct address>

Re: Jigs for building HO hand layed turnouts and crossings
Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

When the club was mass building turnouts (300 or so) the only jigs we
used were for setting the ties.  We had a left, and right for a #6, #7,
and #8 turnout.    Lay the appropriate length tie on the jig.  Put a
piece of masking tape over the top.  Spread glue at the appropriate
location on the layout. Pick up the ties by the tape and place them on
the glue.  When the glue dries, remove the masking tape, cut a notch for
the throw bar, and start laying rail.

Re: Jigs for building HO hand layed turnouts and crossings
Jigs are nice but just having precut standard pieces will do an excellent
job with making turnouts.
The jigs will make a whole bunch of turnouts that need to be laid by
unskilled workers on the club layout a bit easier but for home, it does end
up being a bit overkill.

Bob May
Losing weight is easy!  If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less.
Works  every time it is tried!

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