Turnouts

A newbie question for the group: What's the difference between a snap - switch and a turnout - specifically, say a # 4 turnout? Also, if the
straight section of a # 4 turnout is equivalent to a 9" straight, how long is the straight in a # 6 or # 8 turnout?? TIA,
C H
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The Atlas "Snap-Switch" could more accurately be described as a No. 3 1/2 curved frog turnout. Thus it has two differences to a No. 4 turnout - the frog angle is a little sharper, and the diverging route rail though the frog is part of a continuous curve, rather than being a straight. Take a look at the explanation on the NMRA standards page at: http://www.nmra.org/standards/rp12.html and the HO recommended turnout dimensions http://www.nmra.org/standards/rp12_3.html
As the standards show, there is no standard for the length of the straight track section in a turnout. Atlas chose to make the Snap-Switch and No. 4 turnouts 9" long for compatibility with the rest of their track system. The Atlas No. 6 is 12" long, again to be compatible with the standard 9" straight with a 1/3 straight. Other manufacturers can and do choose other lengths. The practical considerations are that you want a couple ties with "spikes" to hold the rails in place beyond the end or the points, and you want enough rail beyond the frog to accommodate a rail joiner, and better a soldered rail joiner without melting plastic frog parts. Geezer
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Craig Hawkins wrote:

If you're asking 'cuz you need this info for layout design or planning, I suggest you borrow one each of all the items you might need (including straights and curves), and photocopy them. Heck, make a bunch of photocopies. You can then test out track plans full size by shuffling pieces of paper around.
HTH
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"Turnout(s)" is a word propagated by the model press to distinguish between electrical switches and railroad switches. Real railroaders call 'em "switches" and would look at you real strange if you called them "turnouts" and probably walk away mumbling "F*&#@*g Foamer!)
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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Foamer!)

Not so. The textbook "The Elements of Railroad Engineering" by Raymond (copyright 1908) and revised by Riggs & Sadler (copyright 1937), from well before there was much of a model press, title their chapter on the subject "Turnouts". Their usage is that the moving part of the turnout and directly related is called the "switch", and the assemblage of the "switch" plus frog and guard rails and other rails comprise a "turnout". The switch may be a split switch employing points, or a stub switch, or other designs such as the Wharton safety switch. This same terminology is employed in the 1958 Bethlehem "Mine and Industrial Trackwork" catalog where they offer complete preassembled "turnouts" for sale.
I will grant you that most RR rule books refer to the complete turnout as a "switch". This suggests that perhaps the word to use to avoid having railroaders 'walk away mumbling' depends on whether one is speaking to operating department or engineering department personnel. Maybe we should call 'em turnouts when we buy 'em or build 'em and install 'em on the layout, but call 'em switches when we run trains over 'em? Geezer
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"Geezer" <

I was talking about what real railroaders call switches, not some book written by a some "civil engineering" suit calls them.
A real railroader, ones that work on the trains, in the yards and build and maintain the track call 'em "switches". Period!
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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Roger T. spake thus:

Well, I think "Geezer" has a point there: the geeks what builds 'em can call them "turnouts", while those who actually run iron over them will call them "switches". OK?
--
Every American is full of Cheney's buckshot.

- Sign on the Grand-Lake Theater, Oakland, CA, Feb. 14, 2006
  Click to see the full signature.
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"David Nebenzahl"

No, the geeks that design them can call the "turnouts" while those that build 'em and run iron over them call them "switches". :-)
I run a model railroad, I'm not a suit, so they're "switches". :-)
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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and being an Aussie/British modeller, I call them points
some good ones have been made here too
and some not so ............
Steve
Foamer!)

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Manual rail diverters with a magneto-motive or pneumatic option !!!
Cheers Mr., graphics !
<G>
Foamer!)

build
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mindesign spake thus:

Now *that* makes no sense whatsoever: "points" are a part of the switch, so why would you name the whole the same as a part?
--
Every American is full of Cheney's buckshot.

- Sign on the Grand-Lake Theater, Oakland, CA, Feb. 14, 2006
  Click to see the full signature.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Same reason you yanks call yourselves "Americans"?
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Greg Procter spake thus:

No, because either one of those terms makes sense; it would be like calling us Yanks "Missourians" or something.
--
Every American is full of Cheney's buckshot.

- Sign on the Grand-Lake Theater, Oakland, CA, Feb. 14, 2006
  Click to see the full signature.
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"David Nebenzahl" <

No, you should be called "Usaians" or something other than the original name of the continent.
By adopting "American(s)" you denied the Canadians, Mexicans and the peoples of the Caribbean islands, including Cuba, the use of the continental name as a collective noun. To be called an "American" implies that someone is from the U.S.of A. which Canadians, Mexicans, peoples of the Caribbean islands and Cuba strongly object to.
Rest of the world, please note the foregoing, which is why we now prefer the continental name of "North America" and "North American" to describe the peoples who live here as we are definitely NOT Americans.
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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David Nebenzahl wrote:
> mindesign spake thus: > >> and being an Aussie/British modeller, I call them points > > Now *that* makes no sense whatsoever: "points" are a part of the > switch, so why would you name the whole the same as a part?
Just another example of our nations being separated by a common language.
Common usage for operating employees in Australia was to refer to switches as "points", or a "set of points". Per-way blokes often refer to them as "leads and crossings". I don't know about other states, but here in NSW "turnout" is now the preferred term, for precisely that reason, to avoid confusion.
Switch machines are still referred to here as point motors, and the act of manually operating them is described as "winding the points".
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mark_newton wrote:

It's a mess here in the USA too.
I've been a railfan for over 40 years, traveled all over the USA, and Canada, spent LOTS of time with railroad crews (including track workers), and I can't recall that I've EVER heard a railroad employee call a "switch" a "turnout".
The "turnout" term seems to have arisen with Model railroader magazine (perhaps in the 1960's ?) to eliminate the confusion in MODEL railroad applications caused by the term 'switch' having two meanings (electrical and track).
In USA terms, a "Switch" is a branching from one track to two (or occasionally more). While there are several types of "switch", the most common has the usual "Points" (the moving portion), "Frog" (where the rails cross), and "Wing Rails", "Guard Rails" (usually, not always), "Tie bars", and a bunch of other parts.
As started this thread, the British use the term "Points" to describe the whole device. But, as someone else observed, not all "switches" even have "points" (stub switches).
This is lot like the thread on "what's a bogie/truck/etc.?" a few months back.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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"Daniel A. Mitchell"

Agree 100% Daniel, you've reiterated what I wrote in my previous post(s).

Again, you support my previous post(s)
No matter what modellers or the magazines may do to try and convince you otherwise, railroaders call 'em "switches", period.
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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Roger T. wrote:

So you won't be backing my proposal that we start calling switch engines "turnout engines"?
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"video guy

LOL. No.
-- Cheers
Roger T.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway http://www.highspeedplus.com/~rogertra /
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"video guy - www.locoworks.com" wrote:

Switch engines? Has the one on the train broken down?
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