So far my layout has been constructed using Hornby points. I want to extend it using Peco code 100 stream line points (and flexible track). Can someone tell me what the track spacing would be if two Peco streamline (left hand) points were arranged to form a crossing between parallel track? As far as I can deduce from the information in the Peco catalogue, this should come out at about 52mm. Given this and the length and angle information in the catalogue, I should be able to draw the points accurately.
Peco will send them in return for a large SAE and a label from the flexible track. I hadn't managed to find a label when I posted the query, and in these days of the internet the post always seems a trifle slow (especially at this time of year).
If you use metal rail joiners, the spacing is 2" (50.8mm). With insulated joiners, slightly more - say 51.5mm.
The short Y-turnout and short diamond-crossing are 24 degrees. All others have an EXIT angle of 12 degrees. (This is not the same as the crossing (frog) angle, which varies between the different turnout sizes.) The above information bears no resemblance to any known prototype track.
There is a free demo version of 3rd PlanIt software from
which includes full Peco template libraries which can be printed out.
If you plan to build your own track, there are also some Peco template files for my Templot software available for downloading:
That's a problem with all CAD programs, whether tuned for a specific project or not. Fact is, if you can't at least sketch a scale plan with ruler, triangle, and compass, you will find computer-assisted drafting programs "quirky", no matter what. Ever try Autocad, for example? :-) A CAD program is a computer _assisted_ drawing rpogram -it simplifies some aspects of drafting, and reduces the odds of making some kinds of errors, but otherwise using one to make drawings is a complex a skill as the old-fashioned way, by hand.
I've tried at least half a dozen (real) CAD programs for various platforms and of various degrees of sophistication. The only thing they had in common was the drawing model: to make a drawing, you assemble lines and curves and other objects. This is not the way most people draw something, whether they use ruler and compass or just sketch free-hand. The programs you mention are attempts to specialise the CAD model for trackplanning, is all.
I agree that WinRail and XtrakCad are "quirky" - but I bet their designers can produce a track plan from your sketch in no time flat. It's just what you're used to. :-)
That's not the way Templot works, it does all that for you and is nothing like CAD. In fact it is not a drawing package at all.
Experienced CAD users nearly always stumble when they try Templot, but *modellers* don't. The user interface mimics the laying out of printed paper templates on a baseboard - something all track builders can identify with. The difference is that Templot gives you an infinite number of different templates to play with.
If CAD is a mystery to you - try Templot instead!
But if you know about CAD, prepare to be mystified!
p.s. sorry, no, there isn't a free demo. But there are over 400 step-by-step screenshots in the tutorials section of the web site.
I don't think that suffices to explain the quirks. Things like the choice of what points on an object should snap to a grid for example (especially if the object has been rotated). When you drag an object to a new position, the object shouldn't instantly move by a large amount as soon as the dragging starts rather it should maintain the same relative position to the mouse pointer as when the drag started.
If using pencil and paper, suppose I have a left and a right turnout on two parallel tracks with turns going inward. Now I want a Y positioned at the place where the tangents from those turnouts intersect, and then want the correct amount of straight track added. This is trivial with a pencil and ruler. OK perhaps the problem is that this is how mathematicians draw (I have a PhD in maths and have spent the past 25 years in software).
Well, your comment supports a conclusion I arrived at quite a while ago: if you can sketch a scale plan with paper and pencil, you don't need a track planning program. You can draw a couple dozen plans by hand in the time it takes to master the program. A track planning program may be useful for (semi-)professional layout designers, or for a club contemplating a large layout, and will ceratinly give pleasure to people for whom layout design is a hobby in itself. But I wouldn't recommend them for most modellers, especially anyone who thinks such a program will simplify the planning process or will make up for a lack of dafting skills. It won't.
As for Templot: I've looked over the website, and while the program undoubtedly produces beautiful templates (lovely screen shots, Martin!), I don't see any advantage over the the method I've used: build the turnouts in place as you need them. Just use a larger minimum radius for turnout location to prevent too tight closure radii. Eg, for a roughly #4 turnout, use a 30" radius. Draw a tangent at #4 angle to the curve, that gives you the approximate location of the frog, measure back for the points. File point locations on the two stock rails and spike them in place, setting them at 2x gauge at the marked frog loaction. Then build frogs in place, add curved closure rails (with wing rails included) and guard rails. Insert the point-rail assembly. If necessary (eg at crossovers), cut electrical gaps. Done. The slow part is filing and fitting the point rails. :-)
And you can do that on a curve, or on a transition curve, or to create a curved crossover?
And correctly set the switch deflection angle, blunt nose, check rails, timbers and rail-joint positions?
It's your choice not to use accurate construction templates of course, but daft to say that they don't offer any advantage.
It's a constant mystery to me that folk will bang on about some tiny discrepancy on a locomotive - but then happily run it over track which they made up as they went along, without any reference to the prototype at all!
CDs: I buy in terms of the music and/or performer, which I know about before I buy.
DVDs - there are very, very few movies I want to see more than once. I've bought an unseen movies maybe three times in my life - from a used-tape dealer's remainder bin, at about the price of a blank tape. :-)
Sure, no problem. All it takes is two or three three-point gauges, an NMRA gauge, and frequent sighting along the rails before you spike 'em down or solder them in place. Plus a six-wheel truck (bogie) just for the fun of flicking it with your finger and seeing it eel its way through the trackwork. :-).
North American standard practice. NMRA data sheets provide the basic data. BTW, if you build the points minimum length or greater, the switch deflection angle will be within acceptable limits automatically.
Well, an advantage for the nit-picking rivet counter crouching down with his nose an inch from the track maybe, but not for me. All I care about is smoothly flowing trackwork, and reliable operation. Don't need templates for that. :-) The single most effective creator of prototype illusion is the flangeway - keep flangeways as narrow as possible consistent with our over-scale wheel standards, and the turnout will look very, very nice at normal viewing distances of about 200-300 scale feet and up.
To each his own. :-)
BTW, I have a CNR road foreman's handbook, which lists the hardware needed for turnouts from #4 to #30 in 1/2 number increments. That's a lot of data. :-) A bit of trivia that may be of interest: The maximum speed at which a train could go down the diverging branch of a turnout was reckoned at roughly twice the frog number, so a turnout with a #30 frog could be traversed at 60 mph.)
One thing I'd like is a set of nicely done plastic (not metal) rail braces (the kind kind that go outside the rail opposite the switchpoints) and other turnout hardware.
If I wanted to enter some trackwork in a model contest, I'd certainly follow some specific railroad's practices as accurately as possible - make fake railjoiners (fishplates), rail braces, and all, too. I just don't feel very competitive these days. :-)