Turnouts

I've experimented a lot in trying to determine how I would build and install turnouts. Initially I made the decision to handlay based on two factors, cost, and the ability to fit the turnouts to the plan.
 
As it has turned out, the cost is a little less expensive than commercial turnouts. Once detailed, they are about the same cost, but I would have installed the extra details on the commercial turnouts which would have increased the cost of those as well.
 
I probably won't need as many curved turnouts as I initially thought, but there are a few.
 
The next major hurdle was that I wanted more prototypical looking turnouts. The only commercial product that I am aware of with the correct tie spacing around the frog is the Central Valley Model Works (CVMW) turnout bases.
 
These also address a shortcoming of most handlaid turnouts in that they have molded in tie plate detail that is comparable to the tie plates on Micro Engineering flex track. These tie plates also guage the rail properly.
 
Lastly, I wanted to have more prototypical throwbars.
 
So I've looked at a lot of products, and tried a lot of methods to achieve these goals. It wasn't until I was ready to start building them that I ran into some issues.
 
First was throwbar actuation. I settled on using z-scale PC board ties for throwbars. These make throwbars that look more prototypical, utilizing a method (soldering a PC board tie to the points) that has been used for decades. I had some concerns about the durability of the small size of the PC board, but it seems to be working just fine.
 
So I decided to use a thin wire in a small-inside-diameter tube on the top of the layout for actuation. While this seems to work well, the problem is that it requires precision accuracy in regards to the length of the wire. Since the wire is soldered to the bottom of the throwbar before turnout installation, an error is complicated to fix (although would be easier now that I've modified some of the other techniques).
 
I wanted to see if I could come up with a way to actuate the turnouts from under the layout in a method similar to what Joe Fugate uses. In this case an actuation wire comes up from under the layout to actuate the turnout. The wire is sprung in one direction, and fishing line is used to pull it to actuate the turnout. This allows for a lot of adjustments during installation as needed.
 
With some experimentation, I've come up with an approach that works.
 
The next major hurdle that I hadn't anticipated with track feeders. I didn't think about how many feeders (or jumpers) would be needed to power the turnout. The main operating locomotives on the layout are all small wheelbase locomotives. So I need powered frogs, and also want to power the points directly and not rely on contact to the stock rail.
 
Some folks have also expressed concern with the long term integrity of the turnouts with the rail glued to the tie base. Joe Fugate used the standard method of using PC board ties to build the turnout framework, and uses the CVMW ties to 'scenic' the rest of the turnout, instead of the traditional wood ties.
 
I've taken this approach now, with some modifications to make it easier to solder jumpers and feeders. In the end, my approach (other than the throwbars) isn't all that different from the decades-old approach to hand-laying turnouts. But it does address the challenges I've had, and maybe will help others.
 
Depending on how well the 50-ish turnouts go, we'll see if Chris actually uses the approach on his layout....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Verify all rail placement with NMRA gage before soldering.
 
If making a curved turnout, temporarily tack CVMW tie base to thin plastic in desired geometry.
 
Cut rail to appropriate length for stock and diverging rail.
 
Only on the stock rail side, cut out the plastic connecting the ties around the following ties:
No. 6 Turnout - #2, 3, 4, 5, 13, 26, 27, 33, 34, 38
 
Tack stock rail on CV tie base with ACC, and solder a PC board tie in place #0 (in front of the point end of the tie base)
 
Starting from point end, remove the plastic tie, and solder a PC board tie in place to the stock rail. Solder from the outside of the rail only:
No. 6 Turnout - #2, 5, 13, 26, 27, 33, 34, 38
No. 8 Turnout - #2, 5, 15, 36, 37, 43, 44, 48
 
Also remove CV throwbar support and ties 3 & 4 but do not replace with PC board ties.
 
Tack frog in place, do not glue to PC board ties
 
Cut points diverging rails, and two small end rails to length using the placement of the points and frog as a guide.
 
Once placement of frog is determined, solder to following ties:
No. 6 Turnout - #27, 33
No. 8 Turnout - #37, 43
 
Tack small end rails to CMVW base.
Solder small end rails to the following ties:
No. 6 Turnout - #34, 38
No. 8 Turnout - #44, 48
 
Attach points to diverging rail with rail joiners.
 
Tack diverging rails to CVMW base with ACC. Verify gauge and length.
 
Solder diverging rail to PC board ties - do not solder points.
 
Tack outside rail to CVMW base with ACC. Verify gauge.
 
Solder outside rail to PC board ties on the outside of rail.
 
Mark locations between the ties for jumpers from the stock rails to the points, and for feeders to the stock rails, small end rails, and frog. 
 
Remove turnout from CVMW base.
 
Solder jumpers from stock rails to points.
 
Tin the locations where the feeders will attach to the bottom of the rail.
 
The turnout can now be installed without the base on the turnout for fitting, soldering feeders, and testing. Once the placement is certain, slide the pieces of the CVMW tie base under the turnout and glue rail to base with ACC.
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