We made turnouts

I’ve been having so much fun building track and sharing what I’ve learned with friends. I was really flattered when the idea of hosting a “learn to handlay a switch” workshop was proposed and last Saturday afternoon we did just that. Everyone who attended built a HO scale number five turnout. We standardized on code 100 rail and we built everything in place over paper templates printed from the Fast Tracks online library. Speaking of Fast Tracks, we used their Copperhead PC ties throughout.

Rather than drag everyone through a presentation and then hands-on we just dove right into construction. In an attempt to help moderate construction, I tried to divide out my method to handlay a turnout into individual stages. I introduced each stage and then everyone worked through it on their turnout. As the afternoon progressed we developed a really nice rythm and I found things moved along at a great pace with me floating from work station to station to work one-on-one with everyone and make sure things were proceeding. I can’t begin to express how proud I am with everyone’s progress and the track we made. While not everyone finished their turnout during the afternoon, every one of these pieces of track should become a terrific turnout that could be installed in a layout. Friend, fellow Island model railroader, and blogger, Taylor Main snapped some terrific photos from the afternoon and graciously extended permission to post some here.

My favourite photo from the entire afternoon. That's my Dad in the blue shirt soldering in a point blade. To the left is Ray and looking on is Scott. That's me looking really thoughtful and maybe even helpful in the white T-shirt. Thanks Taylor for the photograph.

My favourite photo from the entire afternoon. That’s my Dad in the blue shirt soldering in a point blade. To the left is Ray and looking on is Scott. That’s me looking really thoughtful and mabe even helpful in the white T-shirt. Thanks Taylor for the photograph.

I think it would be terrific if we could have a follow-up session. Everyone could bring turnouts that they’re working on and we could work together to make sure they get completed. We could also cover some methods to wire them and some options on how to move the point blades.

“I just never figured this would be something I’d try.”

There are so many different skills to become familiar with in the hobby. Learning to make things is fun. Doing so in the company of friends is really fun. I feel all that much richer for having had this workshop and I’d love to do it again. Lots of coffee, cake, and donuts later we got together learned something new. I think that’s what model railroading should be about.

Categories: How I think

7 replies

  1. Great post, Chris! Yes, there should definitely be a part 2. I also suggest we should try to do more of these on various topics every few weeks.

    • I agree on both counts. I’d like to do a second turnout clinic just to tie off loose ends. I’d also like to have regular work sessions so we’re all making models of something, anything, on a regular basis.

      I’d like to see a basic locomotive maintenance workshop. Take a locomotive apart, clean the wheels and install a decoder…that sort of basic stuff.

      I’d also like us to try a club car project. Pick a boxcar we all need or want for our respective layouts and everyone make one. Buy detail parts, everyone paint and decal it. Everyone try weathering, etc.

  2. Great post Chris! Not only should there be a part 2, I suggest that we have more clinics on various topics every few weeks.

  3. Looks like fun, Chris. I like that garage clinic space, too. Sounds like everyone was eager to see how it would all…turn out. (There’s a switch, a pun!) (Oh, and the Right Hand knew what the Left Hand was doing) Good work! And over on Taylor’s blog, your layout is also in good hands!

    Really nice to see some actual model railroading taking place. So often today online, I see a lot of carping and wishing, not much doing.

    My enthusiasm is fuelled, not solely the product of, two free McDonald’s small coffees (until March 2!)

    • Wye didn’t I think to try and fit in a few puns. This humour can be the ties that bind us. But, back to the points of this thread!

      Taylor’s making some wonderful progress with the old layout. He does great work and does it enthusiastically and quickly. I continue to like where he’s taking the idea. I still recognise parts of it. Over the years I’ve built a lot of models and it’s always fun to see them continued in use.

      I agree on the model-making sentiment. I couldn’t agree more in fact.

  4. Not only is track building fun but looked like you all had fun.. I am pretty envious if thats not too strong a word but the commute from here would be a bit much.. just good to have some motivation around you to get on with modelling..

    • It is too bad the commute is so far. I think that when I see all those great 2mm events. You’re always welcome if life does bring you to the Island.

      What really surprised me was the effect on me. I really had fun hosting this and sharing what I know. Unexpected though was how much more conviction it instilled in me as an N scaler and encouragement for my interest in finer scale modeling and model railways in general. All of these pleasant by-products of a terrific afternoon.

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