Even glacial progress is still progress right?

March 21, 2015

March 21, 2015

That’s how things look right now. All three turnouts are built and remain on their temporary backings. Yesterday morning I cut out the deck and bridge for the sector plate. With any luck, I’ll get that sector plate finished this weekend and with that complete, I’ll be able to proclaim the first track installed on the layout. Speaking of the sector plate, a test of it with a train in place shows it may be a bit too short to accommodate what I’ve been considering as the train length I’d like to use on the layout. I can extend it to reach that extra inch but still feel a little disappointed that I didn’t double-check things first.

Speaking of that third turnout, I thought I’d share a couple of photos of it to celebrate its completion. As with the other two, I still need to install a throwbar and trim the ties on the main side of the turnout. There were times I thought this one would never be completed and I’d never overcome some of the mistakes I was making during its construction. The first two frogs just wouldn’t go in at the correct angle, a detail I’d continue to fail to recognise until I was installing the stock rails. I managed to burn a few ties during its construction as well. Problems aside, it was all still great fun and time to reflect on a few points where I think I’ve evolved my approach or further reinforced some beliefs I’ve developed:

  • I used copper ties throughout. It took some practice to get used to planning my soldering patterns to make sure I didn’t box myself in, in terms of rails creeping out of gauge or alignment. I’m getting the hang of it and compared to a mix of copper and wood ties this just feels like a significantly stronger turnout.
  • Since all the ties came from the same stock I feel they’re more consistent in size and shape.
  • Ties on the branch track are stepped in length. I used to install ties by lining them up against the main track’s edge and trimmed these stepped ties. I could never, consistently, cut the ties to the correct length. This time I did the opposite, lining them up against the branch to plan the stepping correctly, then I’ll just snap a line along the main track and trim them all at once. Not sure why this didn’t occur to me before but it feels like a rare moment of brilliance at my workbench.
  • I used some scraps of PC board stock at the ends of each set of rails. These wider pieces are only temporary but serve to protect the rail ends until the turnout is installed on the layout. I was on a roll with great ideas here or so it felt!
  • I built these turnouts on scraps of thick card. The card stock’s surface was nice to work against and provided a soft, yet stable surface, to file rail on and write myself notes to plan construction steps.

Categories: Prince Street Layout

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8 replies

  1. It’s looking really good, Chris – keep at it!

    • Thanks Trevor. Though visible progress is slow it’s the product of time spent making sure that it’s in the correct direction and that is something I’m finding very enjoyable. I’m pleased with everything so far.


  2. I am waiting for that hands-on “foolproof guide for building turnouts for beginners” clinic that you will be offering in the future… 2016 convention??

    • Of course you’re more than welcome to hop over to the Island to join us on Saturday the 28th for the one we’re hosting. I’ve got lots of extra material and it should be a really fun afternoon.

      I’m doing one at the RPM meet in Truro too.

      Looking forward to Saint John in 2016. I still think the last Saint John convention was one of the finest I’ve ever attended.

      Great to hear from you.


  3. Any progress is good progress, Chris. Keep it up!

  4. Chris;
    Its a hobby, not a job. You get it done when you can, not to a timeline. Let’s all try and make it a fun hobby. Less guilt and more joy. At least that’s what I’m trying for.

    • Thank you Martin.

      Though I’m far from any guilt over my rate of progress, I don’t want to find myself in a cycle of putting things off. I’m slowly getting back into the idea of finding something to do every day, no matter how big.

      Great to hear from you, as always.


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