A couple of years ago at a clinic, I was taught how to hand lay turnouts using PC board ties, a Fast Tracks point/frog tool and their paper templates. I was successful at the hands on clinic and decided this was the way to go for me. Taking the best of the Fast Tracks tools without going all in on their system. I would agree 100% that their system is fool proof and provide a wonderful way to build turnouts but could not afford the investment.
At the time I was using Code 100 rail but since chose to go with Code 83. I bought a supply of Peco Code 83 as I like the profile of the rail better than the Atlas product.
Photo courtesy Model Railroad Hobbyist
Taking the rail out of the flex track is very easy as the spikes detail is quite fine.
This was my first try with the Code 83 and by posting on the MRH Forum, I learned where I made my mistakes for next time. Here’s some photos of my attempt and I’ll comment to show my mistakes.
Here at the points you can see I’ve filed the stock rail to accommodate the points. The mistake I made was filing the rail head as well as the base. Proper construction dictates I should have only filed the base of the stock rail. Also, I made a mistake in placement of the point rail in the Fast Tracks filing jig. The result was too fine a profile at the point which caused the rail to split. The web and head split from the base.
I have an NMRA gauge but I didn’t know how to use it. That might seem like a simple thing but it takes time (at least it took me some time) to learn the geometry at the frog and how it all interrelates. My flangeways are a little tight and the placement of the guard rails is wrong and out of NMRA spec. I’ve also put too much of a bend in the guard rails and they don’t look good. Instead of explaining the dimensions and what is happening, I will point you to four videos I found posted on YouTube by the folks at Fast Tracks. It will clear up any misconceptions you may have about this area of a turnout. Information that is essential for trouble free operation.
Another key source of information is Joe Fugate’s Run Like a Dream series. The book on track contains lots of tips and tricks and information about using the NMRA gauge.
That’s all for now, when I’ve got my technique perfected, I’ll post a detailed tutorial so that it might help someone else.