Turnout Const. – Pt IX

The first installation step is to get everything generally laid out

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The first installation step is to get everything generally laid out. You want to make sure you have all the parts and that they are going to fit together properly.

Here are all the parts loosely laid out on the ties. I have covered my tie installation techniques in earlier posts, so won’t go into that here. Mentioned in earlier parts of this article is the small triangular file that I find extremely useful. You just gotta have one.

The next step in layout using the track gauges

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Following is the next step in layout using the track gauges. Again, one object is to ensure it will all fit together. This step also establishes the location for the straight stock rail, which is critical to the next step in the process.

Nothing is spiked down at this point. It is all held in place by the weight of the track gauges. It is important at this point to note the location, across the ties, of the straight stock rail. Once spiked in place the location of this rail will establish the location of the turnout across the ties. If this rail is out of place, the turnout will not be centered on the ties. Ugly.


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Take your time. Getting this rail right is one of the critical installation steps.

I have really blown this photo up (I wish it were in better focus  ). With the stock rail in its proper position, located properly across the ties, and with the point contact areas aligned with the switch stand ties, spike the stock rail at each end. Then, using the steel straight edge as guide, spike about every fourth tie the length of the rail. It is critical that this rail be straight. Check it and double check it. If it isn’t straight, pull the spikes and fix it.

Frog installation

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The next step is to install the frog. Once again, work carefully. It may sound like I over-use the term, but, again, this is a critical step in the smooth operation of the turnout.

Place the whole frog, closure rail, etc. assembly into place and roughly position using the track gauges. Make sure the assembly is properly lined up by observing that the hole in the tie bar for the screw is over the center of the space between the switch stand ties. If you were careful in fabrication the guard rails should be in proper relationship with the frog. If not, you will need to return to fabrication and build replacement parts for those that were originally fabricated incorrectly.

Start spiking at the frog using the NMRA gauge to ensure perfect spacing between the stock rail and the frog. You should spike the frog and the guard rail in every tie. The departure rail should be spiked about every fourth tie.

On the point side of the frog, count about three ties from the frog toward the points and spike the STRAIGHT closure rail. Do NOT spike the curved closure rail just yet.

Check everything, gauge, flangeway width and depth, and flangeway back-to-back (see NMRA gauge instructions) at least twice.

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