PROTOTYPICAL MODEL TURNOUT CONSTRUCTION REFERENCE MANUAL

(Please use the customer support ACCU-TRAK elist or our contact email address for additional questions.)


CONTENTS:

Introduction
Quick Start - Simple Three Step Construction Summary
List of common tools
List of Parts (or an Ultimate Complete Kit)
Pre-Painting Option
Stage 1 Full Reference - Laying The Ties
Stage 2 Full Reference - Laying The Tie Plates
Stage 3 Full Reference - Laying the Rails and Working Parts.
Super-Detailing if desired



INTRODUCTION:

This reference manual will eventually cover all the detailed aspects of building an outstandingly properly prototypically accurate, yet extremely strong and reliable,
NMRA STANDARD, STRAIGHT OR OPTIONALLY CURVED RTR TURNOUT.

The manual breaks down and deliberately covers every micro-step of the recommended processes needed to make prototype based turnouts. Additionally it contains advice, tips, additional recommendations, and many alternatives, so is intended as a background document to refer to when you are unsure about a particular detail. The user who has already built one prototypical turnout, and is much more familiar with the parts, will like only need the reminder of the basic on-line three step help instructions and the appropriate turnout diagram to rapidly do most of the work

For this reason, we will eventually make a .pdf version of the reference manual available for download and printing, so you can have a copy to hand whenever you have a more particular question.





BRIEF SUMMARY AND RECAP OF THE THREE SIMPLE STEP PROCESS FOR FAMILIAR SWITCH WORKS PRO USERS:

Comprehensive instructions are usually only needed for first time users, or for occasional reference. Those detailed full length explanations of each step are covered in the later chapters below. Once a modeler has followed the build process through much more than once, it quickly only becomes necessary to remember the building method as this

SIMPLE THREE STEP PROCESS:-



STEP ONE: Lay and glue down
the Ready-Cut Ties onto the plastic base, using the TIE FRAMER Slots to align them correctly



STEP TWO: Glue the tieplates progressively in each position using the TIEPLATE LAYING TOOL

STEP THREE:  Place the thowbars, Cut and glue the RAILS and the FROG into place using THE TIEPLATE GROOVES to position them exactly. Glue in the POINT HINGES. Cut the PRE-FORMED POINTS to length and slide them into place, finally just snapping in the throwbar hooks.

On completion, you will end up with a complete, self-contained, turnout, that is the equivalent of a commercially manufactured turnout of the highest possible realism, standard and quality.

If you have never built a prototypically realistic turnout using our methods before, then you should read through the rest of this manual before commencing any work.

Once however you have built one turnout, the process is so simple and straightforward, that you will likely be able to then repeat it very rapidly, without needing to refer to anything except the selected turnout's diagram.

FOR THOSE WISHING TO BUILD A CURVED TURNOUT, the process iuses a different, more flexible base to glue the ties to, and is then merely interrupted during step three, to CURVE THE PART-WAY ASSEMBLED TURNOUT TO FIT THE DESIRED CURVE, AFTER FIXING THE INNER STOCK RAIL, BUT BEFORE FITTING AND FIXING THE REMAINING OTHER RAILS AND PARTS.

LIST OF TOOLS NEEDED:

To be ready to build any turnout, you should obtain and have at hand:-

...At least one copy of the Turnout Diagram for the exact switch configuration you want.

...A large enough, extremely flat, base on which to construct (BYOB if supp, or the Switch Works Pro Base with easy and convenient magnetic clamps)

...Bright, even lighting and a magnifying glass

...Small Tweezers if you will to add any scale spiking. (Tuned to have parallel rough jaws)

...A small, clearly labeled, partitioned box, to hold and keep the cut up various tieplates of different types separate, but allow them to be easily accessible and picked out.

...ACC Gel and a toothpick or syringe with our fine  0.010" needle for placing it.

... A fine pointed dental pick or similar probe tool for lifting and manipulating tie plates.

...Barge Cement (or similar) 50% diluted with MEK. And a placement tool as above., or a second syringe with aour 0.020" needle.

...A cutter to cut rail cleanly.

(A Dremel with 409 fine cutting disks, or a fine razor saw are recommended- Rail nippers tend to leave a slight burr, which needs to be filed off for proper fit)


...A small flat file to file rail ends square, especially if using rail nippers

...Good quality scissors to cut up tieplate frets

...Some solvents for removing any excess glues.

...Now or later, you will need a medium soldering iron, solder and electronic (non-acid) flux, to make electrical wiring connections.

This is not the recommended method  but If you are scratchbuilding without using a Switch-Works Fixture Option, you will also need several extra track gauges, and pins, clips, etc. to verify, hold and adjust gauge and all other dimensions during construction.



LIST OF TURNOUT PARTS:

(NOTE THE COMPLETE SET OF PARTS IS PROVIDED IN OUR ULTIMATE TURNOUT KITS)

Our dimensionally stable plastic sheet base or an equally precise roadbed section to build the turnout on for RTR strength and transferability.

A set of wood ties, or bulk long ties to cut to size

Two sufficiently long lengths of rail for the stock rails and enough rail for the remainder of the turnout

A pair of properly shaped points

A pre-formed frog of the desired type

A set of special turnout tieplates and fittings, including point hinge parts

Enough plain track tieplates that match the model rail code size, to complete the turnout number intended.

ACC for fixing down rail ends or about two dozen spikes for extra securing them if the turnout is going to be roughly handled before installation.

A suitable throwbar or kit to work with prototypically shaped points

A minimum set of add-on details such as joint bars, etc, to correctly cover the major rail joints.

Optionally a few inches of very flexible wire for connecting the points electrically and a yard of bare or regular hook up wire for optionally powering the frog. Note that generally, the self-cleaning hinges provide an adequate power connection from the closure rails to the points.


HIGLY RECOMMENDED PRE-PAINTING OPTION:

It is extremely easy and convenient to pre-paint the ties on the plastic base, immediately after they have been laid. The Tie Plate frets can be chemically weathered in one piece, before they they are cut up and laid. Similarly, the rail pieces and remainder of the details can be spray painted before assembly.



As a result, the later completed turnout will be correctly and realistically colored, with excellent color separation across the different part edges. As shown in the example above. Yes, this is HO scale.

NOTE: The majority of the construction pictures that follow, show the parts unpainted, for clarity. However we strongly recommend pre-painting, as the same standard of results is far more difficult to achieve on an already fully contructed turnout

STAGE 1 FULL REFERENCE - LAYING TURNOUT TIES:

The Ultimate kits contain sets of precisely pre-cut ties, but scratch builders may cut their own from 16'-6" or longer bulk accurate profile switch ties.



Both Switch-Works Pro and the Turnout Diagrams may be used as tie cutting templates.

NOTE: REVERSING THE STRAIGHT EDGE OF THE TIE FRAME TOOL PROVIDES A REFERENCE CUTTING EDGE FOR MARKING/CUTTING A COMPLETE SET OF TURNOUT TIES FROM BULK TIES

If you are not building a straight turnout directly on a section of road-bed, it is recommended to glue the ties to our thin, non distorting, Ultimate Turnout
Plastic Base Sheet. This will prevent the ties moving or lifting later, when attaching tieplates.

BEFORE LAYING ANY TIES, START BY PLACING THE BASE SHEET UNDER the Tie Frame Tool, or OVER the full size Turnout Diagram (It's translucent). Then depending on yourr choice of base, BYOB, PRO or trackbed, either pin, or magnet clamp, the Base Sheet firmly in place. We normally use ACC gel to more quickly  stick down the ties to the base sheet.  Dilute Barge or similar may also be used.

However, note that all adhesives usually require a full 24 hour curing period to attain their full strength.




NOTE: DO NOT FIT A BASE SHEET INITIALLY IF YOU ARE GOING TO CURVE THE TURNOUT AT STEP THREE

If using the Tie Frame Tool, it should be squared up at this point by test fitting a few loose ties and checking that the Tie Laying Tool positions the farther tieplates centrally on the ties. See Switch Works Help

Note: The Ultimate base sheet provided is larger than the Frame Tool. THE EDGES OF THE FRAME TOOL MAY BE USED AS A GUIDE TO CUT THE BASE SHEET TO THE NMRA STANDARD 2" TRACK BASE NOW OR LATER WHEN IT IS TIME TO REMOVE THE FINISHED TURNOUT.



A huge advantage of the tie frame tool is that you may safely and easily remove the flexible glued tie base assembly from the tie frame jig for pre-painting as a complete unit. This makes tie painting really easy and simple, as the ties do not have to placed in any sort of holding jig or held individually. You can also see exactly where each tie is going to be finally, in context of your finished paint scheme. You may pre-stain or paint the ties well ahead of time, but ensure they are completely dry and have no loose coatings before commencing further building. You should sand or try to leave the wood as bare as possible on the small areas of the ties that will receive the tie plates later. Glue generally will not stick as well to a pre-painted or soft surfaces. You may instead stain the ties later, but you will risk the stain not covering "white" spots if some glue flows out from under the tieplates.

Painting later will of course work fine, but will be more involved if you want to paint the tieplates/rails and the ties different shades, such as "rust" and "wood".

STAGE 2 FULL REFERENCE - LAYING TURNOUT TIEPLATES:

Make sure you are familiar with the tieplate types and their position in the frets.



Also print a loose copy of the appropriate Turnout Diagram you are going to use to help you decide which tieplate goes where.

BEFORE CUTTING NOTE: Except for the narrow frog plates (FP), IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO CUT THE TIEPLATES EXACTLY TO THEIR EDGES, NOR PRECISELY DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE TABS.

DO NOT USE THE GUARD RAIL (GU) TIE PLATES IF BUILDING WITH A  SELF GUARDING FROG. JUST CONTINUE THE APPROPRIATE SIZE PLAIN TIE PLATES THROUGH EACH  STOCK RAIL FROG SECTION. 

FOR CODE 55, USE PLAIN TIE PLATES CUT TO FIT INSTEAD OF THE GU PLATES.

FOR HO RATHER THAN PROTO:87, CUT THE GU PLATES IN HALF TO ALLOW THEM TO BE FITTED TO SPACE CORRECTLY FOR THE HO WIDTH FLANGEWAYS. THE TABS WILL ALIGN THEM CORRECTLY.



Just aim the scissors approximately in the middle of the middle of each set or column of tabs and cut the the tabs through. DO NOT  cut off the remaining half side tabs. There is an allowance on the jig for the half tabs to be sticking out, which is also used to locate any current or future smaller tieplate sizes.

Now go ahead and cut ONLY the particular tie plates you need from the fret with the good quality scissors and place them in the appropriate marked sections of the tie plate holding box. This will allow you to later rapidly reach in and pick up the correct tieplate types very quickly, and without hesitation, as you later place them into the tie plate laying tool.



We have had great success picking and positioning tie plates with a sharp probe with the very end bent at a right angle.

Wipe the tie tops with a solvent to remove any oily residue and let dry in preparation for applying the tieplates. Only proceed to actually lay any tieplates after the glue holding the ties to the base sheet has set completely.

We now recommend a high quality ACC gel for fixing the tieplates to the tie tops. Again our Syringe witha 0.010" needleis ideal for applying the ACC quickly and conveniently. ACC gel will set very quickly, but, even long set ACC can be unfastened by applying Acetone, in case any replacement or adjustment is necessary.

The goal of the tie plate gluing process is to apply a very small drop of glue that is enough to cover most of the space on the tie that tie plate fits over, but also only as much glue as will stay under the tieplate, when the tieplate is pressed down in place. It is good idea to practice this on a few spare tie plates to find what size droplet works for you, before commencing gluing the switch tie plates proper.

Then, when confident, apply glue to only as many tie plate positions as you can position easily before the glue starts to cure. We have found that typically only 4-8 tie plates can can be glued and placed at one time before the ACC begins to set.  Start with smaller numbers until you are practiced and confident before attempting to go faster.

WE SUGGEST THE TIE PLATES SHOULD BE GLUED IN SEQUENCE COMPLETELY ACROSS EACH TIE, BEFORE MOVING ON TO THE NEXT TIE. This way there is much less chance of a loose tie moving out of position between gluing applications, and adversely affecting the eventual track gauge.

When using "Switch-Works" tieplate jig to lay the tieplates, be sure to slide an extra magnet clamp very close to the current tieplate position. Also press down firmly with a spare finger or so on the jig right next to the tieplate and over the tie being glued. This will ensure the tieplate is firmly held in the exact position by the jig and is not able to slip out place, by sliding partly underneath the jig aperture.

Also while using the Tieplate Jig, lift it carefully up off the ties after laying each batch of tieplates with ACC a little before the glue sets hard, and check for, and wipe off, any glue that has crept on the jig. Then let the current batch of tieplates set firmly before replacing the jig. This will prevent the possibility of accidentally gluing the jig to the tieplates and/or ties. 

Once all the tieplates have been set, remove the plate laying jig top completely and clean it off, before the glue has fully hardened. It NOT necessary to leave the jig on until the glue has finally set.


NOTE: IF YOU ARE USING USING A RAIL -BOUND MANGANESE OR SELF GUARDING STYLE OF FROG, OMIT THE LAYING OF THE FROG PLATES (FP) DURING THIS STEP.


The flat edge of the "D" shaped hole in eah tieplate both marks the exact gauge line, and indicates the direction in which the tieplate should face when properly positioned. THE "FLAT" OF THE "D"SHOULD ALWAYS BE TOWARDS THE INSIDE (wheel flange running side) OF THE RAIL IT IS UNDER.

If you are NOT using Switchworks and the Tieplate Laying tool, you will need to mark the exact tieplate positions on the tie tops. Do this by temporarily sticking an extra copy of the Turnout Diagram on the laid ties and then use a 1/32" drill, or chisel sharpened 1/32" music wire as a punch, and punch shallow pits in the tie tops precisely through the marked "D" shapes in each tieplate position. You can position the tieplates exactly later, by using the music wire and pit as a jig to slide each tieplate down in to its exact position.


With all the tieplates firmly set in place, you may move on to lay the rails.

NOTE: WHEN USING THE SWITCH-WORKS TIE FRAMER, THE FRAMER CROSS LINKS MUST BE REMOVED BEFORE LAYING ANY RAILS PERMANENTLY. Otherwise the cross links may become trapped between the rails and the tie base.


STAGE 3 FULL REFERENCE - LAYING THE VARIOUS RAILS AND FROG:

The methodology of rail laying is to lay the various rail sections in the grooves formed by the tieplates and the dummy spike heads.


GROOVES DETAIL

This groove fit is so precise that it should not be necessary to separately align the rails to gauge. Just use an NMRA gauge as needed as a quality check in case of any assembly mistakes. Each rail section should be glued into all the tie plate groves. Use ACC gel just at  the very ends of each section to instantly hold in place and apply diluted contact adhesive for the remainder. Optionally add some scale spikes at rail ends if desired.

We recommend using contact adhesive as the rail to tie plates glue for normal hobby room/basement environments, to allow for any slight rail expansion movement. Dilution of the contact adhesive is recommended primarily to make sure the adhesive is free of any lumpiness, so the rail sits flat, and fully down, into the tieplate groove.

The grooves formed by the dummy spike heads firmly hold the rail base from moving sideways, while the glue prevents the rail slipping or rising up. The ACC at the rail ends and holding down for a minute or so, ensures the rail is held firmly down into those grooves while the glue is curing to full strength, and stays there even if the turnout is accidentally lightly bumped during later installation and use.

NOTE: Both the Ultimate and Fast and Easy turnouts are designed to realistically follow prototype design and practice and use the correctly formed Three Way Planed Points. CONSEQUENTLY, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO FILE AWAY THE BASE OF THE STOCK RAILS AT THE POINTS. In fact the stock rails should be left completely intact for the points provided to work correctly

NOTE: Four lengths of rail are provided in the kit. The two longer lengths are for the stock rails while the two shorter lengths will need to be cut to size later for the closure, guard and frog extension rails.

At the time of fitting, the raw rail ends should be trimmed with the file or a Dremel disk, to make the ends neatly and realistically square.



If building either a straight or curved turnout, the first rail to be fitted should be one of the two stock rails. Followed by insertion of the throw bars. Note it is not possible to fit the throwbars later, if both stock rails are fitted first.

We now suggest that the first stock rail to be placed should be the straight or (least) curved stock rail. But it is not critical, which side stock rail you prefer to lay first. (See later notes if the turnout is to be curved).



SIMPLE, EASY,  FINGER PRE-BENDING OF BOTH CURVED RAILS IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED TO ENSURE THAT THEY WILL FIT STABLY INTO THE TIEPLATE GROOVES DURING ASSEMBLY.

The curved stock rail will be most easily shaped if it is minutely "notched" (either side of the base) and then pre-bent with your fingers at the "sharp bend" point between the TOE and the SWITCH as shown on the turnout diagram and above, to give the correct switch angle. Using the turnout diagram as a guide, similar minute notches should be added at the other places shown in the top picture, to keep the different bends from just flowing into each other.

The rest of the bending is easily done by then leaving the SWITCH portion perfectly straight until the position of the points hinge. From there it should be worked with fingers gently into the curve that runs up until the toe Beginning of the frog section is reached. From there, through the frog and the end of the turnout, the rail should remain straight.



NOTE: WHILE EVEN AN UNPRE-BENT RAIL WILL BE HELD TO THE CURVE BY THE TIEPLATE GROOVES, THE PRE-BENDING AROUND THE SWITCH (POINTS) SECTION IS MANDATORY TO ENSURE THE SWITCH SECTION OF THE TURNOUT REMAINS PROTOTYPICALLY STRAIGHT. AND ALSO TO MAKE SURE THE STRAIGHT POINT IS PROPERLY HOUSED TO ENSURE RELIABLE RUNNING.


Trim the rail as necessary to the exact size needed and fit permanently by gluing and optionally spiking its ends, as above.

NOTE: IF INTENDING TO BUILD A CURVED TURNOUT, AT THIS STAGE, ANY TIE FRAME TOOLS NEED TO BE REMOVED AND THE TURNOUT WITH ONLY THE SINGLE STOCK RAIL FITTED, GENTLY AND CAREFULLY CURVED TO FIT THE DESIRED OUTER RADIUS OR TEMPLATE. IT SHOULD THEN BE GLUED DOWN TO A BASE SHEET TO HOLD IT PERMANENTLY IN THE DESIRED POSITION. Then continue to follow the instructions as below

The next rail section to test fitted is the pre-formed frog. The appropriate frog plates, if fitted earlier, should align a bent rail frog correctly, with a small amount of possible longitudinal movement and the position of the nominal vee point should match the turnout diagram. However, for absolute NMRA compliance, the gauge along the frog section between the vee and the frog sevtion of the curved stock rail should be confirmed as no less than 0.649" using a NMRA or P:87 gauge. (0.650 is the design gauge). A moderate amount of fine adjustment to allow gauge variation that can be made by sliding the frog slightly either to or from the toe end of the turnout. You may also confirm the gauge between the vee and the other stock rail by temporarily pressing or clamping a short length of straight rail into the sother stock rail tie plates. Note: Do not fix the second stock rail in place yet.

NOTE: A manganese or other style frog will need to first be manually aligned at this stage, and its supporting tieplates manually added. A managanese or other frog should be test aligned as above using a gauge and then plain (not FB) tieplates slid and glued in place under the edges of the frog wherever the FB tieplates would have been fitted. After those tieplates have set, then the frog may be correctly placed as per the Normal bent rail frog instructions above and below.

Tack the frog temporarily in place with a tiny drop of contact or rubber cement and then prepare to cut a pair of two different pieces of rail, one  from each of the two shorter rail lengths in the kit. One piece of each pair should be just over the length of the guard rail and one should be slightly longer than the frog extension rail. Before actually cutting, confirm that the remaining lengths are still sufficiently long to use for the closure rails.

NOTE: The Guard rail length is the same as the length of the wing rail tip through the toe end of the frog. Guard Rails are not required for a Self Guarding frog and the closure and frog extension rails should be cut accordingly.

Place the four newly cut rail lengths temporarily in the tieplate groves on all four ends of the frog to confirm the rail ends can be made to line up perfectly, or if necessary, by sliding the frog outwards slightly, more toward the heel of the turnout. Do not move the frog at all inwards if you have already confirmed the gauges at the vee as 0.650". In the case of a cast frog, it may be necessary to adjust, by bending slightly, the rail ends of the frog itself, with the frog vee still in the correct position. Then glue and spike the frog down permanently. If the frog has a power wire attached, first make sure it is fed down and sideways conveniently (or drill a hole in a tie if needed) to where it may conveniently soldered to later.


(note this early picture incorrectly shows the straight stock rail being fitted first)

Now the frog extension rails may be trimmed and permanently glued and spiked in place. Leave an approximately 0.010 isolation gap if wanted between them and the frog ends.


(note this early picture incorrectly shows the straight stock rail being fitted first)

The closure rails can be similarly permanently trimmed and fitted with a mandatory 0.010 gap at the toe end of the frog. Note the closure rails should end half way between the two ties of the points heels, as shown on the correct turnout diagram.

Now we are ready to fit the points hinges, the points and the throwbars.

NOTE: THE POINTS LENGTH AND POINT HINGES POSITION IS DIFFERENT, DEPENDING WHETHER YOU ARE BUILDING A HO OR PROTO:87 TURNOUT. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING THE CORRECT DIAGRAM.

Familiarize yourself with all the working parts to be installed and test fit to ensure you understand how the parts will go together.

Assemble the two throw bars (push and pull) as per the throw bar help instructions. Note that we now supply full length plastic strips for both bars, so the the pull bar will need to be trimmed to length, rather than just being cut in half from a full length bar. The extra length provided is to ensure that the bar ends always remain trapped under the stocks rails in either extreme position.



Test Install the assembled throw bars in the two adjacent tie slots as shown and make sure they both freely slide and drop flat to the bottom of the slots. If they are are all tight, then remove then and sand the side of the bars and test again until they do move completely freely.

Now fit and glue the second stock rail into place.



Test fit, then glue the correct size point heel filler blocks (HB) between the end of the closure and the already fitted stock rails, flush against the closure rail web and leaving 50% protruding from the closure rail end. These will each form half of the points hinge, so being flush to the closure rail web is important for the point hinge alignment.



NOTE: THE POINTS ARE A LEFT AND RIGHT HAND PAIR. BE SURE TO PLACE THEM ON THE CORRECT SIDE. Test Position each point so the pre-drilled hole is fitting freely in the pin of the "pull" throwbar, then mark the (blunt) end of each of the points to the length needed to fit exactly to the end of of its respective closure rail, leaving a small gap of about 0.010". Remove the points and cut them at the the blunt ends carefully to the marked lengths. NOTE:THIS LENGTH WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR AN HO OR A PROTO:87 TURNOUT.

If the blade end railhead tapers do not exactly match the stock rail rail heads, you may VERY CAREFULLY bend them slightly at the point where the base is already prototypically bent. However, if the error is very small, it will probably be automatically corrected by the central pressure of the throwbar. So do not even attempt to adjust the points at all until after trying the throwbar action.



When ready, slide the points into their final place, making sure the throwbar pins drop into the holes correctly and that the throw bars still move freely. Apply glue to the closure and point rail webs and fit the flexing (hinge) joint bars to the inner webs (only) with glue or solder, leaving the approx. 0.010" gap between the rail ends.

THE TURNOUT MOVING PARTS INSTALLATION IS NOW COMPLETE.

This is a good time to add the extra-flexible wire provided by soldering short pieces to the underside of each point near the hinge end.

SETTING GUARD RAILS AND NMRA CHECK GAUGING:

Now the guard rails may be fitted. Although the guard rail plates nominally set the guard rails in the correct place, you should verify that with a check gage, before spiking and gluing them in permanently.

ELECTRICAL ASPECTS AND WIRING:

Finally, the points should be electrically connnected to the stock rails by soldering the other ends of the point wires to the underside of the stock rails.

SUPER-DETAILING:

Since the model turnout is fundamentally an accurate scale reduction of a protoypical turnout, very little needs to be done to make it much more realistic.

The areas where additional parts will make a difference are:

Adding the RAIL BRACES along the switch stock rails:
Adding JOINT BARS around the frog and and internal rail joints
Adding the secondary FROG STRIP TIE PLATES around the frog.
Adding FILLER BLOCKS to the Guard Rail ends and centers
Adding NUT AND BOLT ENDS to the frog and guard rails.
Adding the POINT STRENGTHENING GIRDERS to the POINT RAILS
Adding BOLT DETAIL STRIPS to The THROWBARS

With these extra parts, the Model Turnout will duplicate the Prototype almost exactly.