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Laying the station entrance turnout: part two

Richard T



I cut the sleeper timbers, distressed the top surfaces with a wire brush, and checked that I had them all (I cut the sleepers for the entire template while I was at it). I laid the sleepers out on the template to check all were present and correct. The long switchstand timbers have been moved away from the template locations to fit the width of the switchstand foot.




I could not resist laying out the rails at this stage to get an impression of the finished turnout. Also visible is the switchstand—an example of the influence of North American practice on the CMER. Occasional deep snow meant that these stands with their highly-visible indicators were much appreciated by train crews.




I stained the timbers using Ronseal Dark Jacobean wood stain; later this will be darkened further with a wash of diluted india ink.




I turned my attention to the switch rails—more precisely, to how they would be switched. Working in this scale means I can bolt through the rail foot using the same M1 square-headed 6 mm bolts that I use for the fishplates.




Another view of the bolts. Now to figure out how best to suspend the stretcher and kickplate between them and connect to the switchstand.




Whilst the CMER generally did not bother with rail tie plates it did use them to support switch rails. These are 1/8" × 6" × 12" in size and serve purely to protect the sleeper and carry some grease under the switch rails; they are fabricated from 0.2 mm tinplate and pre-punched and drilled before mounting on the sleepers.




Each joint requires two holes in the rail end; these are 1.5 mm diameter, allowing a loose fit with the fishplates. The originals would have been oval to allow for rail expansion and contraction.




The stained sleepers were dry by now, so I glued them to the template and used a straightedge to verify that they are lying flat—which they are.




Spiking starts with the outside or main line stock rail. I spiked each end first, aligning the rail over the template by eye (real risk of parallax here as these are full-depth 4" sleepers, 7.4 mm in the model). The tie plates are then slipped under the rail and spiked in place. I also spiked the first stock rail of the diverging line in place at this stage.




I make up fishplates for each template as I go (it’s not the most thrilling job); here are the ones needed for this turnout. The inner fishplates are of thinner material (0.2 mm) than the outer ones to eliminate striking of flanges upon the bolt heads. These are drilled 1 mm in diameter and a reamer is twirled in each hole to remove burrs.




Close-up of the fishplates fishing the main line stock rails together; the bolts will be trimmed to length later.




Another view of the fishplates; next up is to spike the second stock rail in place.




With the main line stock rail spiked in place it is time to test-fit the crossing vee... and of course it lines up exactly as it should.




Track gauges to the ready! This is the part that makes me nervous, for this is where accuracy is paramount. The slender Cliff Barker G1 track gauges really came into their own here, as they have exactly the 1 3/8" crossing flangeway I need for the CMER (2.6 mm). This test fit suggests everything is going to work out as planned.




Another view of the test fit. The diverging stock rail will be spiked only after the crossing vee and the main line closure/wing rail have been placed and thoroughly tested.




Measure twice, and cut once... I checked and checked: wheels seemed to roll through the knuckle smoothly enough.




The loose heel joint for the switch rails. An initial test fit showed that the thicker, outside fishplate was restricting movement, so I bent it slightly. I shall fish the switch rails with one bolt per fishplate only. I tin the completed joints with solder before trimming the excess length from the bolts. This shot shows the switch rail in its deflected position.




Measuring thrice revealed that I needed to trim the switch blade by a millimetre and a bit... had to come off the pointy end, of course, as I had already drilled the holes at the joint; luckily this was easily accomplished.




Looking good to progress to the next stage. I should have heeded that niggling sense of unease...




Aha: having carefully spiked the main line closure/wing rail into place, complete with its attached switch rail, I realised that I would not be able to fit the stretcher bar, as I wouldn't be able to reach underneath it to attach the nut to the bolt through the rail foot... Ho hum!


In the end I decided to cut the bolt attaching the switch rail to its fishplate and remove the switch rail. I posed the picture to illustrate the issue: the stretcher bar with its kick plate extensions will fit the two switch rails like this, however needs to be underneath the stock rails...


Note the diverging closure rail with its fishplates, ready to be moved into place.




Having connected up the stretcher bar I then had to unspike one stock rail sufficiently to fit the switch rail assembly in place... then I replaced the stock rail and continued spiking the remaining closure/wing rail, diverging stock rail and check rails in place—so focussed on not making any further mistakes that I forgot to take any pictures until it was done. All spiked in place and fished together.




Another view of the same status. Fishplate bolts still need to be locked and trimmed, but this was the time to test different wheel sets and push my only wagon back and forth through the turnout. Very pleased to find that everything works as planned, with no binding or catching. No doubt the wide tyres help—but even very narrow ones roll through with only a slight dip between the knuckle and the vee.




Next item is the turnout control. As per prototype this is a North-American–style switchstand with an indicator disc. This is connected to the stretcher bar using a simple length of florist’s wire with a loop in it.



Bird’s-eye view of the turnout control, showing the 3" throw of the blades.




A close-up of the stock-rail joints fished together, and the long flares of the check rails.




A close-up of the spiking around the crossing; I used smaller spikes in the confined space between rails and larger spikes elsewhere—hardly visible after the fact but easier to place.




Finally, a view of the turnout from the other end. The continuous curve of the diverging road is clear from this angle.


I am pleased with this: less work than I had originally anticipated, and easier to put together thanks to pre-bending each rail before connecting anything to anything else. Clachbeg only boasts five turnouts—of which only two are alike—so this represents significant progress.


Next will be the curved 1:3, turnout to the mine spur with a 12'-3" radius diverging line, which is on the same template, and then I can transfer the whole template to the baseboard and bed all the engineering into the landscape.

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