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Closing the loop: building and installing the crossover turnouts

Richard T


blog-0217359001399760291.jpgThis template is the largest of them all, and includes the two nearly identical, straight, right-handed turnouts which close the station loop and lead to the goods siding and to the headshunt respectively.


Unlike the other turnouts these have straight 1:3 crossing vees, which should make construction rather more straightforward. The template includes one panel of inner loop track, as well as one-and-a-half panels of 9'-long 12 lb/yd tracks, being the start of the goods siding. The platform-side turnout—facing the stonemason turnout—will have a switchstand with indicator located inside the loop slaved to a locking switchstand at the layout edge, just as the stonemason turnout does.


Unlike the other turnouts these have timbering perpendicular to their straight roads. The maximum sleeper length is 8', just enough to accommodate this formation.




The template hardly fits onto the workbench, it is so big. The sleepers for the goods siding are already glued in place at the rear, raised ¾" (1.5 mm) on plastic strips so that the light rail will align with the heavier rail of the turnout.


The scribbles and bays along the front of the template are where I had thought of mounting a central lever frame and point rodding.


A comparison of the “real” template with the original from Templot reveals that I have relocated the rail joints, to avoid having them conflict with the check rails; this was the case with all five turnouts.


The progress of building the turnouts is much the same as for the preceding ones:

  1. cut sleepers to length (about ten)
  2. distress sleeper tops with a wire brush
  3. stain sleepers
  4. cut and bend rails to fit template:

    1. main stock rail—toe end
    2. main stock rail—nose end
    3. diverging stock rail—toe end
    4. diverging stock rail—nose end
    5. main crossing rail
    6. diverging crossing rail
    7. main wing/closure rail
    8. diverging wing/closure rail
    9. main switch rail
    10. diverging switch rail
    11. main check rail
    12. diverging check rail

[*]file or mill:

  1. crossing vee rails
  2. switch rails
  3. toe-end stock rails

[*]drill switch rails for stretcher bar

[*]drill all rail ends for fishplates

[*]fabricate fishplates for loose heels and for stock rails (four pairs)

[*]fabricate tie plates (six)

[*]check all rails for fit

[*]solder crossing vee together

[*]fabricate stretcher bar

[*]assemble stretcher bar to switch rails

[*]loosely fish switch rails to closure rails

[*]glue sleepers to template

[*]spike crossing vee

[*]spike nose-end stock rails

[*]spike wing/closure rails including tie plates

[*]spike toe-end stock rails

[*]fish stock rails together

[*]spike check rails

[*]fit switchstand with rodding

[*]fabricate fishplates for joints to other templates (six pairs)

[*]glue template to baseboard

[*]weight template down until glue has dried

[*]fish rails to other templates’ rails

[*]tin all fishplate bolts

[*]trim all fishplate bolts


This shows the tracklaying progress thus far; the big blue gap is where this template comes from.




Sleepers cut; lots of 8"-wide timber here.




Sleepers stained




Milling a crossing vee. I am feeling much more confident after a little practice and really prefer this to filing by hand. I scribed the rail carefully from the template to show what was to be removed, and set up the angle by eye: easier than I had thought.




The result of the milling: a beautiful fit which solders together easily.


The only difference between these two turnouts is that one has the crossing nose on the straight closure rail, the other has it on the curved closure rail.




Milling a switch rail. The two turnouts have the same geometry, so I made all four 5' switch rails in one sitting. The tricky bit is setting up the machine vice at the required angle (using an engineer's square and brass spacers to set the angle before clamping the vice to the milling table). The setup is crude but surprisingly accurate and the result is ideal.




Checking all rails. These straight-crossing turnouts were particularly straightforward to prepare and build: only two curved rail lengths each.


The plain track in the foreground is the start of the inner loop, while the lightweight rail at the rear is the start of the goods siding; its sleepers are elevated above the baseboard to compensate for the difference in rail heights. The template had been cut on the basis of 15' rails, so when I realised that the sidings were to be formed of 9' lengths of the lighter rail I ended up with having two rails straddling templates.




Fishplates for the template. I make these in batches as and when required.




The sleepers are all glued in place, and here I am ensuring that the long ones dry flat against the template (none have warped but at this point I was not taking chances).




This time I remembered to assemble the wing rail–closure rail–switch rail–stretcher bar combination before anything else; the reason for this is access to the loose-heel fishplates and the stretcher bar nuts underneath the rails, which is not possible once the rails are in place between stock rails.




Same for the other turnout. This is a good time to double-check that the stock rail planing still matches the switch rail planing, as the loose heel adds a scale ½" or so to the length.




The completed crossover, spiked and fished, seen from the reverse side this time: the great advantage of building the trackwork at the bench.




After glueing the template onto the baseboard and fishing the rails to the other templates I finally had a complete loop—indeed, apart from the station turntable, the trackwork is complete. Here the view from the goods siding to the stonemason siding, with the station loop and the branch line curving to the left and starting to climb past Creag na Còsaig. One length of light rail of the goods siding has still to be spiked.


The two slaved loop switchstands can be seen here (well, one behind the other) as well as the two locking stands at the layout edge.




View from the turntable turnout. From this perspective the 25 lb/yd (code 205) rails look quite massive (certainly when compared to the 12 lb/yd (code 143) siding rails), however they are not only prototypical but somewhat smaller than the code 250 (40 lb/yd) or even code 332 (70 lb/yd) rails frequently seen in trackwork in this scale.




The loop switchstands. The indicator disks clear the loading gauge by an inch or so (scale). The locking stands in the foreground are connected by lengths of florist’s wire running in brass tube to the indicator stands.




Change of rail weight. The rail tops are “out” by ½" or so despite the asymmetric fishplates, however the effect on a wagon rolling over the joint is barely perceptible.




The completed passing loop at Clachbeg.




Close-up of the crossover itself; the straight line extends from just beyond the tip of each frog and of course avoids any nasty s-curve.




Not really part of the crossover or loop, but as the trackwork is nearly complete I took a few views from various points. This is looking up the mine spur to the station; to the left the branch line gradient descends to the guard rails of the mine turnout.




View down the branch line towards the station, just as the station loop begins.




Finally, the view from the stonemason siding looking towards the goods siding on the left. The only remaining trackwork will be the station turntable in the far right corner. The cramped location of the two loop switchstand indicators is clear in this shot—as is the slight and unintended kink in the goods siding.

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