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Paynestown - adding a curved turnout

Barry Ten


I'm building an N version of my old 4mm Paynestown layout, in anticipation of the Sonic Models 56xx tanks. The new layout will

be about half the size of the old and uses Code 40 Finetrax components for the points and plain track.


With the fourth point to be constructed, I wanted to add a bit of a curve to help with an overall bend in the platform road, partly to

get away from everything being too linear, and also to make the best use of available layout width. Running track through a scene

at a diagonal, and/or with a curve in it, gives you more length compared to the linear dimensions of the module. Obvious really

but it's surprising how often exhibition layouts are built with all the track dead parallel to the baseboard edges.




I wouldn't have attempted this on my first go at building these kits, but with the fourth one enough confidence was creeping in that I felt I could experiment a bit. I began with the basic Finetrax turnout base and then used a rotary cutting disk in my mini-drill to introduce slits between the sleepers at about every fourth sleeper or so, going about three quarters of the way across the turnout, creatint a sort of comb that could be gently bent. I did this after I'd added the stock and check rails because I felt they'd add a bit strength when the base was at its flimsiest. Once I was happy with the general shape of the turnout I glued it to a sub-base of foam core for the rest of the assembly. Everything else went smoothly and I then dropped the turnout and sub-base back into the main module. Test running hasn't yet thrown up any problems: the sharper route through the turnout is indeed very sharp but as this is the entry to a siding, I don't think it'll throw up any difficulties as only short-wheel base stock will be propelled through it.


One thing I've leaned with these kits so far is that it's critical to get a smooth transition between the cast frog and the four rails that approach it. I was finding that the frogs had a tendency to sit slightly too high, at least the way I was building them. Although the difference might just be a few fractions of a mm, and would barely register in 4mm, I found that it was discernible in N and even if it didn't affect the running, there was a bit of a lumpy look when stock was running through. To get around this, I've taken to easing the frog down into the base with a slight touch from the soldering iron, just until it sits absolutely flush. Where I'd already fixed the frog in place and soldered the approach rails, I used a grinding wheel and files just to skim a bit off the top of the frog. Again, we're only talking tiny measures here.


Oddly enough I didn't have any worries with the first point, so perhaps I just took more care over that one! But with the others, I've been keeping a careful eye on the frogs. I've now started building the crossover for the engine release, which will be the last set of points needed.






Edited by Barry Ten

  • Like 11
  • Informative/Useful 1
  • Craftsmanship/clever 2


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  • RMweb Gold

Looking forward to seeing this progress Al :-) Think how much easier carting this around to shows rather than a certain layout I could mention would be!

  • Funny 1
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  • RMweb Gold

I'm looking forward to seeing you progress, Al. I always liked the original 4mm version of Paynestown and enjoyed watching it at one of the RMWeb events years ago.


All the best,



  • Thanks 1
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  • RMweb Gold

Thanks, Nick - I've just added a new update.


I brought it to two RMweb dos if I remember - one in Stafford and the other the Taunton one. It was a pain to transport as there wasn't room in the

car for both the layout and the legs - and it was a tight squeeze even then. 


For the second outing, I booked a van - the smallest type as I'd be driving it on my own and I'm never confident in vans, at least not initially. When

I turned up to the collect the booked vehicle, though, I was told the one I'd asked for wasn't available and the only one left was a super-long

wheelbase Transit! I wasn't at all happy but it was either accept it or not be able to bring the layout, so I took what was on offer. Unfortunately,

there was a severe right hand bend just to get out of the rental area and I managed to prong the side of the van against a fence just getting

it out! That ended up costing me around 150 pounds before I'd even loaded the layout! Then when I got to Taunton, the car park was already

almost totally full and there was only one awkward spot left which would need to be reversed into. I tried, but I couldn't back the van in on my own.

Luckily Neil (Black Rat) came to the rescue, saving me from turning into a sweaty mess before I'd even started putting up the layout! I was very

glad to get home that evening and dump the van off. The same rental place messed me around a few years later as well, once again not having

the booked vehicle ready on the day, so I've avoided them since.


Other than that, the layout was shown at the Newport cinema show and a couple of Lord & Butler-sponsored exhibitions (the ones that used

to happen over father's day weekend) and that was it. When I was made an offer for it at Newport, I quickly accepted as I also had no room

to store it at home. The layout has since been shown quite a few times and the new owners made it more user-friendly by adding integral

legs and improved inter-board alignment. I did slightly regret selling it, though, as it had been built to scratch a very particular itch, and I don't

think I played with it often enough to fully satisfy that desire. With the new 56xxs on the horizon, I thought I might as well have another go - we'll

see if this does the trick! At least it'll be easier to store, as it can be shoved up into the attic.



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