Saturday, January 12, 2013


With the distractions and diversions of the Holidays behind us, my focus has returned to railroad construction.  Fabricating another seven turnouts was high on my list, allowing me to expand track laying through Westfir into Oakridge.  An assembly line was in order.  Eli Whitney and Henry Ford would be proud as I fabricated multiple parts  (frogs, points, stock rails) and then assembled these pieces into full turnouts.  I am coming up the learning curve on turnout fabrication using Fast Tracks™ jigs and tools (, so my time per turnout is coming down rapidly.  Those seven turnouts were built over the past two days. 

Seven new turnouts, ready to be glued to their QuickSticks™ ties.  Also shown are additional parts for a frog, points, and guard rails.

An important part of the learning process is figuring out what clamps to use and where (and when) to place them.   Also important is the development of additional tools, fixtures or jigs.  I alluded to one in the previous post on forming track.  Here is a close-up of the simple jig I created to hold a tie while filing insulation gaps.  This is simply a styrene base with a pair of .040x.060” strips flanking the tie.  A few marks help with common notch locations such as the pair of notches on the throw-bar illustrated in the image.

Tie holding jig for insulation notch filing.

I am quite pleased with the Fast Tracks™ system and with the range of tools they provide.  I elected to purchase new files from Fast Tracks™, figuring most of my files have suffered long years of use and abuse.  Further, the turnouts being built are critical parts of the railroad—nothing but the finest for them!  I am very happy with this decision, as it netted me excellent tools, well suited to the tasks fabrication required.   They will be amortized over the roughly sixty #8 turnouts I must build for the SP Cascade Line.  The triangular file illustrated with the tie notch tool is a good example of a tool perfectly suited to the task.  Another is the point file (from old automotive distributor point filing).  The one Fast Tracks™ provides is good as a file, and even more, forms a perfect HO-scale flange-way!  As I have stated previously, I am a very satisfied customer!

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