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Thread: How To: Building a Fast Tracks Code 40 #6 Slipswitch

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    Default How To: Building a Fast Tracks Code 40 #6 Slipswitch

    Okay I know this isn't a short how to thread but there's a very good reason for that. It takes a while to build a slipswitch in N and particularly with the instructions written as they are. That's a big reason why you're about to see attempt number 2. Number 1 was abandoned about 90% into the project as unuseable even though I followed the instructions almost to the letter. I have to say that while the instructions from Fast Tracks are excellent they are very HO-oriented. That's the first thing I learned along the way. Secondly you don't necessarily follow the instructions to the letter or the order in which they are laid out, but you'll see why as we get to those parts of the second build.

    I didn't buy a slipswitch kit because I don't plan on building more than 1 for my layout and the kits contain enough material to allow you to build 5 of whatever you've ordered. If I bought a code40 slipswitch, code40 #6 turnout, code55 3-Way and code55 curved turnout kits I'd wind up with solder, Pilobond adhesive, PointForm tools and a bunch of rail to build 5 of each kit! Plus the kits do not come with some of the tools that I wanted so after a lot of research and the use of a spreadsheet I determined what the best value course of action was for me considering the turnouts I was going to be building over the coming months. All of my yard, spur and sidings will be code40 while my main and branch lines are all code55. I'm leaning towards code80 inside my helix's but we'll see as they get closer to being built. So I was going to need some code40 and some code55 tools as well as fixtures to suit those rails. The PointForm and StockAid tools work with both sizes of rail but the fixtures you build the turnouts in do not. With them it's one or the other.

    This process worked for me, that does not mean it's right for everyone! So here goes........

    This is what arrived from Fast Tracks. It cost roughly the same as what the kit would have cost but I got two files and a StockAid tool that you don't get with the kits and they are very handy to say the least.

    First things first and that means cutting the PC Board ties to length and fitting them into the fixture. I bought a packet of 100 of the crossover length ties because they can be used for the regular turnouts, curved turnouts, 3-way and the slip as well as crossovers if I need any down the road. I wound up getting all of these from 10 full length pieces.

    Lay out the printed template of the turnout you're building and mark where the PC Board ties need to have the copper cut to prevent shorts. I mark and cut my ties to length using a marking knife and rail cutters but I left them a little over and sanded them to exact length using a Dremel.

    I found using the triangular file to make the cuts was a complete pain so I wound up using the edge of the long flat file that I bought for use in the PointForm and StockAid tools! It was a lot faster and a lot easier to get close to the marks I made. Don't go too deep on these cuts or you'll be making new ties over and over again!

    The #6 Slipswitch PointForm is way different to a regular PointForm tool. It has to cut not just the regular frogs and points it also has to deal with the toads needed for a slip. But the good news is it will build the frogs and points for a regular #6 turnout in code55 or code40 so guess what all of my yard and siding turnouts will be?
    I also formed the guard rails at this part of the build using the method in the instructions. My first deviation from those instructions has to do with the frogs. Don't cut the rails to length before you file the frogs! It is much, much easier to insert, align and remove the rails from the PointForm tool if they are still 18"/36" long! Trust me on this, okay. In fact you can file each end of a piece of rail and then cut out what you need from each end provided you keep track of which side of which rail you filed so you have two pair of matched rails to build a frog.

    I like to use Tamiya tape to hold the frog rails down while I solder them together. This stuff will stick easily to the aluminium fixture and the rails but leaves no residue behind. Once they are soldered I file the solder smooth and then clean the rails with the wire brush. The brush is from Fast Tracks but the file is from the "borg" and is the same brand and type FT sells only it cost less. Same goes for the big flat file used in the PointForm and StockAid tools - buy it from a box store and you'll save a couple of bucks for the exact same file.

    Next on the agenda is forming the stock rails. First the guard rails and frogs are placed safely to the side and the the PC Board ties go back in the fixture. They are going to be in here for a while!
    I like to put the fixture on top of the QuickSticks ties for the slip to determine how long to cut the stock rails. The instructions say to go 1" over at each end and that seems fair enough although if you wanted to save some rail you could go 1/2" I suppose.
    Next you place the stock rails in the fixture - don't bend them permanently yet - and mark where the bottom of the rails will be cut to allow space for the point rails to close against them. The fixture has grooves cut for the point rails to sit in eventually but there's no marks for how far along to cut at the other extreme. What I found - on my first attempt - was that you need to cut to at least 1/8" from the closest middle PC Board tie. I know that sounds like a lot but again, trust me on this you WILL need the space later on!

    Okay here is the first major deviation from the instructions. In the instructions and their videos Fast Tracks recommends the Weller iron and tip you see on the left. That's all well and good for about 30% of the soldering on this slipswitch and probably will be fine for most other N turnouts and certainly HO turnouts..... NOT ON THIS IT ISN'T!!!! For attempt number 2 I'm going to the tip on the right and you will soon see why.

    Out comes the Tamiya tape again and it's time to solder the stock rails in place. I cleaned the rails off with 99% alcohol and applied some flux to the top of the middle PCB tie before I laid the rails in place and taped them down. Then I laid the PointForm and StockAid tools on top of the rails on ether side of the tie being soldered. Overkill? Not in the least. The rail might look straight but it can always have a little twist to it so the more pressure applied now will mean a straighter turnout later.

    That's it for the first installment. I'll finish soldering the stock rails in place and then it's onto the next step, the outer switch points. Oh joy!

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    I've moved on to the outer switch points and these are the first of the tough items to build and get right. I deviate from the instructions again because the PointForm tool is easier to use with the rail cut after you file the points.

    Here's one side of an outer point rail in place being marked for center.

    One end done and moving on to the next piece. You've got to make sure that the filed tip sits right at the end of the pocket in the fixture so that the final point rail will be as long as possible. You'll see why later. I have a feeling that this is not so important in turnouts that use a fixed point rail that simply flexes along it's length when thrown.

    One pair done and another to go. The tips are solidly in their pockets and you can see they meet flush in the middle thanks to using the fixture to line up the file for the proper angle.
    Now here's a hint. When soldering these in place and to each other it would be wise to move their meeting point towards the stock rail just a smidgen. By that I mean press down on the rail as it's being soldered with just a little of that force pushing out to the stock rail. I'll show you way later but again, trust me on this.

    The point rails are soldered in place and you can see I didn't solder on the inside of the rails in two places. There's too big a risk that if I did it would interfere with the toad end of the closure rails. In HO I'm sure there's enough room there but not in N! I did solder in between the point rails and the stock rails though and to clean up the solder - because let's face it it's bloody tight in there and some solder creeping will happen - I took a broken cut-off wheel and used that as a file of sorts. I may even use this to cut the gap in the PCB ties from now on because it worked so well. "You can learn something new every day" as my Grandma used to tell me.

    The cut-off wheel cleaned it all up nicely.

    Okay we're in the home stretch and it's time to build the closure rails. Notice I didn't say build and attach? First let's deal with the majority of the problems in the instructions which pretty much stem from the fact that they are really HO-centric. First the closure rails themselves.

    Here's a closure rail in the StockAid just after having the bottom of the rail filed for the point rail to fit in there (yellow arrows). The toad has already been cut in the PointForm tool and is to the right of the yellow arrows hidden inside the tool.
    The orange arrow is where the notch has been cut to allow the rail to bend to form the wing rail.
    The green arrow is where the Fast Tracks instructions tell you to cut the rail PRIOR to notching and bending the wing rail or filing the points reflief!
    Take a good look at that green arrow. How much support does that give the rail when you're filing away on it? Not much! Not only that but the instructions also tell you to bend the wing rail BEFORE you file the relief in the rail for the points! On a HO rail I can see that BUT NOT IN N!

    So I take a long piece of rail and file the toad. Then I put it in the fixture and adjust the toad as the instructions suggest using an NMRA gage. Then I mark the location of the notch and cut it. I file that smooth and then before I bend anything I insert the rail into the StockAid and file the relief in the bottom of the rail. Only then do I make the wing rail bend and cut it to the proper length.

    Here's that finished closure rail in place. The arrows mark the ends of the relief cut in the rail.

    I've made 3 more of these and they are ready to attach but I'm not going to do that, yet. This is the place where the first slip ground to a halt and I have learnt from that big time. Again I'm sure in HO it works just fine but not in N. You could forget all about cutting the point rails off and just allow the rails to flex but they are kinda short for that and I'm not sure that having all four rails at each end of the slip working like this is the way to go. So for this attempt I flexed the outer rails and hinged the inner rails.

    Now there is a problem here and it's that the joiners interfere with the fixture and don't allow the slip to sit flat any more. So the sequence of the pieces that need to be built and mounted is going to be altered significantly to make this work properly - from my perspective anyway. Still that pales into insignificance compared to the nightmare that is trying to do it as per the instructions! Stand by for more updates.

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    I should say that given what I know now I'd be prepared to say there is yet another way that would probably also work in building the outer points rails compared to how the instructions have them. If I ever build another slip I'd build them as 4 pieces on each side rather than as 2 which get soldered together and later cut apart. That way you would wind up with the maximum length of the points section plus the ends of both the solid section and points would be clean and square. Cutting them in place and trying to get them square and without burrs and such is going to be hard enough the way I'm about to do it but if you try doing it the way the instructions lay it out it's beyond frustrating.

    This is what I am talking about. I have 2 of the closure/wing/toad rails in place here - not soldered yet of course - and you can see the toad filed in one end and the wing rail at the other. The 4 arrows indicate where the outer point rails have to be cut and a half length joiner attached to support the cut off piece of point rail. Look at that gap between the closure rail and the toad rail. Sure a jewellers saw can get in there but how do you clean up the cut let alone get the joiner in place?
    Oh and these are only 4 of the 8 cuts needed for half length joiners! If you look at the assembly fixture you'll see inside the points rails and toad rails another pair of channels that hold the inner switch points. They are supposed to be built the same way as the outer points rails in two pieces soldered together in the middle and then cut apart with half length joiners attached to support the points. Imagine what those gaps are like to work in.

    I'm sure there are plenty of guys who have built these things according to the instructions and they work just fine but my pudgy fingers aren't up to the task and I'm not about to hire a 10yo Chinese factory worker to assemble this for me!

    It really is that obvious when you get to this point of the build that in places that they either had slightly different parts to what I have available or I'm just that bad a builder. As an example there is no way the ME code40 joiners I have can go where they say they need to go and actually have clearance of any kind to the rails around them. NO WAY! Ok...... enough of a vent.

    I didn't post this before but here she is with the 4 wing/toad rails in place but not soldered down yet. Rolled a MT low profile truck through and all is well even though the rails are not "set".

    With those 4 out of the way I followed the sequence in the instructions and in went the guard rails and the frogs. All is well here.

    Now the fun really begins.

    According to the instructions the inner point rails should be curved slightly to sit in the channel and make contact against the wing rails. Then they have the points filed and finally be cut to length - yellow to green. Well of course if you curve that rail slightly it doesn't sit in the PointForm tool properly not to mention that the next piece of the puzzle is a repeat of what you do with the closure rails - solder them together at the middle tie then cut them about 1/8" away from the outer tie of the middle set of 5 ties (purple & orange).
    Been there and done this once already and it's not fun. Sooooooo.......
    What you see above is my "solution". Rather than make each side of the inner points from 2 pieces of rail that get soldered together and then cut apart I made each center section from one solid piece and then the points themselves 4 separate pieces all cut to the exact length they need to be. No cutting with the jewellers saw! All the cuts are nice and clean and the cut down joiners slide on easily. It also allowed me to get the center pieces to within 1/128" of each other and perfectly centered.

    Attaching the joiners is my next headache. They can't be attached until the wing/toad rails are soldered in place because the joiners interfere with the slip sitting flat in the fixture.

    There's a cut down joiner - only 3 more to go (better than another 7!) - and that is the direction I will slide it onto the point rail itself. This is the opposite of what the instructions tell you to do. The instructions say to slide the joiner onto the end of the center section so it's hard up against the PCB tie and then you slide the point into that.
    I think it's a lot easier to slide that piece of joiner onto the point rail and secure it with a dab of solder where I can really get at it, then slip that onto the stub of rail poking out past the tie using the point rail instead of a pair of tweezers. It'll serve exactly the same purpose so why not do it a simpler way?
    Another plus I see is that I can solder in the wing/toad rails once I have the inner point rails ready to go because you're no longer having to work around them to get solder onto that joiner in a tight location. With the point rails out of the way and no joiner to interfere the slip will sit in the fixture properly.

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    All soldered up and ready to be fitted in place for a trial run. What a difference this change made to building these things! Like night and day. I've had the switch out of the fixture to check the fit of the points and it was like they were still one piece they fit so well. Not only that but actually fitting them was a breeze.

    So next on the agenda is soldering on the second pair of wing/toad rails, soldering the joiners to their point rails and then the switch comes out of the fixture for good and it'll be time to solder all the points to the throwbars.

    Here's the first of the throwbars with the inner point rails attached. Again this deviates from the instructions because they tell you to put the outer point rails in place first. Take a real good look at the gap between those two rails. A dremel cutoff wheel does not fit in there! How in heaven's name do you suppose anyone could clean up the soldering and get these two in position properly if you have the outer rails in place first?
    If you look closely you might see that there is no gap cut in copper of the throwbar to isolate the rails. I do that next using a jewellers saw blade that I hold down in the gap with my finger tip and work back and forth till the copper is cut. That way I can concentrate on getting a good solder joint in there and cut it apart later. Then I clean up the other side of each rail tip with files so they close cleanly against the wing/toad rails.
    One more thing. The cut down joiners take a very delicate touch with the soldering iron or you get too much in and fill them up. I botched one but the rest were just fine. Cleaned the underside up with a file and good to go.

    Lots of Tamiya tape! To avoid soldering the outer point rails to the stock rails I simply applied a wrap of tape to the stock rails. No idea why I had it on the wing/toad rails unless it was to give a consistent gap. Wasn't needed there really. I taped the throwbar down and soldered the outer point rails in place.

    On the second throwbar I tinned the copper slightly to assist in making a good joint for the outer point rails. Naturally I filed down the excess solder on the sides of the inner point rails before moving on. Look closely and you can see I've already cut the isolation gap in the top of the throwbar between the rails.

    And one side is complete! The arrows indicate where solder needs to be filed down. If there's room a dremel on the slowest speed with a steady hand can do the job otherwise it's a cut-off wheel by hand.

    I thought I should have made the outer points rails the same way I did the inner points rails but not for long. Look at the rail joiners on those inner rails and then look at the space available around the outer rails.
    I cut the points relief in the bottom of the stock and wing/toad rails longer than the instructions say to do and look at how little clearance I have in places.
    Did I mention that the instructions are very, VERY HO-centric?

    I took this photo a couple of minutes early because the frog and wing rails haven't had their isolation cuts made. Still after a scrubbing with 99% alcohol to remove all the flux and other crud that builds up during the build it's now ready to be glued to the QuickSticks ties...... sort of. Once again there are issues.

    Looks okay I guess but of course on closer inspection there were problems.

    Apart from the fact that I will NEVER use the Pilobond adhesive again there are spots where the QuickSticks do not contact the rails because they are interfered with by the rail joiners on the inner point rails (yellow arrows). If you look closely at the small sections of ties I removed - well they fell off actually - you can see that I've ground them back to allow the outside "rails" of the ties to make contact with the stock rails. Doing this while the QuickSticks are still all in one piece is really difficult to get right in and make enough space so it's actually easier to just not apply any contact adhesive to the rails or the ties in this area and let them fall away once the rest are secure and the outer section of the QuickSticks are broken away.
    I had a clearance issue with the other section of ties around the throwbar that are missing in this photo but that was easily resolved.
    Instead of Pilobond I think a microbrush and some regular high strength contact adhesive will do the trick for future FT pieces and it'll probably be a lot less messy.

    In case you're wondering what's up with the brown ties at the ends I cut some ME code40 flex ties and put them on before I glued the switch to the QuickSticks to keep the stock and frog rails in gauge and also to give me a final length for those rails.

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    Before I go painting anything I have some wiring to install so that's next on the agenda.

    A single feed to each stock rail gets the outer and inner points rails fed as well thanks to them being on the same PCB ties. It also feeds the wing/toad rails again because those are also connected on PCB ties. The only other feeds necessary are to the frogs and the frog rails which were isolated by cutting just before the ties were attached. The interesting thing here is the design on the slipswitch means I'll use two of the new Tam Valley Depot Dual (Double?) Frog Juicers. The 2 pair of frog rails are not isolated from each other, in fact they are soldered together so they need to have their polarity switched every time a loco rolls onto them. It also means they will need to be isolated from the rails leading into/out of them. The frogs themselves - like every other frog on the layout - each need a line from the Juicer to switch their polarity so I knew that was coming long ago.


    Now for a coat of paint...... or three actually. Roof brown sprayed all over then rail brown applied to the rails only with a paint pen followed by a very fine spray of grimy black down the middle of the tracks. Because this is going on an industrial spur I think a little rust will also be in order.


    Ready to have a couple of holes drilled in the throwbars for the servo cranks now that the aluminium tubes are in place. Once that's done I'll glue her down at long last and my code 40 #6 slipswitch will be ready for operations!

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    Thank you for the fantastic step-by-step photos. You definately have more patience than I. Fast Tracks is a great system for sure.

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    I am worn out just reading this... but it does make a pretty slip!
    Sean McC

    "No man is a failure ...

    who has friends." -- Clarence

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    Very nice tutorial, i remember watching this on the other site. Never seen it finished until now.


    Sparky(Jeff)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigsparky65 View Post
    Very nice tutorial, i remember watching this on the other site. Never seen it finished until now.
    Sparky(Jeff)
    And you won't be seeing it any more on that site either! I'm done with them and their condoning of racists and bigots.

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    Thanks for showing how you built that switch, I have a #6 kit that I gave up on. Maybe I will try again later.

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    Thanks for the great tutorial.

    You mentioned not liking the PlioBond what do you recommend as a substitute?

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    thats more than what I can do good job Jay

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    Aussie, you've got the same problem that I have when soldering...a little too much solder in some spots that shows thru a bit. Moose gave me a suggestion that I used with great results. Use a desoldering braid to soak up the excess solder, and you turnouts will look cleaner, and there will be no chance of your wheel sets riding up on those globs. Very important, as you are bravely using code 40! I dip the braid in flux which seemed to help alot. Otherwise a great project and tutorial...thanks for making the effort to share.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gen View Post
    Aussie, you've got the same problem that I have when soldering...a little too much solder in some spots that shows thru a bit. Moose gave me a suggestion that I used with great results. Use a desoldering braid to soak up the excess solder, and you turnouts will look cleaner, and there will be no chance of your wheel sets riding up on those globs. Very important, as you are bravely using code 40! I dip the braid in flux which seemed to help alot. Otherwise a great project and tutorial...thanks for making the effort to share.
    From a foot away you don't see them and the ones on ther inside of the rails I ground down using a piece of cutoff wheel that I worked over the lumps by hand. With my latest turnout I didn't have anything like the same problems simply because there was more space to get the iron tip in there. I also applied flux to the pcb ties prior to laying the rail in place so the solder ran under the rails for a better bond with less solder. Practice makes the difference.

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    Default Here we go again, again!

    I thought it appropriate to update this Tutorial by noting that through an unfortunate set of circumstances I had to cut the slip out of my layout and now I have to build a replacement for it. I was hoping to effect a repair but because it is so tight a build it's easier to just start again. I'm doing this because I broke one of the inner point rails away from the throwbar and no matter what I tried I couldn't get it to reattach. So......

    At the cost of a set of QuickSticks wood ties, 7 PCB ties and 2 x 18" pieces of c40 rail - and my time and some solder - I decided it was best to start again and incorporate a few "upgrades" before laying the new slip into the space previously occupied by attempt number 2. I've mentioned some of the improvements I will make in the postings prior to this but I have some other ideas I want to try out as well and I'll show you those as I carry out the build.

    My order from Fast Tracks has shipped so I should be good to start Tuesday or Wednesday evening depending on when Canada Post deliver. Nothing like turning adversity into an opportunity for improvement.
    "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!" (appeared on the sign outside our Pentecostal church)

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    Default Slipswitch build number 3!

    Okay so here we go........

    The instructions say to start with the guard rails and main frogs but I usually get the pcb tie cutting, sanding and gap cutting out of the way first. Once it's done it's done and it is tedious.

    8 and bit of the crossover pcb ties is what it takes for the majority of the ties needed for the slip. The throwbars are virtually a full tie each but they can wait.

    All gapped and ready to go. I cut and bent the guard rails next then filed the tips of the frog rails, cut them to rough length - do this after you've filed the tips unlike what the instructions say - and soldered them together. Put those pieces aside and got one with the job.

    The stock rails are next and here's the updated cuts I'm making in the hope this gives me a better operating slip. Unlike what the instructions say to do I file the bottom of the rail away before I bend them to the curve needed otherwise you're just straightening them out in the StockAid tool. The arrows point to the ends of the cuts which for this effort are longer than the instructions or the assembly fixture indicate. You'll see why I've done this soon.

    Okay stock rails filed, bent and soldered in place.

    At the top is the first slip I started building and below that the current effort.The arrows point to the ends of the cuts made to the inside bottom of the stock rails to allow the outer point rails to close tight to them. The thing is in HO the clearances between those rails is a lot better than in N so that one of the reasons why I've made my cuts longer.

    Yet another new technique I'm trying on this version. I decided to build the center sections of the outer point rails as 1-piece items and simply notch and then bend them to the correct angle rather than make them from two pieces and solder them together. To make sure they are identical on each "leg" I broke out my digital caliper and got them to within .002" which is close enough for me.

    One in place. Don't worry about all the solder. I wanted to be sure I got enough in there for a secure placement before I worried about how clean it looked. I carefully filed and sanded the excess away.

    Both in place and according to the calipers I got them within .0007" to being dead center.

    Now for the outer point rails themselves. For those who might want to build one of these just like I did here is my rough-as method of measuring how far to insert the rail into the StockAid to file away the outside bottom of the rail. Now the instructions do not mention having to do anything like this but believe me I've found it's somewhat necessary. You might think this will seriously weaken the rail at the filed down tip but read on in the following posts and you'll see why there is no cause for alarm.
    "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!" (appeared on the sign outside our Pentecostal church)

  19. #17
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    Default Slip build number 3 continued....


    Here's a comparison between my first ill fated effort and the current slip.. The arrows are pointing to the ends of the outer point rails. You can imagine where the throwbar connected to the point rails on the original slip which was built - like effort number 2 was in this area - as per the instructions. Not a lot of meat is there? Whereas the longer point rails even with the bottom of the rail filed back has much more metal in that area. So less flexing of the kind you don't want at a critical solder joint. This is especially important for the inner point rails but we'll get to those soon enough.

    With the rail cut and filed to length I took an ME c40 rail joiner and cut the small tab from one end and then filed that end square. This is the test fit of the joiner and point rail. I like it.

    Just as in both my previous builds there is very little room for the joiner to fit. It's the reason why on both previous builds I didn't use the joiners for the outer point rails. However...... I filed away more of the bottom of the stock rails didn't I? Sure there's still interference here BUT with a little grinding of the joiner there will be room for the point rail to close properly and be secure.

    Boy those Fast Tracks tools come in handy for all kinds of things! Here I've just soldered the joiner to the point rail from underneath using the small tab I left in place as the main attachment. That way solder doesn't fill up the joiner but you still get a nice secure joint. Filed and cleaned up it's a nice smooth joint.

    Okay that's enough for tonight...........WOW......... make that morning! I'll be back at this in a few hours so I'll get into making three more point rails and then it's on to the inner point rails and the toad rails. Lots more changes ahead.
    "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!" (appeared on the sign outside our Pentecostal church)

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    Default

    love your work Aussie.
    I had the chance to make a turnout the other night in HO and found it easy. While i did not get a chance to solder it yet, I think doing these in N scale wont be so bad. You definitley have inspired me and others. keep posting cuz I'm learning so much from you.
    thanks Miguel

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    Default Slipswitch build number 3 continued again....

    Got back into it this evening and here's what's been going on......

    Building the outer point rails I take a piece of rail and file the point at each end of the rail. Then I cut each piece to just a little more than is needed before filing the end for the final length making it square and smooth. Then I go back to the same piece of rail and do this again for the next pair. Just a little thing but it helps me with locating the rail in the tool and I think it also saves me some rail. Plus I can file and fit 2 of the points at a time.

    Once the points are at final length I solder on the rail joiners. Then I file down the open end till it's square. The one on the left has the tab cut off but hasn't been filed yet.

    And here are the 4 outer point rails in place. You can see how long they are here. I still have to file away some of the rail joiners for extra clearance to the stock rails and the closure/toad rails but that comes later.

    Speaking of the closure/toad rails time to start on them. First I file the toad angle and then set the rail in the fixture to adjust the gap to the outer points center rail. Too wide and the wheels passing over this will drop into the gap and too tight and the flanges won't make it through. Having an NMRA gage to check the clearance is very handy but a truck with low profile wheels will do in a pinch.

    Here's a close up of that gap. There's an awful lot happening in a very small space here. According to the instructions from Fast Tracks I should be soldering the closure/toad rails in place at this point....... but I won't! I need the space to be able to construct and install the inner point rails center rail. You can see the channel for them in the assembly fixture.

    With the closure/toad rail sitting in place I mark the location of the cut needed for the inner point rails to close to it by marking where the pcb ties are located. I don't cut all the way to the middle pcb tie because that would take away too much of the toad point for it to be soldered on to the tie safely.

    Once the relief for the point rails are done I place the rails back in the fixture and mark where they must be bent to form the wing rails. I take a rail cutter and nip the bottom of the rail and then a triangle file and remove the rail in that area. Then I cut the rail slightly over length and place it back in the fixture. Once the toad is in place I adjust the angle of the wing rail and then file it to final length. The inside top edge of the wing rail is filed at an angle to prevent wheels from riding up on it. I'll put these aside for now and start on the inner point rails.

    I've cut and bent two pieces of rail slightly shorter than the outer point rail center rails. The channel they drop into is slightly curved and I find it's easier for me to use my fingers to make the curve than to use the rail roller. A little tweaking here and there and they drop right in. A little flux along the bottom of them and they're easy to solder in place.

    Ready for some point rails. But first the toad/closure rails, frogs and guard rails all need to be attached.

    The frog rails, closure/toad/wing rails are soldered on except for two things. The frogs and toads need to be secured to the last pcb ties they sit on from underneath because there is simply no room for a the soldering iron tip to get down between the rails safely from above.
    "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!" (appeared on the sign outside our Pentecostal church)

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    Default Slipswitch build number 3 second day continuation.....


    I apply flux to the bottom of the rails either side of the pcb ties and then solder the rails in place from underneath. The solder wicks under the tie and gives a nice solid join. Just got to be careful not to use too much solder or you'll get runs into the gaps between the rails. This is especially true for the toads. A dremel cut-off disc is handy for cleaning out any solder that might get into places a file can't go. I use my fingers to work it back and forth where it's needed.

    So the inner point rails are built the same way as the outer point rails and here is the slip with all 8 point rails in place!

    The assembly fixture will no longer accept the slip because the joiners on the points rails will not fit into the channels for the rails. So how to locate the throwbars? I'll show you tomorrow.
    "God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts!" (appeared on the sign outside our Pentecostal church)

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