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Thread: Handlaying element tutorials

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    Default Handlaying element tutorials

    I've been thinking it might be a good idea to have some simple tutorials on this site to help folks who are new to handlaying. For many folks, the leap to a fully assembled switch or crossing is too much, and they stay out of handlaying as a result. We've all seen how frustrating it is to go through an entire build only to find the track doesn't meet expectations. But often it is just one part of the build that was not up to spec. The assembly is often more good than bad, but a bad point or frog leaves the builder feeling beaten and like they wasted money and time.

    Rather than attempting an entire switch or diamond crossing, I think it is a good idea for new folks to practice and build skills on some simpler elements, just pieces of the larger structures like track, frogs and points. In some cases what they build would be usable in a layout. In others the build would be just to get skills down before attempting a turnout or crossing. I think if people build their confidence by making a few operable track elements, they will get better results and be much more inclined to handlay when they need or want to.

    I think the elements should be operable - seeing a car or locomotive run smoothly along the track you just built is a real shot in the arm. Heck, I still get a thrill to see a truck or car run smoothly through the thing I just built!

    I think if we posted some simple practice exercises, that could each have a car or loco run along it, new handlayers could build some experience before moving on to turnouts and crossings. For example, some simple tutorials with photos could include the following:


    • A simple length of tangent track - learn about spacing ties, using pcb ties, soldering, using track gauges
    • A simple length of curved track - same as tangent but with more complex geometry
    • Cutting and filling gaps in handlaid track - learn on a cheap bit of simple track so cutting up a turnout is not as daunting
    • A simple length of tangent with a frog - learn about setting gaps, aligning frog rails, making a smooth running frog
    • A simple length of tangent with a single point on the straight rail (like a derail) - learn about removing rail base, filing a point, installing a throwbar
    • A simple length of tangent with a single point on the curved side (like a derail) - learn about shaping the curved stock rail and small kink at point tip,
    • Tangent with a single rail crossing through both main rails (frog on each main rail plus some guard rails) - starting to involve multiple structures while keeping things in gauge
    • Tangent with two parallel rails crossing through both main rails but more widely spaced than track gauge - almost a diamond crossing, without having to worry about keeping the crossing rails in gauge. If one builds this first, a diamond crossing would seem within easy reach.


    There are probably others you can come up with too. The key is to make some handlaying exercises available in between "all" and "nothing". My assumption is that if you had built the above simple exercises, a turnout would seem a lot more within reach for the newcomer. Some of the exercises at the end of the list would prep the newcomer for making a diamond crossing.

    I'd be happy to make some of the items on the list, and my thought is to enlist the capabilities of the community on the Trackage forum to get them put together. Perhaps we can each sign up for one or two?

    The other thought I had is if someone on this forum could produce some track templates for the exercises, these could be added too. That way the new guy can download the template and follow the tutorial and post their results if they need some pointers. I can produce some in 3rd Plan It but again, I'd like to enlist the community here to spread the load and tap the combined talent - go crowd-sourcing!!

    Who's in?

    Coxy

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    Good idea, Coxy! Any actual tutorials should appear in the Tutorials forum with a link here!

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    Question question about cost for those of us on limited budget

    I might be interested, although scratch building a T/O does scare me, I agree starting simple is the way to go. With some good tutorials I might want to try this.
    My question is, financially speaking, is this similar to scratch building structures, which in the long rung is less expensive?

    Also, maybe I missed it, but a list of required tools?

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by zosimas View Post
    I might be interested, although scratch building a T/O does scare me, I agree starting simple is the way to go. With some good tutorials I might want to try this.
    My question is, financially speaking, is this similar to scratch building structures, which in the long rung is less expensive?

    Also, maybe I missed it, but a list of required tools?

    Thanks
    I work in N scale and turnouts work out to be a couple of bucks and work great. Commercial offerings are about $10-20. Also when you roll your own, you can pretty much build whatever size and angle turnout you want. I haven't costed out diamonds. The diamonds I have built are not commercially available so a cost comparison is not really relevant. It was either build it or go without.

    I've seen a list of tools for handlaying somewhere in the Trackage section. I'm sure one of the other handlayers on this forum will be able to point it out.

    Cheers,
    Steven

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    Quote Originally Posted by coxsj View Post
    've seen a list of tools for handlaying somewhere in the Trackage section. I'm sure one of the other handlayers on this forum will be able to point it out.
    Since you mention it, there is a search feature, which I didn't think to use , but found the post HERE.
    Looks like could be a costly startup-up, but the cost of that list probably isn't much more than a couple T/O's.

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    Default tools for building

    This is the tools that I use. You don't need all of this to get started.

    1. Xuron corp. 410A utra close cutting Shear (6 15265 90036 3) www.xuron.com
    2. 12 piece set #00468 Needle file set (7 92363 00468 8) www.harborfreight.com
    3. Nicholson General purpose mill file. Black diamond single cut Bastard 8" #21832 (0 37103 21832 2)and Lincoln electric KH580 stainless brush (7 25636 09001 9) www.homedepot.com
    4. Zona Jewelers saw #35-750 (7 92024 35750 4) and 5" saw blades 36-480 NO.2 43TPI (7 92024 36480 9) all through the next ones I'm going to get will be 36-476 NO.2/0 56TPI www.zonatool.com
    5. NMRA N Standards Guge (with RP-25 contour) Mark IV
    6. Micro Engineering Track gauges N code 55 (42-109) get at lest three of these.
    7. 3M general purpose 45 spray adhesive (0 21200 96262 2) www.3m.com/adhesives
    8. Solder sp-0003 small diameter rosin core and Kester acid past flux formula SP-30 (0 27041 83001 4) www.fasttracks.net 1-888-252-3895 Tim



    The rest will be tools that you probly allready have. with these tools you can build just about aney thing that you can think of. the granet counter top I got at a custom counter top place it was scrap and I got it for free. and it is abslouty flat good to work on.
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    I would be willing to write up a couple of tutorials.

    I won't have time to write anything until at leat next week though.

    Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by pbender View Post
    I would be willing to write up a couple of tutorials.

    I won't have time to write anything until at leat next week though.

    Paul
    Thanks for offering to help out Paul.

    No rush and it shouldn't be a chore for anyone who helps out. I just think it would be good to get the simple steps documented and posted. Then when someone claims, "oh I couldn't make a turnout!" there'll be something less daunting they can follow to get going.

    Comfortably numb, thanks for posting the tool list

    Cheers,
    Coxy

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    This is a great idea. I only have 3 #6 turnouts under my belt so far, but handlaying track is becoming an addiciton for me. Strange, I know, and even I am not sure why it holds such an appeal. But as the OP says, it is a thrill to watch a car smoothly run through a handlaid piece of trackwork.

    I would appreciate a good tutorial on building an accurate frog. IMHO, that's the trickiest part of creating a reliable turnout, and there seems to be several schools of thought of the best way to go about it.

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    I'm interested in any info on this as I will soon need to start hand laying some turnouts (I have one under my belt that works okay). I agree that making a frog is half the battle, I guess the other one is making a reliable soldering joint between the point rails and the throwbar that won't weaken over time.

    Comfortably numb, what is in the Wilton vice? Some kind of jig? If you can describe more of how it's used, that would be most appreciated!


    Marc
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    It's got a jig in it for cutting stock length ties. from the left you slide in a bulk pice of tie and cut it even with the end of the PC through bars. can you see the space in the midle?

    I would take better pic's, but somthing very searious has just happen to my wife and I.....our house that we have been buying for the last five years from a friend........ has been sold out from under us for no reasion. and now we have three days to get out. so every thing is in a box and going to storage. and we are going to live in a camper, oh ya we have eight (8) min wennie dogs. so I will try to keep in touch with all of you but it might far and few in between.

    Hay MooseID can I come live in your back yard. Thanks for letting me rant it feals better now.

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    Default Starter template for Hand laying track work.

    This is a simple straight pice of main line with a grade crossing in the midle. But if you can make this and it works OK then you can build a turn out.

    This is drawn 1to1 but I cant get it to print out that way. what am I doing rong?
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    I just posted a reply on the Hand Laid Track sticky thread asking some questions about what was needed to do my own. I thgink this would be a good idea. To me the cost of the materials is minimal. I like the fack you can build what you want or need. The thing I don't like is the time wasted if it doesn't come out right. I know there is a learning curve for everything and I accept that. But, currantly I've been working 7 days a week. My next scheduled day off is Labor Day. So, needless to say I'd like to make them count. Especially if the first ones take 5 hours.

    CaseyJones

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    I think I posted some where else about the Lance Mindheim article about hand laying n scale turnouts in the 11-11 model railroader. For some reason it just 'clicked' for me. It did take me 5 hours to build the first one but I built it over a long weekend, no more than an hour or so at a time. That first one worked but looked awfull. The Fast Tracks jigs would speed things up quite a bit, but they are pricey! I think with a project like this the more a company 'dumbs down' the process, the less it apeals to me.
    john

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    Lance's article inspired me to build my first hand laid turnout and it turned out okay. As Lance says in the article be prepared to throw out your first few attempts if they don't look or work correctly.


    Marc
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