In-street turnouts for Regan

(I recently designed a layout for a friend based on CP Rail’s industrial trackage in Scarborough, Ontario. Click on the image to read more about this design)

Nothing says big city industrial railroading like trackage in the street. So recently, when I designed an achievable layout for my friend Regan Johnson based on CP Rail’s industrial trackage in Scarborough, Ontario, I added a bit of street running, including a pair of in-street turnouts.

The prototype did not have any street running, as far as I can tell – but it could have. More importantly, the stretch of in-street trackage will be a highlight on the layout – visually and operationally – so it was an idea too good to pass up.

That said, it also meant Regan would need in-street turnouts. And since I’d never built any, I thought I’d like to give it a go. So I did:

 photo InStreetTurnouts-Finished_zpslwh5oarr.jpg
(The finished turnouts, ready for Regan’s layout)

The turnouts are both Number 6, in Code 70. They have a single point, and I used Code 70 to create full-length guard rails throughout the turnouts. These guards will allow us to pave the street without getting plaster (or spackling, or whatever we use) into the flange ways.

I started with a Fast Tracks turnout building fixture and other tools, and built as much of a normal turnout as I could using this gear. This amounted to both stock rails, the closure rails, the frog, and one point:

 photo InStreetTurnouts-FastTracks_zps4slorzzi.jpg
(Out of the Fast Tracks fixture, and ready for customization)

From there, it was simply a matter of cutting lengths of rail to use as guards and fitting them in place by measuring off the running rails. An NMRA track gauge worked fine for spacing the guards while soldering them in place.

The throw bars required special attention. I soldered the single point to the throw bar, then used spare PC ties to trap the throw bar under the opposite rail so that it could not waggle back and forth. Finally, I built up some dams out of styrene to keep the paving out of the throw bar – and used a length of photo etched Farr grille for an EMD F-unit to represent an in-street grate over the throw bar. This is removable so Regan can install and service the turnout, as needed.

 photo InStreetTurnouts-Throwbars_zpsqnibkff4.jpg
(Closeup of the throw bar area. The single point is the middle rail on the left side)

This was a fun project that required a lot of problem solving on my part, and each turnout required three to four hours of pleasant time at the workbench. Anybody who can build a standard turnout using Fast Tracks tools can do one of these as well. They’ll help set the scene on Regan’s layout, so I’m glad I included them in the design.

13 thoughts on “In-street turnouts for Regan

  1. Nice work, Trevor. With such close soldering next to previously-soldered joints, did you make copious use of heat sinks to prevent earlier joints from coming unattached?

  2. Cool! Love the street trackage. How do you plan to throw the points? Have you considered using DAS modeling clay for the street surface? You might find it more controllable around the point. Vinyl spackel might do it too.

  3. Very nice…

    I’ve done quite a few street turnouts. Most recently had no guard rails, and I cheated on the roadway between the points by using a piece of styrene, painted the same as the road surface (made of drywall mud), that moves with the points. Rarely noticed and allows easy maintenance on the points and throwbar if needed, just lift the styrene out of the way.

    One key is to make sure the road surface is slightly below the rails. This will aid in cleaning track and assure wheels don’t get lifted to break electrical contact with the rail.

    But previously I had taken the approach of the trolley modelers to make girder rail typical of street railways and many standard railroads operating in the street – solder the head of code 83 rail into the web of similar rail. This assembly can be used as rail for the street turnouts. RP25 wheels will operate well in this, so long as it is properly gauged.

    Regarding throwing the point, drill through the layout and insert a brass tube, insert a rod with a slight groove in the top, and solder the heel of the point into this. the point can be made to operate from under the layout.

    Of course, girder rail is available from Orr rail via Custom Traxx. I think castings for single-point turnouts have also been available, though they’re fairly easy to make with the technique described above and in Trevor’s post.

  4. This is just such a neat project. I want to make one up now.

    When it comes time to pave, any thoughts on how to address the area underneath the flangeways? An example of this area is around the frog where there’s an air gap under the rails representing the base of the flangeway. Perhaps it just gets filled in during paving and it’s a silly question or I’m just not finding the correct words.

    Time to go dig out some rail.


    • Hi Chris:
      A very good question.
      My thought is that after we install the turnouts but before we pave the street, we airbrush black over everything – the rails, the ties, the baseboard around the track. Then we clean off the tops of the rails, and then pave the road. The black between the shiny rails should make everything disappear.

    • I’m also considering whether to get Gerry at Mt. Albert to sell me some tie stock material before it has been cut into ties, which we can cut to fit under the track. It would be the same thickness as the ties and take spikes the same way.

      • What if you used something softer like balsa (sheet). It doesn’t hold spikes but would could trim it to fit the gaps between the copper ties. Balsa’s soft nature might help it fit or fill the area between the ties. I like the idea of spraying everything with black before paving and this step would help seal the balsa so it wasn’t damaged during paving.


  5. Wow. Every time I see these turnouts in a photo, I’m more impressed.
    This new layout started with liking a facebook post, some random musings, and a couple of conversations.
    Now, I’ve got a plan, half of the turnouts built, a connection with someone whose father worked in one of my future buildings.
    I’m going to have to get my butt in gear, and get the room cleared out so that there is a place to lay track!

    • Thanks Regan! I’m glad I could help with this. Building these was a fun project… and I look forward to helping you build some kickass street trackage.

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