Fast Tracks TT

Fast Tracks TT

Postby CSD » Sun Aug 25, 2013 1:35 pm

Fast Tracks have jigs for doing what they call HOn3.5, HOm or 12 mm gauge turnouts. In Atlanta I had the opportunity to speak with the Fast Tracks guys and became quite interested in trying one out. However, I have no idea which one I should choose. They come in #6 and #7 geometries with canted ties for Micro Engineering 55, 70 and 83 rail. They do have strait ties and #5 turnouts listed on the website too, but there are no actual product listings under those categories. So, given code 55, 70 or 83 rail and a choice between a #6 or #7, which would be the best for TT? I am only passingly familiar with what this information means.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT turnouts

Postby railtwister » Sun Aug 25, 2013 7:33 pm

Most layouts, unless they are large, will use #5 or #6 turnouts on the main, and #4 & #5's in the yard. Larger numbered turnouts can get pretty long, and eat up a lot of space. As for rail size, code 70 would represent rail that is 8.4" high, which translates into a heavy rail, probably as big or slightly bigger than the heaviest mainline rail seen on major prototype railroads. However for model purposes, anything much smaller than code 70 is going to be harder to run on without special, smaller profile flanges, especially considering what is in use in TT today. If I was looking to have only one fixture, I'd probably choose #5 code 70 as the most useful.

I'm not sure about straight or canted ties, but if you are using an HOm fixture, it's slots for the soldered ties are going to be spaced for HOm and not TT, so that may be a slight problem, since those ties will be wider and spaced farther apart than TT dimensions. This would probably preclude using the Fast Tracks HOm laser-cut tie strips. You might be able to fake it acceptably by using individually laid ties in between the ones that are soldered to the rails while in the jig.

The biggest drawback I can see, is the weakness of the joint where the points are soldered to the throw bar. The smaller the rail size, the weaker that joint will be, and using solenoid switch machines will crystallize that soldered joint pretty quickly due to the hard impact when the points get thrown. Slow motion or manual machines will be better, but the points will still be the weak spot of the switch. Peco gets around this by making their points out of folded sheet metal, while Atlas uses cast zinc that is plated to match the nickel silver. They would be much better if they were cast in nickel silver or even brass that was plated rather than zinc. Unfortunately, those cast zinc points are not much better than the ones soldered to the throwbars, because the zinc is brittle and easily broken, and once it breaks, being zinc, it can't be soldered back together. Old Atlas switches used folded sheet metal points, but they were not as nicely formed as the Peco's, so the wheel flanges sometimes climbed over the somewhat rounded rail head, and also the big ugly rivet that the points pivoted on did not provide reliable contact, frequently causing dead spots in the turnout.

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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby CSD » Sun Aug 25, 2013 9:35 pm

Thanks Bill. Perhaps I'll get a hold of some rail samples and see if the flanges will be a problem.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby Bill Dixon » Mon Aug 26, 2013 12:07 am

I would use the largest turnout size you can fit in for mainline turnouts.
#8 is a minimum these days.
#6s will work for yards and #4s for industrial spurs.

The FastTracks turnout building system is very good.
Several local modellers are using N-Scale code 55 and 40 rail and report no problems.

When I progress to a non mini modular layout I will use code 55 on the mainline and maybe code 40 for industrial spurs.
This track will preclude using European equipment with deep flanges.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby CSD » Mon Aug 26, 2013 10:40 am

Thanks, other Bill. I'm thinking that at this point that it may not matter what I choose. Rather I could get one just to get some familiararity with the process. The Fast Tracks Guys mentioned that they will build custom jigs, but it would have to be worth their while. I seem to recall someone else looking into this. Was that you, Bill? Perhaps if a few of us are interested we could buy a few together.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby railtwister » Mon Aug 26, 2013 11:15 am

Bill Dixon wrote:I would use the largest turnout size you can fit in for mainline turnouts.
#8 is a minimum these days.
#6s will work for yards and #4s for industrial spurs.

The FastTracks turnout building system is very good.
Several local modellers are using N-Scale code 55 and 40 rail and report no problems.

When I progress to a non mini modular layout I will use code 55 on the mainline and maybe code 40 for industrial spurs.
This track will preclude using European equipment with deep flanges.


Strictly for scale realism and appearance, I agree the #8 turnouts would look better, but according to the NMRA RP chart, they will be almost as long as an HO number 6 turnout, which is probably way too big for all but the largest of home layouts.

There is a practical limit to "scale" when we are talking average home sized layouts. Remember that in TT scale, a mile is 44 feet, and a loop around a 4x8 sheet of plywood (480 x960 scale feet) is probably only 19-20 feet, well under a half mile. In HO, that same sheet of plywood probably wouldn't be big enough to hold a scale model of a football stadium. On most model railroad layouts, the trains can only travel unrealistically short distances that most scale people could walk, and not need to take the train.

Having large numbered switches, especially in smaller rail sizes, means they will be more fragile and will likely require more maintenance, as well as take up more space relative to that half mile. There are very few locos available that will require larger larger than a number 5 turnout for operation.

As a modeler, it is up to you to decide what is the best compromise between scale appearance and operational need.

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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby Bill Dixon » Mon Aug 26, 2013 7:36 pm

railtwister wrote:
Bill Dixon wrote:I would use the largest turnout size you can fit in for mainline turnouts.
#8 is a minimum these days.
#6s will work for yards and #4s for industrial spurs.


Strictly for scale realism and appearance, I agree the #8 turnouts would look better, but according to the NMRA RP chart, they will be almost as long as an HO number 6 turnout, which is probably way too big for all but the largest of home layouts.

There is a practical limit to "scale" when we are talking average home sized layouts. Remember that in TT scale, a mile is 44 feet, and a loop around a 4x8 sheet of plywood (480 x960 scale feet) is probably only 19-20 feet, well under a half mile. In HO, that same sheet of plywood probably wouldn't be big enough to hold a scale model of a football stadium. On most model railroad layouts, the trains can only travel unrealistically short distances that most scale people could walk, and not need to take the train.

Having large numbered switches, especially in smaller rail sizes, means they will be more fragile and will likely require more maintenance, as well as take up more space relative to that half mile. There are very few locos available that will require larger larger than a number 5 turnout for operation.

As a modeler, it is up to you to decide what is the best compromise between scale appearance and operational need.

Bill in FtL

If we had a good number 5 turnout i would use it. As it is we have 15 degree turnouts which are sharper than a #4 and 12 degree turnouts which are a bit larger than a #4. Neither is really suitable for anything other than very slow speed industrial spurs.

There are several simple tricks to determine what size of turnout you need.
The length of the equipment you are running in tens of feet - i.e an eighty foot car wants a number 8.
The number of axles on your diesel locomotives will give you an idea of the minimum it will run smoothly on, i.e. a four axle diesel will run on a number 4, a six axle a #6.
Speed. On the prototype the turnout number times two gives you an idea how fast they operate through the diverging route, i.e. that #6 turnout is only a 12 mile an hour turnout. As model railroad models are smaller and lighter than prototype equipment we can run faster through our turnouts. You can run twice as fast as the prototype so that number six is now a 24 mile an hour turnout.

Of course it is your model railroad and if you do not mind the appearance of long passenger cars running a scale 60 MPH through #4 turnouts then go for it.

If you want a better looking railroad then either slow right down or use larger number turnouts.

Remember you don't have to use them everywhere. You biggest numbered turnouts should be at the entrance and exit of passing sidings or on crossovers between tracks. You can use the lower numbers on lower speed tracks else where. In staging where space is always at a premium use what works.

On my TT-Tracks modules if #6 turnouts where available I would rebuild all my crossovers and relegate all existing turnouts to the scrap bin. If #8s were available I would rebuild the most visible crossovers and use #6s elsewhere.

Oh my HO scale modules I used #8s (and one #10) everywhere that a mainline train was to operate over. Three #6s were used for industrial spurs. If I was to rebuild those modules I would upgrade to #10s on the main lines as they look so much better.

For better appearance and operation bigger is better for turnouts.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby j p » Tue Aug 27, 2013 3:40 am

#6 shortened, #8 shortened, and #9 full length turnouts are available from TT Filigran, but the price is rather high :)

Here is #9:
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby WillYart » Sun Sep 01, 2013 3:03 am

Perhaps it is best to design turnouts whose final radius matches that of the curve into which they lead.
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Re: Fast Tracks TT

Postby railtwister » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:41 am

WillYart wrote:Perhaps it is best to design turnouts whose final radius matches that of the curve into which they lead.


That's a good idea for snap track turnouts, and some manufacturers have done it.However, for scale appearance, it would result in a turnout that looks too short and and seems to diverge too rapidly. For an example in N scale (which is only a little smaller than TT, look at Kato's UniTrack #4 turnout with it's radius of just under 19", while the largest single track curved piece UniTrak offers in N scale is 15", and the most commonly used curves on many home layouts are about 12" or less. The longer UniTrack #6 turnout uses a radius of 28", which is a very wide curve for N scale, yet many feel a #6 is only suitable for yards and industrial sidings because it looks too short.

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