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Dave's Park!

Dave's Park!

Inserting a Turnout into an Existing Rail Line

Having worked with the layout as originally planned, for about six months, it became painfully obvious that one can never have enough spurs. I really needed a track along the front of the layout where I could park cars and assemble trains. Using the two mains - inner loop and outer loop - as a yard just wasn't giving me the ability to break down and assemble trains the way I wanted to.

It was easy enough to decide I wanted a spur there, and just as easy to decide I wanted an additional spur near the back that would serve as my MoW track. And frankly, the cost was negligible. The one obstacle that might have prevented me from going ahead with it was my fear of having to tear up existing track.

So, I thought it out carefully and decided that with a good plan it could be almost painless. And the end result is proof of that. It was far simpler than I had feared and actually was an ejoyable experience. What follows will hopefully give those who may be crinfging at the thought reason to hope and assurance to begin.


In the first photo you will see a block of plastic with grooves cut into it - one side cut for HO scale and one side for N scale. I found this MLR 5001 track tool very useful although the job could be done without it and in fact there may be places on a layout where it might be impossible to use it. I simply clamped it over the track to hold everything rigid while sawing.

In the first photo I have laid the new turnout on top of the track so I could mark for the saw cuts. The cut at the right end will be where the existing joint is between the right hand turnout and the straight track. I laid the track tool in position and clamped it. Clamping will present various challenges depending on the location of the work area on the layout. This was near the edge of the table so it was easy. I used an Atlas track saw to make the cut.


turnout01 turnout02
turnout03 turnout04


After I made the saw cut I used a dropper and wet water to soften the ballast in the work area. Fifteen minutes was plenty of time to allow the ballast to harden and I used a mini trowel to remove as much as I could.

turnout05 turnout06
turnout07 turnout08


The method for removing the track section was as follows: use the existing joint at the right end; cut a relief cut at the left end using the track saw; cut out most of the rail using track npping pliers; desolder and remove the remaining pieces at the right end.

back from the right end about an inch I made the cut and removed the section. Then I clamped the track to the right of the right-end joint, worked the remaining piece free and pulled away the ties.

turnout09 turnout10
turnout11 turnout12


In the first of the following photos you can see that I went back to the left end and removed one tie to make room for sliding rail joiners on later. Then, back to the right end, I cleaned up the work area, clamped the track, mounted a hemostat as a heat sink, desoldered and removed the two remnants of the existing track.

turnout13 turnout14
turnout15 turnout16


The next four photos show the method of installing the new turnout into the existing track. I used regular rail joiners on the left end. In the second photo you see the rail joiners inserted onto the rail, making sure to leave about a 1/16th" gap where indicated. This is to leave room to push the joiner onto the rail farther after trimming it.

turnout17 turnout18


The next photo shows the rail joiner trimmed flush with the end of the rail and there is still a gap as I already indicated. The photo after that shows the rail joiner pushed back farther onto the rail. This was done in order to open the cut end of the rail joiner where it had been flattened by the cutters.

turnout19 turnout20


I then removed the cut rail joiners, tweaked them for fit as necessary and inserted them back onto the rails cut end first so as to leave the best end available for trying to push them into place with the turnout on the layout.

First photo shows the turnout test fitted (no adhesive caulk yet) and the rail joiners pushed into position. It is essential to test this fit before laying adhesive. I then removed the turnout, loaded the four rail joiners with paste flux and reinstalled it. The last photo shows the turnout glued in place and ready for solder.

turnout21 turnout22