Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Essex Junction trackwork in progress

Been spending time over the last couple of weeks laying track in Essex Junction. It took several evenings with Sanborn Maps and prototype track maps - along with photos - to come up with a trackage arrangement that resembles the prototype and is functional enough to support the planned operation on the layout (sometimes those two things don't align as well as we might like!)
Anywhere I can use a straight "stock" turnout I use Micro-Engineering Code 70 no. 6 turnouts (all the track, with the exception of a couple of code 55 sidings, is M-E code 70. For curved turnouts, custom fit to a specific place, I handlay them. 
I need to handlay a total of six turnouts for the train shed approach tracks - most of these turnouts are somewhat curved. I'm using Detail Associates frogs whenever possible (on at least two turnouts the "stock" frogs won't work, so I have to scratch build the frogs as well) - 
One of the main things I need to figure out is how to throw the hand built turnouts - the ME turnouts have a built-in spring - and I've really come to like those - crews don't have to translate between a turnout and a control panel of some sort, and I don't have to build a control panel - or, even better - install under-table switch motors. I've been using Caboose Industries ground throws in some other areas of the layout (Hartford and Waterbury) - they work great but look awful - especially in photos. I'd rather avoid them in the Essex Junction scene. Stopped by Radio Shack on the way home and picked up a couple of slide switches to see if they would work.  

Here's a couple of progress shots - more pics to follow! 


  1. Marty:
    Have fun building the turnouts. Always nice to get more track down.
    As for turnout control, can you bend your own spring for the turnouts? If you like the spring in the ME turnouts, why not try reverse engineering it for your own use?
    - Trevor

  2. How about trying a homemade spring for what we call around here a flick switch? I seem to remember Jim Hediger had an article in MR way back on doing this, and Ted Pamperin uses these in his yard turnouts on his C&O layout. I seem to remember it was just a simple staple modified into a V shaped spring. It holds the turnout shut in either direction by the slight tension it exerts and it's a simple matter of flicking the turnout with your finger.

  3. thought about bending my own springs - a little worried how they'll perform in the foamboard benchwork, but the track is sitting on Homabed - so perhaps a sleeve of some tubing will be needed. Will definitely try it out and report back.

  4. Marty - No worries, it works fine in my experience, I use the "flick switch" spring on mine, and I am directly on foam with no subroadbed. Of course, the tension may be the ONLY issue, as I am using commercial turnouts, not hand laid.

  5. I use a length of .032" music wire to connect throwbar and slide switch. I mount the switch in a bracket made from angle, with a piece of it cut out to allow the handle to stick out. A hole is drilled in the handle, another in the throw bar. Before laying the turnout, I drill three 1/8" holes between the headblock ties. The wire runs through the handle of the slide switch, through the hole, and into the hole of the throwbar.

    Steve Lucas.

  6. Marty,
    If you want a good working and prototype looking switch throw try Bitter Creek Models manual ground-throw B-4001 at They are very good looking, they are very easy to install and work well, By placing wires about 28 AWG so that the throwhandle locks into the a horseshoe bend looking like the lock device I am able to route power into my frogs so I have positive manual control and power routing as I follow my train along its route.
    Tom VanWormer
    CM Auditor
    Monument CO
    Modeling Sahwatch Street Yards in 1895