Favourite Photos...

Favourite Photos...
Reading Lines GP35 #3647

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Fixing a persistent track work problem...

This week I have been fixing a persistent problem that has been bugging the layout for around the last twelve months.

When I originally did the track work for the layout I used a combination of PECO Code 83 track & turnouts and Walther's Shinohara Code 83 turnouts.  The build quality between the two is quite obvious when comparing the two.

For the first three to four years the Shinohara turnouts have been fine.  I had to adjust a couple of the point ends on a couple but apart from that there were no issues.  But over the last twelve months they have required regular maintenance and tweaking to keep the point closed against the rail even under Tortoise switch machine tension.

After our last ops session it was also noted that several of the turnouts were in fact out of gauge by at least 1 - 2mm on several of them.  So I have decided to replace them all with PECO - Code 83 #7 LH & RH Curved Turnouts.

This has also allowed me to do another turnout & crossover justification for the existing track work.  As the original operating plan and track work has changed since going down the switching layout path I have removed several turnouts & crossovers too.

First job was to remove the crossover coming into Rutherford.  As there is a crossover in Rutherford itself the Shinohara crossover was removed and replaced with track only...

On the other side of the backdrop (to the left of photo) was another two Walthers - Shinohara Turnouts, these have also been removed...

The top set of Shinohara turnouts (crossover) was a constant source of maintenance & tweaking throughout the year.

With the removal of the turnouts coming into Harrisburg this required a chance to clean up and realign the track work and turnouts.  The photo below shows the newly installed PECO #7 Curved turnout coming into a #8 RH turnout which is also Code 83 PECO too.

When looking from the other direction the flow of track has been improved greatly and it has also removed the excess curve that was there from using the original Shinohara turnouts as can be seen by the existing cork road bed to the right of the track.

To finish off I also removed a slight hump that existed from the mainline coming from Carlisle Junction (from the left) to the right into Rutherford right underneath the backdrop, the transition is now a perfect grade into level with no more hump.

Next step is to work my way around the remainder of the layout and replace all of the Shinohara turnouts.



  1. Do you use 88 or 87 wheel sets? As you know, my layout is exclusively Walthers Shinohara and like you I have measured slight out-of-gauge on some turnouts especially with the curved units. However, with my 110 wheel sets it hasn't been an issue. I am curious why we are seeing different results. Additionally, I discovered .047 wire on the Tortoise machines completely resolved the point rail to stock rail closure problem. I know it is almost twice the diameter of the stock Tortoise wire and is heavier than the common .032 wire used in the hobby but for me the .047 totally fixed the problem.

    1. I haven't even checked the wheels sets yet to be honest, and I do suspect that they are part of the problem. All of my rolling stock is just as is came out of the box, the Atlas wheel sets seemed to have issues riding up on top of the rail, and the Intermountain sets didn't like it all and always detailed, but the Athearn ones were fine.
      The out of gauge curved turnouts on the main and point rail closure issues was just the catalyst I needed, it only equates to eight turnouts, and the new flow of the track work has been worth the time in doing it again.
      Plus the added bonus of picking up a few more spare detection blocks is handy too.

  2. I suspect wheel gauge is the culprit. I recently had an Athearn box car misbehaving on some curved turnouts. Upon checking I found a wheel set out of gauge. Normally I check gauge before putting a new car on the layout but obviously had not with this car. Once the wheel gauge was correct magically the car performed fine on the turnouts.

    Have fun playing MOW crew!

    1. I'm pretty sure you're on the money there Alan, and I'm tipping once I start weighting my cars too that everything will fall into place.
      It's just one of the jobs (tuning rolling stock) that will have to wait until the track work is done, along with the detection & signalling.
      I just cannot afford to keep taking side steps and starting new projects until the big ticket items are completed.

      Again its nice doing the MOW thing, even better when the results are better than what was previously there too! :D