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Re: [z_scale] How Smooth Is A Turnout Anyway?

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  • Bill Hoshiko
    ... Ole You know that you are having a lot of fun with this problem of building a switch. You have gone into several new technologies that you never dreamed
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 1, 2001
      Ole Rosted wrote:
      > On Wed, 28 Feb 2001 21:11:30 -0800, you wrote:
      > Hi,
      > This way of making turnouts is ridiculous and what I have been talking
      > about the last three years here.


      You know that you are having a lot of fun with this "problem" of
      building a switch. You have gone into several new technologies that you
      never dreamed of learning.

      It is learning these new technologies that slows down your quest for
      that perfect Z scale turnout. We have often wondered how we will spend
      our time after retirement and model railroading leads us down so many
      different paths that it seems we can never get to any real model
      railroading. We have to learn carpentry, electricity, electronics,
      computers, painting, casting, engineering, photography, machining,
      focusing, planning, and if you want a Master Modeling Certificate from
      NMRA you must even learn journalism.

      And to you John,

      Turnouts in all scales are the Achilles heel of model trains. If you
      examine award winning model train photographs that include turnouts, you
      will see turnouts that do not even come close to looking realistic.

      Examine MR's 24th MR photo winner and look at how the turnout on the
      lower right corner is attached to the rails leading to the RS-3.

      It may very well be that the rail joiners used here is a consequence of
      having a "floating turnout". I have often read that Atlas turnouts work
      with a greater degree of reliability when installed in a manner to allow
      the turnout to "float". That is: not being permanently attached to the
      road bed. Their only connection to the rails on the layout is through
      the rail joiners.

      I am not trying to criticize the photograph. I just intended to point
      out how the hobby has embraced the inability of model railroad
      manufactures to build a better switch at a reasonable price. There are
      many exceptions to this rule, and there are products offered that are
      much more realistic but may be a bit more expensive and have a greater
      degree of difficulty in installation than Marklin or in HO scale -
      Atlas. Someday, we in Z, may have a manufacturer who will give us a
      track and roadbed combination much like Kato which could bring smoother
      operation but at a higher cost and with much less flexibility in track

      Manufactured switch construction in this hobby has not been improved
      upon since the 1940's. One positive change for the modeler has been the
      introduction of plastic ties. The former fiberboard ties attached with
      staples had a tendency to curl up because of moisture. (If you remember
      that, then you are OLD!)

      Almost all other changes to the popular manufactured switches has been
      to simplify the process of manufacturing. ie: the use of the plastic
      frog. And never forget the stamped metal one piece points with the ever
      present super prototypical rivets. (Another feature of far too many
      prize winning photographs and layouts. I think that the appropriate
      comment here is for me is to "get a life")

      Again, I am not trying to criticize the modeler. Just want to point out
      how many in this model railroad hobby has criticized the difference in
      32 inch wheels and 33 inch wheels on our model trains but totally accept
      turnouts which show little resemblance to the prototype.

      Another reason for the sloppy adherence to track standards is the
      problem with electrical circuits. With my almost total ignorance of the
      principles of electronics I do not understanding why we have any
      electrical problems with our turnouts. I follow the rule that the
      electrical path must follow (or lead) the path of the train. While
      attempting to do this, if I run into a short circuit, then I must
      install a gap. (Having been a bookkeeper for over 40 years has made me
      very pragmatic)

      There is also this talk of DCC compatible turnouts and non compatible
      turnouts. If I understand this, it is a problem of a momentary
      short-circuit. For non DCC power, a momentary short-circuit seems to be
      acceptable but, for DCC it is a train stopping catastrophe.

      I have always believed that even on a non DCC power system a momentary
      short-circuit would not be acceptable. This short-circuit could cause
      track supplied lighting circuits to blink. What about static sounds in
      train sound systems? Don't ignore the pitting of your wheels. Our Z
      scale wheels are much too small. Short-circuit pits are not scale
      sensitive. Pitted wheels collect dirt and dirt interrupts electrical

      So, John, if you want smooth, slow operating trains over your turnouts,
      you may have to join Ole in his search for a more perfect Z scale
      switch. (I am falling down on my participation in this quest and I have
      to apologize to Ole for not being more active.) Do not join the rest of
      the model railroad society and accept mediocrity. Go to


      This should set you on a path focused toward a more "perfect" track. I
      have spent only 50+ years in this quest and still have no trains
      running. Or you can accept the frailties of Marklin track and get on
      with having fun operating trains. (Not that Ole and I are actually
      enjoying ourselves trying to find that "perfect" Z scale turnout.)

      Jeffrey MacHan's Val Ease Central uses Marklin products and operates
      continuously before large crowds without problems. There are many other
      Z scale layouts performing before large crowds at train shows that use
      Marklin product so Marklin products are reliable. They just require a
      little TLC. (Tender Loving Care)

      El Toro
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