Hand Laid Turnout Tutorial
Page 3


With the rail back in place, lined as straight as you can get it, and connected to the adjoining track, we'll start spiking. I found the best place to start at is at the throwbar/points area. Pick any of the 4 ties that come before the throwbar to start with. I usually start with the one right next to the throwbar.

Using the pliers, grab a spike and hold from 50%to 75% of the spike in the teeth. This makes it easier to start the spike in the ties, and you won't have that wobbly feeling if you are holding most of the spike. Also, keep a little bit of the head of the spike sticking out of the pliers. This is just for visual reference as you push the spike in.



Take the spike and center it in the tie right next to the rail. Touching the rail is OK, but I prefer to have it a hairs width away from the rail. Also, you will need to keep the spike at an angle. With 90 degrees being straight up and down, put the spike around a 60 to 70 degree angle. 45 degrees will be too much. DO NOT drive the spike in straight up and down. The head of the spike will hit the head of the rail and then you will bend the rail out of place. Not good.

Here is a pic of where the spike should sit and about the angle it should go.



The best way I have found to push the spike in is with your wrist and arm sitting on the layout running parallel to the turnout. This gives you really good control. Also, take your other hand's fingers and prop them up behind the spike/pliers to help stabilize everything. You can then rest your hand thats holding the pliers on your other hand's fingers. (confused yet?)



Once you feel comfortable holding the pliers and the spike is sitting in place, go and push it in. As you push down, the pliers should clear the head of the rail and come down and touch the web of the rail. Let go of the spike and grab it a little higher up. Push down again. Once you get the head of the spike to just below the top of the rail, let go of the spike and close the pliers up. Using the closed mouth of the pliers and still supporting them with your other hand, push the spike all the way down until it hits the web of the rail.



And thats it. It's in. Be careful not to move the rail until the spike is in on the other side, but you will find it is pretty firm.

A side note....
One thing I have found is that not all the ties are created equal. Some are pretty soft and the spikes just about fall through them. Some are pretty hard and it takes quite a bit of downward pressure on the pliers to get the spike started in the tie. Don't be surprised if you bend some spikes. There have been times that I've bent about 4 or 5 spikes before I break into the tie. This is why you put most of the spike into the teeth of the pliers. If you don't put enough spike into them, the pliers can move on you and you'll come down on the rail and tie and mash things up pretty good. It's always better to push a little of the spike in, readjust the pliers, push a little more, readjust, then finish the spike than to do it all in one motion. This will happen to you more than a few times, so it's good to practice on some scrap ties and rail to get a feel for spiking before you start on a permanent turnout.

Now that you have the first spike put in, jump to the other side and drive the spike in for that side of the rail following the steps in the previous post. Once you have both spikes driven in, you can take the pliers, open them up and put each side of the pliers on top of each spike and give it one last push.



After I get in the initial 2 spikes, I usually jump back a tie or two and put in 2 more spikes. This will ensure that the throwbar area is secure and won't move when you start spiking the other end of the rail. You can also see the notch in the stock rail for the points to nestle back in to.



Speaking of the other end of the rail, we can now go down there and work our way back. I like to come in 2 to 3 ties from the end and start spiking from there. Sight down the rail to make sure it's still straight as possible, and then put in a spike on each side of the rail. Now we come to a personal preference point....

On my turnouts in the non critical areas, I put in spikes at every 4 tie intervals. Put in a spike, skip 3 ties, put in a spike. I have found this to look the best, but you can do what looks good to you. If you only want to skip 2 ties, then OK. It's up to you.

After putting in those 2 spikes at the other end, I count 3 ties, and make a mark in the homasote right next to the end of the ties that get spikes. I keep going till I get to about the middle of the turnout, and drive in 2 more spikes, one on each side. This will help to keep the rail as straight as possible as you finish spiking. If you start at the end and keep spiking back to the throwbar, you can make the rail get out of position, and then it's not straight any more. Not good. So with a turnout this size, I put in a few spikes here and there and will finish putting in the rest once the turnout is almost finished.

Here is a pic of a few areas spiked. This will hold up enough while we work on the rest of the turnout.



With this done, your rail should be nice and straight and in line with the track on either side of the turnout.

One thing that I can't stress enough is to ALWAYS keep eying down the rail to keep it as straight as you can. It seems like every time I put a spike in, I look down the rail to make sure it is still nice and straight. Maybe I'm a little anal about this, I don't know. =)

This is a pic taken in a mirror and flipped back to normal in a photo editing program since I can't get the camera back far enough to take this normally.
Here is where we are at this point.



Now that we have the stock rail on the straight route done, we'll put in the stock rail for the diverging route.
Since this side curves, we'll need to add a slight bend in the rail. Take and hold the rail with one hand and using your other hand's thumb and finger, pull the rail through them while bending the rail and applying pressure to it. Doing many light passes rather than one or two strong passes works the best and won't kink the rail. It doesn't take much to give it a nice smooth bend.



The bend doesn't have to be exact, just close enough for now. Once you get a nice bend in it, put the throwbar end into the adjacent track and mark the other side for cutting.



Mark with the Xacto blade, cut the rail, and do another check fit.
With the rail curved and connected to each end's track, we'll mark where to file the rail for the points, just like we did with the other side.



File this side just like the other side. (refer to the previous post on this). Clean the burrs off the rail and put the rail back into place.



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