Turnout and Track Questions from a newbie

DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
Hello Friends, I need an education. Modeling trains for years, but just getting wet in G Scale recently. Tell me about track. What brand am I looking at if I see rail joiners with slots and holes and tiny screws? Why do those same joiners seem to have a high side that seems to need to be on the outside of the rail so that flanges don't bump across it? What is the purpose of this extra high side? The screw holes are low enough that they don't seem to be necessary, so why are they even there? How many different kind of track are there? What is most favored?

And then, turnouts. Are certain brands favored more? Do they all fit together equally well? I have a place that I want to use a very long turnout so as to make the smoothest direction change possible. I am repairing a line that has been going through the curved side of a very tight turnout for years to the point that it has worn out the plastic point of the frog and now the wheel hits the end of the rail. I am thinking that by reversing the direction of the turnout so the most used side is the straight through side, I can lessen the problem of point wear and derailing. A long switch would allow the diverging (curved, but not much if long) side to be smoother when that direction is chosen (which is less often). These long turnout are spendy, so before I guess on which to purchase, I was hoping for some advice.

I am hanging onto the arms of my office chair, prepared for all of you to unleash your opinions!
 
idlemarvel

idlemarvel

Neither idle nor a marvel
13 Jul 2015
2,164
306
Ascot
Welcome to the club!

Opinions are two a penny, sound advice costs...

Only joking, but really opinions are just that.

It will help us help you if you provide a bit more background. Are you looking at 45mm gauge track, or (less common on this forum) 32mm. Are you planning to run main line standard gauge trains or narrow gauge. How much space do you have for your layout (limits the radius of curves/points). Are you into fine scale modelling or are you happy if it just runs smoothly.
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

A gentleman, a scholar, and a railway modeller....
26 Oct 2009
33,338
839
59
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Welcome to the forum.

From your description of the track, I believe you are describing Aristocraft track. I have one or two sections, although most of my track is LGB, with some PIKO and TRAIN LINE. It is Code 332 rail, this number describes the height of the rail. Nearly all code 332 rail will join together.

Some of the members here say the screws help with conductivity. I'm not sure why one side of the joiner is higher, but they seem to be a tighter fit than the other brands.

The most plentiful is probably LGB, but as Aristocraft is, or was, a US brand, I should imagine that there will be a lot of it available in Idaho.

There is a UK firm called PECO which makes code 200 and 250 rail. You might have this brand in the US. The code 250 track can be mated with code 332, with an adapter joiner. I only know of one member here who uses it. Most of us stick with code 332.

Points, or switches in US terminology are another matter. Again, the brand leader is possibly LGB, but I have Train-Line points because they have a radii that is useful to me. But PIKO also seem to be popular with some members.

I have no experience of the Aristocraft points, so I will rely on others to chip in here....
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
idlemarvel (said) Welcome to the club!

Thanks, I am working on a display railroad (shelf around the ceiling) and it is 45mm with standard size stock. On closer inspection, the track is Aristocraft and probably standard 332 stuff.
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
Most of my stock has truck mounted knuckle style couplers. Although the USAtrains F units had loop with hook couplers making it interesting to try to pull knuckle coupler equipped cars.
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
So back to switches (points) (turnouts)...... LGB seems to be a solid choice. Anyone want to weigh in on other choices and suppliers?
 
Gizzy

Gizzy

A gentleman, a scholar, and a railway modeller....
26 Oct 2009
33,338
839
59
Cambridgeshire
www.gscalecentral.net
Most of my stock has truck mounted knuckle style couplers. Although the USAtrains F units had loop with hook couplers making it interesting to try to pull knuckle coupler equipped cars.
I would try and standardise on one type of coupler.

The hook and loop works fairly well (I use them) but as a US modeller, the knuckles are more prototypical, although they should be on the car body. That's the compromise we sometimes have to accept with tight radii curves.

The only problem with knuckles, is that the different brands aren't always compatible. A lot of folk here use Kadee couplers as a standard....
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
25,878
1,461
Tamworth, Staffs.
Don't go below LGB R3 on your curves.. - More-so Aristocraft, but USA Trains also, do not like LGB R1 curves.

Last thing you want is to build a track your stock won't run-on.. :(:nerd:

PhilP.
 
P

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
4,844
867
57
Royston
Welcome to the forum. Have you a name, for ease of use?
Most track makes are pretty reliable and intermatch quite well.
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
Ahh Greg, there you are again. This is Dave who was chewing with you about the R22-115 replacement trucks for the USA Trains F units. I'm now trying to get the track in shape on that same display railroad and have found Aristocraft track and turnouts. And, as I said above, really worn out turnouts. This train has been going through the curved side of a tight radius turnout for about 14 years and just completely wore out the plastic frog point. I replaced it with another same turnout but was thinking that reversing the turnouts and using a longer turnout might improve the performance. I will attach a couple of drawings to give you all an idea of the layout.
 

Attachments

DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
As you see in the attachments, this RR goes outside sometimes and runs over the heads of the customers on the patio out front. Also of interest is that it was designed with exactly the feeders you see in my drawing. It is fed in exactly one place with some 18 gauge zip cord wire. The entire RR is powered through the track joiners. Every single joiner has a rail clamp on it. So those Aristocraft screws and the brass rail clamps have kept this loop functioning for 14 years now. Well, at least the inside loop is functioning. The outside loop slows down quite badly at the farthest distance from the feed. I assume that, being outside, the joints are corroding and introducing a great loss of voltage out there. Is this "just through the rails" powering a normal practice for G scale railroads? Every other RR I have ever built had a bus wire around the whole layout and several feeders around the loop. Those of you that run outside must have a solution for this problem. I have a hefty resistance soldering rig that I have experimented with for soldering (welding? ha!) heavy wires into a hole I have drilled into the web of G scale track. It is a pretty solid solution. Is there a simpler one?
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
And then, what's the longest turnout commercially available in the code 332 track? LGBs 18150/18050 turnouts?
 
korm kormsen

korm kormsen

Registered
24 Oct 2009
2,544
79
... Every other RR I have ever built had a bus wire around the whole layout and several feeders around the loop.
----------------
... a pretty solid solution. Is there a simpler one?
the material and surface contact of a G-scale joiner are bigger, than most cables, people use for bus wire. (not to mention the rails themselves) so a bus in G-scale is "belt and suspenders".

-----------------

there is a simpler fix.
take a two inch piece of household tipe cable, push the ends between rail and tie-web on both sides of the joiner - and forget about it for years. works indoors or out. (if you don't kick or brush it out, or a bird steals it.)
in some places i even put just lengths of solder-wire, when i was too lazy to de-isolate cableends.
 
P

Paul M

Registered
25 Oct 2016
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Royston
If it's been functioning for 14 years, something must have been done properly!. I don't want to state the obvious, but after 14 years outside the track might just need a really really good clean. You say inside works well, so there can't be too much wrong
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
25,878
1,461
Tamworth, Staffs.
I would clean the outside track first! - Possibly not run so much? Possibility of dirt / pollution / ?cigarette smoke, maybe? / might be a dodgy joint, but give the railhead a clean first..

What state are the wheels / tyres in?
Are the carbon-brush sliders worn, or notched so not moving?
Clean the wheel-backs where the carbon-brushes contact. - Not too much.
Are the skates (sliders) worn?

You can help with wear, by running the loco (and stock!) in opposite directions, week-on-week.. BUT, it does mean someone has to physically turn the whole lot each week.
 
DVS4G

DVS4G

RR Dave
25 Apr 2020
36
2
58
Idaho
USA Trains #6 turnout compared to an LGB 18150 turnout. Any comments? My goodness......USA wants 240.00 for their #6. It's 3 feet long, I see. The LGB turnout is 119.00 from OnlyTrains but I am still looking for a template or size guide to see if it is as long or a smaller turnout.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
3,932
555
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
18150 is R5, frog #5, Aristo and USAT frog #6, smoother, the higher the number, the "gentler" the diverging angle, the longer cars/locos, the more reliable operation.

Prototype railroads use like #20. A #12 in the real world is considered very sharp.

on this page, I have the frog numbers for LGB turnouts:

Switches account for 99% of the derailments in model layouts, so doing it right the first time makes a huge difference in reliability.

Greg
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
17,252
1,810
72
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
As you see in the attachments, this RR goes outside sometimes and runs over the heads of the customers on the patio out front. Also of interest is that it was designed with exactly the feeders you see in my drawing. It is fed in exactly one place with some 18 gauge zip cord wire. The entire RR is powered through the track joiners. Every single joiner has a rail clamp on it. So those Aristocraft screws and the brass rail clamps have kept this loop functioning for 14 years now. Well, at least the inside loop is functioning. The outside loop slows down quite badly at the farthest distance from the feed. I assume that, being outside, the joints are corroding and introducing a great loss of voltage out there. Is this "just through the rails" powering a normal practice for G scale railroads? Every other RR I have ever built had a bus wire around the whole layout and several feeders around the loop. Those of you that run outside must have a solution for this problem. I have a hefty resistance soldering rig that I have experimented with for soldering (welding? ha!) heavy wires into a hole I have drilled into the web of G scale track. It is a pretty solid solution. Is there a simpler one?
If it has been running for 14 years it has done very well. Many here have given good advice but if it is to carry on the same service you may like to think about some work ans things that will give you another 14 or more years service.

1 You clearly have problems with what sounds like Aristo Points, likely the Frog has become worn so replacements are the best bet. You may use some of the other names mentioned, also ensure that you get the same heightbof rail as has been mentioned.

2 Replace all the track joiners with Clamps, there are varying manufacture for them. Massoth being just one, the have screws to the top so are easy to fit. But make sure that you clean all the rail ends and use LGB 51010 Graphite Paste on each clamp and rail end. Not a lot will give you long satisfactory working rail joints.

3 Think about Rail Cleaning on a regular basis, LGB do a Track Cleaning Loco (quite expensive but very good) Piko also do a Battery Operated one (cheeper But nothing like so effective). but for a more realistic dollar option think about some 50050 cleaners that fit to an LGB 4 wheel wagon or coach, these will give a regular wiping cleaning action all the while the Train is running. For more serious issues an LGB 50040 track cleaning block is also a must.

4 Regular servicing of Locomotives is also a must, cleaning or replacing LGB Track Wipers when they show excessive wear. Also physically turn the stock round 180 degrees to even out wear and tear. Probably every month or so would be good.

5 All rolling stock should have metal wheels, this will help with keeping gunk off the rails, plastic wheels have a habit of collecting gunk and leaving it on the rails. Some may disagree with this but likely will not have the running experience that you have with a what sounds like commercial operation to enhance your business.

6 Think most seriously about a perspex lining to the outside track, the lastbthing you wantbis a heavy train landingbin someones head!

That is as far as my thinking takes me for the moment. Where does this knowledge come from, well some friends of mine fitted and looked after a similar line at a pub in London for many years and these were some of the issues Encountered and solutions used.