Originally Posted by dd1228
Im having a heck of a time with turnouts. A while back I was using all Peco stuff, and it was pretty good except too much tie spacing, not prototypical looking. So I switched to Atlas code 55 flex and turnouts. It looks great but the latest batch of turnouts I got were of poor quality. They weren't flat and the straight part of the turnout was not straight. Very disappointing. So I was thinking about the old adage "If you want something done right you have to do it yourself". So has anyone hand made turnouts using the Fast Tracks jigs? Their videos make it look very easy and the turnouts look great. But the initial cost is a couple of hundred to get started. I don't mind paying that if my turnouts will turn out like their videos. However, I think their videos are showing HO turnouts, a little easier to work with the bigger size. Any advise appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Yes, as GNfan said, I do scratch-build my own N-scale, code 55 turnouts. The why, and how, is in the attached pdf file, "How I scratchbuild turnouts." The other file, "All about turnouts", has some general information, and my opinions, on the various commercial offerings, including Micro Engineering brand turnouts, which look fantastic, work well, but are a little delicate; so you need to be a bit gentle when installing them. Also Micro Engineering only has #6 right, and #6 left turnouts available.
The tie spacing on the Peco turnouts you have is probably correct for British track. Peco is a British firm and much of their track and turnouts are based on British prototypes. I recently watched some videos of British railways, and their track does have the ties(they call them "sleepers) further apart than they are on American track. Peco does make some track and turnouts based on North American prototype track. I don't know if they make the North American track in N-scale, or only in HO-scale.
I started making my own turnouts many years ago, when there were no N-scale, code 55 commercial turnouts available. Today Atlas, Peco, and Micro Engineering, all make them, and I should add Kato. They make a good N-scale turnout, reasonably priced, but I'm not sure the rail is code 55 if that's important to you. Also Kato's turnouts do not have the more realistic looks you apparently want.
My turnouts are primarily built for ruggedness and reliability, rather than for appearance. I think that they look fine when painted and ballasted, but they may not meet your standards for looks, that's up to you. If they don't, then you might go with Micro Engineering as they make the most realistic looking turnouts, and code 55 flex track, I've ever seen.
The biggest advantage of building your own turnouts is cost savings. You can make your own turnouts for about $5 ea. (or a bit less) in terms of the cost of the materials needed to build them.
A good quality commercial turnout, like Peco, Micro Engineering, or Kato, retails for about $20-$30ea. The price of commercial turnouts seems to be very gradually going down a little bit, and there are some discounts available as well. This somewhat reduces the cost advantage of building your own, but not all that much. The trade-off for spending less money is spending more time.
While the Fast Track jigs are popular, and seem to satisfy the folks who use them; I, personally, have never used, needed to use, or even wanted to use, them. They are very expensive, and each jig can only make one type of turnout. If you buy a #6 right hand jig, for example. Correction per the next response from Sumner apparently the #6 right-hand jig can also make left -hand #6 turnouts
This doesn't mean that The Fast Track jigs, have anything physically wrong with them. Many have used them, and been very happy with the results. I just never found them necessary, and I wasn't willing to spend that amount of money on something I didn't need.
By using the method, and materials, outlined in the file, I've been able to build dozens of turnouts, in any configuration required. I have also scratch-built all-rail crossings and custom yard throats in much the same way. You would need a lot of expensive jigs to do that; if indeed, you could even find jigs for all those different pieces of custom trackwork. By contrast, once you learn how to scratchbuild turnouts without jigs, you can build whatever kind of trackwork you want.
How I scratch build turnouts new(8).pdf
All AboutTurnouts rev 4.pdf