So, for my layout, my current plan is to use hand-made switches, using the Fast Tracks system created by Tim Warris (I don’t plan on hand laying all my track, I plan on using MicroEngineering flex track outside switches and crossovers). I like the system, it seems to have been designed with simplicity and user friendliness in mind, and a number of my friends who have much more experience than I do at layout building and track laying swear by it. And to top it all off, he’s here in Ontario, so I get to support a small business close to home, which is always a nice feeling. I’ve met Tim in passing at a number of train shows over the years, but never really gotten deep into conversation, as I’ve never been in the position of being a customer of what he offers. That’s all changed now.
My first order from Fast Tracks, a variety of “SweepSticks” track templates for curved and straight track, and “SpaceGage” spacing jigs. To be used in making sure my staging tracks are square to each other and evenly spaced, and for laying curves to the desired radius.
My first order of what will no doubt be several when I settle on the code of track and final details arrived tonight. While going forward I will need turnout jigs and rail and other such supplies, the first order was another step in my education process, looking at how to lay track and make sure I get it down with the correct curves to ensure hopefully smooth operation. I bought a set of 18″ and 15″ radius “SweepSticks” curves. These are the two main radius curves in my design. If you are building a bigger layout, you can buy more sections and connect them, but the two 9″ sections of each are more than enough for the longest curve on my layout.
Assembling the SpaceGage track spacers. These are for 1-2″ track centres. I’m setting them for 2″ to do the staging yard traverser. These go together super easily with just white glue.
I also bought enough straight sweep sticks for me to be able to use them to ensure the entire 30″ track in the staging yard traverser is straight and parallel. This is critically important, as these tracks have to align with tracks not on the traverser so trains can move on and off of it, failure to do this right will be a killer on the layout. I really like the simplicity of the design, but the quality seems to be fantastic. The parts are cut with a laser cutter from birch plywood (from the looks of it). They are keyed so they connect together and you can join straight
Quick test of the straight track SweepSticks with the SpaceGage at 2″ track centres. Perfect, almost like I knew what I was doing in the track planning software…what a scary thought!
For tonight, It was another night of checking tracks on the floor in the office, but that’s ok. Every night I do this and feel more confident in my trackplan and benchwork design is a night closer to cutting plywood and lumber to actually build something!! Now, back to my tunes, from a band I love, reissues of Achtung Baby and Zooropa to polish of my Friday evening!