Switchpoints in Brookville yard

Okay class, name as many of these turnout parts as you can. Next week I’ll post this photo with the answers.

Name these pieces-2, 12-20-2011

Well Matt gets the gold star for correctly identifying the parts of the turnout in the photo. He even named a couple that I missed. Good job! As promised last week, here’s the same photo with the various pieces labeled.

Turnout components

This track is located in the yard at Brookville and the vantage point from the highway bridge coupled with the zoom of my camera lens provides a good view. I enjoy recreating scenes like this with all the different textures and details.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the current state of 2-rail turnouts in O Scale. To be blunt, it’s pathetic. To be blunt again, if you want turnouts that look like the prototype, you’re going to have to handlay them and add the extra details. Waiting for any manufacturer to produce prototypically accurate model turnouts is going to be a long wait. I frankly just don’t see it happening. The process of handlaying track isn’t that hard. What is hard is getting past self-imposed mental blocks. I’ve been handlaying turnouts since I was a teenager. I learned how to do them completely from scratch using raw lengths of rail, and filing the angles and profiles for the frog and switchpoints as needed. I was a klutzy kid and always in too much of a hurry when doing something. If I could learn how to handlay a turnout that was operational, then anyone can. Lot’s of folks these days rave about the Fast Tracks Jig system (see link at the end of this post). I’m not at all familiar with it, except to know it is very popular. Which is great, if it helps further the cause of better, more realistic looking track.

Invariably, once someone does make the effort of learning how to handlay, their reaction is often the same: “Why did I wait so long!” New skills of any kind look intimidating at first only because you’re not familiar with them yet. Experience brings understanding and understanding fuels the desire to learn more, which builds your skill level. It really is a process, and the consequences of making a mistake are trivial. So you used up a bit of rail? Big deal. Figure out where you went wrong and try again. It’s a hobby not life and death. Relax and enjoy the experience and give yourself permission to screw up royally. The holidays are just around the corner as I write this. If you have the time, why not give handlaying a short piece of track a try. You just might surprise yourself.

Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for reading.




  1. Matt


    Switch stand, throwbar, switch points (2), slideplates and combination plates and braces, gauge rod, switch rods (2, one head one back), and of course the cross ties and spikes.


  2. mike

    Good job Matt! Congratulations and many thanks for your support of the site. Enjoy the holidays.


  3. Matt


    Thank you, great site. Happy Holidays to you, your family, and OST!