Re: Turnout point conductivity

Steve Haas

Perry writes:  


“It will be a time consuming project to wire all my turnouts.”


It may appear a bit daunting at first, but your project can be broken down into easily completed tasks.



My preferred method for this is to drill two holes for each point; one on the outside of the rail at the heel of the point, and one immediately across from it on the exterior of the stock rail.  If you are a really good solder, you can solder these on the side of the rail away from the viewer’s normal position, thus hiding it entirely.


You said you had 65 turnouts to do, at four holes per turnout that totals 260 holes.  I’d start at one end/town on the layout and work my way around the layout.  If you want, break this up into logical groupings, towns/yards/scenes, etc.


Determine the length of wire you will need from the solder point on one rail, through the roadbed, over, up the other hole and soldered to that rail. Don’t skimp on that wire length, give yourself an extra inch or two when calculating the length.


The next steps can be accomplished while sitting in front of the TV, watching sports if you choose, of while joining your significant other watching what they want to see <GRIN>:


1)    Using the two colors of wire you use for your track bus, Cut 65 of each color to the necessary length (made even easier if you can set up some type of jig/fixture so you don’t have to worry about the appropriate lengths),

2)    Once that is done, start stripping both ends of each wire – 3/4 “ to an inch,

3)    When done stripping, form one end of the wire to the shape it needs to be to lie along the web of the rail (My method is vertical out of the hold, bend 90 degrees perpendicular to the rail, and another 90 degree bend so the tip of the wire will lie in the corner of the rail between the web and the base).


Tin both ends of the wires. Probably best done in the shop or the train room, your significant other may not appreciate the fumes in their part of the household.


Take your prepped wires and adjourn to the layout. Plug in that soldering iron and keep it hot.  Drop wires according to bus color down the pre-drilled holes.


Now, start working your way across the layout in a logical pattern; tin the rail where each wire will be attached, then align and solder each wire.


From the under side of the layout, take each wire, bend it and insert it into the other hole you drilled for this connection.  While you are down there, do an entire town, region, or other logical part of your layout.


Back on top, bend the ends of the wire to properly lay on the web of the rail as discussed above. Then flux and tin that rail, followed by soldering the feeder to the rail.



It sounds complicated, but if you break it down in to logical steps, and execute many of those steps in “batch” fashion, the whole process will require less effort than you expect and will be done much sooner!


Best regards,




Steve Haas

Snoqualmie, WA




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