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Freelanced Narrow Gauge Models in Hon3 and HOn30

Building a Stub Turnout


The last of the turnouts I scratchbuilt for my first D.S.&W. layout was a stub-turnout. I expected this to be quite complicated and therefore thought I'd need practice before starting. Absolutely wrong! This turnout was the best and most flawlessly operating turnout I had on my layout.

Most of the ideas came from several articles in the hobby press so I don't claim them to be my invention. For further reference the following articles seem most useful:

  • Motorized Stub Turnouts in Sn3 by William J. Bussaca / Narrow Gauge And Shortline Gazette Jul/Aug 91
  • Modeling a stub switch by Carl Caiati / Model Railroader Jan 91


  1. Mounting the rails Solder a small screw to the underside of each movable stub rail. I did use metric 1mm screws, but anything small enough to be hidden under the rail's base should work. Using screws with a tapered head will allow sinking them into the tie more easily.
  2. Cut a tie from printed circuit board ( PC ) acting as a tie bar.
  3. Carefully mark two holes on the tie, with the distance exactly your gauge. Drill slightly larger than the screws you soldered to the rail. Countersink with a larger drill so the screws soldered to the approach rails can be sunk into the tie. The rails should touch the tie.
  4. Screw the rails to the PC tie. Don't fasten the nut to strong. The rails should still be movable without being too loose. Secure the nut with a small drop of CA or solder.
  5. Cut a groove into your trackbase. The groove should be large enough to allow your tie bar to move freely.
  6. Fix the approach rails in place. I didn't nail the last 2" to allow for easy bending. This works perfect for code 55 rail. If you're using larger sizes, you might have to experiment here a bit.
  7. The rest of the turnout construction is standard practice. File the top inside of all rails to a shallow angle. This will allow for tiny misalignments.
  8. I use Switchcraft turnout motors on my layout. Special mounting is not necessary for a stub turnout. I made two stops to align the rails properly by glueing small pieces of scrap styrene in place. Later I learned that soldering pieces of brass wire on the outer side of both stock rails is much easier.
  9. Since there is no electrical contact, the frog has to be powered by an auxiliary switch thrown by the turnout motor.
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