I said I'd supply some photos so here goes.....
If you are contemplating a layout using Gilbert tubular track and turnouts or just Gilbert turnouts with another brand of track this modification will allow closer track spacing. That is a big plus when you are constructing a freight yard. More track means more trains on the table to run!
Take a pair of Gilbert turnouts and decide how you want them to operate. If you are using the factory installed connections and operation that's OK as these modifications will allow you to maintain the one or two train operation Gilbert provided. If you are planning to use Tortoise switch machines you can use a pair of manual turnouts as the factory installed "guts" will be removed. The throw rod on the tortoise switch machine will operate the moving points to allow the switch to change to the curve route.
I used two manual turnouts since I don't need the lantern tower or any electrical connections for replacement of the poorly operating Gargraves turnouts on my club's modular layout.
This picture shows a left and right manual turnout completely modified with divergent curved rails cut from a donor Gilbert curve.
This picture shows a powered turnout. Cut and remove both the short curved rail and the newly cut short section of the long curved rail. Leave the 6.25" portion shown in red:
To remove the rails you will need to remove the rail clips that attach the rails to the base. Save them as they will be reused. You may have to de-solder some wires from the underside of the clips. Take note of what wire goes where as they will need to be re-soldered to the tabs when the new rails are installed.
The new rails are cut from a donor curve section:
What we are doing is reversing the divergent curved route to not curve to the right anymore but rather make a gentle "S" curve so that we can attach parallel tracks closer together.
The pair of rails on the divergent route will now measure 12.5 inches end to end. Remember to grind down the end of the inner curved rail to match the one discarded.
The new location of the rails is shown below. You can see that the inner curved rail now just clears the point of the angle molded on the switch base. The "old" clip slots are visible.
Drill new slots for the rail clips where ever you can find a space to do so and reattach them. You may have to grind off some plastic under the base if it's in your way. Re-solder any wires where they need to go. Slide two metal ties to the free end of the rails and secure them to the rails.
Now your turnout's divergent rails are ready to accept straight sections.
One more thing you will need to do is cut a "filler" straight section from a donor straight track to a length of 4 and 5/8 inches.
The next picture shows the left and right modified turnouts with the "filler" track installed in the straight section of the switch. You will need it no matter how many straight sections you add to both routes:
Here's another view showing how long the curved rails overhang the end of the switch base:
Finally here's the turnouts with some straight sections installed along with the filler. Note I have cut away most of the base along with the lantern towers. They now resemble Gargraves turnouts and could be given a ballasted effect with some "Stone Effect" paint if desired. I closed up the newly cut edge of the base with a length of 5/16" wide black styrene attached with hot glue.
The center-to-center spacing is now 2.25 inches.
This project takes a little time but after the learning curve of the first one it's not too bad.
Give it a try if you want to create a multi-track yard with close track spacing or even if you just want your passing sidings to not take up so much layout space.