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Some reality thoughts:

Time / money.   Both are needed in differing ratios to complete a project.   The project needs to conform to the practical amount of time and money you have available.  Plans made ignoring reality may eventually grind to an early demise.

I would encourage one to carefully consider the amount of time and money available to sustain interest in a long draining exercise which may exceed your patience.

When active building layouts I have had several folks show me cob web covered piles of half started layouts the went well beyond their financial or physical ability.

Mother said it best:  "Don't bite off more than you can chew".

I purchased a large basement (with a house above) and downsized my layout plans three times as I pushed my age against my resources and divided by age related diminished patience.

Less can really be more (fun)  in the long run.  

Even my present "less" sometimes looks like I am trying to swallow a mouth full.

Downsizing and confining purchases to swap meets could save a lot of aggravation.



Last edited by Tom Tee

When I had my O scale trolley line I built two 3 rail switches so my son’s 3 rail f3’s could share about 10 feet of track. It looked pretty cool having 2343’s chasing my trollies. I used 148 rail and some of his freight cars had flanges bumping on the ties. I copied the Marx design as that seemed to be the best/easiest solution. If I were going to build more I would copy a newer Gargraves or Ross switch as they look so much better.


I guess I gave you the wrong impression. I do like the products I got from Fast Tracks and except for the filing part I actually enjoyed building the switch. There is no way I would sell my templates. I have three of them. Two switches (#5 and #6) and straight track. My plan is to streamline the filing process like I have seen other guys do and I have another idea but before I mention I want to see if it works. I really don't have a choice. As you mentioned the price difference is so great that I have to figure out a way to make it work for me.


Welcome aboard!!

I have Fast Tracks templates for On30. I use code 83 rail and the track, with FT's wooden ties looks great. Even with the templates though, the process is nothing if not time consuming. I've built exactly one turnout, though several curved and straight sections. And, seriously, you have to enjoy soldering! And resin fumes, burned fingers, etc.

As has been pointed out, it's time vs. money. I'm retired and my time is my own, but I still wanted to get trains running. I have a 9 x 12 around-the-walls shelf, so not too big, but, to date, I haven't built enough track to go all the way around. I use Micro Engineering On30 flextrack and Kato HO Unitrack with turnouts from both manufacturers.

Not to be a wet blanket, but pick your battles, so to speak. Try one, see what you think. Good luck!

If anyone is interested, I completed the four 100 year old switches for a friend. I gave up on the contact arrangement in the throwbar. Got lucky with the first one, but it was troublesome to reproduce. In retrospect, was it easy? not really. The rail laying was a snap. The points and linkages were challenging. I evolved them to be fairly robust. Was it worth it? Definitely. Pics to follow.


@crood58 posted:

Hello All,

I'm looking for some feedback. I'm currently in the process of designing a very large 3-rail O-scale multi-deck layout. To save money on the track work. I'm thinking of hand laying my track and turnouts. Well for right now my turnouts. This very common in other scales.

Does anyone see a problem doing this? I'm thinking of using fixtures and tools from Fast Tracks, They currently don't have anything for 3-rail, but I have been in contact with them about a fixture for a turnout. They stated that they would not be able to do it due to the tolerance differences between 2-rail and 3-rail and due to electrical isolation.


Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


Uh Chris, I'm going to give you some advice.  And it's going to be in the form of a question.

Why would you want to do this?

Some other things to ponder:

  • The cost of your time
  • The time it will take to make the switches and track versus laying them.  What's your life expectancy?
  • The cost of mental health services vs. the cost of purchasing the track and switches

Best of luck,


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