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Joe G made a very interesting statement on the OST Forum. He said:

I came across a website Scenery Unlimited that provides track and turnouts for S Scale. Now, I'm guessing there are fewer S Scalers than O Scalers, but certainly not many more. So how can these guys sell a Shinohara (Japanese) turnout for $29 when Atlas just raised the price of their China-made turnout to $82?

Something is wrong with this picture and I think a conversation with Scenery Unlimited might be in order. If Shinohara does it for S, why not for O?

What do you think?


I don't understand this either. Are there really more S scale modelers than O scale 2 rail modelers. I would have thought that O scale 2 rail would be more popular than S scale but perhaps I was wrong.

Atlas turnouts are out of my price range. List is $82 with a street price of around $60. For me to get all my turnouts from a manufacturer the price would have to be around $40 for me to be able to afford all that I am going to need.
Originally posted by Ironwood Models:
I apologize for the incomplete sentence in my prior post. I am curious what people would be willing to pay for a detailed turnout as described or three feet of equally detailed track?

Tough question! As noted just in the response in this thread people are all over the place on what their ideal turnout should be. Also the ubiquitous flex track you mention is not really the logjam for most 2-rail users since it is available from a couple reliable sources. More detailed flex is done to suit the individual and many are satisfied with some selective weathering of it...and the results are generally very realistic. So the crux of the matter is definitely the turnout and potentially certain other oddities such as crossings.

I lay my own turnouts and the cost in materials and time to fabricate good ones are not incidental by any means. If you’re interested in tapping this sleeping giant you definitely need to supply quality, functionality and variety and probably do it for much less than Atlas charges since theirs cost far more than most of us see as reasonable. Also consider that the Fast Track Systems has become a viable option which O scalers in increasing numbers are availing themselves off. Amortizing the cost of that equipment and supplies makes turnouts available in a respectable price range. As I said to start my long-winded response.... it’s a tough question.

All opinions are my own...others many differ.

My knee jerk reaction is I have 0 interest in "real" wood ties, assembled into a RTR type product, at any price.

Wood (pine??) when cut into ties still exhibits its 1:1 scale wood grain pattern.

When handlaying, one can deal with it by distressing the ties a little before the rails are laid. In a RTR product, it would be much harder to deal with the grain pattern / I would rather spend a little time on Micro Engineering flex track with some paint instead.

As for code, I have used 148 as it is what has been commonly available.

I would much prefer to go to 125.

So, my dream is ME will produce high quality Code 125 #6 turnouts to match their already available flex track.
I would say that a mold for a switch or a set of switches is going to be more expensive in a larger scale. When I was researching have some molds made, a question that was asked was how many pieces I wanted per mold. Obviously machining a mold that could do several pieces at once cost more than a mold that could make fewer but it wasn't equal to just adding the extra amount together. Another factor was the total size of the mold. Depending on where it is going to be made, not every machine has a large capacity. The one I was looking at using had a functional limit of about 20" and that was on their large machine. There are certainly capabilities elsewhere to be able to fabricate larger but those setups are more pricey as is the mold that would be used in them.

From a pure material standpoint the difference in the amount of plastic necessary is negligible. A few cents at most. The difference in the price of a larger rail is certainly more but in the grand scheme of things we are talking about dollars and not 10's of dollars so even that isn't going to justify a price difference between $30 and $80. It may affect it by $4 or $5 though. Big deal.

In the end I think it comes down to the mold needed to make the piece. If a company has the resources to make their own then it could be done for fairly cheap. If they need to have it contracted out then even a simple #6 switch mold could approach $10K or more. Doing it yourself may cost you nothing more than the physical price of the material and the cost to pay an employee to make it. I suspect Atlas doesn't have their own shop or own their own machines to make these things. They probably contract manufacturing out to someone else and then build in the added cost of doing it this way into the price. I don't know about Shinohara but I would suspect that they are a company that owns their own machines and does the labor themselves which makes it cheaper for them to sell it themselves with their name on it. They also do contract work for other companies as well which only further makes me believe they own their own machines and have the ability to make their own tooling. You factor in the cost of those machines in everything you sell.

The question then is what would it take to get Shinohara to build a line of O scale track? It would stand to reason that asking them to do it, if they themselves have the capability, should be cheaper than expecting another company to act as a middle man to get a contractor to do it for them.
Flanger - Thank you for your response. I can't go to into great detail now, but I am thinking of a track system that incorporates wood ties, tie plates and fishplates in a manner that would provide prototype looking track that could be installed with a minimum of labor.

One poster commented on the inability to distress ties. Actually, that could be done, but would be dependent on the age of track that one is looking for. The system could also allow for scale 33' foot sections of rail. A little more effort to lay down, but not much more than working flex track and detailing it.

I wouldn't list the concept as R-T-R - although turnouts could be supplied in that manner for those who don't want to do the work. However, the price wouldn't be cheap either. So, I guess this brings me back to my original questions: what would modelers pay for a detailed turnout and for three feet of equally detailed track? It comes down to questions regarding the level of detail, dependability and ease of use. Good stuff isn't cheap. But it is a classic case of "you get what you pay for."

One poste said $40.00 for a turnout for him to buy a larger number. That helps. What do other people think?
Let me clarify what I would buy:

1. It must be RTR. Not a kit, nor a semi-kit, but RTR.
2. It must come close to NMRA dimensions. Practical considerations are acceptable.
a. .145 wheels should not drop into the flangeway at the frog.
b. the wing rails should be of prototypical length.
c. the guard rails also should be of prototypical length.
d. the points should be hinged.
e. the throwbar should be sturdy and have a durable connection to the points.
f. the rail should have a prototypical cross section.
3. It should be be DCC ready.
4. Dark brown engineering plastic ties with wood grain should be used.
5. It must be code 148 NS rail. It would be nice if the mold could be made to make both code 148
and code 125 switches by simply changing a part of the mold or inserting a spacer.
6. An optional detail parts kit might be available for the modeler to attach if he/she chooses.
7. Cost should be between $40 and $50 per switch. The lower the better. Detail kit could be
priced at between $3 and $5.
8. It should be a #6 because a #6 can handle any locomotive and this means a #6 could be used for
mainlines. It is also short enough to use for industry tracks.

To put my "wish" list into perspective, you should know that I hand lay all my switches using Lou Cross castings. I also use flex track made by inserting Lou Cross's code 148 steel rail into the Atlas tie strip of 40 years ago. Obviously, the cross section and color of the rail is more important to me than the appearance of the spikes.

Now...when can I buy a dozen of these? And when will the #8's be available?



I stand by my original requirement, dark brown engineering plastic ties.  If you want to upgrade, then build one with ROW castings from the start.  I think wood ties would cause stability problems in the long run.  There is not enough wood there for a short spike to take permanent hold.  Also, originally we were not talking about custom work but standardized production runs.  I don't think you can have both and do it economically.  I  won't buy the switches if they have wood ties.



Last edited by Ed Kelly

Several posts ago S scale Shinohara turnouts were mentioned.  There are several reasons why they are the priced the way they are.  They have been around 20 yrs or better.  They have issues since they were HO parts used on S scale ties so development costs were less.  The #6 isn't long enough between the frog and points.  Gauging has been a problem on the diverging route.  Their #8 is a little better from what I've heard but since I had trouble with the #6 I never tried the #8.  So yes they are half the price of Atlas but not really a good RTR turnout IMHO.  As an aside, I've made Fast Tracks #5 turnouts that out perform Shinohara. 


Question.  If you make a turnout with wood ties, will you have them laser cut and held together like the ones offered from Fast Tracks?




Originally Posted by Tom Tee:

1. Monarch (England) produced scale tie 2r turnouts back in the 80's & early 90's.  They were marketed thru Atlantic associates.  Maybe the finest looking 0 scale turnout to date.  Not detailed but fantastic scale appearance.  They are a match for the turnouts Joe Cordara built in OST#60.


2. Anything in plastic will require expensive tooling.  Expensive tooling can only be offset by volume sales.


3. Two rail is a niche market to begin with and there is already an embedded line of readily produced plastic tie turnouts with a distribution system supported by a very popular line of locomotives, cars and assorted support product.


4. If we could get a domestic supplied reliable 2 rail turnout with scale proportions up and running with the possibility of providing a variety of configurations I believe it would behoove all of us all to melt our strong closely held ideals a little and accept something that would be good for the hobby.


5. How may folks do you think are scared away from two rail when they see so many modelers feeling like they need to go all out to build these fantastic hand build turnouts?


6. I believe the lack of an assortment of accurate durable turnouts is a big drawback in 0 scale. tt

Tom, addressing some of your comments by number (which I added)


1. If they were so good, what happened? Too pricey? or? My bet is the buyers were just NOT there at that point in time.


2. This point is THE problem. It's all about the money.


3. Atlas.........and I don't think they are really all that bad. Might be easier to try and get them to correct some of the problems (perceived or otherwise) than hope for someone else to come up with new product. For those who can't live with the standard version, Joe G. did an article on upgrading them in OST #52.


4. see number 3. A curved turnout would go a long way in helping the variety here.


5. None that have a brain in their head.


6. An obvious truth. I could be wrong, but I think there is a better chance of getting a curved turnout from Atlas than seeing something totally new. The fact that OP went away (or at least appears to have) might be a good indication that demand for this stuff is not necessarily booming, since they offered a wide variation of product.


It's very easy for modelers to TALK about "I want this or that!", but what happens when it comes time to step up to the plate and buy it. This is NOT an inexpensive hobby.


When I see some of the crap (meaning errors) that skates as far as Locos and rolling stock go, it amuses me how picky some folks can be about track while overlooking the stuff that sits on it. There is a lot of selective amnesia in my opinion.



Last edited by Former Member

Lenz recently announced a three way and curved turnouts that are expected this year.  I have two of his double slips and am quite happy with their operation to this point.  They are made in the same factory as the Atlas track an use the same rail and tie color.


His 11.25 degree turnouts exactly match the angle of the Atlas number 5 turnouts.



Can someone please explain a few things for me:


1. What makes a turnout dcc ready? I'm in DC so just curious.

2. What are the issues that others have with the Atlas turnouts?


I have 4 of the atlas turnouts but only in hidden areas of the layout since they don't blend well with the hand-laid track. I had my issues with them electrically getting them installed. Not sure exactly what at this point but I remember adding gaps in places were they were shorting. Curious if anyone else experienced this. As far as smooth operation though I am very happy with them. 

I've only seen 3 standard gauge 2 rail O scale layouts. All 3 of them are in Houston and as far as I know are the only 3 in Houston. Each of them has a mix of track, rail codes, and companies. One uses all ME flextrack with hand laid switches that have no tie plate, frog, or points detail. All of the track is painted and blends in well. If you look for it you'll notice the lack of detail items on the switches but the overall layout looks very nice. Most people don't notice.


The other 2 layouts here are pretty much the same way as each other. They each have a mix of old and new Atlas flex track and hand laid switches. Some have detail and others don't. The track may not necessarily be painted either so the track differences are much more obvious.


In order to keep costs down, plastic ties are absolutely NOT an option. Forget about it unless you want to spend $10K+ per switch mold. Wood ties can match ME or Atlas flex track just fine. Paint your track! In my opinion all track needs to be painted unless it is hand laid wood ties that are stained. Unpainted plastic tie track may as well be blue and have a windup toy running around on it. It is visually obvious. Far more so than painted or stained track that lack details such as tie plates and spikes. The eye perceives color first. Get the colors to match and your mind will fill in the rest. Wood ties are the only cheap option and they can work just fine. I'd cut them out as a one piece item on a cnc router (I own one) or a laser cutter. I'd leave off detail items to keep price down. If someone wants to add them, they can.


Keep in mind that if you are trying to match flex track then you need to pick one. Atlas flex track has a tie spacing that works out to 24" centers in the real world. ME tie spacing is roughly 20" Fast Tracks tie spacing jigs use 20" as mainline spacing (and switch tie spacing), 22" for branch lines, and 24" for sidings and is a good enough guideline to use.

I agree.  As I stated earlier if you want a reliable, easy to install, easily modified and most of all at a good price you will have to use wood.  I like the idea of using a CNC router.  You could spit those out quickly and modify the program for virtually any # turnout or for any radius on curved turnouts.  Now if someone could develope a pneumatic spiking gun we would be off to the races. 


The Atlas flex track of 35 years ago had a tie spacing of 24" o.c.  The current Atlas flex track has a tie spacing of 21" o.c.  


My problem with wood ties is the strength and durability of the method of attaching the rail to the ties.  As has been asked before, "Will the ties be one piece of lasercut wood?"


I agree that track should be painted to blend the rails and ties together.  



Hi Ed,


My thought would be yes one piece for strength.  Start with a solid blank of pine cut to the shape of the turnout # or radius.  Machine out the material that is between the ties, but only about 70-75% of it. In doing this you create the tie profile and leave material behind for strength.  Then when you ballast your track the ballast will fill in the voids between the ties as usual and also cover up the wood left behind so it will remain unseen.   What is nice about this is once the program has been created and loaded you can spit them out fast because all you are milling out is that material between the ties.  As for attaching the rails, I'm still thinking on that but you could use traditional spiking or epoxys even depending on what a given customer may want in terms of details such as the spikes, tie plates, frogs ect.... I played around with a small section of rail and some scrap ties using regular super glue and glued the rail down in about a 60" radius....I went to try and remove it and took wood with the rail.

Last edited by N&W Class J

This is just my opinion here, #6 turnouts are fine, but I for one want to see something other than a bunch of #6s produced....   How about a variety of turnouts...numbers 6, 8, and even a 9.5, or a 10 done.   I am a modern modeler that would need bigger than #6 turnouts.   Yes, most O scale equipment will operate through a #6, BUT would look better through a #8 or larger turnout.   And I would desire code 148. regards to the wood vs plastic ties debate, once the turnouts are installed, wired, and painted, everything tends to blend in together pretty well.  A good modeler friend of mine calls into play the 3 foot rule.....any details (or lack of) past 3 foot, tend to disappear into the overall scene.   May sound corny, but it does have merit.  I personally do like the idea of turnout details, but at what cost?    I think that a commercially produced line of O scale turnouts with moderate to high detail would be in the $125 plus range.   Just look at Atlas' prices of late!   Their turnouts are just plain rediculous in price, not alone the price of #16.50 for one 40" piece of flextrack!!!!     These are just my feelings on this subject, others may disagree.........


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