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Will Laying Turnouts Back to Back Cause Derailments?

Ken has this question for readers:

“I am laying HO track at 50mm centers and wish to switch between parallel tracks using Peco ST240 and 241 turnouts. I am running some NSWGR 6 wheel carriages and steam locos. Will laying the turnouts back to back cause potential derailments or running issues or should a short straight be placed between the turnouts? If a short straight is introduced won’t this increase the center to center distance between the parallel tracks?”

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13 Responses to Will Laying Turnouts Back to Back Cause Derailments?

  • Carl Branninsays:

    It’s best to have at least one 9 inch straight between two turnouts.Especially if you use a right/ left combo that causes a “S” curve.

  • Frank Bsays:

    If you already have the turnouts, set up a test track on a board and run the rolling stock over the track configuration at gradually increasing speeds. Watch carefully what the wheels do as they cross the tracks.

    This will enable you to discover and deal with any problems before installing the turnouts on your layout. You can experimentally determine the minimum length any intermediate straight needs to be

    Also, if the carriages derail, it may be possible to modify the bogeys to increase the amount of rotation, allowing them to negotiate the S-bend successfully without the extra straight.

  • mikesays:

    I have three such crossovers on my N Scale layout. Assuming you have the corect parallel diatance fkr your scale, to keep rolling stock from hitting in the curves, you should be fine. Jt is important to use larger numbered turnouts to reduce possible derailments. A number 6 or 8 Peco turnout should hook up nicely, you may need a short piece of straight track to meet the distance between tracks.

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    I run 2″ center tracks in my station and use six wheel trucks on my coaches and have no problems i also use large radius turnouts to keep the s curve as ;large as possible the smaller turnouts will cause problems.

  • David Stokessays:

    All the experts I have read suggest a short piece of straight track between turnouts, especially if they create an S curve, HOWEVER, I have seen and read about layouts designed and built by the same experts, and they don’t always do as they say.

  • Stevesays:

    Hi There should be no problem with having the points/turnouts so that you can go from one track to another, I use the Hornby ones and gave a 4-62 steamer go over them with out a problem. I know that peko have a slightly different footprint but you should still be able to do it.

  • Craig Inghamsays:

    The comments so far are worthy. Trackwork is critical for successful runing. Mainline higher speed requires a higher #turnout. Yards can handle #4 and 6. The success lies in alignment. Too often modelers bend the track to fit the need. That causes alignment issues. The joined rails of any connection, on radius or straight make the difference in operation. Never cheat on the track work.

  • Richsays:

    Hi I have 3 cross overs & 3 points back to back. Some older stuff has issues I think with fat wheel flanges jumping over frogs newer 1s fine. Also adding weight helps when changing lanes. Also nearly all my older locos had problems when I went dcc. Adding extra pick ups resolved for most. I agree a mock up test run is a good idea

  • Stevesays:

    A big factor that plays ino this is the train length and the weight of individual cars. Light cars will perform better when placed the back of the train.
    Also ensure that the bogies are not sticking somewhere as they swivel and that the wheel flanges and widths match the particular track you are using. If you pay attention to these details there is no reason why you cannot place turnouts directly together. Real railways have tight areas too – add a speed restriction sign.

  • Joel Dee/Berlinsays:

    Depends how fast you want to go. On mainlines, we use minimum #8s, but this restricts the
    speeds to 40-50 mph for passenger trains. Using custom made 10s and 12s we can do
    70-100+. For the turnouts you plan to use–listen to Steve above and post a speed limit.

  • Dale Arendssays:

    Crossovers like this are generally fine. However, you specify that you want to use Peco ST240 and 241 turnouts. These are fairly tight radius turnout and with longer equipment may cause problems. I would recommend looking at longer turnouts with somewhat larger radius diverging routes.

  • Tim Morloksays:

    In designing my layout I am using Atlas #6 turnouts as the minimum for my passenger line crossovers since these give me exactly 2 inch (50 mm) c/c separation and eliminates much of the s curve problem for long cars. The Peco ST240/241 appear to have too large an angle for this type of use with out a long straight section that will increase the c/c distance. Walthers #6 gives about a 2.65 inch (82.5 mm) c/c. I hope this helps.

  • Romeosays:

    The only way to solve your troubles is to use a 89′ auto rack for testing your turn outs, I put two or three auto racks for testing. If useing a # 4 and a # 6 turnouts back to back you may derail you cars unless you run short freight cars. I run SD 50’s and SD 60’s most of the time, I have yet to have any problems MUing four or more locomotives through my turn outs, I sometime pull or push fifteen auto racks through my turnouts and no problems. Note: even if the turnouts could be tight use the auto racks, yes couplers could stress but as long they do not jump off you have solved your troubles.

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