In addition to updates on my projects, I decided to start a series featuring conversations with members of the prototype modeling community. In this first installment, I interviewed Fast Tracks co-founder and product developer Tim Warris, who is currently building a model of the Central New Jersey Bronx Terminal.
Johannes: Your Fast Track system of building turnouts seems to be very successful. What in particular makes working with your tools and assembly fixtures so easy compared to other approaches?
Tim: I had always hand-laid turnouts on all my layouts, with varying degrees of success. I was frequently frustrated by small imperfections in the operational quality of the finished trackwork. Sometimes it would work flawlessly, and other times I would find irritating bumps as equipment passed over the turnout. I knew if a turnout was constructed precisely to the NMRA standards this would not happen, but when building a turnout in place by hand it was just too easy to introduce small variations in the final work, that would effect the performance of the trackwork. Using an assembly fixture forces all the rails into precise and correct locations, eliminating the possibility of imperfections in the trackwork and results in very smooth running track without requiring a lot of skill and patience to achieve. If someone can solder (or even if they can’t) they will be able to produce very smooth trackwork using our tools.
Johannes: Are the switches you offer exact replicas of prototype drawings including geometry and radii?
Tim: No. We considered following a specific prototype, but then quickly realized that every railroad, and every trackwork supplier, has their own design. Deciding on which prototype to follow would be difficult, so we decided to take the same approach as other manufacturers and develop a line of generic trackwork that would be plausible on any railroad. The geometry and radii follow published NMRA standards and practices where possible. This approach seems to have been well received and offers reliable and good looking trackwork.
Johannes: Can your fixtures also be used to build Proto:87 turnouts and is it possible to use tie plates in the assemblies?
Tim: The only difference between Proto87 trackwork and NMRA trackwork is the track gauge and flangeways. We can, and have on a couple occasions, modified fixtures for customers to work with Proto:87 standards.
Most commercial tie plates that are available are designed to slip under the rail, and would not work with our fixtures.
Johannes: Do you have plans to start a line of assembly fixtures based on European prototypes?
Tim: Yes! We are hoping to introduce this in the new year. We have done a few fixtures based on European and German prototypes as custom projects, and would like to add these to the standard line. As well as a line of HOm fixtures with prototype European ties.
Check back next Sunday for the second part of the interview in which Tim tells us about new Fast Tracks products and how he got interested in the CNJ Bronx Terminal.
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Images courtesy of Fast Track and Tim Warris. Used with permission. Eisenbahnstudio.com is not affiliated with the manufacturers of the products mentioned on this site and did not receive payment or samples for review.