Curved, Lapped Turnout

Author Shawn Branstetter

Editors Note: The drawing was commissioned by me and design by Brad Strong of Signature Switch Co. The drawing is used with Brad’s permission for download, which can be found at the end of this article.

Saving Space

My Proto48 layout I am building is fairly small. It occupies a corner of a 12 foot, by 12 foot room and measured 11.5 feet, by 8.5 feet. Someday I do hope to expand it but that’s another story. With the cramped footprint, Most of the turnouts in the shop area needs to be curved in order to fit the space properly.

Original drawing created by the author using Adobe Illustrator. More about the build can be found at

I am a novice when it comes to track building, but I have high expectations when it comes to my model building, as most of my fellow modelers do as well. I do find track work to be a most satisfying part of the hobby, and I love to challenge myself to learn something new as I build.

The original plans called for two turnouts in this area. However, as I was building, it became apparent that I would need a curved, three-way turnout to utilize better the limited space I had. I began planning the turnout in place and laid ties in the location. As I built the turnout, I found my geometry was off. So I decided to pull up the rails and start over.

The second attempt was close, but equipment was finding its way onto the ties and not tracking correctly. At this point I was frustrated!

The Third Attempt

I reached out to Brad Strong of Signature Switch Co. and asked to work up a CAD drawing of the turnout I needed. Although complex, he was able to come up with a drawing I could use.

The print is huge, so I had a large format printer, Staples office supplies, print it. The print was glued to a piece of 1×4 inch thick Gator Board so I could build the turnout on my workbench.

All turnout details, rail and castings are from Right-O’-Way (ROW). I used PC board (PCBs) “ties” to tack the rails in gauge and temporary ties were used to solder the details in place. You’ll notice that I placed the PDBs between the ties to allow me to spike the turnout in place and sweat the PCB ties out when secure.

Once the the skeleton was soldered together, I soaked the rails in a bath of acetone to remove all flus residue.

The Ties

I used ties from ROW and glued them directly to the original print. A hobby razor saw, wire brush and dull X-Acto knife were used to distress the wood.

I typically use India Ink and water washes to stain ties. I add several light washes and lightly sand the ties after each coat. I then add dirt and some ballast. Once the dirt has dried, I then sand the ties again and apply additional coats of the ink and water washes.

White glue and black ink was used to create the look of creosote seeping from the ties.


I sprayed the rails with black, self-etching primer from a rattle can. Once dry, I sprayed them Rust-Oleum Camo Earth Brown, again, from the rattle can.

All tie plates and spikes are from ROW as well. I sprayed them with Camo Earth Brown and began spiking everything in place.

The frog tie plated are made by cutting ROW turnout tie plates in half. Guard rail tie plates were made from .020 inch strip styrene.

Although a lot of trial and quite a bit of error, I learned a lot during this build. And I’m very grateful for Brad and his skill design unique track.

Turnout Drawings

2 responses to “Curved, Lapped Turnout”

  1. Gene Deimling Avatar
    Gene Deimling

    Masterful job executing a complex piece of track.

    1. Shawn Branstetter Avatar
      Shawn Branstetter

      Thank you Gene. This was a challenge for sure and Brad really got me out of a bind.

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