Reconditioning Peco Turnouts

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beiland

Well-Known Member
Quite a number of years ago I bought up a whole collection of Peco turnouts,...mostly new, but a fair number of previously used ones also. I was convinced by forum discussions and in person interviews that these were some of the best commercial turnouts. I have become quite a fan myself as I build my new layout with almost exclusively these turnouts. Their curved diverging legs and their curved turnouts have allowed me to construct a pretty compact layout in my limited space.


But recently I have encounter a couple of challenging situations I'm going to try and resolve. The most recent incident is these two 'deformed' turnouts I found in my freight yard ladder of turnouts,...
https://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/41194?page=1#comment-481250


I don't know how this occurred,..likely by the previous owner since they are used. I plan on replacing them with new turnouts, BUT as a challenge I am wondering if I can make them operational? Should be an interesting experiment.


A little over a month ago I received a new Peco 3-way turnout in the mail. It had been packaged incorrectly and bent in the mail. The seller gave me credit for the defect after I showed him the photos of the mailing damage. So I figured why not experiment and see if I could bring it back to life. I believe I have, and I will document that later in this discussion.


I realize I will receive many opinions that I should not attempt to 'recondition' turnouts. But I am taking it up as a challenge. Imagine the modeler who lives in a remote part of the world where getting a replacement might be difficult or at lest very expensive,...its a challenge.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
One of the problems with Peco Code 100 (I don't know anything about Code 83) is that they are not really HO turnouts, but OO! As a result, the space between the guard rails and the frogs is about .010-.015 too great. Generally, this isn't a problem. However, on the tighter-radius turnouts, cars/engines rolling toward the diverging end of the turnout will actually pick the frog, but going toward the straight section wouldn't be a problem. But, in my case, where the diverging route was a main line and the straight route went to a siding, it would derail about anything including a 2-10-4 that was backing onto a straight siding! The solution was to cut a strip of .010" brass that was just a little higher and a tad longer than the guard rail, bend the ends around the guard and also cement the thing in place with some CA. Didn't have to do it to the curved guard rail. No idea why. You might try that.

I understood, before the pandemic closed my LHS, that Peko was set to introduce new turnouts that were "American HO" standard, but I have seen nothing of that, unless it is with the new Code 83 line.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
I am very familiar with that shimming of Peco turnouts. That was NOT the problem I was experiencing here since most of the time I was not moving towards the frog, but rather entering the turnout on the diverging track. The proud frog was causing the derail, particularly with those longer 3 axle trucks.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Here are a few of my initial thoughts. I figure I need a little heat to the ties, then some constant, very flat pressure. I was thinking a hot water bath might soften up the ties just enough without deforming any individual one, then a good flat board clamped over the top of the rails for an hour or so?

Perhaps I should run a sanding block over the underside just enough to take off the outer edge tips of the ties that appear to have a little curl to them??

Anyone ever submerged a turnout in hot water??
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Experiment

As I believe I have indicated, I consider these old ones throw away, BUT I want to experiment.

In place of hot water I though I would start out using our Florida sunshine. Jack's comment prompted this when he mentioned that it might have been the reason they deformed in the first place,'sitting in a window' somewhere.

So I set them plastic-ties-up out in my driveway for about an hour today, then clamped them down between two pieces of 3/4" plywood with a strong screw C clamp. I'm going to leave them clamped overnight. We will see what tomorrow brings?

My second experiment may be with a hot air gun. I have a good one.

I only left them in the sunshine for a little over an hour, as about a year ago I sought to straighten out some plastic parts belonging to my previously used roundhouse. The doors of that roundhouse warped too much,...beyond usability,..lesson learned. Florida sunshine can be HOT....ha...ha
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
I removed the clamps from my 2 turnouts this morning and noticed a definite improvement in their 'flatness'. I believe I could have utilized a bit more heat. So today I will run a sanding block over the backside to ensure the outer tips of the ties are even,...then I will experiment with the heat gun to get a little more heat.


All in all, looks promising.

My repair tools for these 2


image%28223%29.png
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
3 Way Repair

I mentioned having repaired a 3-way Peco I received in the mail that had been bent in its mailing wrap. Here are some photos of that turnout before I began the reconditioning.


as it arrived
image%28217%29.png



where it got bent in the mail
image%28218%29.png



image%28219%29.png



image%28220%29.png



image%28221%29.png



image%28222%29.png



Would you believe I got this turnout straighten out??.....with a big hammer, some flat pieces of strong 3/4 plywood, and some reverse bending. It looks as good as new now, and it operates just fine.


Perhaps I should have been an auto body shop professional? ( I tried repairing several cars of my own when I was younger,...all unacceptable....ha...ha)
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
SUCCESS !!


I didn't get the turnouts hot enough using the Florida sun, but that heat gun this morning did the job !!
Check this transformation out,..
...original warp-age
image-20210716153230-1.jpeg


...and now after my heat gun treatment...
image-20210716153338-2.jpeg


I think they are usable,...and the track gauge has not changed,...and the frogs are no longer proud.
Plus these 2 turnouts are close enough to the edge of the aisle that they can be changed out if need be in the future.
Hallelujah
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Updates on this experiment

Reinstalled those repaired turnouts,...report

As I mentioned above I was going to reinstall those turnouts I 'operated on'. In general it was NOT as straight forward as I anticipated. I'm going to discuss those problems I have been working on for the past few days. I decided to spend those days with this experiment hoping it would teach me other things besides just this particular situation. (to be continued)....
1) First order of business,...gauge of track in turnouts.
UPDATE: If memory serves me correctly I did NOT check the track gauge of these 2 turnouts prior to my heat application. And when I checked it just recently I found that it had narrowed ever so little in a few spots thru the turnout. I don't know if this narrowing was caused by my heat application,...or already existed before when it was warped. I will say that is is so perceptibly small that I am going to continue my experiment with these two, while taking special note of any problems with this gauge problem.
2)
Wheel drop in the frogs.
I have been experiencing what I would call excessive wheel drop in the frog areas of these 2 'repaired turnouts', as well as the Roco double curves. The results of this are some 'bouncing' when the wheels come back up to the frog point, and some excessive leaning of the cars to the inside of the curve. Plus a few of the 6 axle diesels have tried to pick the point of the frog. I am going to have to shim the guard rails across from the frogs as a little force from my fingers seems to indicate this might be helpful. Shiming will start today.
3) Too Steep of a grade.
I have noticed that the grade of my track leaving the diverging route of the turnout onto the tracks of the yard / fuel tracks is too steep. I am have experimented briefly with a few shims here, and noted particular improvements....
image%28224%29.png

image%28225%29.png


4) Uneven Small segment of track
I had had to some trimming of the exterme track tips of those 2 small pecos. In doing so I ended up being a little short in the overall length of the straight portion of the ladder of turnouts,...so I need to add a very small straight segment of track back in. At first I tried adding one of those 'prepared segment pieces' back in. That did not work! I could not get it really good and level, and the individual joints were not smooth.
My original attempt..
image%28226%29.png

image%28227%29.png

So then I decided to try and make this very short joint by soldering a piece of round metal stock on the outer sides of both rails. Doesn't look to pretty, but it works better. (I suppose I need some more lessons in soldering)
image%28228%29.png
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
I've given up on these 2 turnouts !!

I've finally given up on this 'reconditioning' project with these 2 turnouts. I've been screwing around here for several days and just keep running into little track undulations that have me concerned about long term steady flow.
Some of the problems that still come back to haunt me are associated with my uneven sub-roadbed cork that I still have to keep regrinding/sanding the cork.

Then there are the turnouts and the joints combined. Last night I decided to see if I could readjust that very small gauge narrowing that I had mentioned,..I was concerned that it in combo with the wheel drop in the frog areas was causing some problems. So I got out a few of my metal gauge accessories and tried forcing them into place while I heated the turnouts with my heat gun,...bad idea. One of those gauges fell out and allowed the heat gun to totally deform the turnout.


I GAVE UP, and went to the computer to order 2 new turnouts. !!
The primary consolation prize is that I am still happy with my overall plan,...just have to get those 2 new turnouts and install them smoothly.
image%28229%29.png


image-20210720105933-1.jpeg


image-20210720110017-2.jpeg


image-20210720110043-3.jpeg


image-20210720110133-4.jpeg
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Got my 2 new turnouts in the mail the other day, and installed them yesterday. And I did NOT have to put that short 'gap piece' of track in there as now things fit as I had originally planned out.

Had to spend some considerable time determining minimalist shimming of the diverging tracks from a few of those ladder turnouts, but now things are running pretty derail free,....hallelujah.

(I did note that its too easy to place too large of a shim in at the beginning, and that forces one into more and thicker shims. When really one should be selecting the thinnest shim to start with and trying to readjust with reference to that)
 

Sirfoldalot

Curse You, Red Baron!
Staff member
Glad it all worked out, Brian! Too bad that you could not "save" the other turnouts - I have to say that you really gave it a try?
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
Sometimes one has to just write some things off. And when my final experiment with heat really deformed that one turnout, I could see no other choice.

Perhaps I will find a use for the points area of that turnout, as it was not affected by my heat.
 

diesel

Member
Actually I have a prototype photo (too hard to dig up now) of a complete turnout loaded in a gondola car. Later, I watched it being installed on the Wisconsin Central mainline north of Chicago.

I'm using restored used Shinohara turnouts for my latest layout... one that didn't work out, I made into "scenic track", i.e. it's permanently welded to the through position and installed in the yard ladder. It was easier to restore to that state, than a fully working state. It adds the look of complexity to the yard, even though it does nothing.
 




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