It’s humbling to discover that even after living with a design for the better part of four years that there are still ways to improve on my original concept for The Hills Line. Such is the case on the north end of the town of Hills, where I’ve realized that I could shorten the length of the runaround track to allow for a bit more open running between scenes.

The additional space could then be used to model a key scenic element in the life of the prototype Hills Line under IAIS lease… but I’ll get to that. To start, I need to rebuild the north runaround switch.

The original arrangement used a Micro Engineering Code 70 right-hand no. 6 turnout with the main routed through the diverging leg. This allowed me to place the turnout within the curve leading into Hills. In essence it functioned as a curved turnout, without the mechanical issues that often accompany commercial curved turnouts.

With the shorter runaround track, I was able to go with a left-hand turnout, which matches the prototype track schematic and allows the main to be routed through the straight leg. But this time I went with one of Micro Engineering’s new no. 5 turnouts to minimize the space needed for the turnout. The short trains and slow speeds on the layout can more than handle the sharper diverging angle.

After prepping and prewiring the turnout at the benchwork, I marked the section of track to be removed from the main. Xuron rail nippers and an MLR track tool made for clean and consistent cuts. The new turnout was dropped into place and attached to the existing track.

The runaround track itself required a different approach, since half of it had already been scenicked and detailed for the Hills Grain & Feed scene. I was able to carefully pry up the track and bend it to fit into the new configuration, which now features a gentle S-curve that better matches the prototype. I originally tried to reuse the existing feeders that were already attached to the track, but quickly realized it wasn’t going to work. Nothing a little solder and flux couldn’t fix.

Once installed, I tested both tracks and the new turnout for mechanical and electrical consistency, which included wiring up the Tam Valley Depot Frog Juicer. However the main north of the turnout was left disconnected… at least until I can work in the next scenic element of this project.

7 thoughts on “Realignment

  1. James

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts and opinion on the No 5 vs No 6 turnouts after you operate them for a bit.

    I’m definitely going to use ME Code 70 No 5s on my planned layout. I’m in one of those every inch count’s type of scenarios.

    Enjoyed the article and your “live” layout operating show!!


  2. So is this change after the live stream of this same section? Or was that a preview of what is to come? I noticed in this post it was bare plywood but in the live stream it was a bit different. 😉


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