Fast Tracks jig built turnouts etc.

This is a temporary posting to illustrate a discussion point (excuse the pun!).

The issue is the “correct” width of tie to use. The picture below shows (from left to right)

-turnout using Clover House S scale ties (built on home made jig)

-Precision Scale flex track

-Part built turnout using a stock Fast Tracks jig (On2 #8, code 70) and Clover House S scale PCB ties, over the Fast Tracks plan of same turnout with a Fast Tracks recommended tie (PB-S-N) placed underneath.

-Fast Tracks jig with two part built turnouts using Clover House S scale PCB ties, and a Fast Tracks recommended tie.


Close-up of the part built turnout using Fast Tracks jig and Clover House S scale PCB ties, on Fast Tracks plan of turnout with a Fast Tracks recommended tie (PB-S-N) placed underneath.



Use the link on the right titled Fast Tracks to get directly to their On2 page.


Right of Way, trackwork, rail

Weight and length

  • B&B Rail was 25#, 30ft lengths.  Railroadians of America, Billerica & Bedford 2ft Gauge     Railroad 1879 (page 6),  Russ Simpson
  • B&SR Rail Weights Bridgton Jct to Bridgton, prior to 1909: 30 & 35 lbs. Bridgton Jct to Bridgton, after 1909 : 50 lbs. Bridgton yard relaid with 50 lbs rail in 1910 Bridgton to Harrison : 35 lbs. information provided by Terry Smith
  • SR&RL rail weights, information from 1916, but weights probably did not change too much after then (before that is not a simple answer);          Farmington – Strong – Phillips weights varied from 50 – 52 – 56 & 58 1/4 lbs (most of it 10.48 mi. was 52lb).         Phillips to Madrid Jct. 50 lb rail laid in 1919         Almost everything else was 35 lb rail (there were a few small exceptions, but the mileage was very minor). Things like the Mt.         Abram branch had .16 mi of 30 lb rail in iron (only the best of nitpickers could point this out on a layout ;^) ).         At time of abandonment, there was a reported 2 mi. of 60 lb rail.                                 Information gleaned from Jones, Two Feet Between the Rails
  • The nominal equivalents for rail weights per the various Code rail sizes in 1:48 scale are as follows:

Code 55 = 25# rail

Code 70 = 35# rail

Code 83 = 50# rail

Code 100 = 80# rail   

information provided by Robert Schlechter

Model       Prototype

Code     Weight/yard        Axle load (tons)

40         12                   2

55         25                   5½

70         35                   9

83         55                  16½

100        85                   36   

information provided by Terry Smith

Right of Way, trackwork, ties and ballast


Standard Maine 2-foot tie: 5″x5″x5′ Gary Kohler

B&B Ties were 4x6x4-6 long. Rail was 25#, 30ft lengths. Railroadians of America, Billerica & Bedford 2ft Gauge Railroad 1879 (page 6), Russ Simpson

Note switch ties were 6×6 with variable length to suit. See Switches, Terry Smith.


Precision Scale Flex track details: Code 70

Ties Actual : 1.279″ L x .153″ W x .103″ T on .406″ Centres

Scale : 5′ 4″ L x 7.3″ W x 4.9″ T on 19½” Centres

information provided by Terry Smith

  • Tie Spacing From Bill Kerr “MY PERSONAL” conclusion was that anything from 18″ to 24″ was common.

I choose to model:    21″ tie spacing for mainline and my yards    18″ on tighter curves and around switches    24″ on sidings and roundhouse/engine house tracks I felt this best approximated what I was observing in photographs. I recall that pictures of the North end of Strong, had tie spacing that looked even closer then 18″, the reasoning I assumed was because the derailments that occurred in that area over the years.  Robert Schlechter also pointed out that tie spacing probably decreased as heavier engines were acquired, and rail weights were increased on the Farmington – Strong – Phillips portion of the line.

  • There are construction specs that work out to 18″ centers.  However, if you look at Jones, vol. 2, p 108, the picture clearly shows 18″ centers under the locomotive, but 24″ centers under the coach.  I’ll take a picture over a specification any day.  It would be a good bet that the track crew laid marginal ties at 18″ centers, but more robust ones at wider spacing.  source MaineTwoFooters Bob Troup  Director, SR&RL RR

  • The B&SR specified 2640 ties per mile for Quantity Surveying purposes. This works out as 24″ centres tie to tie if taken literally. However, there is also a comment that ties were placed on closer spacing where needed, such as on (serious) curves and perhaps on softer ground. It does not take many tangent ties laid at 25 or 26 inch centres to allow of curves to be laid at maybe 18 inch centres. It should also be realised that what was a quantity surveying aim maybe interpreted differently some 50 years afterward in more financially straitened circumstances, and that someone will find a picture of something different. Information provided by Terry Smith.


  • There is no indication that Maine two foot railroads ever used creosoted ties.

Tie Plates

  • Tie plates were used, sometimes. They were three hole affairs, one hole on the inside, two on the outside.  They were rectangular and made to fit a particular size rail.  So, where were they used?  I found some in the 1980s on the P&R Sluice Hill grade.  But there were many places even on the mainline rails in Farmington, Strong, and Phillips where pictures show they were clearly missing.  Were they only bought for 35 lb rail?  Not used in yards and sidings?  Beats me what the rules were.  Source MaineTwoFooters Bob Troup  Director, SR&RL RR.
  • Gary Kohler has photographs for sale if you are interested.

Fish Plates

  • Toby Ljung  provided this modeling information from his research into fish plates.  Found 4 potential sources: Roy C Link (UK),  Details West (US), Monongahela Innoventions (US), Grandt line (US). I have Roy C Link’s and Details West’s fish plates at home and I’ve seen photos of the Grant line product. My verdict is simple; Use Roy C link! He produces the best fish plates I’ve seen (plastic). The only disadvantage is that they need to be slightly modified when using code 70, for code 82-100 they fit as they are. Some detail photos will follow soon on my homepage under “Layout”. Toby Ljung

“PK11 Fishplate mouldings, 48 inside (four bolt heads), 48 outside (four square nuts with shanks) – to suit  Peco IL115 (code 82) rail or similar. Cosmetic only”

Now available from  £3.00 (August 2013).

Details West’s fish plate JB 922 (white metal) can be seen on these pages:

August 2013: FAQ Authors note: no current link to Monongahela Innoventions can be found.

The fish plates from Grandt line can be seen on this page:’s/9003.jpg


  • It depends on the road. The Monson had plenty of slate chips. The WW&F favored not much better than dirt- with the usual wrecks as a result. So you need to be specific about railroad and era and main line, branch line, siding,  Peter Tuttle  HOn30 group 2004-03-17
  • Yep, as Peter said, it depends. For the B&SR you need a gravel with a pinkish tan granite content and the best thing I’ve found is Saco River sand bar sand. For the WW&F and SR&RL you need a lighter tan to almost white gravel. It should not be coarse or evenly sized since they used local gravel and not sorted ballast. Even on one road the shades varied.

I use sand from the Great Northern Sand and Ballast Company. I use the TPL 40/80 mixed with SBT4080 for SR&RL. If I were doing the B&SR and couldn’t get any more Saco River sand I’d use SBR80MS.  Jim models in HOn30, materials listed for reference colours

At station stops where ash would fall and be cleaned out I throw on sifted ashes I dug up in Lewiston yard in 1981. —Jim red_gate_rover HOn30 Group 2004-03-17

  • You could drive up to Maine and go to Barjum branch and dig out 10 lbs of real SR&RL ballast, if you wanted to, I did years ago, its a grey/whitish.  the grade is now a one lane gravel road….  chris rehm HOn30 Group 2004-03-17

Right of Way, prototype, switches

  • Please note that blue highlighted links will not work until further work and notice.
  • Russ Simpson writes: the Oct 1913 SR&RL RR drawing for their Standard Turnout with #9 frog (available from Robert Schlechter and Gary Kohler), shows the ties were 6×6 with lengths within the turnout from 5-3 to 7-10. A tie before the throwbar ties was 5-0. The two throwbar ties were 7x9x11-6. Tie spacing varies between (most commonly) 19 to 21 center to center through the turnout. 
  • Terry Smith writes: the September 1913 B&SR RR drawing for their Standard Turnout with #8 frog (which was supplied by Gary Kohler), specifies ties which were 6×6 with lengths within the turnout from 5-2 to 7-10. A tie before the throw-bar ties was 5-0. The two throwbar ties were 7x9x11-6. Tie spacing varies from 15 to 21 inch centres through the turnout, with 20 inch being the most frequent spacing. Of interest perhaps to model railroaders, the drawing specifies the radius of the curved switchblade as 226 feet which scales out to a radius on centreline of 68.25 inches in 1:48 scale.