There was a brief dialogue today on Proto-Layouts Yahoo group about hand laid track and ballasting methodology.
I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on the matter along with images.
I chose to handlay for a number of reasons. Economy was one factor, but not a big one.
Quality was certainly a big factor. The vast majority of commercial turnouts are poorly built. Out of gauge. And usually have large unsightly lumps of plastic for hinges and pivots, etc.
And they are not DCC friendly without a lot of work.
But arguably the biggest reason was ballasting. I've never been able to install commercial turnouts and then ballast the area without having issues with gluing the points shut. It's probably a shortcoming on my part but it is my reality.
By handlaying I can ballast before the rail goes in thus eliminating the potential for trouble.
I used the Fast Tracks Twist Tie system throughout the layout and built the individual turnouts in place as I progressed along.
Fast Tracks. One of the neat aspects of the Twist Ties is that they come with holes drilled for spikes, which can really speed things up.
Once the rail is down and wired, and tested,(Yes test now!) I paint the sides of the rails and move on to scenery.