Force Peco 009 turnouts to maintain contact

It was all supposed to be straight forward and relatively easy. Lay the track, get the electrics working and do the all the artwork. At least that's the way I had it planned back in March. That's over three months ago and I have gotten nowhere.

Earlier I mentioned that the main problem was some Peco turnouts. Something had to give and it took ages, but I figured out what to do by accident. While I was trimming off a bit on one of the right hand units with a single edged razor blade. It slipped under the rail and touched the curved section of the point blade. Ah Ha, thought I, is this the solution?
Take one Peco 009 SL-E491 or E492 switch and an old razor. Time for a shave, well, sort of anyways.

At first I thought phosper bronze strips might do the job. One morning I decided to have a shave with my throw away razor instead of my shaver and realized that I don't need Phospher bronze or a single edged razor blade at all. I already have something much better and began to see how well it would work.

Peco's 009 SL-E491 turnout is a sharp radius of about 12 inches. They also have a 9 inch radius one as well, but I had a bad feeling about those and bought two right hand 491s. It wouldn't surprise me in the least that both the 9" and 12" radius ones have exactly the same problem. On my travel blog I say this, "If somewhere is good, I'll say so. If not, I'll trash it, so you won't waste your time on the place". The same applies on this site for manufacturers and dealers. Nearly everything I've bought with the Peco brand has been rubbish, incomplete or just plain does not work. Their 009 rail joiners are worse than their turnouts, they're appalling, use them once (if you manage to get them on) and that's it—they are unusable 2nd time around and just fall off the rail.
Y switches are a wider radius. 18 inches instead of 12 and work some of the time, so they will get the treatment as well.

This is what was done, whether the points liked it or not

I should not have had to do this—if the turnouts had been manufactured correctly.
    If you cut the tips of your fingers to ribbons (voice of experience), it is your fault—not mine! Take your time.
    I suggest practicing on an old razor first and using a vice where possible. I used a Gillete throw away double, there are other ones out there which are probably a very similar design and build.
  2. pjnk1b.jpg

    I had to tear this apart.

    Depending on what razor you use, there should be some things which are the same or similar. The top glide thing amd another plastic strip under it has to be removed and the plastic round parts through the holes, over the blades, cut off. I used a snip to do the ends and scalpel to trim off the plastic holding the blades down. There is no rush, take your time. I went through 3 units to get 12 sort of decent contact pieces, but that's okay if you normally use the razors anyways and toss them afterwards.

    I do not recommend using a single edged razor blade, they are too thick and could cause problems. A double edged one, I don't know about, but they are more than likely thicker than the cheap twin blade throw aways (which are best to use). You could try the double edged, but I bet the bevel is on both sides and you don't really want that.

    The rail glides over the surface of the ties (sleepers), so there is space there. All we want to do is have something which the points of the turnout glide over and make contact. Pospher bronze strips do not have a bevel on, which is why I did not use them. The razor blades seem to have a single bevel and the rail will easily slide over it, resulting in electrical flow, which is what you want to happen.
  3. pjnk2.jpg
    You will end up with three pieces. Keep the one on the right, which is on the top and the most easily damaged.

    Clean it up—carefully. On the right, you will see the bevel. It appears to be on one side only. That bevelled side—must face upwards later on. The Peco 009 ties are about 3mm wide. You want to cut (where there are no holes) single strips of the blade approximately 1-2mm wide. You need to see the edges of the ties on each side of the razor blade strip. Contact is contact, so 1mm or 2mm doesn't matter, just as long as it is there and the juice flows.

    I used a pair of old kitchen scissors to cut my blade strips. I also had to make sure they were dead flat without damaging the bevel.
    You should end up with something like this.
    (a graphic representation).
  4. pjnk2b.jpg
    I did a basic graphic here to show what to do. The strip of the razor you cut is inside the yellow circle. There is a plastic "spike" holding the rail down, on the outside of the rail, it must be gently cut away and that part of the tie smoothed afterwards. The strip of blade you cut should slide under the rail without forcing it. This is a very fiddly job, I used my finger nail, so you will need a lot of patience.

    Note how the razor bit is angled slightly so the edge of the bevel (which MUST be upward) is parallel to the outside of the curved point blade. There has to be a small distance between the edge of the razor strip and the point blade so no contact is made until that point blade moves.

    You can see the tie underneath on both sides and the bottom. This is so the 2 part epoxy will cover both the outward razor bit and the tie. Peco ties seem to be made of styrene (MEK works on them) and being such: 5 minute epoxy will adhere to them. I even stroked a bit of epoxy around to each downward edge of the tie (not on the underside of the turnout). Be careful to elevate the entire turnout, with the epoxied section clear so it does not stick to anything (just in case)—until it is dry and cured.

    If you mess this up you will have to buy a new turnout and start all over.
  5. pjnk3.jpg
    Here is my first attempt for a test, before setting myself the above guidelines (it's a bit overdone but did the job). I ran the test and it worked, each time, every time—even at a seriously slow crawl of my loco. Before doing this, I could never get my loco through the curved part of the turnout—it always stalled.
  6. When it is all dried and tested, simply paint your track color over the outer part of the razor strip, not the inside of the track part—it has to make contact.
  7. That's it. I tested the turnouts, again and again, to make sure they worked.

Seeing as I'm stuck with Peco's stuff, I have to try and make the most of it. I reordered some Peco 009 track and was sent HO (what is wrong with this country), so ordered some more and the correct gauge eventually arrived, via UPS, was seriously over packed but at least I have something. Two more switches, wider radius, are taking forever to arrive. Let's hope the dealer sends me the right ones. I am now running over 70% wastage and am very close to dropping the hobby altogether, all because of one manufacturer—I don't need all this hassle.

This had to be done to every Peco 009 turnout I possess, on both blades, because I do not trust their products one tiny little bit.

I now have good, constant, contact—finally. Track will be laid and a couple of things done to a small portion of it. If that does not work—then the entire lot will be trashed. I'll not waste another moment on the thing.

Jul 04, 2020
The turnout arrived very quickly, instead of the 2 weeks I was told and now the trackwork is all down and works. Ballasting has yet to be finished, then I should be off and running.

latest comment at top
Jun 28, 2020 at 1738
Frustration: not good. Patience is good though.
Jun 28, 2020 at 1737

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