Kankool trackwork Part I …

Hi all,

Things have been pretty quiet since the last post, but there are always things happening behind the scenes and sometimes aren’t worth posting about.

I have been itching to get back into trackwork and have started building the first set of turnouts at the Werris Creek end of Kankool.

The Kankool (1941) signal diagram is shown below.  Click to open a larger version.


The first set of turnouts to be started are numbers 7 and 9 as shown above.  No.7 is the Up Main to Loop and No.9 is a catchpoint in the Main facing Down trains.  As can be seen above, there is a short runaway siding that extends from the loop through another turnout that is also designated No.7.  These two are worked from the same lever.  The runaway acts as a catchpoint for the loop facing Down trains as it is thrown for the runaway when lever 7 is normal in the frame (ie set for the Main).

In looking at photos I have that show snippets of this arrangement of turnouts at Kankool and a similar arrangement at Ardglen, I was intrigued to find that No.9 catchpoint is not a normal single blade type, but virtually a full turnout without the vee crossing.

catchpoint detail ardglen

The photo above shows a similar catchpoint at Ardglen.  Note the short run-off rail and the timber block where the inner rail ends at the stockrail.  The run-off rail extends under the point rodding.  There also appears to be some sort of ‘checkrail’ as well.

I decided to build the arrangement on the workbench, so out came the Greg Edwards Trackwork Handbook, and some photocopies of the 1:6 and 1:8 plain turnouts and 1:6 symmetrical turnout (wye) were made.  I had previously used some templates to get a rough idea on how the two would marry together.

My main workbench was found to be not perfectly flat, so I dragged out an old table I had and checked it – perfect!  I knew I had a sheet of glass somewhere that I could use to stick the paper templates to.  I started to lay out the templates, but soon found they had not copied accurately enough.  For some reason, and I’m guessing it was the photocopier, there was a slight kink in both templates.  Now, this error wasn’t helping me line up centrelines etc.

I decided to send an email to Greg Edwards explaining my problem and if he would be prepared to send me his CAD files of the turnouts.  Well Greg replied very promptly with attachments of the turnout drawings I required.  Greg’s only proviso in giving me the drawings was that I did not distribute them and that they were for my personal use only.  Thanks Greg!

I then proceeded to manipulate the drawings in TurboCAD to combine a 1:8 plain, 1:6 symmetrical and 1:6 plain together to produce a new template.  See below.

Kankool Turnouts Werris Ck end

The above result was a much more accurate template I could use.  As mentioned above, No.9 catchpoint arrangement can now be seen.  The road off the runaway at the top of the drawing will be extended more when in situ.

The template was printed out over three sheets of A4 size paper, cut and joined, then taped down to the glass.

Once the template was in place, PCB sleepers had to be glued down.  I started marking out where to place PCB in strategic locations but then changed tack to make every sleeper PCB.  This may seem like overkill, but it makes it easier than trying to position timber ones in place later.  Anyway, I thought I’d give it a go.

PCB sleepers in place

Clover House PCB strips were used.  Turnouts timbers are generally 10” x 6”, whilst general track sleepers are 9” x 4.5”.  Clover House #1266 scale out to approx. 10” x 5” and #1267 to approx. 11” x 5”.  They are a tad wider than they should be, and it’s difficult to see the difference, but the turnout timbers need to look ‘beefy’ compared to general sleepers.

Clover House PC Board ties

Once all the PCB’s were glued down, I started to think about laying the first piece of rail.  During these thoughts, I decided to have a go at laying the rails on etched tieplates for that extra bit of detail.  The tieplates were something I got etched as a detail item under the IR Models brand many years ago.  I’m not sure even if I ever ended up officially having them for sale.

etched tieplates

As can be seen from the image above, the tieplates came with a convenient centreline to assist in placement on the sleepers.  Firstly. the backs of the tieplates were pre-tinned with solder.  I then started by placing the etch in position over the drawn railhead on the template and with minimal solder, fixed them to the PCB.  This was repeated for the length of the straight stockrail.  In places where the curved stockrail converges on the straight stockrail, ‘half’ tieplates were used.  See below.

tieplates fixed in place

The straight stockrail was then soldered in place to the tieplates, again with minimal solder from the ‘rear’ of the rail (ie, the non viewing side).  Once this was complete, a 1:8 vee crossing was assembled and soldered in position, gauged from the stockrail.

fixing vee crossing in place

vee crossing support plates

The close-up shot of the crossing shows the support ‘plates’ the crossing is attached to.  These were made from strips of 0.1mm thick brass.  On the prototype, these ‘plates’ perform the same job as the tieplates under the rail.  The vee crossing was spiked in place to these.  On the model, they served the purpose of lifting the crossing up by 0.1mm which is the thickness of the tieplates.

The rest of the turnout complex was completed using the same techniques I used when building the storage yard turnouts.  Prior to fixing the tieplates in place for a second rail, individual plates were removed from the fret and placed at strategic locations, and with rail held temporarily in place with gauges, these initial plates were soldered in position.  The rail was then removed and the alignment of the plates checked against the template.  They were generally pretty spot on, so the remainder of the plates for a particular section were then fixed in place using the template as the guide, and the process of fixing the rail to these was again repeated using gauges.

The following images show some shots taken during the construction process.  Another vee crossing was also assembled, this time a 1:6 for the runaway turnout.

gauging the second stockrail

1:8 crossing in place with both straight stockrails

more progress

stage 1 complete

The final shot above shows the arrangement at the stage where all rails are in place.  I’m pretty happy with how it has all progressed.  Whether I continue with installing tieplates on future turnouts remains to be seen, as looking at a lot of photos, a lot of this detail is covered by ballast, and it is very time consuming.  I might wait until the Kankool turnouts and track are painted, weathered and ballasted before I make that decision.  After all, it will be a while before I need to worry about the Ardglen turnouts.

The next job is to fit the rail brace chairs, point blades and checkrails.  I also plan to fit the tiebars and associated apparatus, ready for the ‘wire-in-tube’ connection from the lever frame, all whilst it is on the workbench.


Posted on Jul 28, 2013, in Kankool, Trackwork and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hi Ian

    Yes, the down end is the end closest to Sydney & facing Down trains, it all fits in with signals etc.

    Thanks for that on Pangela, I could all but vaguely recollect a short run away there, but quite vaqure really, IIRC, there seemed to be a preference where possible to put down trains away at Pangela & Kankool, with Up trains going into Ardglen, although in steam days down trains had to stop & put grades or hand brakes on before leaving Ardglen.

    1947 was a shade before my time as I was born in that year.

  2. Ian

    I am trying to recollect other locations similar to Ardglen & Kankool, & my mind goes to other 1:40 graded areas, including on the Moonbi’s such as Danglemah to see if others had a similar arrangement, yet I cannot come up with one. To make it worse, I cannot remember exactly how the down end of the loop at Pangella was, as I think it had a short run away from the loop, but nothing on the main.

    On the west, the single lines that had crossing loops, such as Tumulla , as well as Gamboola had up & down crossing loops, which meant down trains used the left line, while up trains used the right line (heading in the down direction), with Tumulla having the long run away on the up line, which the points were always set for when down trains had the road to go through or to clear for a crossing.

    Thus Kankool & Ardglen are likely to be the only types that are like that, I know working down trains especially longer empties down there with 48cl care needed to be taken with braking & judgements to take the loops at any one of the 3 there.

    You continue to impress with your handiwork,

    • Hi Col,

      Thanks again for your informative prototype operational info. Looking at the 1947 signalling diagram for Pangela, there is a similar arrangement there. The diagram shows Catchpoints No.11 in the Up main as well as a runaway off the loop. Pangela is pretty much a mirror reverse of Kankool.

      On a related note, when you refer to “the Down end of the loop” do you mean the Sydney end?


  3. Ian

    The Ardglen & especially the Kankool arrangement was that the points at the WCK end, worked in conjunction with each other. That is that when the loop was set at the up end the catch or runaway points were also thrown away from the loop line. The idea of not having the full Vee section was that the timber block would lift the outside wheels away from the rails, with no Vee the engine or vehicles would drop into the 4ft, with the hope of stopping the derailed vehicle from going over the side of the embankment by digging into the ballast & sleepers.

    The problem at Kankool in the old days was the highway that crossed the main line south of the loop, & situated between the distant & home signals, meaning a crossing there could be hairy if the down train went into the loop, if they stayed at the home to allow the up train into the loop it meant the highway was inevitably blocked.

  4. G’day Ian,

    The point work looks great. While I worked on the railways I noticed there were a few catch type points that were twin rail (full point like). I wondered if they were recycled points put to another use?

    On sleeper sizes, I was sure general standard gauge track sleeper lengths are only 8 ft. Here is a link to a ARTC PDF which outlines timber sleeper specifications,

    Click to access ETA-02-01.pdf

    Looking at Greg’s data sheet it shows that the first sleeper on a pont would be 9 ft however general track sleepers appear narrower. On the page following the track cross sections there is a note stating sleepers are 8 ft x 4.5 in x 9 in. Sleepers were however 9 ft when bull head rail was used.

    Whilst on measurements, what track centres do you use? Looking at the Data sheet it seems prototypical track centres should be around 40 mm in HO. Most commercial track work leaves a 50 mm track centre which I guess suits clearances for tight curves.

    I am hoping that 40 mm is correct as it will save me quite a bit of space width wise on my narrow baseboards. I will be able to fit more Picton cutting in!

    I like the idea of making crossovers in one piece on the bench. I think I will try this for the next one.

    I have still not heard from Stephen in regards to stock rail braces. May have to find another source.

    Thanks for sharing your work,


    • Hi Linton,

      Thanks for your comments. I just went back and checked the text in regards to sleeper sizes to make sure I hadn’t made a typo. The sizes I referred to were the width and height, not the length. You are correct in saying that standard track sleepers are 8 feet long with the shortest on a turnout being 9 feet.

      In regards to track centres, Kankool measures out at about 41mm which scales out to around 11 feet 6 inches. I think I may have made this a tad too narrow, but it’s too late now as the spline is built. I’ll look more at photos when I come to do Ardglen and Pangela, but the Trackwork manual specifies 11’3″ for mainlines and 12′ for loops. Not much of a difference.



      • Ahhh so you did. Sorry I need to read more thoroughly. The 41 mm track centres will make a huge difference to space available!



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