Right and left hand gauge-1 turnouts
1400 East Erie Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19124
Price: $55 each
Gauge 1, narrow-gauge proportion switches; left hand (#94659) and right hand (#94658); 2' radius; 30° angle; solid-brass rails; electrically insulated; UV-resistant plastic ties
Pros: Robust design; milled point rails provide snug fit; interchangeable with other brands of track and turnouts; ramped flangeways through frog
Cons: Switch-throw mechanism not provided
Bachmann has released a pair of R1 switches to go along with the company’s line of solid-brass track. The switches are well made and heavily constructed. They feature solid-brass rail on a UV-resistant-plastic tie base. Standard slide-on rail joiners are provided. These are screwed to the rails. There are screw holes in the joiners and threaded holes in the unjoinered rail ends but no screws were supplied. For many applications, the additional screws may not be necessary.
The moving point rails on the turnouts extend all the way to the frog, where they pivot. Both the point rails and the stock rails are milled, which allows a close fit between the point rail and the stock rail, minimizing the risk of even sharp-flanged wheels picking the points. The plastic frog has molded-in flangeways. These are .105" deep at their shallowest points. Rolling stock with deeper flanges will ride up on the flangeways. However, the flangeways through the frogs are ramped at either end, making this transition smoother.
The gauge on our samples was very good, varying only slightly from 45mm, measured at any point on the turnout. The flangeway width between the guard rails and the stock rails, where the guard rails passed the frog point, measured .120"—spot on with G1MRA standards.
The points are provided with a stainless-steel spring, concealed under a plastic plate, that tends to snap the points into position. A passing train, heading into the turnout with the points trailing, will move the points to the correct position if they were not already set so. It takes only a light touch to get the points to move, though, which could be problematic. I’d prefer to see a slightly heavier spring employed here, which would still allow a train to reset the points as it passed.
No switch-control mechanism is provided with these turnouts (see the separate review on Bachmann’s new switch stand). Technically speaking, I suppose that one is not strictly necessary, given the above-mentioned spring. The points can simply be pushed by hand to their desired position. For those wanting to mount a switch machine, a throw-bar with a molded-in spring is provided. The ties near the moving points are slotted for mounting Bachmann’s (or others’) switch stand. A second throw bar is provided, presumably as a replacement.
I tried a variety of different trucks, wheelsets, and rolling stock through these turnouts. Without exception, they went through smoothly and easily. Trucks with very deep flanges did tend to ride up a little through the frog, but this was not bad. Trucks with shallower flanges likewise dipped a bit in the frog. The accurately placed guard rails prevented any of the wheelsets from picking the frog. If your wheels are properly gauged, they should work well with these turnouts.
These are, of course, R1 turnouts, so will work best with smaller equipment. Their quality is top notch and should enhance any railroad with tight-radius curves. I hope that Bachmann will come out with comparable larger-radius turnouts.