Track templates to lay curved tracks are notoriously expensive. Metal ones are great for sturdiness and plastic ones such as Peco Tracksetta are quite versatile with their various slots for nailing tracks. Unfortunately, they have two main shortcomings: uneconomical and available only in a very few radii that aren’t always suitable for our needs.
I have no
issue with costly specialized tools when they are extremely useful and that the
efficiency gained covered the expense in a meaningful way. You accept to pay a
little bit more to save time and get better results. It makes sense. But
selling plastic injection templates that have been out there for decades, are
the results of very little engineering skills and don’t offer flexibility makes
just no sense to me. If you need to lay several curves of a fixed radius, they
may make sense, but if you track plan requires several different radii, these
tools make no sense.
decided to make my own template. The radii I need are 27’’, 28’’, 30’’, 37’’,
38’’ and 40’’. Let’s just say these aren’t standard! I made mine by drawing
them in SketchUp and 3D printing them. They are similar to the metal ones, but
I could easily see myself adding a few holes here and there to give more
nailing track options.
Printing and cleaning them took 2 hours for 6 templates and cost a little bit under 25 cents (Canadian dollars, mind you!). At this price, there is no excuse not to print them even for smaller jobs.
useful tools, I was able to improve the track flow in the staging yard by bumping
the minimum radius at 27”, which provides for much better running performance
with full length passenger cars. I will still have to improve (read surgery)
for some cars to track better over the 24’’/28’’ radii curved turnouts. That
said, there will probably be a restriction for long passenger trains having to
run only over the larger radius on these curved turnouts.
templates is another way that 3D printing can be used. It could be very useful
for special trackwork or as a kitbashing template. I expect to explore more of
these options as I built the layout.