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 Post subject: Costs
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 9:43 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
Posts: 12
So, I've calculated the costs for building turnouts and once I've paid for the equipment, the cost per turnout is way less than getting decent commercial ones and I think they'll be way better.

BUT

When I calculate the costs to build either straight or curved track, the costs are significantly higher than just purchasing Flex Track. I'm looking at N scale ME, building versus ME Flex track and the cost to build is almost double the cost of Flex Track.

Do I have those numbers correct? And if so, why should I build my own? What are the advantages? Other than the enjoyment of doing it?

Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2015 6:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:33 am
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It wouldn't be cost effective because of the volume of flex track produced however if you deviate from whats available in flex track, availability, code for instance, which many people do or just like hand laid track, you can't beat Fast Tracks.
Wayne


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2015 1:02 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 7:04 pm
Posts: 45
I have put together quite a few turnouts using the Fast Tracks jigs and for the most part once you master the geometry of the turnout so that they are reliable the cost per turnout is much lower than even The cheapest turnouts out there, not to mention that the Fast Track turnout meet the NMRA specs for turnout precisely. Those cheap ones are so far off from the specs that the high end equipment that is becoming more and more popular these days have difficulty working through them with major modifications to prevent derailments.

The real advantage of using the fast tracks jigs for straight track is that the track does come out straight. Using flex-track on the other hand requires a tremendous amount of work to get it to lay straight. Unless you glue it down either by itself or using ballast it has a tendency to kink and twist due to expansion and contraction during temperature changes. Humidity also plays a roll by causing the benchwork to swell and contact as well. I have done the handlaid track thing myself and had that trackwork sit in a garage exposed to massive temperature and humidity changes for a year while I had other things going on. At the end of the year when I was bale to work on it again none of the track had moved whatsoever. Now I had spiked the rail at every tie which prevented the rails from moving in any direction, but there was absolutely no ballast on or around the track during this time period. Had I had the straight template at that time I would have probably gotten more done during the initial build phase. Properly assembled track using the jigs is very rugged and stable in use.

I have also had to deal with trackwork that was not very well constructed and even that can be gotten into very good shape once the problems have been identified. Repairing the manufactured track can easily result it being damaged beyond repair. In the long run properly constructed handlaid track is more durable and to my eyes looks better than anything a manufactured product generates.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:33 am
Posts: 4
Location: Denver CO
I may have done something wrong, I just went through some cost calculations including the jigs and special tools and comparing to commercial turnouts the break even point is 35 switches if QuickSticks are used and 25 if they aren't used. This is for one point size


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 2:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:51 pm
Posts: 84
Hello Sarg,

It would help to know what scale, turnout size and commercially available turnouts you are referring to because there certainly seems to be something wrong with your calculation. For example, when comparing the cost of our kit for HO code 70 or code 83 #6 turnouts the break-even point when compared to Shinohara (Walthers), Micro Engineering or Peco turnouts is somewhere between 10 and 15 turnouts.

_________________
- Terry -
Customer Service - Fast Tracks HobbyWorks Inc.
service@fast-tracks.net


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
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Yup, I'm running N scale. And when I compare the costs to better quality turnouts (Peco Electrofrog in my case). I come out ahead after a dozen to 18 although I haven't done the math recently. PLUS, I found I can use the jigs to build Peco code 80 track and since I've already recovered the sunk cost of the equipment, so the only cost I have is track and ties. That makes them much less expensive.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:23 am 
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Joined: Tue May 29, 2007 12:20 pm
Posts: 100
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Cost breakout also depends on what jig your buy.

For example after looking and discussing with Tim and company I purchased the HO double crossover for #8's.

Just a little bit more expensive for jig than #8 switch, but you can build standard switches, single or double crossovers and even get the 14 degree crossing all from one jig.

Makes it much more versatile and drives down overall costs.

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Kurt Konrath

SP was king of the road, Cotten Belt will run forever! D&RGW will rule the hills!


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:33 am
Posts: 4
Location: Denver CO
Hello Terry
Here are my calculations for N Scale #7 Turnout
First 5 turnouts #7 kit + Stock Aid tool + Frog Helper = $361

Turnouts 6 through infinity 2.8 Code 55 rails 18" + Quicksticks = $9.41

First five turnouts at $361 + ($9.41 * 30) / 35 total switches = $18.38 per switch an Atlas #7 is $18.95.
Take QuickSticks out of the equation and add in PCB and wood ties the $9.41 becomes $5.65 then the break even point is 25 turnouts

Additional switch sizes are a little cheaper because the FrogHelper is not needed for them. My planned layout, at least at this point will not have that many turnouts in any particular size.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
Posts: 12
Sarg, I found turnouts from as low as $13.60 up to $21.59, these are discounted prices on a mail order site. The low priced ones are Atlas, the higher priced ones are Peco. Personally I've had great luck with Peco and if I were purchasing turnouts I wouldn't go with anything "less" than that.

The Peco turnouts, while being great, are nowhere near the build quality that a hand built turnout is (once you've built a few). On all my Pecos I've had to isolate the frog and do further modifications including cutting out the plastic guard rails and replacing them with "real" rails.

My point being, if you are just looking at price, I'm sure you can get used turnouts even cheaper than the Atlas ones I've found.

In my case, when I did the math (and living in Canada), my local Hobby Store was charging close to $40 a turnout (Canadian pricing), that would currently equate to about $27 US a turnout. Now, I have found where I can order things less expensively BUT, if in the U.S., I have to pay shipping and wait for a couple of weeks.

I don't have the math handy, but when I did it, my break even was certainly less than 20 turnouts. BUT, the other factors are:
1) The ones I build are better performing than the mass produced ones. I do not get derailments, ever. But then I don't on the Peco switches I have either as I've modified them to run better than what they do out of the box.
2) I prefer the look of mine.
3) I can custom build lengths.
4) I don't use Quicksticks so lay my own ties. Makes them more realistic, MUCH more than the plastic ties.
5) I really enjoy the building process.

Retrospectively, with what I know now, instead of the turnout jig I ordered, I would have ordered the double crossover so I could build a few of them as well. Now, I may have to order that in the future but for now I'm getting "mass produced" cross over and then building the 4 turnouts to feed into it.

Oh, and when I price out the build price of straight and curved track, even assuming all equipment is a sunk cost, the material cost exceeds the cost of Flex Track but again, there are benefits from building your own.

So, cost is not the "only" reason why you'd want to move to using FastTracks.

Enjoy, regardless of whatever you decide to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:33 am
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Location: Denver CO
BCDon, I totally agree with and understand your points. I guess I will reserve my decision until I have finished the design work (using 3rd PlanIt). Incidentally I'm not moving to FastTracks as this is my first layout since 1972 so I have a blank slate.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
Posts: 12
Sarg, I'm in the process of finishing the Scenic Ridge layout as my initial learning layout. Used Flex Track and Turnouts for it and yes, learned a lot. Now building a test layout, don't plan to put any scenic on it, just track. I'm building my own turnouts plus track and interfacing to some flex track and Kato UniTrack to see how it'll all fit together. Then adding in automation for the turnouts, trying out the newer (at least to me), Tam Valley Servo controls. I "expect" that after all this I'll be building my own track, at least the turnouts and corners, not sure about the straights yet.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 7:24 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:39 pm
Posts: 23
It's been awhile since this one was responded to. I'm personally not terribly concerned about ROI and cost since hand-laid track to my eye shouldn't even be compared to plastic tie production turnouts, but...

The #6 HO kit on this site today sells for $231 US. It contains enough material to build 5 turnouts.

Consensus here seems to be Peco turnouts are best, so Googling and selecting the first site I come to, I find one turnout is $25 US. Price may vary since other online retailers could offer them at more or less cost, but for the sake of argument, let's just use that figure.

Therefore, turnout ROI would be approximately 9 units. Worst case, call it 10.

Given the cost of a bag of 1000 cross ties, a bag of PC cross ties, and rail, I can't see any way flex track can be cheaper. Using my same non-scientific method and just looking at 36" if track...4 rails and (guesstimate...it's less) a hundred ties, you're looking at about $5 for Fast Tracks. Flex track is similar in cost, coming in at nearly $5 US. But I suspect the more track you hand-lay, the more cost effective it is, especially if you use a Tie Rack jig (cost amortized over more feet of track).

But if cost were the only thing... I heard Tim say "It's not that I have to build it. I get to build it." I think most folks laying their track by hand would gladly pay any increase in cost difference to get the superior look and operation of Fast Track turnouts. The best is worth a bit more, or at least to me it is.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 9:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
Posts: 12
36" of straight track require 49 PCB ties and with 5 wooden ties between every PCB tie you'll need 245 wooden ties. In N scale that is already over $4.58 (45 PCB ties). Then add in the 245 wooden ties ($19.95/1000), just under $5.00, then add in the rail at $1.51/36" length (times 2) and the total for 36" is a between $12.00 and $13.00.

I then convert that to Canadian at 1.3 and I'm at about $16.00. I can purchase N scale Code 55 Peco Flex Track (same as what I priced out above) for $8.50. That is full retail, no discount, no bulk deals.

So best case it is DOUBLE the cost to build your own straight and curved track.

Turnouts are different story though, after about 10 to 12 you are ahead of the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 9:40 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2016 3:39 pm
Posts: 23
Excellent analysis. I was talking HO, but I can see how N would/could run more simply due to scale. Even so, one could run hand-laid where most seen and flex behind the scenes, depending on the layout. Spend a bit more where it counts, a bit less where it's not quite so visible.

And to be fair my HO flex analysis was off the cuff. I'm suspecting it's not that far off, but it is just a guesstimate. Turnouts a bit more accurate...similar numbers to N in that respect per your analysis.

A fun discussion, thank you... 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Costs
PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 9:38 pm
Posts: 12
Thought I'd attempt to figure out close cost for HO although I don't work with that.

I think 26 PCB ties per HO 36" section plus 5 wood in-between so that's 130. $3.51 per 33 for PCB, that'd be $2.77. Then $21.85/1000 for wood ties would be $2.84 and finally 2 X 36" rail @ $1.99 for a total of $9.59 per yard. Crap, just another example of getting screwed operating in N Scale. :)

Anyway, still would cost more to build your own. But not as bad as N Scale.

For me, it comes down to the enjoyment of building my own. When I build straight track, it is straight! Plus, I like the look of it.


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