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Precision track design for model railways
Welcome to the Templot web site. This is a simple site with no flashing lights but plenty to read. If you are a builder of model railway track I hope that you will find this site interesting and useful. If this is your first visit, welcome, please just scroll the page. For regular visitors I have provided some quick links below. Some of the screenshot images are large and may take a few minutes to load on slow connections. Please scroll down and begin reading while they are loading. There are also some screen videos to watch, for which I recommend that you have a broadband connection.
My hope is that in time this site will become a general resource for everyone interested in model trackwork, in any gauge or scale, and whether users of Templot or not. There will be frequent updates, so please call here again soon.
Precision track design for model railways
track plan design • precision construction templates
A typical screenshot from Templot showing part of a P4 track plan.
some basic questions answered:
Q. Will it run on my computer ?
Templot runs on an ordinary Windows PC under Windows 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7, including 64-bit versions.
It requires an Intel or AMD or 100% compatible processor e.g. 486, Pentium, Celeron, Xeon, K6, Athlon, Duron, Turion, etc.
Sorry, the Cyrix 6x86 and VIA C3 processors are not suitable for Templot.
Q. Why not use ready-printed commercial plans and templates ?
These are fine for straight turnouts, but are usually available only in a limited range of sizes (and not at all if you are modelling, say, Metre Gauge track at a scale of 1/4" to the foot).
Traditional trackwork usually looks far better if it can be arranged on flowing curves, and although printed straight templates can be curved by slitting and notching them, it's very difficult to achieve a specified radius, without kinks, and to get several such templates to line up properly. And commercial printed templates are usually restricted to a very limited range of prototype designs.
Templot lets you create an infinite number of different templates, customize them if you wish to a particular prototype, align and fit them together into complete track plans, and print them as and when you need them in many different sizes, styles and colours.
Q. Will it do my track gauge ?
Yes, Templot comes with dozens of pre-set model railway scale/gauge combinations, or you can enter your own settings for non-standard sizes and narrow-gauge tracks. You can also if you wish specify just the scale size, and let Templot draw everything to that exact scale from full-size standard-gauge railway practice.
Q. How do I print an 0 gauge turnout on an A4 printer ?
Well not in one piece, obviously. Templates are made up from several pages which have to be trimmed to the printed marks and fitted together. Templot lays out alternate rows of pages in a "brick-bond" staggered pattern to help maintain accuracy when they are fitted side by side. Of course, if a larger printer is available Templot will use the full page size, and individual pages can be printed separately if needed. If you have a colour printer there is a full range of options to make the template as colourful as you wish, or you can stay with black and white for economy and speed.
There are some example printed templates at the bottom of this page. Click example templates to see them.
If your printer is capable of printing continuous banners on Z-fold or roll paper the lengthwise page joins can be eliminated, so that a complete layout can be printed with just a few side-by-side joins, and a single template can usually be printed in one piece.
At first sight, a drawing made up from several pages glued together is not very satisfactory. But in practice, we are not producing a drawing as such, but a construction template which has to be stuck down to a board to be used. Having the template in smaller manageable pieces can be an advantage, and allows some mixing and matching of the various pages.
Printing your own templates has other advantages too. You can print as many copies as you need, and print on materials other than plain paper, such as OHP transparency film or card. For example, a template showing only the rails and printed on tracing paper can be laid on the rail tops during construction as a means of checking the alignments.
Q. Is it just another CAD program ?
No, Templot isn't CAD. It's not a conventional drawing program and it doesn't use the Windows document-style interface. You don't need any technical drawing ability to use it, and you can't use it to draw a Land-Rover or design your new kitchen.
Templot is a tool for your workshop. It is a drawing generator which knows about railway track and does all the complex drawing work for you.
So if you also know about railway track, you can say to Templot :
But if your pointwork design skills don't quite run to this, fear not. You can simply drag and shape your template on the screen using the mouse.
Then you can fit templates together on the screen, or print out a trial template instead, and if it doesn't quite fit the site you simply adjust it slightly and try again.
Templot will keep watch on your work, making sure that your templates don't wander too far from prototype practice, and warning you if your specified minimum radius is infringed.
The complete track plan can be printed at a reduced scale, saving paper and allowing you to lay out the whole railway in a small space. When you are happy with the design, you print the individual templates again at normal size for construction.
Layout designs or individual templates can be saved and reloaded between sessions as you build up your final plan, and track formations from previous designs can be incorporated into the new design.
Q. Is it just like XTrkCad or WinRail ?
These and similar programs are mainly designed to build up layout plans from a library collection of ready-made model "set-track" trackwork components. Many of these are "toy" designs which bear little resemblance to full-size railway track.
Templot is intended instead primarily for modellers who wish to construct their own track. It works from full-size railway practice and generates each template as it is required with an infinite variety of sizes, lengths, radii and angles, so that no two templates need ever be the same and each one is exactly matched to its location on your railway.
And Templot lets you work at a greater level of detail, specifying if you wish settings for switch and crossing angles, timbering sizes and spacings, check rail lengths, rail widths, etc., most of which are entered as their full-size prototype dimensions, not in model sizes.
If you want to plan your trackwork based on proper railway practice then Templot is the software to use.
Q. I've been successfully building my track using commercial printed templates. Templot seems to be much more complicated. Why would I need it and how long will it take me to learn to use it ?
If you build your own track in any gauge, Templot makes the process very much easier at both the planning and construction stages.
Many new users of Templot start off believing that the prime purpose of Templot is to design complete layout plans. But the primary purpose is to print out track construction templates in infinite variety. Any size of template, any gauge, straight or curved to any radius you wish. Standard A5s, B6s and the common turnout sizes which are already familiar to many UK users, or templates customised to your specific prototype.
It is a matter for you whether you then want to fit them together into a complete layout track plan on the screen. This is not a two-minute task and there is indeed a learning curve to climb, but it is aided by the click-by-click tutorial sequences and screen videos which are included in the Templot Companion section of this web site.
But you don't have to do that. You can simply print out a collection of paper templates and fit them together on the baseboard. Unlike doing this with commercial templates, it's easy to go back to Templot and print one slightly shorter, or longer, or curved a little bit more, or less, to fit the space available. And you can print as many copies as you need, on paper, card, tracing paper, transparency film, etc.
Printing templates takes only a few clicks, and you can easily have your first one printed within a few minutes of starting Templot for the first time (see video). And with only a few more clicks you can print out a complete crossover on a sweeping double-track transition curve.
If you enjoy planning layouts by shuffling paper templates you can print a collection of them at, say, one third of normal size and create a complete layout plan on a small table. Then perhaps go back to Templot to create and print it as a single track plan.
To get the most from Templot please consider joining the Templot Club user forum. Templot Club is an active support web site for Templot users to ask questions, exchange information, ideas, and data files, and to keep up to date with the latest Templot news. Membership is free and open to everyone interested in model trackwork, and you would be very welcome to join this friendly web site whether you are a Templot user or not.
Even if you don't wish to contribute, it is worth visiting the site to read other users' hints, tips and queries, and to get the latest news about Templot developments.
Click Templot Club for more information about the forums and how to join.
Below are several screenshots from Templot which also show the sample track plan files which are included with Templot.
Click here to see the Templot Companion documentation pages for users, which are being updated as I progress them.
Although there is a great deal of help information within the program, I am working on a series of step-by-step tutorial sequences and screen videos which I hope will help users less familiar with full-size railway trackwork to get the best from Templot. Click videos and tutorials to see and work through them.
Have a look at the misc & links page which I hope will develop into a useful resource for all modellers interested in track, and includes a selection of related internet links.
Thanks for all the recent interest in Templot. Please call here again soon.
This one is in S4/P4 gauge:
This is Clungunford, a sprawling South Shropshire backwater in EM gauge using GWR switches. The main sweep of the running line is a single reverse transition curve onto which the individual templates have been aligned, and other transition curves have been used extensively. The data file for this track plan is included with Templot.
Here is Clungunford again. This is a print preview screen.
This is a print preview for Engine Lane :
This is Foundry Street, a variation on Engine Lane on a curved site in S4/P4. Using modern square-on timbering with ends in-line, and 60ft rail lengths with 25 sleepers per length. The data file for this track plan (with some additions) is included with Templot.
Here is a closer view of the station throat at Foundry Street.
This next screen is Mawley Oak, a self-contained minimum-space shunting layout in Gauge 0 Fine. Total length is 9 feet, comprising 3 boards each 36" x 21", or alternatively 2 boards each 54" x 21". The grid on this screen is in feet. The turnouts use a fictional custom switch to save space (1:20 deflection with the heel at the planing length). The minimum radius on this plan is 1224 mm (48").
It is envisaged that the cassette area would be hidden behind low-relief structures along the back of the platform, and the sector plate would be behind a retaining wall with a road above and a skew overbridge disguising the entry track. It will be necessary to run under the bridge during shunting. Storage of cassettes would be on a rack below.
To save space, the engine release is via a 30ft turntable, limiting locomotive power to tank engines. It should be possible to increase the diameter a little, provided the check rails for the approach crossing were continued onto the table.
The data file for this track plan is included with Templot. (The turnouts in the loop have 1:3.5 crossings, which is less than the nominal 1:4 minimum and will therefore trigger a warning from Templot.)
If implemented instead in 4mm scale, Mawley Oak could be fitted on a single 5ft x 1ft board.
These next three screens are for EM gauge:
This is an EM turnout on 10 chains (2640 mm) radius. GWR curved B switch (joggled stock rails). 1:6 regular crossing:
This is a sequence of 3 printed pages. By trimming to the printed red lines, they can be fitted together with great accuracy:
Here is the track plan from which the above pages were printed. This is in P4:
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© revised 1-Dec-2011.