Q  &  A   about Templot

A page of more detailed questions and answers about Templot.

Does it do single and double slips ?  What about tandem turnouts ?

These formations and others can be created by combining superimposed partial templates. There are tutorial sequences on this web site with detailed click-by-click screenshots showing how to do this.

Ready-printed commercial templates are of course available for straight slips and tandem turnouts, but unlike the traditional "scissors and glue" method with these, you now have an infinite number of such templates to choose from, and you can create slips, crossings and tandem turnouts on any curve you wish, or even on a transition curve.

Can I incorporate my existing pointwork built on commercial templates into the track plan ?

There are two ways to approach this.

1.  A track plan can be designed directly on the baseboard using printed paper templates from Templot. This is less demanding than doing it all on-screen and is great fun. Print yourself a good selection of full-size turnout templates and lengths of plain track. Then lay them out on the baseboard and shuffle them about until you have that elusive perfect layout. You can add card mock-ups of the buildings, signals etc., and stand items of rolling stock in position to check clearances and shunting moves. If you need a turnout which is just a fraction longer, or shorter, or curved slightly less, or more, it only takes a moment to go back to Templot and print one.

You can stand back and visualize the whole thing in a way that will never be possible on-screen.

And of course, if you have some existing trackwork or printed plans it is easy to incorporate them into the design.

2.  Templot includes a full range of functions to align individual templates and so build a complete track layout design on the screen which can be printed out as a finished plan. This demands more concentration than playing with paper templates, but it does mean that you can build up a collection of different designs, and mix and match complex trackwork formations between them with ease.

The "background picture shapes" function lets you have a scanned map or track plan on the screen as a guide to your on-screen layout design. If this is a small-scale plan Templot will scale it up to match your model scale. If it is a full-size scan, for example from a rail-rubbing or templates or possibly from actual existing pointwork, it can be incorporated into your design as it stands and included in the printed track plan and templates.

What file format are the templates produced in ?

Templot uses its own private .BOX file format to save and reload template files and complete track plans. The complete track plan can also be exported in the universal DXF format so that architectural and scenic detail can be added in your favourite CAD or drawing package. DXF files from Templot can also be taken to specialised copyshops where your entire track plan can be printed out on wide roll paper.

Does the template format allow for separate 'layers' in the drawing. e.g. centreline, rails, timbers ?

Templot includes options to omit from the printed templates the timber outlines, or timber centrelines, or both, or one or all of the rails, or other features, but it is not meaningful to think of these as separate "layers". It is not possible to save or load layers individually, or to mix and match layers between templates. You can't, for example, superimpose the rails for an EM B-7 turnout onto the timbering for an S gauge C-9 turnout! (Well, actually you can, but not in a single template.)

When exported in DXF format however, each element of the template is on a separate layer.

Do the templates have designated 'hot spots' so that they can be joined together ?

This is not as simple as it seems. Because the turnouts are based on proper full-size practice, they do not have fixed lengths like pieces of set-track. When designing turnout templates you can add lengths of plain track at each end to whatever length you require.

Every template contains a device called the "fixing peg" which can be positioned anywhere within it (but is usually on the track centre-line at one of several pre-set positions). When making adjustments to templates they are "locked" to the drawing at the fixing peg. Two templates can be brought into alignment by superimposing their pegs via a device called the "pegging notch" which can be placed anywhere in the drawing.

Does a plain track template allow for different choices of rail length, sleeper spacing and sleeper length ?

Yes. There is a range of standard settings, or you can specify your own timber (tie) sizes and spacings as required and choose different timbering styles. Sleeper lengths can be whatever you choose - left to itself Templot draws 9ft long sleepers with a mark 3 inches (scale) in from each end for modern 8ft 6ins sleepers. Sleeper ends can be immaculately all in line, or a variable amount of randomising can be introduced. Templot also numbers each sleeper.

Likewise there is a standard range of rail lengths, or you can set any custom rail length you require.

How big an area can be printed ?

The printed area can be as large as you like up to the limit of 33 pages long by 26 pages wide in a single print run. How large an area this actually represents depends on the paper size set on the printer, and whether it is in Portrait or Landscape format, and printing on single sheets or continuous banner or roll paper.

For a typical A4 printer in single sheet portrait mode, allowing for the trim margins on each page this represents an area of approximately 9000 mm x 5000 mm (29ft 6in x 16ft 5in).

But your complete track plan is not limited to this size, it is virtually limitless in area. This is just the largest portion of it which can be printed in a single run. To print a larger area you simply move the page origin and do a fresh print run. Only those pages actually containing track get printed (unless printing on banner paper).

Can track plans be drawn using a pen-plotter ?

If the plotter appears in the your Windows Printers folder with your other printers, Templot will be able to use it. If it doesn't, you may be able to export your layout plan in DXF format to some other software which can drive the plotter.

Can timber positions be omitted when saving and/or printing ?

Yes when printing. Yes on screen. Yes when exported in DXF format (see above). Not a meaningful option when saving files.

Is the REA standard used for turnouts ?

Yes, and several others. REA is the Railway Engineering Association, and the REA standards normally refer to the rail dimensions and timber spacings for semi-curved flexible switches in bullhead rail. These were also known as British Standard switches, and apply generally to post-grouping practice. The GWR had their own designs.

What switch types are allowed ? e.g. A, B, C etc.

These are the REA switches mentioned above. Templot gives you six sizes A,B,C,D,E,F. There are also six sizes of the earlier straight switch designs (which can save some space - you don't have to actually build them with a loose heel), 3 sizes of GWR curved flexible switches and a full range of old-pattern GWR heel switches. You can also specify a custom switch design of your own. Later versions of Templot will include more switches, including the full range of FB-109 flat-bottom designs.

Do turnouts allow different styles of timbering ?

Yes. Timbers can be arranged square-on to the main road, or equalized at the crossing in the older style, and the check rails are re-positioned accordingly. You can also specify several randomising factors for the timber ends and angles, to give anything from a realistic slight variation, to a completely crazy-track effect if desired for Colonel Stephens light railways and narrow gauge lines. In addition each individual timber can be adjusted for size and position using the "shove timber" functions.

Can transition curves be produced ?

Yes. You can specify a starting radius, finishing radius, the length of the transition zone between the two, and the location at which the transition zone begins. If the starting radius is negative, and the finishing radius is positive (or vice versa), you get a sweeping S-curve transition which could form the basis of a whole layout.

Transitions are normally used for plain track, but you can put a long curved turnout on a transition if you wish. In our models we have to compress things to fit a small space and a transition is a good way to disguise that ludicrously sharp curve as the line sweeps round into your station. Transitions are generated using the Ideal Transition Spiral and Templot automatically uses as many terms in the expansion of this as are needed to achieve the required accuracy.

The prototype normally used a simple cubic equation for transitions, which approximates well to the ideal curve for large radii and small swings up to about 30 degrees. But we are usually using severely underscale radii in models, and swinging 180 degrees or more, so it is fortunate that we can now use the full power of modern computers to get accurate transitions in these non-prototype circumstances. Using Templot you can in fact generate several complete rings of decreasing radius spiral track, which might be useful in planning hidden storage loops.

In curving a turnout, can specified areas, e.g. switch and designated lengths either side of the vee, be kept straight ?

No. Templot's turnouts are based on prototype practice. Introducing short lengths of straight into a length of curved track would give dreadfully rough running and necessitate a speed restriction over the main road side of the turnout similar to that imposed on the turnout road side.

It is possible to have either the switch or the crossing on the straight (but not both unless the whole turnout is straight) by transitioning to or from this straight, with the rest of the turnout on the transition curve (or on a fixed radius if the transition length is set to zero - see above).

In curving templates, can a particular radius be specified ? What is the upper limit of this radius ?

Yes, you can enter any radius you choose. If you enter a silly figure (e.g. zero) Templot will politely suggest that you may be mistaken. There is no upper limit in practice. Templot has an internal upper clamp limit of 1E9 mm to avoid calculation tangles.(That's a one with 9 noughts - a radius of 1000 kilometres or over 600 miles!) Note that however large a radius you enter, Templot will still regard this as a curved turnout and allows you to change the radius by dragging with the mouse. Straight turnouts come in a separate category and cannot be curved (otherwise they wouldn't be straight). Once you have access to all these curved turnouts, you won't want to bother with straight ones very much.

Note that you can also enter a negative radius to get a contra-flexure, i.e a left-hand turnout curved to the right. This is also the way to get Y-turnouts, with varying amounts of Y-ness (any suggestions for a better word?) as required.

Can annotations be added to templates ?

You have two options here.

1. A short label (up to 50 characters) can be added to the drawing area as a "background label shape". These are saved in a separate file which is intended to contain such detail as baseboard edges and joint lines.

2. A chunk of text is saved along with each template giving all the dimensions and details of the template, and this text can include your own entered memo notes. These details are printed on a separate page, not on the actual drawing area.

Your entered memo notes (plain text only) can be of any reasonable length - you can paste a short story into the template file if you so wish.

Can individual components be moved from one template to another ? e.g. check rails, crossing vees etc.

Not quite in that sense. Templot draws components as and when they are needed as part of a complete template. If a 1 in 5 crossing is wanted, it draws one - it doesn't need to get one from somewhere else. Templot doesn't have a library of pre-drawn components because there would need to be an infinite number of them to match every possible scale, radius, gauge, etc.

You can, however, omit parts of one template or blank off a section of it and then superimpose it on top of another template. You could therefore copy an existing template, and then reduce it to just one check rail, say, which you could then align and superimpose over some other template. This technique is used to build up templates for the more complex track formations.

For more Q & A about Templot, see also the email answers page.

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