By John Kendall
In my experience it is extremely difficult to remove ballasted track so that it can be reused. I wouldn't re-use any of the track I lifted from my last layout. Best to plan and budget for new track when contemplating a new layout or refurbishment of an existing I think.
I feel strongly that lifting RTR points for re-use is a non-starter. However, an idea I hit on (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) is to remanufacture, say, used PECO points. When lifting the point, the timbers get distorted (but not so it is obvious to the naked eye) so that when relaid, rail vehicles frequently derail. I decided to take old code 100 points, strip them down and rebuild. The stock rails, closure rails and blades are fine. You have to make the common crossings though. Print the PECO point template available on the PECO website (http://www.peco-uk.com/page.asp?id=pointplans) and tape it to a flat surface. Cut copper clad timbers to length and stick these to the template with cheap double sided sellotape.
Now solder the rails and crossing using handmade point principles (Great care must be taken at the "frog" to ensure that the crossing is correctly aligned for both routes. This takes a bit of practice).
Some good sources for this:
1) An Approach to Finescale Track by Iain Rice. Not only does this work provide instruction on how to make points but also a very entertaining history of trackwork.
2) Trax2, comes as a book with CD that lets you print point templates. The book provides step by step instruction on construction of various points.
3) Right Track 10, Terrific Trackwork from BRM. Hosted by Tony Wright with instruction by Norman Solomon.
Read, watch, listen and then do. You will probably find that some techniques work for you while others don't.
Another source for the very ambitious is Templot:
Another thing I would recommend is that you use the Carrs solders and fluxes. You may get away with electrical solder but I find the 145C solder and green flux to be my preferred medium. (http://www.finescale.org.uk/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=56)
The great thing is that you already have the rebate for the blade on the stock rails and the blades pre-made. Making blades is probably the most time comsuming job when building points. The other advantage of course is that you save money by not having to buy new points and furthermore you've stretched your modelling skills as well.
There is one other advantage, you can make the point to any radius you want - I used Trax2 for the templates for this. PECO points have enormous gaps between blade and rail, when you remanufacture, this gap can be reduced. A word of caution - if you use solenoid type point motors (and we used SEEP) be careful not to reduce the throw such that the microswitch or aux switch for frog polarity fails to make. Tortoise type point motors are probably a better choice.
This approach was very successful for Allingham and you can see some of the handmade points in the pictures. I was particularly pleased with the double slip.