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Templot For You
Is Templot for you ?
This page explains where Templot fits into the model railway hobby, and which computers it will run on.
Templot is a workshop tool for railway modellers who like to build their own track:
Thanks to Paul Boyd for this photograph.
Templot is a workshop tool for railway modellers who like to build their own track.
Templot lets you print the construction templates for all manner of trackwork designs, and create full layout track plans using them. In understanding the purpose of Templot you may find it helpful to read through a few pages of the Templot Explained beginners guide.
If you prefer to buy ready-made model railway track from makers such as Peco, DCC Concepts, Marcway, Atlas, Tillig, etc., then Templot has little to offer you, and you have probably come to the wrong place. There are many other computer programs available for layout design using such ready-made track. See for example:
SCARM, XTrackCad (free), AnyRail (inexpensive, recommended), Winrail, 3rd PlanIt (more expensive)
and many others. But Templot isn't one of them. You can find them via Google, or ask on web forums.
Some basic Templot questions answered
Q. Is it really free ?
Yes, Templot is free for anyone to use.
If you find Templot useful you may like to make a donation towards its further development and costs.
Q. Will Templot run on my computer ?
Templot runs on any ordinary Windows Desktop or Laptop Computer under Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP, 2000, NT4, ME, 98, 95, including 64-bit versions.
Templot will also run on a Windows Tablet Computer such as the Microsoft Surface Pro range.
Sorry, Templot will not run on Android and Apple tablet computers and other mobile devices which use an ARM/RISC processor. Templot is not available as an App for mobile devices.
On older systems running Windows ME, 98, and 95, Templot requires nearly all of the available system resources and should not be run simultaneously with other software. Some functions within Templot may not be available.
Templot requires an Intel or AMD or 100% compatible processor e.g. 486, Pentium, Celeron, Xeon, K6, Athlon, Duron, Turion, i3, i5, i7, etc. Sorry, the Cyrix 6x86 and VIA C3 processors are not suitable for Templot.
Q. What about an Apple Mac computer ?
If you have a modern Intel-based Mac computer there are 3 ways to run Templot:
a. use a program such as Winebottler (free) or CrossOver to install Linux+Wine on your Mac computer. Templot runs quite well this way, although you may see some issues related to font sizes. This is a popular way of running Templot on a Mac which does not require the purchase of Windows and does not use any Microsoft products. Many other Windows programs (but not all) can also be run this way.
b. use virtual machine software such as Parallels Desktop within your normal Mac. This requires the purchase of a copy of Windows. In addition to Templot you will be able to run almost all other Windows programs.
c. dual-boot into Windows using BootCamp. This effectively converts your Mac to a Windows PC at switch-on. This also requires the purchase a copy of Windows. You can also use BootCamp to dual-boot into Linux (free) (see below).
Q. What about Linux ?
Most variants of Linux such as Ubuntu include an easy-install option for Wine (free). Templot runs quite well on Wine, although you may see some issues related to font sizes. This way of running Templot does not require the purchase of Windows and does not use any Microsoft products.
More information about Wine and a download if your Linux system doesn't have a Wine installer: about Wine.
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.
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.
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.
Templot also includes PDF and DXF export options. So if you have a large track plan you can take it to a digital copyshop and have it printed in one piece on a wide-format roll printer.
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 model railway 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 :
"Draw me a right-hand turnout with a 1:7.5 V-crossing, a 15ft straight switch, curved onto a radius of 15 chains, with the timbering equalized through the crossing, and check rails 13ft 6in long. Do it in 6mm/ft scale for Irish 5ft 3in track gauge with dead-scale flangeways.
Then draw another one to form a curved crossover at 11ft 9in track spacing, and attach two 45ft rail lengths of plain track at each end.
And I'd like the rails printed in red and the timbers in green, please."
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 XTrackCad or AnyRail ?
These and similar programs are mainly designed to build up layout plans from a library collection of ready-made model "set-track" trackwork pieces. Many of these tracks 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.
The primary purpose of Templot 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 A-5s, B-6s and the common turnout sizes which are already familiar to many UK users, or templates customized to your specific prototype.
It is a matter for you whether you then want to fit them together into a complete track plan layout on the screen. This is not a 2-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 available here in the Templot Companion.
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. 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.
If you are building your own track, you won't know how you ever managed without Templot.