Turnouts III

On LSR, there are a lot of steps and pieces involved in throwing a single switch!

First I bent six piano wires like so:

Then I cut six lengths of brass tubing like so:

I drilled a 1/16″ hole two ties away from each throw bar, like so:

And then I inserted a length of brass tubing into each hole until it was level with the tops of the ties:

And a bit of fussing on the underside. The feeder wires almost thwarted three or four switches, because they are so close. Almost.

With a pair of pliers, a pencil, and some wizardry, I bent each piano wire again after measuring each turnout from the hole in the throw bar to the center of the brass tube.

Then I inserted the piano wire so the long end extended through the brass tube to the bottom of the layout, and the short end was dropped into the hole in the throw bar:

After checking to make sure that each turnout moved freely, I flipped the module and bent each length of wire at a right angle:

Toggling this wire back and forth from under the layout throws the switch. The remote mounts will be affixed to these wires, and the SMAILs will be attached by wire and tubing.

I think I’m at the halfway point now with the turnouts. For fun, I connected a SMAIL to the terminal block and programmed it into the PowerCab. It moves exactly as I expected. Hopefully by the end of this coming weekend, I will be able to switch my turnouts by pressing a few buttons.

3 thoughts on “Turnouts III

  1. I gotta ask – is this normal? The complexity of your setup are waaaay beyond anything I’ve taken on before, yet the customizing you’re having to do seems above-and-beyond what I imagine you could get away with. Even for a high-end layout (I guess what I’d classify yours as), is this normal?


    • Hi Sean, good Q. Depending on how you want to (or need to) throw your switches, complexity can range drastically. I would rate mine as “close to the maximum level of complexity” due to several factors.

      The easiest way to switch Peco turnouts would be to leave the spring under the throwbar and use a toggle shaft to switch the points. That would be for a “hands on” layout. I wanted to use under-table machines, and was advised against solenoid switches (which can easily connect to Peco turnouts) due to the need for large holes under the track, and the fact that they are unreliable. Tortoise switch machines were recommended across the board, but I wanted to control them with my DCC controller, so I opted for SMAIL machines (Tortoise switches with DCC decoders built in). However, because my layout is low-profile, there wasn’t room to simply install the switch machines vertically under the surface. It would need longer legs for that. So I’ve opted for remote mounts for my machines, which add quite a bit to the complexity. I’m in it for the learning experience, though, so I like the challenge!


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