Manual Turnouts

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Herc Driver, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Hey guys, I've got a question...

    As some might have remembered, my smooth sided door layout will soon be turned over to my boys for their use and I'm going to start a shelf-based layout highlighting switching point-to-point operations. I'd like to minimize the amount of wiring needed everywhere on the layout, and have been searching for manual turnouts so that I can reduce the electrical wires running from switch to power pack since space is quite limited on the shelves where this layout will rest.

    My question is...I know there are Atlas manual switches, but I have no experience in using them or setting them up for operation. What is used to "throw" the switch? Is there additional pieces that install to the switching mechanism that allows you to move the points yourself? I've read about various underlayout mounted machines that move the points - but that's not an option with this layout. I've got to throw the switch from above the layout (top down instead of beneath the layout and tracks). I hope I'm explaining this right...I need to find a turnout that has the ability to be moved manually (probably with a small stick or my finger) and "locks" into position without moving back and forth causing derailments.

    Any ideas?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    Look for any brand but the atlas "snap switch" (ie atlas custom line, peco, micro engineering...), and then install caboose industries ground throws. You will be very happy.

  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you want to have a "surface controlled" turnout, you have several options.

    Atlas "Snap Switches" (actually turnouts) have a manual throw. It is quite large, non-prototypical, and not recommended in part because it goes with the Snap Switch, which is a less-than-desirable turnout. However, I had them on my first layout, and had no problems operationally.

    Peco turnouts have a spring built in. You do not need anything else to throw the turnout except your finger. The spring holds the point rails tight to either side. One advantage of this is that you can add a scale switch stand to enhance the look of the model.

    Any other non-sprung turnouts (MicroEngineering, Walthers/Shinohara, etc) can be "sprung" by the additon of a sprung Caboose Ground Throw (or even a home-made spring, but that's another story). The drawback is that the Ground Throws don't look all that prototypical, preclude the addition of a scale switch stand, and are relatively small to manipulate.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Many thanks guys - I appreciate the help!

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