Rotary Knob Turnout Controls

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Rotary knob turnout controls - MRH Feb 2011






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Blue Point controller enhancement

Eureka. Just what I was after since I got my Blue Point turnout controls that I choose for my revised layout. From experience I was not satisfied with the push pull option and like you not ready to put energy on panel lights. Great solution to me. Many thanks. Marc-A. Hudon, Carleton, QC

Galen has done it!

Bluepoints, Bullfrogs, home-made machines, all very clever, but the idea of a push-pull controls and chubby bodies moving around the layout room suggest the possibility of a misalignment. Galen has solved that problem rather elegantly, like instead of using steam to push a piston, use it to turn a turbine. I was back looking at Craig's solutions for manual turnouts right before reading Galen's article; coincidence. A few weeks ago I was in a quandry about how to handle industrial area turnouts.  My solution was Peco code 75 turnouts with their own little handles built in.  To power the frogs? Hex-Juicers, one wire does it, but at an additional cost of about $10 per turnout.  Seems like we can't get away from that minimum cost.

Bernie Halloran/ NYK&W

caboose14's picture

Nicely written!

Galen, you did a wonderful job of designing your controls and then an equally wonderful job of writing the article with all the details you could ask for. Top-notch! See you Thursday!

Kevin Klettke CEO, Washington Northern Railroad

Thanks, everybody!

Glad you all found it helpful and informative.  Thanks for commenting!

Eventually, as layout construction progresses, I'll need to cluster the knobs closer together and possibly even come up with a crossover knob arrangement that controls two machines.

I'm looking forward to see others try this technique and report back on how it's working for them.  I love 'em and can't wait to do more...since it means more operations on the layout, of course.

Thanks again,


skiloff's picture

I definitely want to try this

I can't download the mag yet cause the work internet is too slow up here in no-man's land, but just looking at the article cover pictured, I really want to try this for my bullfrogs.  I'll definitely post back when I get to it.


HO Scale '70s/80s era

I love it, Galen.

I really have been in a quandry trying to figure out how to control turnouts on a switching layout that I want to build at a high enough level to have an "eyelevel" view of the layout.  I had just about decided to use the old "choke cable" method, but wasn't sure about issues of the knob being pulled out and snagging people walking by.  I like the idea of using a knob with a pointer to do the same thing. 

Blue Point and Rotary Knob

Excellent, well written and with clear pictures and instructions.  I am presently trying to use the Humpyard levers for my N scale layout but I am now thinking the Galen method will suit me better. Thanks for a great article.

Ghost Train's picture

Truly inovative & inspiring.

I have been model railroading for nearly forty years.  I have, also, built and flown many R/C aircraft.  The use of rotary knob controls, with the nylon rods, for turnouts on a model railroad layout is a truly inovative idea.  I have experimented with a few other methods, all of which worked out fine.  This idea, once installed and tweaked up, would be nearly maintenance free.  If installed for a pre-selected route with servo control(s) this method could provide a single throw of one switch, electrical or mechanical, that would eliminate the need for throwing multiple turnouts individually.  The possibilities for other uses are endless. ( I worked in mechanical and electronics for thirty five years and have lots of small mechanical parts and electronic (things) in my collectibles.

I was planning to sell all my R/C servos, linkage, controls arms, etc... once the spring weather arrived.  Not likely now.  They will all have jobs and new homes on my new model railroad layout.  You guys are incredible.  Thanks for this particular idea.

Share the knowledge & Enjoy the hobby.  Michael

Great idea

This is exactly what I have been looking for.  It meets my needs perfectly.  Thank you for the informative article.


Do you think the Rix knobs would work?  They look very nice.

/////////////rmh 2011 02 73-77 manual turnout ROTARTY control

A major delay in commenting because I am going through down-loaded issues.  This is timely for me having just rec'd both a Bullfrog and a Blue Point [one of each for evaluation] but I was not convinced I wanted the push/pull operation for the reasons noted in Galinore's article.  Thanx for a well-thought out solution that was clearly explained.   G.   ~~

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