I'll say this upfront.  This is another one of those data mining threads!!

Need some ideas on deciding what type of controls I want to use for my manual turnouts.  Scale is HO (not sure if that matters at all), but the idea is to maintain as pure and realistic a scene as possible, but still get the feel of bending steel and operating a switch vice pushing a button, etc.  I am hoping to get some of your real world applications on your layouts, and PICTURES would be most helpful!

From my research, I am leaning towards Caboose ground throws brought out to the layout edge, such as on the Green Bay and Western, , or on Andy Keeney’s Nashville Road.  Additional, "cleaner", options would be to use Hump Yard controls, or any of the Bullfrog/Blue Point type fascia solutions.

Anyway, I hope you all will show me your installations and help give me an idea of what is possible.


Joe B

Data Mining = Message Search

Dear Joe,

The Message/Forum Search function is your friend.. ;-)

For myself, Caboose Industries 216s N scale throws, connected via wire-in-tube from fascia-edge --> turnout,
in HOn30, HOn3, HO, On30, and O scale SG 2-rail is my "go to" solution...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

Caboose ground throws

I used them with excellent results. Next time probably I will get N scale ones for an HO layout because they look closer to scale.


Long life to Linux The Great!

Thanks, Prof Kylzir!  Should

Thanks, Prof Kylzir!  Should have realized someone would have raised the question before...  Looking forward to the read!


Galen Gallimore also did an article in MRH.

Check out the February 2011 issue pg 72.  Step by step instructions with pictures.

bear creek's picture

April 2009 - Do-it Yourself Manual Turnout Control

I wrote about making my own ground throws in the April 2009 MRH. They have the advantage of being cheap (if you already have the tools I used, just a tad of $1 each), robust (although they're fascia mounted, they'll stand up to getting bumped by plate F model railroaders wandering by), and feel a little railroady (you pull the knob, twist it 90 degrees, and push it to lock it in place), and I think they look cool. On the downside, they're not an instant install.


 Contributing Editor, Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine

vedearduff's picture

Take a look at these.


You may want to have a look here.  I have a friend who uses them.


Hump Yard levers work?

Long time responding :-(

While a bit pricey for a large layout, the levers that Vernon refers to would really look good for a small yard. See

Vernon, how does your friend like them?


Brentglen's picture

Slide Switch

I use the DPDT slide switches that can be got cheap from an electrical supply store or Radio Shack or from ebay. You want the regular sized ones, not the mini ones. There are various postings on the internet on different ways to use these, basically you drill a small hole in the toggle for a piece of music wire that runs up to the throw bar just like a tortoise switch machine, then a larger hole at 90 degrees for a wire that runs out to the fascia. Use the electrical contacts to power the frog and/or signals. Put a knob on the end of the wire or dowel. If you need to go around corners get the bell cranks that the model airplane guys use. I have one turnout that is probably 10 feet from where the control knob is and goes around 2 corners, works just fine with little effort.

I mount mine onto a piece of aluminum angle that has a slot cut out for the switch and mounting holes drilled. It means more work at the bench, but then it is easier to mount when you are under the layout. I have been using these for a number of years with no issues. Lately I have been going back and attaching an LED indicator light to one set of the contacts so that I can tell at a glance which way the turnout is thrown.

These are cheap, but if I was doing it again I might look at the bullfrog turnout control from Fast Tracks, almost as cheap and probably a little quicker to install.




Brent Ciccone


Manual turnout controls

I would second the Bullfrogs. Cost effective and very use full. If you search at R/C model airplane flea markets you can buy some of the components much cheaper for those large jobs. I currently use Bullfrog equipment on my Free-Mo module. Turned out very nice.




Turnout Control

Here's the manual turnout control I came up with. I use them to operate the turnouts on my lower level staging yard. They work like a charm, although they do take some time to install. 

The turnout actuator is the same piano wire mechanism as Joe Fugate uses. I just came up with a different actuator which is cheap, and also indicates which way the turnout is thrown. I use PVC pipe with a 5/8" wooden dowel insert and a finishing nail pointer. The PVC is notched on the end. You pull the dowel and twist. The finishing nail sits on the notch keeping the tension on the no stretch fishing to move the piano wire actuator. I don't think you can get much cheaper than this. 

Here's some pictures I hope will help:




Paul Krentz

N&W Pokey District, Sub 1 3/4


Paul Krentz

N&W Pokey District, Sub 1 3/4

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