MRA Editors

Building a Manual Model Railroad Control for a Turnout

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Duration:   14  mins

Turnouts are essential mechanisms for a functional model railroad. Also referred to as points or switches, turnouts are responsible for guiding your trains onto another set of tracks than the main line. They are available in a range of sizes and configurations. Apart from the structure, the means of operating a turnout also varies, dependent upon whether you choose to tie all turnouts on your railroad together with an automatic control or you want to switch each manually.

Automatic series can get expensive, so modelers often choose to build their own model railroad control for each turnout. Manual, pushrod controls are cost-effective and easy to make; once you get the hang of the construction process, you’ll have no trouble making them over and over for all your turnouts. In this lesson, we show you the techniques you need to create a simple model railroad control for any of the turnouts on your next layout.

How to make and install a turnout model railroad control

Building and mounting a turnout model railroad control is a fairly easy process that requires only basic soldering materials and a little dexterity. To help you assemble a model railroad control for your turnout, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone walks you through an in-depth demonstration for constructing a turnout model railroad control from scratch. He begins by introducing each of the inexpensive components you’ll need, then teaches you how to make the cuts, drills and solders necessary to put together a functional model railroad control for your next turnout.

After assembling his model railroad control, complete with switch and pushrod, Gerry shows you how to mount the turnout control by drilling a hole through the ballast and attaching the unit to a dowel knob. With Gerry’s step-by-step lesson, you’ll be able to construct a cost-effective, personalized model railroad control for your turnout in just a single afternoon!

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