Installing a Tortoise

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Duration: 4:29

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If you purchase a brand new Tortoise Slow-Motion Switch Machine for your model railroad layout, you will notice there is some assembly required as well as an installation process. Although the process is fairly easy and the product comes with instructions and templates, some modelers learn best from visual instruction. In this video, modeler George Sebastian-Coleman provides a step by step tutorial on how to install the Tortoise Switch Machine, and offers some helpful expert tips along the way.

Tortoise Slow-Motion Switch Machine

The Tortoise is the most popular brand of slow-motion switch machines. Most modelers prefer slow-motion over twin-coil switch machines because they are more gentle on your turnouts. Slow-motion switch machines move the point of the turnout slowly from one side to the other, whereas twin-coil switch machines snap the points over. Over time, twin-coil can damage and throw your track out of gauge.

The assembly on the Tortoise Slow-Motion Switch Machine is very minimal. One arm needs to be slipped in place and the throw arm will need to be bended. The throw arm that comes with the product is adequate for HO scale or for shallow roadbed, but most modelers opt to use heavier steel wire. George offers suggestions if you wish to modify the arm.

The installation process requires a few more steps. One of the steps involves some drilling into the roadbed. George uses a medium-density fibreboard (MDF) for his roadbed in this tutorial. Eventually, you will need to move below your benchwork to install the Tortoise. Marking the location under the roadbed will make it easy to screw the product in place. Hot glue or double-faced tape are good for tacking the machine in place until the screws have been inserted. Be careful not to fasten the product too tight with the screws to avoid crushing the plastic.

Follow along with George and you’ll have your Tortoise Slow-Motion Switch Machine installed in no time. There are plenty of more model railroad tutorials with George and other experts to help you improve your own layout so make sure to check them out as well.