Over the years I’ve used a variety of methods to control turnouts on my layout. Everything from ground throws, control rod linkages, and motors. The scope was always the same: move the point blades and control electrical polarity at the frog. It seems like a simple enough scope with just two elements yet it constantly amazes me how complicated I’ve made it and how much more complicated I could have made it. Despite my actions, I can’t escape the frustration of feeling like I’m making this all much more complicated than it needs to be.
This is my next scope item for the Liveability Index.
I used to own some N scale turnouts that had been made by Minitrix. They had a subtle little control switch built into the side of the turnout to move the blades. The frogs were live and powered by a hidden bellcrank actuated by the same rod that moved the points. That bellcrank transferred power from the stock rails to the frog and, since it moved with the points, as you changed the turnout so changed the power at the frog. These were some of the nicest commercially made turnouts I’ve ever owned. I’d like to maintain that same ability to contain everything related to the turnout, it’s control, and electrical needs right there at the turnout. I don’t want to string wires or any control bric-a-brac to anywhere from anywhere. I prefer to move the blades by hand so the mechanical requirement here is little more than that it must reliably seat the point blades against the stock rails and hold them there.
Off the shelf options
In the traditional modelling scales there are some good options. In N scale companies like Fleischmann, Kato, and Tomix offer really well made turnouts that meet these simple scope items right out of the box. As we step up through the scales we have Tillig’s in TT, a plethora in HO, and on and on. Building track is one of my favourite model railway activities so perhaps a “B side” question wrapped into this is to weigh my interest in making the turnouts and installing this gear myself or focussing on a bigger goal and going with a proprietary option?