Hand Throw Turnouts from under the Shelf Layout

A method to operate manual turnouts that works best for the eye level layout.

by Bruce Petty

I really like the look of having a smooth fascia without turnout knobs along the edge and also never liked having those so out of scale plastic hand throws as they look so out of scale. I really like to detail turnout head blocks with Details West, scale switch stands, so I put the operating mechanisms under the shelf. This method works really well for layouts with the tracks no more than 18 inches from the front is easier to operate than would be reaching over the layout surface because of the layout's 54 inch height.

The .035 dia. K&S spring steel wire is installed through through K&S brass tube stock connecting the cross member of the points. This above ground method is commonly used on many layouts, however as soon as the wire leaves the tube under the layout, a pair of long nose pliers are used to carefully bend the wire at 90 degrees as it leaves the brass tube. Leave about 4 inches of wire and trim off. From a craft store get a package of black glass beads with a hole through them for the wire to go through. The glass bead is super glued to the end of the steel spring wire so to protect the fingers while reaching for it Two sheet rock screws are put in place on each side of the steel wire to hold against each switch point with a little pressure as it is moved to one side or the other.