Blue Point Manual Turnout Control
Reviewed by George Riley/photos by the author
Deciding on the method of controlling the turnouts on your model railroad has long range consequences that affect both the complexity of your layout and its ongoing operations. Electrically activated turnouts with the wiring required for their operation is one solution, however, there adds a built in layer of maintenance and complexity. Often their complexity is not user friendly for visiting operators.
For this reason, more and more operationally driven modelers have started using manually thrown ground throws. They are easy to use, install and maintain. However, they too have certain drawbacks as well. The most obvious one is the overscale appearance of the throw. To operate consistently, they are a compromise between the task of throwing the turnout and at the same time, being usable by the hands of full scale operators. Most ground throws on the market do not include provisions for electrical contacts to send power to the frogs and points of the turnouts. In addition, the ground throws can be easily damaged when the layout or modules are moved about, so most layout owner keep a few replacement throws handy in their tool boxes. Probably the greatest drawback is having hands on the layout. Having a full-sized hand coming down from the heavens to change a route dispels the effect that we have created in our miniature world, plus no matter how careful the operator may be when ever a small detail comes in contact with a large hand, the detail will most likely come off the worst for wear.
One answer to the problem has been the use of under-table mounted "choke cables" to control turnouts. All of these past efforts have been completely up to the modeler to design and build. Consequently their construction and reliability have been inconsistent. Because of the time taken to fabricate and adjust these controls most builders have never even attempted their construction. The Blue Point Manual Turnout Control offers an easily installed, consistent and reliable alternative.
The Blue Point uses nylon push-rods to control turnouts up to four feet away from the operator and has a DPDT electrical with mounted in the mechanism to control current routing to the turnouts as well as any other accessories that the user may want to add.
Installation begins with the drilling of a 1/4" to 3/8" hole centered at the control bar of the turnout. Using either the template provided with the Blue Point instructions or aftermarket drill template, screw holes are drilled from the top of the road bed through the bench work. At this point, the actuating wire (either .030 for HO and N scale or .040 for larger scales and road bed thicker than 1 ½") is installed on the mechanism. The turnout is installed on the road bed and a corresponding sized hole drilled into the center of the throw bar.
The Blue Point with the actuating wire through the throw bar is mounted to the underside of the road bed using screws threaded in to the pre-drilled holes. The throw is then quickly adjusted by moving the fulcrum pivot up or down on the mechanism. At this point all that remains is to wire the frogs or accessories and hook up the nylon rod assembly.
The nylon push-rods have been in use in RC airplanes for many years. They are available in 4' lengths and can be coupled for long reaches if necessary. On any length over 18" one should consider mounting the push-rod sleeve in a retainer at either end. The Owens Valley project used 1 x 2 timber blocks drilled to accept the sleeves which were held in place with ACC adhesive.
PPW – Aline
P.O. Box 2701
Carlsbad CA 92018
40018 – Blue Point Manual Turnout Control
MSRP - $12.95
40018-5 - Blue Point Manual Turnout Control 5-pack
MSRP - $59.95
40018-10 – Blue Point Manual Turnout Control 10-pack
MSRP - $99.95
40010 – Drill Template
MSRP - $4.95
When we constructed the Owens Valley module, to make sure that the control knobs would not stick out beyond the fascia, we built recessed inserts. These were made using 2" PVC pipe caps center drilled to receive the push-rod sleeves. A hole was cut into the fascia using a 2 ¼" hole saw and the cap was force fitted through the whole. The fit was snug enough that no glue or other attachment device was needed. For the knobs, furniture knobs for the home improvement store were drilled to accept the 2-56 all thread rods that insert into the push-rods. Subsequently, A-Line now offers additional installation hardware in its product line that replaces some of our hand-made items.
With over a half a year of use on the Owens Valley, the Blue Points have shown themselves to be both rugged and reliable both mechanically and electrically. They are quick and easy to install. The Blue Point will work well on any layout, however, they really shine on sectional and modular layouts due to their simplicity in operation.