Thursday, 8 May 2014

Hiding Surface Mounted Switches - a couple of ideas

Sometimes we find it necessary to locate items  that support the operation of our model railways on the layout rather than below where most of the wiring, switches and other infrastructure are placed. I choose to operate most of my points manually and, as a consequence, have found it convenient to place a change of polarity switch on the surface adjacent to each point.

The photo opposite shows two switches that were installed last August/September when I replaced some old Atlas points with two Peco electrofrogs. Astute readers will note that this particular photo shows that these points are electrically operated. The reason for this was detailed in a comment to my post in September 2013( but the focus of this post is the subsequent work that I have recently completed to conceal those switches.

Not surprisingly, I have found that the easiest way to hide the switches was to incorporate them into the surrounding land form. Of the six switches installed to date, three have been concealed by the terrain adjacent to the track. A small rise or a cutting has been sufficient to achieve the desired effect. The photo opposite shows the start of the branch line on the module currently under construction. I have included a small mirror in the photo to show the switch, partially obscured by masking tape, in its cavern underneath the nearside cutting wall.

By the way, I haven't got around to mowing my static grass as yet. It's hard enough getting motivated to cut the real thing.

Clearly, the use of terrain is most easily achieved on new construction but in situations where the scenery has already been completed, the solutions tend to rely on structures and lineside details. To date, two switches have been hidden under a pile of sleepers and a mound of sand covered by a tarp at Philip's Creek Station. Another has been concealed by a small coaling stage at Mount Windeatt. In each situation, it is necessary to make sure that there is some roof or cover over the switch to ensure it can still operate. Don't forget that in the worst case, one may need to access the switch, so it's prudent to keep the feature as simple as possible.

Basically, I have tried to utilise items of lineside infrastructure that are appropriate for the location, can be placed near enough to the track to conceal the switch, but do not create an obstruction to traffic. For example the mound of sand was used to avoid interfering with passing trains. Other options could include platforms, loading banks, piles of rubbish, fettler's water tanks on a stand or some thick lineside vegetation. I'm sure there are many others.

The final photo links to the first photo showing the area of last September's work but now with the two switches concealed.

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