Rainier Great Western Railway & Navigation Company

The Route of the Thunderbird


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Model Railroading Techniques, Building Projects & Tips

Turnouts and the Control Mechanisms Used

In the first section of this mini-clinic, we discussed the materials needed to install turnout controls the RGW way. We also know this is just our method, yours may work just as well, if not better.  We also put in our brass tube and throw wire.  Now we go under the table for the last two parts of the process.


Step 1.  This is one of the most critical steps in our process.  With the turnout points above the table centered between the tracks, put light pressure on the music wire with one finger.  Under the table make as close to a 90 degree bend in the wire as you can.  Bend should be opposite the direction of the points.  This bend will assure that the wire does not work its way up the tube, thus releasing the tension that will keep the wire's hook point in the throwbar.

Step 2.  Cut the music wire so that about about 3/4 inch remains from the tube.

Step 3.  Bend the music wire into a "V" shape.  This will be where the tortoise throw rod is inserted later.



Step 1.  Cut a piece of carpet tape that roughly covers the entire surface or the tortoise mounting plate.

Step 2.  Assure that the switch points of the turnout are centered.  Then center the throw rod of the tortoise switch machine.

Step 3.  Remove the double stick protection layer of the tape and place the tortoise throw rod in the "V" of the music wire.  It is best to keep the alignment in proper order, with the switch machine perpendicular to the switch points.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just close.  There is enough throw and resulting tension provided by the tortoise throw rod to move the switch points and hold them firmly against the rails even if you're not perfectly aligned, but try anyway!

Step 4.  Place at least one screw on each side of the tortoise to ensure stability and adherence to the bottom of the table.  The tape will provide a strong bond on its own, but over time, the addition of the screws will assure long lasting bond.

Step 5.  Add a 10 pin edge connector to the tortoise points and wire the connector to your control switch on your control panel.  The tortoise machine comes with a wiring diagram for your use in completing this step.



We have found that the throw rod provided with the tortoise is too thin to provide adequate pressure to each side of the turnout.  As such, we replace the rod with heavier wire.  This requires making a circular bend in one end of the wire that is larger than the screw which holds it to the throw mechanism inside the machine.  We then cut the throw rod to proper length.  You may find that the provided rod is sufficient, this is just our experience. 


We hope this gives you cause to add this process to your layout.  We know that you might have questions, please feel free to contact us if you do.  





Model Railroading Can Develop Great Skill and Character, Support the NMRA