Selecting and Installing Ground Throws

By Nick Kalis


The fifth in an occasional series of articles providing obscure yet vital resources for modelers in the Potomac Division. Previous articles detailed sources for styrene, ballast, lumber, and finding an architect.


            Before I start, I will confess that Micro Engineering turnouts and Caboose ground throws are not that obscure, but read on anyway. I recently started installing turnouts for my layout. I am using number HO scale Code 83 turnouts by Micro Engineering Company of Fenton Missouri. Their left hand turnout is #14-705 and the right hand is #14-706. If you have trouble finding or ordering these contact Mailbag Hobbies, that’s where I obtained mine. These turnouts are beauties, even nicer, for my purposes, than Shinohara. To throw these switches I have installed Sprung stands manufactured by Caboose Industries of Freeport, Illinois. I am sure I am not the first to make this point, but their HO scale turnout throws seem awfully big. Instead, I switched to their N-scale throws, model 206S to be precise. Buy an extra one while you are at it, as you may be like me and break one until you get the knack of installing them. These sprung stand turnout throws had two molded connector pins for turnout throw bar mounting. I used the outer pin and removed the unused pin with a rail nipper.


            I installed the ground throws thus: first, I set the switch handle vertical as the directions suggest. Next, I centered the switch points, also according to directions. To hold the switch points centered can be a bit trying until I discovered that fat toothpicks laid on their sides would do the trick. Then I drilled starting holes – this was necessary as my road bed was resistant to just pushing in a nail. To do this I used a fine drill mounted in a one of those drills you use with one hand to do fine work. Next, I used a small pair of pliers to push each of the two pins to secure the ground throw. I used some track nails made by Atlas that I had left over from my less particular days.


            My final step was to paint the tip of the ground throw hand green on one side and orange on the other (orange was what I had handy, but red would do). This is so that one can readily recognize whether the turnout is set for straight or for a diverging route. I hope these notes will help you with your layout. Look forward to seeing your layout on tour in 2002.


            Nancy Spicer can be contacted at Mailbag Hobbies of Monkton, Maryland at 800 821-6377. Caboose ground throws should be available at your local hobby shop.