UPGRADING THE POINTS AND THROWBAR
OF A TYPICAL OLD-STYLE RTR TURNOUT
TO BECOME "DCC FRIENDLY AND DCC SAFE"
(And a lot better looking)
It is recommended you read these instructions all the way through first, before starting the conversion. WEAR PROPER EYE PROTECTION AT ALL TIMES, WHEN USING ANY POWER OR MOTORIZED TOOLS!
1. Regardless of whether the switch is already installed in your trackwork, or new on the bench, first familiarize yourself with the parts we are going to modify - The moving switch blade assembly and both the the old and new throwbar.
Note that there are two small rivets retaining the metal connecting bars across the two point blades.
2. Moving first to the switch blades, remove the heads of these two rivets, without damaging the plastic tie base. The tops of the rivets should be removed by drilling. Use a much larger diameter drill bit, so that the drill bit does not merely jam into the inside of the rivet. Often the rivets will try and spin rather that be cut. This must be avoided! Drill at various different angles off vertical, or in extreme cases of difficulty, remove the switch to the bench and jam the other side of the rivet with a spike or small pliers.
3. Remove the blade assembly as above. Using a soldering iron, the switch blades should be removed from their metal bars and put to one side for use later. The metal bars and the original plastic throw bar can be discarded. Note the "C" shaped brass rubbing plate left behind. You may need to redrill the RH rivet more to fully separate it from the rubbing plate
4. Using a fine razor saw, or fine file, cut the center section of the brass rubbing plate away, being careful not to damage the cosmetic surface of the ties. Do not permanently bend the plate! However, the plate is slightly springy and it is possible to slip some card under it's LH edge while cutting, to prevent cutting directly into the tie surface. When completed, two flat small brass tongues, at least as wide as the size of the rail base width, should remain.
5. Now the unecessary supporting plastic can be removed from between the two ties as above. This is most easily done from underneath with a razor saw. The plastic webs under the stock rails should be left in place. If the switch is already installed, remove the same material carefully from the top, using the very end of the razor saw and/or a craft knife.
6. Here is the finished appearance of this stage from below . . .
7. . . . . and above.
8. Using pliers or metal clamps on the stock rail ends as heat sinks, very quickly tin the brass tongues with a hot soldering iron. Make sure this is done quickly to prevent any of the plastic close by from melting and causing cosmetic, or even worse, structural damage. Also be sure not to unsolder the tongues from the stock rail ends. The switch blades should also be retinned underneath at their matching ends.
Using some shim material, position the switch blades so that they are about 150% as far open as they would normally be. (a gap of ~ 0.090" on each side). Then, with the stock rail heat sinks in place, carefully and quickly resolder (sweat) the blades back onto the tongues, being sure to keep the rail ends properly aligned. Again, make sure this is done quickly to prevent any of the plastic close by from damage by melting.
9. The blades should now look as above and "spring back" if pushed against their adjacent stock rail.
10. The final step of the blade re-assembly is adding a new switch rod, such as the "Ultimate" Throwbar. This can be assembled and inserted most easily from below if the switch is on the bench. Otherwise the unassembled plastic bar can be inserted (slid) into an installed switch and the rods themselves added from above. See the "THROWBAR HELP PAGE" for full details on the latest throwbar parts and installation methods.
11. If the throw bar is not sitting fully down, you may need to cut and add small plastic shims from the extra plastic strip provided. Glue these onto the plastic bar positioned hidden just under the stock rails to ensure the throwbar is pressed flat against the roadbed in use. Sand them lightly on top if the movement is too stiff, until the bar slides freely. If not already inserted, press the etched rods firmly into place in the plastic bar from above.
12. Using our "Electric Silk", extra-flexible wire for points, wire the points to their respective stock rails and also make sure the closure rails are also connected to both as well.
Now the final stage of DCC SAFE conversion is to isolate the frog from the points and closure rails. This can be done with a Dremel or fine razor saw. Unless you are also adding a new "DROP-IN" FROG, the appropriate cutting points are marked on our PROTOTYPICAL TURNOUT TEMPLATES. If you are adding a new frog, then instead follow the directions in the DROP-IN FROG INSTALLATION HELP PAGE.
The now isolated frog may be left unpowered, if all your locos run through without stalling. However, ideally, the frog should now be separately powered by wiring it to the appropriate contacts on your switch machine, or through one of our FROG POWERING RELAYS. Also see our WIRING TURNOUTS FOR DC and DCC PAGE for more information on wiring turnouts
12. The basic conversion is now complete. The finished switch can be detailed with joint bars and bolted plate detail around the sides of the frog. See our "SUPER-SUPER-DETAILS" kits for those parts. The base of the throw bar should be painted the bare roadbed (dirt) color, to complete the illusion of near scale operating parts, running in a relatively ballast free slot between the head ties.