Take two of the UK’s greatest toy inventor’s best products; add a sprinkle of ingenuity and you have DIY point control that Frank Hornby himself would be proud of.
Manual point control, switching the points without having to lean over and flip them yourself, is a pain, especially if your layout is more than a couple of feet deep or wide and you have to continually run around flicking points back and forth.
Many modellers have built mechanisms for controlling points from all manner of mechanical gubbins, even coat hangers and springs. And of course, there are numerous motorised solutions. I’ve just fitted Tortoise slow-motion point motors to my primary layout and they make life a lot easier when operating your railway.
But what if you don’t want to spend the money on these, don’t have a large supply of metal coat hangers to cut up or don’t feel up to the electrical challenge of making your own motorised solution?
And what if you fancy a mini-engineering challenge?
Jack Guy, a member of ModelRailwayEngineer’s companion community on Facebook, recently shared his answer to this.
He’s built a point control mechanism and switch out of Meccano.
Meccano, of course, was another invention of Frank Hornby. Although now best known for his model trains, his first invention was a kit consisting of metal components allowing children to make their mechanical models. Mecanno was hugely popular in its day and is still available today although no longer made by Hornby.
My dad got me a Macano set when I was an early teen and I’ve always had a soft spot for them so when I saw Jack’s initial trials I was hooked.
Why hadn’t I thought of this?
Jack had several goes at making his point control system and the following two videos show the proof of concept version and then a later working version complete with operating switch, naturally also made from Meccano.
It’s a fun, creative, ingenious solution to the point control problem and one which Frank Hornby would undoubtedly endorse.
Now, where’s my Meccano…
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.