DIY point control with Meccano – Frank Hornby’s creations meet

Maccano point control HornbyTake 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 Model Railway Engineer’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

Affiliate notice: Some links on this page will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, B&Q, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.
> 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.

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