Adding point motors to already laid track

fitting point motors without removing the pointsNow filed in a draw marked ‘why on earth didn’t I think of this’ is this marvellous tip from MRE community member Lee Maylon for installing point motors on already laid track.

If you’ve ever laid your track, got it all working and then decided to add point motors this is for you.

Over to Lee.

“I have been toying with the idea of fitting point motors but as I have already laid the track down I didn’t want to lift it all again but I also wanted to avoid surface-mounted ones as I hate the look of them.

Anyway, I decided to drill a locator hole for every point and then cut an access hole for the motor from underneath.

To avoid damaging the point I slid a thin piece of alloy plate under the point so the cutting blade would only hit that.

Once that was done I could get on with the wiring. So happy with them wish I had fitted them sooner, makes running locos a lot more enjoyable.”

The Gem

The gem of a tip here is Lee’s idea of sliding a metal sheet under the points.

To fit motors, the usual approach is to position the point, mark its location on the baseboard, remove it and then drill a hole through the baseboard at the point marked so that the wire from the motor underneath can pass through into the tie bar.

Obviously, if you’ve laid the track, you don’t want to pull it up but drilling holes through it will destroy the delicate point rails and mechanism of the point.

The metal slip Lee suggests placing under the point solves the problem by allowing you to drill through from the underside without damaging the point. The metal protects the point.

It’s a great bit of thinking and one which, as I’ve said, I’ll be filing away for the next time I fit the track and then later decide I want to add motors or change them around.

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> 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.
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of 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.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
  1. Sounds ok and thank You. Just one question. How you will drill from the other side and be sure that you will hit exactly where you need?
    Meassurements are always susceptibile to have errors…

    • The locator hole goes all the way through the baseboard. This is then used as the guide for the large drill used for the rod from the motor to the point. Hope this helps.

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