How to wire Circuitron Tortoise Point Motors

Tortoise passing contact switch wiringHere’s a quick simple guide to how I wire my Tortoise slow-motion point motors and use them with Lever operated passing contact switches.

I’ve recently fitted 12 Circuitron slow-motion Tortoise point motors to my primary layout. I’m really pleased with the result, they’re solid, reliable and give a very pleasing slow-motion movement of the points when activated. I also find them a lot easier to fit than other types of point motors. They seem more tolerant of alignment problems.

Extra tip: One tip I would recommend is using self-adhesive Velcro strips. Stick one side to the baseboard and one to the top of the motor, you can then reposition and test them until they connect far more easily. Once you’ve got the right position, then use the screws to hold them in place permanently).

I’ve also wired them up to some old-school Peco lever-operated passing point switches and I’ll touch on this in a minute.

The first thing I do is to fit Accu-Lites SNAPS wiring connectors (available via Coastal DCC) to the Tortoise edge connector. These are not needed but do make wiring easier and remove the need for soldering. I’m happy to do the soldering but I still use these as it means I can work on the wiring away from the motor and just slide the connector on when finished.

Equally, if there’s a problem with the wiring, I can just slide the connector off, correct any problems using the quick screw terminal block, and slide it back on.

Tortoise Wiring

How to wire tortoise point motors

In terms of wiring, pins 1 & 8 are the main power feeds — Red and Black in the diagram. I feed this from a 12-volt, 500-milliamp DC supply. This is more than enough for the 12 motors I have.

Pins 2 and 3, Yellow and Blue here, are the input feeds for the switch track blade supply.

These connect to the bus wire to the controller.

Pin 4 goes to the frog on the points – shown in Green here, what other colour for a frog!

These last three connections, use the motor’s built-in switch so the point blade changes polarity automatically.

And that’s it for the basic wiring.

If I want a light to show the point setting,  the feed off pin 4 can go to the positive line on LED with the negative going back to the supply. The point motor then acts as a switch to turn the LED on or off depending on which way the point is set. (Don’t forget a fit a resistor if doing this).

Lever-operated point switches

For six of the points, I have them wired up to Peco lever switch controls using the Circuitron TC3 adaptor. (Thanks to Natalie in the MRE community for help here!!)

Here the Red and Black above are connected to the output pins of the TC3 while the corresponding wires from the DC supply go to input pins 1 and 2 on the TC3 with the Red and Black leads from the Peco switch go to pins C1 and C3.

The picture above shows an early test of this (the colour coding here doesn’t match the wire colour coding above).

And here’s the result of the tests to show it working.

You can just about see the blade moving. These are standard Peco points although I’ve removed the bulky plastic around the tie bar and the spring as I think they look better like this. You can easily ruin the points completely doing this so don’t do it unless you’re prepared to throw away your switches 🙁

This is just a quick and simple guide as to how I’ve wired mine for anyone confused by the official instruction leaflets for the Tortoise and TC3 (available here and here). Hope it helps someone.



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.

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.