Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Blue Point Switch machine/ turnout controller

4028 views
11 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • 3 posts
Blue Point Switch machine/ turnout controller
Posted by scrapiron on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:02 AM

Hello. This is my first post here. Just getting back to model railroading after a

VERY long time away from the hobby! Can anyone give me any info pro/con on the "Blue Point "switch machine device i found on the Micro Mark website?

I will be building a small switching type layout with all hand thrown switches, but a couple of

switches will be just out of reach. 

 

  • Member since
    October, 2010
  • From: Centennial, CO
  • 3,218 posts
Posted by Stourbridge Lion on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 8:14 AM

scrapiron - Welcome to trains.com! Cowboy

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • From: Enfield, CT
  • 923 posts
Posted by Doc in CT on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:07 PM

You might want to consider the Bullfrog Turnout Controller from the Fast Tracks folks.  The assemble yourself version (laser cut wood) is substantially less than the Blue Point.  You still need the control rods for either.  Maybe whom ever replies on their experiences will comment on both alternatives.

Co-owner of the proposed CT River Valley RR (HO scale) http://home.comcast.net/~docinct/CTRiverValleyRR/

  • Member since
    August, 2007
  • From: Red Lodge, MT
  • 826 posts
Posted by sfcouple on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:16 PM

I've used the Bullfrog manual switch machines from Fast Tracks and they work flawlessly.  Easy to assemble but like the previous poster mentioned one does need to either purchase their control rods (~$3.00) or make your own.  The Bullfrog comes with a micro-switch that allows one to power a frog if necessary.  

These units are very well designed, robust, and will firmly hold the switch points against the stock rail---I highly recommend them if one is interested in manual turnout controls.

Wayne  

Modeling HO Freelance Logging Railroad.

  • Member since
    August, 2007
  • From: Red Lodge, MT
  • 826 posts
Posted by sfcouple on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:21 PM

oops, Oops

Scrapiron, Welcome to the forums. Welcome  There are some very talented modelers here who will offer a lot of excellent ideas.  And while it takes getting used to, the Search function is also a very valuable source of information.  

Wayne

Modeling HO Freelance Logging Railroad.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 4,556 posts
Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 1:23 PM

A fellow NMRA member who handlays his own track and uses Fast Tracks jigs has both. The Bullfrog is cheaper, so he has switched to those. However, the Bluepoint performed well.

Whichever you choose, consider how your fascia will be set up, as the manual control has to mount there. Unless there is tight clearance where the controller/manual switch machine is located, the control knob part isthe trickiest part to figure out.

If your need is just for a few in certain locations, arranging controls should not be too big a deal. But if you have lots of turnouts close together, you may have to give some serious consideration to arrangements that may be somewhat trickier.

I'm a Tortoise guy myself and it would be a real nightmare for the manual controls to work on certain locations on my layout. But if I had it to do over again (most everything was in when these first hit the market) I probably would have gone with a lot of manual in preference to power turnout controllers. But remember if you do get in a tight spot with arranging controls, you can always fall back to something at that location controlled with a nice, compact and easy to locate electric switch.My 2 Cents

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • 3 posts
Posted by scrapiron on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 3:26 PM

Thanks to all for the excellent info on switch control!  I did not know about the Bullfrog

machine. I think i will try one of each ( Bluepoint / Bullfrog ) and see what works best

for my layout.

Scrapiron 

  • Member since
    February, 2008
  • From: Potomac Yard
  • 1,122 posts
Posted by NittanyLion on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 8:27 PM

Before my layout went into storage, I had just finished assembling and installing something like 17 Bullfrogs.

The first one took me like an hour because I really took my time.  The third one was down to around 10 minutes.  I found assembling them to be strangely relaxing.  And they smell good.

 

I'm completely serious about that last point.  Laser cut wood has a great scent.

  • Member since
    October, 2009
  • From: Sylmar CA.
  • 1,621 posts
Posted by V8Vega on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:54 PM

I have one Bulfrog and will definatly get more. I used there remote kit which is a plastic tube inside a plastic tube. Mine has a gradual S curve in it and works very nice. I searched Model Railroader forums for manual switch control and there are some home made switch control but I always diden't understand something about them but mainly you would have so much time cobbling together something and Bullfrog works so nice I sure wouldent tryi to make something homemade.

Dennis  San Fernando Valley CA.  Joined August 2009

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,875 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM

scrapiron

....Can anyone give me any info pro/con on the "Blue Point "switch machine device i found on the Micro Mark website?....

I bought or already had about one of every type throw and switch machine as an experiment (Bullfrog was not available then).  I am working on trials on my test layout to see which solutions I like best.  I know I won't use twin coil machines with handlaid turnouts.  I have not experimented with my Blue Point yet.

A friend used Blue Points on his HOn3 Free-mo modules at a setup in November.  HOn3 Free-mo requires controls on both sides of the module, and that the controls be recessed into the fascia so that nothing protrudes.  I'm not sure what went wrong - the linkage wasn't stiff enough or had too much play or insufficient "detent" in the Blue Point or the points didn't move freely enough or what.  In any case, throwing the turnouts consistently did not work consistently at the setup.  Sometimes, the turnouts would throw just fine.  Other times, the points didn't move at all, or only moved if thrown from one side and not the other, or moved partially but not the full movement. 

Since then, he is converting his modules to Tortoise machines, which seem to be the gold standard as far as reliability in a modular layout.  To obtain that reliable operation with the Tortoise requires replacing the stock wire with something thicker, in our experience.  The other drawback of the Tortoise in the modular situation with dual controls is that the toggle handle can't show turnout position.  We ended up turning the handles to move horizontally rather than vertically so there would be no attempt to use handle position as turnout position indicator.  We look at the turnout - if it's not lined correctly, move the toggle to the other position.  This might not be such a great system if more intensive and faster standard gauge operations were the situation.

my thoughts and experiences, your choices

Fred W

  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,875 posts
Posted by fwright on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 1:17 PM

scrapiron

....Can anyone give me any info pro/con on the "Blue Point "switch machine device i found on the Micro Mark website?....

I bought or already had about one of every type throw and switch machine as an experiment (Bullfrog was not available then).  I am working on trials on my test layout to see which solutions I like best.  I know I won't use twin coil machines with handlaid turnouts.  I have not experimented with my Blue Point yet.

A friend used Blue Points on his HOn3 Free-mo modules at a setup in November.  HOn3 Free-mo requires controls on both sides of the module, and that the controls be recessed into the fascia so that nothing protrudes.  I'm not sure what went wrong - the linkage wasn't stiff enough or had too much play or insufficient "detent" in the Blue Point or the points didn't move freely enough or what.  In any case, throwing the turnouts consistently did not work consistently at the setup.  Sometimes, the turnouts would throw just fine.  Other times, the points didn't move at all, or only moved if thrown from one side and not the other, or moved partially but not the full movement. 

Since then, he is converting his modules to Tortoise machines, which seem to be the gold standard as far as reliability in a modular layout.  To obtain that reliable operation with the Tortoise requires replacing the stock wire with something thicker, in our experience.  The other drawback of the Tortoise in the modular situation with dual controls is that the toggle handle can't show turnout position.  We ended up turning the handles to move horizontally rather than vertically so there would be no attempt to use handle position as turnout position indicator.  We look at the turnout - if it's not lined correctly, move the toggle to the other position.  This might not be such a great system if more intensive and faster standard gauge operations were the situation.

my thoughts and experiences, your choices

Fred W

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Sedro Woolley WA
  • 544 posts
Posted by skagitrailbird on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 7:42 PM

I second Mike Lehman's comments about gathering the control rods at a panel.  I have a switching area that started with seven turnouts.  Partly to save money (though not much) over Tortoises and partly to try the BluePoint controllers I went with them.  Getting the control rods snaked around under the layout and to a panel with track diagram was a nightmare.  Wire (for Tortoises) can be run anywhere...over, under around, etc.  Not so with the control rods.  Once I had everything installed they all worked just fine.

Then I decided I wanted to put in another spur.  The mere thought of having to remove the existing panel to add one control rod gave me a headache.  I used a Tortoise for it, and replaced two of the BluePoints with Tortoises, also.  In the next few months I plan on rebuilding the panel with better turnout indicator LED's.  In the process I will replace the rest of the BluePoints because building the panel will be MUCH easier.

Roger Johnson

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...