It's nice to have (almost) your own real railroad to play on that's only three blocks from the house. I've been filming the Maui Sugar Train for a few years. One end of the line has a turn table but the other doesn't. Turning the engine on the other end? Easy with a "Y". Normally the fireman would have to jump out at ever one of the three switches required to run on a "Y". The way to make it easy is with slip switches. While working on the video I started wondering if the same could be done on a O gauge or S layout. Take a look at the video and see if it's possible. Don

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It has been and still is done - it doesn't seem to be unusual.  Frank Ellison had a number of spring switches on his O scale Delta Lines. They are marked on the DL track plans that appeared in Model Railroader magazine starting in the 1940s.

The main trick with Spring Switches in smaller gauges is the light weight of the train.

The spring has to be strong enough to more the point rails, yet weak enough to not derail the engine or cars.

Electric non-derailing switches are a lot safer on the rolling stock.

In the 1970's the children's park in Oakland had a "jolly Trolley" train that had return loops with sprung switches.

My younger brother was the Engineer/motorman on this one crewman train, a second worker acted as ticket seller & station agent.

The Spring Switches worked well with the 500 pound plus weight of the cars, unless jammed with rocks and sticks.

Because the switches were outside the park fence, they had to be checked every day for damage by "kids".

The track was later moved inside the fence, for that reason and more.

I have 4 spring switches on my layout. Problem free operation. The trick is finding the minimum tension to hold the points in the closed position, whichever direction that is. I just use a piece of music wire as a spring, and a screw as a fulcrum to set the tension. Very simple.

This is totally different from non-derailing, because this is also for facing point movements. The idea is to "non-derail" in the trailing movement, but always direct the train a specific way in the facing movement.

Totrainyard, is that the train that was moved to Los Angeles at Griffith Park? I rode that train many times on Sunday. If I agreed to go to Sunday school my Mom would take me to the train after. It's the only reason I went to Sunday school. Rusty, I'm only calling them slip switches because that's what they call them here. Thanks for letting me know the correct wording for them. Only the Hawaiian Gods know why they call them slip switches here. Don


Yes it can be done.  All of my Gargraves and Ross switches with DZ-1000 motors can be used as spring switches.  However, I'm only using one of the Ross switches as a spring switch in a situation like Elliot described above on my streetcar loop.  The other end of the streetcar loop uses a Bachmann EZ-Streets switch that has the spring return feature built in.

Hope this helps and Happy Easter to all,


To Don and all,

The Jolly Trolley is still at Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California.

The Streamline Acorn Train In Peralta Park is likely the one moved to Los Angeles at Griffith Park.

Peralta Park is still there south of Lake Merritt , but no more trains or rides, just homeless camps.acorn peralta train



Photos (1)

You Hawaiians have a different name for everything. Here on the mainland it's a spring switch.

I have three on my layout but instead of springs I use washers as weights under the table.  I run light fishing line from the throw bar to a tiny eye hook the keep the pull parallel to the table, the add washers as needed to maintain tension.  I found I could never get spring tension correct, either it was too soft resulting in a picked switch, or too hard resulting in a derailment.  This method has been flawless possible attributed to smooth operating Ross switches.

I run a length of music wire spiked along the stock rail up to 7 ties from the throw bar.  Then a "Z" bend through the throw bar.  I use them on passing sidings and on one of two reverse loops.  On the other reverse loop I just let the points float left to right and back again.  Been working that way for about a year.  Either way so far has been flawless.  This is on a display RR that runs all the time. 

Light weight two wheel steam engine pilot trucks and the very light weight Galloping Goose front truck moves the points effortlessly.  I can only speak to Ross turnouts.IMG_8681

Top photo reverse loop.

Lower photo passing siding.


An extra "Z" that normally is inserted through the throw bar is at right end of lower photo.

Saves the cost and labor of four Tortoise switch machines.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.


Photos (2)

We have a couple of sprung turnouts on the secondary main of the club layout. Because Ross turnouts are so smooth, it doesn't take much force to push the points, so we tweaked ball-point pen springs to push the points so that trains would automatically enter the staging yard from the proper direction when running in loop-to-loop mode on upper branch. The upper reverse loop above the staging yard (also functions as a holding area) uses a sprung turnout as well. Saves a lot of running around to throw turnouts. You can see a train taking the sprung crossover at about 7:45 in the video.

Matt Jackson
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 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

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Mike and Matt, thanks for the info. I had no idea about them. I'll try to find a place for some on the layout. All my switches are Ross so it should work out well. Thanks guys. As you can see from the video, we needs some good hard workers with weed wackers. Don

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