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Operating Points Outdoors

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If anyone is wondering how to change frog polarity on live frog points or operate accessories such as colour light signals with this system, I found these on eBay (sorry Mick) at a very good price.

They are LATCHING changeover relays. The latching bit is important as they will only be getting a pulse of power from your switch. They are sealed so can be mounted outdoors.




Connect 7 and 22 to your DPDT momentary switch ( you can connect to the two wires on the motor). Throwing the switch one way will connect 1 to 5, 28 to 24, 10 to 14 and 19 to 15. Throwing the other way i.e. reversing the polarity connects
3 to 5, 26 to 24, 10 to 12 and 19 to 17.



I have fixed mine to a home made PCB which I made from copperclad, a permanent marker and etching solution from Maplins.
There's a clip on You Tube showing how to do this. Turn the sound off on your pc though, the music is awful!
You could also solder wire directly to the pins if you're careful.



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The nickel silver wire has arrived but it doesn't seem much harder than the brass wire. It's ok for the job though, especially as I've found that B&Q sell 2mm brass tube in meter lengths. The

Yesterday I converted two more points to the new motor system. The points are at both ends of a loop and are three meters apart. I've placed a central locking motor halfway between them and conne

Wiring up is very easy. Heres an  image form the DS 52 manual  which shows the way to do it. Its the lower, 2 wire motor that you need to copy. Basically you don't use the common outputs (2

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You are doing some good work there, and I await the results with interest. I have approached the problem another way, by grouping the points and their control as removable modules, but it's a bit of a pain to fit and remove for every running sesion, and takes up storage space when not in use.

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Yesterday I converted two more points to the new motor system. The points are at both ends of a loop and are three meters apart.

I've placed a central locking motor halfway between them and connected them with the brass tube and nickel wire.

They work perfectly. Only thing is, it would have been cheaper by far to have used two motors! Enjoyed the job though. :)

The next point that I will be converting has a colour light signal associated with it so I will be using one of the latching relays too.


Centrally mounted motor.


East points


West points


Motor with baseboard trim replaced

TIP... To straighten the nickel silver wire I first cut a length to suit. Next anchor one end, fix the other end into the chuck of an electric drill, pull taut and the run the drill until the wire is straight.
This process will stiffen the wire too.

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This really is the best solution i've seen for points outdoors. I must pull my finger out and have a go.

Is there a reason you didn't use strip board (veroboard) for mounting your latching rely?

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chris said:

This really is the best solution i've seen for points outdoors. I must pull my finger out and have a go.

Is there a reason you didn't use strip board (veroboard) for mounting your latching relay?

The pins don't match the holes on Veroboard Chris.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The new motors are now installed at four locations on the K&WR. Two locations also have the latching relays installed to operate associated colour light signals. The motors also operate semaphore signals at two of the locations.

Once again I can highly recommend this system for operating points and accessories outdoors. They'd also be useful on indoor layouts too I would imagine.

Very cheap and very very effective!

If anyone else installs these on their layout I really be interested to know how you get on.

Ian R

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  • 2 weeks later...
jimbob said:

Love the idea of car door locks to operate points but can someone tell me where I can get the little cranks from can't seem to find them anywhere.

They're available from various model shops including these...



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Thanks for that, there's always someone who knows. 2nd part of question now, where do I find the wire?

Wouldn't all be much simpler if you could go into a "proper" model shop and ask some one who knows about the subject. That's of course if you can find one within 20 miles of your house!

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  • 3 months later...

Just had a payment in to my Paypal account and that was the catalyst I needed to buy the car lock servos and the teflon tube.

I'm now buying the angle cranks, but I've been distracted by some Accy Decoders in the clearance section...

Looking forward to playing with these "point motors".

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I think you'll probably find that the brass tube from B&Q will be better for the job Chris.

I have also thought that curtain wire could be good too. Although it isn't stainless if you use stainless wire inside it maybe it'd be OK.


This stainless wire is the best I've found for the job. Much better than the brass and nickel silver wire that I started out with.

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I picked up some stainless steel jewellery wire a couple of months ago. Had a go with your drill straightening technique yesterday. Unsuccessful.

I did hook the motor up to an accy decoder output and I could operate it with my DCC system. When I find the time I'll sort out a point linkage system and hopefully be operational.

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Having drawn a blank on angle cracks in York I was more successful in a small model shop in New Brighton. They are plastic servo something's for model cars but they should fit the bill.

Just awaiting the tube delivery from Hong Kong and the fine weather to do an installation.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've completed installation of my first car lock point motor.

In the end I didn't use an angle crank. I'd bought some aluminium tube and carefully bent that though 90º. With a liberal application of silicon grease the wire ran smooth enough to throw.

It's working fine through DCC accessory decoder control.

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  • 4 months later...

The great benefit of these "car door lock" motors is their outdoor suitability. But the fringe benefit of them being cheap (£2) should not be over looked. However, the motor is the cheap bit of points. The points themselves (£11), and in DCC the Accy Decoder (£9), make up much more of the cost. If one motor could control a pair of points then the cost could fall from £50 to £34.

I tried this set up, but although IanR has got a single motor controlling a pair, I failed, his CDU must have more grunt than my Accy Decoder.

For me it's more important that I get a pair of points controlled by one Accy decoder output rather than one motor and with some decoders this is a supported. I tested this with two "car door lock" motors and they had to be wired in series to work, but work they did.

As Ian has noted, these units are so cheap that the extra bits required to link up two points can turn out to be more expensive than the second motor.

I now plan to work with one motor per point, but when possible/practical I'll drive a pair from one decoder output.

The "car door lock" (CDL) motor does appear to be the ideal solution for garden/outdoor railways.

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  • 3 months later...

I did a count up yesterday and I'm going to end up with more than a dozen points in to outdoor part or my railway, with the same again in the shed, I'm trying not to think of the cost. I want them all DCC controlled and I want fault free operation. I've spent a lot of time thinking about point motors.

So far I've used Seep motors under the baseboard, see earlier in this thread. I've mounted peco motors in lineside structures, following Ian's original technique (also earlier) and his Car Door Lock (CDL) motor system with cables, levers and angle cranks.

The CDL motors are the way forward. I've just bought anther 12. But I want a less visible installation, at my current rate it could be years before I create the scenery to hide the workings. To achieve this I've combined CDL with my Seep technique to creat a totally hidden system.

I drill a 10mm hole directly below the point arm. In that hole I insert a short length of 10mm diameter aluminium tube, it's a very snug fit. The tube is cut at a 45° angle at the bottom end to encourage any water to drain away from my system.


I mount CDL motor to one the side the tube with the motor movement running in parallel the point movement. It is not directly in line with the point.

The challenge was how to connect the motor to the point. I thought long and often about all kinds of links and levers, until I was fiddling around with the CDLs mounting kit and I made a very simple discovery and 10 minutes later I had a working prototype. The mounting kit contains a small metal connector designed to join two metal rods in parallel. The rods held in place by tightening a screw up against the rod to pinch it secure. What I realised was that I could screw a much longer bolt into this connector and change it from a parallel connection into a 90° one. Which is just what I needed.


The long bolt & connector joins the CDL to a length of thin aluminium rod. This rod is bent through 90° to pass through the tube and connect to the point. I use a couple of cable clips to hold the rope in place and in line.


The throw on the CDL is about 20mm but the throw on the point is only 4mm. A direct connection like this should break the point blades rather quickly, but the rod can only travel 5 or 6 millimetres inside that tube so that takes the brunt of the force protecting the point. I've also left some "play" in the system, this may help, or in time allow things to shake loose.

I've done three points this way so far and set up wise they have been easier than all the other techniques. Only a peco motor directly connected to the point is easier to set up.

A big thinks to Ian for discovering the Car Door Locks they are just the ticket.


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Thanks for the photos Chris. It's helpful to see how others have created their own method(s) of operating points.

Can you just clarify how you've connected the motor arm to the points? You state a length of aluminium rod bent at 90 degrees is passed through the aluminium tube and connected to the point. I can see that part clearly in the photos but at the non-point end (2nd photo) it also looks like it's a piece of aluminium 'tubing' with a wire inside.

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